Last updated: 27 June 2014
In March 1689 James II landed in Ireland and began raising an army to take back the British throne from his son-in-law William III. Facing Ireland's east coast, Cheshire was particularly vulnerable and so in that same month Henry Howard, 7th Duke of Norfolk founded a regiment of foot on the Roodee racecourse in Chester.
This unit was sent to Ireland later in 1689 and fought at both the Boyne and Aughrim. It then stayed in Ireland as a garrison unit until 1702, with a brief redeployment to the Netherlands.
The unit then spent 12 years in Jamaica from 1702 onwards and then 22 years on Minorca. In between these postings, it was ordered to disband in 1714, but that order was revoked a year later. During its time on Minorca it sent detachments to Dettingen and Gibraltar and in 1749 the regiment as a whole moved back to Ireland.
Two years later it became the 22nd Regiment of Foot, under which name it helped take Louisberg in Canada in 1758. Its grenadiers also joined James Wolfe's force at Quebec in 1759 and soon afterwards the regiment helped capture Martinique and Havana.
It spent 1765 to 1773 in England and Ireland and then fought in the Philadelphia and Southern campaigns of the American Revolutionary War, finally having to surrender at Yorktown with Cornwallis. In 1795 it recruited the poor-house boy John Shipp, who gained two commissions from the ranks for bravery before reaching the age of 30. 'Cheshire' was officially incorporated into its regimental title during its voyage home from North America.
The 1790s saw it back in the West Indies, while from 1803 to the end of the Napoleonic Wars it fought in South Africa and India. Its soldiers remained in India as garrison troops until 1819 and again from 1841 to 1855. It was the only English unit to participate in the Scinde expedition in 1843.
In 1858 it raised a 2nd Battalion of regular troops, reviving a 2nd Battalion that had been raised for less than a year in 1814. As a two-battalion regiment, it was not merged with another unit during the 1881 reforms. The 2nd Battalion fought in the Boer War.
For a few months in 1907 one of the regiment's second lieutenants was Bruce Bairnsfather, on transfer from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He resigned his commission that year but would later resume it with the Warwickshires in 1914 and become famous for his 'Old Bill' cartoons.
The regiment raised 38 battalions for the First World War, fighting in Gallipoli, Sinai, Salonika, Mesopotamia and Palestine as well as on the Western Front, where its 1st Battalion suffered 771 casualties at Audregnies during the final days of the Battle of Mons in August 1914. One of the regiment's officers during the war was the painter Allan Gwynne-Jones, who won the Distinguished Service Order.
The regiment spent the inter-war years in Malta, Sudan, India and Palestine. The regiment's 1st Battalion served in North Africa, Malta and North West Europe, whilst the 2nd Battalion was evacuated from Dunkirk to fight in North Africa, Tobruk, Italy and D-Day. In 1948 its 1st and 2nd Battalions were merged together.
The regiment's post-war deployments included West Germany, Palestine, Cyprus, Egypt, Malaya and Northern Ireland. Its final independent postings were to Bosnia and Iraq. By 2007 it was the only remaining British line infantry regiment never to have previously been amalgamated with another. That year, it merged with two other regiments to form the Mercian Regiment, of which it formed the 1st Battalion.