Regiments and Corps

The Cheshire Regiment

A colour sergeant of 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment, Basra, 2004

Origins

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. With a coastline on the Irish Sea, the county of Cheshire was particularly vulnerable. And so, in that same month, Henry Howard, 7th Duke of Norfolk, founded a regiment on the Roodee racecourse in Chester.

This unit was sent to Ireland later in 1689 and fought at both the Boyne (1690) and Aughrim (1691). It then fought in Flanders at Landen (1693) and Namur (1695), before returning to Ireland as a garrison until 1702, with a brief redeployment to the Netherlands.

Other ranks' cap badge, The Cheshire Regiment, c1914

Other ranks' cap badge, The Cheshire Regiment, c1914 

A view of Louisburg during the 1758 siege

Garrisons

On the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), it was sent to Jamaica, remaining there for 12 years. Following home service, it then spent 22 years on Minorca from 1726. During its time there, it also sent detachments to the Battle of Dettingen (1743).

In 1749, the regiment as a whole moved back to Ireland. Two years later, it became the 22nd Regiment of Foot.

North America

Under its new name, it helped take Louisbourg in Canada in 1758 during the Seven Years War (1756-63). Its grenadiers also joined General Wolfe's force at Quebec in 1759. Soon afterwards, the regiment helped capture Martinique and Havana in 1762.

It was in England and Ireland from 1765 to 1773. It then fought in the American War of Independence (1775-83), including the Battle of Rhode Island (1778), before having to surrender at Yorktown with General Cornwallis.

'Cheshire' was officially incorporated into its regimental title during its voyage home from North America in 1782.

Captain William Raymond, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment, c1790

Inspection of the 2nd Cheshire Regiment at Johannesburg, 1900

French war

During the French Revolutionary Wars (1793-1802), it was back in the West Indies, taking part in the expeditions against Martinique, St Lucia and Guadeloupe in 1794.

From 1800 until the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-15), it served in South Africa and India, also fighting at Bhurtpore in 1805 during the Second Maratha War (1803-05). Its soldiers remained in India as garrison troops until 1819.

Victorian era

Following home service, it returned to India in 1841. During this time, it became the only English unit to participate in the Scinde campaign in 1843. It was back in England again in 1855.

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. Both battalions undertook garrison duties across the British Empire over the next two decades.

As a two-battalion regiment, it was not merged with another unit during the 1881 reforms. Both battalions served during the Third Burma War (1885-87). They then undertook further garrison duties until 1914, although 2nd Battalion also fought in the Boer War (1899-1902).

Soldiers of the 11th Cheshire Regiment in a trench near La Boisselle, 1916

First World War

Both regular battalions deployed to the Western Front in 1914-15. 1st Battalion stayed there for the duration of the First World War (1914-18), but suffered 771 casualties at Audregnies during the Battle of Mons in August 1914. 2nd Battalion transferred from France to Salonika in late 1915.

The regiment also raised 36 Territorial, New Army and Garrison battalions, fighting in Gallipoli, Sinai, Mesopotamia and Palestine as well as on the Western Front.

The regiment’s battalions spent the inter-war years in Ireland, Malta, Sudan, India and Palestine.

Soldiers of the Cheshire Regiment crossing the Rhine, 1945

A Challenger tank loaded with men of the 1st Cheshires, 1945

Second World War

1st Battalion served in North Africa (1940-41), Malta (1941-44) and North West Europe (1945) during the Second World War (1939-45). 

2nd Battalion was evacuated from Dunkirk (1940) before fighting in North Africa (1941-43), Sicily and Italy (1943-44). It then landed on D-Day and fought in the North West Europe campaign.

The regiment raised several other units during the war, including the 6th and 7th Battalions that fought in Italy (1943-45).

Post-war

After its 1st and 2nd Battalions were merged in 1948, the regiment's post-war deployments included garrison duties in Egypt and Cyprus, before fighting in the Malayan Emergency (1948-60) from 1958.

Service in West Germany, Cyprus, Hong Kong and Belize ensued over the next 30 years, along with eight tours of Northern Ireland (1969-2007).

In 1992-93, it took part in peace-keeping duties in Bosnia (1992-95). It returned to Germany, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and England over the next decade, before its final overseas independent posting to Iraq (2003-11) in 2004.

Soldiers of the Cheshire Regiment take on water during a patrol in Basra, 2004

Legacy

In 2007, it merged with The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters and The Staffordshire Regiment to form The Mercian Regiment, of which it formed the 1st Battalion. Prior to that, it was the only remaining British line infantry regiment never to have been amalgamated.

Cheshire Military Museum

The National Army Museum works together with Regimental and Corps Museums across the country to help provide a network of military museums for everyone to visit and enjoy.

Explore the history and collections of the Cheshire Regiment by visiting Cheshire Military Museum.

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