Last updated: 18 October 2013
The 1881 Army Reforms merged several units to create county regiments. One of these was The Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment), formed by merging the 57th Regiment of Foot and the 77th Regiment of Foot, which both had an existing affiliation to Middlesex.
The 57th became the new unit’s 1st Battalion. In Britain at the time of the merger, its first overseas posting in its new form was Gibraltar in 1892. The 77th was in India when the amalgamation occurred, becoming the new regiment’s 2nd Battalion and only returning to Britain in 1898.
In 1897 1st Battalion arrived in South Africa, where it was replaced in 1899 by 2nd Battalion. The latter spent four years there during the Boer War (1899-1902). After leaving South Africa, 1st Battalion spent five years in India, followed by a year in Aden in 1912.
The regiment raised two extra regular battalions in 1900. One of these, 3rd Battalion, was sent to guard Boer prisoners of war on St Helena, then to South Africa in 1902. The other, 4th Battalion, remained in Britain and Ireland until being sent to South Africa in 1904.
In 1906 3rd Battalion was sent to Hong Kong and then Singapore two years later. It was sent to India in 1911 and moved to the Western Front for ten months in January 1915. 1st and 4th Battalions, in contrast, had been in England since 1908 and 1913 respectively and therefore deployed straight to the Western Front on the outbreak of war. They were joined there in November 1914 by 2nd Battalion, which had previously been garrisoning Malta.
1st, 2nd and 4th Battalions spent the whole of the First World War on the Western Front, but 3rd Battalion was sent to Salonika in November 1915. The regiment also raised 16 Territorial, 18 New Army and four works battalions during the conflict.
1st, 3rd and 4th Battalions all spent time occupying Germany early in the post-war period. 4th Battalion moved to Egypt in 1922 before being disbanded along with 3rd Battalion. 1st Battalion spent a few months in Shanghai in 1927 but otherwise remained in Britain until being sent to Palestine in 1931.
2nd Battalion was stationed at Singapore in 1922, before moving to India the following year. On its voyage back to Britain in 1931, 2nd Battalion spent half a year in the Sudan. The 1930s were more varied for 1st Battalion, taking in Egypt and Singapore.
In 1937 both of the regiment’s regular battalions were converted to machine gun battalions. That year also saw 1st Battalion shift to Hong Kong, where it was captured by the Japanese in December 1941. 1937 also saw the territorial Princess Louise’s Kensington Regiment move from the London Regiment to the Middlesex Regiment.
2nd Battalion was in Britain at the outbreak of World War Two and deployed straight to France with the British Expeditionary Force to provide ‘Corps Troops’ for reinforcing hard-pressed units. It was then evacuated in June 1940 and remained in Britain for four years re-equipping and re-training.
The regiment’s territorial battalions had raised duplicates on the outbreak of war. One of these, 2/8th Battalion, was renamed 1st Battalion in May 1942 to replace the original battalion of that name which had been captured at Hong Kong.
Both the 1st and 2nd Battalions landed in Normandy in June 1944 and fought their way through North West Europe. At the end of the war 2nd Battalion was sent to Palestine, while 1st Battalion stayed behind in Germany.
The two regular battalions were merged in 1948 and converted back into infantry, moving to Hong Kong once again the following year. From there the regiment was deployed to Korea for a year in 1950. It then joined the British occupation forces in Austria and Germany between 1953 and 1962. This was, however, interrupted by a 3-year posting to Cyprus from 1955. The regiment then spent the rest of the 1960s in England, Gibraltar, Northern Ireland and the West Indies until being merged into The Queen’s Regiment in 1966.