Regiments and Corps

The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's)

Officers of 2nd Battalion The Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment), Pretoria, 1900

Officers of 2nd Battalion The Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment), Pretoria, 1900

Origins

During the 1881 reforms, a new county regiment for Berkshire was formed by merging the 49th (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) (Hertfordshire) Regiment and the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment. These became the new unit's 1st and 2nd Battalions respectively.

1st Battalion deployed to Egypt in 1882. Its gallantry three years later at Tofrek (1885) in the Sudan gained the regiment promotion to Royal status. It also fought at Ginnis (1885) and Suakin (1888) during that campaign. Garrison service in Bermuda, Canada, Barbados, St Lucia, Jamaica, Gibraltar and Ireland followed over the next two decades.

After garrison service in India and Britain, 2nd Battalion was posted to South Africa in 1897. It later fought throughout the Boer War (1899-1902) in the Cape Colony and the Orange Free State. This was followed by postings to Egypt and then India.

Cap badge, The Royal Berkshire Regiment, c1940

Captain Alan Bowles, 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment, c1915

First World War

1st Battalion was back in Britain at the outbreak of the First World War (1914-18), deploying straight to the Western Front. It was joined by 2nd Battalion in November 1914, with both battalions remaining there throughout the conflict.

The regiment also raised three Territorial, five New Army and four labour battalions during the war. These served in Italy and Salonika as well as at home and on the Western Front.

Inter-war

For 2nd Battalion, 1919 was a busy year. One company was sent to fight the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War (1917-22). The rest moved to Ireland for service in the Irish War of Independence (1919-21).

In 1926, it was assigned to the occupation forces in Germany for two years. Service in Egypt, Palestine and India followed.

Meanwhile, 1st Battalion was posted to Iraq and then Persia (now Iran) in 1920. It then spent 12 years in India, before returning to the Sudan in 1933. 

Members of the 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment in the trenches, c1915

Second World War 

2nd Battalion remained in India throughout the Second World War (1939-45), apart from service during the Burma campaign in 1943-45.

1st Battalion was in Britain at the outbreak of the conflict. It deployed to France immediately, only to be evacuated from Dunkirk in June 1940. It joined 2nd Battalion in India in 1942 and for the rest of the war also fought in Burma. Both battalions won several honours in that theatre, including the Battles of Imphal and Kohima (1944).

The regiment also provided nine Territorial battalions between 1939 and 1945. These served at home stations, in Iraq (1942-43), Sicily (1943), Italy (1943-45) and North West Europe (1944-45), where 5th Battalion landed at Juno Beach on D-Day (1944).

Members of 2nd Battalion The Royal Berkshire Regiment, Burma, 1945

Post-war

In 1948, 2nd Battalion was sent to Eritrea. The following year, the two regular battalions merged.

In 1951, the Berkshires moved to Cyprus, also seeing service in Egypt over the next two years. In 1954, the regiment was posted to West Germany, before returning to Cyprus in 1956.

The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) 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 Royal Berkshire Regiment by visiting The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum in Salisbury.

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