Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment
The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment was the final title of an infantry regiment of the line in the British Army originally formed in 1688. The lineage of the regiment is today continued by the Royal Anglian Regiment.
Raising and titles to 1751
The origins of the regiment go back to 9 October 1688 when the raising of Archibald Douglas' Regiment of Foot was authorised by King James II in response to the threat posed to his throne by Prince William of Orange. The regiment was raised in the southern counties of England, and was embodied in Reading, Berkshire. The new regiment was ordered to London to oppose William's forces, but refused to fight. James fled the country allowing William to become king. Colonel Douglas, an adherent of the displaced monarch, was replaced by Robert Hodges and the regiment was allowed to continue in existence as part of William's army.
Until 1751 the Regiment was titled according to its string of ten Colonels:
- 1688: Archibald Douglas
- 1688-92: Robert Hodges
- 1692-1705: Hon. James Stanley: Earl of Derby from 1702
- 1705-11: Francis Godfrey
- 1711-12: Brigadier General Henry Durell (died 1 December 1712)
- 1713-15: Brigadier-General Hans Hamilton (appointed 23 June 1713)
- 1715-17: Richard Ingram, 5th Viscount Irvine
- 1717-24: James Cholmeley
- 1724-30: Henry Scott, 4th Earl of Deloraine
- 1730-63: Roger Handasyd
On 1 July 1881 the Childers Reforms came into effect. These were the logical continuation of the 1873 reforms: the regimental numbers of infantry regiments were replaced with territorial titles, "brigade districts" were renamed as "regimental districts", and the local miltia and rifle volunteer corps were affiliated to the new regiments.
Accordingly the 16th Foot became The Bedfordshire Regiment. The regimental district comprised the counties of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
1919 - 1939
In 1919 the regiment was renamed to The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, in recognition of the service of men from Hertfordshire during the First World War. During 1919 the war-formed battalions were disbanded, and the special reserve battalions were placed in "suspended animation". In 1920 the Territorial Force was reconstituted as the Territorial Army. The inter-war battalions were:
- 1st Battalion
- 2nd Battalion
- 5th Battalion (TA)
The 1st Battalion was stationed in England until 1920 when it moved to Sligo in Ireland, returning to England when the Irish Free State achieved independence in 1922. They were posted to Malta in 1925, to China in 1928, to India in 1929 and to Egypt in 1938. The 2nd Battalion was stationed in India from 1919 to 1925 and in Iraq from 1925 to 1926. They returned to England, from where they were dispatched to suppress the Arab revolt in Palestine in 1936. From Palestine they moved to England in 1938.
1939 - 1947
The regiment was expanded for the duration of the Second World War:
- The 5th Battalion (TA) formed a duplicate 6th Battalion in 1939
- The 7th, 2/7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Battalions were raised
The 1st, 2nd and 5th Battalions saw active service:
- The 1st Battalion was stationed in the Middle East, moving to India in 1942 and subsequently serving as "Chindits" in the Burma Campaign of 1944.
- The 2nd Battalion formed part of the British Expeditionary Force dispatched to France in September 1939, and evacuated in 1940. They later took part in the Western Desert Campaign in 1941-42, the Tunisia Campaign in 1942-44, the Italian Campaign in 1944 and the liberation of Greece in 1944-45.
- The 5th Battalion formed part of the reinforcements dispatched to Malaya in early 1942. They surrendered to the Japanese Army with the Fall of Singapore.
At the end of the war in 1945 the 1st Battalion was in India and the 2nd in Greece. The 1st Battalion moved to Libya in 1947 and then to Greece, where civil war had broken out. The 2nd Battalion moved from Greece to Egypt in 1946, returning to the United Kingdom in 1947.