Huntingdonshire Military Background

31st (Huntingdonshire) Regiment of Foot

  1702-1712 1st June 1702. Regiment raised as a Villier's Marine Regiment and served as such for the next ten years playing a vital part in the War of Spanish Succession. At the end of 1702 Villier's Marine consisted of firty officers and 793 other ranks.
  1703 21st July 1703 - Gibraltar captured by the Marines.
  1703 6th December 1703 - Villiers drowned near Malta succeeded by his Lieutenant-Colonel, Luttrell.
  1704/5 Engaged under Colonel Luttrell at the capture and defence of Gibraltar
  1705 Death of Luttrell - succeeded by Joshua Churchill.
  1707 Involved in the assault on Toulon.
  1709 Port Royal, Nova Scotia
  1711 Churchill sold his commission - 1st March 1711 command of Marines assumed by Sir Harry Goring. Under Goring's command the Regiment of marines became foot soldiers (see 1715). It was not until the 1750's that the numerical precedence was introduced.
  1715 Officer's commissioned as soldiers of their new unit - 1st June 1715. Sent to Scotland because of the 1st Jacobite rising but were not directly involved.
1742 War of the Austrian Succession - part of the 16,000 strong force that left England in May 1742.
1743 11th June 1743 - consisted of a amjor, eight captains, seven lieutenants, seven enisgnes, a chaplain, adjutant, quartermaster, surgeon and mate, twenty-ficve sergeants, fifteen drummers and 574 able bodied private soldiers.
1749 Lord Henry Beauclerk succeeded as as colonel of the Regiment by Colonel Henry Holmes.
  1750 Nicknamed the Young Buffs, because of facing color they were mistaken by George II for 3rd Foot who greeted them with "Bravo Buffs" at Dettingen. On being told that they were not the 'Old Buffs' but the 31st Foot, he replied "then bravo Young Buffs."
  1751 July 1751 - new regulations in the Army ensured a uniformity of clothing, standardised the design of regimental colours and regularised the establishment of each regiment. The facings of the 31st were duly confirmed as buff. These regulations were published while the 31st were in Minorca.
  1752-1759 Regiment in Scotland, mostly in Glasgow.
  1754 Renamed the 31st Foot
1756 August 1756 the 70th Foot raised initially as the 2nd Battalion, 31st Foot.
1758 The 2nd Battalion became officially the 70th Foot and independent of the 31st.
1759-1765 Service in England.
  1765 Sent to America under the command of Lt-Col Walsh. Pensacola, West Florida - the regiment suffered much from yellow fever. From Florida they were sent to St Vicent where they were faced with an insurrection with the Caribs.
1765-1774 The Caribs were devoted to the French and proved menacing to the British sugar planters. By 1774 the insurrection had been put down. The climate had taken its toll of the regiment and about 110 men from all ranks had died of disease and a further 428 were invalided.
  1776-1787 The battalion companies helped to garrison Quebec during the War of Independence. The flank companies served in the operations under General Burgoyne, and were with the force that surrendered at Saratoga on 17th October 1776. After eleven years' service in Canada, the regiment returned home in 1787
  1782 Renamed the Huntingdonshire Regiment
1793 The main body of the 31st formed part of the 6,000-man expeditionary force of British, Austrians and Prussians which was sent to support the Dutch Army under the agreement of the Triple Alliance of 1788. The flank companies sailed from Cork to Barbados to bolster the British Army serving in the West Indies, here they faced the epidemics of yellow fever again. In operations on Martinique against the French the 31st flank companies suffered 350 casualties either killed or wounded. Battle Honours for Martinue were not granted to the 31st until 1909.
1795 April 1795 - 31st flank companies among the force that captured St Lucia before moving on to Guadeloupe on 10th April 1795. Here a fierce and protracted struggle took place for the forts of Fleur d'Epée and Morne Masquotte on April 11th. Basseterre, the principal town of Guadeloupe, was captured on 21st April 1795. From here the 31st flank companies had a brief and uneventful expedition to Wlacheren and Flushing before joining the rest of the Regiment to attempt the recapture of the remaining French possesions in the West Indies.
  1796 Although the 31st had been increased in size to 1,000 men gales scattered the forces and on 17th March 1796 a small number of the regiment consisting of untried conscripts landed in Barbados, the rest were scattered across the Caribbean in various havens. The force in Barbados was no match for the seasoned French opposition and losses were very heavy. The remainder of the 31st were in invloved in the capture of St Lucia on 24th May 1796. From this point disease struck and the Regiment was losing on average 16 men a day.
1799 A three-fold attack on France was planned to take place, the Duke of York from Holland, the Austrians from Savoy and the Russians through Switzerland. This plan was an abissmal failure. The 31st advanced south-west from their landings on the Texel and at at Helder the Army was initially successful, the 31st distinguishing itself with the attack on Bergen and sustained several casualties.
1800-1815

July 1800 - The Regiment was sent to take part in a projected raid of the coast of Breast at Quiberon Bay but this did not materialise. They then accompanied Abercromby to Alexandria. They were frustrated to 5 months confinement to ships in the Mediterranean. They suffered heavy casualties in skirmishes at ferrol and Vigo, and served in Malta and Minorca. Following this they were removed to Jersey.

They then returned home in time to help line the route for Nelson's state funeral at St Paul's. Then then left tp take part in the defence of Siciliy, occupy Ajaccio, assault the French occupying forces near genoa abd finally secure Naples until the return of the exiled King Ferdinand IV.

1805 The second Battalion of 31st raised. This unit, after premlinary service at home and in the Channel Islands, was the Huntingdonshire Regiment's contribution to Wellesley's army in the Peninsular. The 2/31st had an effective strength of 784 men of all ranks.
1809 27th July 1809 - 2/31st as part of Major-General Fraser Mackenzie's division met French Marshal Victor's corps in a severe skirmish where Mackenzie fell back to take a firm position in wooded ground about a mile from the south bank of the Portina. The 2/31st have been singled out for its contribution to the skirmish on the eve of Talavera, and again for its conduct on the following day. The battalion lost 250 men killed.
1810 This was a year of marching, probing and consolidation rather than actual fighting.
1811 May 1811 - Involved in the attack at Albeura River. The death toll of the 2/31st was 155 men out of 398.
Private 31st Regiment of Foot - 1815
Private
31st Regiment of Foot
circa 1815

1813 Vittoria - Despite Wellington's success against Marmont's army at Salamanca in July, the year of 1812 ended in bitter disappointment for the British. However, a year later Wellington's series of brilliant manoeuvres threw the French onto the defensive on all fronts, culminating in the final victory at Vittoria, 90,000 men and 90 guns attacking in 4 mutually supporting columns. The French centre gave way and both flanks were turned, their army finally breaking in flight towards Pamplona. Any French hopes of maintaining their position in the Peninsular were crushed forever. On 7 October the British set foot on the 'sacred soil' of' Napoleon's France. There is a book on the victory entitled "Vittoria 1813 Wellington Sweeps the French from Spain". The 2/31st took a distinguished part. The 2nd Battalion were present at most of the remaining battles. They were involved when Soult in a desparate attempt tried to relieve Pampona he was held back by the 2nd Battalion Huntingdons alone for several hours. The Regiment added Nivelle and the passage of the Nive to their Battle Honours before Soult made another stand. The 2/31st were involved in the counterattack at Mouguerre.
1814 The Light Company distinguished itself at Garris on 15 February 1814. The Regiment's last engagement under Wellington was at Toulouse. With the war apparently over the 2nd Battalion was disbanded on 24th October 1814. The Regimental Colour was presented to Major-General John Byng.
1825 Formed the 1st Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment.
1842 31st involved in the revolt in Afghanistan. Led by Lt-col Bolton they were placed in the 4th Brigade. They were involved in a short, successful campaign against the Shinwaris who had been conducting a guerilla war against the British. The most severe fighting was at Amzina. They continued on to Kabul where the rear of the column was ttacked by the Afghans and the 31st suffered heavily. They formed the advanced gurad and carried the heights above the Khoord Kabul Pass. The column reached Kabul on the 15th September. During the Regiment's return march the men suffered much from disease, sniper fire, trouble from the local Sikhs, and worst of all cholera. Queen Victoria, on hearing of their conduct in Afghanistan and the capture of Kabul ordered that the battle honour 'Cabool, 1842' be borne on the Regimental Colour.
1845-1846

The Sikh Wars saw the 31st involved in four distinct battles at Mudki, Ferozeshal, Aliwal and Sobraon. Known as the SUTLEJ CAMPAIGN.

Resulting from the Battle of Mudki - 18th December 1845 - Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Bolton, CB - 31st Foot - died of wounds, 4th January 1846. Aged 54. Lieutenant John Brenchley - 31st Foot - died of wounds, 18th December 1845. Aged 20. Lieutenant Henry William Hart - 31st Foot - killed in action. Aged 23. Captain William Gibson Willies - 31st Foot - died of wounds, 24th December 1845. Aged 49. Assistant-Surgeon Robert Beresford Gahan - 9th Foot (attached 31st Foot) - died of wounds, 29th December 1845. Aged 32. Grave at Ferozepore - "In memory of R. Beresford Gahan Assist Surgeon H.M. 9th Regt Foot. He was severely wounded at the Battle of Moodkhee 18th Decr 1845. And on the 29th of the month at Ferozepore fell asleep in Jesus. This last tribute of respect has been erected by his attached and devoted widow."

Resulting from the Battle of Ferozeshal - 21st-22nd December 1845 - Major George Baldwin - 31st Foot - died of wounds, 30th December 1845. Aged 53. Lieutenant William Bernard - 31st Foot - killed in action - 21st December 1845. Aged 21.

The soldiers who died in the Sutlej Campaign are listed separately.



Officer
31st Regiment of Foot
circa 1846
1846

10th February 1846 - Sobraon - Led the attack against the Sikhs. As the advance wavered against the overwhelming odds Sergeant Bernard McCabe picked up the Regimental Colour and placed it on the highest point of the Sikh entrenchment. The 31st, along with the 50th, rallied and the Sikhs fled, leaving 10,000 casualties behind them.

Resulting from the Battle of Sobraon - 10th February 1846 - Ensign William Jones - 31st Foot - died of wounds, 10th February 1846. Aged 36. Shot while carrying the Regimental Colour. Lieutenant Charles Hill Grant Tritton - 31st Foot - died of wounds, 10th February 1846. Aged 19.

The 31st embarked for England on 2nd and 3rd August 1846.

1855

11th February 1855 - 31st stationed at Corfu. In the same year the Crimean War broke out. The 31st strength had been brought up to 1,000 men with a draft of seven officers and 306 other ranks. 15th May 1855 - the 31st emabrked for Balaclava where, ten days later, they relieved the 79th Highlanders. The 31st were used to plug the gaps from one brigade to the next. During the Assault on Sebastopol a detachment captured the enemy parapet. The Regiment added 'Sevastopol' to its Colours, their only action in this arena. Then were then assigned to Gozo, a Maltese island and then moved to King William's Town on the Cape of Good Hope. They were only here for a short period of time.

Officers killed in the Crimea - Captain Charles Anderson - killed at Sebastopol - 4th September 1855. Buried on Cathcart's Hill - 'Sacred to the memory of Captain C. Anderson 31st Regiment who was killed in the trenches whilst acting as Assistant Engineer on the 5th September 1855. Erected by the officers of Royal Engineers as a token of their esteem.' - Captain F. Simes Attree - killed at Sebastopol - 8th September 1855. Buried on Cathcart's Hill - 'Sacred to the memory of Captain F. Simes Attree of the 31st Regiment who was killed in the trenches on the 8th September 1855. Aged 27 years. This stone is erected by his brother officers by whom he was beloved and respected.'

Graves recorded by Captain John Colborne (60th Rifles) and Captain Frederic Brine (Royal Engineers) in 1858 from the Crimea - "Sacred to the memory of Private TIMOTHY FARRELL late of the 31st Regiment who departed this life on the 13 May 1856 Aged 33. Erected by his brother, 97th Regt."

Men killed in the Crimea

 

Corporal

F.S. Atrell

killed at Sebastopol 7 September 1855

2997

Colour Sergeant

Thomas Behan

killed at Sebastopol 4 August 1855

2815

Private

Thomas Gilman

killed at Sebastopol 29 July 1855

3811

Private

Michael Glennon

killed at Sebastopol 7 July 1855

3378

Private

James Goon

killed at Sebastopol 17 August 1855

1937

Private

John Hickey

killed at Sebastopol 4 September 1855

3601

Private

John James

killed at Sebastopol 6 September 1855

 

Private

Thomas Jones

killed at Sebastopol 15 July 1855

3554

Private

Benjamin Lang

killed at Sebastopol 7 July 1855

2984

Private

Philip Larkin

killed at Sebastopol 27 July 1855

3435

Private

Michael McIlroy

killed at Sebastopol 7 July 1855

3404

Private

Edward Neil

killed at Sebastopol 13 August 1855

3967

Private

Edward Neile

killed at Sebastopol 17 August 1855

2843

Private

Henry Oaten

killed at Sebastopol 5 August 1855

2444

Private

William Potter

killed at Sebastopol 17 August 1855

3703

Private

Henry Richards

killed at Sebastopol 17 August 1855

2990

Sergeant

John Thompson

killed at Sebastopol 13 August 1855

"Sacred to the memory of Private TIMOTHY FARRELL late of the 31st Regiment who departed this life on the 13 May 1856 Aged 33. Erected by his brother, 97th Regt."
1859 February 1859 - Regiment reassigned to India, Poona. In Decmber 1859 the Regiment was readied for active service in China.
1860-1863 The Mandarins broke the Trade Treaty of Tienstin.Of the eight infantry regiments, under Major-General Sir hope Grant, the 31st was the largest. The armies arrived at Peiho River near the town of Pehtang on 12 August 1860. The Taku Forts were the main aim of this thrust and were taken on the 21st August 1860. The Battle Honour 'Taku Forts' were added to the Regimental Honours. from here the next advance was on Tientsin with a threatened march on Peking. A truce was called on 24th October. The 31st were part of the newly raised Tientsin garrison and took up their post on 18th November 1860 remaining there until 1863.
1863 The Regiment embarked for England on 27th June 1863. It was not to see any further action for fifty-one years until, as the 1st Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment, it was to land in France in August 1914.
  1881 United with 70th (Surrey) Regiment of Foot to become 1st Battalion, The East Surrey Regiment
  1915 20th to 21st April 1915 - the now 1st Battalion earned three Victoria Crosses and seven DCM's during the Battle of Hill 60. Seven officers and 106 other ranks were killed, eight officers and 158 other ranks injured.

The Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion

04 Aug 1914
1/1st Bn. Territorial Force Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion formed at St. Mary's Street, Huntingdon.
Oct 1914
2/1st Bn. Territorial Force Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion formed at Sutton-le-Marsh.
1915
3/1st Bn. Territorial Force Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion formed.
1915
The Army Cyclist Corps was formed in 1915, encompassing existing units. New units wore the ACC badge. Pre-existing units continued to wear their old badges. Until 1914 the battalions were used largely as coastal patrols. In 1915 the first units went overseas, broken up as divisional companies serving something of a reconnaissance role. During the war cyclists often found themselves in unfriendly terrain and had to give up their mounts. Based on that experience the Army had little further role for cyclists. The Corps disbanded in 1919, while some units retained their cyclist role. All remaining cyclist units converted to infantry, artillery and signals in 1922.
Mar 1916
3/1st Bn. Territorial Force disbanded, personnel to the 1/1st, 2/1st Bns and the Machine Gun Corps.
11 Nov 1918
1/1st Bn. & 2/1st Bn. Territorial Force disbanded


Photographs courtesy of the Cambridgeshire Collection, Lion Yard, Cambridge.

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Last Updated on: 22 April 2002
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