Last updated: 30 June 2014
The regiment was formed as the county regiment for East Lancashire in 1881, by amalgamating the 30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot and the 59th (2nd Nottinghamshire) Regiment of Foot. These became its regular 1st and 2nd Battalions respectively.
1st Battalion was in India when the regiment was formed, remaining there for the next 16 years and joining the Chitral expedition in 1895. 2nd Battalion spent those 16 years in England, Ireland and Gibraltar before replacing 1st Battalion in India in 1897.
1st Battalion fought in the Boer War from 1900 to 1902, before moving to Ireland and then back to Britain. 2nd Battalion moved from India to South Africa in 1911.
1st Battalion was already in Britain on the outbreak of World War One and deployed straight to France in August 1914, where three months later it was joined by 2nd Battalion. The regiment also raised 15 territorial and service battalions during the conflict, including the 11th (Service) Battalion, raised in September 1914 and better known as the Accrington Pals.
Two of the regiment’s territorial battalions deployed to Gallipoli, where Alfred Victor Smith of 1/5th Battalion won the Victoria Cross (VC). The regiment’s other three VCs during the conflict were all won on the Western Front, where both regular battalions remained until the war’s end.
2nd Battalion moved to Ireland for four years in 1919 during its war of independence. The 1920s was more varied for 1st Battalion, which was stationed in the West Indies, Malta, Egypt and Sudan during that decade. In 1923 2nd Battalion began 10 years in Britain, followed by four in Hong Kong. 1st Battalion arrived in India in 1925, moving on to the International Settlement in Shanghai in 1932.
From 1933 to 1939 1st Battalion was stationed in Britain and Northern Ireland, although it was briefly posted to the Saar in December 1934 as part of the International Force overseeing its referendum on whether to rejoin Germany.
1st Battalion deployed straight to France in September 1939 and one of its captains won the regiment’s only World War Two VC as it fought its way back to Dunkirk in June 1940. The battalion then remained in Britain until June 1944, when it landed in Normandy.
2nd Battalion had moved to India in 1937, but returned to Britain in September 1940. From there it joined Force 121, the British and Commonwealth force sent to invade Vichy-held Madagascar in May 1942. After the invasion the battalion moved to India in January the following year, from which it fought in Burma.
1st Battalion spent the post-war decade occupying Germany, overseeing Sudan’s moves to independence and garrisoning Egypt. 2nd Battalion remained in India until partition in 1947, returning to Britain and merging with 1st Battalion the following year. The regiment then moved to Hong Kong in 1957 and the following year amalgamated with The South Lancashire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's Volunteers) to form The Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Volunteers).