Museum of the Manchester Regiment
63rd Regiment of Foot. Later the 1st Battalion The Manchester Regiment
In 1756 the Holy Roman Empire, consisting of Austria, France, Russia, Sweden and Saxony joined in a coalition to cripple or destroy Prussia. England, already involved in war with France in North America and India, supported Prussia. So began the Seven Years War, bringing with it an expansion of the British Army by 15 battalions, which were raised by forming 2nd Battalions to existing infantry of the line regiments.
A second battalion was raised to the 8th Regiment of Foot or King's Regiment which itself had been founded on 20 June 1695. On 21 April 1758 this 2nd Battalion of the 8th Foot was constituted a Regiment in its own right and numbered 63rd. The Major, all the Captains and Lieutenants were transferred from the 8th Foot. For the next two hundred years both regiments led their own separate lives until they were reunited in 1958 to form the King's Regiment.
The new 63rd Regiment spent most of 1758 in the west of England, spending much time in Plymouth.
The 63rd Regiment sailed as part of an expeditionary force to seize the French West Indies, taking part in the capture of the island of Guadeloupe, for which it received its first battle honour. The Regiment's first commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Desbrisay, was killed in action during a French assault on the citadel of Basse Terre. From this campaign the Regiment later adopted as its badge the Fleur de Lys, the French national emblem. However it took 164 years before War office official approval was given in 1923. The 63rd remained in the West Indies until.
The Regiment landed in Cork and during the next eleven years was stationed from time to time in Cork, Youghal, Dublin, Belfast, Antrim, Kilkenny and Monkstown.
The American Revolution - or War of Independence - began with two groups of nervous, trigger-happy men facing each other across a small wooden bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. It ended, six years later with three massive armies bombarding each other across the siege-trenches of Yorktown, Virginia.
During those six years, the American settlers declared and won their independence from Britain. This was not a conventional war of good and bad, right and wrong, them and us. It was a struggle that on both sides of the Atlantic stirred every shade of opinion, splitting families and tearing friendships apart.
The trouble began in1756 when the British parliament tried to impose a tax on her 13 American colonies. The Seven Years War against France, which had secured the colonies from incursions by the French and her native Indian allies, had just been won. But it had been expensive and parliament asked 'why should the Colonies not help to pay for their defence?' The sum involved in the tax was small; it was the principle that Parliament in England had the right to levy that tax which mattered.
Many people in Britain argued that the right was disputable; in the colonies the taxes were labelled tyrannical oppression. The Americans were a nation with guns - their livelihood depended on them. It would need little effort to turn these guns on the 'oppressors'. It was on a British army raid to seize an illegal hoard of arms that the first blood was spilt, on Lexington Green and at Concord Bridge, on 19 April 1775. With a full scale rising now taking place the British Army went into action.
Reinforcements were sent in May and with them went the 63rd. They first saw action at the battle of Bunker Hill where, by continuing to attack the enemy positions frontally, despite being twice driven back, the British established themselves on the heights commanding Boston. The Grenadier and Light Companies of the 63rd were actively engaged in this action.
In 1776 the Rebels declared independence. At the same time Britain 's fortunes changed and, under command of Sir William Howe, Rhode Island fell to the British. By the autumn of 1777 Philadelphia was also in British hands. The Regiment took part in several actions during the war including 1776 - Brooklyn, 1777 - Brandywine, 1779 - Stony Point, Eutaw Springs, Hobkirk's Hill, the storming of fort Clinton on the' Hudson River and in 1780 - Charleston.
For some of these engagements the 63rd were employed as mounted infantry, using locally requisitioned horses, under the renowned Colonel Tarleton. The Grenadier and Light Companies were present at the actions of Brandywine Creek where the Grenadier Company formed part of the 2nd Grenadier Battalion and the Light Infantry Company part of the 2nd Light Infantry Battalion. Finally, when the long-drawn out war came to an end in 1782, the Regiment were part of the garrison of Charleston. At the withdrawal of British troops in December 1782 the 63rd was sent to Jamaica for a short time.
Whilst stationed in the West Indies the regiment was accorded a territorial title, being named 'the 63rd West Suffolk regiment'. On 23 February 1783 an order was published conferring the titles as follows:
We have been pleased to direct that our 63rd Regiment of Foot shall take the county name of the West Suffolk Regiment, and considered as attached to that district of the said County...
The definite peace treaty between England and the United States of America was signed on 3 September 1783 and steps were taken to bring back to England certain regiments that were considered surplus to the establishment of the colonial garrisons during peace. Among these was the 63rd Regiment that left Jamaica early in 1784 and returned to England after an absence of nearly nine years. The Regiment was then stationed in England, Scotland and Ireland for several years until it was ordered to service on the continent under Field Marshall the Duke of York in 1793, returning to England during the following year.
On arrival at Portsmouth orders dated 6 March 1874 awaited the commanding officer, reading as follows:
That you cause the companies of the 63rd Regiment under your command at Portsmouth to march thence on Thursday 11th inst. By the shortest route to Sudbury and Ballingdon, where they are to be quartered until the assizes at Bury St Edmunds are over, when they are to proceed to that place and be quartered and remain until further orders.
Whilst in Bury St Edmunds the regiment was entirely re-clothed, re-equipped and refitted. New Colours were also presented but the actual date of the presentation is not recorded. In 1785 the regiment proceeded to Edinburgh where in their annual inspection report they are described as:
The Regiment is in good order and much attention paid to it, men well dressed and set up and in two years will be a very fine corps.
After a dramatic journey, in which one transport was lost, the 63rd arrived at Barbados January 1796 and were immediately sent on to St Vincent. A detachment was sent to Grenada where they took part in the capture of Port Royal. The regimental history includes an extract from a letter written by Brigadier General Nicholls in which he mentions the 63rd and describes how he 'sent a black corps and some men of the 88th to attack the enemy's right. In November 1796 the 63rd left St Vincent for Jamaica where their headquarters were in Spanish town during February 1798. In April three companies were sent to Honduras.
On 3rd November Lord Balcarres wrote regarding operations against the Spanish and the safety of Honduras Bay: My idea is to attack Rattan, as it would be an excellent place d'arme and quite a portee to assist the Mosquito Indians if necessary…My idea is to send down the 63rd Regiment consisting of 180 Rank and File, to which I would attach all such male slaves as this island would not retain.
Balcarres wrote again from Jamaica on 7th November: If the Guadeloupe Rangers arrive here in time I shall employ them on this expedition instead of the 63rd Regiment, which Regiment shall proceed forthwith to England. The Regiment appears to have returned to England in separate drafts at the end of 1798 and early 1799. After landing at Portsmouth in 1799 a tall Grenadier in full marching order with a goatskin pack and wearing a pair of mosquito trousers was met in the High Street by a Staff Officer, and replied on being asked who he was, 'Please Your Honor I am the left wing of the 63rd Regiment and fresh landed from Jamaica'.
From 1800 the Regiment led a wandering existence joining a force, which was intended to make various diversions against France in the Mediterranean. It helped to garrison Turin, Minorca, Gibraltar and Malta until May 1803 when it sailed to Ireland and was stationed there until November 1807. In August 1804 a second battalion of the 63rd Regiment was raised in Sussex under the temporary command of Major Samuel Fairtlough. This battalion only continued in existence until 1814 when it was disbanded. During its short life it saw active service in the ill fated and badly managed Walcheren expedition of 1808.
This had been intended to attack and destroy the French fleet and arsenals but a series of misfortunes dogged the enterprise ranging from bad weather, unexpected resistance, and dissension between the Admiral and the General. Finally an outbreak of malignant fever laid low a third of the force. The 2nd Battalion returned to England, moving to Guernsey in 1811 with headquarters in Alderney. Back to England in May 1812. With the end of the Peninsula War in 1814 reductions were made to the strength of the army and the battalion was one of several to be disbanded in October 1814. Those men who were fit for service were sent to the 1st Battalion and a large number of the officers were placed on half-pay.
During December the 1st Battalion 63rd Regiment was part of the force sent to seize the island of Madeira. A few weeks later it sailed for the West Indies, arriving at Barbados in February 1808 and taking part in the various successful expeditions against the French on the islands of Martinique and once again in Guadeloupe.
The Light Company of the 63rd served on board HMS Pompee between March and October 1809, sailing as far as Puerto Rico and having several engagements with the French navy in which two enemy ships were captured. Headquarters remained in Martinique. Disease and fever began to take their toll and during nine months in 1809 4 officers and 250 other ranks died of yellow fever. In 1810 the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Fairtlough, died of dysentery, together with 2 other officers and 178 other ranks.
Mortality was not so great in 1811 but 2 officers, 2 sergeants, 2 drummers and 66 private soldiers fell victim to the climate and disease and both officers and men had little to do except drink and quarrel with each other. By December 1811 the battalion was reduced to a strength of 12 officers, 20 sergeants, 15 drummers and 230 rank and file. Reinforcements arrived during 1812 and 1813 so that by 1814 battalion strength had risen to 32 officers, 46 sergeants, 21 drummers and 825 rank and file. The Headquarter General Order Books of the Windward and Leeward Islands, found in the Jamaica Garrison Library, record that Lieutenant John McQuarrie was cashiered “For conduct highly disgraceful and unbecoming the character of an officer and gentleman, in appearing at the church parade of the Regiment on 27 September 1812, in a state of intoxication”.
Under the terms of the First Treaty of Paris in May 1814, England restored Martinique to France. At the end of November the 63rd left the island and embarked for Granada where 61 men from the recently disbanded 2nd Battalion joined it. In March 1815 Bonaparte escaped from his exile on Elba and resumed power in France. At the Congress of Vienna the Allies declared him an outlaw and began to assemble forces to invade France once more.
Meanwhile the majority of French officers in the French West Indies had shown their support for Bonaparte and in Guadeloupe both the military and civilian population declared for him. So for the third time in its history the 63rd were part of the force which invaded Guadeloupe, during which it lost 3 men killed and 2 officers, 1 sergeant and 19 soldiers wounded in the initial assault. However during the first night the French proposed surrender and by the next day this was completed.
Following the defeat of the French at Waterloo in June 1815, the surrender and abdication of Bonaparte, peace was finally agreed at the Peace of Paris in November 1815. The 63rd remained in the West Indies with headquarters in Barbados and its companies on location on various other islands. During the eleven years of its service in the West Indies the battalion had lost by disease, principally yellow fever, 20 officers and 1,108 non-commissioned officers and men. The survivors returned to England in the summer of 1819.
For the next 35 years the Regiment, in common with the rest of the British Army, saw very little action. Routine garrison duties were carried out in Portugal, Australia, Tasmania, India, Burma, Ireland and England.
A little over a year later on the Regiment's return to England it received orders to act as escorts in convict ships sailing for New South Wales and Tasmania, then known as Van Diemen's Land.
In 1827 Captain James Stirling RN had surveyed the west coast of Australia for a suitable site for settlement and it was growing increasingly important that the British became established there before the French and the Dutch who had explored earlier. On 13 February 1829, HMS Sulphur and the hired transport Parmeilia sailed from England for the Swan River Settlement, arriving on June 2 and 8 respectively. Close behind were a number of vessels, rapidly adding to the little band of settlers and introducing the necessary livestock for colonisation. A painting in the Western Art Gallery, Perth, Australia shows the Governor reading the Declaration. On his right is Captain Frederick Chidley Irwin of the 63rd Regiment. An officer and soldiers of the 63rd Regiment are shown in the background. Captain Irwin later became the Lieutenant Governor of Western Australia during 1833 and was to return in 1837 as the permanent military commander until his retirement in 1843.
During the three years spent in Australia the Regiment had its headquarters in Hobart Town, Van Diemen's land (Now Tasmania) with the rest of the Regiment split into detachments varying in strength from 71 all ranks to just 2 private soldiers, amongst 47 different posts all over the colony.
The next 13½ years were spent in India and Burma. Sadly disease took its toll and during this period the 63rd lost 24 officers, 51 Sergeants, 24 Corporals, 6 Drummers and 604 Private Soldiers.
A squabble over jurisdiction within the Holy Places of Turkish ruled Jerusalem brought France into controversy with Russia. Britain took the part of France and the two nations allied themselves with Turkey. Nicholas I of Russia saw an opportunity to dominate Turkey to secure a Russian entrance to the Mediterranean, and a Russian army commenced occupation of Turkish and Rumanian areas.
The allies declared war on Russia in March and so began the Crimean War. In April Austria, after entering into a defensive alliance with Prussia against Russia, massed an army of 50,000 men in Galicia and Transylvania. In face of this threat Russia moved out of the Turkish and Rumanian areas which it had occupied but rejected peace conditions set by Britain, France, Prussia and Austria that Russia must keep its hands off the Ottoman Empire. Britain and France decided that crippling the great naval base at Sevastopol should break Russian power in the Black Sea. An expedition to effect this was decided upon without any real consideration of the task and without any adequate reconnaissance beforehand.
The 63rd, then in Ireland, were twice called upon to send volunteers to other under-strength regiments awaiting embarkation and as a result were themselves considerably under-strength when new Colours were presented to them in Dublin in May 1854. Then, given less than 6 weeks to join the expeditionary force to the Crimea, a large number of recruits were obtained from the young men of Dublin.
Shortly after landing on Russian soil the 63rd was sent to take part in the forthcoming battle at the River Alma, but arrived after a 13-hour forced march too late to take an active part in the battle. Shortly afterwards they went on to Balaclava where the Regiment was present at the mainly cavalry engagement which later became famous as 'The Charge of The Light Brigade'.
In the early hours of Sunday 5 November 1854 the Russians mounted a large-scale attack against the British 2nd division on Mount Inkerman. The 4th Division, with which the Regiment was serving, was immediately sent there and arrived in time to help in the recapture of the guns of Boothby's Battery, which had been seized by the advancing Russians. The Regiment had only just returned from night duty in the trenches and everyone was wet and cold. The journey to the scene of action was most uncomfortable and disheartening. It was dark and foggy, with a thick rain falling. On arrival the 63rd joined the 21st Regiment and both were positioned astride the top of the quarry ravine up which the Russians were advancing in great numbers.
The two regiments were ordered to lie down under cover of brushwood until the advancing Russians came sufficiently near. It was then nearly 9am and sufficiently light to enable many thousands of Russian infantry to be seen advancing up the ravine. The crowded Russian columns came under withering fire and, whilst still reeling, were charged by both regiments and driven back in confusion.
Closely following this advantage the Regiment soon came up against a strong Russian position and suffered heavy casualties. However, despite the fact that Lieutenant Colonel Exham Swyney, the commanding officer, and Ensign James Hulton Clutterbuck carrying the Queen's Colour were both killed, Ensign Heneage Twysden, carrying the Regimental Colour, mortally wounded, the Adjutant and three of the company commanders wounded, the Regiment with the rest of the Division pressed on. By mid-afternoon the Russians had begun to withdraw into Sevastopol. During the battle the 63rd lost three officers and thirteen men killed. Seven officers, nine Sergeants and seventy-four men were wounded. Ensign Twysden died of his wounds two days later.
This was a day in which the Sergeants of the Regiment had excelled themselves. The Escort to the Colours - Colour Sergeants Francis Avery and James Wooton were both wounded when the young Ensigns had fallen. The Queen's Colour was rescued in the heat of the battle by Colour Sergeant John Brophey who continued to wave the Colour and cheer the Regiment on until he was wounded in the left thigh. Sergeant Arthur Roberts received a wound, which caused him to fall. He quickly got up, retrieved the Regimental Colour and, refusing to leave the field, continued to carry the Colour until incapacitated by a second wound.
Sergeant William Ahern, learning that Ensign Clutterbuck was killed and that his body was still on the field of battle, instantly volunteered to find it and, with a private soldier, went far in advance and retrieved the body. Earlier on that day, his only officer being wounded, Ahern had taken command of his company and led during the charge. Colour Sergeant William Morris finding himself in the battle far in advance with a number of men, collected them together, took command and drove back a party of advancing Russians
Sergeant Major Slack was later commissioned as Ensign and awarded the French Gold War medal and the 5th class of the Imperial Order of the Medjidie. Colour Sergeants Brophey and Morris, Sergeants James Ward, Robert Hughes, Arthur Roberts and William Ahern were all awarded the French Gold War medal for their bravery that day. Sergeant Christopher Elliot was awarded the French Legion of Honour.
After some months rest the Regiment took part in the siege of Sevastopol, which fell in September after four days hard fighting. The 63rd then took part in an assault landing on the Russian mainland at Kinburn where the capture of the fort and the destruction of Russian supply dumps crowned the operation with success.
Ensign Vieth, carrying the Queen's Colour of the Regiment, jumping out of his assault boat into the water, drove the pike of his colour into the sand letting the colour fly on the breeze. The Queen's Colour of the 63rd was the first British flag on the soil of Russia proper and this was the last time that the colours of the Regiment were carried in battle.
This was the final action of the war, peace being declared in early 1856. Throughout the campaign the Regiment had fought in every major action and suffered 950 casualties, killed in action, died of wounds or invalided home through wounds or sickness. The battle Honours of ' Alma '. 'Inkerman' and ' Sevastopol ' were awarded to the 63rd.
Leaving the Crimea in May 1856 the 63rd, together with the 62nd Regiment, arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on board the troopship Himalaya on 2nd June 1856. The regiment took up quarters in the South Barracks and were escorted from the dockyard by several thousand citizens of Halifax. Most of the soldiers wore the Crimea medal with 2,3 or 4 bars and many still had the beards, which they had been allowed to grow during the cold and rather less structured conditions of the Crimea. (Eventually all beards were ordered to be shaved off in April 1857). They did however provide a very smart appearance despite still wearing their well-worn uniforms from the Crimea. The strength of the 63rd in September 1856 consisted of twelve companies comprising a total of 56 Sergeants, 21 drummers and 1,000 rank and file. Additional 10 Sergeants and 4 drummers arrived in the November
In September 1856 the Regiment moved to the Citadel and in May 1861 moved to Wellington Barracks, which had been completed the previous year. It was unfortunate that at the beginning of their tour in Halifax the 63rd fell foul of the General Officer Commanding and Lieutenant Governor, General Sir Gaspard Le Marchant. This was mostly due to a personality clash between Lieut Colonel Rowley Hill, their well-respected Commanding Officer, and Le Marchant. In 1856, aged 61, Hill was one of the oldest Lieutenant Colonels in the army. As a young officer he had served in the Peninsula campaign, in the battles of Vittoria, Neville and Toulouse. and had taken over command of the 63rd in the Crimea after Colonel Dalzell had been seriously wounded in the final attack on Sevastopol.
His courteous and gentlemanly manner had won him the affection and esteem of his soldiers and the citizens of Halifax, but not of Le Marchant who probably felt that Hill was too old to command. Whatever the reason Le Marchant publicly rebuked Hill in front of his soldiers for their indifferent turnout on parade and frequently castigated him in letters to the authorities in London. In February 1858 Le Marchant was promoted out of the Nova Scotia command to become Commander in Chief, Malta and three months later it was announced that Hill was to be relieved of his command. The view in Halifax was that the blame for this lay with Le Marchant who was not prepared to let old grudges die.
There was however a great deal of public sympathy for Hill. Two addresses were presented to him, one from the Mayor and Aldermen of the city and one from the citizens themselves. In fact his army career did not suffer. Later that year he was appointed Adjutant General in the Windward Islands and in 1862 promoted Major General. Evidently the bad reports from Le Marchant had not seriously affected his career.
In April 1861 the Civil War between the northern and southern states in America commenced. In November 1861 occurred the ' Trent ' incident in which officials from the northern American states boarded the British mail steamer Trent and removed two Confederate emissaries who were on a diplomatic mission to Great Britain. As a result of this Britain and the northern states of America were taken to the brink of war and for a time Halifax was in a state of upheaval being the major disembarkation port for troops arriving to reinforce the British garrison. A state of tension developed between the British government and the Washington authorities, which resulted in additional British troops being sent to Canada and those already there being sent to the border between the two countries.
On the 1st and 5th of February 1862 the 63rd Regiment moved to St Johns, New Brunswick, which was reached on the 13th. From there companies were sent in sleighs to Riviere de Loup. The soldiers found this way of travel quite comfortable. They travelled at a rate of thirty miles each day and were made welcome by the inhabitants of the country as they passed through. Wooden barracks had been erected en route and although the buildings were temporary they were complete in all their fittings.
From here they went by train to Montreal and from there to London in Canada West. The warlike atmosphere was relaxed later that year and the 63rd remained at London until 30 May 1864 when they moved to Hamilton, staying there until 15 September when a move was made to Montreal, occupying the Victoria Barracks. In August 1865 the regiment returned to England after nine years in North America, to be stationed firstly in England, then Scotland and Ireland until in October 1870 they embarked for a second tour of duty in India.
The second Afghan war broke out in 1877 and, following the disaster at Maiwand in southern Afghanistan, the 63rd was selected to take part in the second phase of the campaign when they occupied Kandahar. For its services it was awarded the Battle Honour ' Afghanistan 1879/80'. A year later they were back on the Afghan border-manning outposts in an inter-tribal war.
In 1881 the 'Childers' reforms (after Hugh Childers, Secretary of State for War) rationalised the regimental and home command systems, bringing Regulars, Militia and Volunteers together in one structure. Single battalion regiments were ordered to amalgamate in order to form two battalions of a 'new Regiment'. For the 63rd this meant amalgamation with the 96th Regiment of Foot to form the 1st and 2nd Battalions Manchester Regiment. From this point onwards, the system of maintaining one battalion overseas and at a higher state of readiness for operations than the home based battalion, worked well. The regimental depot at Ashton-under-Lyne was to provide a permanent home for the Regiment and a strong link with the home population. The Militia battalions became the 3rd (Reserve) and 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions and in due course battalions of the Lancashire Rifle Volunteer Corps became 'Volunteer Battalions' of the Regiment.
By the end of 1881 the new 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment had returned to the plains of India. They returned home in 1882 but en-route stayed in Egypt for a few months guarding Ismailia, on Lake Timsah in the middle of the Suez Canal during the brief campaign, which ended in the battle nearby of Tel-El-Kebir. They remained in the United Kingdom for the next fifteen years.
The British Government was unwilling to send reinforcements to the somewhat weak garrisons in Cape Colony and Natal as long as there seemed any hope whatever that war might be avoided; only two battalions proceeded from their peacetime stations to South Africa whilst the negotiations with the Boer leaders were in progress and before any mobilisations orders had been issued.
One of these was 1st Battalion the Manchester Regiment that left its base at Gibraltar in August, landing at Durban in the middle of the following month. From Durban the battalion went direct of the small railway town of Ladysmith in Natal, then already threatened by the invading Boers. Here they formed part of the heroic garrison of the town, which, during the many long months defied the Boer army. The key of the defences was Caesar's Camp, which was occupied by the Manchester 's from the beginning of the siege and was the object of three major attacks by the Boers during the siege.
The Caesar's Camp ridge is extremely steep and the crest covered with mimosa trees about 20 feet high. The hillside slopes gently to the Boer positions. The ground was so rocky that it was impossible to dig trenches and small rifle pits and sangars for three to four men were made every ten or twenty yards which provided some form of head cover. These were positioned between bushes and grass and were difficult for the Boers to locate. Reveille each day was 2.30 am so that the troops could either reach or quit their positions without being seen by the enemy. Once in position no one could leave or approach except under fire.
During the rest of the war the battalion was not engaged in any decisive actions, but marched and fought in the Transvaal - at Graskop, Bergendal, in the Lydenburg district and indeed all over the three colonies; protecting convoys, holding important centres and clearing various parts of the country. Later it took part in the big 'drives' which, carried out in combination with the blockhouse lines that had been widely established, gradually wore down the Boers and brought resistance to an end in early 1902.
Two soldiers, privates James Pitts and Robert Scott, were each awarded the Victoria Cross for their gallantry in the repulse of the Boer attack on Caesar's Camp on 6 January 1900.
On the 17th April 1903 the 1st Battalion was inspected by Brigadier-General Sir A. Dorward, K.C.B., D.S.O., commanding the Straits Settlements, who took the opportunity of presenting the officers and men with the Queen’s South African Medal; while on the 20th October all ranks entitled thereto received the King’s South African medals from the same general officer.
Early in 1904 two large drafts were received by the battalion; the first, composed of 205 non-commissioned officers and men, arrived on the 3rd March from the 3rd (Line) Battalion in South Africa, while on the 9th of the same month Second Lieutenant Sharland brought out 350 non-commissioned officers and men, the latter mostly recruits from England.
On the 13th December the battalion, under command of Colonel Maxwell, embarked on the Avoca and sailed for Madras on the following day; reaching its destination on the 19th, it landed next morning and proceeded in two trains to Secunderabad, being quartered on arrival in the Entrenchment Barracks. The embarking strength at Singapore was 18 officers, 2 warrant officers, and 739 non-commissioned officers and men, with 7 women and 10 children.
The 1st Battalion remained close upon five years at Secunderabad, moving in October 1908 to Kamptee in parties as under:
On the 9th October 2 officers and 214 other ranks.,, 26th ,, 6 ,, 412 ,,,, 27th ,, 5 ,, 293 ,, And on the departure of the battalion the General Officer Commanding the 1st Infantry Brigade, Secunderabad, published the following in brigade orders: “In bidding farewell to Colonel R. D. Vizard and all ranks of the 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment the Brigadier-General desires to record his high appreciation of the great keenness and efficiency displayed by the Battalion enlisted under his command, both when engaged in field manoeuvres and in the field of sport. The good wishes of the Brigadier-General and those of the remainder of the Brigade accompany the Battalion to its new station.”
In the Annual Inspection Report of the battalion of the 7th August 1909, Lieutenant-General Sir E. Barrow, K.C.B., Commanding Southern Army, stated of the 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment: “A very good Regiment, perhaps for physique, smartness and general ‘turn out’ the best Infantry battalion in the Southern Army.”
At the Southern India Army Rifle Association Meeting held in September 1909 at Bangalore, Colour-Sergeant Goodson of the Battalion won the “ Staff” Cup, and a team composed of Colour-Sergeant Goodson, Colour-Sergeant Eldon, Band-Sergeant Kennedy, Sergeants Robinson and Sutton won the” Wolfe-Murray” Cup. The non-commissioned officers and men who competed at this meeting won, in addition to the above- mentioned cups, Rs.713 in money prizes. Lance-Corporal Cummings and Private Rounds fired for the Army Team against the Volunteers, Lance-Corporal Cummings making the highest score for the Army.
On the 24th March 1910 Colonel Vizard with Captain Eddowes, Sergeant-Major Pike, 1 colour-sergeant, 1 sergeant, 2 corporals, and 3 privates proceeded from Kamptee to Trimulgherry to represent the battalion at the unveiling of a Memorial Brass Tablet which had been erected in All Saints’ Church to the memory of the officers, non-commissioned officers and privates who died at Secunderabad during the stay of the battalion at that place in 1904-1908.
The ceremony was attended by the Hon. Sir Charles Bayley, K.C.S.I., Resident of Hyderabad, and many old friends of the battalion. Towards the end of the year 1911 notification was received that the battalion would shortly effect a change of quarters, moving from Kamptee to Jullundur, and on the 11th and 12th October, E Company at a strength of 105 rank and file, under Captain Creagh, with Lieutenant Scully, proceeded to Jullundur, there to form a depot pending the arrival of the remainder of the battalion.
At the same time the band, 1 warrant officer and 42 other ranks, was sent from Kamptee to Delhi to form part of the massed bands there assembling for the approaching Coronation Durbar. The battalion remained at Kamptee until the 23rd November 1911, on which date, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Baldwin, who had succeeded Colonel Vizard rather more than a year previously, was dispatched by train to Delhi, which was reached on the 25th November. Here the Manchesters formed part of the 8th Brigade (Major-General Powell, C.B.) of the 3rd Division under Lieutenant-General Sir A. Pearson, K.C.B. The 8th Brigade was composed of the 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment, the 28th Punjabis, and the 47th and 53rd Sikhs, who took part in all the Durbar ceremonial parades, including the State entry of their Imperial Majesties, on which occasion the Brigade lined the route in the Chandni Chowk.
On the 10th December there was an open-air divine service parade on the Maidan, at which their Majesties were present; the 12th was the day of the Durbar. Captain Hastings, D.S.O., Lieutenants Heelis and Tillard, with 72 other ranks representing the battalion in the Durbar Amphitheatre; on the 13th the King-Emperor visited the different camps; and on the 14th there was a Grand Review attended by some 49,000 troops, British and Indian.
Of this Review the King expressed himself as follows to H.E. the Commander-in-Chief: “It gave me great pleasure to see so many of my troops on parade yesterday, including imperial Service Troops, commanded in many cases by their own chiefs. I wish you to convey to all ranks, British and Indian, Volunteers and Imperial Service, my entire satisfaction with their appearance and steadiness under arms. I realise that much hard work was entailed by the preparations for the Durbar, and by the ceremonials connected with it, and I fully appreciate the efficient manner in which these arduous duties have been carried out by the men themselves and by the staff, both executive and administrative.
” The battalion paraded this day 637 all ranks. During the Durbar period the 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment was required to furnish many Guards of Honour: On the 2nd December, on the arrival of H.E. the Lieutenant-Governor of Burma; Captain Bates, Second Lieutenant Shaw, and 50 other ranks. On the 8th a Guard from C Company under Captain Bates with Second Lieutenants Bostock and Shaw. On the 9th a Guard was provided by B Company under Captain Dunlop with Lieutenant Fox and Second Lieutenant Hickie. On the 11th a Guard was furnished by A Company under Captain Hastings, D.S.O., with Lieutenant Brown and Second Lieutenant Shipster.
On the 15th one of D Company under Major Walker with Lieutenants Mair and Musson. On the 16th December, the date of the State departure from Delhi, the streets were again lined, the battalion being stationed inside the Kashmir Gate of the Fort opposite the church. During the Durbar two silver cups were offered for competition, one for the best band present at the ceremony, the other for the best hockey team, and the band of the 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment won them both. At the conclusion of the Durbar concentration 26 Durbar Coronation Medals were allotted to the battalion, 4 to the officers, 6 to the band, and 16 to the warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men.
Before the camp broke up Lieutenant F. Handley, late sergeant in the Manchester Regiment and now of the Ordnance Department was presented with the Albert Medal, 1st Class, by His Imperial Majesty the King-Emperor in recognition of his gallant conduct in connection with the explosion of cordite in the Ferozepore Arsenal on the 31st August 1906. On the 20th December the battalion left for Jullundur by train, arriving there the same day and detaching two companies to Amritsar.
During the summer of 1912 three companies with headquarters proceeded to Dalhousie, and in the autumn of this year the battalion was rearmed with the new short M.L.E. Mark III rifle.
In January 1913 the following letter, No. 090/2169 (A.G. 1), dated the 13th January, was received from the Secretary, War Office:
“I am commanded by the Army Council to inform you that His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the 8th (Southland) Regiment, formerly the 8th Regiment (Southland Rifles), New Zealand, being shown in the War Office Army List as allied to the Manchester Regiment.”
The following correspondence passed in connection with the above:
To the Officer Commanding 1st Btn. Manchester Regiment.
From the Officer Commanding 8th (Southland) Regiment.
Invercargill, New Zealand.
24th June 1913.
“I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your very kind letter of the 22nd March and to convey to you on behalf of my officers and myself, our grateful thanks for the kind expressions and good wishes contained therein, and for your kind invitation to us to consider ourselves honorary members of your Mess; should the opportunity present itself we should be most happy to avail ourselves of this privilege.
Belonging as we do to a citizen army and consequently having no regular mess, we cannot offer you and your officers a similar compliment, but we hope if any of our comrades of the Manchester Regiment should visit New Zealand that they will favour us by calling at our Regimental Headquarters in this town, so that we may have the pleasure of meeting them and extending to them any attention and hospitality in our power.
We are proud of the honour of being officially allied to your distinguished Regiment.
With friendly greetings to yourself and your officers,
Yours very sincerely,
J. E. Watson, Major,
Commanding 8th (Southland) Regiment.”
“To Major-General W. 0. Barnard, Colonel of the Manchester Regiment.
From the Officer Commanding 8th Southland Regiment.
Invercargill, New Zealand.
24th June 1913.
I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your very kind letter of 19th April, and to convey to you on my own behalf, as well as on behalf of all ranks of my Regiment, our very sincere and grateful thanks for the kind expressions and good wishes contained therein.
We are very sensible of the honour so graciously conferred upon our Regiment by His Majesty the King in approving of the arrangement to officially affiliate us with so distinguished a Regiment in His Majesty’s regular army.
If any of our comrades of the Manchester Regiment should visit this outpost of the Empire, we hope they will favour us by calling at our Regimental Headquarters in this town, so that we may have the pleasure of meeting them and doing our best to show them some hospitality.
Believe me, dear Sir,
J. E. Watson, Major,
Commanding 8th (Southland) Regiment.”