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4th Battalion The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
Royal West Kent Regiment helmet plate

Cap Badge of the Queen's West Kent Regiment
Country Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Service history
Active 1908—1918
1919—1947
Role Infantry
Size Battalion
Battles World War I

World War II

Commanders
Insignia
The 4th Battalion The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment was an infantry unit of the British Army's Territorial Force. The battalion's predecessor was the 1st Kent Rifles, but this will not be covered here, the battalion from 1908 and after will be shown here. In 1947 following the end of World War II, the battalion was merged with 5th, and disbanded as a result.

HistoryEdit

Pre-WarEdit

In 1908 following the Haldane Reforms, the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment was renamed and reduced to become the 4th Battalion The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment. After this, the battalion was transferred into the new Territorial Force with its HQ in Tonbridge. In 1909 the 4th, 5th, and Kent Cyclist Battalions were the only territorial units of the regiment. After this change, the battalion was placed under the new formed Kent Infantry Brigade, itself within the Home Counties Division.[1][2][3][4][5]

Just before World War I, the battalion had the following structure;[2][3][6]

  • Battalion Headquarters at Tonbridge Drill Hall (Tonbridge, Kent)[2][3][5][7]
    • Honourable Colonel C S Williams VD[2]
    • Battalion Colonel C N Watney TD[2]
    • Band of the 4th Battalion under the Instructor of Music, Captain A R Leksey[2]
  • A Company in Maidstone
  • B Company in Maidstone and West Malling
  • C Company in Tonbridge and Hadlow
  • D and E Companies in Tonbridge Wells
  • F Company in Orpington
  • G Company in Sevenoaks
  • H Company in Westerham and Edenbridge

World War IEdit

After mobilising for the war, the battalion was split, and eventually formed 3 other full battalions, totally 4 Territorial duplicates of the original 4th.[4][5][7][8] Each battalion will be shown separately.

1/4th BattalionEdit

The 1/4th Battalion originated as the former 4th Battalion based in Tonbirgde. During this time, the battalion was part of the Kent Brigade within the Home Counties Division. On the 30th of October, the battalion moved to India where they would remain for the rest of the war. After moving, the Home Counties division was broken up and the battalion moved to Bombay, joining the Jubbulpore Brigade within the 5th (Mhow) Division.[4][5][7]

In February 1918 the battalion joined the 3rd (Quetta) Brigade in the 4th (Quetta) Division. The battalion was finally demobilised in 1918 and later reformed in 1920 as the 4th Battalion,[4][5][7]

2/4th BattalionEdit

The 2/4th Battalion was formed following the duplication of the former 4th Battalion. After forming, the battalion was based along the 1/4th battalion in tonbridge. In November that year, the battalion moved to Ascot, and joined the 2nd Kent Brigade within the 2nd Home Counties Division. After joining the brigade, the battalion moved their HQ and an additional company to form the Kent Composite Battalion.[4][5][7]

By 24 April 1915, the the unit was transferred to the 160th Brigade within the 53rd (Welsh) Division in Cambridge. By 14 June 1915 the battalion was renamed, to their former title as the 2/4th Battalion, and moved to Bedford.[4][5][7]

On 20 July 1915 the battalion set sail from Southampton and landed at Suvla Bay on the 10th of August. This landing was part of the Gallipoli Campaign. By the 13th of December, the battalion was evacuated from Gallipoli and moved to Egypt. After moving to Egypt, on 25 August 1918 the battalion was removed from the division and disbanded on the 13th of September that same year, still in Egypt.[4][5][7]

During their time in Egypt, the battalion served during the following battles; Battle of Romani, First Battle of Gaza, Second Battle of Gaza, Third Battle of Gaza, Capture of Tell Khuweilfe, Defence of Jerusalem, and finally the Battle of Tell'Asur.[5]

3/4th BattalionEdit

The 3/4th Battalion was formed on the 14th of June, 1915 from the remaining portion of the 2/4th Battalion which had not been separated to form the Kent Composite Battalion.[4][5][7]

On 1 July 1917 the battalion landed at Le Havre, France and was temporarally attached to the 1st South African Brigade within the 9th (Scottish) Division. The battalion later moved to the 103rd Brigade of the 34th Division. By 22 June, the battalion was transferred to the 51st Brigade within the 17th (Northern) Division. From the 12th of July to the 2nd of August, the battalion acted as the divisional pioneer battalion within the same division.[4][5][7]

After their short time as a pioneer battalion, the unit moved to the 52nd Brigade, still within the 17th (Northern) Division as an infantry unit. Finally on 20 February 1918 the battalion was disbanded in France.[4][5][7]

4/4th BattalionEdit

The 4/4th Battalion was formed in July 1915, and immediately moved to Cambridge. By 8 April 1915 the battalion moved to Crowborough and renamed as the 4th Reserve Battalion. Finally on 1 September 1916 the battalion absorbed the 5th Reserve Battalion and moved to Tunbridge Wells by October 1916. The battalion was finally disbanded in 1918.[4][5][7]

InterwarEdit

By 1919 all duplicates of the original 4th battalion were disbanded as a result of the end of the war and disbandment of the Territorial Force. The next year, in 1920, the Territorial Force was reformed, but under a new name, the Territorial Army. As a result of this reformation, the battalion was reconstituted in Tonbrigde, with the same structure as before the war.[3][9]

By 1939, the battalion was still based in Tonbridge, with the following staff; Honourable Colonel; H I Robinson TD, Commanding Officer; Lieutenant Colonel G E L Pardington, Quartermaster; Lieutenant F G W Lambkin. That same year, the war office announced that the Territorial Army was to duplicate, meaning each TA battalion split into two full units. As a result of this, the 4th formed a duplicate the 6th. This battalion was, just before the start of the war, based in St Mary Cray.[9][10]

World War IIEdit

Just before World War II, the TA was ordered to duplicate, and thus the 4th formed the 6th battalion. Both battalions would serve through the war, with the 6th being disbanded in 1947.[3][9][10]

4th BattalionEdit

FranceEdit

Immediately following the declaration of war, the battalion moved to the French-Belgian border as part of the 44th (Home Counties) Division. The battalion remained here during the extent of the Phony War. On 21 May, the 1st Battalion along with companies of the 4th battalion counterattacked the Germans during the battle of sedan. The Germans made continued attempts to cross the brigade but bren-gun carriages and mortars f the battalion kept the Germans from crossing this bridge. By May 26th, one of the companies of the battalion were cut off by German tanks, with some members trying to break out, but with many prisoners taken. After the evacuation from Dukirk, the battalion was evacuated to England.[3][10]

El AmameinEdit

In July 1942, the battalion arrived in Egypt during the Battle of El Alamein. During the battalion, the enemy decided to attack the enemy by the Alam Halfa Ridge. This assault was halted by the battalion, which was achieved through a night operation. This operation was carried out by both the 4th and 5th battalions, both of which were heavily rewarded.[10]

Razabil and KohimaEdit

In October 1943, the battalion moved to Burma, and joined the 5th Indian Division. The battalion's first task was to re-capture Razabil, the battalion attacked and lost 75 members during this time. Although the battalion took loses, they were able to capture the town back. During one of the Japanese counter-attacks, the battalion lost 60 casualties from friendly artillery fire. By April 4th, the Japanese reached Kohima, where the battalion was sent to reinforce the light garrison which had been stationed there. During this battle, one member of the battalion, Lance Corporal Harman wen forward threw a grenade into the post, killed the whole crew and returned to his machine-gun. After this action he was killed the following day after a Japanese counter-attack. Because of his amazing efforts to get rid of the Japanese, the he was awarded the Victoria Cross. After the end of battle, the battalion help the Japanese off for another 10 days under severe enemy fire. On April 20th, the battalion was relieved and lost 199 men out of their initial 500 that went into action. This defence was able to halt the Japanese invasion of Burma, which was able to keep the Japanese held for 15 days. This small window of time was able to keep the enemy occupied until two fresh British divisions arrived and help them back.[10]

Rangoon and EndEdit

After the arrival of the divisions, the battalion was assigned to the Advance-Guard of the group and was told to move to Rangoon. Towards the final days, the battalion was towards the front of the column and was involved in a very hard clash with the Japanese in the town of Pyu. During this battle, the battalion was able to seize six enemy guns and one anti-tank gun which is today based in the regimental museum. Rangoon was finally captured on March 3rd.[10]

Finally on 15 August 1945, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally, and the battalion was placed in suspended animation.[10]

6th BattalionEdit

The 6th Battalion was formed in Mid-1939 as a duplicate of the 4th battalion. This battalion just before mobilisation was based St Mary Cray.[10]

FranceEdit

Following the deceleration of war, the battalion was mobilised and moved to France assigned to the 36th Infantry Brigade of the 12th Division. Following their move to France, the battalion was based in Doullens in the Somme region. While based in Doullens, the battalion defended road-blocks for 8 hours but because of the pressure of the attack from the Germans, the unit was overwhelmed. During this small defence, the battalion lost all but 25 members, of which were taken prisoner.[10]

North AfricaEdit

In 1942 the battalion was reformed, under the same title and assigned to the 78th Division. By November 1942, the battalion landed in Algeria as part of Operation Torch and moved swiftly towards Tunis. The battalion then distinguished themselves by holding the cross-roads at Djebel Aboid for four days while holding of an armoured column. After this defence, the battalion moved on towards Tunis but was help up at Green Hill. The battalion then assaulted the hill and lost 11 officers and 150 men during this heroic attack.[10]

By March 1943, the battalion took part in the assault on Longstop Hill. During this assault, the battalion took almost 2 months to take the hill. Following the end of the operation, the battalion later took part in the Invasion of Sicily.[10][11]

ItalyEdit

During the invasion, the battalion was assigned to the 36th Infantry Brigade of the 78th Division and was part of the floating reserve.[10][11]

During this invasion, the battalion was assigned to move up the eastern coast, but was haled at a hill town called "Cherry Ripe". This town was some casualties but because of the scale of the hill and town, the battalion took a lot of time to actually take the area. The battalion continued to move inland, and faced many determined attacks from the Germans. The battalion later took part in the Battle of Cassino. During this battle, the unit help off two counter-attacked, while inflicting many casualties. The battalion later took part in the Battle of Lake Trasimenem where they held off more German attacks.[10]

Post-WarEdit

Following the end of the war, the 4th Battalion was placed in suspended animation, and the 6th was disbanded.[3][10]

Finally, in 1947 the 4th Battalion was formed in the Territorial Army, and subsequently merged with the 5th forming the new 4th/5th Battalion. This battalion was later disbanded in 1967, and later formed the 8th Territorial Battalion of the Queen's West Kent Regiment.[3]

Affiliations and Other InformationEdit

Cadet Affiliation

  • The Westerham and Chipstead Cadet Corps[2][6]

Battle Honours

Honorary Colonels

  • 1906—1926 Colonel C S Williams VD[2][3]
  • 1926—1939 Colonel Humphrey Ingram Robinson TD[3]
  • 1939—1947 Colonel William Nash MBE TD[3]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Hart's Annual Army List. (1909). [ebook] Available at: https://deriv.nls.uk/dcn23/1006/7784/100677845.23.pdf [Accessed 23 Sep. 2019].
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 The Monthly Army List, July 1914. (1914). [ebook] Available at: https://deriv.nls.uk/dcn23/1032/4427/103244277.23.pdf [Accessed 23 Sep. 2019].
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 4th/5th Battalion, The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment at Regiments.org
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 “The Long, Long Trail.” The Long Long Trail, http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/the-queens-own-royal-west-kent-regiment/
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 “Unit History: Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment).” Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) - Regiment History, War & Military Records & Archives, https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/3554/queens-own-royal-west-kent-regiment
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Westlake, Page 49
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 “Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) Battalions.” Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), http://www.warpath.orbat.com/regts/queens_own.htm
  8. “The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment.” National Army Museum, https://www.nam.ac.uk/explore/queens-own-royal-west-kent-regiment
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The Monthly Army List, August 1939. (1939). [ebook] City of Westminster, County of London: The War Office. Available at: https://derihttps://deriv.nls.uk/dcn23/1055/2061/105520619.23.pdfv.nls.uk/dcn23/1055/2061/105520619.23.pdf [Accessed 24 Sep. 2019].
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 The Queens' Own Buffs, website
  11. 11.0 11.1 Niehorster, Leo. 78th British Infantry Division, Eastern Task Force (8th British Army), British Army, 10.07.1943, http://niehorster.org/500_eto/43-07-10_husky/Land/div_gb-78.html

SourcesEdit

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