The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment
Militia, Volunteers and Territorials
The post 1967 days were depressing for the Territorials. Earlier reorganisations continued in more drastic form and in some quarters suggestions were being voiced and efforts made, by way of the February 1968 White Paper, to disband the force altogether. But its members metaphorically, and in some cases literally, stuck to their guns and the organisation survived, albeit in much depleted form and in some cases only as cadres.
However, wiser counsels prevailed and in 1971, yet again, another “New” Territorial Army emerged with emphasis being placed on its ability quickly to reinforce the Regular Army in time of need. The Regulars were in any case feeling the burdens of cuts and amalgamations which were being brought about for economic reasons. In 1979 the cumbersome title of Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve was dropped and that simply of Territorial Army restored.
In September 1980 a mobilisation exercise “Crusader” demonstrated the speed and efficiency with which Territorial units could be deployed to their battle stations. With their image and roles steadily improving, the 1982 Defence White Paper announced an enhancement of the Nation’s defence capability by an expansion of the Territorial Army from 70,000 to 86,000 by the early 90s. In something of the original Territorial role there was to be a Home Service Force, with an initial ceiling of 5,000 formed to guard important civilian and military installations.
The TA expansion included six new Infantry Battalions one of which became the 8th (Volunteer) Battalion The Queen’s Fusiliers (City of London) with its headquarters in the old drill hall at St John’s Hill, Clapham, the home for so many years of the 23rd London Regiment. Old spirits and loyalties were being revived and it was hoped that succeeding years would strengthen and develop them. But the expansion envisaged by the 1982 Defence Paper was not maintained. By 1998 the Territorial Army strength was 58,000 (not the projected 86,000 of 1982) and by another current Defence Paper it was proposed to reduce the numbers to 40,000. This meant the reduction of most Infantry and Yeomanry Units, many of which had old and deep roots and connections in counties and large cities. As always, costs were the root of the problem. Again, as always, it was stated that re-structuring of the Armed Forces, including the Territorial Army, would lead to greater efficiency. The Territorials, as such, were to become a more specialised body and more available for world-wide operations.
Further changes and reduction in the Territorial Army took place in 1997. The Territorials still maintain their hitherto indomitable spirit and continue to step forth in the defence of the nation as and when required.