The Bedfords: Brief History

A Brief History of the Bedfordshire Regiment


A Brief History of the Bedfordshire Regiment The regiment was raised in 1688. It was a regular Regiment of the Line and, being the sixteenth raised, was numbered 16th Foot. At this time it was associated with Buckinghamshire. The 14th Foot was associated with Bedfordshire and fought at the Battle of Coruña in January 1809. That same year the colonels of the two regiments decided to swap their county affiliations, the 14th Foot becoming associated with Buckinghamshire and the 16th Foot with Bedfordshire.

The regiment had a less than glorious service record in the century or so between the Napoleonic Wars and the First World War as it was largely on garrison duty and fought in no major battles. In his Goodbye to All That Robert Graves states that in the army it was said that the motto of the Regiment ought to be “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, but added that the regiment was making a name for itself in the Great War

  • 1688: 16th Foot raised as Douglas' Regiment;
  • 1782: affiliated to Buckinghamshire;
  • 1809: affiliation changes to Bedfordshire (previously 14th Foot)
  • 1858:  a second battalion is raised
  • 1881:  officially named the Bedfordshire Regiment
In 1919 the regiment was renamed the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment. This was in recognition of the fact that as many men from Hertfordshire served in the regiment as from Bedfordshire. A principal reason for this was that Hertfordshire had no regular infantry regiment associated with the county. Two rifle volunteer battalions had been formed in 1860, becoming the 1st and 2nd (Hertfordshire) Volunteer Battalions, Bedfordshire Regiment in 1868. In 1908 one battalion became a Territorial Army unit as the Hertfordshire Regiment (TA), thus a unit of part-time soldiers intended as home defence, though they served on the Western Front with some distinction in World War One. As a Territorial Army formation the Hertfordshire Regiment continued to exist even after the renaming of the Bedfordshire Regiment as the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment.

In 1958 the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment was disbanded but its lineage continued as 3rd Battalion, East Anglian Regiment, being amalgamated with the Essex Regiment to form this battalion. Separate Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire (Territorial Army) battalions were merged in 1961 to form the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment (TA).

In 1964 the East Anglian Regiment was renamed the Royal Anglian Regiment and in 1967 the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment (TA) became 5th (Volunteer) Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment. In 1992 the 3rd Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment ending the Bedfordshire Regiment's history.

In 1995 D Company, 2nd Battalion was named Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Company but by then the lineage of the Bedfordshire Regiment had been lost. In 1996 the 5th (Volunteer) Battalion became 7th (Volunteer) Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment  and in 1999 the various Territorial Army battalions were amalgamated as East of England Regiment (Territorial Army). Then in 2006 the 3rd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment was resurrected and the Essex Hertfordshire components of the Territorial Army became E Company, 3rd Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment. Thus there is, officially, no Bedfordshire component to the current TA unit.

The service record of the regiment is as follows:

  • 1689-1697: service in north-west Europe during the Nine Years War, including the Siege of Namur (1695)
  • 1701-1713: service in north-west Europe during the War of the Spanish Succession under the Duke of Marlborough and including the battles of Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenaarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709)
  • 1713-1740: northern England and Scotland
  • 1740-1742: served as marines during the War of Jenkins' Ear including the Battle of Cartegena de Indias
  • 1742-1746: northern England and Scotland
  • 1746-1749: Scotland in the wake of Bonny Prince Charlie's 1745 Jacobite rebellion
  • 1749-1767: Ireland
  • 1767-1781: America including New York (1776), Florida and Georgia (1777-1778), the Spanish capture of Baton Rouge (1778), repelling French attacks on Savannah (1779) and Pensacola (1781)
  • 1782-1791: Ireland
  • 1791-1796: Nova Scotia and Jamaica including the Second Maroon War (1795)
  • 1796-1802: England
  • 1803-1815: Canada, including QuebecBarbados and Surinam including Paramaribo
  • 1815-1819: CorkIreland
  • 1820-1840: Ceylon including Colombo and India including Calcutta and Cawnpore
  • 1841-1845: Ireland
  • 1846-1857: Gibraltar, CorfuJamaica and Quebec
The service record of the 1st Battalion was as follows:
  • 1858-1870: Canada including action against the American sponsored Fenian designed to conquer lower Canada (1866-1870)
  • 1870-1890: Ireland, The Curragh
  • 1890: Mediterranean
  • 1891-1907: India, including the relief of Chitral (1895)
  • 1907-1908: YemenAden
  • 1908-1914: Ireland, Mullingar
  • 1914-1917: Western Front
  • 1917-1918: Italy
  • 1918-1919: Western Front
  • 1920-1922: Ireland
  • 1922-1925: England
  • 1925-1927: Malta
  • 192701929: ChinaShanghai and Hong Kong
  • 1929-1938: India
  • 1938-1942: Egypt and Palestine
  • 1942-1947: Burma and India, operating as Chindits in 1944
  • 1947-1950: Greece
  • 1951: Cyprus
  • 1952-1954: Egypt
  • 1954-1956: England
  • 1856-1958: Germany
The service record of the 2nd Battalion was as follows:
  • 1858-1861: Ireland
  • 1861-1866: Canada, including action against the American sponsored Fenian designed to conquer lower Canada
  • 1866-1869: West Indies
  • 1869-1876: Ireland, The Curragh
  • 1876-1891: India
  • 1891-1898: England
  • 1898-1900: Ireland
  • 1900-1903: South Africa during the Second Boer War
  • 1903-1907: England
  • 1907-1910: Gibraltar
  • 1910-1912: Bermuda
  • 1912-1914: South AfricaPretoria
  • 1914-1919: Western Front
  • 1919: England
  • 1919-1925: India
  • 1925-1926: Iraq
  • 1926-1936: England
  • 1936-1938: Palestine during the Arab Revolt
  • 1938-1939: England
  • 1939-1940: France and Belgium with the BEF
  • 1940-1941: England
  • 1941-1943: Western Desert and Tunisia
  • 1943-1944: Sicily and Italy
  • 1944-1947: Greece
  • 1947-1958: England
The service record of the 1st/5th, later 5th, Battalion was as follows:
  • 1915: Gallipoli
  • 1915-1919: Egypt and Palestine
  • 1939-1941: England
  • 1941-1942: Singapore where it was captured en-masse
The service record of the 4th Battalion was the Western Front 1916-1918 and 6th 7th and 8th battalions was the Western Front from 1915 to 1918.

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