Unit History: West India Regiment

West India Regiment
The (WIR) West India Regiment was a British infantry regiment which was formed in the year 1795. The forces were made up predominantly of recruits from Britain, with a small number of other Europeans, West Indians and some colonies of the Caribbean between 1795 to 1927.  The original intention was the recruitment of free blacks along with purchased slaves from the West Indian plantations.
Due to the Mutiny act passed in 1807 by British parliament that same year all black soldiers who were recruited as slaves in the WIR where freed.  Later in 1808 the Abolition Act ceased all trading of slaves to be declared unlawful.  In 1812 a recruiting depot was established on the island of Blance in the Sierra Leone by the WIR to train volunteers from West Africa.  Then by the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1816 and the reduction the WIR depot was to be closed.  Though the WIR saw considerable service in the Napoleonic Wars.  In 1800 there were 12 battalion sized regiments with this title.  The numbers started reducing after 1815 to the end of the nineteenth century there were never less than two WIR West Indian Regiments.  By 1888 these were merged to create a single regiment comprising two battalions.  A third battalion was raised in 1897, but was later disbanded in 1904.
Therefore on the outbreak of WWI all recruits where from West Indian volunteers, with the senior NCO’s and officers coming from England.
With the foundation of Federation of the West Indies in 1958 it was decided to raise the West India Regiment once more.  Jamaican troops formed the main volume of the 1st Battalion.  The 2nd and 3rd Battalions formed by 1960.   Thought the Federation was short lived and once again the WIR was disbanded by 1962 with the battalions personnel used to establish the infantry regiments of the two largest islands Jamaica and Trinidad

West India Regiment during WW1

On the outbreak of war in August 1914 the 1st battalion was based in Freetown and saw service against the German Cameroons and took part in the capture of Yaoundé. The WIR were then sent to Mombasa in Kenya to take part in the East African campaign against the German forces. For their services in East Africa the WIR was mentioned in despatches and earned eight Distinguished Conduct Medals.

Following their service in west Africa the 2nd Battalion of the WIR was shipped to the Suez, then later transformed to Lydda in Palestine where in stayed to the end of the war.

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