British Battalion Day

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Queensman, Dec 20, 2005.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Well, blow me!

    (edited 'cos GOM is daydreaming)) Well, blow me down!!

    Never knew that one: thanx, Queensman!

    Just wondering which poor twit is going to get cornered with that one, come the Friday night roister................
  2. My dad was in the Leicesters during the 60's.
  3. Tomorrow is British Battalion Day - Greetings to you all in advance as sadly I will be attending the funeral of a fellow Queensman. Rest in Peace Martyn 'Bill' Walker.

    The British Battalion (20th December 1941)

    During the operations in Malaya in 1941/42, the 2nd Battalion The East Surrey Regiment became so reduced in number that they were combined with the similarly depleted Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment. The single unit this formed was called the British Battalion, doing valiant service during the latter part of the campaign. The companionship which lasted through the years of captivity became permanent and the Officers, Warrant Officers and Sergeants, of the two Battalions were Honorary Members of each others Messes. The toast to "The British Battalion" was drunk standing, on 20th December annually. It commemorated the amalgamation in 1941, before the fall of Singapore, of the battle-worn 2nd Bn The East Surrey Regiment and 1st Bn The Royal Leicestershire Regiment into what became known as The British Battalion.

    A framed list of the members of the British Battalion hangs in the Regimental Museum.

    It is worthy of note that the 2nd Bn The Queen’s Royal Regiment and 2nd Bn The Royal Leicestershire Regiment also fought side-by-side in the same brigade for the greater part of World War II.

    Telegrams were exchanged annually with The Royal Leicestershire Regiment, later with The Royal Anglian Regiment.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Thanks Queensman. This reinforces the need to retain our proud Regimental system and not go down the numbers and drab uniform route-Discuss?

    Said by one of the old and bold who were part of the "Save our Scottish Regiments"
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Dunno about that old sausage. Just from the top of my head the numbered regiments - including some rather drably uniformed Light Infantry ones - managed to deliver pretty comprehensive spankings to:

    - Napoleon's armies, worldwide, including two pretty major Cup Final fixtures
    - The Russians during the Crimea
    - Indian native armies and rebel sepoys
    - The Chinese during two opium wars and the Boxer rebellion
    - The Zulus at Ulundi, and various other uppity natives in colonial scraps, never forgetting the Battle of Umboto Gorge.

    All the above combined to produce tremendous regimental pride. There's ample evidence for those who want to look back further than Cardwell. From Richard Holmes's Soldier:

    Against that you can set the victories of the "Save Our Scottish Regiments" campaign which were:

    - Preserving regimental titles in parentheses and as coloured hackles
    - Retaining the A&SH as a loosely themed PD company
    - Turning 6 poorly manned Infantry Battalions into 4.3 poorly manned Battalions, notably at the expense of a well manned English Battalion in the form of 2RRF.
    - To breathe new life into a spirit of mutual division which meant that the SCOTS formation was notably much less successful than the RIFLES, to the detriment of their morale and operational efficiency...thankfully only until the real soldiering began
    - Er... thats it.

    Mind you, the campaign for the Scottish regiments' retention was made more difficult by their predecessors undeserving success in creating more regiments than Scotland could support, a fact which was as much as source of concern to old Long Nose in 1845 as it was to Jackson in 2003.

    The association of the two regiments no doubt meant a lot in 1941. But I doubt it mattered to more than a handful of Old & Bold from 1943 onwards. I wouldn't vicariously live off the credit of those who fought at Assaye, Amiens or El Alamein. We'd all do well to congratulate the brave, make a nod of respect to the everyday veterans and move on with our lives. Serving soldiers will find their own victories to be proud of.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Trick Question, do not be annoyed.
    Who was the only "Sapper" to command a British Infantry Battalion in WW II.

  7. NcNeile, 18th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, Apr-Oct 1918. Nom de plume "Sapper" post war.

    But that was WW1. Maybe that's the trick part of the question.
  8. No seriously, no piss take, my 94 year old Sapper Major rtd, assures me that in one WW II Campaign a Sapper formed a Battalion of infantry from stragglers and led it in combat.

  9. Yep, let's keep propping up a system that has been shown to be inefficient & expensive. If your pride stems from the fact that 300 years ago someone you have no connection with killed a small dark chap, rather than current performance, then I suggest you need to readjust your horizons.
  10. Sorry bored at work and felt like fishing!
    I would take issue with some of what you say Timble, but far better having something to hark back to than being a drab uniformed number on an orbat. All right, we all have our battle honours and experiences and my bait was rather tired and has been hung over the side numerous times. That said one of my relations is going through the great re-organisation and is seeing his regiment go the way of the many that have been mashed. My old Battalion, was mashed to form the RRS, but only back on 1959 it was created from the RSF and HLI and they were mashed before that. So the Regimental landscape is littered with famous names. A fear is that once the crushing ball starts it gains its own momentum, this is borne out with some of the current cuts which follow hard on the heels of others from just a few years ago.
    Can't say that some of the boys who are re-badging as we speak are overly chuffed with marching off to "Glasgows" choices from their triple p choice!
  11. There are about 50 identified soldiers of the East Surrey and Leicestershire Regiments buried in Taiping War Cemetery, north of Ipoh.
    The cemetery is immaculate- as would be expected of CWGC - and is also in a very tranquil setting, not far from Taiping's Lake Gardens and at the base of Maxwell Hill, one of the former hill stations.

    It's a fairly easy trip by train or road from Penang or from Kuala Lumpur.

    There is certain also to be a number of East Surreys and Leicestershires among the unidentified remains buried in the cemetery.
    Identifying the remains post-war was severely handicapped by the fact that the Bakelite identity discs could not stand up to long exposure buried in the tropics and on re-interment, many were found to be unreadable.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013
  12. No, they really didn't.

    There was a system in place during WW2 for corralling 'stragglers' and utilising them. Sometimes as manual labour, so he may have led a Bn sized labour group.
  13. 'British Battalion'. That's where we are heading aren't we?
  14. Thanks Queensman. I never knew that despite being a Royal Anglian from Leicester.

    Does this explain in some part why our two regiments formed the Queens Div at Bassingbourn? And if so who let the oikish Fusiliers in?
    • Like Like x 1