Cheshire Regiment

22nd Regiment of Foot
22nd (Cheshire) Regiment of Foot
Cheshire Regiment

Cap badge of the Cheshire Regiment
Active 1689–2007

 Kingdom of England (to 1707)
 Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)

 United Kingdom (1801–2007)
Branch  British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line infantry
Size One battalion
Part of Prince of Wales' Division
Garrison/HQ Chester Castle (1873–1939)
Dale Barracks, Upton by Chester (1939–2007)
Nickname(s) The Old Two-twos
The Young Buffs
The Peep of Day Boys
The Lightning Conductors
The Red Knights
The Specimens
Motto(s) Ever Glorious
Colors Cerise and Buff
March Quick – Wha Wadna Fecht for Charlie
Slow – The 22nd Regiment 1772
Engagements See honours list
Last Colonel-in-Chief HRH The Prince of Wales, KG, GCB, KT, ADC(P)
Colonel of
the Regiment
Brigadier A.R.D. Sharpe OBE
Tactical Recognition Flash

The Cheshire Regiment was a line infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Prince of Wales' Division. The 22nd Regiment of Foot was raised by the Duke of Norfolk in 1689 and was able to boast an independent existence of over 300 years. The regiment was expanded in 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms by the linking of the 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment of Foot and the militia and rifle volunteers of Cheshire. The title 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment continued to be used within the regiment.

On 1 September 2007, the Cheshire Regiment was merged with the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29th/45th Foot) and the Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's) to form a new large regiment, the Mercian Regiment, becoming the 1st Battalion, Mercian Regiment.


Early history

Henry Howard, Duke of Norfolk, founder of the regiment
Soldier of 22nd regiment, 1742

In 1689, Henry Howard, Duke of Norfolk, raised a regiment on the little Roodee at Chester, in an effort to resist any attempt by James II to re-take the English throne.[1]

For the early part of its formation, the regiment was known by the name of the current Colonel-in-Chief, later becoming known as the 22nd Regiment of Foot. In the same year that it was raised, the regiment saw its first action as part of a British force sent to Ireland under the command of General Frederick Schomberg, 1st Duke of Schomberg, taking part in the siege and capture of Carrickfergus. In 1690, the 22nd fought in the Battle of Boyne, and in 1691 at the Battle of Aughrim.[2]

The regiment continued to serve as a garrison in Ireland from this point until 1695, when it was sent to the Low Countries for a short time before returning to its duties in Ireland. In 1702, the regiment sailed to Jamaica under the colonelcy of William Selwyn, spending the next twelve years in combat duties against the French and native population, both on land and at sea.[2]

In 1726 the regiment was posted to Minorca where it remained for the next 22 years, although a detachment was present at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, during the War of the Austrian Succession.[1]

By 1751 the regiment had become the 22nd Foot, having previously been called after its successive colonels. In 1758 it formed part of Lord Amhest's expedition against the fortress of Louisbourg in French Canada. The following year the regiment took part in General Wolfe's victory over the French at Quebec.[1]

The 22nd Foot received two battle honours for taking part in the capture of Martinique and the British expedition against Cuba during 1762.[3]

After home service the regiment was sent to America in 1775. Having embarked in advance of the rest of the regiment at the request of Colonel Gage, Lt. Col. Abercrombie arrived in Boston just before the Battle of Bunker Hill, where he was killed in action. The regiment later evacuated from Boston to Halifax and then onto the New York and New Jersey campaigns of 1776. The Battalion Companies occupied Newport Rhode Island, participating in the Battle of Rhode Island, eventually returning to New York City in 1779 and surrounding territory where the bulk of the regiment would remain until the end of the War, participating most notably at the Battle of Springfield in late June 1780. The regiment's Light Infantry Company participated in the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777 and later the Southern Campaigns in the 1780s, eventually surrendering with Cornwallis at Yorktown.[3]

Although the County designation existed as early as 1772, the regiment was retitled The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment of Foot in 1782, the regiment served in the West Indies from 1793, taking part in expeditions against Martinique, St Lucia, Guadeloupe and St Domingo. Between 1800 and 1803 the 22nd was posted to South Africa, then moving to India where it suffered heavy losses during the assault on Bhurtpore (1805). In 1810, the regiment took part in the occupation of Mauritius.[4]

In 1843, the regiment gained the battle honours of Meeanee, Hyderabad and Scinde during further Indian service.[1]

As one of the older regiments of British line infantry already having two battalions, the regiment was not merged with another line regiment by the Cardwell reforms of 1881.[5] The reforms added the following units: 1st Royal Cheshire Light Infantry Militia, 2nd Royal Cheshire Militia, 1st Cheshire RVC, 2nd (Earl of Chester's) Cheshire RVC, 3rd Cheshire RVC, 4th Cheshire (Cheshire and Derbyshire) RVC, and the 5th Cheshire RVC. Its recruiting area was confirmed as being the County of Cheshire.[6]

Memorial in Chester Cathedral to the men of the Cheshire Regiment who died in South Africa

Both battalions of the regiment served in Burma between 1887 and 1891, while the 2nd Battalion saw active service in South Africa in 1900.[1]

Twentieth century

A British trench near the Albert-Bapaume road at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. The men are from A Company, 11th (Service) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.

During the First World War the 1st Battalion took part in the Battle of Mons, the First Battle of the Marne, the First Battle of the Aisne, the Battle of La Bassée, the Battle of Messines and in the First Battle of Ypres in 1914. They also saw action at the Second Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Hill 60 in 1915. In 1917 they fought at the Battle of Arras and the Battle of Passchendaele. Then in 1918 they took part in the Battle of the Lys, the Battles of the Hindenburg Line and the Final Advance in Picardy.[7] Other battalions of the regiment fought in France, Gallipoli, Sinai, Palestine, Salonika and Mesopotamia.[1]

Men of the 7th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, 5th Infantry Division's machine gun battalion, in a captured German communications trench during the offensive at Anzio, Italy, 22 May 1944.

During the Second World War the 2nd Battalion of the Cheshires served in France in 1940 with the rest of the British Expeditionary Force before fighting in the Battle of Dunkirk and subsequently being evacuated. The 1st Battalion fought in North Africa at Tobruk and subsequently took part in the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945. The 2nd Battalion took part in the D Day landings in 1944, while the 6th and 7th Battalions fought in Italy.[1] The 5th Battalion remained within the United Kingdom for the duration of the war, and provided machine gun support for the 38th Infantry (Reserve) Division, 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division, and the 80th Infantry (Reserve) Division.[8]

After the War the 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion were amalgamated and became a depot battalion in 1948.[9] The regiment was deployed to Cyprus and to Egypt in 1951 and to Malaya in 1960.[9] It was posted to Abercorn Barracks in Ballykinler in 1960 and to Buller Barracks in Münster in 1962 and then went to Warminster in 1966.[9]

The regiment was deployed to Derry in Northern Ireland at the start of the Troubles in 1970 and undertook further tours in the Province throughout the 1970s.[9] It moved to Elizabeth Barracks in Minden in 1977.[9] In 1978, Mike Dauncey was appointed Colonel Commandant[10] and in 1979 the regiment moved to Tidworth.[9]

The First and Second World War memorial to the Cheshire Regiment, Chester Cathedral

The regiment became the resident battalion at Shackleton Barracks in Ballykelly in 1980 and in 1982, eight soldiers from the Cheshires were killed in the Droppin Well bombing.[11] Between 1986 and 1988, the 1st Battalion was posted to Caterham as a public duties battalion and in 1988 it moved to Dale Barracks in Chester.[9]

The regiment was posted to St Barbara's Barracks at Fallingbostel in 1991 and became the first Armored Infantry unit to deploy to Bosnia on OP Grapple 1 (7 Armored Brigade (Desert Rats))on United Nations peace keeping duties to the former Yugoslavia (92-93). Then a period at Oakington between 1993 and 1996 returned to Shackleton Barracks again.[9] It went to Beachley Barracks in Chepstow in 1998 and to Alexander Barracks in Dhekelia in 2000.[9] It returned to Kiwi Barracks at Bulford Camp in 2002 and was deployed to Iraq (Operation Telic 4) in 2004 before being sent back to Abercorn Barracks in 2005.[9]


The Cheshire Regiment was one of five line infantry regiments never to have been amalgamated in its history. It shared this claim with The Royal Scots, The Green Howards, The Royal Welch Fusiliers and The King's Own Scottish Borderers. In 2004, as a part of the reorganisation of the infantry, it was announced that the Cheshire Regiment would be amalgamated with the Staffordshire Regiment and the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment to form the new Mercian Regiment. In August 2007, the regiment became the 1st Battalion, the Mercian Regiment.[12]


Battle honours

The regiment was awarded the following battle honours.[13]

Victoria Crosses

Victoria Crosses awarded to men of the regiment were:

Colonels of the Regiment

Colonels of the regiment were:[14]

The 22nd Regiment of Foot

The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment

The Cheshire Regiment

The Cheshires in literature

A night-encounter between new recruits to the Cheshires on their way to the Somme and a new Brigade of the West Kents, going the same way, was the subject of a 1935 poem by F. L. Lucas, ‘Morituri - August 1915, on the road from Morlancourt’, which ends:[15]

A whisper came – "The Cheshires". Unseen on our leaf-hung track,
Their gay mirth mocked our caution, till the stillness flooded back
And deep in the sodden woodland we crept to our bivouack.
But still when grave heads are shaken and sombre seems the day,
Beyond the years I hear it – faint, phantom, far away –
That lilt of the Cheshires laughing, down through the dark to Bray.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment". Cheshire Military Museum. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  2. 1 2 "The Cheshire Regiment". British redcoats and regiments. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  3. 1 2 "22nd Regiment". Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  4. "British Regiments and the Men Who Led Them 1793-1815: 22nd Regiment of Foot". Napolean Series. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 24992. pp. 3300–3301. 1 July 1881.
  6. "The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment". Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  7. "1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment". Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  8. Joslen, pp. 65, 87, 103
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "The Cheshire Regiment". British Army units 1945 on. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  10. "Appointment of Mike Dauncey to Colonel Commandant". Paradata. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  11. "INLA kill 11 soldiers, six civilians at Droppin' Well". BBC. 6 December 1982. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  12. "In detail: army restructuring plans". BBC. 16 December 2004. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  13. "The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment". Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  14. "The Cheshire Regiment". Archived from the original on 31 December 2006. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  15. Lucas, F. L., Poems, 1935 (Cambridge, 1935), p.91


Further reading

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