Unit History: Royal Norfolk Regiment
The Regiment was first formed in 1685 by Henry Cornewall as Henry Cornewall’s Regiment of Foot during the Monmouth Rebellion, when James Scott the 1st Duke of Monmouth (the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II and the current King’s nephew) unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the unpopular King James II but his small force was swiftly put down at the Battle of Sedgemoor.
In 1688 Prince William of Orange was invited to take the throne by the English Lords and upon his arrival in England James II abdicated. However, the Regiment’s new colonel Oliver Nicholas refused to pledge his allegiance to the new King William III and was replaced by John Cunningham as colonel. The Regiment was soon in action against its old King when James II attempted to regain his throne and fought at the Battles of Londonderry, Boyne, Aughrim and the Siege of Athlone and Limerick. In 1751 the traditional system of naming Regiments after the current colonel was simplified with a number assigned according to the Regiments precedence; therefore Stewart’s Regiment became the 9th Regiment of Foot.
The Regiment went on to serve during the Seven Years War (1754–1763) and took part in the Capture of Havana moving to the Florida in 1763 after hostilities ceased and remained there for six years. Only 300 men remained in 1763 of the 1,000 who had set out a year earlier, only 20 of which had been killed in action, the remained were casualties of malaria and yellow fever which ravaged all of the Regiments in the West Indies at the time. During the American War of Independence the Regiment were part of Major General John Burgoyne’s ill fated force until 1777 when he surrendered at his whole army Saratoga and remained prisoners of war for three years.
In 1782 all British Regiments without Royal titles were awarded county titles in order to aid recruitment form that area therefore the 9th became the 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot. During the Napoleonic Wars the 9th fought at Roliça, Vimiero and Corunna before participating in the disastrous Walcheren Campaign. The Regiment returned to the Peninsula to fight at the Battles of Busaco, Salamanca, Vittoria, at the Siege of San Sebastián, and at Nive. The Regiment went on to served during the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–1842) and the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–1846) as well as fighting at the Siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War (1853–1856). In 1857 it was deployed to Japan stationed at Yokohama to assist in the opening of that port for international trade.
In 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms which restructured the British army into a network of multi-battalion Regiments. The 9th managed to avoid amalgamation with another Regiment and became the Norfolk Regiment. The Regiment was awarded the Royal title in 1935 as part of the King George V silver jubilee celebrations becoming the Royal Norfolk Regiment. The Regiment went on to serve during Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-87), Anglo - Boer War (1899–1902) and two World Wars.
In 1959 the regiment was amalgamated with the Suffolk Regiment to for the 1st East Anglian Regiment. This was further amalgamated in 1964 it was further merged with The Royal Leicester Regiment, The Norfolk and Suffolk Regiments, The Duchess of Gloucester’s Own Lincolnshire Regiment and the Northampton Regiment to form the Royal Anglian Regiment.
Royal Norfolk 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 19 Battalions, was awarded 70 Battle Honours and 1 Victoria Cross losing 6,000 men during the course of the war.
04.08.1914 Stationed at Holywood, Belfast as part of the 15th Brigade of the 5th Division.
Aug 1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of Mons and subsequent retreat, The Battle of Le Cateau and the Affair of Crepy-en-Valois, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914, The First Battle of Ypres.
The Second Battle of Ypres and the Capture of Hill 60
The Attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
The Battle of Vimy, The Attack on La Coulotte, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Capture of Oppy Wood, 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 Italian resistance after a recent disaster at the Battle of Caporetto. The Division was positioned along the River Piave.
April 1918 Returned to France arriving at Doullens;
The Battle of Hazebrouck, Defence of Nieppe Forest, 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 at Jolimetz S.E. of Le Quesnoy, France
04.08.1914 Stationed in India as part of the 18th Indian Brigade of the 6th (Poona) Division.
06.11.1914 Embarked for Mesopotamia from Bombay landing at Sanniya.
29.04.1916 Captured at Kut al Amara.
04.02.1916 Composite Battalion was formed at El Orah, Tigris while battalion was besieged, from drafts and recovered wounded of the 2nd Norfolk and 2nd Dorset battalions, nicknamed the Norsets and was part of the 21st Brigade of the 7th Indian Division.
21.07.1916 Composite Battalion broken up.
16.07.1916 2nd Battalion reconstituted with two companies of the Norsets and reinforcements.
Feb 1917 Transferred to the 37th Indian Brigade of the 14th Indian Division. Ended the war in Imam Abbas near Mirjana N.E. of Baghdad, Mesopotamia.
3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Norwich.
09.08.1914 Moved to Felixstowe where it remained.
1/4th & 1/5th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 The 1/4th Stationed at St.Giles Norwich and the 1/5th stationed at East Dereham both as part of the Norfolk & Suffolk Brigade of the East Anglian Division.
Aug 1914 Moved to Colchester.
May 1915 Moved to Watford and the formation became the 163rd Brigade of the 54th Division.
29.07.1915 Embarked for Gallipoli from Liverpool via Mudros.
10.08.1915 Landed at Suvla Bay and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army.
The 1/5th are the referred to as the ‘Vanished Battalion’ because during the Dardanelles Campaign the Battalion went into battle and ‘disappeared’. This was dramatised in the British television program ‘All the King’s men’ in 1999.
19.12.1915 the 1/4th was evacuated from Gallipoli to Alexandria due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather. The Division went on to engaged in various actions including;
Suez Canal Defence.
The First Battle of Gaza, The Second Battle of Gaza, The Third Battle of Gaza, The Capture of Gaza, The Battle of Jaffa.
The fight at Ras el'Ain, The operations at Berukin, The Battle of Sharon.
31.10.1918 Ended the war in Beirut, Palestine.
1/6th (Cyclist) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Norwich as part of the east coast defence in Norfolk.
1918 attached to various formations at various locations, then moved to Ireland and stationed at Tralee, Castle Mayo & Randalstown.
2/4th & 2/5th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 The 2/4th formed at Norwich.
Oct 1914 the 2/5th formed at East Dereham, then both moved to Peterborough and joined the 208th Brigade of the 69th Division.
July 1915 Bury St. Edmunds.
July 1916 Moved Harrogate and then Doncaster.
April 1917 Moved to Thoresby and then back to Doncaster.
June 1918 Disbanded and remaining personnel transferred to the 4th Reserve Battalion.
2/6th (Cyclist) Battalion Territorial Force
Oct 1914 Formed at Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire.
1917 Moved to Filey & Hunmanby.
1918 Moved back to Bridlington.
3/4th & 3/5th Battalion Territorial Force
1915 Formed at Norwich & East Dereham.
Aug 1915 Moved to Windsor Great Park.
Oct 1915 Halton park, Tring.
08.04.1916 Became the 4th & 5th Reserve Battalions
01.09.1916 The 4th Battalion absorbed the 5th Battalion as part of the East Anglian Reserve Brigade.
Nov 1917 Moved to Crowborough and then Hastings.
3/6th (Cyclist) Battalion Territorial Force
May 1915 Formed at Norwich and disbanded in Mar 1916.
7th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Norwich as part of the First New Army (K1) and moved to Shorncliffe joining the 35th Brigade of the 12th Division.
Jan 1915 Moved to Romney and Littlestone.
Feb 1915 Moved to Malplaquet Barracks, Aldershot.
31.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of Loos.
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Le Transloy,
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Arleux, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Cambrai operations.
The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras 1918, The Battle of Amiens, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Epehy, The Final Advance in Artois.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Landas east of Orchies, France.
8th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Norwich as part of the Second New Army (K2) then moved to Shorncliffe to join 53rd Brigade of the 18th Division.
Oct 1914 Moved to Colchester and then Codford.
25.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
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.
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.
12.02.1918 Disbanded at Elverdinghe; 15 Officers & 300 men transferred to the 9th Battalion and 5 Officers & 100 men transferred to the 7th Battalion.
9th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Norwich as part of the Third New Army (K3) then moved to Shoreham to join 71st Brigade of the 24th Division.
Jan 1915 Moved to Brighton and back to Shoreham and then Blackdown, Aldershot.
30.08.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne.
11.10.1915 Transferred to the 71st Brigade of the 6th Division which engaged in various actions on the western front including;
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
The Battle of Hill 70, The Cambrai operations
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Advance in Flanders, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of Beaurevoir, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Bohain, France.
10th (Reserve) Battalion
Oct 1914 Formed at Walton-on-the-Naze as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) as part of the 94th Brigade of the 31st Division.
Mar 1915 Moved to Felixstowe.
10.04.1915 became a 2nd Reserve Battalion and the Brigade became the 6th Reserve Brigade.
May 1915 Moved to Colchester.
Mar 1916 Moved to Parkeston Harwich.
01.09.1916 Became the 25th Training Reserve Battalion.
11th Battalion Territorial Force
01.01.1917 Formed at Guildford from the 61st Provisional Battalion as part of the 212th Brigade of the 71st Division.
Mar 1917 Moved to Colchester.
12th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Battalion Territorial Force
11.02.1917 Formed in Egypt from the dismounted Norfolk Yeomanry as part of the 230th brigade o f the 7th Division.
01.05.1918 Embarked for France from Alexandria arriving at Marseilles 07.05.1918.
21.06.1918 Transferred to the94th Brigade of the31st Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of Ypres, The action of Tieghem.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Avelghem, Belgium.
1st Garrison Battalion
Sept 1915 Formed at Seaford and went to India in Dec 1915.