The London Regiment

Showing changes of title from 1908 to disappearance of the name '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.

The London Regiment was unique - it was the largest infantry regiment in the army, with 26 battalions in peace-time, expanding to 88 battalions in the First World War; it was a wholly Territorial regiment, and for the first eight years of its existence it did not form part of any Regular regiment; and it was the only regiment in the army that did not have a regimental badge - its battalions wore their own individual badges.

It was formed on 1st April 1908 as part of the new Territorial Force which replaced the old Volunteers. Its 26 battalions were formed from Volunteer units in the London area, all of which had their origins in the Rifle Volunteer Corps raised in 1859-60.

In the First World War it expanded to 88 battalions, of which 56 fought in battle. 49 battalions took part in the battle in France and Flanders, 6 were at the Dardanelles landings, 12 fought at Salonika, 14 were engaged against the Turks In Palestine, and one served in Waziristan and Afghanistan.

As a separate regiment, The London Regiment lasted only eight years, for in 1916 its battalions became part of the corps of Regular regiments - in most cases the regiments of whish they had, before 1908, been Volunteer battalions. There was, however, on change of title - battalions continued to be named battalions of The London Regiment.

In 1922 its battalions, now part of the Territorial Army, were given the status of separate London Regiments, though they still formed part of Regular regiments. By this time, there were only twenty-three London Regiments, for two - the 8th and the 15th had been amalgamated with other battalions; and the 25th, originally a cyclist battalion, had become a unit of the Royal Corps of Signals.

In 1935, seven London Regiments became anti-aircraft units of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers. Finally, in 1937, the remaining sixteen were re-named as battalions of their parent Regular regiments; and The London Regiment, even in name, ceased to exist.

It was, however, to have an "Indian Summer", for in 1956 the original 23rd Battalion, which had been serving since 1938 as a Royal Tank Regiment, was converted back to infantry and chose to revert to its old title - 23rd London Regiment. The title was finally given up on amalgamation in 1961.

But although The London Regiment had ceased to exist in name, its battalions continued to exist in fact; and under their new names they fought in the Second World War. By 1939 the old London Regiment had become two armoured regiments, ten anti-aircraft regiments, two signal regiments, twenty-four infantry battalions, two machine-gun battalions, and an officer cadet training unit. Eight fought in France and Belgium in 1940, nine took part in the air defence of Britain, one fought in Greece and Crete, sixteen in North Africa, seven in Sicily, nineteen in Italy, eight in North West Europe, and one in Greece in 1944-45.

Re-formed in 1947, they suffered a constant process of amalgamation until the Territorial Army was abolished in 1967 and the remaining units were converted into the new Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve.

Date
21st London
22nd London
23rd London
24th London
1908
 
1914
 
1916
 
1920
 
1922
 
1927
 
1935
 
1937
 
1938
 
1939
 
1947
 
1956
 
1961
1st Surrey (South London) Corps East Surrey Regiment
     Formed
21st (County of London) Bn The London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles)
 
Formed 2nd and 3rd line battalions for the 1914 - 18 War
 
Became a Territorial battalion of The East Surrey Regiment
 
21st (County of London) Bn The London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles)
 
21st London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles)
 
 
 
35th (First Surrey Rifles) Anti-Aircraft Bn RE
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3rd Volunteer Bn The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
     Formed
22nd (County of London) Bn The London Regiment (The Queen's)
 
Formed 2nd and 3rd line battalions for the 1914 - 18 War
 
Became a Territorial battalion of The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
 
22nd (County of London) Bn The London Regiment (The Queen's)
 
22nd London Regiment (The Queen's)
 
 
 
 
 
6th (Bermondsey) Bn The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4th Volunteer Bn The East Surrey Regiment
     Formed
23rd (County of London) Bn The London Regiment
 
Formed 2nd and 3rd line battalions for the 1914 - 18 War
 
Became a Territorial battalion of The East Surrey Regiment
 
23rd (County of London) Bn The London Regiment
 
23rd London Regiment
 
23rd London Regiment (The East Surrey Regiment)
 
 
 
7th (23rd London) Bn The East Surrey Regiment
 
42nd Bn Royal Tank Corp
 

42nd Bn Royal Tank Regt

48nd Bn Royal Tank Regt

 
42nd Bn Royal Tank Regt
 
23rd London Regiment
 
4th Bn The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment (on amalgamation with 6th Bn The East Surrey Regiment)
4th Volunteer Bn The Queen's (West Surrey Regiment)
     Formed
22nd (County of London) Bn The London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles)
 
Formed 2nd and 3rd line battalions for the 1914 - 18 War
 
Became a Territorial battalion of The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
 
24th (County of London) Bn The London Regiment (The Queen's)
 
24th London Regiment (The Queen's)
 
 
 
 
 
7th (Southwark) Bn The Queen's Royal Regiment
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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© The Queen's Royal Surrey Regimental Association.