A West Suffolk regiment-the 63rd-had
for its linked battalion the 96th; and these were combined as
the Manchester Regiment in 1881. The
first-mentioned was originally a 2nd battalion to the 8th,
and became independent under its late number in 1758, receiving the county
name of “West Suffolk” in 1782. “General
Wolfe’s Regiment,” as it had been once called, first came under fire
in the expedition to the West Indies in 1759, when Martinique, Guadaloupe,
Grenadam St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and many other islands, such as Defeada
and Santos, were captured. It
returned home after these exploits, but was sent back to take part in the
war of Independence, fighting at Bunker’s Hill, Brooklyn, Brandywine,
Fort Clinton, New Jersey, Charleston, Hobkirk’s Hill, and Eutaw Springs.
Men were heavily weighted in those days.
Those of the 63rd twice “returned to the charge, in
the middle of a hot summer’s day, encumbered with three days’
provisions, their knapsacks on their backs, which, together with cartouche
box, ammunition, and firelock, may be estimated at 125lb. Weight.
Many of the men, too, served as Mounted Infantry, under Colonel
Tarleton, one of the most enterprising of the “partisan” leaders in
the war; and they behaved with conspicuous gallantry at the affair of
Sherar’s Ferry in 1780.
In 1794 the regiment served in Holland, and fought at Nimeguen, but
returned to the West Indies in the following year, sharing in Sir Ralph
Abercromby’s expedition 1796, and in the defence of Honduras in 1798;
after which it came home reduced to only 150 men.
Recruited to full strength, it again served under Abercromby in the
Holland campaign, seeing much hard fighting at the Helder, Zuyp,
Schagerburg, Bergen-op-Zoom, and Egmont-op-Zee.
The expedition to Ferrol gave the regiment
its next employment, and during the operations Sergeant-Major Nugent was
promoted for gallantry in having disarmed and made prisoners two Spanish
sentries. But its West Indian
services were not yet completed. After
the capture of Madeira in 1807, it again assisted in the capture of
Martinique two years later-when the articles of surrender were signed by
Major O’Rourke of the 63rd-and at Guadaloupe, St. Martin, and
St. Eustatia; but on the outbreak of hostilities again in 1815, the 63rd
for the third time shared in
the capture of Guadaloupe, when “the eagles and standards of the
French” were surrendered, and Captain Lynch with the light company
covered the landing at Bailiffe, and checked the advance of three hundred
French soldiers, who had been sent to oppose the debarkation.
In 1819 the regiment came home, and, after general service on
various stations, it was sent to Burmah in 1838, and suffered loss in the
fighting at Moulmein.
In the Crimean campaign the 63rd was
present at the Alma, Inkerman, and through out the whole siege of
Sevastopol, losing altogether 947 off all ranks during the war.
In the Afghan War it joined the 2nd division of the
Kandahar force, but was not present in any of the more important actions.
From India it was transferred to Egypt in 1882.
The 63rd had a 2nd battalion from 1804 to
1814, but this saw no active service.
The 96th was recruited in
Manchester in 1824 and was preceded by five of the same number-viz, the
first, which served from 1760 to 1763; the second, from 1780 to 1783; the
third, from 1793 to 1798; the fourth, formed from a 2nd
battalion of the 52nd, and numbered the 96th in
1803, but disbanded as the 95th in 1818; and the fifth, raised
in 1798 as the “Queen’s Germans,” was called the 97th in
1802, and disappeared as the 96th (“Queen’s Own”) in
1818. The last saw service in
Egypt in1801, and in the Peninsula. It
bore the name of the “British Musketeers,” and from it comes the
Sphinx badge, and the words “Egypt” and “Peninsula,” which appear
on the appointments, etc.
The work of the present battalion, as far as active service goes,
began in 1844, when a detachment-the rest of the regiment being in New
South Wales-was sent to New Zealand, and fought at Kororarika and Stokes
Pah. In 1881, as the 2nd battalion of the Manchester
Regiment, it was sent to Egypt, and formed part of the garrison of
Alexandria during the operations which led to the battle of Tel-el-Kebirand
the fall of Cairo. Since then
it has seen no active service.
The badge of the “Fleur-de0lys,” formerly
worn by the 63rd, is supposed to have been bestowed in
commemoration of its long and brilliant services in the West Indies
against the French; but its use was forbidden in 1856 “because written
authority sanctioning its wear could no be found.”
The coatee was replaced in that year by the tunic, and it was
certainly worn before that date on the former by the officers and
sergeant-major. It is
scarcely likely it would have been used without permission, and some might
well have been granted; but the only record disappeared when the
regimental baggage was lost at Helvoetsluys in 1795.
The green facings of the 63rd and the yellow of the 96th
were altered to white in 1881. Those
of the 63rd had been first black, then very deep green (1768),
with white and green lace, and deep green with silver lace in 1813.
Gold lace was worn after 1832.
The badges are the arms of the city of Manchester, and the Sphinx
with “Egypt,” which was worn by the 96th, but can only have
been derived from the regiment that was disbanded in 1818; an
eight-pointed star, however, bearing the number, was once the decoration
of the buttons and breast-plate of the 63rd. The star was worn in remembrance of its good work under
Tarleton from 1775 to 1781. The
button now bear the Garterand its motto, and within it the Sphinx and
“Egypt,” crowned. The
Sphinx also appears on the collar on an eight-pointed star, on the
waist-plate with the name of the regiment, and on the forage-cap.
The helmet-plate bears the arms of the city of Manchester.
The 6th Royal Lancashire Militia,
raised in 1855, furnishes the 3rd and 4th
battalions. The volunteer
battalions are the 4th Lancashire, Manchester (green and
scarlet); the 6th Lancashire, Manchester (scarlet and yellow);
the 7th Lancashire, Ashton-under-Lyne (scarlet and white); the
16th Lancashire, Manchester (scarlet and white); the 20th
Lancashire, Ardwick (green and scarlet); and the 22nd
Lancashire Oldham (scarlet and white).
The 63rd once had the name of the “Bloodsuckers.”
The depot was at Ashton-under-Lyne