Regimental Battle Honours
Battles fought by the 33rd and 76th Regiments which are not commemorated on the Colours
The award of battle Honours did not become practice until 1800. The first campaign award, in 1802, that of the 'Sphinx', was to the 31 regiments which had taken part in the campaign in Egypt in the preceding year. From then on the award of battle Honours became more and more frequent, but the wars, campaigns and battles fought before 1800 continued to remain unrecognised. It was not until 1881 that an attempt was made to remedy the situation. This explains, for instance, why 'Dettingen', fought in 1743, did not become a Battle Honour of the 33rd until 1882. The rules laid down that only victories would qualify and then only "provided their results have left their mark on history which renders them familiar". Under that rule the Battle Honour of 'Bed Boo Ali' (1823), and other similarly little known actions, hardly seem to qualify. It was also laid down that the HQ and at least half the regiment must have been present - a rule not always strictly followed. The inconsistencies resulting from trying to apply rules to something not easily subjected to a system are shared by all regiments. However, a battle not emblazoned on the Colours may easily slide into obscurity, which does less than justice to those who fought in it. Listed next are some battles of the 33rd and 76th which are not shown on the Colours but should not, on that account, be forgotten.
The War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713)
There were two theatres of war, North West Europe (Flanders and Germany) and the Spanish Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). British troops who fought in NW Europe became eligible for the Battle Honours Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet - though not until 1882. On the other hand the British troops who fought in the Peninsula, including the 33rd, received nothing. That was because they had to surrender at Brihuega (1710), where they were overwhelmed by a French army of 20,000 men. The British Commander, General Stanhope, reported; "...we had not 500 men who had any ammunition... should I ever again be entrusted with troops I never desire to serve with better men."
Other battles deserving to be remembered are Valenza (1705); Alcantara (1706) and Saragossa (1710), all of which were convincing victories. Almanza (1707) would also have been a victory, had the Portuguese cavalry not fled at a critical moment.
The War of the Austrian Succession (1742-1748)
Although the 33rd gained the Battle Honour Dettingen during this war, there are two other battles which particularly deserve to be remembered. At Fontenoy (1745) the British infantry excelled itself. Victory was denied them because of the failure of the attacks elsewhere in the line. Casualties of the 33rd totalled 189, among whom was the CO who was killed. Lauffeld (1747) was another defeat that so nearly could have been a victory. The fact that it was not was due to the Dutch cavalry becoming panic-stricken and charging into the lines of the allied infantry.
The Seven Years War (1756-1763)
Although the 33rd saw much active service, both in France and Germany, it did not take part in any battle "which left its mark on history". In 1758 it was involved in two raids on the north coast of France, neither of which was successful. At the end of the second expedition the army had to beat a hurried withdrawal to its ships, lying off St. Cas. The grenadiers (which included the grenadier company of the 33rd) formed the rearguard and were practically decimated. From 1760 to 1763 the 33rd campaigned in Germany. Here again the grenadier company of the 33rd distinguished itself, particularly at Warburg. Applying the standards of today the 33rd would at least have been granted the Honours France 1758 and Germany 1760-1763.
The American War of Independence (1775 - 1783)
As the war ended in defeat for the British no honours have been awarded for battles fought during the several arduous campaigns. Those in which the 33rd took part were: Brooklyn (1776), Brandy wine (1777), German Town (1777), Monmouth Court House (1778), Camden (1780), Guildford Court House (1781) and Yorktown (1781). At Guildford Court House the 33rd formed part of a force under Lord Cornwallis which defeated an American force twice as large.
The Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815)
Eventually no less than ten Battle Honours were awarded to the 33rd and 76th for their services during the long period of the wars against Napoleon. There are however five campaigns/ battles which ought to be remembered.
Following the victories against the Mahrattas at Ally Ghur, Delhi, Deig and Leswaree in 1803/04, General Lake decided to capture the fortress at Bhurtpore. Because of the size of the fort and the inadequacy of his forces (less than 10,000 troops against 50,000) he did not succeed, despite four determined attempts. In these attempts the 76th suffered 306 casualties - considerably more than it had incurred at any of the four battles which are officially recognised as Honours.
In 1809 the 76th formed part of a large force sent to the Walcheren peninsula in Flanders. Although battle casualties were low the force was stricken by disease. In July 1809, when the Regiment embarked on the expedition, it was 818 strong. Five months later it had 646 laid low with Walcheren fever (malaria).
In 1814 it was the 33rd's turn to be sent to Flanders where it was part of the force sent to attack the near impregnable fortress at Bergen-op-Zoom. In the ensuing unsuccessful attack over 150 men of the 33rd were killed, wounded or missing.
In the same year the 76th were sent to Canada. The intention was to attack the state of New York, the flank of the advancing troops being protected by the Navy operating on Lake Champlain. However the Navy lost control to the Americans, so that the British Army had to withdraw, having first fought an engagement at Plattsburg.
Waterloo is of course a Battle Honour. However the quite separate action at Quatre Bras, two days earlier, was a vital preliminary and one in which the 33rd played a critical role. For Wellington the victory at Quatre Bras "relieved his mind of all doubt as to the concentration of his army and the working out of his contemplated plans".
Regimental Battle Honours List
- War of the Austrian Succession
- Crimean War:
- South Africa:
- World War I:
- Mons, Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914 and 1918, Aisne 1914, La Bassée 1914, Ypres 1914, 1915 and 1917, Nonne Bosschen, Hill 60, Gravenstafel, St. Julien, Aubers, Somme 1916 and 1918, Albert 1916 and 1918, Bazentin, Delville Wood,Pozières, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Thiepval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Arras 1917 and 1918, Scarpe 1917 and 1918, Arleux,Bullecourt, Messines 1917 and 1918, Langemarck 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle,Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 and 1918, St Quentin, Ancre 1918, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Bailleul, Kemmel, Bethune,Scherpenberg, Tardenois, Amiens, Bapaume 1918, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Havrincourt, Épehy, Canal du Nord, Selle,Valenciennes, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Piave, Vittorio Veneto, Italy 1917-18, Suvla, Landing at Suvla, Scimitar Hill,Gallipoli 1915, Egypt 1916
- Third Anglo-Afghan War
- World War II:
- Dunkirk 1940, St. Valery-en-Caux, Tilly sur Seulles, Odon, Fontenay Le Pesnil, North-West Europe 1940 and 1944-45, Banana Ridge, Medjez Plain, Gueriat el Atach Ridge, Tunis, Djebel Bou Aoukaz 1943, North Africa 1943, Anzio, Campoleone, Rome,Monte Ceco, Italy 1943-45, Sittang 1942, Paungde, Kohima, Chindits 1944, Burma Campaign (1942-44)
- Iraq 2003 (Theatre Honour)