South Staffordshire Regiment

South Staffordshire Regiment

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=The South Staffordshire Regiment (38th and 80th)

country=Great Britain
type=Infantry of the Line
command_structure=Mercian Brigade (1948-59)
colors=Green, red and gold [ [ "The South Staffordshire Regiment" (Stable Belts of the British Army), accessed September 10, 2007] ]

The South Staffordshire Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army formed in 1881, but with antecedents dating from 1705. In 1959 the regiment was amlagamated with the North Staffordshire Regiment to form the Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's). The lineage of the South Staffords is continued by the Mercian Regiment.

Formation and antecedents

The regiment was formed as part of the Childers Reforms on July 1, 1881 by the amalgamation of the 38th and 80th regiments of foot, which became the regular 1st and 2nd Battalions of the regiment. Militia and Rifle Volunteers of south Staffordshire were also incorporated in the new regiment. The battalions formed in 1881 were as follows:
*1st Battalion: the 38th (1st Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot, raised in Lichfield in 1705 as Colonel Luke Lillingstone's Regiment, numbered as the 38th in 1751, and received the subsidiary title of "1st Staffordshire" in 1782.
*2nd Battalion: the 80th (Staffordshire Volunteers) Regiment of Foot, raised in 1793 by Lord William Henry Paget from members of the Staffordshire Militia.
*3rd (Militia) Battalion: 1st Battalion (The King's Own) 1st Staffordshire Militia
*4th (Militia) Battalion: 2nd Battalion (The King's Own) 1st Staffordshire Militia
*1st Volunteer Battalion: 1st Staffordshire Rifle Volunteer Corps
*2nd Volunteer Battalion: 3rd Staffordshire Rifle Volunteer Corps
*3rd Volunteer Battalion: 4th Staffordshire Rifle Volunteer Corps

The reserve battalions of the regiment were reorganised in 1908 by the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907, with the two militia battalions becoming as the 3rd and 4th (Special Reserve) Battalions and the 2nd and 3rd Volunteer Battalions transferring to the Territorial Force as the 5th and 6th Battalions (TF). The 1st Volunteer Battalion became 1st North Midland Field Company, Royal Engineers, and ceased to be part of the regiment.

1881 - 1914

The 1st Battalion (the former 38th) was sent to Egypt in 1882 as part of the British invasion of the country. On landing in Alexandria they carried their colours through the city. This was the last occasion on which a British Army unit carried their colours on active service. In 1885 they travelled up the River Nile to Sudan to in an unsuccessful attempt to lift the siege of Khartoum. The battalion was subsequently involved in the defeat of Arab forces at Kirbekan. The battle was to be the last time that the South Staffords were to wear red uniforms in battle.

The 1st Battalion then entered a long period of garrison duty in Gibraltar, Egypt, England and Ireland. With the outbreak of the Second Boer War they embarked for South Africa, arriving as part of the 8th Division in 1900. The battalion was mostly involved in minor skirmishes with the Boers, but suffered casualties due to disease and poor nutrition.

In 1904 the 1st South Staffords returned to the UK, being stationed in Ireland and England until 1911, when they moved to Gibraltar. While in Gibraltar, new colours were presented to the battalion by King George V on January 31, 1912. The battalion returned to South Africa in 1913.

The 2nd Battalion (the former 80th) was stationed in India in 1881, soon moving to Tralee in Ireland, where they were involved in actions against Irish nationalists. They returned to England in 1883, were posted to The Curragh from 1889 to 1891, before travelling to Egypt via Aldershot in 1893. they subsequently served in southern India and Burma until 1907, when they started a four-year posting in Pretoria, South Africa. The battalion returned to England in 1911. ["A Short History of The Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's)", published by the regiment, 1972]

Battle honours

By 1914, the regimental colours displayed the following battle honours, representing the actions of the 38th and 80th Foot to 1881, and the South Staffordshire Regiment after that date: [Ian Sumner, "British colours and standards 1747 - 1881 (2) - Infantry", Oxford, 2001]

*Guadeloupe 1759 "(awarded 1909)"
*Martinique 1762 "(awarded 1909)"
*Rolica "(awarded 1831 to 38th Foot)"
*Vimiera "(awarded 1821 to 38th Foot)"
*Corunna "(awarded 1831 to 38th Foot)"
*Busaco "(awarded 1831 to 38th Foot)"
*Badajos "(awarded 1831 to 38th Foot)"
*Salamanca "(awarded 1817 to 38th Foot)"
*Vittoria "(awarded 1831 to 38th Foot)"
*St Sebastian "(awarded 1817 to 38th Foot)"
*Nive "(awarded 1831 to 38th Foot)"
*Peninsula "(awarded 1815 to 38th Foot)"
*Ava "(awarded 1826 to 38th Foot)"
*Moodkee "(awarded 1847 to 80th Foot)"
*Ferozeshah "(awarded 1847 to 80th Foot)"
*Sobraon "(awarded 1849 to 80th Foot)"
*Pegu "(awarded 1853 to 80th Foot)"
*Alma "(awarded 1855 to 38th Foot)"
*Inkerman "(awarded 1855 to 38th Foot)"
*Sevastopol "(awarded 1855 to 38th Foot)"
*Lucknow "(awarded 1863 to 38th Foot)"
*Central India "(awarded 1863 to 80th Foot)"
*South Africa 1878-79 "(awarded 1882)"
*Egypt 1882
*Nile 1884-85
*South Africa 1900-02

First World War 1914 - 1918

The regiment was greatly expanded for the duration of the war, with 18 battalions serving on the Western Front, in Italy, Gallipoli and Egypt. Ten representative battle honours were chosen for display on the regiment's colours: [Arthur Swinson, "A Register of the Regiments and Corps of the British Army", London, 1972]
*Marne, 1914
*Aisne, 1914, '18
*Ypres, 1914, '17
*Somme, 1916, '18
*Cambrai, 1917, '18
*St Quentin Canal
*Vittorio Veneto

1918 - 1939

From 1919 the 1st Battalion served in various colonial garrisons: Singapore, Burma, India and Sudan. They returned home in 1929. In 1938 the battalion was posted to Palestine.

The 2nd battalion moved to Cork in 1919, and was involved in the Irish War of Independence. They returned to England in 1923, where they remained for five years. After postings in Malta, Palestine and Egypt, they were posted to India in 1932.

The 3rd and 4th (Special Reserve) Battalions were placed in "suspended animation" in 1921, eventually being disbanded in 1953. The Territorial Force was reconstituted as the Territorial Army in 1920, and the 5th and 6th Battalions were reformed. In 1939 the size of the Territorial Army was doubled, with duplicate 2/6th and 7th Battalions being formed.

In 1935 the South Staffords were granted the distinction of a badge backing of buff-coloured "Brown Holland" material. This commemorated the 57 years of continuous service by the 38th Foot in the West Indies from 1707 to 1764, and recalled the fact that their uniforms became so threadbare during their service in the tropics that they had to be repaired with pieces of sacking. [Colin Churchill, "History of the British Army Infantry Collar Badge", Uckfield, 2002] In 1936 the yellow facings formerly worn by the 38th and 80th Foot were restored, replacing the white colour that had been imposed on all non-royal English regiments in 1881.

econd World War 1939 - 1945

The regiment was expanded during the war, with the two regular and four territorial battalions being supplemented by the creation of additional battalions. Battalions served in North West Europe, Sicily, Italy, North Africa and Burma.

The regular battalions found themselves fighting in new roles: During the "Chindits" campaign in Burma, the 1st Battalion took part in jungle fighting against the Japanese forces, while the 2nd Battalion was converted to a glider borne role. As such they landed in Sicily in 1943 and at Arnhem in 1944. After the war the regiment was awarded an arm badge depicting a glider, in recognition of its services as an airborne unit.

The regiment selected the following ten representative battle honours to appear on the colours:
*Arnhem, 1944
*North-West Europe, 1940, '44
*North Africa, 1940
*Landing in Sicily
*Sicily, 1943
*Chindits, 1944
*Burma, 1944

1945 - 1959

Following the granting of independence of India in 1947, all infantry regiments in the British Army were reduced to a single regular battalion. Accordingly the 1st and 2nd Battalions amalgamated in Lichfield in 1948. The new 1st Battalion (38th/80th) travelled to Hong Kong in the following year, and thence to Northern Ireland two years later. New colours were presented to the battalion at Lisburn on May 22, 1952. Later that year they were stationed in Germany. In 1954 the battalion was posted to the Suez Canal zone, before being speedily dispatched to Cyprus where hostilities had broken out between the two communities on the island.

In 1955 a ceremony was held in Lichfield to commemorate the regiment's 250th anniversary. The 1st Battalion moved to its final posting in Germany two years later.

In July, 1957, a defence review was announced. The South Staffords were to amalgamate with the North Staffordshire Regiment, and to become part of the new administrative Mercian Brigade.

The amalgamation of the 1st Battalions of the two regiments took place on January 31, 1959 at Minden, Germany, to form the 1st Battalion, The Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's Own).

In 1947 the Territorial Army was reformed, and the 5th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment (TA) was duly raised. Following the 1959 amalgamation of the North and South Staffords, the battalion continued as a territorial unit of the new regiment without change of title. The battalion was disbanded in 1967 on the creation of the Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve in 1967, with its lineage continued by HQ Company of the Mercian Volunteers.


External links

* [ "The South Staffordshire Regiment 1914-18" (, accessed September 10, 2007]
* [ "The South Staffordshire Regiment" (, accessed September 10, 2007]

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