Based on extracts from-A short history of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, 1741-1922 for the young soldiers of the Regiment. By R.B. Crosse
Battle honours gained:- Mysore. Hindoostan.
The year 1660, in which H.M. King Charles II returned from exile to the throne, is known as the year of the Restoration. It also marks the birth of the Regular Army of our country.
The Army was kept very small in time of peace, and new regiments were raised for war, instead of, as in the war of 1914-19, new battalions being added to already existing regiments. The new regiments, or those considered surplus to requirements, were disbanded at the conclusion of hostilities.
Up to 1881 regiments did not use territorial titles, but were known until 1751 by the names of their Colonels, and then by their numbers officially, as well as only in the sense in which we still say " the 43rd " and " the 52nd." A connection with counties and districts was established in 1782.
At the end of 1755 orders were issued for the Army to be increased by eleven regiments of infantry of the line, as well as some regiments of cavalry, including those whom we knew until lately as the 15th Hussars, 16th Lancers, 17th Lancers, and 18th Hussars. The infantry were the 52nd, 53rd, 54th (Colonel Lambton's Regiment), 55th, 56th, 57th, 58th, 5gth, 60th, 61st, and 62nd ; but after about a year, when the 50th (Colonel Shirley's) and the 51st (Sir William Pepperell's) were disbanded, the numbers of the remaining regiments were changed, and Colonel Lambton's Regiment became the 52nd. Both the 43rd and the 52nd were originally numbered 54th.
Early in 1756 the formation of the Regiment was completed, and it was quartered at Coventry and other stations in the Midlands and South of England until proceeding, in 1758 to Ireland, where it remained for some years, and where it was reduced to peace establishment in 1763.
In June, 1765, the 52nd embarked at Cork for North America, arrived at Quebec two months later and remained there and elsewhere in Canada until the American War of Independence in 1774.
From a Royal Warrant of 1768 we learn something of the uniform of this period. The colour of the facings was buff, and remained so until 1881; the clothing was scarlet coat, faced and lined with buff, and ornamented with white lace, with a red worm and one orange stripe; buff waistcoat and breeches, and black gaiters.
In the summer of 1774 the 52nd moved by sea to Boston, and in the camp of General Gage's army, met the 43rd, who had come out from home. Here both regiments were quartered until the opening of the campaign against the American Colonists in the following spring.
On April l9th, 1775, the combat of Lexington took place, followed on June 17th by the attack on the rebel entrenchments near Bunker Hill, from which the battle took its name. Here the third line, in which were the 43rd and 52nd, fighting together for the first time, passed through the leading troops, who were almost entirely mown down, and carried the rebel trenches in a bayonet charge. The losses were very heavy, only eight men of the Grenadier Company of the 52nd remaining unhurt.
The Regiment, together with the 43rd, took part in the evacuation of Boston, and in the capture of New York and other places in 1776, as well as in the victories of Brandywine River and Germantown in 1777. At the latter, on September 20th, the Light Company earned the name of " The Bloodhounds." In the summer campaign of 1778 the Grenadier Company again suffered severely, and towards the end of that year the cadre of the Regiment embarked for England, for a period of home service which lasted about four years.
In 1782, by the wish of H.M. King George III, regiments were affiliated with counties for recruiting purposes, the 52nd became the Oxfordshire Regiment, but no trace can be found of any steps taken to obtain recruits in the county at that time. This may be due to the fact that the Regiment was shortly to embark for India, and would have to be made up to strength with men transferred from other corps, according to the custom of that time.
Early in 1783 the 52nd embarked for its first tour in India, and landed at Madras in August. Fighting was already in progress against Tippoo Sahib, Sultan of Mysore, and the Regiment took part in the Siege of Cannanore. The town surrendered in December, 1783, and peace came in March,1784.
The Regiment was stationed in the Madras presidency till 1789 being then again complete with drafts of about four hundred men from England. At the end of that year Tippoo Sahib violated the peace treaty by attacking Travancore, and operations against him were resumed in the following summer, The 52nd took part in the Sieges of Dindigul and Paulighatcherry, and in the pursuit of the enemy until the capture of Bangalore in March, 1791, After fighting at Seringapatam, Nundydroog, and elsewhere, the Regiment stormed the mountain fortress of Savendroog in December, the band playing " Britons strike home! " during the assault. Outredroog was then taken and Seringapatam was again besieged, but peace was signed in February, 1792, before it fell.
The next three years, except for the capture of Pondicherry from the French in 1793, were spent in garrison at Poonamallee near Madras, and at Secunderamally, and in the capture of Ceylon from the Dutch (1795-96).
From 1796 the Regiment was at Tanjore until it embarked at Madras, on July 19th, 1798, for England, arriving at Chatham in August and at Colchester in December of that year.
During the year 1799, which was spent at Barking and at Ashford, some two thousand men volunteered into the 52nd from Militia regiments, so that a second battalion was raised in December, and of this battalion Major-General John Moore was appointed Colonel-Commandant.
In 1800 both battalions of the 52nd took part in the expedition to Ferrol, on the coast of Spain, and after landing there in August and driving the enemy out of position, they re-embarked and proceeded to Gibraltar, moving thence in November to Lisbon. In 1801 General Cyrus Trapaud died. He had been Colonel of the Regiment since 1778, and Major-General Moore, Colonel-Commandant of the 2nd Battalion, was appointed Colonel in his place (May 8th).
On returning to England in June, 1801, the 1st Battalion was stationed at Canterbury and Deal, and the and Battalion at Ashford and Dover, till November, 1802, when both were assembled at Chatham, and quartered there till the 1st Battalion became Light Infantry in 1803.