Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The King's Own, British 4th Regiment

British 4th Regiment
"The King's Own"

Starting with the first organization of the Army in the mid-17th century and continuing to this day, the British Army is built upon its regimental system. The British soldier takes great pride in the traditions and the history of his regiment. Being one of the senior regiments makes the King's Own regimental history read like the history of Great Britain itself.

After threats were made against its possession of Tangier's it was decided in England more troops were needed to protect the port. Companies were raised in London and Plymouth, England and what was to become known as the Fourth Regiment or the King's Own was born on the 13 of July 1680. Once training was complete the companies were merged and sent to North Africa. This was just the first of what was to be many deployments overseas for the King's Own.

With the decline of the Spanish Empire and Britain's eclipse of the Dutch trading empire, England found itself in a world wide contest with France. A New France was created in Canada and British colonies were established in North America. Trading partnerships and posts were started in India. Colonization of the spice and sugar islands of the Caribbean was begun.

Beginning in the 18th and continuing into the early 19th century, several major wars were fought with France. This was also the time period when the first British Empire reached its height. The job of policing and maintaining that empire fell to Britain's Navy and its comparatively small, but professional Army. Serving under many Kings and Queens and many more leaders of Parliament, the King's Own carried its banner and the Kings colors all over the globe. A partial list of the battles fought by the 4th Regiment and the battle honors won, include: Gibraltar, Culloden, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Havana, Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, Brooklyn, Brandywine, St. Lucia, Corunna, Badajoz, Salamanca, San Sebastian, Washington, New Orleans and Waterloo.

The King's Own continued its illustrious history with fighting in South Africa against both the Zulus and the Boers. During the two World Wars the King's Own was much expanded and its battalions were involved in every theatre of battle.

During the 1950s the British Army went through yet another of its many reorganizations. A decision was reached to shrink the number of existing Regiments. In 1959 the King's Own lost its own identity and was merged with another regiment to become the King's Own Royal Border Regiment.

The King's Own was in existence for some 279 years and had in fact outlasted the Empire for which it fought so hard to create. There is an old song, dating back to the First World War, that is titled, "There will always be an England". Although not the oldest or the most well known of British Regiments, for as long as England maintains its own identity, the sacrifices made and the honors won by the King's Own will be a part of that heritage.

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