The Army went through a major reorganisation as a result of the end of The Cold War in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the threat from The Warsaw Pact. ‘Options for Change’ was the name given to the British review, which was announced in 1990 and aimed to produce ‘smaller, better equipped, properly trained and housed, and well motivated forces’. The planned reductions were delayed because of The Gulf War, but the final plan included the reduction of infantry strength from fifty-five to forty battalions.
The defeat of the Sikhs at the Battle of Sobraon on the 10th February 1846 marked the end of the 1st Sikh War. The British assaulted the enemy positions, but received heavy casualties and at one point it was thought that the battle was lost. Both officers carrying the Colours of the 31st were killed, and at that moment when defeat seemed inevitable, Sergeant Bernard McCabe of the 31st picked up the Regimental Colour, dashed forward under heavy fire and planted it on the highest point of the Sikh entrenchment.
During this period all of the forebear regiments carried out tours of duty overseas in India, the West Indies, Palestine and elsewhere. Most of the regiments were represented in the rebellion in Ireland in the early 1920s, whilst the Queen’s, The Buffs, The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment and The Hampshires were separating Jew and Arab in Palestine in the late 1930s. However, the Army was cut in size, promotion was extremely slow and resources were scarce. There was also an acute lack of investment in modern equipment, which was not to bode well for the beginning of the Second World War.
The World rejoiced as the Second World War came to an end and fascism collapsed in Europe. However, even in March 1945, the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was saying that ‘an iron curtain has descended across the continent of Europe’. The Inner German Border fence was constructed by the Russians and they began to expand their communist powerbase. 1948 marked the communist take-over of Czechoslovakia and this was closely followed by the Berlin blockade and Russia’s first atomic bomb test.
Whilst the Regiment’s forebears were being reorganised during the 1960s, a number of operational counter-insurgency tasks were carried out. The Regiment was represented in Aden, British Guiana and Borneo.
In 1782 county titles were allotted to Regiments of Foot for recruiting purposes, although they retained their numbers to indicate precedence of formation. The Queen’s were not affected, but the title of ‘East Kent’ was added to The Buffs (3rd Foot), the 31st became the Huntingdonshire Regiment and the 70th The Surrey Regiment. The 35th were initially linked with Dorsetshire until Sussex was substituted in 1804, whilst the 50th were associated with West Kent and the 57th with West Middlesex.
A special note is made here about the little-known war in the Oman, which lasted from 1968 to 1975. The British Government were requested to provide troops to support the Sultan of Oman in his endeavour to prevent Marxist groups in the province of Dhofar from overthrowing him. Elements of The 22nd Special Air Service Regiment were deployed to the area in 1972. At dawn on 19th July, a large rebel force, of about 250 strong, attacked the Port of Mirbat.
The bleak open hills that stretch on for miles with no trace of human habitation are immediately apparent when flying over the Falkland Islands. The wind is also noticeable, as the turbulence builds to a steady shake south of the Ascension Islands. Trees naturally grow at an angle, slanted away from the relentless prevailing wind. This dictates daily life here, and its continuing presence means it cannot be forgotten. It is not surprising that these islands were initially deemed uninhabitable by early sailors.
The 6th June 1944 marked the long-awaited invasion of Europe across the English Channel at Normandy. The 1st Battalion The Hampshire Regiment were the first British infantry to land on the Normandy beaches in France and The Middlesex Regiment was also to gain the battle honour of the 6th June. As the allies advanced across North-West Europe, many battalions and individuals were in converted unfamiliar roles with tanks, artillery and as paratroops.
The Korean War is the most recent of the Regiment’s battle honours. The communist North Korea made a sudden, surprise attack against the democratic South Korea in 1950, determined to remove the pro-Western ‘puppet’ government. The first bloody introduction to the Korean War for the Hong Kong Garrison was on the 8th July 1950 when five soldiers, including two Non-Commissioned Officers from The Middlesex Regiment, were killed whilst aboard HMS Jamaica during bombardment by enemy shore batteries off the east coast of Korea just north of the 38th Parallel.