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The Staffordshire Regiment

A Brief History of The Staffordshire Regiment

The first ancestor of The Staffordshire Regiment, the 38th Regiment of Foot, was raised during the War of the Spanish Succession by Col Luke Lillingston at the Kings Head, Lichfield, on 26 Mar 1705. Shortly afterwards, in 1707, it was sent to Antigua, in the West Indies, remaining there until 1764, the longest overseas posting recorded in the British Army. Resupply shortages forced the men to wear the local sugar sacking (‘holland cloth’), commemorated by the Holland Patch worn to this day.

The second ancestor of the Regiment, was raised in 1756 during the Seven Years’ War, initially as the 2nd Battalion of the 11the Regiment of Foot but granted its own number, the 64th of Foot, in 1758. It too was posted to the West Indies and there captured Gaudeloupe alongside the 38th; they jointly share the first Battle Honour of the Regiment. They subsequently both fought in the American War of Independence, never surrendering to or retreating from the enemy.

Lillington

During the Napoleonic Wars, the 38th fought in the Flanders area alongside the 80th Regiment of Foot (The Staffordshire Volunteers), formed in 1793. The 38th subsequently fought in South Africa, South America (Montevideo) and in the Peninsular under Wellington whilst the 80th also fought in South Africa, assisting in the capture of a Dutch Naval Squadron and in Egypt. For the latter, they gained the Battle Honour of a Sphynx, still used as a symbol today. The 64th remained in the West Indies throughout, capturing many strategic islands.

Sebastian

Amidst the colonial expansion of the first half of the nineteenth century, the 98th Regiment of Foot was formed in 1824 but did not see action until 1842, gaining the Battle Honour of a China Dragon, also used as a symbol by The Staffordshire Regiment. It later fought in the Second Sikh War. The 80th escorted convicts to Australia in 1836, remaining on station for 9 years and annexing the South island of New Zealand for the Queen; it subsequently took part in the First Sikh War, where CSgt Matthew Kirkland captured a Sikh standard at the Battle of Ferozeshah, an achievement still commemorated by handing over the Regimental Colours to the Sergeants’ Mess on the anniversary of his achievement. The 80th also fought in the second Burmese war of 1852/3; the 38th had fought in the First Burmese War of 1824/6. The 64th fought with distinction in the Persian war of 1856.

All four regiments took part in the larger wars of the second half of the century, with the 38th especially active and involved in the both Crimea and the Indian Mutiny. Later in the century, renamed 1st South Staffords as part of the Cardwell reforms of the 1870s, it took part in the Nile campaign (including the attempt to save Gen Gordon at Khartoum) and in the Boer War. The 64th also took part in the Indian Mutiny, when Drummer Flynn won the Victoria Cross, and later, renamed the 1st North Staffords, fought in the Sudan (Dongola campaign). The 80th fought in the Zulu Wars, winning two VCs, including the only VC actually awarded at the time of Isandlwala; this went to Pte Wassall; it subsequently became 2nd South Staffords. The 98th fought in the Boer War; by then it was titled 2nd North Staffords but had earlier been granted the Title ‘Prince 0f Wales’s’ by the future King Edward VII whilst in Malta in 1876.

Crimean Veteran

During the First World War, the South and North Staffords formed a total of 35 battalions and fought in all major campaigns. In the Second World War they raised 17; both Regiments fought in the desert and the North fought in France in 1940. Subsequently, 2nd North fought in Italy whilst 1st South Staffords were Chindits, winning a VC and 2nd South Staffords were in Airborne Forces as a Glider battalion, being amongst the first British troops to land in mainland Europe (Sicily) and fighting at Arnhem, where they won two VCs, the only time this occurred in World War Two.

After 1945, the North and South became single battalions and served in Palestine, Korea and Cyprus. They were amalgamated into The Staffordshire Regiment in 1959, which continued past its three hundreth anniversary before becoming part of the Mercian Regiment in 2005. In over 45 years of existence, the Staffords have served in many stations, notably Kenya, Germany, N Ireland, Kuwait and Iraq (First Gulf War).

Iraq