MILITIA AND VOLUNTEERS
The Volunteers were founded in 1859 and, unlike the Militia, served for the fun of it. They were mainly drawn from artisans and overseers from the new industrial towns of Cheshire, who enjoyed Rifle Meetings and Summer Camp away from the mills and factories of their daily lives.
The two separate traditions of part-time soldiering were brought together by the Cardwell reforms of 1870 to 1872, when the Militia became a Special Reserve and the Volunteers were grouped into battalions, the whole commanded by the 22nd Regimental District at Chester Castle, which also housed the Regimental Depot training recruits for the Regular battalions.
In 1908, this loose grouping was united under the badge of The Cheshire Regiment; The Militia became the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion and the Volunteers became the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Battalions (Territorial Army). This was the firm foundation which enabled The Cheshire Regiment to field 38 battalions in the First World War.
Since 1945, the size of the Territorial Army has changed many times.
Only the 4th and 7th Battalions reformed. They remained for a while, amalgamated,
reduced to cadre, and then disbanded altogether.
Battalion Headquarters and Headquarter company were situated in Chester at Abbots Park in a fine Edwardian building. Chester was originally the home of the 5th (Earl of Chester’s) Battalion which distinguished itself during the First World War. Northwich was home to one of the Machine Gun Platoons and again fell under the old 5th Battalion’s area. A Mortar Platoon was located at Ellesmere Port which is part of the 4th Battalion’s area. This Battalion distinguished itself at Gallipoli and in the Middle East particularly during the three battles for Gaza, after which one of the Fire Support Companies is named, and on the Western front.
During the Second World war, the 6th Battalion participated in the campaigns in North Africa and Italy, winning more awards for gallantry than almost any of the other Cheshire Battalions. The 6th Battalion won the battle honour “Salerno” for the Regiment, and the 3rd Battalion Fire Support Company, based in Stockport bore this name. Crewe was the location of the other Gaza Company Headquarters and Anti-Tank Platoon. Crewe, and Macclesfield where Salerno Company’s Anti-Tank Platoon was located fall into the area covered by the old 7th Battalion, which alongside the 4th, distinguished itself at Gallipoli, in the Middle East and on the Western Front. During the Second World War, the 7th were the most widely travelled of the Cheshire Battalions, serving in France in 1940, the Middle East, Italy, India and North West Europe.
Although the Territorial Army has been much reduced in the decades that have followed the Second World War, the Territorials of the 22nd continue to play a significant role in the Nation’s defence. The 3rd Battalion became a Fire Support Battalion in 1995 and served as part of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. The Fire Support role returned to the wartime role of The Cheshire Regiment’s active battalions.
The Battalion also distinguished itself at cross country and orienteering. Officers and men from the Battalion served in Northern Ireland and Bosnia in varied roles, and were also ready to support their sister Regular Battalion on operations when required.
The 3rd Battalion fell foul of the Strategic Defence Review and was amalgamated with 5/8 Kings. The new Regiment will be named The Kings Cheshire Regiment with 2 x Cheshire Comapnies and 2 x Kings Companies.
The Colours of the 3rd Battalion were paraded for the last time at The
Dale Barracks, Chester on 22nd May 1999.
3 Cheshire's Colour Party executing a left-form prior to the final trooping
of the Colours at the final parade at The Dale Barracks, Chester, 22nd
Photo courtesy of Steve Gregory
This page was created by Eardley Bryan.
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