The King's Regiment (Liverpool)

This article is part of the
The King's Regiment History.
8th (The King's) Regiment of Foot
The King's Regiment (Liverpool)
63rd Regiment of Foot
The Manchester Regiment
The King's Regiment

The Reforms

In 1881, under Childers reforms, the continuation of Cardwell's reforms, the army was further overhauled, with the regular, militia and volunteer battalions of the army being brought intor one structure, as well as being given connections with cities and counties. The 8th King's Regiment of Foot was changed to The King's (Liverpool Regiment) in that year.

The 1st King's, in between its colonial duties, saw service at home, though at times, it was not peaceful. Their barracks were attacked by Fenian terrorists, which caused some structural damage. It also killed a child and badly wounded its mother. In Manchester riots broke out due to a mineworkers strike. The King's assisted in the quelling of the disturbances, it was an event that would become familar to the regiment in the latter parts of their deployment to Ireland, which they were dispatched to in 1882. The regiment in 1886 was involved in four riots in Belfast, sparked off by the defeat of the Home Rule Bill in Parliament that year. The Protestants had gone to the streets in celebration of the defeat of the bill, whereas Catholics lit their chimneys on fire in protest at the defeat. Predictably, confrontations naturally flared up between the two conflicting groups. About fifty people died during the disturbances. The battalion returned to England three years later.

The Colonial Wars

In 1885, a new war had flared up, this time against Burma, the Third Burmese War. The 2nd King's, who were still stationed in India from their participation in the war against Afghanistan, took part in the campaign. The 2nd King's were part of the force that travelled up the Irrawaddy River, capturing a number of forts, as well as the capture of Myingyan The annexation of Upper Burma was complete by the 1st January 1886. The regiment then proceeded to assist in the fight against a persistent guerilla campaign, which they did with great courage, their participation lasting over a year, however the guerilla campaign lasted into 1890. Like the 1st King's when they had departed India, the 2nd King's garrisoned Aden for a year before their return to the UK in 1892. The 1st King's were stationed in Canada, indeed they were the last battalion of the regiment to be stationed in the country, as well as being stationed in Jamaica just before they were deployed to South Africa in 1893.

In 1899 the Boer War began. The 1st King's along with a number of other regiments took part in an abortive attack on Boer forces who were converging on the British-held town of Ladysmith in late 1899. The attack, orchestrated by Lieutenant-General Sir George White VC, was complicated, that was bound to fail from the beginning it was first envisaged. The regiment was exposed to much horrendous fire by the Boer commandos, though thankfully suffered light casualties. All forces soon withdrew back to Ladysmith, the siege had begun. The 1st King's, as well as every other regiment, fought with courage and professionalism repelling a number of attacks by the Boer sieges, as well as suffering heavy bombardment throughout the siege, in which three major operations to relieve the besieged defenders had failed. The siege ended on the 28th February 1900, it had started on the 29th October 1899.

In August 1900, during operations around Van Wyk Vlei, the 1st King's were involved in very heavy fighting, indeed two of its men, in an incredibly courageous action, won the Victoria Cross. Throughout the operations in that area, the King's suffered a number of casualties, with another Kingsman also winning the VC at Geluk Farm. The 1st King's took part in further action that year, as well as into 1901, being involved in some tough scrapes with the Boers. In 1905 the King's Regiment had a statue, with the figure of Britannia atop it, along with four standing soldiers on each side, representing the history of the regiment, built in commemoration of their service during the Boer War. It is located in St. John's Gardens, Liverpool.

First World War

The year 1914 was the beginning of the war to end all wars, and the King's distinguished themselves throughout the war, fighting in all-most every theatre. The British Army, in their distinctive peaked caps and khaki uniform, fought valiantly, at times, in vain, fighting the German Army. The regiment itself The 1st King's were to part in the first engagement the Allies fought in, Mons. The British suffered over 1,600 casualties, the Germans over 6,000. The casualties would be, to modern eyes, immense, though minuscule in comparison to the battles that were to come.

The 1st King's, during the Withdrawal from Mons, were the rearguard for the 2nd Division, taking part in the rearguard action at Villers-Cotteréts on the 1st September as part of 6th Brigade. The 1st King's inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans, preventing them from capturing the guns of the Royal Field Artillery. The withdrawal had begun on the 24th August, it had ended on the 5th September. The British Army's bravery in the face of overwhelming German numbers arguably saved the Allies from defeat.

The 1st King's were in action just one day later, on the 6th, at the First Battle of the Marne, taking part in a number of actions during the duration of the battle, which, in the end, resulted in the Allies and Germans digging in, positions that would be manned until the end of the war, and would not be removed until a few years after the war.

The regiment also fought at the First Battle of the Aisne, fighting at Chemin des Dames, in one action, suffering casualties during heavy fighting, with German artillery and rifle fire pouring into them.

The 1st King's also fought at the First Battle of Ypres, which began on the 19th October 1914. They took part in some heavy fighting to capture the small village of Molenaarelstoek, just nort-east of Polygon Wood, in which they captured the village successfully. The 1st King's suffered many casualties in doing so, indeed Lieutenant-Colonel William Bannatyne, the 1st King's commanding officer, had been mortally wounded by a sniper. They also fought at Gheluvelt on the last day of the engagement, supporting the 2nd Worcestershire Regiment, famous for its heroic actions during the battle. The 1st King's took part in further engagements during 'First Ypres'. They had lost over 800 men in the course of the battle, which had begun on the 19th October and ended on the 22nd November.

They took part in a subsidiary action of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, losing over 200 men in the process. The 4th King's, a Special Reserve battalion, part of the Lahore Division of the British Indian Army, took part in the Second Battle of Ypres. They took part in a number of actions in the St Julien area, in which the battalion suffered over 400 casualties. The 1/6th King's and 1/10th King's also fought at Ypres, the latter taking part in an engagement at Hill 60 in May, during German attempts to capture the position, which they had actually captured and lost the month before. The battalion, supporting the 1st Cheshire Regiment, took part in the attack on the Hill, now held by the Germans. The battle lasted two days, and the 1/6th King's suffered over 100 casualties in some very heavy fighting.

Four battalions of the King's regiment were involved in the Battle of Festubert. The 1/7th King's were part of the first wave of the attack, performing with great courage in the attack, reaching the second-line German trenches. Later on the 1st Kings, 1/7th Kings, 1/5th Kings and 4th King's all performed with much bravery for the rest of the battle, being in many heavy engagements with the Germans during the duration of the battle, which lasted until 25th May. In all, the four battalions of the King's suffered over 1,400 casualties.

Two of the King's battalions also fought at the First Battle of Bellewaarde and the Second Battle of Givenchy. Eight battalions of the regiment took part in the Battle of Loos, which lasted from the 25th September to the 19th October 1915. The 1/9th King's, part of the 2nd Division, successfully capturing over 300 German prisoners during action on the 25th September. The 1st King's, during the first day of the battle, suffered heavy casualties in taking the German front-line trenches. Both battalions took part in further actions, especially the German counter-attack on the 8th October.

On 1st July 1916, many of the battalions of the King's Regiment took part in the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army, the Battle of the Somme. Many of the King's battalions on the first day were involved in heavy fighting, thoughy thankfully suffering, compared to many other regiments, limited casualties. Fourteen battalions took part in the five attempts to capture the village of Guillemont, taking place from July to September. During the third attempt, horrendous casualties were incurred on the British forces. Indeed, three companies of the 1st and 1/8th King's were surrounded by German forces and subsequently cut to pieces by ferocious enemy fire. By the end of the fifth battle for the small village, on the 3rd September, the 12th King's were the only battalion of the regiment to take part in the final capture of the village.

The King's Regiment wasn't just confined to the Western Front, indeed, in 1915, the 14th King's were deployed to Salonika, where there was a four division expeditionary force in place. The battalion took part in a number of limited actions, compared to other theatres at least, in the Balkans from 1916-18.

In the Western Front, battalions of the King's fought throughout the Arras Offensive of 1917, which was, for the first few days at least, relatively successful, though it soon began to stall once the German Army began reinforcing its defences. The regiment's battalions once again involved in the Ypres sector, taking part in the Third Battle of Ypres, which began in July, not ending until November 1917. During one action, the 1/10th King's, or 'Liverpool Scottish', performed with great resolve and courage during late July to early August. Captain Noel Chavasse VC of that battalion, died on the 4th August of wounds incurred, after performing remarkable heroics in looking after wounded soldiers on the battlefield for a number of days, refusing medical attention despite the serious wounds he had suffered. He won a posthumous VC for his actions, the second he had been awarded with.

In March 1918, a large German counter-attack occurred. It was a deadly gamble by the German High Command, who put many of its assets into the offensive in the hope of winning the war before American manpower could reach the Western Front and destroy the advantage German had in manpower. Many of the King's battalions were involved, seeing much action, also suffering many casualties. Indeed the 19th King's was literally obliterated in the engagements in the Scarpe area, losing all of their men in just two days. Other battalions of the King's saw much action in the latter parts of the offensive, at times incurring heavy casualties on the Germans, as well as repulsing their attacks.

A number of battalions of the King's Regiment fought in further actions in August of that year. Further battalions saw some ferocious and bitter fighting in the last weeks of the 'Great War'. The war was over with the Armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The King's had fought valiantly on the Western Front and elsewhere, their deeds, as of all men and regiments of every nation that fought in the First World War, are not forgotten.

Inter-War period

The 17th King's was part of the Allied intervention in Russia during its Civil War, intended to help the "White Army" in its fight against the Bolsheviks. The battalion saw limited action against the Bolshevik forces during its time in Russia. The battalion was disbanded in September 1919.

In 1921 the regiment's name was inversed, becoming The King's Regiment (Liverpool).

1st King's

The 1st King's took part in operations against the IRA from 1920 when they moved to Bantry, County Cork in Ireland. The regiment then joined the Army of Occupation in Turkey in 1923. After the Army withdre from Turkey, the battalion moved back home before heading for the island of Malta in the Mediterranean in 1926. It remained there until 1927 when it moved to the Sudan and then Egypt the following year. The battalion was posted to Indian in 1932, based initially in Jubbulpore. It was based throughout India, remaining there into the Second World War.

2nd King's

During the inter-war periopd, the regiment spent much of its time garrisoning throughout the British Empire, now the primary role of the British Army. The 2nd King's, who had been stationed in British India a few years before WWI broke out, had remained there until it was deployed to the Sudan in the early 1920s. It moved to the Hong Kong garrison in 1922, returning to India in 1924. Their stay in India was, however, brief and they were posted to Iraq the following year. It moved to Britain in 1927, remaining there for 11 years until its posting to Gibraltar in 1938. This was the battalion's last peaceful deployment before the Second World War began.

Second World War

By the outbreak of war, the 1st King's, 2nd King's and 13th King's, were all stationed abroad. Not all King's battalions were abroad however, the 5th, 8th, 9th and 10th King's were all stationed in the UK, the latter two being raised in 1939 due to the outbreak of the war. No King's battalions took part in the BEF operations, though by 1943 the King's were certainly taking part in active operations.

In that year 2nd King's departed Gibraltar, where they had been stationed since 1938, for Egypt, then Tunisia. The 13th King's became part of the famous Chindits, taking part in Operation Longcloth, the operation beginning on the 8th February. The Chindits objectives were to cut off a number of railway lines. By 6th March, the Chindits had achieved one of their objectives, destroying a railway brdige and wrecking some railway lines. By the 24th March, the Chindits were ordered to withdraw, the men exhausted and lacking many supplies. The Chindit columns dispersed going their separate ways, but with one objective, getting home. By the time the surviving Chindits had returned, of the 3,000 men that had set off on the operation, 2,182 men had returned, yet just 600 were regarded fit for duty.

The following year Operation Thursday began, the second Chindit operation. The 1st King's replace 13th King's for this operation, and were part of 77 Brigade under the command of Brigadier Michael Calvert. The 1st King's took part in some fierce fighting against the Japanese during their time in Burma, also taking part in the capture of Mogaung. All Chindits had withdrew from Burma by late August 1944.

The 5th and 8th King's, the latter known as the 'Liverpool Irish', were part of the vast invasion force during the Normandy Landings. The 5th were part of the 3rd Division, who were to land at 'Sword Beach'. The Liverpool Irish were a spearhead battalion of the amphibious assault on 'Juno Beach', and were attached to the 3rd Canadian Division. The Liverpool Irish saw much action on the beach, at one point charging through minefields to take some German strongpoints, in which they did do successfully.

The 5th King's were also in the thick of it at Sword Beach, coming under fire from German machine gunners and snipers, despite assault companies having already landed, though some of these German positions had simply been bypassed by the assault forces. One of the 5th King's platoons came under fire, the platoon returned fire, then subsequently stormed and took the position, taking sixteen prisoners in the process. In August, the 8th King's were disbanded, the 5th King's later being reduced to cadre strength, though they avoided being disbanded thanks to Lieutenant-Colonel G.D. Wreford-Browne who argued that the 5th King's was almost the most senior of battalions of the Territorial Army and were duly made upto full-strength in the summer.

The 5th King's, now part of 'T (Target) Force', which was a force designed to seize important targets, such as equipment, intelligence, installations and personnel. The 5th King's reached the Walterwerke in Kiel, the location of an important submarine factory. There, elements of the battalion also captured the German cruiser Admiral Hipper in May 1945, as well as taking 7,000 German sailors prisoner.

In the Italian Campaign, in May 1944, the 2nd King's took part in the 4th Division's crossing of the Rapido River, which was designed to seize objectives in preparation for, what was to be, the final assault on Monte Cassino. The British came under intense mortar and artillery fire from the German forces. Once they had crossed, it was still not over, the 2nd King's fought with much bravery, individual soldiers showing true inspiration in the face of great adversity. The 2nd King's, despite suffering many casualties, held onto the bridgehead they had secured for two and a half days. The battalion took part in further heavy fighting in Italy for the months following until heading for Greece in December 1944.


The 2nd King's saw much service in Greece, seeing bitter house-to-house fighting in Athens against Communist rebel forces, as well as performing other internal security duties. The battalion remained in Greece until departing in 1946 for Cyprus, where they would stay until 1948. In April that year, the battalion departed for, what was then, Palestine. They performed mainly internal security duties, but just two weeks later were back in Cyprus, and then onto Liverpool in the UK, where they amalgamated with the 1st King's.

The 1st King's remained in India, finally departing in late 1947 after Indian achieved independence. In 1948 the battalion was stationed in West Germany. The battalion moved to the British sector of West Berlin in Spandau. While there, the battalion garrisoned Spandau Prison where Nazi war criminals were kept.

Korean War

After the North Koreans invaded the south in 1950, the Korean War began; the United Nations condemned the attack and a UN force, led by the United States, was sent to assist the South Koreans]. The 1st King's, however, did not deploy to Korea until 1952. It arrived in Korea in September, joining the 29th Infantry Brigade to replace 1st Royal Norfolk Regiment. The battalion's tasks were mostly defensive, defending the lines against possible enemy attack. On 23 May 1953, at the infamous position of the Hook, a company of the battalion launched a raid on a Chinese stronghold known as 'Pheasant'. One of the platoons inadvertently stumbled upon a minefield, wounding many of the platoon, consequently stalling the attack. The company soon withdrew back to British lines, carrying their wounded back with much difficulty in the dead of night.

The battalion later took part in the Third Battle for the Hook, the main defenders being the Duke of Wellington's Regiment with 1st King's on the right flank. The Chinese -- an ally of the North Koreans -- attacked the British on 28 May. It was a fierce battle, the 'Dukes' suffered quite heavily but defended stoutly. The Dukes bore the brunt of the Chinese attack but, no doubt, it was just as vicious for the mostly young men of the King's, many just doing their National Service. The battalion had suffered 28 killed and about 200 wounded by the end of the war in July 1953.

The battalion left Korea in October 1953, arriving in Hong Kong that same month. It returned to Britain in 1955 and was posted to West Germany the following year. It would remain there until 1958 when it returned home to Britain for the last time.


Due to defence cuts imposed in the late 1950s by Duncan Sandys (known as the Sandys Review), many regiments were amalgamated. The King's were one of them; due to the historic links between the King's and the Manchester Regiment, the two merged to form the 1st Battalion, The King's Regiment (Manchester and Liverpool) on 1 September 1958.


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