1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment

he Hampshire Regiment was a line infantry regiment of the British Army, created as part of the Childers Reforms in 1881 by the amalgamation of the 37th (North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot and the 67th (South Hampshire) Regiment of Foot. The regiment existed continuously for 111 years and served in the Second Boer War, World War I and World War II. In 1946, due to distinguished service in World War II, the regiment was retitled as the Royal Hampshire Regiment.

 

 

he 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment was a Regular Army unit that was deployed on Garrison duties in El Daba, Egypt at the beginning of the war.[13] It moved to Palestine on peace keeping duties in December 1939 and then moved to Moascar in Egypt, then to Mearsa Matruh in Summer 1940. One of their duties was to look after the large number of Italian prisoners after the fall of Sidi Barrani.

 

In February 1941 the 1st Battalion arrived in Malta, where it became part of the 1st (Malta) Infantry Brigade (with 1st Dorset Regiment and 2nd Devonshire Regiment). This later became the 231st Infantry Brigade. Duties in Malta included airfield repair and working as stevedores in the docks. Malta was subjected to a prolonged siege, and by July 1942 the food situation had become serious, but the situation eased as the Allies' fortunes improved in the North African Campaign.

 

In April 1943 the 231st Brigade, including the 1st Hampshires, was moved to Alexandria, then subsequently to Cairo and Suez, where it trained as an independent assault brigade. Then in July 1943 the 1st Battalion invaded Sicily as part of the first wave of Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily. The beach landing went smoothly, but the 1st Battalion ran into resistance at Vizzini on 13 July when it ran into the Herman Goring Parachute Panzer Division. On 22 July, the 1st Battalion was engaged in hard fighting for Agria, which only fell on 29 July. The 1st Battalion was reduced to three companies after the battle. There was further hard fighting to capture the Regalbuto Ridge, which ended the Sicilian Campaign. The 1st Battalion suffered 18 Officers and 286 Other Ranks killed or wounded in action in Sicily.

 

On 8 September 1943 the 231st Brigade landed in Italy, coming ashore at Potro San Venere near Pizzo. The 1st Battalion was involved in fighting as the Germans withdrew northwards. By October 1943 the 1st Battalion was back in Sicily waiting for transport back to the United Kingdom and by November the 1st Battalion was back in the United Kingdom for the first time in 22 years.

 

The battalion was allocated to the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, one of the assault divisions for the invasion of North West Europe which had an excellent reputation after fighting in the Mediterranean theatre. On 6 June 1944 the 1st Battalion came ashore as part of Operation Overlord. On the first day the battalion captured Le Hamel and Arromanches after a hard fight. When the battalion landed there were no tanks with them, and they faced machine gun fire upon landing. On D-Day alone the 1st Battalion suffered 182 casualties, 64 of them being killed in action.

 

The Battalion started a three-week fight for the village of Hottot, against the German Panzer-Lehr-Division in June 1944. This culminated in a major assault on 11 July, but the 1st Battalion was withdrawn from the line the next day, testimony to the hard fighting. The Battalion was in the vanguard of the assault towards Villiers Bocage later in the month. There were stiff fights at St Germain d’Ectot and Launay. Villiers Bocage was taken on 4 August, following which 50th Division was taken out of the line. In August 1944 a brigade attack was launched towards Conde, and the Battalion attacked St Pierre la Vielle. The fighting was particularly hard, and after the 11-hour battle the Rifle companies of the Battalion were severely reduced – ‘B’ Company had 25 men, ‘C’ Company had 35 men, and ‘D’ Company were down to just 12 men. ‘A’ Company was only lightly engaged and, on 12 August, the 1st Battalion was withdrawn from the line. The Battalion was motorised and joined with 11th Armoured Division for the breakout attack later in the month. There was no fighting, and on 31 August, the 1st Battalion crossed the river Seine at Vernon and swept on to Amiens.

 

The Battalion was then placed under command of the Guards Armoured Division and swept into Brussels on 3 September. The Battalion, still under command of the Guards Armoured, then started the attack towards Eindhoven, which was the attack designed to relieve the British and Polish airborne troops fighting at Arnhem, who had dropped as part of Operation Market Garden, which ended in a failure. The Battalion, as part of 231st Infantry Brigade, was charged with defending the "Corridor" formed by the armoured advance. In October, the 1st Battalion moved up to Nijmegen and moved onto "The Island", the bridgehead over the river Waal but behind the river Lek.

 

In October 1944 the Battalion attacked north of Bemmel, and expanded the bridgehead up to the Wettering Canal. The Battalion then went onto the defensive until the end of November. The Battalion then moved back to Ypres in Belgium, and subsequently was moved back to the United Kingdom with the rest of the 50th Division, and the men were mainly used as replacements for other infantry battalions, with the exception of a small training cadre consisting of 12 officers and 100 other ranks. The battalion ended the war in Louth, Lincolnshire. Since D-Day the 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment had suffered casualties of over 1,281 including 231 officers and men killed in action, the rest being either wounded or missing in action.

 

 

Name: Slade, George James Birch

Rank: Sergeant

Age: 34

No. 5497144

Unit: 

Missing since: 04-10-1944

Next of Kin:

Groesbeek Panel: 4

KIA Information: Known to have been killed in Bemmel area.



Name: Brine, Kenneth Norman

Rank: Private

Age: 30

No. 5385719

Unit: 

Missing since: 19/20-10-1944

Next of Kin: Son of Bond and Jessie Hayes, of Whiddon Down, Devon

Groesbeek Panel: 4

KIA Information: Known to have been killed in Bemmel area.


Name: Steele, Alfred Edward

Rank: Private

Age: 22

No. 5496678

Unit: 

Missing since: 04-10-1944

Next of Kin: Son of John and Edith Steele, of Basingstoke, Hampshire.

Groesbeek Panel: 4

KIA Information: Known to have been killed in Bemmel area.

Name: Ventham, Bertram Lewis

Rank: Lance-Corporal

Age: 29

No. 2623169

Unit: 

Missing since: 04-10-1944

Next of Kin: Son of Alexander and Alice Ventham, of Bournemouth, Hampshire

Groesbeek Panel: 4

KIA Information: Known to have been killed in Bemmel area.