Royal East Kent

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Military uniform art prints of the Royal East Kent Regiment ( The Buffs ) by military artist Harry Payne, published by Cranston Fine Arts, the military print company.

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The East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) by Harry Payne.

The East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) by Harry Payne.

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Item Code : UN0020The East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) by Harry Payne. - Editions Available
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Royal East Kent Regiment, The Buffs by Richard Simkin

Royal East Kent Regiment, The Buffs by Richard Simkin

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Item Code : UN0303Royal East Kent Regiment, The Buffs by Richard Simkin - Editions Available
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Original chromolithograph, published c.1888.
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Grenadier, 3rd Foot  1725 by P H Smitherman

Grenadier, 3rd Foot 1725 by P H Smitherman

The armorial bearings of the colonel of the regiment, displayed in Westminster Abbey, provide the details for this image. Here the grenadier cap displays the crest of the colonel himself, which is unusual, and was expressly forbidden later on. However, as it was forbidden no doubt other colonels had done the same. The coat is only single breasted, with no lapels to turn back, the large cuffs being kept up by being buttoned through to the sleeves. This grenadier is armed with a flintlock and has the basket-hilted sword commonly carried at this time. His bayonet cannot be seen, but would be a ring bayonet mounted in a frog over the sword. In 1742 the design to be worn on grenadiers caps was laid down as the royal cipher under a crown, on a cap of the facing colour. An exception was made in the case of the Six Old Corps, which were allowed to retain their old badgess, and among these were the 3rd who retained the dragon, their ancient badge. This dragon is not illustrated on this.........

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Item Code : PHS0009Grenadier, 3rd Foot 1725 by P H Smitherman - Editions Available
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Extract from Her Majesty’s Army by Walter Richards.

The East Kent Regiment             The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), consisting of the 3rd Foot, have, like one or two other regiments, a history considerably anterior to their appearance on the English establishment.  As in all such cases, so especially with the Buffs, the history extends over the period in which were enacted some of the most dramatic scenes in history; in which individual and national fame sprang into being with the leap and the shout of a war god; when in all parts of the known world the love of adventure, the dauntless courage and endurance, the lordly masterful ness of the Anglo-Saxon were proving with a logic keen as the swords and halberds with which it was enforced his right to domination and power.  It is from the “spacious times of great Elizabeth,” when  “We sailed wherever ship could sail,  We founded many and mighty state,” 

           That the Buffs date their origin, though for many years before that the embryo of the gallant corps had existed in the train-bands of the City of London.  In 1572 one Sir William Morgan, with a band of Englishmen, fought under Ludwig of Nassau against the host of Spain.  Later on a namesake of his, Captain Thomas Morgan, rose, with the tactic approval of the cautious Elizabeth, a company of three hundred men out of the various London Guilds.  From one or both of these Morgan led bands are the Buffs lineally descended.  Years went by; the band of English warring in Holland waxed and waned in numerical strength, but waxed ever in fame and honour; the names of those who have made history-Essex, Vere, Sidney, William Russell, Leicester, and Stanley are found amongst its leaders or warriors; and the deeds they done, with what valour they fought, with what courtesy they lived and moved, with what brave, old fashioned piety they died, read like a chapter from some enchanting romance that the reader can scarce believe-and yet knows, and is the better and prouder for knowing-is all unvarnished historical truth.  Doubtless the heritage of all this is the nation’s, but doubtless, too, in an especial manner is it the possession of the Buffs.           A goodly sized book might be filed with the record of the various battles in which these English soldiers of fortune taught the world anew how mighty was the nation that brought forth such sons, but anything beyond a passing reference to the warfare of the time would be foreign to our present purpose.

           Before passing on to the period when “The Holland Regiment” became more intimately connected with purely British service, we are fain to record, in the words of an eloquent writer, some details of the battle of Zutphen, in which the English fought so splendidly.  Five hundred Englishmen, amongst who were some of the flower of the nobles, found themselves “face to face with the compact body of more than three thousand men.  There was but brief time for the deliberation; notwithstanding the tremendous odds, there was no thought to retreat.  Black Norris called to Sir William Stanley, with whom he had been lately at Variance, ‘There hath been ill blood between us; let us be friends together this day, and die side by side if need be for her Majesty’s cause.’  ‘If you see me not serve my Prince with faithful courage now,’ replied Stanley; ‘account me forever a coward.  Living or dying, I will stand or lie by you in friendship.’  As they were speaking these words the young Earl of Essex, General of the Horse, cried to his handful of troopers, ‘ Follow me, good fellows, for the honour of England and England’s Queen.’  As he spoke he dashed, lance in rest, upon the enemy’s cavalry, overthrew the foremost man, horse and rider, shivered his own spear to splinters, and then, swinging his curtel axe, rode merrily forward.  The whole little troop, compact as an arrow head flew with an irresistible shock against the opposing columns, pierced clean through them, and scattered them in all directions.  The action lasted an hour and a half, and again and again the Spanish horsemen wavered and broke before the handful of English.  Sir Philip Sidney in the last charge rode quite through the enemy’s ranks, till he came upon their entrenchment, when a musket ball from the camp struck him upon the thigh, three inches above the knee.  Although desperately wounded in a part which should have been protected by the cuisses which he had thrown aside, he was not inclined to leave the field; but his own horse had been shot from under him at the beginning of the action, and the one upon which he was now mounted became too restive for him, thus crippled, to control.  He turned reluctantly away, and rode a mile and a half back to the entrenchments, suffering extreme pain, for his leg was dreadfully shattered.  As he passed along the edge of the battlefield his attendants brought him a bottle of water to quench his raging thirst.  At that moment a wounded English soldier, ‘who had eaten his last meal at the same feast,’ looked up wistfully in his face, when Sidney instantly handed him the flask, exclaiming, ‘Thy necessity is even greater than mine.’  He then pledged his dying friend in a draught, and was soon afterwards met by his uncle.  ‘Oh, Philip,’ cried Leicester in despair, ‘I am truly grieved to see thee in this plight.’  But Sidney comforted him with manful words, and assured him that death was sweet in the cause of his Queen and country.  Sir William Russell, too, all blood-stained from the fight, threw his arms around his friend, wept like a child, and, kissing his hand, exclaimed, ‘Oh, noble Sir Philip!  Never did man attain hurt so honourably or swerve so valiantly as you.’”  Thus died Philip Sidney, leaving an example which other officers of the Buffs in after times have followed, not once or twice or with faltering purpose, but often and gladly as beseemed English gentlemen and soldiers.

           After many other battles in which the Regiment of Holland took part, but which, as has been observed, it would be impossible in our present limits even to enumerate, the regiment came to England, after the Peace of Munster (1648), and were placed on the English establishment seven years later.  After their adventurous career for the past three-quarters of a century, the first years of service in England must have seemed singularly dull to the bold spirits of the Holland Regiment.  Gradually that name sank into desuetude, as the veterans of the Holland service died out, and in 1689, when the incorporation of the 3rd Foot into the guards advanced the Buffs to their present numerical rank, they received the title of “Prince George of Denmark’s Regiment of Foot.”  The custom of the historians of the day was, however, to designate a regiment by the name of its colonel, and the Buffs were accordingly known by the honourable title of Churchill’s Regiment, the brother of the great captain himself being their commander.  They soon went abroad to the neighbourhood of their early achievements, and at Walcourt showed that the years of peace had in no way lessened their material aptitude.  The fought at Steenkirke and at Laden, where they suffered so severely that active measures had to be taken to recruit them.  While in the neighbourhood of Ghent, the official record relates that General Churchill, Colonel of the Buffs, had an alarming adventure.  During an inspection, he, with two or three other officers and about a dozen men, halted for a short time at a roadside house.  Almost directly afterwards the French surrounded it: half the guard were killed, and the other half kept up a gallant fire from the windows.  Churchill trying to escape was taken prisoner, “and plundered of his money, watch and other valuables.  While the marauders were engaged in sharing the booty, he stole away undercover of a hedge and succeeded in safely reaching the allied army.  The small band left in the house defended themselves for some time, but reinforcements for the enemy constantly coming up, abandoned the unequal struggle and surrendered.”  The Buffs took part in the expedition under the Duke of Ormond against Vigo, where the allies captured two men-of-war and eleven galleons, with about 7,000,000 pieces of eight.  Soon after occurred the famous battle of Blenheim, the first distinction the Buffs bear on their colours, followed, eighteen months later, by Ramillies.  At the latter battle the Buffs, led by the son of their Colonel, made a most brilliant charge.  They were posted upon a rising ground; “beneath them raged the battle with varying fortune, until the genius of the British leader and the valour of his troops extorted a reluctant victory.  The enemy were driven back and fell into terrible confusion.  At this important crisis Lieutenant-Colonel Churchill proved himself worthy of his descent.  Placing himself at the head of head Buffs, followed by Lord Mordaunt’s regiment, and five squadrons of dashing sabres, he swept down the slope, crossed the morass which lay in his way, past the Little Ghent, clambered up the steep hill beyond, and crashing with musket and bayonet into the enemy’s left flank, drove three regiments into a miry hollow, where most of them were captured or slain.”  At this period of there career, when the Royal order the colours of English regiments received the addition of St. Andrew’s Cross, “Prince George of Denmark’s Regiment,” says the official record, “was permitted to display a dragon on its colours, as a regimental badge, as a reward for its gallant conduct on all occasions.  The dragon, being one of the supporters to the Royal Arms in the time of Queen Elizabeth, also indicated the origin of the corps in Her Majesty’s reign.”

           They fought at Oudenarde; at Malplaquet, “Marlborough’s last great victory, and his most decisive as well as his most sanguinary,” the Buffs were in the thick of the fighting, suffering so much that again they were forced into retirement to await the arrival of recruits.  It is recorded that dure in the battle, when the retreating French were being pursued through the wood and fiercely disputing every step, the Duke of Argyll, then colonel of the Buff’s, “threw open his waistcoat to show his men that he was no better provided with armour than themselves.”  It was about this time that the regiment acquired the title of “Buffs,” the facings being changed to that colour.  They fought at Dettingen, at Fontenoy, and Falkirk-at the last named battle almost turning defeat into victory, and when obliged to retire showing a marked difference from the confused stampede of many of the other troops.  Lord Stanhope, quoted by Mr. Adams, thus speaks of the demeanour of the Buffs: “Theirs was a retreat, and not like their comrades, a flight; they marched in steady order, their drums beating and colours displayed, and protected the mingled mass of other fugitives.”  They fought at Laffeldt, at Guadaloupe, and Belle Isle.  Then followed the American War of Independence in which they were actively engaged, and in which, especially at Ewtaw Springs, they were conspicuous for their valour.  “The British Force,” writes the historian before quoted, “was far inferior in numbers to the American army.  About nine o’clock on the morning of September 8th, the attack commenced.  It was delivered with valour; it was withstood with patience.  A fierce swift fire of musketry ensued, and then the Buffs took to the bayonet, driving back the troops opposed to them for a considerable distance, until, advancing too far, they exposed their flanks to the enemy, suffered a sharp loss, and retired to their original position.”  Seven years afterwards they joined the British Army in the Peninsula.  Some of the regiment were with Sir John Moore at Corunna; the first Peninsula name on their colours commemorates the passage of the Douro, of which it has been said that “no exploit in Spain was more brilliant, grand, and successful.”  When the able arrangements had been made, and Wellesley’s laconic, “Well, let the men cross,” had given the command, the officer and twenty-five soldiers, who, as Napier says, “were silently placed on the other side of the Douro in the midst of the French Army,” were soldiers of the Buffs.  The gallantry of the Buffs, who, at first unsupported, had borne the brunt of the enemy’s attack, was rewarded by the Royal licence to bear on their colours the word “Douro.”  At Talavera they lost a hundred and forty-two killed, wounded, and missing.  At Albuera they were well nigh annihilated.  With three other regiments they charged up the hill in the face of a scathing fire.  They were rushing onward, “confident in their prowess and cold steel,” when they were charged by four regiments of cavalry, and fell in scores.  Then occurred some of those instances of heroic valour, which are good to chronicle.  “Ensign Thomas was called upon to surrender the colour he held, but he declared he would give it up only with his life, and fell, pierced with many wounds, a victim to his gallantry.  The staff of the colour borne by Ensign Walsh was broken by a cannon ball, and the Ensign fell severely wounded, but he tore the colour from the broken staff and concealed it in his bosom, where it was found when the battle was over.”  They were engaged, having received some reinforcements-badly needed-from England, in all the operations of Hill’s division, and joined the main army in time to join in the battle of Vittoria.  They fought at Nivelle, a battle at which seemed present all the material required for the epic of the poet of the masterpiece of the battle painter. 

           “A splendid spectacle was presented,” writes one whose brilliant pen seems inspired with the genius of both.  “On one hand the ships of war, sailing slowly to and fro, were exchanging shots with the fort of Socoa; while Hope, menacing all the French lines in the low ground, sent the sound of a hundred pieces of artillery bellowing up the rocks.  He was answered by nearly as many from the tops of the mountains, amid the smoke of which the summit of the green Atchulia glittered to the rising sun, while fifty thousand men, rushing down its enormous slopes with ringing shouts, seemed to chase the receding shadows into the deep valley.  The plains of France, so long overlooked from the towering crags of the Pyrenees were to be the prize of battle; and the half finished soldiers in their fury were breaking through the iron barrier erected by Soult as if it were but a screen of reeds.”  With indomitable valour the Buffs acquitted themselves that day; they bear on their colours the record of their service at Nive; at St. Pierre they formed part of the right of the army, under Byng, where at an opportune moment they checked the French under d’Aurargnac.  The word “Peninsula” commemorates, as the official announcement puts in, with a not ungraceful formalism, “the meritorious exertions of the regiment on the field of honour during the preceding seven years.” 

           Service in America-where they fought at Plattsburg-and in Canada prevented the Buffs from sharing in the victory of Waterloo, but they arrived in France in time to form a portion of the army of occupation.  Passing over the next few years, during which they were quartered in New South Wales, we next find the regiment actively engaged in India.  At Punniar, the twin battle of Maharajpore, the Buffs were with the force under General Grey, which, “despite the fatigue of a long and toilsome march,” inflicted a crushing defeat upon a large body of the Mahrattes. 

           They joined the forces in the Crimea in the spring of 1855, and were not consequently present at any three great battles-Alma, Balaklava, Inkerman-whose names we recall involuntarily when the Crimea is mentioned.  But there was another engagement, almost as familiar, in which the principal dramatis personae were officers and men of the Buffs.  We refer to the assault on the Redan.  The French were to attack the Malakhoff, and as, unless that were first secured, the possession of the Redan would be useless, because untenable, we were to wait until an agreed rocket signal should inform us that our allies had performed their part of the allotted task.  Not till seven in the evening did a universal exclamation announce that the signal was made-“four rockets almost borne back by the violence of the wind, and the silvery jets of sparks they threw out on exploding being scarcely visible against the raw grey sky.”  A hundred of the Buffs under captain Lewes formed half the covering party; with the scaling ladders were a hundred and sixty men of the same regiment under Captain Maude, while others were in support.  Soon the stormers advanced at a run, “while the round shot tore up the earth beneath their feet, or swept men away by entire sections, strewing limbs and fragments of humanity everywhere.”  The officers of the Buffs were amongst the very few that survived the terrible approach unwounded.  Even when our men streamed in it was impossible to retain possession.  The Russians were being constantly reinforced; by some oversight our stormers were left unsupported.  In vain did the Buffs and their companions fight desperately, stubbornly; they were driven out, and on the slopes and in the embrasures lay heaps of those who had given their lives in vain.  But though the assault was a failure, it was a failure devoid of shame, and to many the opportunity for deeds of signal courage.  Amongst these were Captain Maude, who has been mentioned as commanding the covering party, and Private john Connors.  Twelve years previously Maude had fought with his regiment at Punniar, and while in the Crimea had shown himself a most able officer.  On this occasion, with only nine or ten men, ha had gained an important position within the works, “and though dangerously wounded, did not retire until all hope of support was at an end.”  For this he won the Victoria Cross.  Connors won his by displaying no less intrepidity.  “Fighting furiously hand to hand with the Russians, he sought to save the life of an officer of the 30th by shooting one and bayoneting another of the latter’s assailants.  As the body of this officer was found the farthest in the Redan of any, it was a proof that Connors was one of the foremost of the stormers.”

           After the Crimea the Buffs repaired to India, though not in time to participate in the suppression of the Mutiny, and their next active service was in the China war of 1860.  Here they were in the 3rd Brigade, which formed part of the Second Division under Sir Robert Napier, and in the engagement at Sinho were the first to come into actual contact with the enemy.  It was decided that the second division should take the chief part in the capture of the Taku Forts, and when Tangkoo had been taken, the Buffs were posted at the gates leading to the forts.  About this time the Chinese began to consider the advisability of coming to terms, and, as earnest, returned a couple of prisoners who had fallen into their hands.  On of these was a sergeant of the Buffs “who had suffered such barbarous treatment as their hands as to be incapable of standing,” and whose sufferings had driven him quite mad.  After the fall of the forts and the capture of Pekin, the Buffs enjoyed another spell of leisure till the war in Zululand of 1879.  Here they were in the first column commanded by Colonel C. Pearson, of the regiment, their immediate chief being Lieutenant-Colonel H. Parnell.  They speedily tried the metal of the enemy at Inyezane, where both the officers above named had their horses shot under them.  Before long colonel Pearson was practically blockaded at Etschowe, and during the weary time of waiting the Buffs had to deplore the death from fever of Captain J. Williams.  Throughout the campaign the regiment behaved in a way worthy of its traditions; and when it is remembered what the traditions of the Buffs are it would be difficult to utter greater praise.  Since 1879 the services of the Buffs have being in China, Egypt, and in England, Zululand being the last important campaign in which they have been engaged.                                  


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