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Unit History: Monmouthshire Regiment

Monmouthshire Regiment
In 1858 Felice Orsini and a group of Italian nationalists attempted to assassinate Napoleon III with bombs made in Birmingham and perceived English backing, the attack killed eight people but Napoleon III was unharmed.  The ensuing political uproar resulted in a perceived threat of invasion from France and many volunteer rifle units formed throughout Britain for potential homeland defense until 1860.  In 1880 a number of these Volunteer Rifle units in Monmouthshire were consolidated into the Monmouthshire Rifle Volunteer Corps.  As part of the Childers Reforms, the Corps became the volunteer battalions of the South Wales Borderer Regiment, which sought to restructured the British army infantry Regiments into a network of multi-battalion Regiments each with two regular and two militia battalions.
 
The Territorial and Reserve Forces Act of 1907 converted the Volunteer force into the Territorial Force which consisted of 14 Infantry Divisions and was the fore runner of the Territorial Army.  Therefore the volunteer battalions of the South Wales Borderer were re-designated as the Monmouthshire Regiment.  Territorial units were envisaged as a home defence force during wartime and could not be compelled to serve outside the country; however any member or unit could volunteer for overseas service.  At the outbreak of the First World War approximately half of the active battalions at the time volunteered for service in France.  As a result a second line of Territorial units were raised to fill the gap in homeland defence and battalions were renamed so that the first line became the 1/1st battalion and the seconded duplicate became 2/1st battalion, in many cases a third line was formed as the second joined the first in overseas service.
 
Following the end of the war the Territorial Force was disbanded but recruitment started again in 1920 and it was renamed as the Territorial Army.  In 1922 the Territorial Army was reduced in size and the 3rd Battalion of the Monmouthshire Regiment was amalgamated with the Brecknockshire Battalion of the South Wales Borderers to form the 3rd (Brecknockshire and Monmouthshire) Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment.
 
From 1938 the threat of European war re-emerged and many battalions were converted to anti-aircraft roles, the 1st Battalion became a searchlight Regiment and transferred to the Royal Engineers initially and then to the Royal Artillery in 1940 and ceased to be part of the Monmouthshire Regiment.
 
The Regiment was once again expanded during the Second World War to three Battalions and took part in various offensives.  The Territorial Force was once again reduced in size following the cessation of war.  The Regiment was reduced to a single Battalion from 1947 and finally disbanded in 1967.  The lineage and traditions of the Regiment are continued today by the 3rd Battalion Territorial Army Reserve of the Royal Welsh.

Monmouthshire 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 to rival 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 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 raise 10 Battalions and received 25 Battle honours during the course of the war.

1/1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Stow Hill, Newport as part of the Welsh Border Brigade of the Welsh Division and then moved to Pembroke Dock.
10.08.1914 Moved to Oswestry and then on to Northampton and then Bury St. Edmunds.
Jan 1915 Moved to Cambridge.
Feb 1915 Mobilised for war leaving the Welsh Division and landing in France joining the 84th Brigade of the 28th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The Second Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Loos.
27.05.1915 Amalgamated with the 1/2nd and 1/3rd Battalions.
11.08.1915 Resumed its identity.
03.09.1915 Transferred to the 46th Division as a Pioneer Battalion and the Division engaged in various actions including;
1916
The diversionary attack at Gommecourt.
1917
Operations on the Ancre, Occupation of the Gommecourt defences, The attack on Rettemoy Graben, The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The attack on Lievin, The Battle of Hill 70.
1918
The Battle of the St Quentin canal, The Battle of the Beaurevoir Line, The Battle of Cambrai, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war S.W. of Avesnes, France.

1/2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Pontypool as part of the Welsh Border Brigade of the Welsh Division and then moved to Pembroke Dock.
10.08.1914 Moved to Oswestry and then on to Northampton.
Nov 1914 Mobilised for war leaving the Welsh Division and landing in Havre joining the 12th Brigade of the 4th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1914
The Battle of Le Cateau, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battle of Messines.
1915
The Second Battle of Ypres.
27.05.1915 Amalgamated with the 1/1st and 1/3rd Battalions as part of the 84th Brigade of the 28th Division.
24.07.1915 Resumed its identity and rejoined the 12th Brigade of the 4th Division.
03.09.1916 Transferred to defend the Lines of Communication.
01.05.1916 Transferred to the 29th Division as a Pioneer Battalion and the Division engaged in various actions including;
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of the Transloy Ridges.
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Langemarck, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Battle of Cambrai.
1918
The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Messines 1918, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The defence on Nieppe Forest, The Battle of Bailleul, The Action of Outtersteene Ridge, The capture of Ploegsteert and Hill 63, The Battle of Ypres 1918, The Battle of Courtrai.
11.11.1918 Ended the war Celles west of Renaix, Belgium.

1/3rd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Abergavenny as part of the Welsh Border Brigade of the Welsh Division and then moved to Pembroke Dock.
10.08.1914 Moved to Oswestry and then on to Northampton and then Bury St. Edmunds.
Jan 1915 Moved to Cambridge.
Feb 1915 Mobilised for war leaving the Welsh Division and landing in Havre joining the 83rd Brigade of the 28th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The Second Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Loos.
27.05.1915 Amalgamated with the 1/1st and 1/3rd Battalions.
24.07.1915 Resumed its identity and rejoined the 83rd Brigade of the 28th Division.
02.09.1915 Transferred to the 49th Division as a Pioneer Battalion and the Division engaged in various actions including;
1915
The Battle of Aubers Ridge, The defence against the first Phosgene attack.
09.08.1916 Transferred to the G.H.Q. Troops.
31.08.1916 Broken up and remaining personnel posted to the 1/1st & 1/2nd battalions.

2/1st Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Newport.
20.02.1915 Moved to Cambridge to join the Welsh Border Brigade of the Welsh Division.
19.04.1915 Transferred to the 205th Brigade of the 68th Division and moved to Northampton.
July 1915 Move to Bedford and then Lowestoft.
Spring 1917 Moved to Herringfleet and then back to Lowestoft.
31.03.1918 Disbanded.

2/2nd Battalion
Sept Formed at Pontypool Moved to Northampton to join the Welsh Border Brigade of the Welsh Division.
Dec 1914 Moved to Cambridge.
April 1915 Moved to Northampton and transferred to the 205th Brigade of the 68th Division.
July 1915 Move to Bedford and then Lowestoft.
Spring 1917 Moved to Herringfleet, Suffolk and then back to Lowestoft.
20.04.1918 Disbanded.

2/3rd Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Abergavenny.
Feb 1915 Moved to Cambridge to join the Welsh Border Brigade of the Welsh Division.
April 1915 Transferred to the 205th Brigade of the 68th Division and moved to Northampton.
July 1915 Move to Bedford and then Lowestoft.
Spring 1917 Moved to Herringfleet, Suffolk.
Aug 1917 Disbanded and remaining personnel transferred to the 2/1st and 2/2nd Battalions.

3/1st 3/2nd & 3/3rd Battalions
Feb 1915 Formed at home stations and then all moved to Abergavenny and then Oswestry.
08.04.1916 Became the 1st 2nd & 3rd Reserve Battalions.
01.09.1916 the 1st absorbed the 2nd & 3rd as part of the Welsh Reserve Brigade.
Summer 1917 Moved to Gobowen, Shropshire.
10.07.1917 Absorbed the 1st Reserve Brecknock Battalion.
Mar 1918 Moved to Kinmel, Conwy.
July 1918 Moved to Herne Bay, Kent.

4th Battalion
01.01.1917 Formed at Cromer from the 48th Provisional Battalion as part of the 224th Brigade.
Summer 1917 Moved to Mundesley, Norfolk.
May 1918 Moved to Happisburgh, Norfolk.
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Active From: 1860 - 1967

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