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Unit History: East Surrey Regiment

East Surrey Regiment
The Regiment was officially formed in 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms when the 31st and 70th Regiments of Foot were amalgamated.  However the Regiment can trace its history back a further 180 years prior to this date.
 
The 31st was first formed in 1702 by George Villier in the West Country.  It first served as a marines unit which helped to capture Spanish galleons at Vigo Bay in 1702, and went on to served during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) fighting at Gibraltar, Nice and Antibes and besieged Toulon.  In 1714 it became a regular infantry Regiment and was then deployed to Scotland against the First Jacobite Rebellion, when James Edward, the son of the deposed James II, was unsuccessful in his attempted to retake the crown his father had lost in 1688.  It then went on to serve during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), suffering such heavy losses at the battle of Fontenoy (1745) that it was unable to participate in the suppression of the Second Jacobite Rebellion, when Bonnie Prince Charlie (the grandson of James II) landed in Scotland, again attempting to regain the lost crown to the Stuart family.
 
In 1751 the Regimental naming systems was simplified with each Regiment assigned a ranked number accordingly the Regiment was renamed as the 31st Regiment of Foot.  The 31st went on to serve during the American War of Independence from 1776-1781 fighting at the Battle of Saratoga.  In 1782 all Regiments without Royal titles were granted county titles in order to aid recruitment from that area therefore, the Regiment became 31st (Huntingdonshire) Regiment of Foot.  The Regiment went on to fight at the Battle of Kabul (1842) during the First Anglo-Afghan War, then served the Honourable East India Company in their struggle against the Sikh Empire in 1845 and fought at the battles of Mudki, Ferozeshah, Aliwal and Sobraon.  The Regiment went on to serve during the Crimean War fighting at the Siege of Sevastopol, and then during the Second Opium War in China.
 
In 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms the 31st was merged with the 70th (Surrey) Regiment to become East Surrey Regiment.  The 70th was initially formed as a 2nd Battalion of the 31st but in 1758 it became an independent Regiment and was numbered the 70th Regiment of Foot.  It was deployed to the West Indies for 10 years and then served during the American War of Independence (1775-83).  In 1782 it was awarded the county title of Surrey and became The 70th (Surrey) Regiment.  The Regiment returned to the West Indies in 1794-1800 and participated in the Capture of Martinique during the French Revolutionary Wars.  The Regiment was re-deployed to the West Indies for 8 years in 1804 and suffered greatly from disease.  In 1811 four companies returned to Scotland to recruit men which lead to re-designation as The 70th (Glasgow Lowland) Regiment.  It was sent to reinforce the garrison in Canada during the Anglo-American War of 1812-1815 and remained there until 1827 when it regained the ‘Surrey’ county title.  The Regiment had its first Indian posting in Bengal (1848-57), before fighting in the Maori Wars (1845-66) in New Zealand and then went on to fight during the Second Afghan War (1878-80).
 
In 1959 The East Surrey Regiment was amalgamated with the Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) to form the The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment.  In 1992 it was amalgamated with The Royal Hampshire Regiment to form The Princesses of Wales's Royal Regiment.
 

East Surrey 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 18 Battalions in World War I and was awarded 62 Battle Honours, 7 Victoria Crosses and lost 6,750 men during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dublin as part of the 14th Brigade of the 5th Division.
15.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
During 1914
The Battle of Mons and subsequent retreat, The Battle of Le Cateau, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914, 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.
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.
12.01.1916 Transferred to the 95th Brigade of the same Division and continued to fight on the Western Front;
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.
Dec 1917 Moved to Italy to strengthen the Italian resistance.
April 1918 Returned to France arriving at Frevent and once again engaged in various actions on the Western Front;
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 in Chaubattia, India at the outbreak of war.
Nov 1914 Embarked for England landing at Devonport and then moved to Winchester to join the 85th Brigade of the 28th Division.
19.01.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Second Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Loos.
Oct 1915 Moved to Egypt arriving at Alexandria.
26.11.1915 Moved to Salonika
During 1916
The occupation of Mazirko, The capture of Barakli Jum'a.
During 1917
The capture of Ferdie and Essex Trenches, The capture of Barakli and Kumli.
During 1918
The Battle of Doiran, The pursuit to the Strumica valley.
30.09.1918 Ended the war in Macedonia, Dzuma Obasi north of Lake Doiran.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Kingston-on-Thames and then moved to Dover.

4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Kingston-on-Thames and then moved to Plymouth.
June 1915 Moved to Saltash.
Sept 1917 Moved to Felixstowe.

1/5th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Wimbledon as part of the Surrey Brigade of the Home Counties Division and then moved to Chatham, then on to Maidstone and then Canterbury.
29.10.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton arriving at Bombay.
02.12.1914 The Division was broken up and the battalion moved to Mesopotamia arriving at Basra 27.12.1917.
10.02.1918 Joined the 55th Brigade of the 18th Indian Division and engaged in various actions including;
The Actions at the Fat-ha Gorge, The actions on Little Zab and the Battle of Sharqat.
31.10.1918 Ended the war in Mesopotamia, Lesser Zab River north of Tikrit.

1/6th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Kingston-on-Thames as part of the Surrey Brigade of the Home Counties Division and then moved to Maidstone and then Canterbury.
29.10.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton arriving at Bombay.
02.12.1914 The Division was broken up and the battalion moved to Aden, Yemen arriving 07.02.1917.
Jan 1918 Returned to India and remained there until the end of the war.

2/5th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Wimbledon and then moved to Windsor to join the 200th Brigade of the 67th Division.
May 1915 Moved to Tunbridge Wells and then Reigate.
June 1916 Moved to Sevenoaks and then Thanet, Kent and then Westgate.
Nov 1917 Disbanded.


2/6th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Kingston-on-Thames and then moved to Windsor to join the 200th Brigade of the 67th Division.
May 1915 Moved to Tunbridge Wells and then Redhill.
June 1916 Moved to Thanet, Kent and then Margate.
Nov 1917 Disbanded.

3/5th and 3/6th Battalion Territorial Force
July 1915 Formed at Wimbledon and Kingston-on-Thames and then moved to Cambridge.
April 1916 Moved to Crowborough and then became the 5th and 6th (Reserve) Battalions.
01.09.1916 The 5th absorbed the 6th as part of the Home Counties Reserve Brigade Territorial Force.
Oct 1916 Moved to Tonbridge.
Sept 1918 Moved to Tunbridge Wells.

7th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Kingston-on-Thames as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Purfleet to join the 37th Brigade of the 12th Division.
Feb 1915 Moved to Aldershot.
02.06.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos.
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Le Transloy.
During 1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Arleux, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Cambrai operations.
05.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

8th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Kingston-on-Thames as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Purfleet to join the 55th Brigade of the 18th Division.
April 1915 Moved to Colchester and then Salisbury Plain.
28.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Thiepval Ridge, The Battle of the Ancre Heights, The Battle of the Ancre.
During 1917
Operations on the Ancre, The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Langemarck, First Battle of Passchendaele, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of the Avre, The actions of Villers-Brettoneux, The Battle of Amiens, The Battle of Albert, The Second Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Pommereuil east of Le Cateau.

9th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Kingston-on-Thames as part of the Third New Army (K3) and then moved to Shoreham to join the 72nd Brigade of the 24th Division.
April 1915 Moved to Shoreham and then Blackdown.
01.09.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos
During 1916
The German gas attack at Wulverghem, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Guillemont.
During 1917
The Battle of Vimy Ridge, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations.
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Actions at the Somme Crossings, The Battle of Rosieres, The First Battle of the Avre, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Bavai.

10th (Reserve) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed as a service battalion at Dover as part of the Fourth New Army (K4) and join the 95th Brigade of the 32nd Division.
10.04.1915 Became the 2nd Reserve Battalion of the 7th Reserve Brigade and moved to Purfleet and then Shoreham.
May 1916 Moved to Dover and became the 30th Training Reserve Battalion.

11th (Reserve) Battalion
01.11.1914 Formed as a service battalion at Devonport as part of the Fourth New Army (K4) and join the 100th Brigade of the 33rd Division and then moved to Dartmouth.
10.04.1915 Became 2nd Reserve Battalion and then moved to Colchester to join the 5th Reserve Brigade.
01.09.1916 Became the 21st Training Reserve Battalion at Shoreham.

12th (Service) Battalion (Bermondsey)
14.05.1915 Formed by the Mayor and Borough of Bermondsey and then moved to Witley to join the 122nd Brigade of the 41st Division.
Feb 1916 moved to Aldershot.
02.05.1916 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
During 1916
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of the Transloy Ridges.
During 1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of the Menin Road, Operations on the Flanders coast.
Nov 1917 Moved to Italy arriving at Mantua, to strengthen the Italian resistance.
Mar 1918 Returned to France arriving at Mandicourt and once again engaged in various actions on the Western front;
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Arras, The Battles of the Lys, The Advance in Flanders, The Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Courtrai, The action of Ooteghem.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Etichove south of Audenarde.

13th (Service) Battalion (Wandsworth)
16.06.1915 Formed by the Mayor and the Borough of Wandsworth.
28.08.1915 Taken over by the war office and then moved to Witley to join the 41st Division.
Oct 1915 Transferred to the 118th Brigade of the 39th Division and then moved to Aldershot and then Witley.
23.02.1916 Transferred to the 120th Brigade of the 40th Division and then moved to Blackdown.
04.06.1916 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
During 1916
The Battle of the Ancre.
During 1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The capture of Fifteen Ravine, Villers Plouich, Beaucamp and La Vacquerie, The Cambrai Operations.
16.02.1918 Transferred to the 119th Brigade of the same Division
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck.
05.05.1918 Reduced to Training cadre.
03.06.1918 Transferred to the 34th Division.
17.06.1918 Transferred to the 39th Division.
30.06.1918 Transferred to the 7th Brigade of the 25th Division and embarked for England from Boulogne and then moved to Aldershot.
16.07.1918 Moved to Lowestoft and reconstituted with the 15th Battalion.
03.11.1918 Disbanded in England.

14th (Reserve) Battalion
Summer 1915 Formed as a local reserve battalion at Wandsworth from the depot companies of the 12th and 13th Battalions.
Nov 1915 Moved to Gravesend.
Jun 1916 Absorbed by other battalions as part of the 26th Reserve Brigade.

15th Battalion
01.06.1918 Formed at Lowestoft and then absorbed by the 13th Battalion.

East Surrey Regiment during WW2

WW2 Battalions of The East Surrey Regiment

The Regular Battalions
1st Battalion:
September 1939: The Battalion was based in England and was part of the 4th Infantry Division.
1940: Were sent to France soon after the outbreak of WW2
June 1940: Were evacuated at Dunkirk and returned to the UK. Where it was reformed and was assigned to 11th Infantry Brigade, part of 78th Infantry Division, with which it remained for the rest of the war.
November 1942: After two years of training in England and Scotland they landed in North Africa, as part of the assaulting troops of “Operation Torch”; this was the first Anglo-American operation of the War. They then moved on to the Battle of Tebourba.
1943: The capture of Tunis and Medjez-el-Bab.
1943: It then served throughout the campaigns in Sicily and Italy.
February 1944: Had now been moved to the Cassino sector.
May 1944: Took part in the fourth and final Battle of Monte Cassino.
June 1944: They fought a hard engagement at Lake Trasimeno on the Trasimene Line.
July 1944: The Battalion had a short break in Egypt for training.
September 1944: Returned to Italy in time to take part in Operation Olive.
Late 1944: The Battalion went on to fight in the Apennine Mountains and occupied positions on Monte Spaduro when the front became static.
February 1945: The battalion came began further training.
Late March 1945: They were put in place on the banks of the Senio River ready for the offensive in Italy codenamed 'Operation Grapeshot'.
April 1945: Fought at the Argenta Gap before advancing to the north of the Gulf of Venice.
May 1945: Crossed the Italian border into Austria, Germany surrendered.

2nd Battalion:
1940: The Battalion sailed from China to Malaya it became attached to 11th Indian Division based in North West Malaya.
December 1941: Malaya was invaded by the Japanese Army and the Battalion suffered considerably from casualties and taken prisoner during the defence and retreat.
19 December 1941: The Battalion was amalgamated with the 1st Battalion of The Leicestershire Regiment to form the "British Battalion", and fought gallantly throughout the rest of the short Malayan campaign.
May 1942: The Battalion was reformed in the UK from the re-designation of the 11th Battalion and became attached to the 47th Infantry Division. It did not see further action in the Second World War. The Battalion remained in the UK throughout the war.
September 1942: Became attached to 77th Infantry Division.
January 1945: Became attached to 45th Infantry Division.
August 1945: Finally became attached to 61st Infantry Division.

Territorial Battalions
1/6th Battalion:
September 1939: The Battalion was part of the 133rd Infantry Brigade, 44th (Home Counties) Division.
April 1940: The Battalion deployed with the 2/6th Bn to France as part of the BEF and fought alongside the 1st Battalion in Belgium.
May 1940: It was transferred to 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and remained with for the rest of the war.
June 1940: It was evacuated from Dunkirk.
March 1943: Along with the 1st Bn continued to see active service in North Africa and took part in the Tunisian Campaign.
February 1944 - May 1945: It was in action in Italy, and it experienced heavy fighting at Cassino and Forli. It then moved to Greece.

2/6th Battalion:
September 1939: The Battalion was part of the 133rd Infantry Brigade, 44th (Home Counties) Division.
April 1940: The Battalion deployed with the 2/6th Bn to France as part of the BEF and fought alongside the 1st Battalion in Belgium
12 June 1940: The Battalion was forced to surrender at St Valery and the majority of the soldiers became prisoners of war. The remainder was later reconstituted and served in the UK for the remainder of the war.


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Active From: 1881 - 1959

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