Raising of the Regiment
On 14th October 1661 the regiment was raised as the Tangier Regiment, to garrison the North African port which was part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza, the infanta of Portugal, when she married King Charles II. The new regiment was nicknamed the 1st Tangerines at the time. Many veterans of the English Civil War were recruited and it was 1000 strong when it landed at Tangiers in January 1662. Tangiers was governed by the Colonels of the regiment, first by the Earl of Peterborough who raised the Tangier Regiment.
Besieged by the Moors for 22 years, Tangiers was finally abandoned, and the regiment returned to England in April 1684. They did not receive the battle honour for Tangier until 225 years later, in 1909. They were titled The Queen's Regiment at this time but a year later when the King died and was succeeded by James II, they were called the Queen Dowager's. Catherine, the Queen Dowager died in Lisbon in 1705.
1st Battalion 1881
Since 1751 the regiment had been the 2nd (Queen's Royal) Regiment in the line but in 1881 they were given the territorial title of The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. The 1st Battalion had served in the China War of 1860 and had been in India from 1966 to 1879. In 1891 they were stationed in Malta and later sent back to India to take part in the 1897 Tirah Campaign.
The 2nd Battalion of the West Surreys was raised in 1858 and had served in the Ionian Islands, Nova Scotia and Bermuda. In 1877 the battalion went to India and in October 1885 embarked for Burmah under the command of Lieut-Col William Holt. The Burmah Field Force was commanded at first by Maj-Gen Harry Prendergast, and later by General William Lockhart. The campaign was an endurance test for the battalion, involving the storming of stockades and capturing dacoits. Their leader, King Thebaw was caught and imprisoned in India, but the dacoits continued to cause trouble for the British for many years. Most of the battalion's casualties were from malaria and dysentary. Two officers and 69 men died from illness while only 8 were killed in action. On their return to India in March 1888 the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Roberts praised them:
"Second Queen's, I am very glad to have the opportunity of welcoming you back from Burmah. I heard a great deal about you from General Lockhart, your conduct before the enemy and in quarters was excellent as I knew it would be when I sent you there. You have made a great name for yourselves."
The battle honour BURMA 1885-87 was awarded to them. Other regiments that were on the campaign and received this honour were the 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 2nd Hampshire Regiment and the 2nd King's Liverpool Regiment. The 2nd Battalion Queen's remained in India until 1894 when it returned to the UK.
Tirah Campaign 1897-98
In response to an uprising on the North West Frontier the Malakand Field Force was assembled consisting of 3 brigades under Major-General Sir Binden Blood. The 1st Battalion Queen's Royal West Surreys marched up from Nowshera in the heat of July, together with the 1st Buffs, the 1st West Kents, 2nd HLI. 22nd Punjabis and 39th Garhwal Rifles. Each man was armed with a Lee Metford rifle and carrying 100 rounds of ammunition making it hard work to cross 3 rivers and wading through 6 miles of swamp and mud. An account of this march told of wading through a river:
"about 3 or 4 feet deep, and to make matters worse, the sun came out in all its brilliancy. The heat was something terrific. No one who has soldiered in other than a tropical climate can have the faintest idea what it was like, it was simply blinding, but the men stuck to their march manfully."
Attack at Nawagai, 19th Sep 1897
The three brigades were split up and the 3rd Brigade, including the 1st Queen's, 22nd Punjabis and 39th Garhwal Rifles were camped at Nawagai under Brigadier Wodehouse. Sir Binden Blood was also there. The Queen's were commanded by Lieut-Col J S Collins and had the responsibility of manning half of the south and west sided of the square camp. On 19th Sep intelligence reports had prepared the brigade for an attack by Mamund tribesmen and bonfires were prepared outside the perimeter to illuminate the enemy.
At around 8.30pm the attack began. Groups of swordsmen would rush at them without fear of death as they were convinced that the rewards in the afterlife would be very great. The tribemen were also armed with rifles but the Queens Lee-Metfords were superior and the ammunition was dum-dum which ensured that any tribeman hit by such a bullet was put out of action. The artillery fired star-shells to help light up the valley and the quick-firing rifles were able to mow down the hordes of tribesmen. By the end of the attack at 2am the enemy gave up, having lost 300 men compared with the Queen's loss of one man killed and three wounded.
The Sampagha Pass, 29th Oct 1897
The 1st Queen's were in the 2nd Brigade of Sir William Lockhart's Field Force by October 1897. They and the 4th Gurkhas climbed the Sampagha to clear the pass of Afridi snipers. With artillery support they managed to force the tribesmen to abandon their sangars and allow the column to move through. The troops could march into the fertile Mastura Valley but had to spend a cold hungry night waiting for the mules to bring the baggage and supplies.
Attack at Maidan, 1st Nov 1897
These convoys of mules were vulnerable to guerrilla attack because they were strung out over a great distance. One such convoy had already been attacked and only the ammunition was saved by the 15th Sikhs. Another one, guarded by 60 men of the Queen's, was jumped on from roof tops in a village near the camp at Maidan. They killed 3 men of the regiment, wounded several others, captured 11,000 rounds of ammunition and dispersed 70 baggage animals carrying half the battalion's kit. Lance-Corporal Simpson, with a dozen men charged the nearest Afridis with fixed bayonets. He then ordered the men to run up the hillside to fire down on the tribemen. They tried to get above the soldiers but Simpson managed to avoid getting his men fired upon.
Lieutenant Bulwer and 30 men of the Northamptons were on picquet nearby and came to the rescue of the beleaguered convoy. The village was burning and men of the Queen's were fighting hand-to-hand with the Afridis. The Northamptons made a bayonet charge and drove them off. Bulwer's men helped bring the casualties back to camp and Lance-Corporal Simpson was promoted to sergeant for his bravery and leadership.
Lieutenant Engledue's Tactics
The battalion were with Brigadier-General Gaselee's brigade on 26th Nov 1897 when it met some resistance en route to Massozai country. A particular sangar was causing trouble but Lieutenant Engledue of the Queen's ordered half his men to provide covering fire while he worked his way around the flank to surprise the enemy with a bayonet charge. This late 20th century tactic was something that was not practiced in field training exercises at that time but it achieved it's purpose and 6 tribesmen were killed and all their weapons taken. The same tactics were employed by Lieutenant Lucas of the Gurkha Scouts on 2nd Dec, with great effect.
Sapri Pass, Dec 1897
The withdrawal from the Tirah in December 1897 was relatively trouble free for the 1st Division to which the Queen's belonged. In the Sapri pass the night march was illuminated by bonfires which allowed the tribesmen to watch their progress. The picquts of the Queen's rearguard had a skirmish with Afridis at the exit to the Pass but managed to get clear without casualties. The journey of the 2nd Division under Major-General Yeatman-Biggs was a far more terrible ordeal.
Boer War 1899-1902
The 2nd Battalion sailed to South Africa on the 'Yorkshire', arriving at Durban in the middle of November 1899. They were brigaded with the 2nd East Surreys, 2nd West Yorkshires, and 2nd Devons in the 2nd Brigade (Major-General Hildyard) in the 2nd Division (Lieut-General Sir C F Clery). There were three Divisions in the Natal Field Force, all under the command of Sir Redvers Buller. The prime objective of the force was to relieve Ladysmith. The advance from Durban to Ladysmith was by way of Pietermaritzburg, Mooi River, Estcourt and Colenso.
Beacon Hill, 23rd Nov 1899
A column under the command of Colonel W Kitchener was ordered to check the Boer advance at Beacon Hill. The force, including the West Yorks, the East Surreys, DLI and half the 2nd Battalion Queen's, set off on the afternoon of 22nd Nov in a torrential downpour of rain and hail. At dawn on the 23rd they reached the base of the hill and were fired on by Boer artillery. The West Yorks led the advance up the hill and managed to evict the Boers from the summit. They remained there but were forced off after sustaining heavy casualties from artillery placed on nearby hills.
Colenso, 15th Dec 1899
Colenso is situated about 9 miles south of Ladysmith on the Tugela River. The Boers, commanded by Louis Botha were entrenched and hidden on the north bank and on Hlangwane Hill the other side of the river where it bent north. Sir Redvers Buller wrongly assumed that the Boer positions were further back, up in the hills, but the Boer tactic was to position their riflemen low down so that their bullets swept the plain rather than plunge into the ground from on high. The main errors in the battle were made by Long's blunder of placing his artillery too close to the enemy, and Hart for leading his Irish Brigade into a loop of the river which allowed no escape. Hildyards Brigade fared badly but came out of the battle with honour. They were placed in the middle of the battlefield with the aim of entering the town of Colenso and attempting to cross the bridge.
The Queen's were in the front, on the right, with the Devons on their left. As they advanced the Boer guns opened up and the Mauser rifles began a terrible fusilade. Many men fell with this opening barrage but they showed great courage and ran forward into the town. However, the situation was so bad that they were forced to retire. The casualties of the regiment were 7 men killed, 2 officers and 84 men wounded. It was a great victory for the Boers and a defeat for the British which brought about the change of overall command from Buller to Lord Roberts.
Venter's Spruit, 21st Jan 1900
Hildyard's 2nd Brigade were engaged in the area of Spion Kop in an effort to seize a position which would cut the Boer forces in two. On the 21st Jan they were again commanded by Colonel W Kitchener. They were involved in heavy fighting at Venter's Spruit, gaining some ground but unable to climb the exposed slope leading up to the Boer trenches. The Queen's and West Yorks suffered similar numbers of casualties. In the Queen's, Captain Raitt and 4 men were killed, Captain Warden, Lieuts Smith and Wedd, and 30 men were wounded.
Vaal Krantz, 5th-7th Feb 1900
Buller's third effort to relieve Ladysmith took place on the ridges of Brakfontein just north of the meandering Tugela river. The hill to the east of these ridges was Vaal Krantz, the real objective of the relief force, but a feint attack was made on the main Boer position in the middle. Lyttelton's 4th Brigade captured Vaal Krantz on the 5th and had to defend it the next day against a Boer attempt to retake it. This attack was repulsed and the 2nd Brigade relieved the defenders. The Queen's were placed on the west side of the hill and had to face a concerted effort by the enemy artillery to drive them off. The writer Linesman, for Blackwood Magazine, described the action of the battalion from his own observation:
"The Queen's, whom no artillery in the world would move, suffered heavily up on the left crest, keeping their discipline, than which there is none finer in the British Army, intact under an absolutely ceaseless visitation of projectiles."
On the 7th, Buller decided to withdraw the brigade from Vaal Krantz. The battalion had suffered 25 men wounded.
Cingolo Hill, 17th Feb 1900
The Queen's were in support of Lord Dundonald's attack on Cingolo Hill on 17th Feb. They were advancing on his flank and arrived at the top at the same time. A field battery had to be hauled up to the top during the night which kept them busy. The next day they advanced along the nek between Cingolo and Monte Cristo and had to make several attacks on enemy positions. General Buller's despatch on the 20th stated that 'the work of the irregular cavalry, the Queen's, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, and the Rifle Brigade was perhaps most noticeable.'
By the end of February Ladysmith had been relieved. It was the culmination of 14 days continuous fighting and marching during which the 2nd Queen's lost 7 men killed and 127 wounded. They rested at Sunday's River for 2 months and on 7th May 1900 marched northwards under Buller. The CO of the battalion, Lieut-Col Edward Hamilton was promoted to command the 2nd Brigade, replacing Hildyard who now commanded the 5th Division.
Alleman's Nek, 11th June 1900
Boer entrenchments were stormed by the 2nd and 10th Brigades at Alleman's Nek on 11th June. The Dorsets made a famous bayonet charge at the head of the 10th Brigade while the Queen's led the 2nd Brigade on the left to evict the enemy from trenches in their sector. This was done in the face of concerted rifle and artillery fire causing the loss to the battalion of 1 killed and 26 wounded. Buller's despatch of the 19th June mentioned 2 officers of the battalion, a Colour-sergeant and a private.
Colonel Rimington's Column
The rest of the war for the 2nd Battalion involved garrison work on the railway in southern Transvaal, and supplying troops for various columns. In the latter part of 1901 four companies made up the infantry of Colonel Rimington's column which operated in the north of the Orange River Colony.
The 3rd Battalion
The Royal Surrey Militia was sent to South Africa as the 3rd Battalion, arriving in March 1900. It was employed in garrison and escort work in various parts of the Cape Colony. The Rifle Volunteer force also provided 4 battalions for the remaining years of the war.
|1881 - 1959
|1881 - 1959
|1881 - 1959
|1881 - 1959
|1881 - 1959
|Pritinae virtutis memor
Mindful of the gallant actions of the past
Vel exuviae triumphans
Even in defeat there can be triumph
SOUTH AFRICA 1851-1852-1853
RELIEF OF LADSYSMITH
SOUTH AFRICA 1899-1902
World War 1
RETREAT FROM MONS
YPRES 1915, 1917, 1918
SOMME 1916, 1918
NORTH-WEST FRONTIER INDIA 1916-17
Second World War
A naval crown superscribed 1st JUNE 1794 and the Sphinx superscribed EGYPT were also borne on the colours.
World War 1
MARNE 1914, 1918
ALBERT 1916, 1918
ANCRE 1916, 1918
CAMBRAI 1917, 1918
ST QUENTIN CANAL
FRANCE AND FLANDERS 1914-18
PIAVITALY 1917, 1918
LANDING AT SULVA
Second World War
DEFENCE OF ESCAUT
NORTH-WEST EUROPE 1940, 1944-45
DEIR EL MUNASIB
ADVANCE ON TRIPOLI
NORTH AFRICA 1940-3
CASA FABBRI RIDGE
2nd or Queen's Royal Regiment of Foot
|The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment (1959-1966)
(Amalgamation of the Queen's with the East Surreys to become part of the Home Counties Brigade)
The Queen's Regiment (1966-1992)
(Amalgamation of The Queen's Royal Surreys with the Buffs, Sussex and Middlesex regiments)
tel: 01483 223419
open April-Oct Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday 2pm - 6pm
|The Regimental Chapel
in Guildford Cathedral
|The Journal of the Queen's Royal Regiment
|'The Queen's Royal Regiment'
by J Haswell (Hamish Hamilton 1967)
'History of the 2nd Queen's Royal Regiment, now the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment'
vols 1-3 by J Davies (Bentley 1887-95)
vols 4-6 (Eyre & Spottiswoode 1902-6)
vol 7 by H C Wylly (comp) (Gale & Polden 1925)
vol 8 (1924-48) by R C G Foster (comp) (Gale & Polden 1953)
vol 9 (1948-59) by R C G Foster (Gale & Polden 1961)