Sporting Record and Military Achievements
The East Surrey Regiment
The Battalion had a good 1949-50 hockey season, of 12 matches played 11 were won and 1 lost. Goals scored by the team were 77 at a cost of only 8 against.
Back home in England, and stationed at Barnard Castle, Durham some good Regimental cricket fixtures were played on away games. In a match against the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst on 7th June at Kingston The East Surrey Regiment lost by only 4 runs (82-78). Against The Queen's Royal Regiment at Kingston they were winners by 127 runs (245118)and replaying them at Guildford on 26th June were even more successful by 154 runs (228-74). In the former match against the Queen's, Pte Tatton scored 151 not out as well as taking 5 wickets for 9 runs.
In 1950-51, at Barnard Castle, strenuous efforts were made to restore sporting activities and rebuild teams. Lack of facilities were often an obstacle but not always insurmountable. Cricket and rugger were greatly limited but the Battalion Football XI managed to train on the two pitches available and to participate in matches in the Catterick District Football League. Results were not dramatic. Out of 18 league games played only 5 were won and 1 drawn, but nevertheless it was encouraging to know that efforts were being made to re-model a team. The hockey team, finding no official field available at Barnard Castle, hired one from a local farmer and soon created a reasonable pitch. They also created a good asphalt pitch by regaining the square in the married families camp at Stainton and made a further six-a-side asphalt pitch behind the cinema. (Presumably with such good "vocational training" the members were able to gain good jobs with construction companies on return to "civvy street"). Their efforts paid off. They won the Northumbrian District Cup and the 2nd Infantry Brigade Cup by defeating The Border Regiment 5-4 after extra time, and then went on to defeat by 4 goals to nil the 10 Wireless Training Squadron, Royal Signals, Leicester in the semi-final of the Northern Command Cup. Hard training at boxing under Sgt Connolly resulted in the Battalion team reaching the final of the Northumbrian District Competition on 13th December 1950 where they eventually lost to the 1st Bn The Cheshire Regiment after a night of good clean boxing and an exciting finish.
Hardy cross-country types were to be found in strict training in September 1950, in all winds and weathers. On 7th February 1951, they competed in the Northern Command Championship at Barnard Castle where, running in three packs, they came second to the 1st Bn The Cheshire Regiment.
A basket-ball team, under the guidance of SSI Wood DCM, assisted by Cpls Mattews and Nolan was formed and won the Northumbrian District (northern sector) Challenge Cup after defeating their old adversaries the 1st Bn The Cheshire Regiment and the 1st Bn The Border Regiment.
At Shorncliffe in July, the 1st Battalion played cricket matches against Hythe CC and Shepway Stragglers, winning the first match by 5 runs and the second by 15. The Inter-Company Cricket League was won by HQ Company, Black Wing. Restricted training due to other commitments resulted in disappointing (though not unexpected) athletic performances at the Home Counties District Championship at Shorncliffe on 3rd and 4th July.
The hockey team had a better season. The 1st XI played 24 matches of which they won 19 and lost 5. The 2nd XI played 4, winning 1, losing 1 and drawing 2. Capt E B G Clowes and C H Mercer and Sgt G W Whitworth qualified as Army Umpires Class III.
The 1st Battalion was in Tripoli where among new arrivals who were welcomed was the new Padre, the Rev H McLelland who as well as his ecclesiastic abilities "performed with prowess on the rugger field". Of 10 matches played the team (possibly with "Divine Intervention") won all, with 174 points for and only 22 against.
In the Athletics sphere 2/Lt D J N Johnson was showing himself to be a distinguished performer. On the 4th June at the Army Athletic Championships he won the 440 yards in 49. 9 seconds, equalling the record and on the 2nd July at the Inter Services Championship he won the 440 yards in 50. 4 seconds, making himself a possible starter for the Olympic Games at Helsinki.
A successful boxer in the 6th Battalion was L/Cpl W J E Onions who, following successes in the 44th Division and Eastern Command contests, went on to win the Bantam-Weight Championship of the Territorial Army.
The Regimental Journal of May 1953, was pleased to report that Lt J M Baker had been awarded his Hockey Blue at Oxford. Arriving at Derna on 4th October 1952, the 1st Battalion found that sporting facilities were poor due to bad pitches and long distances between Units. Of 12 football matches played 7 were won and 5 were lost. Later stationed at Tel-el-Kebir, and on a better pitch, the hockey team defeated The Highland Light Infantry 6-0, the outstanding player being Sgt Fordyce-Harvey.
On the 28th and 29th April 1953, at the 19th Infantry Brigade Rifle Meeting at Quassassin Range, the 1st Battalion won the Inter-Unit Championship. 2/Lt P J Dorey was Brigade Rifle Shot and was runner-up to CSM G Hughes who was Brigade Rifle and Bren Shot. CSM Hughes was also third in the aggregate score for all weapons. In the Canal North Inter-Unit Boxing Competition the Battalion team reached the semi-finals before being defeated by the 1st Bn The Parachute Regiment. Lt Froud, who knocked his opponent out, and Pte Stammers were very good winners.
Former National Service officer, and distinguished 1st Battalion runner, Derek Johnson, was obviously continuing his prowess on return to "civvy street" as the November 1954 Newsletter congratulated him on winning the final of the men's 880 yards for England at the Empire Games in the record time of 1 min 50. 7 seconds.
After an eighteen months tour of duty in Tel-el-Kebir the 1st Battalion was due to leave for home in October 1954, and to reach Southampton some ten days later. On arrival in the UK they were stationed at Shorncliffe where efforts were quickly made to re-start cricketing activities. New equipment was obtained and the football pitch was converted into a cricket ground but practice was limited due to other duties and out of 15 matches played 7 were won and 8 were lost.
Editorial comment in the Regimental Journal of May 1955 was pleased to record sporting successes achieved since the 1st Battalion's return to England. They had won the Eastern Command boxing and reached the final of the Eastern Command hockey. Additionally the Depot hockey team had won the London District Minor Units Cup. On 3rd February 1955, the 1st Battalion cross country team competed in the Home Counties District Championship at Canterbury and came second out of fifteen teams entered.
At boxing the Battalion won the Eastern Command Championship by defeating The Royal Army Pay Corps (Foots Cray) 8-3. Heavy defeat unfortunately followed in the semifinals of the Army Boxing Championships in the UK where the 4th Bn the Royal Army Ordnance Corps were victors by 10-1 despite excellent performances by the Battalion competitors
In the semi-final of the Eastern Command Services hockey competition victory was secured 5-1 over the 12th School of Military Engineering on a neutral pitch at Canterbury.
The Depot entered a hockey team for the Eastern Command Minor Units Competition and at the final, held at Burton Court, Chelsea, they emerged victorious after defeating the RAOC Depot, Feltham 6-2. The 6th Battalion were able to record an individual distinction when Pte M Pratt represented the Territorial Army against the Army at hockey on 5th March 1955.
Some good Regimental cricket matches were played in June 1955. Against The Queen's Royal Regiment at Guildford the East Surreys were victorious by ten wickets, while against the Royal Marines (Portsmouth) at Kingston they were again winners by nine wickets. Not so fortunate at Camberley against the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Second Eleven they lost by 211 runs.
The Depot football team obtained some good results. Out of 18 matches played, 14 were won, 1 drawn and 3 lost, of the 3 lost, 2 were against the RAF Chessington.
In BAOR the 1st Battalion boxing team were on form. Having won the Brigade and Divisional Championships they reached the semi-final of the BAOR championships where they were defeated by the 1st Bn The Royal Ulster Rifles. The team were unfortunate to be short of the hard - hitting Pte Jury who had broken his hand against an opponent's jaw in the earlier Divisional finals. (The effect on the jaw is not recorded). Pte Cowd, Welter-Weight, went through the whole season without a defeat.
The Depot football team were continuing their successes, securing victories against the 3rd Bn Grenadier Guards and 2nd Bn Coldstream Guards in the London District Challenge Cup matches. The hockey team had some enjoyable games. A considerable achievement was the winning of the London District Minor Units Hockey Championship for the second season running, the final match being played at Burton Court, Chelsea against the Depot of The Middlesex Regiment with a result of 5-1. An outstanding player in both football and hockey was Sgt Fordyce-Harvey.
The young "soldiers of the future", the cadets, were proving themselves worthy of note in shooting spheres according to the May 1956 Journal. The 4th/5th (C) Battalion won the rifle shooting event at the Home Counties Meeting at Hythe where L/Cpl M A Willcox achieved the highest individual score. The County of Surrey Annual Meeting at Bisley brought an avalanche of success when the team carried off the John Perring Trophy, the Welsh Guards Trophy, the Surrey ACF Shooting Trophy, the Jeudwine Trophy and the Thorn Trophy. Tribute was rightly paid to Lt J Rapley both for training the team and his excellent care and maintenance of the rifles. The 1st Battalion BAOR 1 were heavily committed to training which necessarily limited sporting activities. Only 5 cricket matches were played of which 4 were won and 1 lost. A "Potted Sports Meeting" was held at Soltau to try and assess the Battalion's athletics potentiality and an Inter-Company Athletics Meeting was held at the Police Station in Brunswick where C Company proved to be the champions.
The Depot shooting team were scoring successes in 1956. At the Surrey Rifle Association Annual Meeting the Willoughby Trophy, open to all Surrey Units including RAF and Service teams, was won by the Training Company "A" team, defeating the 4th/5th Bn East Surrey Cadets who were described as "very agile". The Bellhaven Cup, open to all comers and not restricted to Surrey Units, was again won by the Training Company "A" team who defeated the B Company in the final. In the London District Rifle Meeting at Pirbright the Depot team won the Dewar Cup. This was only the third time since 1920 that the trophy had been outside the Brigade of Guards.
The 1st Battalion, still in BAOR, had continued a hot pursuit of the BAOR Boxing Championship but it again eluded them when they were defeated 5-6 in the semi-final round by 30 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment RA. The hitherto undefeated Pte Cowd maintained his reputation by knocking out his opponent in the first round.
Rugby football was successful, only 2 games being lost out of 10 played, but unfortunately there was early defeat in the Army Cup by 26 Field Engineer Regiment who had similarly triumphed in the previous year.
|Depot The East Surrey Regiment,
Cpl P C Thomas, winner of
the London District, Young
Soldiers Challenge Cup.
Hockey enjoyed a much better season, finishing up as both Brigade and Divisional Champions, 15 matches had been won out of 17 played, with the team scoring 92 goals and conceding only 14, Sgt Fordyce-Harvey was the skillful leader of the pack. The team reached the semi-final of the Army Cup, played at Herford on 16th February 1957, where they lost 1-2 to 18 Army Group Signals Regiment.
At football the Depot team were defeated in the Second Round of the London District Challenge Cup by Twickenham Postal 3-1. The team won the Second Round of the Charity Cup defeating Jobs Athletic 2-1.
The Regimental Journal of November 1957, mentions a very little known connection with a historical sporting event. The famous Beecher's Brook fence in the Grand National Racecourse is named after Capt Martin William Beecher who took a tumble there on 26th February 1839, during the first official Grand national, and who was the son of Capt Becher of the 31st Regiment, later The East Surrey Regiment.
Athletics were obviously thriving in the 1st Battalion team for they won the Brigade, Divisional and BAOR Inter-Unit team championships for the year and came second in the Army Championships.
The cricket team had varying results. On the 17th July 1957, they defeated the 1st Bn The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment by 36 runs and on the 20th July they were victorious over the 2nd Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery by 96 runs. An exciting game against the Brigade Commanders XI during the Brigade Cricket Week on 22nd July saw the team beaten to a draw by the clock. A formidable opponent in this event was Cpl Coombes, 2nd Royal Horse Artillery who made 90 not out.
On the 27th January the 1st Battalion left Brunswick, after two and a half years in Germany, to return to England and Bury St Edmunds where they soon made their sporting presence felt. The boxing team achieved a distinctive performance in the Eastern Command finals when they defeated 57 HAA Regiment RA by winning all eleven fights with eight KO's, establishing a new Army Record. In the Army Cup the team reached the quarter-finals before being defeated by 37 Training Regiment.
The Regimental hockey team won the Eastern Command Hockey Cup 1958, by defeating 10 Trader Regiment RE 3-0. In Athletics the team won the 3rd Division Cup as well as the Eastern Command Cup which they had last held in 1958.
Shooting results were disappointing in some team respects but the Battalion came second in the Young Soldiers' Team Match at the Divisional Rifle Meeting at Colchester on 28th - 30th May 1958. Victory went to the Manchesters, 98-88. At Bisley 2/Lt Austin won the Young Officers' Cup for the aggregate of all scores in the Queen's Medal. He also came second in the Bisley Cup and NRA Silver Medal. He was also chosen to shoot in the Methuen cup representing the English Regiments team which won the competition for the first time in over fifty years.
Having won the Eastern Command Hockey Final, the Regimental team entered for the Army stage of the competition and reached the UK Final where they lost 2-1 to School of Artillery, Larkhill.
The young "soldiers of the future" were maintaining their shooting reputation in 1958. At the Surrey RA Inter-Services Cadet Meeting the 4th/5th (C) Bn The East Surrey Regiment swept the board, winning every team and individual first prize. They did the same thing in the Surrey ACF Meeting.
Gradual running down of Permanent Staff and Holdees resulted in the Depot's reluctant withdrawal from the Kingston and District Football League. The hockey team, short of manpower due to the sudden cessation of National Service intakes, similarly had to withdraw from the London District Mid-Week League.
The fact that the Regiment still retained a distinguished boxing presence was demonstrated by the victory of Cpl Fencham, 1st Bn The East Surrey Regiment over L/Cpl Mallinson, 1st Coldstream Guards at the final of the Eastern Command stage of the Army Individual Boxing Championships at Shorncliffe on 6th March 1959. Fencham knocked Mallinson down several times before finally knocking him out in the second round. Another outstanding sporting individual was L/Cpl G Will who won the Army Golf Championships at St Andrews. With amalgamation drawing ever nearer the Regimental sportsmen seemed determined to go out in style. The 1st Battalion Athletics team reached the Army Finals in 1959 where they achieved third place, the result being influenced to a great extent by the misfortune in the 4x220 yards race when Cpl Webb dropped to last place on account of a torn ham string.
Shooting brought several successes. At the Brigade Rifle Meeting the 1st Battalion won the Rifle Section Competition and 2/Lt N Suffield-Jones obtained the highest individual score in the Sterling sub-machine gun competition. At Bisley the Battalion shot well to reach 24th place in the Army Championship. Sgt Bromige won the Roupell Cup for the first stage of the Army Hundred, thus repeating the performance of 2/Lt Austin the previous year.
To show that the art of the foot soldier had not been lost in an era of increasing mechanisation, the 6th Battalion entered a team for the first time in the 1959 Nijmegen March in Holland. Intensive training took place with the team being urged on in their efforts by RSM Jackson, the PSI's and the competing CSM Henman.
The actual event was a four day march across Holland. Climatic conditions were hot and road conditions varied. At the start 14,000 people, military and civilian alike, trudged off along the same road, singing and in high spirits. By the end of the third day 3,000 had dropped out but the Surreys were not among the "defaulters". On the last day of the march the team halted three miles outside Njimegen, changed their marching kit for No. 1 dress, and then marched in in triumph behind the band and drums of The Inniskilling Fusiliers. Collection of a well earned handsome team plaque and individual medals ended a worthwhile, commendable and prestigious effort.
But for the Regiment the march into amalgamation and into history was about to begin. The sporting talents of The Queen's Royal Regiment and The East Surrey Regiment were soon to be merged and any new laurels gained would be in the name of the newly formed The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment. A worthy future was to be created. The sporting and military achievements of the two famous Infantry Regiments of Surrey were not over but were to continue.