6th Bn The East Surrey Regiment
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The 6th Battalion The East Surrey Regiment, again descended from the 1859 Volunteers. Members served in the South African War, some enlisting in the Regular Army. In the 1908 re-organisations the 6th, contrary to the practice in some other Regiments, retained their dark green ‘rifle’ uniform with black accessories and did not convert to the general infantry scarlet dress of the times. On the outbreak of the First World War all ranks accepted liability for overseas service and embarked for India in October 1914. Two drafts later went to Mesopotamia where many suffered in the disastrous defeat at Kut Al Amara. Further service was rendered in Aden and after internal security duties in Agra the battalion returned to England in 1919.
During the war 2/6th and 3/6th Battalions were formed in England for reserve and training duties and provided drafts for overseas service.
A new 6th Battalion was formed in 1920 as part of the reorganised Territorial Army. By 1939 it was over 1,200 strong and a second battalion was formed.
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The 1/6th fought gallantly in France before being evacuated via Dunkirk. After similar courageous fighting in France, where they suffered badly in the surrender at St Valery, the 2/6th returned to England and did not see active service again. The 1/6th saw further overseas service, being engaged in the North African Campaign, landing at Algiers and taking part in battles leading up to the capture of Tunis. After the surrender of the enemy the battalion trained for an assault landing on Rhodes but this was cancelled. Next came the Italian Campaign and in February 1944 landed at Naples. Three days later they went into action in the line around Cassino.
Then followed a very arduous period of fighting, where conditions were extremely rough. All rations, ammunition plus water had to be moved by mule and porters.
On May 18th the battalion took part in the attack on the town of Cassino, this attack took place at the same time as the Polish Corps attacked the Monastery. One company linked up with the Poles on the slopes of Monte Cassino. During this battle 1/6th Surreys fought alongside their sister battalion 1 Surreys in 78th Division. They then moved to Greece before going into suspended animation in 1946. They re-formed in 1947 and between 1950 and 1957 accepted National Service men as part of their post-Regular engagements. From 1957 intensive recruitment and training were undertaken. Successful entry in the Nijmegen Marches in Holland in 1959 resulted in the team being awarded the coveted team trophy.
It is also interesting to note that the first Cassino Ball was held on the 13th May in Kingston, followed by a Drumhead Service the following day. These two events were held annually until the amalgamation with 23rd London Regiment in 1961.