6th (Territorial) Bn The Queen's Regiment
The 6th (Territorial) Battalion The Queen’s Regiment (Queen’s Surreys) did not officially come into being until April 1967 although they had begun to function as a unit in January. Their first camp took place at St Martin’s Plain in May and in July the Battalion was chosen by Eastern Command to send a team to the Annual Nijmegen Marches. The marches from 21st to 28th July, with each day’s march being for 25 miles in 11 hours carrying full equipment, were watched by large crowds and at the end of the week the team received their team and individual awards.
The 14th October 1967 was an important day for the 6th Battalion as a parade was held at Kingston to mark the transfer of the Freedom of the Royal Borough from the Queen’s Surreys to the 1st and 6th (T) Battalions of The Queen’s Regiment. Major General Piggott received an illuminated scroll from the Mayor at the Guildhall.
|(Click to enlarge)|
Having seemingly staged promising come-backs in 1967 the TAVR III received some devastating blows in 1968 when the Government announced drastic financial cutbacks which in effect would result in the Volunteer Forces being reduced to little more than a private venture. Pay, allowances and camps were all to be reduced and certain weaponry withdrawn. Permanent Administrative staff were withdrawn but this serious blow was softened in 6th Battalion by several retired officers and NCOs giving their services voluntarily. On the 31st March, 1968 the Home Counties Brigade ceased to exist and the Battalion was transferred to the new South East District with HQ at Aldershot. In the subsequent re-organisation the 6th Battalion administration was taken over by the Welsh Guards - a duty which the Guardsmen accepted and executed with their customary efficiency.
Training programmes during 1968 continued to be divided between such military work as was possible supplemented by adventure training and projected Military Aid to the Civil Power. In March there were two disappointing official announcements. The first was that the annual Camp was to be cancelled and the second was that the planned Royal Review of the TAVR was likewise to be cancelled.
In May 1968 the 1st and 5th Battalions lost the Queen’s Surreys title which was, however, perpetuated in the 6th (T) Battalion which continued to wear the Queen’s Surreys badges and belt.
Training in the next four months included a skiing exercise in the Cairngorms and Adventure training and Rock Climbing in Kent and the Lake District. Three members of the Battalion represented the TAVR at cricket against the Staff College and four others against the Army. During the same period much of the regimental silver, surplus to requirements, was sold off and the proceeds from the sales were used to buy a silver statuette, “The Territorial”. Replacing the cancelled official annual Camp, voluntary unpaid Camps were held. But warning signals from the Government about the future of the Territorials were becoming increasingly apparent. Despite this the true volunteer spirit still flourished.
In November, 1968 valuable assistance was rendered to the Civil Authorities by both Regular Army and TAVR III troops during severe flooding in the Molesey and Cobham areas after unusually heavy rainfall. But spirit alone was not enough and from January to March 1969 there was a gradual rundown of the 6th Battalion and by the end of the latter month it had ceased to exist, all personnel having been posted, transferred or struck off the strength. The sad day seemed to denote the end of the Territorial Battalions but all was not lost. In 1971, due to concern over the lack of adequate Home Defence, there was a revival of Companies from The Queen’s Surreys Cadres and a new 6th Battalion arose.
More changes in role and titles happened between 1971 and 1992, when, under the Governments Options for Change, The Queen’s Regiment and The Royal Hampshire Regiment were amalgamated to become The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.
Further changes were still to come, under the Governments Strategic Defence Review, in 1998 The Territorial Army were to be reduced to an all up figure of 40,000. The effect of this regimentally was the amalgamation of 5th and 6/7th Battalions PWRR. The new battalion named, the 3rd Bn The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. More drill halls were disposed of, and for the County of Surrey which once had so many, the territorial presence was reduced to just two locations, Farnham and Camberley. Guildford which for 108 years had had a Territorial Drill Hall in the town centre, will lose its territorial company, indeed, it was the first time since 1856 that there had not been a military presence in the town.
The reduction from two battalions to one not only decreased the number of battalions, it also saw all the remaining TA infantry battalions lose their role so the newly formed battalion lacked any real sense of purpose. However all changed with the events of 11 September 2001 when terrorists attacked New York. The government decided to use the TA infantry battalions as the core for Civil Contingency Reaction Forces that were established around the country in case of a similar attack on the United Kingdom. Thus the 3rd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment became responsible for responding to a national crisis in the counties of Surrey, Sussex and Kent.
However led by the United States of America the global “war on terror” followed and Afghanistan was invaded by a coalition of western forces. After the end of hostilities troops were needed to conduct Peace Support Operations in Kabul and the TA Infantry were asked to find TA soldiers to support this operation. 3 PWRR found 30 volunteers who deployed to Kabul in 2003 for three months. 2003 also saw the United Kingdom participate in the war on Iraq and the size of the force committed, required the TA to be called out. Both to support the attacking force and subsequently to provide troops for the Peace Keeping Force, Ta soldiers were mobilised. At the time of writing (June 2004) this process is ongoing with 3 PWRR having provided a total of 74 soldiers to serve on operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia.
The Drill Hall in Portsmouth Road, Kingston which was the home of the 4th Bn The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment, was, after they left, the headquarters of a Field Ambulance was also due for sale, but in1999 it was decided that another Field Ambulance unit be reformed there.
Of one thing we can be confident, the indomitable spirit which the Territorial showed from their formation will continue. They have met many changes and challenges throughout their history and they will be ready for any future change.