The main series of records relate to the administration of the Regiment and its constituent battalions, particularly in the late 19th and 20th centuries. These include standing orders, digests of service, copies of orders received, reports, war diaries, and some lists of personnel and casualty lists. In addition there is a large collection of ephemera, including programmes and menus relating to parades, commemorations and other events, a fine collection of photograph albums and other photographs and illustrative material and copies of articles and research into the history of the regiment and individual battalions. The series of private papers of soldiers who served with the regiment, ranging from a single photograph or set of service papers, to diaries, correspondence and memoirs, is still being added to.
The following is a detailed summary of the contents:
ESR/1/ REGIMENTAL AND DEPOT c.1730-2003
This series chiefly comprises records relating to the East Surrey Regiment as a whole in the period after its creation in 1881. Records relating to the 31st (Huntingdonshire) Regiment and the 70th (Surrey) Regiment which were amalgamated to form the new regiment, are listed with those of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, The East Surrey Regiment, respectively (see ESR/2/- and ESR/3/- below), as these battalions were the direct successors of the two earlier regiments.
ESR/2/ 1ST BATTALION 1702-2000
The unit that became the 1st Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment was first raised in 1702 as Colonel George Villiers' Regiment of Marines for service in the War of the Spanish Succession and took part in the capture and defence of Gibraltar and the capture of Barcelona. In 1714, now called Goring's Regiment (Col Sir Henry Goring being in command), it became a regiment of the line. In the War of the Austrian Succession, 1740-1748, the regiment fought at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, acquiring the nickname 'The Young Buffs', and at the defeat at Fontenoy in 1745. After the reforms of 1751, the regiment was designated by its number, the 31st. Between 1752 and 1759 the 31st was stationed in Scotland and in 1756 a 2nd Battalion was raised in Glasgow which was redesignated as the 70th Regiment, or 'Glasgow Greys', in 1758 (and was reunited with the 31st in 1881 as the 2nd Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment). After service in Florida and the West Indies, the 31st fought in the American War of Independence, and in 1782, it became the 31st (Huntingdonshire) Regiment. In the French Wars, 1793-1815, the 31st campaigned in the Caribbean and took part in the unsuccessful invasion of Holland in 1799 and the Egyptian campaign of 1801. In 1805, a second Battalion was created and fought in the Peninsular War and the invasion of France, 1809-1814, before being disbanded. The 1/31st spent most of the last years of the war around the Mediterranean. In 1825, the 31st was aboard the East Indiamen 'Kent', when the ship caught fire and 54 soldiers were killed. The regiment went on to fight in Afghanistan, 1838-1842, participating in the recapture of Kabul in 1842, and in the 1st Sikh War, 1845-1846, including at the battles of Mudki and Sobraon, and participated in the siege of Sevastopol in the Crimea in 1855. In 1860 it took part in the attack on the Taku Forts in China, its last active service until the outbreak of World War I. In 1873, the regiment was associated with the 70th (Surrey) Regiment, sharing a depot, and in 1881, it became the 1st Battalion in the newly formed East Surrey Regiment. The 1st Battalion served on the Western Front for much of World War I, taking part in many major battles, including Mons, Ypres and the Somme and suffering appalling losses. It served in Italy, Dec 1917 to Spring 1918, before returning to the Western Front. In 1919, it went to North Russia, to assist the Whites against the Bolsheviks, operating along the Murmansk railway. Between the two World Wars, the Battalion served in Ireland, Egypt, Hong Kong, India and the Sudan. During World War II, it fought in France with the British Expeditionary Force in 1940. After Dunkirk, it was transferred to North Africa in 1942 and went on to fight in the Italian campaign, 1943-45, before service in Greece. In 1948, the battalion amalgamated with the 2nd Battalion to form a new 1st Battalion which went on to serve in North Africa, 1951-58. In 1959, the 1st Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment, merged with the 1st Battalion, the Queen's, to form the 1st Battalion, the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment.
ESR/3/ 2ND BATTALION 1780-2002
The Battalion was first raised in Scotland in 1756 as the 2nd Battalion of the 31st Regiment and redesignated as the 70th Regiment in 1758. It fought in the American War of Independence and in 1782 was renamed the 70th (Surrey) Regiment when an additional depot company of the regiment was established in Kingston. For much of the French Wars, 1793-1815, the regiment served in the Caribbean, taking part in the capture of Martinique, St Lucia and Guadeloupe, 1794-95. Guadeloupe was retaken by the French and in 1810 the 70th was again part of the force that recaptured it. After the war, it went on to serve in Canada, Ireland, Malta and the West Indies before leaving for India in 1849. After the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in 1857 it operated against the rebels around Peshawar. From India it went to New Zealand, 1861-1866, seeing action during the Maori Insurrection, 1864-5. The Regiment returned to India in 1871 and in 1878-9, took part in the 2nd Afghan War. In 1873, it had been linked with the 31st (Huntingdonshire) Regiment, the two units alternating service abroad and home, with a shared depot at Kingston. In 1881 the 70th was redesignated as the 2nd Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment. In 1884-5 it served in Egypt and Sudan and in 1899 left for South Africa, serving throughout the Boer War, 1899-1902, before being stationed in India and Burma. During World War I, the Battalion fought on the Western Front in 1915, before moving to Macedonia and Salonika, Greece. After the war, it served in Turkey in 1920 and Ireland, 1921-22. In 1938 it was transferred to Shanghai to serve as part of an international force against the Japanese. In 1940 it was sent to defend Malaya and Singapore, fighting alongside the 1st Battalion, the Leicestershire Regiment. Heavy casualties forced the two Battalions to amalgamate in Dec 1941 and form 'The British Battalion'. This unit surrendered to the Japanese on 15 Feb 1942 and went into captivity. In Jun 1942, the 11th Battalion, a Home Defence unit previously known as the 50th (Holding) Battalion, was redesignated as the new 2nd Battalion, remaining in England and Ireland for the rest of war. After the war, the Battalion took part in security operations in Palestine in 1946 before moving to Egypt. In 1948, it was amalgamated with the 1st Battalion to form a new unit, to be known as the 1st Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment.
ESR/4/ 3RD BATTALION 1810-1933
Originally known as the 1st Royal Surrey Regiment of Militia, the unit was redesignated the 3rd (Service) Battalion in 1881. Although the Battalion itself did not serve in the Boer War, a number of men did volunteer for overseas service. In 1908, it became part of the Special Reserve, but retained its links with the East Surreys. It remained in the UK for the duration of World War I, was suspended when the war ended and never reactivated. For a list of men, including some from this Battalion, who served in Namaqualand, 1902, see ESR/5/1/4.
ESR/5/ 4TH (EXTRA RESERVE) BATTALION 1799-1994
Originally the 3rd Royal Surrey Militia, this unit was redesignated the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, in 1881. Although the Battalion itself did not serve in the Boer War, a number of men did volunteer for overseas service. It remained in the UK for the duration of World War I, was suspended when the war ended and never reactivated.
ESR/6/ 5TH BATTALION, FORMERLY 2ND VOLUNTEER BATTALION 1859-1999
The 4th (Brixton), 8th (Carshalton), 11th (Wimbledon) and 25th (Epsom) Corps of the Surrey Rifle Volunteers, which has been grouped together in the 1st Administrative Battalion, were amalgamated as the 4th Corps and then redesignated as the 3rd Corps in 1880. In 1882 the Corps was attached to the East Surrey Regiment and in 1887, it became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, with detachments at Streatham, Sutton, Wimbledon, and Epsom. When the Territorial Army was reformed in 1908, the Battalion became the 5th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. During World War I, additional battalions comprising new recruits and those who opted out of service abroad were raised and these were numbered 2/5th and 3/5th Battalions, whilst the original unit became known as the 1/5th. It embarked for India in 1914. Drafts were sent to Mesopotamia, and the Battalion itself was sent there in 1917. After the war, the Battalion served in the Army of Occupation of Mesopotamia. It returned to England in 1920, where it was reformed. In 1938, the Battalion was converted to artillery and became the 57th (East Surrey) Anti-Tank Regiment, RA. The Battalion now comprised 4 Batteries: 225th, 226th, 227th and 228th. In 1939, when the Territorial Army was doubled in size, a second unit was raised and became the 67th (East Surrey) Anti-Tank Regiment, RA. During the war, the 57th served first in France with the Expeditionary Force, 1940. It then underwent a period of home service before being posted to the Middle East in 1942, where it joined the 8th Army. It then went on to take part in the Salerno landings, 1943, and to fight in Italy. After the war, both the 57th and 67th Battalions were disbanded and in 1947 a new unit, the 381st Anti-Tank Regiment, RA, was formed based on the drill halls and connections of the former units. In 1961, it was merged with 3 other artillery units to form the 263rd (Surrey Yeomanry, Queen Mary's) Field Regiment, RA. In 1967, it became the Surrey Yeomanry (Queen Mary's Regiment), RA, and was converted to Infantry in 1971. It eventually formed part of the 6th and 7th Volunteer Battalions of the Queen's Regiment. For papers of the 67th (East Surrey) Anti-Tank Regiment, RA, see also ESR/9/-.
ESR/7/ 2/5TH BATTALION 1914-1918
The 2/5th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, was formed at Wimbledon in Sep 1914, comprised of men from the 1/5th Battalion who had not volunteered for service overseas. In Nov 1914, the Battalion moved to Windsor to train with the Second Line (67th) Home Counties Division. In May 1915, it moved to Tunbridge Wells. Around Apr 1915, members of the Battalion who had opted out of serving overseas were transferred to a provisional Battalion. In Aug 1915, further personnel were transferred when the 3/5th Battalion was created. Later in the year, the Battalion moved to Reigate, and then to Sevenoaks in Jun 1916, and finally to the Isle of Thanet. It continued to send drafts of men overseas until it was disbanded in 1917, and the remaining men sent as drafts to France.
ESR/8/ 3/5TH BATTALION 1915-1918
This Battalion was raised in Wimbledon in Aug 1915, and included a number of officers and men transferred from the 2/5th Battalion. In Jan 1916, it joined the Third Line Group B of the Home Counties Division at Cambridge. In Mar 1916, it sent a draft to the 1/5th Battalion in India. In Apr 1916, the Battalion moved to Crowborough, Sussex, from where it sent several more drafts to the 1/5th Battalion. In Aug 1916, it was amalgamated with the 3/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment to form the 5th Reserve Battalion, which became part of the Home Counties Reserve Brigade. It moved to Tonbridge in Oct 1916, returning to Crowborough in 1917 and finally returning to Tonbridge in Sep 1918. The Battalion was ordered to disband in Nov 1918, but the disbandment was suspended and the Battalion did not actually disband until Apr 1919.
ESR/9/ 67TH (EAST SURREY) ANTI-TANK REGIMENT 1944-1945
This unit was created in 1939 as an additional Battalion to 57th (East Surrey) Anti-Tank Regiment, formerly 5th Battalion. After the war, both the 57th and 67th Battalions were disbanded and in 1947 a new unit, the 381st Anti-Tank Regiment, RA, was formed based on the drill halls and connections of the former units. See also ESR/6/12/2-4 for papers of the 57th/67th (East Surrey) Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery's Old Comrades' Association.
ESR/10/ 6TH BATTALION FORMERLY 3RD VOLUNTEER BATTALION 1810-2000
In 1859, the following Rifle Volunteer Corps were established in North East Surrey: the 6th Surrey Rifle Volunteer Corps at Esher, the 9th at Richmond, the 12th at Kingston upon Thames, the 15th at Chertsey and the 16th at Egham. In 1860, these were grouped together to form the 2nd Administrative Battalion of Surrey Rifle Volunteers. In 1867, the 16th Corps at Egham was disbanded. In 1880, the remaining units were consolidated and became the 6th Surrey Rifle Volunteer Corps. Later in the same year, the title was changed to the 5th Surrey Rifle Volunteer Corps and in 1882 the Corps was associated with the East Surrey Regiment. In 1887, the Corps became the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. Although the Battalion as a unit did not fight in the South African War, many of its members served alongside 2nd Battalion during this period and the Battle Honour 'South Africa' was awarded as a result. In 1900, two additional companies were created at Richmond, and in 1903 a company was re-established at Egham. In 1913, the Battalion became an 'Imperial Service' Battalion, meaning that a majority of its members had accepted liability for service overseas. In 1914, the Battalion was redesignated 1/6th Battalion and was posted to India as part of 44th Division. It served in Fyzabad, Aden and Agra, before returning to England in 1919. In 1920, following the reform of the Territorial Army, the unit was again known as 6th Battalion. In 1939, it was again redesignated 1/6th Battalion and fought in France with 44th Home Counties Division in 1940 before being evacuated from Dunkirk. The Battalion was brought back up to strength and underwent intensive training before being posted to North Africa as part of 4th Division, where it fought in Algiers, Tunis and Egypt. In 1944, it landed at Naples and was involved in the fight for Monte Cassino, in which it fought alongside 1st Battalion. In Dec 1944, the Battalion was sent to Greece. In 1946, it was placed in 'suspended animation' but was reactivated in 1947. In 1959, after the Queen's and East Surrey Regiments were amalgamated, the Battalion continued to be known as 6th Battalion. In 1961, it was amalgamated with the 23rd London Regiment to form 4th Battalion, the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment.
ESR/11/ 2/6TH BATTALION 1939-1990
This Battalion was formed in 1939. It embarked for France in Apr 1940. It was not evacuated from Dunkirk, but finally forced to surrender at St Valery, Jun 1940. The Battalion was reformed in England but did not see further active service.
ESR/12/ 23RD LONDON REGIMENT, FORMERLY 4TH VOLUNTEER BATTALION, 7TH BATTALION AND 42ND ROYAL TANK REGIMENT 1805-1997
The Battalion traces its roots back to the Newington Volunteers, raised in 1798. Although this unit was disbanded in 1914, it is still linked to the Battalion. The Battalion also retains part of the Colour of the Loyal Volunteers of St John, a unit from the same period. The Battalion's continuous history begins in 1859 with the creation in Southwark of the 7th Surrey Rifle Volunteers. In 1880, it absorbed the 26th Surrey Rifle Volunteer Corps at Battersea. In 1882, it was associated with the East Surrey Regiment, building on earlier links, and in 1887 was redesignated the 4th Volunteer Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. Many members of the Battalion chose to serve in South Africa during the Boer War, and I Company of 2nd Battalion was comprised of members of the 4th Volunteer Battalion. In 1908, with the creation of the Territorial Force, the Battalion became 23rd (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment. In 1915, a 2/23rd Battalion was raised and the original Battalion became 1/23rd Battalion. Together with 1/21st, 1/22nd and 1/24th Battalions, London Regiment, it formed part of 142nd Brigade, 47th (London) Division, and served in France throughout World War I. In 1916, it returned to the Corps of the East Surreys, but its title remained unchanged. After the war, the Battalion was disbanded and reactivated in 1920 as the 23rd London Regiment. In 1937, the Battalion became 7th (23rd London) Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. In 1938, it was converted to a tank battalion and redesignated 42nd Royal Tank Regiment, although it did retain a connection to the East Surreys. At the same time, a second battalion, to be known as the 48th Royal Tank Regiment was raised. The Battalion spent the first part of World War II training in England before being posted to the Middle East in 1941. It was later sent to Palestine to work with new experimental tanks, equipped for night fighting. It took these tanks to Normandy in 1944, but was not involved in any operations. In 1947, the Battalion was reformed. In 1956, it reverted to its original role as an infantry battalion, and rejoined the East Surrey Regiment, becoming known as the 23rd London Regiment, the East Surrey Regiment. In 1961, it amalgamated with 6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, to become 4th Battalion, the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment.
ESR/13/ 2/23RD BATTALION, LONDON REGIMENT 1916-1919
The Battalion was raised in 1915, from the 23rd Battalion, London Regiment. Together with 2/21st, 2/22nd and 2/24th Battalion, the London Regiment, it formed part of the 181st Brigade of 60th (London) Division. It was posted to France in 1916, where it served opposite Vimy Ridge, until it was transferred to the Salonika Front. In 1917, it was posted to Egypt, where it fought in the Third Battle of Gaza, and in the battles for Jerusalem, Jericho and the Jordan. In 1918, it was sent back to France and fought at Ypres. It was disbanded in 1919. See also ESR/12/3/3-4 for lists of officers and men of the Battalion who received honours or awards.
ESR/14/ 48TH ROYAL TANK REGIMENT 1994
The Battalion was raised in 1938 from the 42nd Royal Tank Regiment. It joined the 1st Army in Tunisia in 1943 and in 1944 was posted to the Italian Front, where it continued to serve until the end of the war, when it was disbanded.
ESR/15/ 570TH LIGHT ANTI-AIRCRAFT REGIMENT, FORMERLY 35TH SEARCHLIGHT REGIMENT AND 21ST LONDON REGIMENT (1ST SURREY RIFLES) 1875-1997
This unit was formed 1859 as the 1st Surrey Rifle Volunteers. In 1880, it was redesignated the 1st (South London) Corps. In 1882, it became linked to the East Surrey Regiment. In 1908, it was redesignated 21st (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment. In 1914, two additional battalions, the 2/21st and 3/21st, were created, and the original battalion renumbered 1/21st. The 1/21st served on the Western Front throughout World War I. After the War, it was renamed 21st London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles). In 1935, it was converted to an Anti Aircraft Regiment, and became 35th (First Surrey Rifles) Anti Aircraft Battalion, Royal Engineers. During World War II, it became a searchlight unit, and was redesignated 35th Searchlight Regiment, RA (First Surrey Rifles). In 1945, it became the 129th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA (First Surrey Rifles). In 1947, it was renamed 570th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA (First Surrey Rifles). In 1955, it became the 570th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA, along with 622 HAA Regiment (formerly 7th Battalion, The Queen's Royal Regiment).
ESR/16/ 2/21ST BATTALION, LONDON REGIMENT 1915
This unit was formed during World War I as one of two additional Battalions to the 21st Battalion. It served in France, Jun 1916-Nov 1916, later served in Macedonia and Salonika, Greece, and went on to serve in the Middle East. For an account of the Battalion's activities, Sep 1914-Jun 1916, see ESR/15/1/8.
ESR/17/ 7TH (SERVICE) BATTALION 1915-1917
This Battalion was raised in Colchester in Aug 1914. It moved to Purfleet and formed part of the 37th Brigade. In Nov 1914, it moved to Sandling, Kent, where it joined the remainder of 12th Division, and in Feb 1915, moved to Aldershot. In Jun 1915, the Battalion embarked for France, where it was involved in many engagements, including the Battles of Loos, the Somme, Arras, and Cambrai. It was disbanded in Feb 1918.
ESR/18/ 8TH (SERVICE) BATTALION 1914-1998
This Battalion was raised in 1914, and formed part of 55th Brigade, 18th Division. It embarked for France in Jul 1915. It fought on the Western Front throughout the war, including at the Battle of the Somme, at the start of which members of B Company famously dribbled footballs across no man's land. The Battalion was disbanded in Jun 1919. For photographs of the battalion on the Western Front, 1917, see ESR/1/12/14.
ESR/19/ 9TH (SERVICE) BATTALION 1914-2008
This Battalion was raised in 1914, and embarked for France in Jul 1915. It formed part of 72nd Brigade, 24th Division. It fought on the Western Front throughout World War I, including at the Battles of Loos, 1915, the Somme, 1916, Messines, 1917, Ypres, 1917, Rosieres, 1918, and Cambrai, 1918. In Mar 1919, it was transferred to the 122nd Brigade of the 41st Division of the Army of Occupation on the Rhine. It returned to England in Nov 1919, and was disbanded in Mar 1920. The playwright R C Sherriff (1896-1975) served with the Battalion and drew on his experiences in his celebrated play Journey's End. His papers, including his letters home from the Western Front, are held at Surrey History Centre under the references 2332 and 3813.
ESR/20/ 9TH BATTALION 1943
This Battalion was raised at Romford in May 1940. The men were drawn from many regiments, with the exception of the East Surrey Regiment itself. It carried out defence duties, moving to the south coast in Jul 1940. In Oct 1940, it was posted to Northern Ireland and stationed at Londonderry. It moved to Belfast in Feb 1941, remaining there until it was disbanded in Jun 1943.
ESR/21/ 10TH BATTALION 1940-1944
This Battalion was raised in 1940, and undertook civil and costal defence duties. In 1943, it was posted to Northern Ireland, returning to England in Dec 1943. In 1944, it ran a training camp in Hampshire for units taking part in the Normandy Landings. It was disbanded in Aug 1944.
ESR/22/ 10TH AND 11TH (RESERVE) BATTALIONS 1916-1917
The 10th (Reserve) Battalion was formed in Dover on 26 October 1914 as a Service Battalion of K4 and came under orders of the 95th Brigade, originally the 32nd Division. On 10 April 1915 it became Reserve Battalion, and moved to Purfleet in May 1915, Shoreham again in September 1915 and Dover in May 1916. On 1 September 1916 it was converted into the 30th Training Reserve Battalion of the 7th Reserve Brigade. The 11th (Reserve) Battalion was formed in Devonport in Nov 1914 as the 11th (Service) Battalion, moving to Dartmouth in Dec 1914. In Apr 1915, it was converted from a Service Battalion to a Reserve Battalion. It moved to Colchester and formed part of 93rd Brigade, then moved to Shoreham by Sea in Sep 1915. In Sep 1916, it was amalgamated with the 9th Battalion, the Queen's Regiment, and later became the 21st Training Reserve Battalion.
ESR/23/ 12TH (BERMONDSEY) BATTALION 1915-1919
The Battalion was raised in 1915 by the Mayor of Bermondsey. It formed part of 122nd Brigade, 12th Division. It embarked for France in May 1916, serving on the Western Front throughout the War, including at the Battles of the Somme, 1916, and Ypres, 1918. Following the Armistice, the Battalion joined the Army of Occupation of the Rhine, returning to England in May 1919, when it was disbanded. For a photograph of A Company, 12th (Service) Battalion, 1916, see ESR/25/COCK/1. For photographs of various members of the Battalion and the Battalion on parade, washing and performing similar duties, 1915-1919, see ESR/25/LAMBW/1.
ESR/24/ 13TH (WANDSWORTH) BATTALION 1915-LATE 20TH CENT
The Mayor of Wandsworth raised the Battalion in 1915. Initially posted to 44th Division, it was transferred in Oct 1915 to 118th Brigade, 39th Division. In 1916, it was transferred to 120th Brigade, 40th Division. It embarked for France in Jun 1916. It remained on the Western Front for the duration of the war, and fought at the Battles of Cambrai, 1917, and the Lys, 1918. The Battalion was disbanded in Oct 1918.
ESR/24A/ 70TH (YOUNG SOLDIERS) BATTALION 1940
Formed in Feb 1940, this unit was given home defence duties. It was stationed at Gravesend, 1940-1941, moving to Beare Green, Capel, in the summer of 1941. It was then stationed at Byfleet, Oct 1941-Jul 1942. It went into camp at Charlton, near Canterbury, Jul 1942, and was disbanded at Dover, Aug 1942.
ESR/25 PAPERS OF INDIVIDUAL SOLDIERS
This comprises the papers of over 480 individuals, arranged alphabetically by surname of soldier, with a strong emphasis on those who served in the First and Second World Wars.