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The King’s Regiment, officially abbreviated as KINGS, was an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the King’s Division. It was formed on 1 September 1958 by the amalgamation of the King’s Regiment (Liverpool) which had been raised in 1685 and the Manchester Regiment which traced its history to 1758. In existence for almost 50 years, the regular battalion, 1 KINGS, served in Kenya, Kuwait, British Guiana (Guyana), West Germany, Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands, Cyprus, and Iraq. Between 1972 and 1990, 15 Kingsmen died during military operations in Northern Ireland during a violent period in the province’s history known as “The Troubles”.

When formed in 1958, the King’s Regiment consisted of one infantry battalion, known within the Army as 1 KINGS, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Derek Horsford. Under a system known colloquially as the “Arms plot”, infantry battalions were trained and equipped for different roles for a period of between two and six years. Converted first to a mechanized battalion equipped with FV432 armoured personnel carriers in the late 1960s in West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany), it converted back to a light battalion in UK and subsequently in Hong Kong and Northern Ireland, back to a mechanized battalion in 1980 and then again to a light battalion. Finally when amalgamated in 2006 the regiment was roled as armoured infantry equipped primarily with the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle. 1 KINGS establishment in 2004 was 620, although its substantive strength was recorded as being 60 below that.



The King’s and Manchester Regiments, consisting of regular and Territorial Army battalions, had been selected for amalgamation by Duncan Sandys’ 1957 Defence White Paper. Conscription (National Service) was to be abolished and the Armed Forces’ size rationalised over a gradual period.[2] Retired soldiers and some serving personnel despaired at the prospect of the demise of their respective regiments.[3] The regular 1st battalions of both regiments formally amalgamated on 1 September 1958, at Brentwood, to form the 1st Battalion, King’s Regiment (Manchester and Liverpool). The title reflected the seniority of the King’s Regiment (Liverpool), formerly eighth in the infantry’s order of precedence. Regimental subtitles (i.e. Manchester and Liverpool) would be omitted in 1968 without affecting recruitment boundaries in North West England. The regiment inherited from its predecessors certain traditions, uniform distinctions, battle honours, and an association with the Royal Family, principally Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. As Queen of the United Kingdom in 1947, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon had assumed the position of Colonel-in-Chief of the Manchester Regiment, formalising a relationship conceived during the Second World War

Queen’s and Regimental colours were presented to the 1st Battalion by the 18th Earl of Derby on 28 November. In addition to 1 KINGS, the regiment at that time consisted of three territorial battalions, all of which retained their historical designations, colours, uniforms, and honorary colonels. This practice continued until the Territorial Army’s restructuring in the late 1960s: the 5th Battalion, The King’s Regiment (Liverpool), was reduced to a company of the Lancastrian Volunteers; the 8th (Ardwick) Battalion, The Manchester Regiment amalgamated with the 9th Battalion, to form The Manchester Regiment (Ardwick and Ashton) Territorials and a separate company within The Lancastrian Volunteers. Other units were constituted by elements of The King’s Regiment and its predecessors, albeit in different services of the Army. Personnel from the Liverpool Scottish and defunct 5 KINGS became part of “R” (King’s) Battery, West Lancashire Regiment, Royal Artillery while the heritage of the Liverpool Irish and Liverpool Rifles was claimed by troops of other Royal Artillery batteries.

Within months, the regiment received notification that it would be stationed in Kenya, which was emerging from the Mau Mau Uprising and nearing independence. Arriving in 1959, 1 KINGS was accommodated in Gilgil, situated in the Rift Valley between Naivasha and Nakuru, until relocated to Muthaiga Camp, near Nairobi. Detached from the regiment at this time were elements of headquarters and two rifle companies (“A” and “D”), which became part of the Army’s contribution to the Persian Gulf garrison in Bahrain for more than a year.[7] Subordinated to 24 Infantry Brigade, which Britain maintained in Kenya as part of the Strategic Reserve, 1 KINGS became liable for deployment to various locations in Africa and Asia.

The Ferret was operated by the regiment’s reconnaissance platoon in West Germany before and after conversion to armoured infantry.

Subsequent to Kuwait’s independence from Britain in June 1961, President Abd al-Karim Qasim directed belligerent speeches against the oil-rich Gulf state, declaring it an integral component of sovereign Iraq.[8] Perceiving Qassim’s rhetoric to constitute a possible military threat to Kuwait’s sovereignty, Sheikh Abdullah III appealed to Britain and Saudi Arabia for assistance. Britain responded to the emergency by concentrating military forces in the Persian Gulf, composed initially of naval assets, as a deterrence to aggression.[9] The Strategic Reserve’s 24 Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Horsford, was transported to Kuwait in Bristol Britannias in early July to augment the country’s defences. Opportunity for the Kingsmen to acclimatise before relieving 45 Commando was fleeting. Just days after arrival, 1 KINGS occupied a ridge formation approximately 30-miles west of Kuwait City to prepare a defensive position.

When the emergency ended, 1 KINGS returned to Kenya, and in early 1962 proceeded to Britain. By July, the regiment was based in West Berlin. While there, the regiment patrolled the border with Soviet occupied East Berlin. On returning to Britain in 1964, 1 KINGS became part of the UK Strategic Reserve. A company from the regiment deployed to British Honduras later that year.

The battalion’s first deployment to Northern Ireland under the hostile conditions of the Troubles occurred in 1970, although it did not suffer its first fatal casualties until a second tour in 1972. Violence escalated substantially in 1972, resulting in the deaths of 470 people.[12] The year witnessed the most loss of life during the conflict – punctuated by two episodes known as Bloody Sunday and Bloody Friday – and imposition of direct rule following the prorogation of the Stormont Parliament by the Westminster Government[13] Operating in West Belfast, 1 KINGS sustained 49 casualties (seven fatalities and 42 wounded) during the four-month tour.[14] The King’s first fatality was Corporal Alan Buckley, who died after being mortally wounded during an engagement with the PIRA. One-week later, on 23 May, a PIRA sniper shot Kingsman Hanley, who had been guarding a party of Royal Engineers removing barricades in the Ballymurphy sector.[15] On the 30th, an IRA bomb detonated within the battalion headquarters killed two, including Kingsman Doglay.[16] An initial report by The Times identified six casualties, including four wounded soldiers and two civilian cooks, and suggested officials believed losses would have been higher had the bomb exploded while hundreds of soldiers watched a film in the canteen. The headquarters, located in RUC Springfield Road, had been the “most heavily guarded” police station in Belfast.[17] The battalion returned to Belfast in February 1979.[11] In April 1979 Kingsman Shanley and Lance Corporal Rumble were killed in the same vehicle by a PIRA sniper.

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