LINE REGIMENTS CONNECTED TO THE COUNTY OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
Historically, Buckinghamshire relied for its defence upon the County Militia which, whilst tracing its ancestry to the Shire Levies/Train Bands was formed into a regiment in 1642 at High Wycombe, which was redesignated as the Royal Buckinghamshire Militia (Kings Own) in 1794.
In 1881 it became the 3rd Bn. The Oxfordshire Light Infantry and, as such, was disbanded in 1908 consequent upon the Haldane Reforms.
This was the third regiment to be lost to the County in a period of 27 years for in 1881, consequent upon the Cardwell Reforms of the Regular Army, the two Regular Infantry Regiments long associated with the County were obliged to sever their connection with Buckinghamshire.
Thus the 14th (Buckinghamshire or The Prince of Wales’s Own) Regiment of Foot became the Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) and the 85th (Bucks Volunteers) (King’s Light Infantry) became the 2nd Bn. King's Shropshire Light Infantry.
This amalgamation between the 53rd Shropshire Regiment and the 85th K.L.I, was part of a last-minute re-shuffle of the Regiments of Foot which was to have repercussions not only in the Counties of Shropshire and Buckinghamshire, but also in Oxfordshire, Monmouthshire and Herefordshire.
Whilst Home Defence largely rested with the County Militia, commanded by the Lords Lieutenant until the Cardwell Reforms, following the Civil War and the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 Regular Regiments were raised or brought into service in accordance with the dictates of our overseas commitments and Empire, each Regiment until 1751 bearing its Colonel's name, but thereafter its precedence number in order of date of raising. In 1782 was initiated a system whereby certain of the Regiments of Foot were allocated Counties for the purpose of recruiting "by beat of drum", but this was not fully exploited until the "Territorialisation of the Regular Army under the Cardwell Reforms.
These Reforms involved recommendations by the Stanley Committee which in 1877 suggested ;
1) The 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot should become -The South Wales Regiment (Borderers)
2) The 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment of Foot and The 53rd (Shropshire) Regiment of Foot should become - The Shropshire Regiment Light Infantry.
3) The 52nd (Oxfordshire Light Infantry) Regiment and The 85th (Bucks Volunteers) (The King's Light Infantry) Regiment should become – The Oxford and Bucks Regiment (Light Infantry)
This was logical and recognised the existence of the Brigade Depot system whereby:
Brecon was the 25th Brigade Depot of the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regt.
Shrewsbury was the 21 Brigade Depot of the 43 Monmouthshire L.I. and the 53 Shropshire Regiment.
Oxford was the 42 Brigade Depot of the 52 Oxfordshire L.I, and the 85th (Bucks Volunteers) K.L.I.
However, in the event, these amalgamations were set aside, so it is said, because of connections between the 43rd and 52nd in the Peninsula, because of a Shropshire connection with a previous Regiment numbered the 85th and because of the insignificant fact that at one time both the 43rd and the 52nd had been numbered the 54th.
Whilst the Regular Army was not much concerned with the effect of such "family matters" upon the new recruiting Counties, the Counties themselves quickly showed their feelings by paying unusual attention to their own indigenous Rifle Volunteer Units which had been raised in 1859/60 and it is not without significance that when these units were later to "be consolidated into the new "Territorial Regiments", as the former Regiments of Foot became known, they resisted the official directions that they should assume Volunteer Battalion numbers within the County Regiments and remained independent in title, even after 1908, although not in practice:
The Monmouthshire Regiment T.F.)- South Wales Borderers
The Brecknockshire Battalion T.F ) - South Wales Borderers
The Herefordshire Regiment T.F. ) - K.S.L.I
4th Bn. K.S.L.I. T.F. )- K.S.L.I.
The Buckinghamshire Bn. T.F. )- Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire LI
The 4th Bn. Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire L.I. T.F.)- Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire LI
The Regular Regiment itself did not include reference to Buckinghamshire until 1908 on the disbandment of the Royal Bucks Kings Own Militia.
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