In Collaboration With Charles Griffin



Raising of the Regiment, 1755
The regiment started out as the 52nd Regiment under an order dated 18th December 1755 but 2 years later were re-numbered as the 50th. They recruited in Norwich and served in the Seven Years War. They were then sent to Jamaica and in 1776 sailed to America. There they were broken up and used as draft for other regiments.

West Kent Connection

In 1782 the numbered infantry regiments were given territorial titles and the 50th became the West Kent Regiment. In many cases the origin of the title is a mystery but in the case of the 50th, the Colonel, at that time, was General Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson of Carlton Court near Woolwich, an ex Guards officer. The colonelcy of the West Kent Militia had been held by several members of the Wilson family in succession, and it was this unit that formed the 3rd battalion in 1881 when the regiment became the QO Royal West Kents.

French Revolutionary Wars
The 50th were stationed at Gibraltar for several years before going to Toulon in 1793 and then Corsica in 1794. They were in Portugal from 1797 to 1799 and then they went to Egypt. They suffered badly with opthalmia while there, earning the nickname the Blind Half-Hundred. After Egypt, for which they received their first battle honour, they sailed to Malta and then to Ireland.

Second Battalion

When hostilities were resumed after the Peace of Amiens, the regiment was ordered to raise a second battalion at Ashford, Kent. Most of the men were volunteers from the Militia but they also received men enrolled under the Defence Act, in the county of Gloucester. This battalion served as a home unit during the war, most of the time quartered at Eastbourne and Pevensey.

Vimiera

The first battalion served at Copenhagen in 1807, then Cadiz and other places in 1808-9. They then sailed to Portugal to join Sir Arthur Wellesley's Army. The first battle they fought in established the 50th as the Fighting Half-Hundred. They were commanded by Colonel George Townshend Walker who was more intelligent than most officers of his generation. When the French column of 2,000 advanced towards his line of 700 he moved them to a position than meant that the column approached at an oblique angle. This enabled his men to fire on the front and flank of the French formation. Only those Frenchmen on the outside of the column could return the fire, and when the 50th charged them they were unable to deploy into line and confusion ensued.

The French were routed on this occasion, and the tactic was imitated by other commanders including Wellington. The French General Loison, who witnessed the 50th's action, asked, some time later, to meet with Colonel Walker and congratulate him on his steadiness and talent. It was in this battle that the 50th captured a staff used to carry the French eagle. This was retained as a trophy and carried by a sergeant on campaign with the regimental and King's Colours. During the battle, Lieutenants Rudkin and Ryan were wounded and captured. Ryan later became a lieutenant-colonel and commanded the 50th in the First Sikh War. He died of wounds received at Sobraon.

Corunna

The regiment were with Fane's brigade at Rolica and Bentinck's brigade at Corunna. They suffered badly on the retreat and made a brave charge at the battle on 16th January 1808, commanded by Major Charles Napier who later commanded the army which conquered Scinde. He had served as an officer in the 50th since 1805 and was sent out to command the regiment. They charged through Elvina, suffering heavy casualties including Napier himself. A musket ball broke his leg, he was bayoneted in the side and back, was sabred on the head, had his ribs broken by gunshot and suffered severe contusions from being hammered with the butt of a French musket. He was also taken prisoner but was not treated by a doctor until two days later.

After the withdrawal from Corunna, the 1st and 2nd battalions were refitted at home in Kent and sent on the costly and unsuccessful Walcheren expedition. They were in the Peninsula again by May 1811 when they fought at Feuntes de Onoro in the 1st Division. The 1st battalion were in the brigade transferred to the 2nd Division to make up for the losses at Albuera, and remained in that division until 1814. They were again commanded by Charles Napier who had been released on exchange with a French officer. At the battle of Coa on 24th July 1810, Napier had two horses short from under him , and at the battle of Busaco he was badly wounded in the face. The regiment also took part in the battles at Almarez, Vittoria, the Pyrenees, the Nive and Orthes as well as many other skirmishes.

1814 - 1827
The second battalion was disbanded at Chatham on 24th October 1814. This unit consisted of men who had been prisoners of war since Corunna and also volunteers from the West Kent Militia. The 1st Battalion returned from France and was quartered in Ireland. They were sent to Jamaica in 1819 where they remained until 1827.
Change of Title
In 1827 the old Peninsular Colours were in a tattered state and had to be cremated. The ashes were put in a silver box which was retained with the mess plate. New Colours were presented to the regiment by the Duchess of Clarence, and the 50th was directed to style itself the 50th (The Duke of Clarence's) Regiment of Foot. This title only lasted until 1831 when the Duke became King William IV and the Duchess became Queen Adelaide, in who's honour they became the Queen's Own.
India 1840-48
The regiment were embarked for New South Wales as convict guards. They served there for several years and then went to India, where in 1840 they acted as a deterrent to a Burmese force at Tenasserim.

Punniar 1843

One of the shortest wars in British History was that fought against the Marathas in Gwalior State. Sir Hugh Gough won two victories at Punniar and Maharajpore on the same day, 29th December 1843. The 50th were at Punniar under Sir John Grey. They won a battle honour for this action.

The First Sikh War 1845-46

The 50th distinguished itself by fighting in all four of the battles of this war, Mudki, Ferozeshah, Aliwal and Sobraon. See First Sikh War They were in Sir Harry Smith's Division, performing great feats of bravery and losing many men.

Crimean War 1854 - 55
Crimean Winter
Crimean Winter
The 50th attained battle honours for Alma, Inkerman and Sevastopol. Lieutenant Walpole G Dashwood was killed at Inkerman on 5th November 1854, and Major J Olaus Moller died of wounds on 22nd December.

A letter from S B 50th Regt. tells of the difficulties in surviving the Crimean winter in the area around Sevastopol. It is dated 11th December 1854:

"...for the last month it has been continually wet and cold. I can assure you it has been dreadful - up to our shoetops in slush and dirt in the trenches; and there we have to remain for 12 hours in the wet and cold. I have seen as many as four men die in a night in the trenches, with the cramp, from wet, cold and fatigue. We are getting more regiments out here now, and it is the fresh ones that suffer the most, as we are pretty well inured to it now. The 62nd landed about a fortnight back, and I heard yesterday they had lost 90 men. The 46th landed about the same time, and I hear that they have lost more. The 9th landed last week, and they are burying 5 or 6 a day. The 1st Royals lost 10 in one night; we lost 7, as we had a draught of recruits on the 22nd ult. I had an officer and 8 men posted to my company; I have lost the officer and 4 men since...We are now nearly all served out with another blanket and a cloak with a hood on it. It puts me in mind of old women's cloaks of former times: but we don't care as long as they keep us warm. If you could get a peep at the regiment now you would hardly know us, as we are all wearing the moustache, or may I say hair, for none of us have shaved since we have been in the Crimea, so you may guess some of us look like priests or monks."

Badge
Badges
Motto
Quo Fata Vocant
Colours
Corps of Drums and Musicians
Nicknames
The Fighting Half-Hundred
The Blind Half-Hundred
The Dirty Half-Hundred
The Devil's Royals
Uniforms
1755 - 1881
Colonels
1755 - 1881
Commanding Officers
1824 - 1883
Soldiers
1755 - 1881
Battle Honours
French Revolutionary Wars 1793-1802

EGYPT (With the Sphinx)

Peninsular War 1808-14

VIMIERA
CURUNNA
ALMARAZ
VITTORIA
PYRENEES
NIVE
ORTHES
PENINSULA

Gwalior Campaign 1843

PUNNIAR

First Sikh War 1845-46

MOODKEE
FEROZESHAH
ALIWAL
SOBRAON

Crimean War 1854-5

ALMA
INKERMAN
SEVASTOPOL

Third Maori War 1863-66

NEW ZEALAND

Titles
1755 52nd Regiment of Foot
1757 50th Regiment of Foot
1782 50th (or the West Kent) Regiment of Foot
1831 50th (or The Queen's Own) Regiment of Foot
1881 Amalgamated with the 97th Foot
Successor Units
1881 The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
1920 The Royal West Kent Regiment (Queen's Own)
1961 Queen's Own Buffs, the Royal Kent regiment
1966 The Queen's Regiment
1992 The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment
Further Reading
The History of the 50th (or The Queen's Own) Regiment
by Colonel A E Fyler
Chapman and Hall 1895



| Uniforms | Campaigns | Armaments | Units |




Share



by Stephen Luscombe