|2nd Battalion, Wessex Volunteers|
2nd Battalion, The Wessex Regiment
B (Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire, and Wiltshire) Company
Headquarters Company, 7th Battalion The Rifles
1995–Present (as company)
Battalion (until 1995)|
Company (from 1995)
|Battalion HQ||Reading, Berkshire|
The 2nd Battalion, The Wessex Regiment was a part-time infantry battalion of the British Army's Territorial Army, which formed part of the all-volunteer unit, The Wessex Regiment. The battalion was initially formed in 1971 as part of the expansion of the regiment, but significantly reduced following the End of the Cold War and subsequent Options for Change. The battalion's lineage of was later continued and still continues through HQ Company of the 7th Battalion, The Rifles.
On 1 April 1971, the Wessex Volunteers was split into two new separate battalions; 1st Battalion (Rifle Volunteers), and the new 2nd Battalion. The new 2nd Battalion, Wessex Volunteers was formed from many soon to disband cadres. Thereby giving the following structure:
- Battalion Headquarters, at Brock Barracks, Reading (new)
- Headquarters Company, at Brock Barracks, Reading (new)
- A (Duke of Connaught's) Company, in Portsmouth (from cadre of The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Territorials)
- B (Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry) Company, in Bletchley (from cadre of The Buckinghamshire Regiment, Royal Artillery)
- C (Royal Berkshire) Company, in Maidenhead with platoons in Slough and Basingstoke (from cadre of The Royal Berkshire Territorials)
- D (Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry) Company, in Poole with platoons in Bournemouth, and Weymouth (from cadre of The Dorset Territorials)
Soon after formation, A and B Companies swapped as B and A Companies respectively, with all lineages, locations, and titles subsequently changing as-well (those titles shown above after the change).
On 30 March 1972, the Wessex Volunteers were renamed as the Wessex Regiment, and the battalion became 2nd Battalion, The Wessex Regiment (Volunteers). On 1 April 1975 a small shuffle in companies occured: D Company in Poole redesignated as D Company in the 1st battalion, and a new D Company was formed in Reading and Swindon from redesignation of D (Berkshire) Company of the 1st battalion.
In 1984, as part of the 1981 Defence White Paper, the 'Home Service Force' was formed, which maintained a company in every TA battalion/regiment by 1992. This new force was tasked with defending important locations and would be made up of mostly retired TA or Regular Army personnel. Therefore, in 1984 E (Home Service Force) Company was formed in Reading with platoons in Maidenhead, Winchester, and Portsmouth. In 1986, B (RBY) Company in Beltchley was disbanded, and a new B (Hampshire) Company was formed in Winchester with platoons in Southampton and Newport by transfer of B Coy of the 1st battalion. At the same time, Swindon Platoon of D (Berkshire) Company formed the nucleus of the new B Company.
- Battalion Headquarters, at Brock Barracks, Reading
- Headquarters Company, at Brock Barracks, Reading
- A (Duke of Connaught's) Company, in Portsmouth
- B (Hampshire) Company, in Winchester with platoons in Southampton and Newport, Isle of Wight
- C (Royal Berkshire) Company, in Maidenhead with platoons in Slough and Basingstoke
- D (Berkshire) Company, in Reading
- E (Home Service Force) Company, in Reading with platoons in Maidenhead, Winchester, and Portsmouth
By 1989, the battalion had been part of the 2nd (Southeast) Infantry Brigade which oversaw the TA in the Home Counties. At this time the battalion was designated as a 'Home Defence' battalion, and tasked with guarding the Cinque Ports and Southeast ports in the event of mobilisation.
In 1992, as part of the Options for Change reform announced following the Dissolution of the Soviet Union, the battalion was reduced to a three company order of battle, thereby bringing it in-line with the Regular's infantry battalions. Therefore: A (Duke of Connuaght's) and B (Hampshire) Companies were disbanded and reformed as C Company in the new 6th/7th Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, while a new A company was formed in Swindon by transfer of A Company of the 1st battalion, and a new B company was formed in Newbury by transfer of C (Royal Berkshire) Company of the 1st battalion. The old C Company also moved to Slough. In addition to the above company changes, the Home Service Force was disbanded, and E Company soon followed.
- Battalion Headquarters, at Brock Barracks, Reading
- Headquarters Company, at Brock Barracks, Reading
- A (Berkshire) Company, in Swindon
- B (Berkshire) Company, in Newbury
- C (Royal Berkshire) Company, in Slough
In 1994, a review into the future organisation and workings of the Territorial Army took place, and was subsequently subsumed by the wider Defence Review. In late 1994, the Front Line First paper was published which underlined that for the TA to be more of use, it would need to be cut almost in half to equal the number of regular army battalions. Therefore, on 6 October 1995, the battalion amalgamated with the 1st Battalion, The Wessex Regiment to form the new 2nd (Volunteer) Battalion, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire, and Wiltshire Regiment, less C (Royal Berkshire) Company in Slough which converted to D (Berkshire Yeomanry) Squadron of the Royal Yeomanry.
The 1 Wessex and 2 Wessex amalgamated, the lineages of the battalions was not lost, but instead continued through the companies of the new battalion. In the new battalion, Battalion HQ and HQ Company were converted to Battalion HQ and HQ (Berkshire) Company at Brock Barracks, Reading with the assault pioneer platoon in Cinderford. The later, HQ company from redesignation of A Company.
Following further defence cuts in 1999 following the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, the battalion was disbanded, and HQ and C (Wiltshire) Companies amalgamated to form The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire, and Wiltshire Regiment Company in the new Royal Rifle Volunteers regiment. When the battalion was reduced, the lineage of 2 Wessex was continued in two new companies, HQ Company based at Brock Barracks, Reading (continuation of the old Battalion HQ), and B (Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire, and Wiltshire Company) based at Brock Barracks, Reading with a platoon in Swindon.
In 2003, following the 2003 Delivering Security in a Changing World Defence Paper, new 'large regiments' were to be formed, and all but the Guards Division would amalgamate to form these new regiments. In 2005, it was announced the entire Light Division would amalgamated into a new regiment, which by 2007 was named 'The Rifles'. Therefore, in an effort to include new battalions, which would have become a new 'Wessex Regiment', the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment and the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment were both retitled as 'Light Infantry' units, with the prefix being added at the end of the name. Therefore, that year, the company was renamed as B (Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire, and Wiltshire Light Infantry) Company and consolidated in Reading.
In 2006, HQ and B (RGBWLI) Companies were amalgamated as Headquarters Company. In February 2007, The Rifles were formed, and the battalion became the 7th Battalion, The Rifles. Under this new battalion, the lineage continued in both the Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th Battalion The Rifles, both which are based in Reading at Brock Barracks.
Under the Army 2020 Refine announced in 2015, and further expanded in 2016/17, the battalion has since converted to Armoured Infantry and is paired with the regular 5th Battalion, The Rifles. The battalion has also since moved under the 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade. Under the Army 2020 plan and Future Reserves 2020, Battalion headquarters were moved to 1a Iverna Gardens in Kensington, London thus ending the lineage. However, the lineage continued in HQ company still.
- 1 April 1971 (formation)—18 November 1973: Captain (Honorary Colonel) William James Harris, 6th Earl of Malmesbury[Note 1]
- 18 November 1973—1 May 1974: Vacant
- 1 May 1974—1 May 1980: Colonel (Honorary Brigadier) Arthur Valerian Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington[Note 2]
- 1 May 1980—29 April 1983: Brigadier John Briton Oldfield
- 29 April 1983—28 April 1985: Lieutenant Colonel (Battalion Colonel) The Honourable Gordon William Nottage Palmer[Note 3][Note 4]
- 28 April 1985—24 October 1990: Lieutenant Colonel Sir James Walter Scott, 2nd Baronet
- 24 October 1994—6 October 1995 (disbandment): General Sir John Haertley Learmont[Note 5]
Deputy Honorary Colonels
- Each company of the battalion on formation had their own 'Deputy Honorary Colonel'. However, this practice ended in 1972.
- Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire
- Also Colonel-in-Chief of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding).
- Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire from 1978 and High Sheriff of Berkshire from 1965.
- Also Colonel Commandant of the Yeomanry, and Honorary Colonel of the Royal Yeomanry Regiment, The Berkshire and Westminster Dragoons, and the Westminster Dragoons (2nd County of London Yeomanry).
- Continued as Honorary Colonel in 2nd (V) Btn, RGBW.
- Frederick, p. 355.
- "2nd Battalion, The Wessex Regiment [UK"]. 2007-11-09. https://web.archive.org/web/20071109134537/http://www.regiments.org/regiments/uk/volmil-england/vinf-so/67wesx-2.htm.
- Drenth, p. 159.
- "British Army units from 1945 on - Royal Berkshire Regiment". http://british-army-units1945on.co.uk/territorial-army-infantry/royal-berkshire-regiment.html.
- "British Army units from 1945 on - Wessex Volunteers". http://british-army-units1945on.co.uk/territorial-army-infantry/wessex-volunteers.html.
- Frederick, p. 337.
- Frederick, p. 332.
- Frederick, p. 348.
- Frederick, p. 333.
- "2nd Battalion, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment [UK"]. 2007-10-23. https://web.archive.org/web/20071023110330/http://www.regiments.org/regiments/uk/volmil-england/vinf-so/95rgbw-2.htm.
- "The Royal Rifle Volunteers [UK"]. 2007-10-18. https://web.archive.org/web/20071018072951/http://regiments.org/regiments/uk/volmil-england/vinf-so/99RoyRf.htm.
- Drenth, p. 178.
- "British Army units from 1945 on - Royal Rifle Volunteers". http://british-army-units1945on.co.uk/territorial-army-infantry/royal-rifle-volunteers.html.
- "British Army units from 1945 on - The Rifles". http://british-army-units1945on.co.uk/territorial-army-infantry/the-rifles.html.
- "7 RIFLES" (in en-GB). https://www.army.mod.uk/who-we-are/corps-regiments-and-units/infantry/rifles/7-rifles/.
- "Request for Information Related to Army 2020 Refine by unit". 10 March 2017. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/632554/2017-02130.pdf.
- "Brock Barracks, Oxford Road, Reading RG30 1HW". https://apply.army.mod.uk/what-we-offer/army-reserve-centres/south-east/reading-oxford-road.
- "Written evidence - Ministry of Defence". http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/defence-committee/sdsr-2015-and-the-army/written/45999.html.
- "Summary of Army 2020 Reserve Structure and Basing Changes". http://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/20130703-SUMMARY_OF_ARMY_2020_RESERVE_STRUCTURE_AND_BASING.pdf.
- "Order of Battle is by (a) manpower and (b) basing locations for the Army". 22 November 2018. http://qna.files.parliament.uk/qna-attachments/1012385/original/194616_Answer_Table_Order_Of_Battle.pdf.
- "Army Reserves downgraded map". 6 July 2020. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/664382/response/1596315/attach/3/20200706%20FOI05506%20Arbeely%20Response%20Letter%20ArmySec.pdf?cookie_passthrough=1.
- "John Oldfield" (in en-US). 2019-11-07. https://greenhowards.org.uk/medal/john-oldfield/.
- Wienand Drenth, The Territorial Army 1967–2000, 2000, Einhoven, Kingdom of the Netherlands.
- Frederick, J. B. M. (1984). Lineage book of British land forces 1660-1978 : biographical outlines of cavalry, yeomanry, armour, artillery, infantry, marines and air force land troops of regular and reserve forces (Volume I). Wakefield, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: Microform Academic. ISBN 978-1-85117-007-4. OCLC 18072764.