Queens (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
This regiment was raised by Lord Peterborough in1661
as part of the garrison of Tangier when that fortress was a British
possession, forming the dowry of Queen Catherine.
It served there from 1662 to 1684, and throughout all that period
saw much hard fighting, with little intermission, against the Moors under
Gaylan, Sultan of Fez, and the Emperor of Morocco, during which time it
“behaved to admiration,” and educated in the art of war both Ensign
Churchill of the Guards-afterwards the Duke of Marlborough-and Mordaunt,
Earl of Peterborough. Owing
to want of pecuniary support, the king ordered the fortifications to be
abolished, and the place abandoned. Among
its noteworthy commanding officers up to this time had been Colonel Kirke,
“a loose and bold soldier of fortune,” who in the Monmouth rebellior
gained an unenviable notoriety.
After the death of Charles 2nd the Tangier Regiment
became the “Queen Dowager’s Regiment of Foot,” and under its old
colonel, Kirke, as brigadier, formed part of the forces sent to relieve
Londonderry in 1689, and also fought at the Boyne, Limerick Birr,
Lanesborough, Athlone, Aughrim, ect.
During 1692-97 the Queen’s served at intervals in Flanders, and
saw active service at Landen and Namur; in 1702, with Ormonde’s army of
14,000 men, it took part in the operations against Cadiz; and was at Vigo
Bay, where the colonel of the regiment Sir H. Bellasis, was dismissed the
service by sentence of court-martial for “looting.” Under
Marlborough it served in 1700, and did such brilliant service in the
defence of Tongres, where with another battalion it bravely defended the
town against 40,000 French under Villwroy, that it hence received the
title of “Royal,” and the motto “Pristine virtutis memor.”
But none the less it was compelled to surrender, and remained
prisoner of war until after the capture of Huy.
In 1705 it served at the siege of Valencia de Alcantara,
Albuquerque, and Badajoz; in 1706 at Alcantara, Convent of St. Francis,
and Ciudad Rodrogo; in 1707 at Almanza, where it again capitulated after
severe loss; in 1793 it served as marines under Howe and was present on
the “glorious 1st of June, 1794,” at the Helder in 1799,
and at Egmont-op-Zee; in Egypt in 1801, at the landing at Aboukir and the
siege of the fort at Alexandria, at Rosetta and Fort St. Julien, at
Rahmanie, Cairo, and the siege of Alexandria, receiving medals from the
“Grand Signior” for its services.
It also received the badge of the Sphinx and “Egypt” from the
king. Returning home, one of
the transports, containing three companies, was captured by the French.
In the Peninsula it saw much service after 1808.
It was at Roleia and Vimiera, under Wellesley; and at Corunna,
where Private Evans, though shot through the heart, lingered for sixteen
days. A detachment was at
Talavera-the regiment at Salamanca, Vittoria, and the Pyrenees, at the
Nivelle, and at Toulouse, earning the distinction to bear “Peninsula”
and seven battles on its colours for the campaign.
It was engaged in the first Afghan War at Cabool, Ghuznee, and
Khelat; in the Kaffir War, 1851-53; in the China War of 1860, at the Taku
Forts and Pekin. A 2nd
battalion, raised in 1794, was incorporated with the 1st on
1797. This was reformed in
1858, and added “Burma, 1885-87” to the colours for service in that
country. The scarlet
uniform has blue facings; but at one time these were green.
The “Paschal Lamb” is borne on the button (with the crown and
“The Queen’s” within a circle giving the territorial title), on the
tunic collar, helmet-plate, forage-cap, and waist-plate (with the motto,
“Pristine virtutis memor”). The
“Lamb” badge is supposed by Mr. Cannon to have been given in memory of
Catherine of Braganza, after whom the regiment was first named; but this
is doubtful. The other badges
are the royal cipher within the Garter (borne on the colours), and the
Sphinx and “Egypt”; and the other motto, “Vel exiviae triumphant.”
Like many of the old regiments, the Queen’s had in 1685
“company colours,” reduced bayonets were introduced to three, one for
each division of the pikemen, and one for the musketeers.
The Queen’s retained the third colour until 1752, longer
apparently than other regiments of the Line.
The Militia battalion is the 2nd Royal Surrey (1759),
which formerly wore a star similar to that of the Coldstream Guards, and
which was conferred for efficiency in 1803.
The Volunteer battalions are the 1st (Croydon), 2nd
(Reigate), and 4th (Kennington
Park), in green and scarlet; the 3rd (Rotherhithe) wears
scarlet with blue facings. The
old nickname was “Kirke’s Lambs,” either from the name of one of its
colonels and the nature of its badge, or for the regiment’s share in the
severities after Sedgemoor. The
“Sleepy Queen’s” was also given, after the regiment allowed Brennier
to escape at Almedia in 1811. The
depot was in Guildford. Army and Auxiliary Forces" Colonel
C. Cooper King, R.M.A. , 1894