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Hampshire Regiment

Royal Hampshire Regiment
Active 1881–1992
Country  United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line Infantry
Size 1–2 Regular Battalions

1 Militia and Special Reserve Battalion
Up to 6 Territorial and Volunteer Battalions
Up to 27 Hostilities-only Battalions

Garrison/HQ Lower Barracks, Winchester[1]
Nickname The Hampshire Tigers[2]
Colors Yellow facings from 1904.[3]

The Royal Hampshire Regiment was a British Army line infantry regiment from 1881 to 1992.[2][4] Its lineage is continued today by the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.


Formation and antecedents

The Hampshire Regiment was formed on 1 July 1881 under the Childers reforms from the merger of the 37th (North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot and the 67th (South Hampshire) Regiment of Foot along with the militia and rifle volunteers of the county of Hampshire.

A regimental tradition was that on 1 August, known as Minden Day, each year battalion members would wear a rose in their head dress to commemorate the Battle of Minden.

World War I

In World War I it took part in the Battle of Gallipoli when engaged in the fatal Landing at Cape Helles of the 88th Brigade, 29th (UK) Division.

Irish War of Independence

The 2nd Battalion was sent to Ireland to fight the IRA. On 31 May 1921 seven soldiers, all with the band of the 2nd Battalion Hampshire Regiment were on their way to the rifle range at Youghal County Cork when a road mine exploded under the truck they were travelling in. Three soldiers were killed outright while a further four died later from their wounds.[5]

World War II

In the Second World War, the Hampshire Regiment had six battalions that fought abroad, whilst more battalions stayed at home. The six battalions who fought abroad were the 1st, 2nd, 1/4th, 2/4th, 5th and 7th Battalions. The 1st Battalion of the regiment formed part of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, and took part in the D-Day landings, landing at Gold Beach on 6 June 1944.

The 1st Battalion

The 1st Battalion was a Regular Army battalion that started the war in El Daba, Egypt, on Garrison duties.

  • 12 December 1939 the 1st Battalion was moved to Palestine on peace keeping duties.
  • 2 June 1940 the 1st Battalion was moved to Moascar in Egypt, then to Mearsa Matruh. One of their duties was to look after the large number of Italian prisoners after the fall of Sidi Barrani.
  • 21 February 1941 the 1st Battalion arrived in Malta, where it became part of the Malta Brigade (with 1st Dorsets and 2nd Devons). This later became 231 Infantry Brigade. Duties in Malta included airfield repair and working as stevedores in the docks. Malta was subjected to a prolonged siege, and by July 1942 the food situation had become serious, but the situation eased as the Allies fortunes improved in North Africa.
  • On 3 April 1943 the 231 Infantry Brigade, including the 1st Battalion, was moved to Alexandria, then subsequently to Cairo and Suez, as it trained as an independent assault brigade.
  • 10 July 1943 the 1st Battalion invaded Sicily as part of the first wave of Operation “Husky”. The beach landing went smoothly, but the 1st Battalion ran into resistance at Vizzini on 13 July when it ran into the Herman Goring Parachute Panzer Division. On 22 July, the 1st Battalion was engaged in hard fighting for Agria, which didn’t fall until 29 July. The 1st Battalion was reduced to three companies after the battle. There was further hard fighting to capture the Regalbuto Ridge, which ended the Sicily campaign. The 1st Battalion suffered 18 Officers and 286 Other Ranks killed or wounded in Sicily.
  • 8 September 1943 the 231 Infantry Brigade invaded Italy, landing at Potro San Venere near Pizzo. The 1st Battalion was involved in fighting as the Germans withdrew northwards.
  • 23 September 1943 the 1st Battalion was back in Sicily waiting for transport back to the UK.
  • 4 November 1943 the 1st Battalion was back in the UK for the first time in 22 years. It was allocated to 50th Division, one of the assault Divisions for the invasion of North West Europe.
  • 6 June 1944 the 1st Battalion came ashore as part of Operation “Overlord”. On the first day the 1st Battalion captured Le Hamel and Arromanches after a hard fight. When the battalion landed there were no tanks with them, and they faced machine gun fire upon landing. On D-Day the 1st Battalion suffered 182 casualties.
  • 18 June, the 1st Battalion started a three-week fight for the village of Hottot, against the German Panzer-Lehr-Division. This culminated in a major assault on 11 July, but the 1st Battalion was withdrawn from the line the next day, testimony to the hard fighting.
  • 30 July 1944 the 1st Battalion was in the van of the assault towards Villiers Bocage. There were stiff fights at St Germain d’Ectot and Launay. Villiers Bocage was taken on 4 August, following which 50th Division was taken out of the line.
  • 11 August 1944 a Brigade attack was launched towards Conde, and the 1st Battalion attacked St Pierre la Vielle. The fighting was particularly hard, and after the 11-hour battle the 1st Battalion Rifle companies were severely reduced – ‘B’ company had 25 men, ‘C’ company had 35 men, and ‘D’ company were down to just 12 men. ‘A’ company was lightly engaged. On 12 August, the 1st Battalion was withdrawn from the line.
  • 25 August 1944 the 1st Battalion was motorised and joined with 11th Armoured Division for the breakout attack. There was no fighting, and on 31 August, the 1st Battalion crossed the river Seine at Vernon and swept on to Amiens. The 1st Battalion was then placed under command of the Guards Armoured Division and swept into Brussels on 3 September.
  • 17 September 1944 the 1st Battalion, still under command of the Guards Armoured Division, started the attack towards Eindhoven, which was the attack designed to relieve the British and Polish paratroops at Arnhem, who had dropped as part of Operation “Market Garden”. The 1st Battalion, as part of 231 Infantry Brigade, was charged with defending the “Corridor” formed by the armoured advance. In October, the 1st Battalion moved up to Nijmegen and moved onto “The Island”, the bridgehead over the river Waal but behind the river Lek.
  • 4 October 1944 the 1st Battalion attacked north of Bemmel, and expanded the bridgehead up to the Wettering Canal. The 1st Battalion then went onto the defensive until the end of November.
  • 29 October 1944 the 1st Battalion moved back to Ypres, and subsequently was moved back to the UK as a training cadre. It ended the war in Louth, UK.

The 2nd Battalion

The 2nd Battalion was a Regular Army Battalion that started the war in Aldershot, in Hampshire, UK.

  • 13 September 1939 the 2nd Battalion moved to Cherbourg in France. It then moved to Sille-le-Guillaume, and from there 250 miles north to take its allocated place on the “Gort Line”, which it reached on 3 October.
  • 10 October 1939 the 2nd Battalion moved to the Belgian/French border. On 4 February 1940 the 2nd Battalion spent three weeks on the Maginot Line before returning to Metz.
  • 11 May 1940 the 2nd Battalion crossed into Belgium in response to the German invasion of Belgium, and by 14 May was digging into a defensive position. However, an attack never came, but the Dutch and the French 9th Army were retreating, so on 16 May the British 1st Division was ordered to retreat. A slow retreat then commenced, ending at Dunkirk.
  • 1 June 1940 the 2nd Battalion began to be embarked from Dunkirk for the UK (some were evacuated on 2 June). The Battalion managed to carry away 100% of their small-arms, mortars and anti-tank rifles. They were congratulated by the Minister for War, Mr Anthony Eden.
  • 11 November 1942 the 2nd Battalion sailed for Africa, taking part in “Operation Torch”. They disembarked at Algiers on 21 November.
  • 29 November 1942 the 2nd Battalion moved to Tebourba. The following day the 2nd Battalion were attacked by heavy shelling, and on 1 December the Battalion was attacked by a force four times its size, that was able to outflank it and rake it with enfilading fire. This was the start of three days of fierce close combat, fought at close quarters and featuring bayonet charges and counter-charges. The Battalion was forced back a mile and a half, and on 3 December Major Le Patourel was awarded a Victoria Cross for his gallantry in leading counter-attacks against the enemy. After three days the Battalion retreated through Tebourba, only to find all other troops had been withdrawn and the road behind them was cut. The Battalion broke into small groups and attempted to break through to allied lines, reuniting at Medjez-el-Bab; many, including the CO, were captured. The 2nd Battalion started the battle with 689 men; after the battle it was down to 194 men. The Battalion was withdrawn from the line and in December, nine Officers and 260 Other Ranks joined the Battalion. After the fall of Tunis on 13 May 1943 the 2nd Battalion joined the 128th Brigade (“The Hampshire Brigade”).

The 128th Infantry Brigade

The 128th Infantry Brigade – The Hampshire Brigade.[6]

  • The Hampshire Regiment had a number of Territorial Army battalions, whose ranks were swelled throughout 1939. During 1939 the 5/7th Battalion was split into the 5th Battalion and the 7th Battalion, and the 4th Battalion was split into the 1/4th Battalion and the 2/4th Battalion.
  • The 1/4th, 2/4th and 5th Battalions were formed into the 128th Infantry Brigade (the “Hampshire Brigade”), part of 43rd (“Wessex” Division).
  • 6 January 1943 the 128th Infantry Brigade left Britain as part of 46th Infantry Division, for North Africa, as part of “Operation Torch”. The Brigade disembarked at Algiers on 17 January, moving to Bone where it remained until the end of January, when the Brigade moved to Hunts Gap. The 5th Battalion was sent 12 miles further ahead to Sidi Nsir.
  • 26 February, the 5th Battalion at Sidi Nsir was attacked in overwhelming strength as the Germans began Operation “Ox Head”, a Corps level assault by German Paratroopers, elements of 10th Panzer Division and 501st Heavy Tank brigade. The 5th Battalion was supported by 155th Battery Royal Artillery, and during the day the unrelenting German assault knocked out all the guns, whose crew had stood and died serving their guns, firing over open sights at the German tanks. Only 9 gunners survived. At 5pm ‘B’ Company of the 5th Battalion, reduced to 30 men, was overrun. At dusk the Battalion considered its position untenable, and it withdrew to a feature known as “Hampshire Farm”. Of the 4 Rifle Companies, only ‘C’ Company less 1 platoon, and 30 men of ‘D’ company, remained.
  • 27 February the Hampshire Brigade was attacked at Hunts Gap. 2/4th was the main Battalion engaged, with 1/4th Battalion in support. The 2/5th Leicester Battalion was attached to the Brigade as well. The situation was so precarious that the Hampshire 2nd Battalion, still training its new recruits, was put into the line alongside 1/4th Battalion. The Brigade was supported by plenty of artillery and the Churchill tanks of the North Irish Horse. Extensive minefields and heavy dive bombing kept the German tanks at bay. On 28 February a pre-dawn attack penetrated the 2/4th Battalion’s ‘B’ company positions, but heroic resistance and the tanks of the North Irish Horse kept the Germans at bay until dusk, when ‘B’ company was overrun. ‘C’ company was overrun by German infantry. On 1 March the German attacked again, and ‘D’ company was overrun, but 2/4th Battalion hung on to their remaining positions. On 2 March the Germans withdrew, and on 5 March the 2/4th Battalion was relieved by the Argylls. The 2/4th Battalion had suffered 243 men killed or missing.
  • During March the Brigade was engaged on defensive patrolling, under heavy shelling. 1/4th Battalion lost 100 casualties during March, but 5th Battalion received 5 Officers and 150 men as replacements. On 5 April the Brigade handed over their positions and moved 100 miles south to El Ala. The Brigade subsequently captured the Fondouk Gap, allowing the British 6th Armoured Division to pass through and debouche onto the Kairouan Plain.
  • 22 April 1943 the 128th Infantry Brigade attacked Bou Arada. The 16th Durham Light Infantry Battalion was added to the Brigade for the attack. Five Field Regiments and two Medium Regiments of the Royal Artillery supported the Brigade. Early progress was good, but when the mist cleared all four battalions were caught in the open under heavy fire, and losses mounted. The rifle companies of 1/4th Battalion only had 3 Officers and 80 men left between them. The 2/4th Battalion had to reorganise onto a three-company basis.
  • 13 May 1943 Tunis fell and the North African campaign was over. 128th Infantry Brigade was reconstituted to consist of 2nd Battalion, 1/4th Battalion and 5th Battalion. The 2/4th Battalion was split into two to form two Defence Units of two Beach Groups. Their role was to protect the maintenance area of a Beach Group when it made a landing where no port was available.
  • 9 September 1943 the 128th Infantry Brigade was one of three British brigades that made an assault landing at Salerno in Italy as part of X Corps. The landing was opposed by shore batteries firing shrapnel, and the beaches were raked by machine gun fire. 2nd Battalion and 1/4th Battalion made steady progress, but 5th Battalion had been landed in the wrong place and suffered heavily. A German counter-attack overran ‘B’ company and the Battalion HQ of 5th Battalion. The 5th Battalion lost 40 men killed, but over 300 were wounded or taken prisoner. On 12 September the Germans started a general assault against the Salerno bridgehead, which made good progress, the US VI Corps were almost driven into the sea. However, the arrival of US paratroops and the British 7th Armoured Division turned the tide. 128th Brigade was in the hills above Salerno, and the fighting was hard, but on 20 September the Germans began to withdraw northwards, and the pressure eased. All three Battalion had suffered – 2nd Battalion suffered 304 casualties, 1/4th Battalion suffered 159 casualties and the 5th Battalion suffered 29 Officer and over 400 Other Rank casualties.
  • 8 October 1943 the 128th Brigade, part of the X Corps, moved up to the River Volturno, behind which the Germans had withdrawn. On 10 October the 1/4th Battalion captured the town of Castel Volturno, alongside the river, and on 12 October the 1/4th made a night assault across the river, establishing a small bridgehead. The 2nd and 5th Battalions moved across the river in support, but the entire Brigade was soon engaged in a stiff fire-fight. The Brigade advanced some 2,500 yards, and then dug in behind a canal as the Germans bought up tanks. The Brigade remained in the low-lying, swampy, mosquito-ridden land between the river and the canal until the Germans withdrew due to a breakthrough elsewhere. The Brigade then advanced along Route 7, meeting little resistance. The Hampshire Brigade was then taken out of the line for R&R.
  • 27 November 1943 the Hampshire Brigade moved up to the River Garigliano. It was relieved on 11 January, and moved back to the River Volturno. They were selected as the Assault Brigade of 46th Division, and trained in river crossings.
  • 19 January 1944 the Hampshire Brigade made a night assault across the swift flowing River Garigliano. The brigade had severe problems getting the boats through the minefields down to the river, and in the darkness confusion reigned. Only a few men managed to get across, and these were withdrawn at daylight.
  • 23 January 1944 the Hampshire Brigade assaulted Monte Damiano, a bare, razor-backed feature, already strewn with British dead from 56th Division. The assault was made by the 1/4th and 2nd Battalions in daylight, and immediately came under heavy mortar and machine-gun fire. The attack was made with great dash, but it failed, with heavy casualties.
  • 1 February 1944 5th Battalion was put under the command of 138 Brigade to assault Mounts Ornito and Cerasola. The assault met little opposition, although the Germans put in spirited counter-attacks on Mount Ornito, which were all driven off. However, as the days passed the casualties mounted from heavy shelling; the bare rock made cover difficult. In eight days the 5th Battalion suffered 200 casualties. Supply was particularly difficult, as supplies had to be carried up by mules and porters for 3 to 4 hours from the nearest road. On 7 February, the 5th Battalion attacked Mount Cerasola, a successful assault. On 10 February, the 5th Battalion was relieved.
  • 28 February the Hampshire Brigade was relieved. It moved south to Naples and on 16 March they sailed for Egypt, and subsequently moved to Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and back to Egypt. All battalions were brought up to strength, largely from gunners from disbanded Middle-East AA units. On 27 June the Brigade sailed from Alexandria, and subsequently landed in Taranto. The move north through Italy was at an easy pace.
  • 25 August 1944 the Hampshire Brigade started its assault on the “Gothic Line”, a line of German defences across the Etruscan Apennines. The Hampshire brigade, with the North Irish Horse under command, led the 46th Division’s assault (along with the Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment). The brigade’s first target was to cross the River Metauro and take Monte Bartolo. The assault went to plan against little opposition, and Mount Bartolo was captured by the morning of 29 August. The Brigade had marched 25 miles to cover 12 miles as the crow flies, and climbed 1,500 feet. Only the 1/4th Battalion had come across serious opposition, engaging in heavy fighting around Montegaudio.
  • 30 August 1944 the Hampshire Brigade assaulted the Gothic Line proper, crossing the River Foglia and assaulting Monte Gridolfo. This was heavily defended, with all cover cleared from its bare slopes. Nevertheless the 2nd Battalion assaulted them with great vigour, and by dawn on 31 August they had captured the first crest. The 1/4th Battalion passed through, driving deeper into Gothic Line. During this assault, Lt Norton won the Victoria Cross. On 1 September, the 5th Battalion took the lead, and by 2 September had captured Meleto. The Gothic Line had been breached. A fighting advance continued northwards. On 5 September the Brigade was relieved, and sent to the rear for rest, but they were back in the line by 11 September.
  • 14 September 1944 the Hampshire Brigade began an assault on Montescudo. Montescudo was defended by the German 100th Mountain Regiment, and they put up a desperate resistance. Other elements of the Brigade assaulted Trarivi, which was captured by 16 September. On 18 September, the Brigade was relieved. All three battalions were short of men, even after reinforcements were received from 1st Bn The Buffs.
  • 28 September 1944 the Brigade crossed the River Fiumicino, and then the Rubicon. The weather was atrocious, and movement was slowed by deep mud, and supply was difficult. Fighting continued until 9 October. A steady advance was made, and by 12 November the River Montone was crossed; on 26 November the River Lamone was reached. This was crossed on 3 December in the face of stiff opposition, and by 6 December the Brigade had captured Casa Nova. The Brigade was relieved the following day, and moved well to the rear. From 24 August (when the Brigade moved up to the Gothic Line) to 7 December when they were relieved, the Hampshire Brigade had suffered 1,276 casualties.
  • 13 January 1945 the 2nd Battalion and the 5th Battalion embarked from Taranto and disembarked in Piraeus, Greece, two days later. 1/4th Battalion arrived on 22 January. The Brigade (now known as “Tigerforce”) split its battalions, and set about disarming the E.L.A.S army. The troops were welcomed everywhere, and there was no fighting.
  • 5 April 1945 the Brigade began to return to Italy. By 1 May the Brigade was back in the line around Forlimpopoli; but the war ended before the Brigade was in action again.

The 2/4th battalion

The 2/4th Battalion.[6]

  • 10 July 1943 the 20th Beach Group (“A” and “B” companies) invaded Sicily as part of “Operation Husky”. The role of the Beach Group was to land supplies until a harbour could be captured. On 12 July, 20 Beach Group moved inland, behind the advancing infantry, but by 22 July the half-battalion was in the line, capturing Mount Scalpello. On 4 August the half-battalion moved to Catania, where they remained on garrison duty.
  • 9 September 1943 the 21st Beach Group (“C” and “D” companies) invaded Salerno. The assault went in at dawn against stiff opposition, and rather than take its allotted role the half-battalion was moved straight into the line. However there was little action until 13 September when the half-battalion was attacked by armoured half-tracks. This happened again on 15 September when ‘D’ company was overrun. However, the half-tracks didn’t assault ‘D’ company as such, they ran over the slit trenches until picked off by 6pdr anti-tank guns. On 17 September the half-battalion was moved back into Reserve, and by 23 September they were back on the beaches unloading cargo.
  • 18 November 1943 the two halves of the 2/4th Battalion were re-united at Portecagnano near Naples. However, there was no immediate employment, and orders were received to send cadres to the three battalions in the Hampshire Brigade (this was rescinded after protests). However, six officers and 77 other ranks were posted away to form the “2/4th Hampshire Training Centre”, three officers and 188 other ranks were assigned to ‘porterage duties’ and another detachment of 50 men was assigned to help the Provost Corps with traffic duties.
  • 29 February 1944 the 2/4th Battalion was back in the line in Italy, near Garigliano, as part of 28th Infantry Brigade, in 4th Division. This was the same ground where the Hampshire Brigade had suffered through the Italian winter. The battalion was relieved for short periods on a regular basis before returning to the line.
  • 11 May 1944 the 2/4th Battalion assisted the other two battalions of their brigade to cross the River Rapido as part of the assault on Monte Cassino. The river and bank were under intense enemy fire, and the river so swift that swimmers from 2/4th had to cross with lines to enable the boats to get across. Troops got across the river but could make little headway against the storm of machine gun fire. The 2/4th could not get across to join their fellow battalions, and so on 12 May they came under command of 12th Infantry Brigade and crossed via a bridge on 13 May. Supported by 17th/21st Lancers and their Sherman tanks, the 2/4th Battalion attacked along the river, taking 200 prisoners. On 14 May, back in 28th Brigade, the 2/4th attempted to cross the River Pioppeta . The bridge for tanks sunk in the mud, and the Battalion took 100 casualties in two minutes. The 2/4th waded the river, but in spite of heavy casualties and fierce resistance, the advance continued. During this advance, Captain Wakeford won the Victoria Cross. By 6.30pm all objectives had been captured, and the 2/4th reorganised on a three-company basis. On 16 May the battalion was relieved. Two days later, Cassino was captured by the Polish Corps.
  • 22 June 1944 the 2/4th battalion was back in the line near the village of Villastrada, between Lake Chiusi and Lake Trasimeno to north of Rome. On 24 June a major attack was launched on that section of the Trasimene Line by 2 Somerset Light Infantry supported by the tanks of 12 Canadian Armoured Regiment. 2/4 Hants were to follow on, but their entry into battle was delayed until the next day. Having passed through the village of Vaiano, which they found unoccupied, an attack was launched on a ridge being held by the German 1st Parachute Division. Although "C" Company established a foothold on the ridge, occupying a farmhouse, that night a fierce German counter-attack was made by the Germans, who overran the company headquarters. Fighting was close and confused, and the company ran low on ammunition. It was forced back to literally the last ditch, but hung on. At dawn the next day, 26 June, the battalion counter-attacked and managed to recapture their previous positions; the Germans were withdrawing to the Arezzo Line. The 2/4th Battalion followed up, coming into action again on 21 July. Supported by the North Irish Horse, a steady advance was made. The battalion was then taken out of the line again – some platoons were down to ten men each with no officer.
  • 28 July 1944 the 2/4th attacked Santa Lucia, a small but fierce battle which was captured on 30 July. The enemy then withdrew, and the 2/4th moved up to the River Arno. On 10 August the battalion was withdrawn.
  • 15 September 1944 the 2/4th began its assault on the Gothic Line, attacking across the River Marano and capturing Casa Bagli. All the first day objectives were achieved, and the 2/4th defended them on 16 September against German counter-attacks. On 17 September the battalion captured Cerasola, and were relieved the following day. The battalion then moved north behind the army’s advance, arriving in time to stand by to support the Hampshire Brigade’s assault on Forli during November. During 22 November the 2/4th attacked and captured a bridgehead over the River Cosina against heavy shelling, and this was the battalion’s last action in Italy.
  • 11 December 1944 the 2/4th Battalion was flown to Greece in the bomb-bays of Wellington and Liberator bombers in response to the outbreak of the Greek Civil War, arriving 12 December. The E.L.A.S. army, armed and trained by the British, was trying to overthrow the Greek Government. On arrival, the Battalion was split up, primarily defending the airfield, then clearing E.L.A.S. forces from Athens. This did involve some fighting, and the 2/4th Battalion lost three men killed. The 2/4th Battalion then settled down to peace-keeping duties.
  • 6 May 1945 the 2/4th was moved to Crete to take charge of the Germans, who had surrendered, and they ended the war there.

7th Battalion

  • The 7th Battalion was originally a Territorial Battalion. It remained in the UK until after D Day, when it was sent to Normandy as reinforcements.
  • 22 June 1944 the 7th Battalion landed near Le Hamel. They were part of 130th Brigade (with 4th and 5th Dorsets) and were initially in reserve.
  • 10 July 1944 the 7th Battalion attacked Maltot, supported by tanks of 44th RTR. The village was defended by Waffen SS troops supported by Tiger tanks. Both the 7th Battalion and 44th RTR suffered severe casualties, and although the 7th Battalion managed to fight its way into the village it was withdrawn. The 7th Battalion suffered 18 Officer and 208 Other Rank casualties, but was back in the line two days later.
  • 30 July 1944 the 7th Battalion attacked the village of Cahagnes. This was fought in typical ‘bocage’ countryside, but after the initial attack by the brigade ran into difficulties, 7th Battalion deployed from reserves and captured Cahagnes, beating off several German counter-attacks. On 2 August, the 7th Battalion moved up to Jurques, and after a short stiff fight advanced to “Point 132”, close to Mount Pincon. On 6 August, the 7th Battalion put in a deceptive attack on Mount Pincon, making a diversion whilst 129th Brigade made a flank attack. During heavy fighting, “C” company lost many casualties, including all the officers. Following the successful flank attack by 129th Brigade, the 7th Battalion mopped up and concentrated near Mauny by 10 August.
  • 14 August 1944 the 7th Battalion captured St Denis de Mere after a bombardment by 9 artillery regiments. The 7th Battalion took 74 prisoners. The 7th Battalion then prepared for “The Breakout”.
  • 25 August 1944 the 7th Battalion moved 50 miles north-east to Conches, and by 27 August, the 7th Battalion was across the River Seine. The 7th Battalion then participated in the capture of Tilly, and thereafter spent 11 days taking in reinforcements and resting.
  • 8 September 1944 the 7th Battalion started to move to Brussels for temporary garrison duty, arriving the next day. This easy duty was welcome; since landing in Normandy in June, the 7th Battalion had lost (including wounded) 35 Officers and 450 Other Ranks.
  • 15 September 1944 the 7th Battalion joined 130th Brigade for operation “Market Garden”. On 20 September, the 7th Battalion moved through Eindhoven to Grave. The 7th Battalion was tasked with defending the southern end of the two large bridges over the Waal. On 23 September, the 7th Battalion was sent into the line, fighting west of the bridges in the Valburg-Elst area. The 7th Battalion then moved to the “Island” and stayed there until 4 October, before moving to the Gromsbeek-Mook area on the Dutch-German border.
  • 9 November 1944 the 7th Battalion was moved to Maastricht, and then moved around as divisional reserve. On 19 December the German Ardennes offensive caused the 7th Battalion to move north of Liege to guard the bridges over the Meuse. On 26 December, the 7th Battalion moved to Aachen, and on 12 January moved again to Teveren.
  • 22 January 1945 the 7th Battalion captured Putt, then Waldenrath, and on 25 January captured Dremmen and Porselen.
  • 15 February 1945 the 7th Battalion advanced south-east from Cleves as part of the big Reichwald offensive. Over two days fighting for Berkhofel, the 7th Battalion lost 70 casualties. It was relieved on 17 February.
  • 24 March 1945 the 7th Battalion crossed the Rhine in assault craft, consolidating on the far bank and then advancing across the IJssel Canal to Milligen, which was captured on 26 March. German resistance was collapsing, and the 7th Battalion moved over the Twente Canal on 1 April, capturing Hengelo.
  • 9 April 1945 the 7th Battalion took part in operation “Forward On”, sweeping through Germany against minimal resistance. However, on 13 April the Battalion had a hard fight for Cloppenburg, a fight which was as hard as any they had fought, vicious hand-to-hand fighting from street to street. Luckily they were supported by tanks, sappers and a single AVRE, which demolished several buildings with its petard. Cloppenburg was captured the next day.
  • 19 April, the 7th Battalion embarked on its final advance, moving through Bahlum, Bremen, then Bremerhavan, capturing hundreds then thousands of prisoners. The 7th Battalion reached Barkhausen on 3 May, and were still there when the Germans surrendered the following day.

The Home Based Battalions

Although the Hampshire Regiment sent 6 battalions overseas, many more stayed at home.

  • The 6th (Duke of Connaught’s Own) was converted into two anti-tank Regiments. The 59th Anti-Tank Regiment RA served in the 43rd Division and went with them to Normandy; the 69th Anti-Tank Regiment RA fought with the B.E.F. in France, and then served in Burma.
  • The original 8th Battalion (Princess Beatrice’s Own Isle of Wight Rifles) was made into an artillery battery in 1937. A new 8th Battalion was formed at Southampton in December 1939. It subsequently split into the 1/8th and 2/8th Battalions, before the 2/8th Battalion was renamed the 13th Battalion, and then both Battalions were re-formed into the 8th Battalion again, which was subsequently renamed the 30th Battalion. It was disbanded in September 1942.
  • The 9th Battalion was formed in the Isle of Wight in July 1940, and in 1942 was converted to armour as 157th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps. Units converted in this way continued to wear their infantry cap badge on the black beret of the RAC.[7] It was disbanded in August 1943.
  • The 10th Battalion was formed in Aldershot in July 1940, and in 1941 became 147th Regiment RAC.[8] Its Churchill tanks were named after Hampshire Regiment battles (the CO’s tank was called “Minden”) and it went to serve with distinction with 34th Army Tank Brigade in North West Europe.[9]
  • The 50th Battalion was formed in the Isle of Wight in June 1940, and absorbed the Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey. The Jersey Militia subsequently became the 11th Battalion, whilst the rest of 50th Battalion became the 12th Battalion. The 11th Battalion stayed in the UK until the war ended; the 12th also stayed within the UK but was disbanded in September 1944.
  • The 70th Battalion was formed in Southampton in September 1940, but soon moved to Basingstoke. It was disbanded in July 1943.
  • The Hampshire Regimental Depot had been in Winchester since long before World War II. In September 1939 it moved to Parkhurst, Isle of Wight, where it stayed for the rest of the war. It contained the Regimental Infantry Training Centre, the Regimental Auxiliary Territorial Service, and at its peak was over 3,000 men strong. It also sponsored the Regimental Mascot, “Blang” the tiger, who lived in London Zoo.

Post war and amalgamation

In 1946 the regiment was awarded the title of Royal Hampshire Regiment in recognition of its service during the Second World War.[10][11]

The unit served in Northern Ireland (Operation Banner) and during the Gulf War prior to the amalgamation.

In 1992, as part of the Options for Change reorganisations, the regiment merged with the Queens Regiment to become The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.

Battle honours

The Regiment was awarded the following battle honours:

  • From the 37th (North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot: Minden, Tournay, Peninsula
  • From the 67th (South Hampshire) Regiment of Foot: Barrosa, Peninsula, India, Taku Forts, Pekin 1860, Charasiah, Kabul 1879, Afghanistan 1878-80
  • Blenheim1, Ramillies1, Oudenarde1, Malplaquet1, Dettingen1, Belleisle2, Burma 1885-87, Paardeberg, South Africa 1900-02
  • The Great War (36 battalions): Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914 '18, Aisne 1914, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1915 '17 '18, St. Julien, Frezenberg, Bellewaarde, Somme 1916 '18, Albert 1916, Guillemont, Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette, Thiepval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916, Arras 1917 '18, Vimy 1917, Scarpe 1917 '18, Messines 1917, Pilckem, Langemarck 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Bailleul, Kemmel, Béthune, Tardenois, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Havrincourt, Canal du Nord, Courtrai, Selle, Valenciennes, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Italy 1917-18, Kosturino, Struma, Doiran 1917 '18, Macedonia 1915-18, Helles, Landing at Helles, Krithia, Suvla, Sari Bair, Landing at Suvla, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915-16, Egypt 1915-17, Gaza, El Mughar, Nebi Samwil, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Tell 'Asur, Megiddo, Sharon, Palestine 1917-18, Aden, Shaiba, Kut al Amara 1915 '17, Tigris 1916, Baghdad, Sharqat, Mesopotamia 1915-18, Persia 1918-19, Archangel 1919, Siberia 1918-19
  • The Second World War: Dunkirk 1940, Normandy Landing, Tilly sur Seulles, Caen, Hill 112, Mont Pincon, Jurques, St. Pierre La Vielle, Nederrijn, Roer, Rhineland, Goch, Rhine, North-West Europe 1940 '44-45, Tebourba Gap, Sidi Nsir, Hunt's Gap, Montagne Farm, Fondouk, Pichon, El Kourzia, Ber Rabal, North Africa 1940-43, Landing in Sicily, Regalbuto, Sicily 1943, Landing at Porto S. Venere, Salerno, Salerno Hills, Battipaglia, Cava di Tirreni, Volturno Crossing, Garigliano Crossing, Damiano, Monte Ornito, Cerasola, Cassino II, Massa Vertecchi, Trasimene Line, Advance to Florence, Gothic Line, Monte Gridolfo, Montegaudio, Coriano, Montilgallo, Capture of Forli, Cosina Canal Crossing, Lamone Crossing, Pideura, Rimini Line, Montescudo, Frisoni, Italy 1943-45, Athens, Greece 1944-45, Malta 1941-42

1. For services of 37th Foot.

2. For services of 67th Foot.

Notes and references

  • History of regiment

External links

  • An account by Jack Durey of his service with 2nd Battalion Hampshire Regiment in France, his capture, time at Stalag XX-B and his escape, and journey home via Odessa
  • Contemporary account of Battle of Sidi Nsir and Hunt's Gap
  • Regiment Museum (Serles House)
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