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Queen Victoria's Rifles

The 9th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles) was a Territorial Army infantry battalion of the British Army. The London Regiment was formed in 1908 in order to regiment the various Volunteer Force battalions in the newly formed County of London, and the Queen Victoria's Rifles were one of twenty six units brought together in this way.

Victoria and St George’s Volunteers
1st Middlesex (Victoria and St George’s) Volunteer Rifle Corps
9th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles)
Active 1860–1961
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type Infantry
Size Battalion
Part of London Regiment
Garrison/HQ Davies Street drill hall (1890–1961)
Group of officers of the 9th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles)

Contents

HistoryEdit

Early historyEdit

The Queen Victoria’s Rifles could trace their origins back to the old volunteer regiments of the Napoleonic Wars when the Duke of Cumberland’s Sharpshooters were formed as a Corps of Riflemen on 5 September 1803.[1]

The regiment was raised as the 1st (Victoria Rifle Club) Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps and became the 1st Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps on the formation of the Volunteer Force in 1860.[2] [3] One of the first officers of the Regiment was Captain Hans Busk - a key lobbiest in getting the Government to raise the Volunteer Force.[4]

By 1892 the 1st Middlesex and 6th (St George's) Rifle Volunteer Corps were linked together with Headquarters at St John's Wood and Davies Street, Berkley Square respectively. Both were also linked as Volunteer Battalions of the King's Royal Rifle Corps.[5]

Territorial ForceEdit

In 1908 the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act came into effect and the new Territorial Force was created. At this time the regiment amalgamated with the 19th Middlesex (St Giles and St George’s, Bloomsbury) Volunteer Rifle Corps to form the 9th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles).[1]

First World WarEdit

 
Hill 60 (Ypres): Memorial to the Queen Victoria's Rifles

The Queen Victoria's Rifles arrived in Le Havre in November 1914; they were attached to the 13th Brigade of the 5th Division.[6] On 17 April 1915, the 13th Brigade mounted an attack on Hill 60.[7] The Hill was a small promontory on the edge of the Ypres Salient that afforded good views for the Germans across the British lines and in to Ypres. It was therefore of great tactical significance to both sides who "fought with great gallantry". Prior to the attack, the hill had been undermined for days with five galleries being driven under the German positions. The plan was to detonate large mines under the hill to destroy the enemy and their positions, then the 13th Brigade would occupy the area. The Hill was captured on 17 April, and on 20 April two and a half companies of the QVRs were ordered up to the front line as the enemy made a counter-attack. At dawn on 21 April the Germans began bombarding the QVRs with hand grenades. Casualties were heavy, including two officers, Major Lees and Lieutenant Summerhays who were killed. It was then that Lieutenant Geoffrey Harold Woolley left a position of safety to take command of the soldiers on the Hill. The situation quickly deteriorated, with many men and all the other officers on the hill being killed. Woolley refused verbal and written orders to withdraw, saying he and his company would remain until properly relieved. They repelled numerous attacks through the night. When they were relieved the next morning, he returned with 14 men remaining from the 150-strong company.[8] For his gallantry Lieutenant Woolley was awarded the Victoria Cross, the first to be won by the Territorial Force.[9]

Inter-warEdit

In 1937, on the break-up of the London Regiment, the regiment was again linked with the King's Royal Rifle Corps and became the Queen Victoria's Rifles, The King's Royal Rifle Corps and converted to motor cycles.[1]

Second World WarEdit

 
30 Brigade memorial plaque inside the gatehouse of Calais Citadel, scene of the epic defence in May 1940.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, 1/QVR was serving as part of the 1st London Division and was designated a motor-cycle reconnaissance battalion, armed with revolvers instead of rifles. In May 1940, the battalion was transferred to the 30th Infantry Brigade, and was hurriedly sent across the English Channel, but, due to an error, their motor cycles and sidecars were left in England.[10] They fought in the desperate siege of Calais between 23 and 26 May, which bought valuable time for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to be evacuated from Dunkirk. Suffering very heavy losses, most of the battalion were either killed or captured and the battalion had to be reconstituted from scratch.[11]

After returning to the United Kingdom, in December, the battalion became part of the war-raised 27th Armoured Brigade, then serving under command of the 9th Armoured Division, and was designated as the 7th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps on 1 April 1941.[1]

The 2nd Battalion was, like the 1st Battalion, originally serving in a motorised reconnaissance role as part of the 2nd London Division, and, in December 1940, transferred to help create the 28th Armoured Brigade and was redesignated as the 8th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps the following month.[1]

PostwarEdit

After the war, the Queen Victoria's Rifles was merged with the Queen's Westminsters to form the Queen's Royal Rifles on May 1 1961.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Queen Victoria's Rifles [UK]". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2017-05-27. 
  2. ^ War Office Circular, 12 May 1859, published in The Times, 13 May.
  3. ^ Beckett, Ian F. W., (1982) Riflemen Form: A Study of the Rifle Volunteer Movement 1859–1908, Aldershot, The Ogilby Trust, p
  4. ^   Henderson, Thomas Finlayson (1885–1900). "Busk, Hans (1815-1882)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  5. ^ Army List, HMSO, 1892, p631
  6. ^ "The London Regiment". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 27 May 2017. 
  7. ^ Hussey & Inman 1921, p. 62
  8. ^ G.H. Woolley (1963). Sometimes a Soldier. London: Ernest Benn.
  9. ^ "No. 29170". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 May 1915. p. 4990. 
  10. ^ "Photographs from the archive - November 09 Queen Victoria's Rifles (QVR) training as a motor cycle recce battalion". The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  11. ^ "Regiment QVR/KRRC". World War II Memories. Retrieved 28 May 2017. 

SourcesEdit

BibliographyEdit

  • Beckett, Ian F. W., (1982) Riflemen Form: A Study of the Rifle Volunteer Movement 1859–1908, Aldershot, The Ogilby Trusts, ISBN 0-85936-271-X.
  • Keeson C. A. C. (1923) The History and Records of the Queen Victoria’s Rifles 1792- 1922. Constable and Company Ltd. London
  • QVR at www.regiments.org