A Summary of the Formation, Development & Titles of The Militia and Territorial Units

associated with The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment

This annex is intended as an introduction to the various volunteer units which formed part of the Corps of The Queen’s Royal Regiment, The East Surrey Regiment and The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment.

There have been many changes in title, amalgamations, conversion to other arms, reductions to cadre and disbandments. In general, the fortunes of units after leaving the Regiment have not been recorded, although in fact elements of all the eight Surrey Rifle Volunteer Corps can be found in the 6/7th Volunteer Bn The Queen’s Regiment. There is inevitably some duplication in the text as the units change their nomenclature. For simplicity the short titles of the Regiments have been used, e.g. The Queen’s rather than The Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey).

Further information may be found in the Regimental Histories, Colonel A. R. Martin’s “Historical Record of The London Regiment”, Major J M A Tamplin’s “Catalogue of the Surrey Rifle Volunteers, 1859-1959” and in the Regimental Journals.

The Royal Surrey Militia

Originally instituted for home defence, the Militia, continuing the tradition of the feudal levies and later the trained bands, developed into a reserve for the Regular Army. Towards the end of the Napoleonic War, the Local Militia was established to augment the Regular Militia. The 4th and 5th Surrey Local Militia was formed in 1813 and disbanded in 1816.

Recruiting was by ballot or parish quotas until superseded by voluntary enlistment in 1852. In 1873 Militia battalions took their place in Regimental Districts, and eight years later became the 3rd (or 4th ) Battalions of their Line Regiment. The 3rd Bn and the 4th (Extra Reserve) Bn The East Surrey Regiment served in the South African War from 1901 to 1902.

The Militia battalions assumed the additional title of ‘Special Reserve’ in 1908. During the 1914 - 18 War the 3rd (Special Reserve) Bns of both Regiments were responsible for the training and drafting overseas of reinforcements for the battalions engaged in active operations. The Special Reserve battalions were disbanded in 1919.

The Surrey Rifle Volunteers

Recruited by voluntary service, the Volunteers were exempted from liability to serve in the Militia or other forces. Volunteer units which had been raised for home defence in the Napoleonic Wars were disbanded after 1815. However, in view of our uneasy relations with France and the defenceless state of the country, they were revived in 1859 when the Volunteer Force was established. They consisted chiefly of rifle volunteers and 26 of these Corps were in Surrey. By 1880, as the result of amalgamations, this number was reduced to eight Corps. Two years later four were allocated to The Queen’s and four to The East Surrey Regiment.

With the exception of the 1st Corps, all became Volunteer battalions of their parent Regiments - namely the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Volunteer Battalions of The Queen’s in 1883, and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Volunteer Battalions of The East Surrey Regiment four years later.

During the South African War, companies from the Volunteer battalions saw active service with the Regular battalions of The Queen’s and the East Surreys fighting there.

Territorial Battalions of The Queen’s Royal Regiment

Formed in 1908, the Territorial Force was organised in fourteen divisions as a second line to the Regular Army in the event of war. The Volunteer battalions in our Regiments assumed the following Territorial titles:

The Queen’s

1st Volunteer Battalion became 4th Bn The Queen’s
2nd Volunteer Battalion became 5th Bn The Queen’s
3rd Volunteer Battalion became 22nd (County of London) Bn The London Regiment (The Queen’s).
4th Volunteer Battalion became 24th (County of London) Bn The London Regiment (The Queen’s).

Territorial Battalions of The East Surrey Regiment

2nd Volunteer Battalion became 5th Bn The East Surrey Regiment
3rd Volunteer Battalion became 6th Bn The East Surrey Regiment
4th Volunteer Battalion became 23rd (County of London) Bn The London Regiment

The only Volunteer Corps which had not become a Volunteer Battalion, that is the 1st (South London) Corps East Surrey Regiment, now assumed the title of the 21st (County of London) Bn The London Regiment First Surrey Rifles. So, in 1908, the original eight Corps of Surrey Rifle Volunteers had become two Queen’s Territorial battalions, two East Surrey Territorial battalions and four County of London Regiments.

In 1914, the 4th and 5th Queen’s and the 5th and 6th East Surreys formed 2nd and 3rd line battalions whose role was recruiting and training reinforcements. Although originally intended for home defence only, Territorial battalions of our Regiments served in India, Mesopotamia, Gallipoli, Palestine and on the Western Front. The 4th Queen’s, in particular, had all three battalions in the field. The Territorial Army was formed in 1921 from the Territorial Force.

The first of the eight original Volunteer Corps to leave the Regiment was the 21st London Regiment First Surrey Rifles, which in 1935 became an Anti-Aircraft Battalion. Three years later, the 4th Bn The Queen’s became a Searchlight Regiment and the 5th Bn The East Surrey Regiment became an Anti-Tank Regiment. The Territorial units then consisted of the 5th, 6th (formerly 22nd London Regiment) and 7th Queen’s (formerly 24th London Regiment) and the 6th Surreys. In 1939 each Territorial battalion formed a 2nd battalion for the duration of the War, all of whom were to see active service. The six Territorial battalions of The Queen’s were formed into two complete Queen’s brigades. In 1947, the 7th Queen’s left the Regimental family to become a Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

The Territorial element of the Regiment was thus reduced to the 5th and 6th Queen’s and, on the East Surrey side, the 6th Surreys and the 23rd London Regiment. The last named unit had become a battalion of the Royal Tank Corps in 1937, but had reverted to infantry in 1956.

The amalgamation of The Queen’s Royal Regiment and The East Surrey Regiment in 1959 rendered the titles of the Territorial battalions obsolete. So in 1961, the 5th and 6th Bns The Queen’s Royal Regiment amalgamated to form the 3rd Bn The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment. At the same time, the 6th Bn The East Surrey Regiment came together with the 23rd London to become the 4th Bn The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment.

A similar reorganisation took place in 1967 after the formation of The Queen’s Regiment. The 3rd and 4th Bns The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment amalgamated to become the 6th Territorial Bn The Queen’s Regiment. Four years later this unit became the 6th Volunteer Battalion, and today, as a result of amalgamation with the 7th Volunteer Battalion, became the 6/7th Volunteer Bn The Queen’s Regiment.

The London Regiment

The old rifle Volunteer Corps which dated from 1859 became Volunteer battalions soon after the Cardwell reforms of 1881. On the formation of the Territorial Force on 1st April 1908, 26 Volunteer battalions in the London area assumed the title of The London Regiment. Of these, the 22nd and 24th Battalions were formed from the 3rd and 4th Volunteer Bns The Queen’s, and the 23rd from the 4th Volunteer Bn The East Surrey Regiment. The 21st derived from the 1st Surrey (South London) Corps East Surrey Regiment.

During the 1914-18 War, all four London Regiments raised 2nd and 3rd line battalions: the 1st Battalions serving on the Western Front and the 2nd Battalions in Palestine and other theatres. In 1916, the units of The London Regiment became part of the corps of their original regiments, though they kept their London Regiment titles.

However, the two Queen’s battalions, the 22nd and the 24th, already bore the additional title of The Queen’s, and they retained this name throughout their existence. Of the two East Surrey battalions, the 21st London never assumed the title of The East Surrey Regiment. They kept their old title of First Surrey Rifles, and even carried it on when transferred to the Royal Artillery. The 23rd London only adopted the additional title of The East Surrey Regiment in 1927. In spite of this lack of conformity, both the 21st and 23rd were regarded as part of The East Surrey Regiment, and they contributed regularly to the Regimental Journal.

The only battalion to leave the Regimental family was the 21st London (First Surrey Rifles) which became an Anti-Aircraft battalion in 1935. The 22nd London and 24th London became the 6th and 7th Bns The Queen’s in 1937, while the 23rd London became, for a short while, the 7th Bn The East Surrey Regiment. In 1938, the 7th (23rd London) Bn The East Surrey Regiment became the 42nd Bn Royal Tank Corps, and remained an armoured unit until reverting to the infantry role, and its original title of 23rd London, in 1956. This battalion, the last to bear the name of The London Regiment, amalgamated with the 6th Bn The East Surrey Regiment in 1961 to form the 4th Bn The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment.

Service Battalions

In August 1914, Lord Kitchener called for 100,000 men to augment the Regular Army. The response was immediate and resulted in the formation of ‘Service’ battalions of Regular regiments. They saw some of the hardest fighting in the 1914-18 War.

The Queen’s Service Battalions were the 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th, those of The East Surrey Regiment were numbered 7th, 8th, 9th, 12th and 13th These battalions were disbanded in 1919, although their numbers in some cases were revived in 1937 when battalions of The London Regiment adopted Regimental titles.

Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve

Under the reorganisation of 1967, the Territorial Army was replaced by the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve II and III. T&AVR II consisted of Volunteer units trained to provide immediate reinforcements for the Regular Army in an emergency. Thus, the 5th (Volunteer) Bn The Queen’s Regiment was formed. T&AVR III consisted of Territorial units for home and civil defence. The 3rd and 4th Bns The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment became the 6th (Territorial) Bn The Queen’s Regiment.

This new organisation was not to last for long - in 1969 the Territorial battalions were reduced to cadre and so remained until 1971. In this year a modest expansion of the Reserve Army was approved, and two more Volunteer Battalions, the 6th and 7th, were formed for The Queen’s Regiment. The cadre of the former 6th (Territorial) Bn The Queen’s Regiment became the Headquarters of the new 6th (Volunteer) Bn The Queen’s Regiment, while the companies were formed from four other Territorial cadres, three of them Royal Artillery. In 1975, the 6th and 7th Volunteer Battalions amalgamated to form the 6/7th Volunteer Bn The Queen’s Regiment.

 

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