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The Cambridgeshire Regiment

Volunteer Force
Chronological History
The Regimental Collection
Further Reading
Cambridgeshire Regiment Awards 1914-1918

The Volunteer Force

The Cambridgeshire Regiment traces its history to the formation of the Cambridgeshire Rifle Volunteer Corps in the year 1860. The County was one of the first to raise its own Volunteer Force and, in fact, a volunteer semi-military body had already been formed in the previous year under the guise of the Cambridge Rifle Club, which was later assimilated en bloc into the 1st Cambridgeshire Rifle Volunteer Corps - the RVC. In all, ten separate RVCs were raised in Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely during 1860, each having their own uniform, some grey and others green. The first combined ceremonial parade of these RVCs took place at Wisbech in 1863 on the occasion of the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

In time, the various Corps were amalgamated and became the 1st Cambridgeshire RVC. A standard uniform was adopted, consisting of a scarlet tunic and dark blue facings and silver lace. Usually, such facings are only permitted to a Royal Regiment and it is probable that their adoption was due to the influence of the Duke of Clarence, who took a close interest in the unit.

The Regiment's long association with The Suffolk Regiment began in 1887 when the 1st Cambridgeshire RVC became the 3rd (Cambridgeshire) Volunteer Battalion The Suffolk Regiment. Since that time the regular army Permanent Staff have been provided by The Suffolk Regiment, with the exception of the post-war period 1947-1956 when The Regiment was part of the Royal Artillery. (Since 1959 the Permanent Staff have come progressively from the East Anglian and the Royal Anglian Regiments.)

During the South African War, in response to an appeal for members of the Volunteer Force to offer themselves for active service, a contingent of 3 officers (including the Padre) and 43 Other Ranks joined the Volunteer Service Company, The Suffolk Regiment. The party saw much heavy fighting in its service and earned the Regiment's first Battle Honour 'South Africa 1900-1901".

Unknown group of Cambridgeshire Regiment Soldiers during World War 1

Chronological History

1860-1872 The Cambridgeshire Rifle Volunteer Corps:
1st Cambridgeshire; 2nd, Wisbech; 3rd, Cambridge Univeristy; 4th, Whittlesey
5th, March; 6th, Ely; 7th. Upwell (disbanded 1872); 8th, Cambridge;
9th, Newmarket; 10th, Soham (disbanded 1865)
1872-1880 1st Administrative Battalion Cambridgeshire Rifle Volunteers
1880-1887 1st Cambridgeshire Battalion Rifle Volunteer Corps
1887-1908 3rd (Cambridgeshire) Volunteer Battalion The Suffolk Regiment
1908-1914 1st Battalion The Cambridgeshire Regiment (TF)
1914-1919 The Cambridgeshire Regiment (TF):
1/1st Battalion; 2/1st Battalion (disbanded 1918); 3/1st Battalion - 1915-1917; 4/1st Battalion - 1915-1917; The Depot
1920-1945 The Cambridgeshire Regiment (TA)
1st Battalion;
2nd Battalion - raised 1939
1947-1955 629 (The Cambridgeshire Regiment) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment RA (TA)
1955-1956 629 (The Cambridgeshire Regiment) Parachute Light Regiment RA (TA)
1956-1961 1st Battalion The Cambridgeshire Regiment (TA)
1961-1971 The Suffolk & Cambridgeshire Regiment (TF)
1971-1992 D (Cambridgeshire) Company, 6th (Volunteer) Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment
1992-1995 3 (Cambridgeshire) Company, 5th (Volunteer) Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment
1995 - March 19999 D (Cambridgeshire) Company, 6th (Volunteer) Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment

Note: The forerunner of The Cambridgeshire Regiment (TA), the 30th Foot (Cambridgeshire) had its origin in 1702 and served with distinction in most campaigns of the 18th and 19th centuries until 1881 when it became 1st Battalion The East Lancashire Regiment, now the Queen's Lancashire Regiment. There were also Volunteer Corps in the County during the Napoleonic Wars. Not withstanding these points, the continuous history of the Regiment begins in 1860.

The Cambridgeshire Regiment

Actions
1900-1901 Boer War - South Africa
  World War 1
1915-1917 Ypres
1915-1918 France & Flanders
1916-1918 Somme
1916 Ancre
1918 Albert
1918 Bapaume
  World War 2
1940-45 Singapore
1942 Malaya

There is a site that provides information on all formations - battalions, brigades, divisions etc, including the Cambs Rgt, who were in the 27th, 39th and 12th Divs in the First World War.

Second World War

Order of Battle
18th Division
Singapore 1942

Officer commanding: Major-General M B Beckworth-Smith.

Royal Artillery: 88th, 118th, 135th & 148th Field Rgts, 85th & 125th Anti-Tank Rgts.

Royal Engineers: 287, 288 & 560 Field Coys, 251 Field Park Coy.

Royal Army Service Corps: Headquarters, 53rd, 54th, & 55th Brigade Group Coys; 18th Division Troops Coy, 16th Mobile Bath Unit.

Royal Army Ordance Corps: 18th Division Ordnance Workshops, 18th Division Field Park.

Royal Army Medical Corps: 186th, 197th & 198th Field Ambulances.

53rd Infantry Brigade: Brigadier C L Duke
Headquarters
5th Royal Norfolk Rgt, 6th Royal Norfolk Rgt, 2nd Cambridgeshire Rgt.

54th Infantry Brigade: Brigadier E H W Backhouse
Headquarters
4th Royal Norfolk Rgt, 4th Suffolk Rgt, 5th Suffolk Rgt.

55th Infantry Brigade: Brigadier T H Massey-Beresford
Headquarters
5th Beds and Herts Rgt, 1/5th Sherwood Foresters, 1st Cambridgeshire Rgt.

18th Divisional Troops

9th Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.

Recce Corps (5th Loyals).

Order of Battle
18th Infantry Division
3 September 1939.

HQ Royal Artillery
105th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Army Field Rgt, RA (TA)
HQ, 417th (Bedford) Bty, at Bedford.
418th (Bedford) Bty, at Biggleswade.
135th Field Regiment, RA (TA)
HQ, 344th (Hitchin) Bty, at Hitchin.
336th (Northampton) Bty, at Peterborough.
148th Field Regiment, RA (TA)
HQ, 420th (Bedford) Bty, at Luton.
419th (Bedford) Bty, at Dunstable.
65th Anti-Tank Regiment, RA (TA)
HQ, 257th-260th Btys, at Bury St. Edmunds.

HQ Royal Engineers at Cambridge.
287th Field Coy, RE, at Cambridge.
288th Field Coy, RE, at Norwich.
251st (East Anglia) Field Park Coy, RE, at Norwich.
18th Divisional Signals.

53rd Infantry Brigade (Embodied by 161st Infantry Brigade)

54th Infantry Brigade
4th Royal Norfolk Regiment: at Norwich
4th Suffolk Regiment: at Ipswich
5th Suffolk Regiment: at Bury St. Edmunds

55th Infantry Brigade
5th Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment: at Bedford.
1st Cambridgeshire Regiment: at Cambridge.
2nd Cambridgeshire Regiment: at Wisbech.

The Regimental Collection

The Regiment's Collection of its treasures has never been comprehensively displayed, principally through a lack of suitable secure space. It is now on show in the Land Warfare Hall of the Imperial War Museum at Duxford airfield, through the generosity of the Trustees of the IWM, alongside the Royal Anglian Regiment Museum. The Collection also has a display in the Suffolk Regiment Museum at Bury St Edmunds. There are items of Regimental interest in the Fly Museum hut, generally, they are not part of the Collection.

The Regiment's Archives are with Cambridgeshire Heritage at the County Record Office at Shire Hall, Cambridge. Would-be researchers should telephone the County Archivist on 01223 717281 for an appointment.

he Collection, although well-established at Duxford, has a continuing need for funds, to maintain standards and to be able to acquire further memorabilia which may become available on the open market.

Any Visitor wishing to make a donation towards the costs of the Collection may do so in one of two ways:

  • By hand to the Royal Anglian Regiment's Museum Attendant.
  • By post to the Collection at the Headquarters, Denny End Road, Cambridge, CBS 9QU.

Cheques should be made payable to:

    'The Royal Anglian Regiment Museum Trust (Cambridgeshire)'
    - or for brevity:
    'R Anglian Museum Trust (Cambs)'.


Further Reading

'A Guide to the Cambridgeshire Regiment' is available ISBN 0 9531942 1 3 © The Cambridgeshire Regiment Collection, 1998.

'SOLDIERS DIED IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-19 - The Cambridgeshire Regiment' is available ISBN 1 871505 77 1 © J. B. Hayward & Son


Related Links

The History of The Cambridgeshire Regiment - Written by Patrick Macdonald

Last updated 30 January, 2014

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