Accessibility Statement
Skip to main content
Chat icon Chat with us live

Museum of the Manchester Regiment


The 3rd Battalion (1900-1906)

The new Third (Line) Battalion of the Manchester Regiment was raised at Aldershot on the 1 March 1900, Lieutenant-Colonel Gethin from the 2nd Battalion being appointed to command a fortnight later. Within some nine months at most of the creation of the new battalion it had already begun to be called upon to furnish officers and men to comply with the incessant calls for both from the seat of war in South Africa. Thus, on the 2nd January 1901, 18 men left for South Africa to form part of a composite company of mounted infantry; again, on the 6th May 1 officer and 17 other ranks embarked for the war with No. 6 Composite Mounted Infantry Company; No. 7 Company of the same arm took away 1 officer and 32 men from the battalion on the 7 October; a month later a draft of 103 “ other ranks “ embarked for the war; and finally on the 7 February I902 15 men sailed with No. 18 Aldershot Company Mounted Infantry for service at the front.

During the stay of the battalion at Aldershot the 3rd Battalion was, on the 24 May 1902, presented by Field-Marshal Lord Roberts with its first set of Colours, the religious part of the ceremony being performed by Bishop Taylor Smith, Chaplain-General to the Forces. The 3rd Battalion was now to proceed on its first tour of Foreign Service, and being railed from Aldershot to the port of embarkation it there embarked on the 28 July in the hired transport Dominion for St. Helena at a strength of 15 officers, 2 warrant officers, 37 sergeants, 23 corporals, 16 drummers, and 418 privates. On arrival at the island on the 12th August the battalion disembarked and proceeded to Longworth Camp, in relief of the 3rd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment. The battalion made a stay of no more than four and a half months at St. Helena, when, leaving behind B and C Companies, it embarked in the Plassey on the 31st December for Cape Town, landed there six days later and was sent by rail to Middelburg, Cape Colony, arriving there on the 9th January 1903, and relieving the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers: 4 officers and 103 men from the 4th Battalion joined on board ship prior to leaving St. Helena.

Of the officers whom the battalion had sent to the war Captain Hopkins was mentioned in dispatches. Two drafts now reached the battalion in quick succession, 157 men coming in February from the 4th Battalion, and 139 from the 2nd, now at home again ; with the arrival of this last draft the strength of the 3rd Battalion, including the two companies detached at St. Helena, now reached a total of 1,118 all ranks, and of these 134 men were in April sent to reinforce B and C Companies at St. Helena; but within rather less than a year, on the 16th January 1904, these two companies rejoined headquarters in South Africa, their strength being 4 officers, 206 other ranks, with 3 women and 11 children.

At the end of January a draft of 9 officers and 200 men proceeded to Singapore to join the 1st Battalion. In February 1904 Lieutenant-Colonel Gethin on completion of four years in command was placed on half-pay, and was in the following May succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel J. Abbot-Anderson.

During the ensuing six months two drafts came out from home, one arrived in July and contained 1 officer and 104 other ranks, the other came out in January 1905 and was composed of 114 men. In January 1906 headquarters proceeded to Middelburg, Transvaal, detaching half the battalion to Barberton, there to be quartered, and during this year drafts of a total strength of 183 non-commissioned officers and men were received from the 2nd and 4th Battalions. On the 13 September the following Special Army Order was published:

Reduction in Establishments.
“His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the following battalions of the Foot Guards and Infantry of the Line being reduced.
Foot Guards— 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards.
3rd Battalion Scots Guards.
Infantry of the Line
3rd and 4th Btns Northumberland Fusiliers.
3rd and 4th Btns Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
3rd and 4th Btns Lancashire Fusiliers.
3rd and 4th Btns Manchester Regiment.

“These reductions will be carried into effect under instructions that will be issued from time to time. The reduction of the 3rd Btn. Coldstream Guards will be postponed for the present.”

On the 22 October the battalion, under Major James, who had assumed command in the month previous on Lieutenant-Colonel Abbot- Anderson being appointed Commandant of the Legation Guard, Peking, embarked at Cape Town in the Braemar Castle and sailed for Southampton, which was reached on the 19 November. Here the battalion was put on board the freight ship Frederica, 4 officers and 130 men proceeding to Alderney and 16 officers and 299 other ranks to Guernsey. The disbandment of the battalion which had already begun now went rapidly forward, the non-commissioned officers and men being transferred to the 2nd Battalion, and by the 1 December the disbandment was completed, only the battalion staff remaining.

On the 6 December Colonel W. G. Gwatkin, Director of Operations and Staff Duties, Canadian Militia, and formerly of the Manchester Regiment, arrived with War Office authority to enlist men for the Canadian Military forces, and 120 men of the disbanded battalion volunteered for service in the Royal Canadian Regiment. This is the first instance of men being enlisted from the Imperial Forces for the Canadian service. On the 14 December the Commanding Officer and Battalion Staff, having handed over all records, etc., at Preston, reported for duty to the 63rd Regimental Depot.