The Devonshire Regiment

In it's first iteration, the Devonshire Regiment was known as the 11th Regiment of Foot.

The new regiment was raised by Henry Somerset, the 3rd Marquess of Worcester and later the Duke of Beaufort in 1685.  He was the natural choice to do so, as he'd previously raised a unit to fight on behalf of the Stuart monarchy. He raised the 11th initially to defend Bristol during the Monmouth Rebellion.

The 11th later switched sides, and defected their loyalty to William of Orange when he seized the throne during the Glorious Revolution of 1688.  In 1689 they were sent to fight against James II in Ireland. The 11th Foot also served in Europe and as Marines. Fighting in the Peninsular War they earned the nickname The Bloody Eleventh”.

The 18th century saw the 11th in Flanders during the Spanish Wars of Succession, and subsequently in North America, Austria, Germany, and the Mediterranean.

In the 19th Century they served in Australia and campaigned in Afghanistan, Burma and the North West Frontier.

In 1881 they became The Devonshire Regiment. This was part of a wider reorganisation called the Cardwell Reforms, led by Secretary of State for War Edward Carwell from 1868-1874. Britain's previous system of gentleman-soldiers was outdated and inefficient, compared to the Prussian system of military organisation. This had been proven in Germany's triumph in the Franco-Prussian war.

Two battalions served in South Africa during the Boer War (1899-1902).

The First World War saw battalions in France, (where the 2nd Devons were awarded the Croix de Guerre, still worn today by The Rifles), Italy, the Balkans and the Middle East. 

The Second World War saw the 1st Battalion fighting in Burma, the 2nd Battalion in Malta, Sicily, Italy and the 5th and 7th Battalions in North West Europe. The 12th Battalion fought as Airborne troops. 

After 1945 the Regiment served in Malaya, Kenya and Germany. Despite the Devonshire Regiment amalgamating with the Dorset Regiment in 1958, the regimental title was retained in the Territorial Army until 1967. 


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devonshire regiment