The Somerset Light Infantry

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The Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's)

Extracted from "The Territorial Battalions, A Pictorial History 1859-1985" by Ray Westlake
further details are given on these battalions in appropriate sections of the site

4th Battalion

In 1860 the County of Somersetshire organised its existing rifle volunteer corps into three admin battalions. The headquarters of each were - 1st at Bath, 2nd at Taunton and 3rd at Wells. The three battalions became the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Somersetshire Rifle Volunteer Corps in 1880, and in 1882 were the first to be shown in General Orders as having changed to a 'Volunteer Battalion' designation - 1st, 2nd and 3rd Somersetshire Light Infantry.

In 1908 the Somerset Light Infantry were allotted two Territorial Force battalions, the 4th and 5th. These were formed from the members of the three existing volunteer battalions which were amalgamated for this purpose. Headquarters of the 4th Battalion were placed at Bath, its recruitment area being the northern part of the county. As part of the Wessex Division, the battalion sailed for India in October 1914, landing at Bombay on the 9 November. In February 1916, the battalion went to Basra to join the 37th Indian Brigade. It was transferred the same year to the 41st Indian Brigade and served on lines of communication work in Mesopotamia.

Upon formation, the 2/4th Battalion joined the 45th Division, and on 12 December 1914, sailed for India. On 25 September 1917, the battalion landed at Suez and joined the 75th Division near Deir el Balah. From here the 2/4th went to France where it served as a pioneer battalion with the 34th division for the remainder of the war. The 3/4th provided the 4th (Reserve) Bn.

The 4th Somersets fought in NW Europe as part of the 43rd Infantry Division during 1944-5, and was amalgamated with the 5th and 6th battalions of the regiment in May 1950. The title, 4th/5th Battalion was later assumed.

In 1959, the regular battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry was amalgamated with that of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry to form the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry. The following year the 4th Battalion was permitted to carry on the old regimental tide, and from then on was known as the Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's). The battalion later formed part of the 6th (Volunteer) Battalion, Light Infantry.

5th Battalion

This battalion had originally been raised in 1859 as rifle volunteer companies. Headquarters of the 5th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry was at Taunton, its recruiting area being south of a line Burnham to Wincanton. The battalion went with the Wessex Division to India in October 1914, and later served in Egypt and Palestine. The 2/5th also served in India while the 3/5th remained at home as a reserve unit.

During the Second World War, the 5th Somersets served in the UK. In 1947 it was converted to 630 Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery and in 1950 reverted to an infantry role and was absorbed into the 4th Battalion.

6th Battalion

Formed in 1939 at Wells as a duplicate of the 4th Battalion, it served in the UK throughout the war, being amalgamated with the 4th and 5th Somersets in 1950 to form the 4th Battalion.

7th Battalion

Formed in 1939 as a duplicate of the 5th Battalion at Taunton, the battalion remained in the UK until 1944, when it took part in the NW Europe operations. It was amalgamated in 1947 with the 5th Battalion and converted to 630 Medium Regiment Royal Artillery.

8th (Home Defence) Battalion

See 30th Battalion

11th Battalion

Formed in 1915 as 85th Provisional Battalion (TF), it became 11th Somersets in 1917 and in 1918 served as a garrison guard battalion. The 11th went to France with the 59th Division in May 1918.

12th (West Somerset Yeomanry) Battalion

This battalion was formed on 4 January 1917 in Egypt, where it had been serving in a dismounted role. The battalion became part of the 74th (Yeomanry) Division, fought in Palestine, and from May 1918, in France and Belgium.

30th Battalion

Formed in 1936 as D and E Companies of 80b Group National Defence Companies, it became 8th (Home Defence) Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry in 1939 and 30th Bn in 1941. The battalion served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy and was disbanded in 1946.


Wednesday, 21 September, 2016 18:27

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