The 23rd London Regiment was a territorial unit of the British Army based in south London. It existed from 1859-1961 under various titles and saw service in the second Anglo-Boer War and the First and Second World Wars.
In 1859 corps of rifle volunteers were formed throughout Great Britain in response to a perceived threat of invasion by France. The volunteers were civilians who would train in their spare time and attend occasional weekend camps and exercises. the Volunteer Force was organised on a county basis, with commissions issued byn the lord lieutenant of each county.
In 1881 there was a reorganisation of infantry regiments within the army, with new "county" regiments being formed. Rifle volunteers were affiliated to the new regular regiments, with the 7th Surrey RVC becoming assocaited with the East Surrey Regiment. In 1887 it was formally renamed to 4th Volunteer Battalion, The East Surrey Regiment.
The unit saw no active service until the Boer War, when active service companies were formed to provide reinforcements to regular battalions of the regiment fighting in South Africa. For this the 4th VB received its first battle honour: "South Africa 1900-02". In 1902 the headquarters were moved from Southwark to Clapham.
In 1908 reserve forces of the army were completely reorganised. The Volunteer Force became part of a new Territorial Force (TF) comprising units administered by county associations. All infantry battalions within the County of London (which had been formed in 1889 from parts of Kent, Middlesex and Surrey) became numbered battalions of the London Regiment. The battalion was renamed 23rd (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment.
First World WarEdit
Unlike the volunteers, the Territorial Force was organised into brigades and divisions, enabling it to be quickly mobilised as an expeditionary force inn emergency.
With the outbreak of war in August 1914 the TF was mobilised. In the first expansion of the size of the army each unit formed "second line" duplicates, later providing "third line" units too.
The 23rd Battalion mobilised at Clapham in August 1914 and was quickly renamed as the 1/23rd (County of London) Battalion when a second line unit was formed. As part of the 142nd Brigade in 47th (2nd London) Division it fought on the Western Front from 1915-1918. It was involved the Battles of Festubert, Loos, the Somme, Messines, Ypres, Cambrai, Lille and Tournai.
The 2/23rd (County of London) Battalion was formed in August 1914: as part of the 81st Brigade in the 60th (2/2nd London) Division they landed in Salonika in November 1916, moving to Egypt in July 1917. In May 1918 they moved to France, transferring to 21st Brigade in the 30th Division.
The 3/23rd (County of London) Battalion was formed in March 1915 and renamed to 23rd Reserve Battalion in April 1916, it spent the war in England.
All of the battalions were disembodied or disbanded by April 1920.
The Territorial Force was reformed and renamed as the Territorial Army (TA) in 1920. The 23rd (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment was reformed at Clapham. In 1922 all battalions of the London Regiment were reconstituted as separate regiments and the unit became 23rd London Regiment, slightly retitled to 23rd London Regiment, The East Surrey Regiment in 1927.
In 1937 the battalion became the 7th (23rd London) Battalion, The East Surrey Regiment. In the following year they were converted to an armoured role as 42nd Battalion, Royal Tank Corps, and in 1939 42nd (7th (23rd London) Bn, The East Surrey Regiment) Royal Tank Regiment.
Second World WarEdit
As the 42nd RTR the 23rd Londons moved to the Middle East, taking part in the North African and Italian campaigns.
The 42nd Royal Tank Regiment was reformed at Clapham in 1947. In 1956 they were converted back to an infantry role as 23rd London Regiment, The East Surrey Regiment. In 1961 there was a decrease in the size of the TA and the 23rd Londons lost their separate identity.
- South Africa 1900-02
- Festubert 1915
- Somme 1916 '18
- Le Transloy
- Messines 1917
- Cambrai 1917
- St. Quentin
- Ancre 1918
- Albert 1918
- Bapaume 1918
- Ypres 1918
- France and Flanders 1915-18
- Doiran 1917
- Macedonia 1916-17
- Nebi Samwil
- Palestine 1917-18
- Honorary Distinction: Badge of the Royal Tank Regiment with year-dates "1941-45" and three scrolls: "N-W Europe", "N Africa", and "Italy".