Unit History: Devonshire Regiment

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Devonshire Regiment
The Devonshire Regiment was officially formed in 1881 when the 11th (North Devon) Regiment of Foot and the Devon Militia were merged.  However it can trace its history back nearly 200 years prior to this.
 
The 11th was first raised by Henry Somerset, The Duke of Beaufort in 1685 as ‘The Duke of Beaufort's Regiment of Foot’, from loyal men in the Devon, Somerset and Dorset area.  The Regiment was raised during the Monmouth Rebellion to defend Bristol.  However it was not required to fight as the 1st Duke of Monmouth (James Scott, the illegitimate son of Charles II) was drawn away from Bristol and defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor two months after he had landed in England attempting to claim the throne.  The Regiment saw its first service was in 1690 at the Battle of Boyne, where it fought under the personal command of King William III, when the deposed James II attempted to regain the throne he had lost in 1688.
 
After various engagements abroad as part of the Duke of Marlborough Campaigns, it was once again involved in a Jacobite Rebellion in 1715, when James Stuart, the son of the James II, attempted to retake the crown his father had lost and the Regiment fought at the battle of Dunblane and Glenshiel, where it defeated and captured a Spanish force of 400 who had invaded Scotland to support James Stuart.  The Regiment served during the War of Austrian Succession, fighting at the battles of Dettingen, Fontenoy and Rocoux and then in the Seven Years War, fighting at the battles of Warburg, Kloster Kampen, Villinghausen and Wilhelmstahl and the inconclusive Iberian campaign.
 
As was the tradition at the time The Regiment was named after its various Colonels until 1750 when the naming convention was simplified and each Regiment was assigned a ranked number, therefore becoming the ‘11th Regiment of Foot’.  In 1782 county titles were added to those Regiments without Royal titles, in order to increase recruitment from that area and the Regiment became the 11th (North Devonshire) Regiment of Foot.
 
During the French Revolutionary Wars the 11th acted as Marines serving as detachments of the Royal Navy at the Battle of Cape St Vincent (1797).  From 1800-06 it was stationed in the West Indies, but returned to Europe to fight in the Peninsular War, fighting in at the Battle of Salamanca, where it earned the nickname, ‘The Bloody Eleventh’, where the Regiment stopped the French advance despite heavy losses.
 
In 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms the 11th (North Devon Regiment), and the Devon Militia were merged and it became the Devonshire Regiment.  The Regiment went on to serve in the Afghanistan Campaign (1878-79), in Burma (1890-92), the Tirah Expedition (1897), the Boer War and two World Wars.  In 1958, the Regiment was further amalgamated with the Dorset Regiment to form The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment and in 2007 it was merged with The Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry and The Royal Green Jackets to form The Rifles.

Devonshire Regiment during WW1

Since 1815 the balance of power in Europe had been maintained by a series of treaties. In 1888 Wilhelm II was crowned ‘German Emperor and King of Prussia’ and moved from a policy of maintaining the status quo to a more aggressive position. He did not renew a treaty with Russia, aligned Germany with the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire and started to build a Navy rivalling that of Britain. These actions greatly concerned Germany’s neighbours, who quickly forged new treaties and alliances in the event of war. On 28th June 1914 Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist group Young Bosnia who wanted pan-Serbian independence. Franz Joseph's the Austro-Hungarian Emperor (with the backing of Germany) responded aggressively, presenting Serbia with an intentionally unacceptable ultimatum, to provoke Serbia into war. Serbia agreed to 8 of the 10 terms and on the 28th July 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, producing a cascade effect across Europe. Russia bound by treaty to Serbia declared war with Austro-Hungary, Germany declared war with Russia and France declared war with Germany. Germany’s army crossed into neutral Belgium in order to reach Paris, forcing Britain to declare war with Germany (due to the Treaty of London (1839) whereby Britain agreed to defend Belgium in the event of invasion). By the 4th August 1914 Britain and much of Europe were pulled into a war which would last 1,566 days, cost 8,528,831 lives and 28,938,073 casualties or missing on both sides.

The Regiment raised a total of 25 battalions and fought on the Western Front, in Italy at the battles of the Piave and Vittorio Veneto, in Macedonia, Egypt, Palestine, and Mesopotamia. It was awarded 65 battle honours and two Victoria Crosses during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed in Jersey at the outbreak of war.
21.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre.
14.09.1914 Joined the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division.
30.09.1914 Transferred to the 14th Brigade of the 5th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1914
The Battle of La Bassee, The Battle of Messines, The First Battle of Ypres.
Dec 1914 This Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914.
During 1915
The Second Battle of Ypres and the Capture of Hill 60.
12.01.1916 Transferred to the 95th Brigade of the 5th Division.
During 1916
The Attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
During 1917
The Battle of Vimy, The Attack on La Coulotte, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
27.11.1917 Moved to Italy to strengthen the Italian resistance.
07.04.1918 Returned to France and once again engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1918
The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, The Battle of the Epehy, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Le Quesnoy.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Cairo at the outbreak of war.
13.09.1914 Embarked for the UK arriving at Southampton and then moved to Winchester to join the 23rd Brigade of the 8th Division.
06.11.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
Dec 1914 This Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914.
During 1915
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, The Battle of Aubers, The action of Bois Grenier.
During 1916
The Battle of Albert.
During 1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Pilkem, The Battle of Langemarck.
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The actions at the Somme crossings, The Battle of Rosieres, The actions of Villers-Bretonneux, The Battle of the Aisne 1918, The Battle of the Scarpe, The Final Advance in Artois.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Tertre west of Mons.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Exeter then moved to Plymouth and then back to Exeter.
May 1915 Moved to Devonport, Plymouth where it remained.

1/4th Battalion Territorial Force.
04.08.0914 Stationed at Exeter as part of the Devon & Cornwall Brigade of the Wessex Division.
05.08.1914 Moved to Plymouth and then to Salisbury Plain.
09.10.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton arriving at Karachi 11.11.1914.
02.03.1916 Moved to Basra and joined the 41st Indian Brigade.
05.05.1916 Transferred to the 37th Indian Brigade of the 14th Indian Division which engaged in various actions as part of The Mesopotamian campaign including;
Advance to the Hai and capture of the Khudaira Bend, Capture of the Hai Salient, Capture of Sannaiyat, Second Battle of Kut, Passage of the Tigris, Fall of Baghdad (1917), Passage of the ‘Adhaim, Action of the Shatt al Adhaim, Second action of Jabal Hamrin, Third action of Jabal Hamrin.
Feb 1917 Moved to Amara to defend the Lines of Communication of the Tigris Defences.
31.10.1918 Ended the war in Mesopotamia, Baquaba N.E. of Baghdad.

1/5th Battalion Territorial Force.
04.08.0914 Stationed at Exeter as part of the Devon & Cornwall Brigade of the Wessex Division.
05.08.1914 Moved to Plymouth and then to Salisbury Plain.
09.10.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton arriving at Karachi 11.11.1914.
22.03.1917 Embarked for Egypt from Bombay landing at Suez.
25.06.1917 Joined the 232nd Brigade of the 75th Division which engaged in various actions against Turkish forces including;
During 1917
The Third Battle of Gaza, The Capture of Junction Station, The Battle of Nabi Samweil.
During 1918
The Battle of Tell'Asur, The Battle of Berukin.
25.05.1918 Embarked for France arriving at Marseilles 01.07.1918 and transferred to the 185th Brigade of the 62nd Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of the Tardenois, The Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of the Selle, The capture of Solesmes, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Sous-le-Bois Maubeuge.

1/6th Battalion Territorial Force.
04.08.0914 Stationed at Barnstaple as part of the Wessex Division.
05.08.1914 Moved to Plymouth and then to Salisbury Plain and attached to the Devon & Cornwall Brigade.
09.10.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton arriving at Karachi 11.11.1914.
30.12.1916 Moved to Basra and joined the 36th Indian Brigade.
12.05.1916 Joined the 14th Indian Division which engaged in various actions as part of The Mesopotamian campaign including;
Advance to the Hai and capture of the Khudaira Bend, Capture of the Hai Salient, Capture of Sannaiyat, Second Battle of Kut, Passage of the Tigris, Fall of Baghdad (1917), Passage of the ‘Adhaim, Action of the Shatt al Adhaim, Second action of Jabal Hamrin, Third action of Jabal Hamrin.
Sept 1917 Moved to Amara to defend the Lines of Communication of the Tigris Defences.
31.10.1918 Ended the war in Mesopotamia, Basra.

1/7th (Cyclist) Battalion Territorial Force.
04.08.1914 Stationed at Exeter and then moved to Totnes and then Seaton Carew, N.W. Hartlepool.
1916-1917 At Bawdsey, Suffolk.
1918 Moved to Canterbury as part of the 11th Cyclist Brigade of the Cyclist Division.

2/4th Battalion Territorial Force.
16.09.1914 Formed at Exeter as part of the 2/Devon & Cornwall Brigade of the 2/Wessex Division.
12.12.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton.
15.10.1917 Embarked for Egypt from Bombay landing at Suez and transferred to the 234th Brigade of the 75th Division which engaged in various actions against Turkish forces including;
During 1917
The Third Battle of Gaza, The Capture of Junction Station, The Battle of Nabi Samweil.
During 1918
The Battle of Tell'Asur, The Battle of Berukin.
17.08.1918 Left the 75th Division and disbanded in Egypt.

2/5th Battalion Territorial Force.
16.09.1914 Formed at Plymouth.
05.09.1915 Embarked for Egypt from Devonport.
June 1916 Disbanded in Egypt.

2/6th Battalion Territorial Force.
16.09.1914 Formed at Barnstable as part of the 2/Devon & Cornwall Brigade of the 2/Wessex Division.
12.12.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton.
14.09.1917 Moved to Basra to defend the Lines of Communication.
31.10.1918 Ended the war in Mesopotamia, Amara.

2/7th (Cyclist) Battalion Territorial Force.
Oct 1914 Formed at Totnes.
1916 Moved to Sevenoaks.
1917 Moved to Margate and attached to the 5th Cyclist & 222nd Brigades.
1918 Moved to Southminster and attached to the 67th Division then moved to Maldon.

3/4th 3/5th and 3/6th Battalion Territorial Force.
25.03.1915 Formed at Exeter, Plymouth and Barnstaple.
Autumn 1915 Moved to Bournemouth.
08.04.1916 Became the 4th 5th and 6th Reserve battalions.
01.09.1916 The 4th absorbed the 5th and 6th battalions and moved to Winchester as part of the Wessex Reserve Brigade.
Oct 1916 Moved to Bournemouth.
Mar 1917 Moved to Sutton Veny and then Larkhill.
April 1918 Moved to Belfast, Ireland and then Londonderry and Clonmany, Donegal.

3/7th (Cyclist) Battalion Territorial Force.
1915 Formed and then abolished in Mar 1916.

8th (Service) Battalion
19.08.1914 Formed at Exeter as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Rushmoor Camp, Aldershot as part of the 14th Division.
Nov 1914 Moved to Barossa Barracks, Aldershot and then Farnham, and back to Aldershot.
26.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and transferred to the 20th Brigade of the 7th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of Loos 1915
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin and the attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, Operations on the Ancre.
During 1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Arras offensive, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
Nov 1917 Moved to Italy arriving at Legnago to strengthen the Italian resistance against the Austria-Hungary forces and engaged in various actions including;
The crossing the Piave and the Battle of Vittoria Veneto.
04.11.1918 Ended the war in Italy, Cisterna east of Gradisca.

9th (Service) Battalion
15.09.1914 Formed at Exeter as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Rushmoor Camp, Aldershot as part of the 20th Division.
Oct 1914 Moved to Bisley and the Tournai Barracks, Aldershot and then Halemere and then Bordon leaving the 20th Division.
28.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and transferred to the 20th Brigade of the 7th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of Loos 1915
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin and the attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, Operations on the Ancre.
During 1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Arras offensive, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
Nov 1917 Moved to Italy arriving at Legnago to strengthen the Italian resistance against the Austria-Hungary forces and engaged in various actions including;
The crossing the Piave and the Battle of Vittoria Veneto.
Sept 1918 Moved to France leaving the 7th Division arriving at St. Riquier and joined the 7th Brigade of the 25th Division and once again fought on the Western front including; The Battle of Beaurevoir, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The Pursuit to and Battle of the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Landregies.

10th (Service) Battalion
25.09.1914 Formed at Exeter as part of the Third New Army (K3) and then moved to Stockton Camp, Salisbury Plain as part of the 79th Brigade of the 26th Division and then moved to Bath and the Sutton Veny.
23.09.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and then moved to Salonika and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian forces including;
During 1916
The Battle of Horseshoe Hill.
During 1917
The Battles of Doiran
During 1918
The Battle of Doiran, The Pursuit to the Strumica Valley.
30.09.1918 Ended the war in Macedonia, east of Strumica.

11th (Reserve) Battalion
Nov 1914 Formed in Exeter as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) for the 100th Brigade of the 33rd Division and then moved to Torquay.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve battalion of the 10th reserve Brigade and then moved to Wareham.
01.09.1916 Became the 44th Training Reserve Battalion.

12th (Labour) Battalion
May 1916 Formed at Devonport.
June 1916 Moved to France with the Fourth Army Troops.
April 1917 Became the 152nd and 153rd Labour Companies.

13th (Works) Battalion
June 1916 Formed at Saltash and then moved to Plymouth.
April 1917 became 3rd Labour Battalion.

14th (Labour) Battalion
Aug 1916 Formed at Plymouth.
Oct 1916 Moved to France with the Third Army Troops.
April 1917 Became the 154th and 155th Labour Companies.

15th Battalion Territorial Force
01.01.1917 Formed at Herne Bay from the 86th Provisional Battalion of the 227th Brigade.
1918 Moved to Aldeburgh where it remained.

16th (Royal 1st Devon & Royal North Devon Yeomanry) Battalion Territorial Force
04.01.1917 Formed in Moascar, Egypt from the 2 dismounted yeomanry and transferred to the 229th brigade of the 74th Division.
07.05.1918 Moved to France landing at Marseilles and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Second Battles of the Somme, The Battles of the Hindenburg Line, The Final Advance in Artois and Flanders.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, east of Tournai.

1st Garrison Battalion
08.08.1915 Formed at Weymouth.
27.09.1915 Embarked for Egypt from Devonport, Plymouth.
1917 In Palestine.

2nd (Home Service) Garrison Battalion
July 1916 Formed at Exeter and then moved to Plymouth and Falmouth.
Aug 1917 Became the 5th Battalion of the Royal Defence Corps.

51st (Graduated) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at North Walsham from the 206th Infantry Battalion (Graduated) (previously the 33rd Battalion) as part of the 193rd Brigade of the 64th Division, then moved to Norwich.
May 1918 Moved to Holt where it remained.

52nd (Graduated) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Taverham from the 210th Infantry Battalion (Graduated) (previously the 37th Battalion) as part of the 193rd Brigade of the 64th Division, then moved to Norwich.
26.02.1918 Transferred to the 192nd Brigade and 64th Division.
May 1918 Moved to Cromer where it remained.

53rd (Young Soldier) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Sutton Mandeville from the 35th Young Soldier battalion as part of the 8th Reserve Brigade.
Jan 1918 Moved to Rollestone where it remained.

Devonshire Regiment during WW2

WW2 Battalions of the Devonshire Regiment

1st Battalion:
September 1939: On the outbreak of war the Battalion was in India. It spent the entire war in India, Ceylon and Burma.

2nd Battalion:
The Battalion for the duration of the war was part of 231st Infantry Brigade and fought in Malta, Sicily, and Italy.
06 June 1944: On D-Day, the Battalion should have landed at Le Hamel, on Gold Beach, behind the 1st Hampshires. However, owing to bad weather and an unexpectedly high tidal surge, three of the four Companies were carried over a mile to the east before they could land and had to make their way to their assigned assembly point on foot. The Battalion continued to fight throughout the Battle of Normandy and the liberation of North-West Europe.

12th Battalion:
06 June 1944: The Battalion landed in Normandy where it was involved in “Operation Mallard. It was part of the 6th Airlanding Brigade, 6th Airborne Division.
12 June 1944: It also fought in the Battle of Breville.
December 1944: Involved in the Battle of the Bulge.
24 March 1945: The Battalion with the same Division fought a long side with the American 17th Airborne Division in the Rhine crossing “Operation Varsity”.

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