Britain's "Most Massacred" Regiment


An interesting link from a fellow Afghan hand from a US site. - Combat Information Center analysis, facts and figures about military conflicts and leaders
Other military history buffs may have a different opinion which would be interesting to read.

Among the many regiments that have served in the British Army over the centuries is one that holds the dubious distinction of having been wiped out more often than any other in the history of the service, the former 44th Regiment of Foot.

The 44th Foot had its origins in 1741, when one James Long raised a regiment for the British Army. For a time known as the 55th Foot, in 1748 the regiment was redesignated as the 44th, and was later renamed the 44th East Essex. In 1851 the regiment merged with the 56th West Essex Regiment and became the 1st Battalion of the new Essex Regiment.

On four occasions the regiment was virtually obliterated in action.

* Sept. 21, 1745, the Battle of Prestonpans, Second (or maybe Third or Fourth . . . ) Jacobite Rising: Of 291 men present in five companies, some were killed but most were captured, including 13 officers, among them Lt. Col. Sir Peter Halkett, commanding.
* July 9, 1755, the Battle of the Monongahela ("Braddock's Defeat"), French & Indian War: The regiment lost heavily, with many killed, including Col. Halkett and his son, and most of the rest wounded.
* January 13, 1842, Battle of Gandamak, First Anglo-Afghan War: The final battle of the British retreat from Kabul, only one man escaped death or capture, to make it back to India, Surgeon William Brydon; 41 men were subsequently released from captivity
* July 1, 1916, Battle of the Somme, The Great War: In 90 minutes (1050-1220) the 1st Battalion took so many casualties that it was unable to continue in action.

On might also include the Battle of New Orleans (January 8, 1815), where the regiment suffered 36 killed, 162 wounded, and 80 captured, for 278 casualties, not to mention one officer subsequently cashiered. Making matters worse, American observers claimed that the regiment left the field precipitously.

In 1958 the Essex Regiment was amalgamated with another regiment to form the 3rd East Anglian Regiment, which in 1964 became the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment. In 1992 the regiment was wiped out for the last time, when the battalion was formally disbanded -- sic transit gloria mundi.
No, throughout their history they were commanded by complete fu'ckwits, plus ca change plus ces la meme chose.
The French and Indian War, I wonder how many Septics know that the Battle of Monongehela was fought on the main drag of what became Pittsburg, and that George Washington did rather well in getting some of the surviours out of the crap
The French and Indian War, I wonder how many Septics know that the Battle of Monongehela was fought on the main drag of what became Pittsburg, and that George Washington did rather well in getting some of the surviours out of the crap
Braddocks route


Bloody right they didn't.

My great uncle commanded a company a Tobruk and the 1/4th at Monte Cassino.

He had to beg for them to be taken out of the line, because despite taking a hammering they just wouldn't quit.
Spot on Gremlin...Having read the account of Cassino by Fred Majdalany, he makes good reference to their efforts there.
Majdalany's book is more specific to the NZ Division present, but references all the units present throughout the four battles. There are some excellent details of the Sussex regt, who were left defending Hangmans hill for over a month. Of the 1/4th Essex he notes, that it was they who led the 5th Indian Brigade column during the occupation of Castle hill. He later describes the efforts made by both the Essex and Gurkhas, who were jointly tasked with assaulting the monastry from Hangmans hill. Their efforts at what was known as the castle, make for excellent reading, especially the details of the German paratroopers assault on that position, and the Essex's, Gurkhas and Rajputs defence. Without a shadow of a doubt, their performance cannot be questioned! Oh and the rest of the book is well worth a read too.
Another interesting fact about the Essex regiment is that during the Anglo-Irish war the IRA didn't take any prisoners from that regiment

Post 1945 surely the " Most massacred regiment " has been the Gloustershire regiment in Korea ?
more recently, i think the RIFLES have suffered more losses than any other on Telic and Herrick combined.

i think 2RIFLES has lost the most on Herrick, but 40 Commando might suffer a worse fate.

these losses in no way reflect the performance or skills and drills of the soldiers from the units concerned, and we should remember that all of these men gave the ultimate sacrifice.

RIP to all of our fallen, be it in Afghan, Iraq, NI, Falklands and the rest of the world where we do what we do.
There are some other contenders.

In WW1 L Battery RHA manage to take over 50% casualties on three occasions. At Nery in 1914, in the Dardenelles and in the German counter attack at Cambrai in 1917 when they cover the withdrawal of the other guns.

Between May and August 1940 No 82 Sqn RAF suffered over 90% casualties on two seperate raids. Bomber command are the unsung heroes of 1940. On two saeperate occasions (17 May and 13 August) all but one of 11 or 12 aircraft took off were shot down.
Remember Maiwand! The 66th were never backwards at coming forwards for a mass-a-cree! Strangely enough, yes it was in AFG!

Is it strictly a massacre if anyone (or even a dog) survuves?

The 66nd Regiment was serving in India during the 1870s when it was ordered to Afghanistan. In July 1880 on the arid plain of Maiwand, 45 miles from Kandahar, the Regiment earned undying glory. The 66th was part of a mixed Indian and British force under Brigadier General Burroughs and was given the task of dispersing a reportedly small band of rebellious Afghan tribesmen under Ayub Khan. In the event the rebels proved to be a massive army over 40,000 strong supported by 30 guns.

After several hours desperate fighting only the remnants of the 66th stood firm. Slowly and deliberately, contesting every foot of ground the hundred and twenty survivors under Colonel Galbraith withdrew to a walled garden. Here they fought on until only two officers and nine other ranks were left. This small group charged out of the garden, formed up back to back and continued to fire until the last of them fell.

The action caught the prevailing mood of nationalism which was prevalent in Victorian England at the time and inspired a poem to be written. A small white mongrel dog named "Bobbie", who was the pet of a Sergeant in the Regiment, was wounded in the battle but survived and was eventually brought back to England where he was presented to Queen Victoria at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
It is startlingly obvious that the hound was a coward who deserted the battlefield (and it's master) in the hour of greatest need! After all the dog survived and it is white. Therefore the mutt can be discounted, and the massacre stands!

BTW 'undying glory' is probably not the best turn of phrase in this situation. Can I suggest that 'Everlasting' would be slightly more fitting?


Book Reviewer
On 13th November 1916, on the Somme, Hawke Battalion, RND, went into action with 20 Officers and 415 OR's. Their official casualties were 23(!) Officers and 396 ratings of whom 140 were killed in action or died of wounds. Nelson Battalion alongside the Hawkes came out of the Somme with only a Lieutenant RNVR, a Sub Lieutenant, a surgeon, and one hundred ratings uninjured.
The French and Indian War, I wonder how many Septics know that the Battle of Monongehela was fought on the main drag of what became Pittsburg, and that George Washington did rather well in getting some of the surviours out of the crap
Sorry but this isn't the case. Nothing personal or anything, geezer, but Washington was neither a good soldier nor field commander and his performance before, during and after the massacre and rout of Braddock's column was distinctly unimpressive. Despite his piles, he was said to have retreated faster than anyone else.

Washington was the one who persuaded Braddock to split his force up. He claimed to have overseen the evacuation of the mortally wounded Braddock and the transformation of the rout into an orderly withdrawal once back across the river but it was actually Braddock's regular aide-de-camp, Captain Orde, who deserved the credit.

The tales circulated in Virginian society of Washington's derring-do are simply not supported by contemporary accounts. The war described by described by Winston Churchill as "the first First World War" was also provoked by the murder of the French envoy Jumonville and his men by a detachment under Washington's direct command. Washington actually signed a confession to this effect after surrendering to Jumonville's brother at Fort Necessity shortly after the atrocity in question.

Washington was not only a total shit in military and civilian life but was also a bit of a Walt. After the Braddock Expedition fiasco, Washington even had the brass neck to blame the common soldiers of the 44th and 48th Regiments of Foot rather than leadership and tactics totally unsuited to that sort of warfare.

Promoted Colonel of the 1st Virginia Regiment by the Governor of Virginia, Washington imposed his brand of British-style military discipline upon his men, believing it would make them as good as British regular soldiers - rather contradicting his own sneering criticisms of the men of the 44th and 48th - and might bring him the King’s Commission he desperately coveted.

In May and June 1757, Colonel Washington presided over the passing of fourteen death sentences on soldiers of the 1st Virginia Regiment, exceeding the regular British Army average when it came to shooting and hanging their own men pour encourager les autres. Washington regularly approved floggings of more than 600 lashes with the Cat-o-Nine-Tails for offences such as wearing a hat incorrectly or not cleaning a musket properly.

Washington really should have been taken out by his own men. Someone should have slotted him. And when his regiment was finally allowed out on campaign, during the Forbes Expedition, they got lost and attacked a British unit, inflicting many casualties.

OK, so he proved himself a good tactical general during the Revolution twenty years later. He is one of the few generals who can be said to have won a war but never won a battle. Indeed, General Charles Lee, who served as Washington’s second-in-command during the Revolution and had served in the field with Washington on the Braddock Expedition of 1755, remarked caustically that Washington was “unfit to command a sergeant’s guard”. Washington had him court-martialled and suspended for a year.

And then there was the treatment he meted out to his slaves. And their pets. He had a slave's dog hanged for stealing a sausage or something equally minor, the sort of thing dogs do. Horrible, horrible man. Plus he was a gigolo.

Wasn't Charles Lee the one who ordered the retreat at Monmouth?
He did indeed, was court-martialled at his own request and suspended from duty for one year. After the French-Indian War/Seven Years War, during which his own men attempted to assassinate him - the Indians nicknamed him "Boiling Water" because of his temper - he is said to have enlisted in the Polish Army and risen to the rank of General. It seems that the British Army was unwilling to award him any rank above that which he had already held so he joined the fledgling American Army, where he was promoted to General. Some pundits suggest that the retreat at Monmouth was a deliberate act of sabotage or treachery on Lee's part but others attribute it more to flawed judgement and character. Treachery is unlikely because even though he rabidly despised George Washington, he also had a serious grudge against the British military high command that had refused to recognise his immense talents. But then, most of the prime movers in the so-called War of Independence considered themselves Englishmen and were deeply resentful of the tendency of native Englishmen to see them as colonials and therefore second class beings. That, and London's reluctance to allow the Virginians to expand beyond the mountains because it would make the task of King George's tax collectors more difficult - often misinterpreted as some sort of ethical insistence upon London's part to honour treaties with the Indians - fuelled the anger that led to the rupture. It was a mass temper tantrum by the landed gentry and businessmen of New England.


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