Shropshire History

Shropshire

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A surprising number of Army units have been formed in Shropshire over the years.  In the early days, many of these were quite amateurish with a landowner recruiting his estate staff or local villagers.  Few ever fought real enemies abroad.  As the British Empire expanded, so did its professional army but it did not meet with a real challenge until the Napoleonic Wars.  A number of political reforms of the Army between the 19th and 21st Centuries had a radical effect on the structure of army units in Shropshire.

 

Cardwell Reforms (1868-74) were instigated by the Secretary of State for War (and former soldier) Edward Cardwell with the support of Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone. Gladstone paid little attention to military affairs but he was keen on efficiency. Germany's stunning triumph over France proved that the Prussian system of professional soldiers with up-to-date weapons was far superior to the traditional system of gentlemen-soldiers that Britain used. In 1870, Parliament approved major changes in Army organization, ie

 

20,000 additional men for the army

 

£2 million pounds budget

 

Abolition of flogging and other harsh disciplinary measures during peace time (flogging was retained as a punishment on active service)

 

Withdrawal of troops from self-governing colonies, which were encouraged to raise their own local forces

 

Abolition of bounty money for recruits

 

Guidelines for the swift discharge of known bad characters

 

Enlistment for a maximum term of twelve years.  Recruits could opt to serve for six years but on discharge a soldier would remain with the reserves for the remainder of the twelve-year term

 

Division of country into 66 Brigade Districts (later renamed Regimental Districts), based on county boundaries and population density

 

All line infantry regiments to consist of two battalions, sharing a depot and associated recruiting area. One battalion would serve overseas, while the other was stationed at home for training. The militia of that area usually then became the third battalion

Abolition of the sale of commissions

 

Abolition of the subaltern ranks of cavalry Cornet and infantry Ensign, replaced with Second Lieutenant

 

Childers Reforms (1881) were instigated by the Secretary of State for War Hugh Childers and were a continuation of the earlier Cardwell reforms. They restructured the infantry regiments of the British army and a network of multi-battalion regiments was formed in England, Wales and Scotland, ie

 

Each regiment to have two regular or "line" battalions and two militia battalions. In Ireland, there were to be two line and three militia battalions

 

Corps of county rifle volunteers to be designated as volunteer battalions

 

An attempt was made to have the facings of uniforms standardised: English and Welsh regiments would have white facings, Irish regiments would wear green facings, Scottish regiments would have yellow facings and royal regiments would have dark blue facings. Officers' uniforms had lace in distinctive national patterns: rose pattern for England and Wales, thistle for Scotland and shamrock for Ireland. In the case of regular battalions, the lace was gold, while that of the militia battalions was silver. There were also attempts to assimilate regimental insignia and remove "tribal" uniform distinctions. This was less successful, as regimental tribalism and tradition forced a national outcry.

 

Haldane Reforms (1906-12) were instigated by the Secretary of State for War Richard Haldane.  They were made in the light of lessons newly learned from the Second Boer War, ie

 

Creation of an expeditionary force, specifically prepared and trained for intervening in a major war

 

Creation of the Special Reserve from existing Militia units

 

Creation of the Territorial Force from existing Volunteer Force and Yeomanry units

 

Establishment of an Officer Training Corps in public schools and universities

 

The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 saw the bulk of the changes put to the test; the Expeditionary Force was quickly sent to the Continent, whilst the Territorial Force and Reserves were mobilised as planned to provide a second line.

 

Strategic Defence Review (1997) instigated by the Labour Government when they came into power. It set out the initial defence policy of the new government, with a series of key decisions designed to enhance the United Kingdom's armed forces, ie

 

The British Armed Forces should be able to respond to a major international crisis which might require a military effort and combat operations

 

It should be able to undertake a more extended overseas deployment on a lesser scale while retaining the ability to mount a second substantial deployment

 

It must retain the ability, at much longer notice, to rebuild a bigger force as part of NATO's collective defence should a major strategic threat re-emerge

 

Strategic Defence and Security Review (2010) was instigated by the newly formed Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government to update security policy and identify budget savings of up to 20%, ie

 

Reorganisation of the Army

 

Reduction in personnel by 7,000 to 95,500 by 2015

 

Army presence in Germany to end by 2020

 

Establishment of a spearhead force

 

Establishment of a Joint Rapid Reaction Force

 

Modernisation and enhancement of the Territorial Army to make it more readily deployable and usable, through greater integration with the regular Army.

 

Links

 

British Army

 

Shropshire Regimental Museum

 

Wikipedia – Cardwell Reforms 1868-74

 

Wikipedia – Childers Reforms 1881

 

Wikipedia – Haldane Reforms 1906-12

 

Wikipedia - Strategic Defence Review 1997

 

Wikipedia - Strategic Defence Review 2010

 

 

 

Gazetteer of Units

 

Shropshire Militia  [1541-1881]

 

The Militia was a form of home defence force whose ancestry can be traced back to the fyrds of Anglo-Saxon times. It was initially controlled and commanded by the county Sheriff but from 1541 came under the command of the county Lord Lieutenant. The earliest records of Militia in Shropshire date to the reign of Henry VIII (1509-47) and Muster Rolls of the General Levy survive from the 1530s. Similar rolls survive from the reign of Elizabeth I, including those relating to the "Trained Bands" formed by Shrewsbury School during 1581-86 and those prepared by the town of Shrewsbury to face the Armada crisis in 1588. Although the Militia were not volunteers, men could actually volunteer to serve in it. An early example of this was the company formed in Shrewsbury in 1623 by Captain Thomas Evans. There were successive reorganisations of the Militia (and war-raised volunteer units) during the English Civil War (1642-51). This force was first styled as militia in the 17th century and each county had to establish such a unit.  In the 17th and 18th centuries, every parish kept nominal lists of men of military age who were required to do military service in time of invasion, warfare or civil strife. These men were not volunteers and had to do military service if called upon. In every parish, a certain number of men were selected by ballot. The only way to avoid this service was by providing a replacement, which wealthier individuals could do by paying someone else (usually a poorer person) to serve in their place.

 

The Militia was under the overall command of the Lord Lieutenant of the county (who also granted commissions to the officers) and the men would have to do an initial period of military training (up to three months) and then a set number of days drill and training each year. Apart from that, they were free to follow their usual professions and occupations. Men trained in the Militia were liable for service for up to three years and could be "embodied" (called up) for war service at any time. The system may be likened to a form of national service but of a more local character since the Militia were not required to serve outside the UK and their prime functions were to

 

1. Provide a local defence force in case of invasion.

2. Provide garrison forces in important locations such as ports to free regular battalions to serve abroad in time of war.

3. Supply regular units serving abroad with trained replacements.

 

In 1762, the national Militia system was reorganised and a Salop Regiment of Regular Militia was formed under the command of the Earl of Bath. The national Militia was greatly expanded during the French Wars (1793-1815) and, like elsewhere in Britain, additional or "Supplementary" regiments were formed. These served, for example, on the south coast of England to strengthen local defences at possible invasion sites or threatened areas.  They also served in southern Ireland during 1812-14. In 1795, an Artillery Company was formed to support the Shropshire Regular Militia. By the end of the Napoleonic War in 1815, the supplementary county regiments had been disbanded, leaving only the one Shropshire Regiment of Militia.  

 

By the early 19th century, the old system of maintaining the Militia by local ballot was failing. It was not being properly administered and numbers being recruited were falling.  Interest in it was in decline and it looked very much as if the Militia would simply cease to exist. However, in 1852 service in the Militia ceased to be compulsory and became voluntary.  Men could simply enlist into the Shropshire Militia if they wanted a taste of army life, the glamour of uniform, the extra money from Militia pay, the excitement of an annual camp away from home and even the possibility of war service (but only in the UK) if war actually threatened. In some respects, it was like an early form of Territorial Army at this time.

 

The Shropshire Militia was "embodied" or called-up for war service at various times of national emergency

Seven Years' War 1756-63 - embodied from October 1763 to 1766.

American Revolutionary War, 1776-83 - embodied from April 14th 1778 to March 15th 1783.

French Wars to 1793-1802 - embodied 1793 to April 14th 1802.

Napoleonic Wars, 1803-15 - embodied March 1803 to Feb. 15th 1815. Served on the south coast of England and Isle of Wight; volunteered to serve in Ireland 1812-14.

Crimean War, 1854-56 - embodied Dec. 12th 1854 to May 1856.

Indian Mutiny, 1875-59 - embodied 1857 to May 1858.

 

In 1881, as a result of the Childers Reforms, the Shropshire Militia was amalgamated into the new King's Light Infantry (Shropshire Regiment) and was designated as the 3rd (Militia) Battalion KSLI. At the same time, control of the Militia was taken from the Lord Lieutenant and appointments and training came under the War Office.

 

53rd (Shropshire) Regiment of Foot   [1755-1881]

 

Formed in 1755 by Colonel William Whitmore of Apley Park, Bridgnorth.  At the time, he was a serving officer in the 3rd Foot Guards and was commissioned to raise the Regiment as part of the expansion of the British army in anticipation of war with France. 

 

 

The Regiment was initially called the 55th Foot but was renumbered to the 53rd in 1757.  It had red facings on the uniforms and got the nickname “The Brickdusts”.  The 18th Century uniform had a tricorne hat but this was replaced by the shako in the early 19th Century. This in turn was replaced by the Home Service Helmet at the end of the 19th Century.

 

         

 

Seven Years’ War (1756-68)

The Regiment mostly served at Gibraltar, with occasional service at sea as marines. A detachment of the 53rd was present on HMS Monmouth in her epic ship-to-ship action with the French flagship Foudroyant.  In 1758, they were part of a British force of 16,000 troops that sailed to take Fort Ticonderoga in America but they were repelled by the 4,000 French defenders during the Battle of Carillon.

 

Ireland (1768-71)

On garrison duty.

 

Minorca (1771)

On garrison duty.

 

Ireland (1771-1776)

After garrison duty in Ireland, the Regiment sailed from Cork to Canada in 1776 to take part in the American Revolutionary War.

 

American Revolutionary War (1776-83)

After arriving in Canada, it helped in the relief of Quebec (1776) and then fought at the battles of Trois-Rivieres (1776) and Valcour Island (1776). In 1777, its Grenadier and Light Infantry Companies were detached to fight in the ill-fated Saratoga Campaign and helped in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. Leaving some of the 53rd behind to defend the fort and its outlying defences, they joined Burgoyne's advance on Albany and subsequent defeat. When Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga in October 1777, the men left behind burned Fort Ticonderoga and its outlying defences on Mount Independence, returning to the Canadian frontier. Meanwhile, the other eight companies took part in Carleton's Raid (1778) and the Burning of the Valleys Campaign (1780). Lieutenant Houghton of the 53rd led the Royalton Raid (1780), burning three towns in eastern Vermont. In 1782, the 53rd was designated “the Shropshire Regiment” and henceforth recruited mainly from the county. In 1787 it returned home.

 

Flanders Campaign (1793-95)

The Regiment was one of the first to be ordered overseas to serve under the Duke of York and earned its first battle honour at Nieuport (1793).  With the other British forces, it was evacuated from Bremen and returned home in 1795.

 

Peninsula War (1793-1815)

A 2nd Battalion of the 53rd was raised and this served through the Peninsular War in Portugal, Spain and France. It took part in the battles of Talavera (1809), Salamanca (1812), Vittoria (1813) and Nivelle (1813), as well as the severe fighting in the passes of the Pyrenees. After pursuing the French army into France, it took part in the last action of the war at Toulouse (1814).

 

West Indies (1796)

The 1st Battalion sailed to the West Indies and took part in the capture of St. Lucia (1796), subsequently serving on St. Vincent and Trinidad before returning home.

 

India (1805-1823)

After a brief spell in England, the 1st Battalion sailed for India, where it saw active service at South Mahratta (1809), Kalunga in Nepal (1812) and the Pindarree War (1817-1819).

 

St Helena (1815-1817)

At the end of the war in 1815, the 2nd Battalion was appointed to be Napoleon’s guard on St. Helena. It returned home in 1817 and was disbanded as part of the reduction of the British Army. The 53rd became a single battalion regiment again. Many of the 2nd Battalion men volunteered for service in the 1st Battalion and joined them in India.

 

Europe (1826-1844)

The Regiment sailed from India and carried out garrison duties in Ireland, Gibraltar, Malta, the Ionian Islands and England. 

 

India (1844-1860)

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The Regiment sailed for India again but, before it left, 241 men of the Regiment were found to be unfit for overseas service so 463 volunteers were required to make it up to strength.

 

1st Sikh War - Sutlej Campaign (1845-46) - The Regiment arrived at Cawnpore in March 1845, sending detachments to Allahabad, and proceeded to Agra and then to Delhi by the end of December. In January 1846, the 53rd was at Kurnaul when it received orders to march at once for Ferozepore to join The Army of the Sutlej for operations against the Sikh kingdom or Khalsa. Leaving Kurnaul in January 1846, the 53rd made its way by forced marches to Busseau, where it received orders to join Sir Harry Smith’s column proceeding to the relief of Ludhiana - at that time threatened by a large Sikh army. The 53rd joined Sir Harry’s force at Jugraon and the whole column began the advance on Ludhiana the next day.

 

Action at Baddiwal - 21st January 1846 - As the column passed the village of Baddiwal at 10.00am on the 21st, intending simply to by-pass the place, its flank came under a heavy fire from the walls of the village fort and from Sikhs posted in force nearby. Sixty-five enemy guns opened on the flank of the column as it marched by and on several occasions Sikh cavalry came out and made ready to charge. The 53rd formed square on one such occasion (losing nine men hit by one round shot), but no charge materialised. On the second appearance of the Sikh cavalry, the 53rd acted as rearguard and covered the march of the British column into Ludhiana. The only response made by the British was some long-range and ineffective cannon fire, the main concern being to reach Ludhiana and not be distracted by minor affairs en route. Large quantities of the column’s baggage was, however, seized by Sikh cavalry as it straggled towards Ludhiana, to the rear of the main column. The 53rd Regiment was fortunate that Quarter Master John Cornes, with the regimental baggage, was able to assemble about 30 men of the 53rd, some sepoys and men of the 16th Lancers and keep over 1,000 mounted Sikhs at bay, thus saving the ammunition and baggage of the 53rd from capture. Cornes and his group showed a bold front to the enemy, who showed no inclination to come to close quarters, and retired on Jurgaon fort.  The skirmishing along the Buddiwal route cost the 53rd Regiment several casualties in killed and wounded.

 

Battle of Aliwal - 28th January 1846 - At 4.00am on January 28th, the British force moved towards the Sikh positions at Aliwal, the 53rd being in Brigadier Wilson’s brigade on the extreme left of the British advance. After a march of ten miles, the enemy positions were seen on a slope about a mile ahead. Covered by an advanced screen of cavalry, the British infantry deployed into line, the cavalry opening their line and moving to the flanks. The order was given to advance in brigades from the right, which immediately caused the Sikhs to open fire with artillery. The British line continued to advance until in musket-range of the Sikhs, who returned fire. Two hundred yards from the Sikh positions, the British infantry received the order to charge, with the 16th Lancers and 3rd Light Cavalry attacking the Sikhs from the flanks. The cavalry charges effectively scattered the Sikhs and broke their formation, allowing the infantry to close with them and defeat them in detail. Having fought its way to the crest of the slope, the 53rd was immediately ordered to clear the nearby village of Bundree, 300 yards away. This the 53rd did at the point of the bayonet. The entire British army then advanced to the banks of the Sutlej, the Sikhs retreating before them in disarray, abandoning their arms and equipment and fleeing across the ford. The 53rd camped next day between Aliwal and Ludhiana. During the battle, it had suffered only 6 men killed and 8 wounded - largely thanks to its advance in double time, lying down every hundred yards, before closing with the enemy. In his dispatch, Sir Harry Smith referred to the 53rd as “a young regiment, but veterans in daring gallantry and regularity”, further commenting that “Lt. Col. Phillips’ bravery and coolness attracted the attention of myself and every staff officer I sent to him”. On the 3rd February 1846, the 53rd marched with the rest of the column to join the main Army of the Sutlej, under Sir Hugh Gough, which was then encamped before the enemy who had taken up strong positions on the left bank of the Sutlej near Sobraon.

 

Battle of Sobraon - 10th February 1846 - On the 10th February, brigaded with the 68th Native Infantry, the 53rd Regiment was under arms at 4.00 a.m. and marched into previously arranged positions prior to a general assault on the Sikh lines. The 53rd and H.M.’s 10th Foot, with some Indian regiments, were to serve as the vanguard of the attack, the whole under command of Sir Robert Dick. The 53rd took the extreme left of the line and lay under cover in a dry stream bed for two hours whilst the British artillery bombarded the Sikh entrenchments. The order was then given for the left division to advance, which it did in double time, but though it came under very heavy fire, it was not halted until about two hundred yards from the Sikh line when enemy cavalry threatened the left of the 53rd. A heavy and well-directed fire of musketry (and grape-shot from a nearby British battery) scattered the Sikh cavalry and the 53rd was able to surge forward with a cheer and clear the entrenchments of their Sikh defenders. The 53rd was the first regiment to close with the Sikhs, but suffered some casualties from Sikh artillery. Captain Warren, the senior Captain, was killed and the Colours took a heavy beating, with the two pike-staffs being broken and men around them shot down. Lieut. Lucas, carrying one of the Colours, was severely wounded. However, the enemy’s right wing having been turned, the Sikhs retreated into the river along their whole line, being fired upon for close on an hour by the entire British force lining the Sutlej.
The 53rd had, in addition to Captain Warren, six men killed and eight officers and 112 men wounded. Of the latter, Captain Smart, Lieut. Clarke, Adjutant Dunning and 12 men later died of their wounds. Captain Smart (Light Company) had been wounded in the leg at the time that the 53rd had been threatened by Sikh cavalry. The left wing of the regiment, falling back to form square, left him out in the open, but seeing this, Ptes. George Marshal, Richard Ware and Thomas Jones left the ranks and rushed forward under a heavy and close fire and carried him to the rear. In recognition of their gallantry, these men were given watches by the relatives of Captain Smart.

 

The 53rd was again chosen as part of the advance guard in the general movement across the Sutlej on February 12th. The river was crossed by boat and a position taken about six miles from the Sutlej to cover the passage of the whole army and its baggage. On the 13th, the army marched for Lahore, encamping just outside its walls on the 20th. It was reviewed here on the 23rd by the Viceroy of India and Sir Hugh Gough. The campaign having come to an end and treaty terms agreed with the Khalsa, the 53rd left Lahore for Umballa and went into cantonments there on April 8th 1846.

 

2nd Sikh War - Punjab Campaign (1848-1849) - When the initial hostilities with the Sikhs which led to the Second Sikh War began in 1848, the 53rd was quartered in Lahore where it shared with Sikh forces the task of garrisoning the city. This uneasy relationship with soldiers of an increasingly hostile force was ended on September 17th 1848, when the 53rd disbanded the Sikh forces in Lahore and occupied their positions. It was at this time that the 53rd found itself mounting guard over the famous Koh-i-noor (“Mountain of Light”) diamond, which was part of the royal treasury and is now in the late Queen Mother’s crown. As relationships with the khalsa worsened, two companies of the 53rd along with Indian forces, under Major Mansfield of the 53rd, were sent to quell disturbances in Bihar district. It was three weeks before this column was back in Lahore. On February 1st 1849, HQ and six companies of the 53rd under Lt. Colonel Byrne marched to join The Army of the Punjab. At Ramnuggur, Byrne took command of three Indian infantry regiments and some cavalry and on the 14th, part of this combined force, with the 53rd, marched for Wuzrabad, a ford on the Chenab, which was then threatened by the Sikhs. On the night of the 16th, the column marched for the fords at Sodra, six miles away and lay down with their arms, in open columns, with guns in the centre and cavalry on their flanks, expecting an attack by the Sikhs who were camped across the Chenab. However, the presence of this powerful British force seems to have persuaded the Sikhs that crossing the Chenab was impossible and they withdrew from their positions. The 53rd remained in place to watch the ford. An enemy reconnaissance in force on the 18th withdrew when cavalry were called up. On the night of the 19th February, Lt.Col. Byrne was ordered to march fourteen miles down the left bank of the Chenab to Seroke and there to cross with his column and join the main army under the Commander-in-Chief. This was done and the force lay down under arms for a few hours rest. At 9.00 a.m. the next day, the march to join the army HQ was resumed, when the column was ordered to counter-march along the right bank of the Chenab and bring up some boats. Thus it was that as the last great battle with the Sikhs was joined at Gujerat on February 21st, 1849, the 53rd found itself some three miles away, to the right rear of the troops actually engaged. On the 22nd the Regiment joined the army on the field of Gujerat and marched on March 2nd with a brigade escorting heavy guns. They reached Rawalpindi on the 27th, by which time the pursuit of the defeated Sikh army had ceased and the campaign had ended. The companies of the 53rd which had remained behind at Lahore under Captain Clarke rejoined HQ at Rawal Pindi in June 1849.

 

North West Frontier (1851-1852) - In 1851-52, the Regiment was engaged in tribal operations on the North West Frontier.

 

Indian Mutiny (1857) - The Regiment was based at Calcutta when the revolt began and took part in the disarmament of Indian regiments around the city. It was then ordered up-country to take part in operations in the main area of the rebellion.  Over the next 2 years, the 53rd played a leading role in the suppression of the mutiny, being involved in the Relief of Lucknow (1857), Battle of Cawnpore (1857) and the final recapture of Lucknow (1858).  During the fighting, it earned 5 Victoria Crosses. Further active service followed in Rohilkand and Oudh before the Regiment sailed home in 1860.

 

England (1860-1864)

Garrison duties at Devonport (1860), Aldershot (1861) and Portsmouth (1862-64).

 

Ireland (1864-1866)

Garrison duties at Curragh Camp (1864-1865), Kilkenny (1865), Enniskillen (1866) and Waterford (1866).

 

Canada (1866-1870)

The Regiment sailed to Canada for garrison duty at Quebec.

 

West Indies (1870-1875)

From Canada, the Regiment sailed to the West Indies for garrison duty at Barbados (1870) and Bermuda (1870-1875).

 

Ireland (1875-1877)

From the West indies, the Regiment sailed to Ireland for garrison duty at Templemore (1875) and Belturbet (1876-1877).

 

Jersey (1877-1878)

Garrison duties.

 

England (1878-1881)

The Regiment returned to England for garrison duties at Aldershot, Chatham, Manchester and Shrewsbury. As part of the Childers Reforms in 1881, it was amalgamated with the 85th (King's) Light Infantry to form the King's Light Infantry (Shropshire Regiment) based at the new depot and barracks at Copthorne in Shrewsbury.

 

85th Regiment (Royal Volunteers)  [1759-1763]

 

Formed at Shrewsbury in 1759 and saw action in Europe in the Seven Years' War (1756-63) before being disbanded in 1763.  The Regimental number was subsequently re-used for the 85th Westminster Volunteers (1779-1783), 85th Bucks Volunteers (1793-1821) and 85th (King's Light Infantry) Regiment (1821-1881).

 

Shropshire Yeomanry  [1795-1995]

 

The Regiment was formed in 1795, as a result of the French wars of 1793-1815, when volunteer cavalry units were raised throughout the country. The first unit was the Wellington Troop and in 1814, when most of the Shropshire Volunteer units were disbanded, the Yeomanry was consolidated into three regiments, viz the Shrewsbury Yeomanry Cavalry, the South Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry and the North Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry.  The new units became Dragoons (mounted infantry).  In 1828, the Shrewsbury Yeomanry Cavalry was absorbed into the South Shropshire, leaving two Regiments, viz the South Salopian Yeomanry Cavalry and the North Salopian Yeomanry Cavalry.  These in turn amalgamated in 1872 to form the Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry. In 1900, they were called for overseas service in South Africa. Volunteers from the Regiment formed the 13th (Shropshire) Company of the 5th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry and earning the first Shropshire Yeomanry battle-honour, South Africa (1900-1902).  During the First World War, the Shropshire Yeomanry formed three Regiments.

 

1/1st Shropshire Yeomanry

The 1/1st Shropshire Yeomanry was part of the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade, which in 1914 was attached to the 1st Mounted Division. In 1915 they were dismounted and served in the Western Desert as part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade in Egypt and Palestine. Then in 1917, together with the 1/1st Cheshire Yeomanry, they formed the 10th Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry and were attached to the 231st Brigade, 74th (Yeomanry) Division.  They fought at the Second Battle of Gaza (1917), Third Battle of Gaza (1917), Battle of Beersheba (1917) and Battle of Epehy (1918).

 

2/1st Shropshire Yeomanry

The 2/1st Shropshire Yeomanry was formed in 1914 and joined the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade. They remained in England and in July 1916 they were converted into a cyclist unit.   They were moved to Ireland in early 1918.

 

3/1st Shropshire Yeomanry

The 3/1st Shropshire Yeomanry was formed in 1915 as part of a Reserve Cavalry Regiment and remained in England until they were disbanded in early 1917.  In the Second World War the regiment was converted to artillery and became the 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment and 76th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment.  Both regiments fought in the North Africa and Italian Campaigns but were disbanded at the end of the war and the men reverted to the Shropshire Yeomanry as before. In 1947, the Regiment was equipped with tanks, armoured cars, scout cars and land rovers, coming under the command of the Royal Armoured Corps. In 1959, the Headquarters of the 1st Queen's Dragoon Guards was established in Shrewsbury and the new Regiment became associated with the Shropshire Yeomanry.  Between 1961-1967, the Pembroke Yeomanry was affiliated as a sabre squadron and in 1967 the Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery was amalgamated with the Regiment and became "A" Squadron. The Regiment was disbanded in 1969 and some of its members joined 95 (Shropshire Yeomanry) Signal Squadron.  A Shropshire Yeomanry Cadre survived until 1971, when it was expanded to form the Shropshire Yeomanry Squadron of The Mercian Yeomanry. 

 

Shropshire Volunteers  [1798-1815]

During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars of 1793-1815, Shropshire raised a wide range of different volunteer cavalry, infantry and artillery regiments. They were essentially regarded as a type of "home guard" and were not expected to serve beyond their own area, let alone overseas on war service.

 

Brimstree Loyal Legion

Loyal Cleobury Mortimer Infantry

Loyal Ludlow Infantry

Loyal Morfe Infantry

Loyal Newport Infantry

Loyal Shrewsbury Infantry

Loyal Wenlock Infantry

Loyal Whitchurch Infantry

Morfe & Royal Oak Infantry

Oswestry Rangers

Oswestry Volunteer Infantry

Pimhill Light Horse

Wellington Fencibles

 

The units were all disbanded by the end of the war in 1815.

 

Oswestry Artillery Volunteers  [1803-1815]

Formed in 1803 by Captain Thomas Newenham, originally as infantry but converted to Artillery in 1804.  It was disbanded following the end of the Napoleonic war in 1815.

 

Shropshire Artillery Volunteers  [1803-1815]

Originally formed in 1803 by Colonel John Kynaston-Powell, comprising both infantry and artillery companies. It was disbanded following the end of the Napoleonic war in 1815. 

 

Shropshire Volunteer Rifle Companies  [1859-1880]

A growing crisis with France between 1856-59 led to a real fear of French invasion. Volunteer Rifle Companies were formed throughout the country and their role was the defence of their own locality and not overseas service. In Shropshire, no fewer than 18 companies were formed during 1859-60. One of these, the 9th (Shrewsbury) was converted to artillery in March 1860 and the 16th (Munslow) was disbanded in 1863. That left 16 companies in the county, made up of about 100-120 men each, drawn from local trades and businesses. They were part-time soldiers, required to do a number of days training each year (usually at their newly-built local Drill Hall on a Saturday) and attended a fortnight's camp every year. The sixteen Shropshire companies were divided up for organisational, training and pay reasons into two Administrative Battalions.

 

1st Administrative Battalion

1st (Shrewsbury) Company
4th (Bridgnorth) Company
5th (Condover) Company
6th (Ironbridge) Company
10th (Ludlow) Company
11th (Cleobury Mortimer) Company
14th (Shifnal) Company
17th (Shrewsbury) Company

 

2nd Administrative Battalion

2nd (Market Drayton) Company
3rd (Whitchurch) Company
7th (Wellington) Company
8th (Hodnet) Company
12th (Wem) Company
13th (Ellesmere) Company (disbanded 1879; reformed 1885)
15th (Oswestry) Company
18th (Newport) Company.

In 1880, the two Administrative Battalions became the 1st and 2nd Shropshire Rifle Volunteer Corps. 

 

1st Shropshire Volunteer Artillery Corps  [1860]

During 1859-60, fear of war with France and the perceived threat of invasion saw the formation of several volunteer rifle corps in Shropshire, of which the 9th (Shrewsbury) was converted to artillery in May 1860 and renamed as the 1st Shropshire Volunteer Artillery Corps.  It did not last long with this name as it soon became the Shropshire Artillery Volunteers in the same year.

 

Shropshire Artillery Volunteers  [1860-1880]

 

Formed in 1860 by the amalgamation of the 1st Shropshire Volunteer Artillery Corps and the 1st Staffordshire Volunteer Artillery Corps. In 1880, they were consolidated to form the 1st Shropshire & Staffordshire Artillery Volunteers. 

 

1st & 2nd Shropshire Rifle Volunteer Corps  [1880-1881]

 

 

Formed in 1880 from the two Administrative Battalions of the Shropshire Volunteer Rifle Companies.  Following the Childers Reforms in 1881, they were amalgamated into the King's Light Infantry (Shropshire Regiment) as the 1st (Volunteer) Battalion and 2nd (Volunteer) Battalion.

 

1st Shropshire & Staffordshire Artillery Volunteers  [1880-1902]

Formed in 1880 by consolidation of the Shropshire Artillery Volunteers.  Renamed in 1902 as the 1st Shropshire & Staffordshire Royal Garrison Artillery Volunteers.

 

King's Light Infantry (Shropshire Regiment)  [1881-1882]

The Regiment was formed in 1881, following the Childers Reforms, to be the county regiment of Herefordshire and Shropshire. It was an amalgamation of the 53rd (Shropshire) Regiment of Foot and the 85th (King's Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot, which became the regular 1st and 2nd Battalions respectively. The reforms also amalgamated the local militia and volunteer units as battalions of the regiment. The Shropshire Militia became the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, the Royal Herefordshire Militia the 4th (Militia) Battalion, 1st Shropshire Rifle Volunteer Corps became the 1st (Volunteer) Battalion and the 2nd Shropshire Rifle Volunteer Corps became the 2nd (Volunteer) Battalion. The 1st Herefordshire (Herefordshire and Radnorshire) Rifle Volunteer Corps was also amalgamated as a volunteer battalion, without any change of title.  The new unit was renamed in 1882 as the King's Shropshire Light Infantry.

 

King's Shropshire Light Infantry  [1882-1968]

 

 

The Kings Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) was formed in 1881 from the re-named King's Light Infantry (Shropshire Regiment).  The 1st and 2nd Battalions were regulars and the Militia units of Shropshire and Herefordshire became part of KSLI as the 3rd and 4th (Militia) Battalions. Copthorne Barracks at Shrewsbury became Regimental Depot. The Regiment is commemorated in A E Housman's poem “1887” from the book “A Shropshire Lad” :-

 

From Clee to heaven the beacon burns,
The shires have seen it plain,
From north and south the sign returns
And beacons burn again.

Look left, look right, the hills are bright,
The dales are light between,
Because ’tis fifty years to-night
That God has saved the Queen.

Now, when the flame they watch not towers
About the soil they trod,
Lads, we’ll remember friends of ours
Who shared the work with God.

To skies that knit their heartstrings right,
To fields that bred them brave,
The saviours come not home to-night:
Themselves they could not save.

It dawns in Asia, tombstones show
And Shropshire names are read;
And the Nile spills his overflow
Beside the Severn’s dead.

We pledge in peace by farm and town
The Queen they served in war,
And fire the beacons up and down
The land they perished for.

“God save the Queen” we living sing,
From height to height ’tis heard;
And with the rest your voices ring,
Lads of the Fifty-third.

Oh, God will save her, fear you not:
Be you the men you’ve been,
Get you the sons your fathers got,
And God will save the Queen.

 

Egypt (1882)

The 1st Battalion from Dublin to Egypt in August 1882 on the Lusitania, with a strength of 29 officers and 860 other ranks. On arrival at Alexandria, the battalion moved to a camp near Ramleh and took a minor reconnaisance role in the Britsh attack on Tel-el-Kebir, which caused the Egyptian commander Talouba Pasha to surrender. The KSLI then moved by train to Kafr Douar to help with the disarming of surrendered Egyptian soldiers and the collection of stores. Whilst here, news came in of a large force of Egyptian soliders marching towards Kafr Douar. The Berkshires, 1st Sussex and three companies of KSLI were formed up in square near the railway station and two more companies of the KSLI with fixed bayonets held the station. In the event, the Egyptians were simply coming in to surrender. Although there was no fighting, the KSLI suffered over 60 casualties through ophthalmia whilst working in this unhealthy spot. In September, the KSLI moved to Mallaha and were part of a column ordered to attack a force of Nubian troops but It was found that the Egyptian garrison had dispersed during the night. The battalion was then engaged in salvaging arms and stores before returning to Cairo. By the end of September, the battalion was beginning to suffer the effects of climate and disease, with 24 NCOs and men dying of disease and 235 being invalided. They remained as part of the Cairo garrison until February 1883, when they were sent to Malta.

 

Eastern Sudan (1885-86)

In February 1885, the KSLI left Malta and, after passing through the Suez Canal, arrived at Suakin a month later. On their first night ashore, the KSLI suffered a desultory rifle fire which went on for most of the night. At midnight the 15th Sikhs, encamped to the rear left of the KSLI, were attacked by an Arab force and the KSLI was ordered to man the front line trenches. Their piquets were ordered back and two KSLI soldiers were caught in the open and speared to death as they withdrew from their posts. Shortly after landing, the battalion was issued with a khaki uniform in place of their normal red serge. The KSLI was used to escort convoys protect railway working-parties along the route of the new railway.  In April, 90 volunteers from the KSLI joined the new Camel Corps. There was a native driver for every 3 camels and each camel carried 2 soldiers or a soldier and the driver. The Corps was quickly trained and employed in reconnaissance work. In July, half of the battalion, including all the unfit men, were moved to Cyprus and camped on Mount Troodos. At the end of September, this half-battalion returned to Suakin and the other half took their place. In April 1886, the battalion finally left Suakin and moved to Cairo, where they spent 10 months before moving to Malta in February 1887. In 1893 they were moved to Hong Kong and then India.

 

South African War (1899-1902)

The 2nd Battalion were sent to South Africa in 1899 and served right through the War. They took part in the advance from the Modder River to Bloemfontein, capital of the Boer republic of the Orange Free State. During this, they occupied a position called Gun Hill and suffered about 50 casualties at the battle of Paardeberg. The British met opposition at Houtnek and the battalion took and held the pass, though with some loss. In July 1900, the KSLI were sent by rail to the Krugersdorp district and carried out minor operations over a period of several weeks.  During this, the battalion garrisoned various outlying posts which were heavily attacked but without success. The battalion also lost 13 men killed and 38 wounded through a train being derailed by the Boers on the line between Krugersdorp and Klerksdorp. During August, they marched 43 miles in 32 hours to prevent the Boer leader Christian De Wet from crossing the Krugersdorp - Potchefstroom Railway. The battalion then took part in the pursuit of De Wet's forces to the Megaliesberg hills. In September, they were part of two small columns that attacked the enemy at Witkloof and in January 1901 suffered about 20 casualties at Colliery Hill. During the South African War, the two Shropshire Volunteer Battalions formed two "Volunteer Service Companies" of about 120 men each. As Volunteers, they were only allowed to serve in a theatre of war for one year. The 1st Volunteer Service Company was in South Africa during 1900-1901 and the 2nd Volunteer Service Company during 1901-02. They generally served alongside the regular 2nd Battalion and earned the Volunteers their first Battle Honour of “South Africa 1900-1902”.

 

England (1908)

The Territorial Force was formed in the UK and the two militia battalions were merged to form the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion.  The two volunteer battalions were merged to form the 4th (Territorial Force) Battalion and the Herefordshire Rifle Volunteer Corps became the independent Herefordshire Regiment.

 

First World War (1914-1918)

The KSLI was greatly expanded during the First World War and 12 battalions were raised, 8 of which saw active service overseas.

 

REGULAR BATTALIONS

1st Battalion
Jul 1914 - at the outbreak of war they were based at Tipperary in Ireland under the command of 16th Brigade of 6th Division
Sep 1914 - landed in France  at St Nazaire

Sep 1914 - Battle of the Marne and First Battle of the Aisne

Oct 1914 - Battle of Armentieres and First Battle of Ypres

Jul 1915 - Battle of Hooge

Jul 1916 - Second Battle of the Somme including Flers-Courcelette, Morval and Le Transloy
April 1917 - Second Battle of Arras

Aug 1917 - Battle of Hill 70

Nov 1917 - Battle of Cambrai

Mar 1918 - the battalion was almost annihilated at Lagnicourt in the German Spring Offensive, with no officers left and only 53 other ranks

Apr 1918 - First Battle of Kemmel Ridge and Battle of Bailleul

Aug 1918 - Third Battle of the Somme

Sep 1918 - Battle of Kemmel Ridge

Sep 1918 - Battle of the Hindenburg Line including Epehy, St Quentin Canal, Beaurevoir, Cambrai and Pursuit to the Selle

Nov 1918 - ended the war at Bohain in France and became part of the Rhineland occupation force. During the war they lost 53 officers and 986 other ranks killed.

 

2nd Battalion
Jul 1914 - at the outbreak of war they were based at Secunderabad in India

Nov 1914 - returned to England under the command of 80th Brigade in 27th Division
Dec 1914 - landed in France at Le Havre

Apr 1915 - Second Battle of Ypres including Gravenstafel, St.Eloi, St.Julien, Bellewaerde and Frezenburg Ridge

Dec 1915 - landed in Greece at Salonika

Jun 1916 - Battles around Neochori

Sep 1916 - Battle of Karajakois

Oct 1916 - Battle of Yenikoi

Oct 1917 - Battle of Homondos

Nov 1917 - Battle of Tumbitza Farm

Sep 1918 - Battle of Roche Noir Salient, Crossing of the Vardar river and pursuit to the Strumica valley

Sep 1918 - ended the war north of Doiran in Macedonia and absorbed the 8th Battalion.

 

3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion
Jul 1914 - at the outbreak of war they were based at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury and became a training unit

Aug 1914 - moved to Pembroke Dock in Wales

Nov 1914 -moved to Edinburgh in Scotland and subsequently back to Pembroke Dock

Dec 1917 - moved to Crosshaven in Ireland

Feb 1918 - moved to Fermoy in Ireland and later absorbed into the 2nd Battalion

 

TERRITORIAL BATTALIONS

1/4th Battalion
Aug 1914 - mobilised at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury attached to Welsh Division and moved to Sittingbourne in Kent
Oct 1914 - sailed from Southampton for India under the command of the Middlesex Brigade of the Home Counties Division to take over garrison duties to free up regular soldiers for the war in France

Nov 1914 - carrying out garrison duties in Hong Kong, the Andaman Islands and Rangoon.
Feb 1915 - landed in Singapore to suppress the "Singapore Mutiny" by the 5th Indian Light Infantry Battalion

Apr 1915 -  2 companies deployed to Hong Kong and rest remained at Singapore

Apr 1917 - moved to Colombo in Sri Lanka

May 1917 - sailed to Southampton via Capetown, where it suffered greatly from sickness

Jul 1917- landed in France at Le Havre
Aug 1917 - attached to 190th Brigade in 63rd (Royal Naval) Division
Jul 1917 - First Battle of the Somme including Passchendaele (suffering 130 casualties on its first day in action) and the Ancre

Dec 1917 - Battle of Cambrai including Welsh Ridge

Feb 1918 - transferred to 56th Brigade in 19th (Western) Division

Mar 1918 - at Messines and Bapaume during the German Spring offensive

May 1918 - Battle of the Aisne

June 1918 -  Battle of Bligny Hill, where they were reduced to company strength and awarded the French Croix-de-Guerre avec Palme

Aug 1918 - Third Battle of the Somme including Arras, Albert, the Scarpe, Canal du Nord, Cambrai, pursuit to the Selle, Valenciennes, Sambre and the passage of the Grand Honelle

Nov 1918 - ended the war near Bavai in France.

 

2/4th Battalion
Oct 1914 - formed at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury as a second line unit and moved to Cardiff in Wales
Nov 1915 - moved to Ramsay in the Isle of Man

Nov 1915 - moved to Bedford and joined the 204th Brigade of the 68th Division

Jun 1916 - moved to Lowestoft and Yarmouth in Norfolk

Dec 1916 - renamed as the 50th Provisional Battalion

Jul 1917 - moved to Aldeburgh in Suffolk

Dec 1917 - disbanded and troops absorbed by other battalions

 

3/4th Battalion
May 1915 - formed at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury and moved to Oswestry, then Tenby in Wales
Apr 1916 - renamed as the 4th (Reserve) Battalion

Jun 1917 - absorbed the 2nd Herefordshire Regiment
Jul 1917 - moved to Swansea in Wales and then Pembroke Dock as part of the Milford Haven Garrison

Nov 1918 - disbanded

 

NEW ARMY BATTALIONS

5th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 - formed at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury under the command of 42nd Brigade in 14th (Light) Division and moved to Aldershot in Hampshire

Mar 1915 -  moved to Chiddingfold in Surrey
May 1915 - landed in France at Boulogne
May 1915 - Second Battle of Ypres including Bellewaerde and Hooge

Jul 1916 - Second Battle of the Somme including Delville Wood and Flers-Courcelette

Apr 1917 - Battle of Vimy Ridge

Aug 1917 - Third Battle of Ypres

Feb 1918 - disbanded in France at Jussy and troops dispersed to 1st, 1/4th, 6th and 7th Battalions

 

6th (Service) Battalion
Sep 1914 - formed at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury under the command of 60th Brigade in 20th (Light) Division and moved to Aldershot in Hampshire

Apr 1915 - moved to Larkhill in WIltshire
Jul 1915 - landed in France at Boulogne

Sep 1915 - Battle of Loos

Jul 1916 - Second Battle of the Somme including Mount Sorrel, GuiIIemont, Flers-Courcelette and Le Transloy

Aug 1917 - Third Battle of Ypres including Langemarck and Menin Road

Mar 1918 - Battle of Rosieres during the German Spring offensive

Aug 1918 - Third Battle of the Somme including Cambrai

Sep 1918 - Battle of St.Quentin Canal

Nov 1918 - ended the war near Maubeugein France

Jun 1919 - disbanded at Shrewsbury

 

7th (Service) Battalion
Sep 1914 - formed at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury under the command of 76th Brigade in 25th Division and moved to Codford in Wiltshire

May 1915 - moved to Aldershot in Hampshire
Sep 1915 - landed in France at Boulogne
Oct 1915 - Brigade moved to 3rd Division
Oct 1915 - transferred to 8th Brigade

May 1915 - Second Battle of Ypres

Jul 1916 -  Second Battle of the Somme including Sorrel, Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Delville Wood and the Ancre

Apr 1917 - Battle of Arras including the Scarpe and Arleux

Sep 1917 - Third Battle of Ypres including Polygon Wood

Apr 1918 - Fourth Battle of Ypres including Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouk, Bethune and Albert

Aug 1918 -  Third Battle of the Somme including Albert, Bapaume, St Quentin, Canal du Nord and the Selle

Nov 1918 - ended the war at Romeries in France

Jun 1919 - disbanded at Shrewsbury

 

This battalion suffered more casualties than any other KSLI battalion, with 1,048 killed in action or died during the war. It also earned more battle honours than any other KSLI battalion.

 

8th (Service) Battalion
Sep 1914 - formed at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury under the command of 66th Brigade in 22nd Division

Dec 1914 - moved to Eastbourne in Sussex

Mar 1915 - moved to Shrewsbury

May 1915 - moved to Aldershot in Hampshire
Oct 1915 - landed in France

Nov 1915 - landed in Greece at Salonika

Aug 1916 - Battle of Horseshoe Hill

Sep 1916 - Battle of Machukovo

Feb 1917 - Second Battle of Doiran
Sep 1918 - Third Battle of Doiran

Sep 1918 - ended the war near Lake Doiran in Macedonia and after the Armistice was sent to Doiran and Dedeagatch and then into Bulgaria

Dec 1918 - amalgamated with the 2nd Batallion

 

9th (Reserve) Battalion
Oct 1914 - formed at Pembroke Dock in Wales under the command of 104th Brigade of 35th Division
Apr 1915 - renamed as  2nd (Reserve) Battalion

Jun 1915 - moved to Kinmel Park in Wales

Aug 1915 - moved to Prees Heath in Shropshire
Sep 1916 - converted into 48th Training Reserve Battalion of 11th Reserve Brigade at Prees Heath

 

10th (Shropshire & Cheshire Yeomanry) Battalion
Mar 1917 - formed at Cairo from the dismounted 1/1st Shropshire Yeomanry and Cheshire Yeomanry under the command of 231st Brigade in 74th (Yeomanry) Division
Jul 1917 - Second and Third Battles of Gaza

Dec 1917 - Capture of Jerusalem

Feb 1918 - Capture of Jericho

Mar 1918 - Battle of Birj-el-Lisaneh (where Private Harold Whitfield won the only VC for a Shropshire regiment in the First World War)

May 1918 - landed at Marseilles in France

Aug 1918 - Battle of Lys

Sep 1918 - Battle of Epehy

Nov 1918 - Capture of the "Quadrilateral" near Flers-Courcelette

Nov 1918 - ended the war near Ath in Belgium

Jun 1919 - disbanded at Shrewsbury

 

Inter-War Years (1918-1939)

The 1st Battalion spent most of the inter-war years in India but returned home in 1938.

 

The 2nd Battalion was at Batum on the Black Sea in 1918, protecting oil supplies following the Russian Civil War. In 1919 it returned home via Southern Turkey and was sent to Fermoy and Dublin in Ireland. In 1921, during the last stages of British rule, it was the last British battalion to leave Dublin Castle on the formation of the Irish Free State. After a brief period in Germany and England, it was sent to the  West Indies.

 

Second World War

1st Battalion

Sep 1939 - landed in France with the British Expeditionary Force and served on the flanks of the Maginot Line

Dec 1939 - suffered the first British casualty of the Second World War with the death of Corporal Thomas Priday near Metz

May 1940 - advanced into Belgium via Brussels but then took part in the fighting retreat to Dunkirk. As one of the rearguard units, it saw a great deal of hard fighting and was one of the very last British battalions to leave the port of Dunkirk.

Feb 1943 - arrived in Tunisia to join the 1st Army and involved in the final advance against Tunis

May 1943 - Battle of Djebel Bou Aouakaz

Jun 1943 - Invasion of Pantellaria

Sep 1943 - landed in Southern Italy to join the 8th Army

Jan 1944 - Battle of Anzio

Jun 1944 - liberation of Rome

Aug 1944 - Battle of Gothic Line

Feb 1945 - moved to Middle East to deal with growing antagonism between the Arabs and Jews

May 1945 - ended the European war in Palestine

 

2nd Battalion

Sep 1939 - on garrison duties in the West Indies

Feb 1942 - sailed for home via New Orleans and New York

Jun 1944 - landed on Queen beach near Hermanville-sur-Mer on D-Day as part of 185 Brigade of the 79th Armoured Division

Aug 1944 - Capture of Caen

Sep 1944 - crossed the River Seine and took part in the Battles of Venray and Overloon

Feb 1945 - Battle of Reichswald Forest

Mar 1945 - Battle of Kervenheim and crossing of River Rhine

Apr 1945 - Battle of Bremen

May 1945 - ended the European war in Bremen

 

During the war, the battalion lost 144 men killed, 66 missing and 552 wounded.

 

4th (Territorial) Battalion

Sep 1939 - mobilised at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury and moved to Ireland for training as lorry borne infantry for 159 Brigade of the 11th Armoured Division

Jun 1944 - landed in Normandy on D-Day + 8

Jun 1944 - First Battle of Odon as part of Operation Epsom

Jul 1944 - Second Battle of Odon

Aug 1944 - Falaise Pocket

Sep 1944 - crossed the River Seine and took part in the Battle of Antwerp

Oct 1944 - Battle of Overloon

Mar 1945 - crossed the River Rhine

Apr 1945 - capture of Osnabruck

May 1945 - occupied Flensburg, the seat of the remnant Nazi government, and captured Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz

May 1945 - ended the European war south of the Kiel Canal opposite Lubeck

 

5th Battalion

Sep 1939 - formed at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury as a Home Defence battalion

Jun 1944 - became a Training Battalion for the KSLI and North Staffords and eventually provided over 100 officers and 4,000 men for other battalions

 

6th Battalion

Jun 1940 - formed at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury as a Home Defence battalion

Mar 1942 - converted to artillery and renamed as 181st Field Regiment Royal Artillery under 44th Lowland Brigade of the 15th Scottish Division

Jun 1944 - landed in Normandy and served in France and Belgium

Mar 1945 - was the first Royal Artillery unit to cross the Rhine into Germany

Jan 1946 - disbanded at Shrewsbury

7th Battalion

Jun 1940 - formed at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury as a Home Defence battalion and moved to Deal in Kent

Feb 1941 - moved to Hornsea in Yorkshire

Nov 1942 - re-designated as 99th Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery

Dec 1943 - disbanded at Brigg in Lincolnshire

 

8th Battalion

Jun 1940 - formed at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury as a Home Defence battalion in Shropshire

Dec 1943 - disbanded at Shrewsbury

 

30th Battalion

Dec 1939 - formed as the 2/10th (Home Defence) Battalion of the King's Regiment (Liverpool)

1941 - transferred to the KSLI as its 30th Battalion

1942 - redesignated as Number 99 Primary Training Centre

Sep 1943 - disbanded at Shrewsbury

 

Post War Years (1945-1968)

1947 - the Territorial Army was reorganised and the Herefordshire Regiment was renamed the Herefordshire Light Infantry Regiment

1948 - the 1st and 2nd Battalions KSLI were amalgamated and became part of the Light Infantry Brigade based in London

1949 - arrived in Hong Kong as part of 40th Division via Port Said and Singapore

May 1951 - arrived at Inchon in Korea as part of the 28th Commonwealth infantry Brigade and took part in fighting to capture various hills

Jun 1951 - Battle of River Imjin

Aug 1951 - Operation Hunter, a raid across the River Imjin

Oct 1951 - Operation Commando, to prevent the Chinese cutting the Allied line

May 1952 - moved to the island of Koje-do to help the US and South Korean forces handle Chinese Prisoners of War

Sep 1952 - left Korea to return home 

1955 - arrived in Kenya for operations against Mau terrorists

1958 - arrived in Bahrein during the Suez Canal crisis

1959 - returned to Colchester as part of the Strategic Reserve

1961 - arrived in Munster in Germany

1964 - two companies arrived in the British Honduras and the rest in Plymouth

1966 - arrived in Singapore

1967 - arrived in Malaysia and Mauritius as part of the Commonwealth Brigade and companies rotated

1968 - amalgamated with the Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and Durham Light Infantry to form the Light Infantry Regiment, with the KSLI being becoming the 3rd Battalion

 

1st Shropshire & Staffordshire Royal Garrison Artillery Volunteers  [1902-1908]

Formed in 1902 by consolidation of the 1st Shropshire & Staffordshire Artillery Volunteers. The Shropshire elements were stationed at Shrewsbury, Wellington and Church Stretton. In 1908 the Shrewsbury and Wellington units were amalgamated into the Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery and the Church Stretton unit became part of the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade Artillery Column.

 

Welsh Border Mounted Brigade Ammunition Column  [1908-1917]

Formed in 1908, with half of the unit formerly being the Church Stretton element of the 1st Shropshire & Staffordshire Royal Garrison Artillery Volunteers. The brigade served in a dismounted role during the Gallipoli Campaign and then moved to Egypt. After being deployed to defend the Suez Canal, the brigade was disbanded in 1917 and converted to infantry battalions for the 74th (Yeomanry) Division. Most of the men of the Church Stretton Ammunition Column were transferred to France where they served with 58th Trench Mortar Battery.

 

58 Trench Mortar Battery Royal Artillery  [1917-1918]

 

Joined by men from the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade Ammunition Column when that was disbanded in 1917.  They fought at Third Battle of Ypres (1917) and the Battle of Sombre (1918).  At the end of the war the unit was disbanded.

 

Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery  [1908-1920]

 

Formed in 1908 by the amalgamation of the Shrewsbury and Wellington units of 1st Shropshire & Staffordshire Royal Garrison Artillery Volunteers.  They served as the artillery arm of the newly-constituted Welsh Border Mounted Brigade of Yeomanry. Only 11 volunteer batteries were designated Royal Horse Artillery, an honour that required the complete re-training and re-equipment of the unit. During the First World War, the Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery actually served as Royal Field Artillery. The original 1-1st Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery became “A” Battery 293 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. A second battery was formed and called 2-1st Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery, serving as “A” Battery, 158 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. They both served entirely on the Western Front in 1917-18 and saw some very severe fighting. Following the war, the battery was re-formed in 1920 as the Shropshire Royal Garrison Artillery.

 

Shropshire Royal Garrison Artillery  [1920-1921]

 

Formed in 1920 from the Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery but then re-named in 1921 as the 240th (Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery) (Howitzer) Medium Battery Royal Artillery.

 

240th (Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery) (Howitzer) Medium Battery Royal Artillery  [1921-1947]

 

Formed in 1921 from the Shropshire Royal Garrison Artillery.  In 1939, the Battery joined 51st (Midland) Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery (TA). After training at Stone and Bradford-on-Avon, the battery embarked for service with the British Expeditionary Force in February 1940, equipped with 6” howitzers. In April, the Battery moved to the Maginot Line under command of 51st (Highland) Division and received its baptism of fire. Following the enemy's advance, the Battery moved north for the battle of the River Somme but was sent back to the UK in June 1940. During the Battle of Britain, the unit formed three coastal defence batteries but in December 1940, re-formed at Ellesmere. The battery moved to Bedford in July 1941. In October 1942, the battery sailed to Egypt and in January 1943 were re-equipped with 4.5" howitzers.  Shortly after they took part in the battles of Mareth, Wadi Akarit and Enfidaville in Tunisia, supporting the 8th Army. The battery disembarked at Salerno in October 1943, coming under command of the 5th Army and taking part in the battle of the River Voltumo and the first battle of Cassino.  After a short period with 8th Army on the east coast for the opening of the battle of the River Sangro, it returned to 5th Army and fought at Cassino again, the River Garigiano, the final battle of Cassino and the breaking of the Hitler and Gustav Lines. Following a short rest in Egypt and Palestine, the unit was again in action in Italy with the 8th Army, in November 1944, for the assaults on Forlimpopoli, Forli and Faenza. After a period during which the battery supported Indian, Polish and Italian divisions, it left Italy in April 1945 for France and Germany. On arriving in Germany, the battery came under the command of 34 Armoured Brigade in Westphalia, where it remained until the end of the war. On the re-formation of the Territorial Army in 1947, the battery became P (Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery) Battery, Royal Artillery.

 

75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery  [1940-1945]

 

Formed in 1940 from the Shropshire Yeomanry, which lost its horses and converted to artillery. "A" Squadron and H.Q. Squadron became 101 and 102 Batteries.  In December 1942, the Regiment was equipped with 4.5" howitzers and sailed to Suez. 101 Battery was then re-equipped with 5.5” howitzers, whilst 102 kept its 4.5” guns. After intensive training, 101 battery fought at the battle of Syracuse (1943) in Sicily. 102 Battery arrived in Sicily from Egypt and served throughout the Italian campaign, supporting both the 5th Army and 8th Army. It fought at the Third Battle of Monte Cassino (1944), Gustav Line (1944), Hitler Line (1944), Arezzo (1944) and the occupation of Florence and Forlì (1944). The Regiment went on to serve in the Apennines against the Gothic Line (1944) and the final offensives of the 8th Army in Spring 1945. The end of the war found the 75th Medium Regiment in defensive positions facing Tito's Yugoslav army in Venezia Giulia. The unit was disbanded in 1945 and the men reverted to the Shropshire Yeomanry.

 

76th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment Royal Artillery (1940-1945)

 

Formed in 1940 from the Shropshire Yeomanry, which lost its horses and converted to artillery. "B" Squadron and "C" Squadron became 112 and 113 Batteries.  They were initially equipped with First World War 60-pounders, although these were later replaced by 6” howitzers. The Regiment was occupied in intensive training until August 1942, when they were equipped with 5.5” howitzers and sailed to Suez. In January 1943, the Regiment left Egypt and drove by way of the Sinai Desert along the Trans-Jordan Pipeline to Baghdad to join the Persia & Iraq Force (Paiforce). In April, they moved to Syria and, because of a shortage of guns in Tunisia, lost their own. In May, more guns arrived and combined operations with further intensive training were carried out in the Suez Canal area. They left the Middle East in December 1943, and landed in Italy. 112 Battery had at this time 5.5” howitzers and 113 Battery 4.5” howitzers but, shortly after landing, 112 lost its guns to another Yeomanry Regiment and received 4.5” in exchange. In December 1943, the Regiment took part in the battle at Sangro (1943), taking over from its sister-regiment in support of the 8th Army. In February 1944, the Regiment moved across to Cassino and took part in the battles between February to March and the successful capture and break-through in May.  It took part in the battle at the Hitler Line (1944) and advanced beyond Rome, supporting the 6th South African Armoured Division up to and including the fight for Florence, except for the Arezzo battle, with 6th Armoured Division. In April 1945, the Regiment again moved across Italy to the east coast to join the final offensive with the 8th Army. After the surrender in May 1945, the Regiment saw further action on the road to Austria but, like its sister-regiment, was watching Tito near Trieste at the end of the war. The unit was disbanded in 1945 and the men reverted to the Shropshire Yeomanry.

 

36 Section Royal Military Police  [1940 To date]

 

Regular Army unit based at MOD Donnington, Telford.  A Special Investigations Branch covering the West Midlands and Wales.

 

Royal Army Ordnance Corps COD Donnington  [1940-1993]

 

Built in 1940 as a Central Ordnance Depot to hold non-vehicle technical stores which were moved from Woolwich Arsenal to a less vulnerable site in Shropshire. Renamed as the Royal Logistics Corps in 1993.

 

181st Field Regiment Royal Artillery  [1942-1946]

 

Formed in March 1942 from the 6th Battalion Kings Shropshire Light Infantry under the 44th Lowland Brigade of the 15th Scottish Division. In June 1944 it landed in Normandy and served in France and Belgium. In March 1945 it was the first Royal Artillery unit to cross the Rhine into Germany, before being disbanded at Shrewsbury in January 1946.

 

99th Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery  [1942-1943]

 

Formed in November 1942 from the 7th Battalion Kings Shropshire Light Infantry but disbanded at Brigg in Lincolnshire in December 1943.

 

P (Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery) Battery, Royal Artillery  [1947-1961]

 

Formed when the 240th (Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery) (Howitzer) Medium Battery Royal Artillery was transferred into 639 Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery (Worcestershire Regiment) (T.A.).  It was the only Territorial regiment equipped with 155mm self-propelled guns. In the 1961 re-organisation of the TA, the Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery became the Territorial element of H.Q. Royal Artillery, 48th Division (TA), with Headquarters in Shrewsbury. In 1967, it was amalgamated with the Shropshire Yeomanry, in which it became "A" Squadron.

 

1st Queens Dragoon Guards  [1959 To date]

 

Regular Army unit formed in 1959 from the amalgamation of 1st King's Dragoon Guards and the 2nd Dragoon Guards. Based at Sennelager, Germany but recruits from Shropshire.

 

95 (Shropshire Yeomanry) Signal Squadron  [1969-1971]

 

Formed in 1969 from the disbanded Shropshire Yeomanry as part of 35 (South Midlands) Signal Regiment. Many members of the Regiment served alongside their regular counterparts on operations all over the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq. The regiment provided support to the Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps. As a result of the strategic review of reserves in 2009, the regiment was disbanded.

 

Light Infantry Regiment  [1968-2007]

 

Formed in 1968 by amalgamation of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry, Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and Durham Light Infantry. In 1969 the Durham Light Infantry Battalion was disbanded, leaving three regular battalions. The remaining battalions remained in service until 1993 when they merged to form two battalions renamed 1st and 2nd Battalions. The regiment was active all through the Troubles in Northern Ireland.  The four Territorial battalions of the original regiments became the Light Infantry Volunteers in the Territorial Army and in 1972 were amalgamated to form the 5th Battalion. It lost its Cornish and Durham companies in 1981 its Yorkshire company in 1987. It then began recruiting only in Shropshire and Herefordshire. In 1998, the Territorial 5th Battalion was amalgamated into the new West Midlands Regiment. In 2007, the Regular 1st and 2nd Battalions were amalgamated into the new Rifles Regiment as their 3rd and 5th Battalions. 

 

Mercian Yeomanry  [1971-1973]

 

Formed in 1971 by the amalgamation of the Shropshire Yeomanry Cadre, Queen's Own Warwickshire & Worcestershire Yeomanry and Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment).  The Shropshire unit formed the Shropshire Yeomanry Squadron and changed to an infantry role in Home Defence.  In 1973 the title was changed to Queen's Own Mercian Yeomanry.

 

Queen's Own Mercian Yeomanry  [1973-1992]

 

Formed in 1973 by a change in title from the Mercian Yeomanry, which included elements of the Shropshire Yeomanry.  In 1992, it was amalgamated as “B” Company into the Royal Mercian & Lancastrian Yeomanry.

 

Headquarters 143 (West Midlands) Brigade  [1984 to date]

 

Based at Copthorne barracks, Shrewsbury.  It commands army units in Shropshire, Staffordshire, Hereford & Worcester, Warwickshire and the West Midlands. Local units include Royal Mercian & Lancastrian Yeomanry and 4th Battalion Mercian Regiment.

 

Royal Mercian & Lancastrian Yeomanry  [1992 to date]

 

Territorial Army unit formed in 1992 by the amalgamation of the Queen’s Own Mercian Yeomanry and Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry. Includes “B” (Shropshire Yeomanry) Squadron based at Dawley Bank TA Centre, Telford.

 

Royal Irish Regiment  [1992 to date]

 

Regular Army unit formed in 1992.  The 1st Battalion is based at Tern Hill in Shropshire and forms part of 16 Air Assault Brigade. The 2nd Battalion is a Territorial Army battalion based in Portadown, Northern Ireland. 

http://shropshirehistory.com/index_files/image033.jpg

In 2016 it was announced that Tern Hill barracks would close by 2020 and the regiment moved elsewhere. 

 

Royal Logistics Corps COD Donnington  [1993 to Date]

 

Formed in 1993 from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps unit. A Central Ordnance Depot to hold non-vehicle technical stores.

 

Headquarters 11 Signal Brigade   [1994 to date]

 

Based at MOD Donnington.  It commands 14 (Electronic Warfare) Regiment, 15 (Information Support) Regiment and 16 Signal Regiment but these are based elsewhere.

 

West Midlands Regiment  [1998-2007]

 

A Territorial Army regiment formed in 1998 by the amalgamation of four Territorial infantry battalions, viz 5th Battalion Light Infantry, 3rd Battalion Staffordshire Regiment, 4th Battalion Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters and 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. It was composed of six companies, which were allowed to wear the badges of the regular regiments to which they were affiliated:

HQ Company - Wolverhampton (Staffords)

A Company - Birmingham and Coventry (Fusiliers)

B Company - Kidderminster and Worcester (Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters)

C Company - Burton upon Trent and Tamworth (Staffords)

D Company - Stoke on Trent (Staffords)

E Company - Shrewsbury and Hereford (Light Infantry)

In 2006, the Machine Gun Platoon in A Company was disbanded and most soldiers transferred to Birmingham, the remainder becoming part of 37 Signal Regiment. The Recce Platoon at Hereford was also disbanded and the platoon became part of the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry. Soldiers of the regiment served in recent conflicts and in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Northern Ireland. In September 2007, the regiment was amalgamated with the Cheshire Regiment companies of the King's and Cheshire Regiment to become the 4th Battalion of the Mercian Regiment.

 

Rifle Regiment  [2007 to date]

 

Regular Army unit formed in 2007 by the amalgamation of the Light Infantry, Devonshire & Dorset Light Infantry, Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets, The new regiment contains five Regular Battalions and two TA Battalions.  The 1st Battalion Light Infantry became 5th Battalion The Rifles and the 2nd Battalion Light Infantry became 3rd Battalion The Rifles.  However, the new 3rd Battalions was based in Edinburgh and the new 5th Battalion based at Paderborn in Germany, so the Shropshire connection was lost, apart from it being the nominal Shropshire county regiment for recruiting purposes.

 

Mercian Regiment  [2007 todate]

 

Regular Army unit formed in 2007 by the amalgamation of the Mercian Regiment, Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters Regiment, Staffordshire Regiment, West Midlands Regiment, King's & Cheshire Regiment and the East of England Regiment. E Company of the West Midlands Regiment (a Territorial Army unit based at Copthorne TA Centre in Shrewsbury) became the new E (Rifles) Company Mercian Regiment. It is actually part of the Rifles Regiment but attached to this regiment.

 

202 Field Hospital (Volunteers)  [2007 To date]

 

Territorial Army unit based at Copthorne TA Centre in Shrewsbury and part of 2 Medical Brigade.

 

95 Signal Squadron  [2007 To date]

 

Territorial Army unit based at Sundorne TA Centre in Shrewsbury and part of 35 (South Midland) Signal Regiment (Volunteers).

 

123 Ammunition Squadron  [2007 To date]

 

Territorial Army unit Based at Trench TA Centre in Telford and part of 159 Supply Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers).