This record is held by West Sussex Record Office

Details of RSR
Reference: RSR

The records fall into four principal categories - documents, photographs, audio-visual records, and printed works-and the catalogue has been arranged according to this division. The documents derive from two basic sources: firstly, official records such as order books, nominal rolls, and war diaries created in the administration of the individual battalions, and secondly, personal records such as personal diaries, letters, and service papers given to the Regimental Museum by former soldiers or their relatives. The collection of photographs comprises some 6,800 prints, either in the form of individual items or entries in photograph albums. In the majority of instances they represent the personal collections of former soldiers ultimately given to the Regiment or to the Regimental Museum. The audio-visual records consist of cinematograph film, microfilm, magnetic tape recordings, and gramophone records, while the printed works include regimental journals, regimental histories, military histories and biographies, and military reference books


The collection does not constitute a fully comprehensive record of the history of the Regiment because the bulk of the administrative records were, in accordance with military procedure, held in Army Record Offices and sub-sequently transferred to the principal Army Record Office in London. Nevertheless, the records in this collection do provide an invaluable insight into the history of the Regiment, and the general impression is that this is one of the best collections of records relating to a county regiment currently known to exist

Date: 1701 - 1980



RSR/MSS/1 1st Battalion (35th Regiment of Foot), 1701-1979


RSR/MSS/2 2nd Battalion (107th Regiment of Foot), 1854-1979


RSR/MSS/3 Sussex Militia and 3rd Battalion, 1778-1979


RSR/MSS/4 Volunteer Battalions and 4th Battalion, 1860-1979


RSR/MSS/5 Cinque Ports Volunteers, Cinque Ports Local Militia, 1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers, and 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion, 1803-1979


RSR/MSS/6 6th (Cyclist) Battalion and 2/6th Battalion, 1871-1979


RSR/MSS/7 Service Battalions, 1913-1979


RSR/MSS/8 The Regimental Depôt, Chichester, 1856-1979


RSR/MSS/9 Colonels of the Regiment, 1739-1974


RSR/MSS/10 Commissions and Warrants of Officers of the Regiment, 1760-1929


RSR/MSS/11 Memorials and Services, Ceremonies, Regimental Marches, and Verse, c. 1775-1979


RSR/MSS/12 First and Second World Wars: Miscellaneous Papers (including Sussex Home Guard), 1914-1955


RSR/MSS/13 The Royal Sussex Regiment: General History (including newspaper cuttings), 1701-1979




RSR/PH/1 1st Battalion (35th Royal Sussex Regiment), c. 1860-1966


RSR/PH/2 2nd Battalion (107th Regiment of Foot), 1865-1946


RSR/PH/3 Sussex Militia and 3rd Battalion, 1854-1956


RSR/PH/4 Volunteer Battalions and 4th Battalion, 1890-1948


RSR/PH/5 Cinque Ports Volunteers and 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion, c. 1861-1967


RSR/PH/6 2/6th Battalion, 1915-1919


RSR/PH/7 Service Battalions, 1914-1945


RSR/PH/8 The Regimental Depôt, Chichester, 1866-1975


RSR/PH/9 Colonels of the Regiment, 1863-1966


RSR/PH/10 Lieutenant-Colonels Commanding the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 1863-1938


RSR/PH/11 Individual Officers of the Regiment, c. 1857-1976


RSR/PH/12 Officers' Dinner, 1907-1979


RSR/PH/13 Colours, 1900-1974


RSR/PH/14 Band and Drums, 1886-1966


RSR/PH/15 Memorials, c. 1919-1978


RSR/PH/16 Exhibition : One Hundred Years of The Royal Sussex Regiment, 1866-1966


RSR/PH/17 Miscellaneous Prints and Photographs, 1752-1980




RSR/AV/1 Cinematograph Film, 1914-1960


RSR/AV/2 Microfilms, 1901-1902


RSR/AV/3 Magnetic Recording Tapes, c. 1950-1966


RSR/AV/4 Gramophone Records, 1939-1970




RSR/Library/1 Regimental and Battalion Histories


RSR/Library/2 Regimental Journals : The Roussillon Gazette


RSR/Library/3 Regimental Journals : The Journal of The Queen's Regiment


RSR/Library/4 Standing Orders, Battalion Lists, Officers' Mess Rules, and Officers' Dress Regulations, The Royal Sussex Regiment


RSR/Library/5 Military Histories and Biographies


RSR/Library/6 Military Reference Books


RSR/Library/7 Army Lists


RSR/Library/8 Publications of Military History Societies


RSR/Library/9 Miscellaneous Publications

Related material:

Students who are interested in the history of The Royal Sussex Regiment should also be aware of the existence of sources in other repositories which might relate directly or indirectly to the Regiment. The records of the War Office are a rich and voluminous source on all aspects of military history and are available for inspection at the Public Record Office, Ruskin Avenue, Kew (see M. S. Giuseppi Guide to the Contents of the Public Record Office, H.M.S.O. 1963, Volume 2, pp. 304-333). The National Army Museum in Royal Hospital Road, London SW3, holds records relating to the British Army, the Indian Army, and the Colonial Forces. The bulk of its holdings covers the 18th and 19th centuries, and consists principally of personal records of officers and men, rather than official papers. The Imperial War Museum, Department of Documents, in Lambeth Road, London SE1, holds material for the period from 1914 and is an important source of records for the First and Second World Wars. Finally, the Army Record Office in Bourne Avenue, Hayes, Middlesex, deals with the current and closed records of the Ministry of Defence, and is particularly important for its holdings of army service records. These comprise the personal files of individual officers and men from 1914 onwards - although those for 1914-1918 were partly destroyed during wartime bombing in the Second World War - and access to these papers is restricted to close relatives of the soldier concerned

Held by: West Sussex Record Office, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

35th Regiment of Foot, 1701-1881

107th Regiment of Foot, 1862-1881

Royal Sussex Regiment, 1881-1966

The Queen's Regiment, 1966-1992

Physical description: 43 Series
Restrictions on use:

Students are asked to exercise care in quoting references, and to use the form RSR/MS/(or MSS) followed by the relevant number(s). In printed works the reference should be preceded by West Sussex Record Office (W.S.R.O. subsequently). None may be reproduced in any form without permission, for which application should be made in the first instance to the County Archivist

Access conditions:

The documents described in this catalogue may be consulted in the West Sussex Record Office during normal office hours


Records less than 30 years old may be consulted only by application to the County Archivist; certain other documents, such as personal diaries of officers serving in the Second World War, are also subject to restrictions regarding access, in view of the possibly sensitive nature of the information they contain

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in the West Sussex Record Office in 1979-1980 by Major J. F. Ainsworth on behalf of The Royal Sussex Regiment Museum Trust

Publication note:

It is the intention of this introduction to give only a brief account of the history of the Regiment, and for further detail on this subject, students are advised to consult the regimental histories described in a later section of this catalogue. Of particular importance in this respect are A History of the Royal Sussex Regiment, 1701-1953 by G. D. Martineau (The Royal Sussex Regimental Association, 1955) and The Royal Sussex Regiment. The Last Twenty Years, 1948-1967 by Major J. F. Ainsworth (The Royal Sussex Regimental Association, 1974). A summary history is given in The Royal Sussex Regiment by Major Ainsworth (English Life Publications, 1976). These books are included in the library of the Regimental Museum and are now available for consultation in the Record Office

Administrative / biographical background:

The Raising of the 35th Regiment of Foot, 1701


The Regiment was raised in Belfast in 1701 by Arthur Chichester, 3rd Earl of Donegall, who owned large estates in the north of Ireland. It was one of the Protestant regiments formed at the time to meet the growing threat of Louis XIV of France and to resist the spread of Roman Catholicism in Britain. The 3rd Earl raised the Regiment at his own expense, in return for which William III gave permission for uniforms to bear orange facings, and the Regiment was first known as 'The Earl of Donegall's Regiment' or 'The Belfast Regiment'. It carried the seniority number '35', and was officially called 'The 35th Regiment of Foot'


The War of the Spanish Succession, 1702-1710, and The Seven Years War, 1756-1763


The new Regiment served in the War of the Spanish Succession and in the winter of 1704-1705 it took part in the defence of Gibraltar, for which it received its first battle-honour. It suffered heavy casualties during the disastrous battle of Almanza in April 1707, and the remnants returned to Ireland where the Regiment was reconstituted. It was to remain largely in Ireland until 1756 when the outbreak of The Seven Years War took the 35th to North America. In 1758 it was present at the capture of Louisburg and in the following year it fought under General Wolfe at the battle of Quebec, during which it encountered the Royal Roussillon Regiment of France from which was derived the plume later incorporated in the badge of the Regiment


The American War of Independence, 1776-1781


During the American War of Independence the 35th Regiment of Foot fought at Bunker Hill, Brooklyn, and White Plains, and also took part in the capture of St. Lucia in the West Indies. In 1782 county titles were added to infantry regiments, in order to help recruiting, and the 35th became known as the 35th (or Dorsetshire) Regiment, although the reason for the connection with Dorset is not readily apparent. The first real connection with Sussex came in 1787 when Charles Lennox, subsequently 4th Duke of Richmond, joined the Regiment. He recruited Sussex men from the family estates and in 1804, as Colonel of the Regiment, he obtained royal permission for the county title 'Sussex' to be transferred from the 25th Regiment of Foot so that the 35th now became known as the 35th (or Sussex) Regiment


The Napoleonic Wars, 1793-1815


Meanwhile war with revolutionary France had broken out in 1793, and the 35th was sent to the West Indies where it took part in the unsuccessful defence of Guadaloupe. On the return to England, Lennox raised the strength of the Regiment by means of volunteers from the Sussex Militia, and in 1799 a second battalion was constituted. Both battalions fought in the abortive campaign in Holland and in 1800 played an important role in the capture of Malta. The 1st Battalion remained in the Mediterranean and in 1806 distinguished itself in the victory over the French at Maida in Italy. The 2nd Battalion was with a reserve brigade at Waterloo and took part in the allied Victory March through Paris in 1815


After the Napoleonic Wars the Regiment served for a long period in the West Indies. On its return home in 1832 the Regiment was given the appelation 'Royal' by William IV in honour of its achievements, and so its title became the 35th (Royal Sussex) Regiment of Foot. The old orange facings on the uniforms, given by William III, were now replaced by the blue facings of a 'Royal' Regiment


The Indian Mutiny, 1857


In August 1854 the Regiment embarked for India, thereby missing involvement in the Crimean War, and three years later took part in the quelling of the Indian Mutiny. After the Mutiny the 35th became linked with the 107th (Bengal Infantry) Regiment. This had first been raised by the East India Company in 1853, under the title of the 3rd Regiment-of Bengal European Infantry, and in 1861 it was transferred to the British Service together with all other European Regiments of the Company's private army. In 1873 a common depôt was established at Chichester for the 35th and 107th Regiments, and in 1881 the two Regiments were reconstituted to form the 1st Battalion and the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment


The 1st Battalion went to Egypt in 1882 and formed part of the Nile Expedition sent to relieve General Gordon at Khartoum in 1884-1885. The 2nd Battalion was in India for the Black Mountain Expedition in 1888 and for several punitive campaigns against tribesmen on the North West Frontier


The South African War, 1899-1902


During the Boer War of 1899-1902 the 1st Battalion was reinforced by the Militia and by three successive companies formed from the Volunteer units of the Regiment. The Royal Sussex Light Infantry Militia, which was first embodied in 1778, was reconstituted as the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment, in 1881, and served in South Africa from April 1901. The volunteer movement, which can be traced back at least to the Napoleonic War period, was revived in 1859, on fears of war with France, and local corps of rifle volunteers were established in towns throughout the county. The movement was reorganised in 1887 with the formation of the 1st and 2nd Volunteer Battalions, and it became more closely allied to the Regiment. Both battalions supplied drafts for the Volunteer Active Service Companies which were attached to the 1st Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment, during the South African War. This was the first time that the Volunteers had fought for their country overseas. During the latter part of the War members of the Royal Sussex contingent were mounted and formed into mobile columns to round up the Boer commandos


In 1908 the volunteer movement came to an end and was superceded by the new Territorial Force. In West Sussex the 2nd Volunteer Battalion was transferred to the Territorial Force, and became the 4th Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment. In East Sussex the 1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteer Corps, which had its origins in the volunteer forces raised during the Napoleonic Wars, was transferred to the Territorial Force, and became the 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment. During the two world wars both Territorial battalions were to distinguish themselves fighting alongside the Regular battalions of the Regiment


The First World War, 1914-1918


In the First World War the Regiment expanded to no less than 23 battalions. The 1st Battalion remained in India throughout the War, but the 2nd Battalion crossed the Channel with the 1st Division in August 1914 and remained in France for the four years of hostilities during which it lost 1,723 officers and men killed in action. The 3rd (Militia) Battalion was stationed at Newhaven and undertook the training of drafts for overseas battalions. The 4th Battalion was employed against the Turks in the Middle East and, later, against the Germans in France and Belgium. The 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion initially served with the 2nd Battalion as part of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division, suffering heavy casualties at Aubers Ridge in May 1915, but from August 1915 it acted as the pioneer Battalion to the 48th Division in France, Belgium, Italy, and Austria. The 6th Battalion, formed in 1908 as cyclists of the new Territorial Force, in fact furnished three battalions during the War, serving in coastal defence in England and in overseas duties in Ireland and India, before being disbanded in 1919. A number of Service Battalions were formed as part of the 'New Army' raised by Lord Kitchener in 1914-1915. The 7th, 8th, and 9th Battalions, together with the three Southdown Battalions (the 11th, 12th, and 13th), suffered heavy casualties in France and Belgium. The Sussex Yeomanry were dismounted and fought as the 16th Battalion in Palestine and later on the Western Front, while the 17th Battalion fought in France during the latter months of the War. The 51st, 52nd, and 53rd Battalions served in northern Germany from March to August 1919. The 10th Battalion acted partly as a Reserve Battalion for the Southdown Brigade, and the 14th and 15th Battalions were also home-based training battalions


The inter-war era, 1919-1939


During the inter-war period the 1st Battalion concluded seventeen years of service in India, and in 1920 joined the Army of the Rhine at Cologne. The Battalion served in Northern Ireland in the early 1920s, and occupied home stations between 1926-1936, performing Public Duties in London in 1932, before embarking for Palestine towards the end of 1936. Meanwhile the 2nd Battalion went across the world -- serving in the West Indies, Malta, Chanak, Singapore, and India - and ended the peacetime era in Belfast in 1939. The Territorial battalions were hard hit by the prevailing pacifist attitude and economic slump at home, but the expansion of the Territorial Army in the period leading up to the Second World War meant that the 4th and 5th Battalions 'threw off' duplicate battalions, and led to the re-birth of the 6th and 7th Battalions respectively


The Second World War, 1939-1945


In October 1940 the 1st Battalion joined the 7th Brigade of the 4th Indian Division near Cairo and so began an association which was to last until the end of the War. After a few months in the Western Desert it moved south for the overthrow of the Italians in Eritrea and Abyssinia which was completed by April 1941. It returned to North Africa and played an important rôle in the fighting at Sidi Omar in November 1941. After a period of resting and training in Cyprus, the Battalion returned to North Africa in September 1942, and fought in the Tunisian campaign. In December 1943 it embarked for Italy and in February and March of the following year took part in the bitter fighting at Monte Cassino. After the advance through Italy the Battalion was sent to Greece, landing at Salonika in November 1944, and was employed there until July 1945 in maintaining the civil peace


The 2nd Battalion joined the 4th and 5th Battalions to form a Royal Sussex Brigade, the 133rd Brigade of the 44th Division, and moved across to France in March-April 1940. After Dunkirk, when the 2nd Battalion was particularly badly depleted, the Brigade was re-formed, and in May 1942 was sent out to North Africa. It fought at the decisive battles of Alam Halfa and El Alamein, but in November 1942 the 10th Parachute Battalion was formed from the 2nd Battalion, and the Royal Sussex Brigade, now comprising a reconstituted 2nd Battalion and 4th/5th Battalion, became part of the Persia and Iraq Force with which it served for the rest of the War


The 6th and 7th Battalions were brigaded in the 37th Brigade of the 12th Division. After a period of recruiting, training, and guard duties, they were sent to France in April 1940, but were forced to evacuate in June 1940, in the face of the German advance, the 7th Battalion suffering heavily at Amiens. The 6th Battalion spent the rest of the War in guard duties and coastal defence, as well as supplying drafts for the overseas battalions of the Regiment, while the 7th Battalion, after a period of re-organisation, was transferred to the Royal Artillery as a light anti-aircraft regiment, the 109 L.A.A. Regiment, in which capacity it served for the remainder of the war


During the war the 9th Battalion was re-formed, in June 1940, and served in India and North Burma between 1942-1945. The 8th Battalion was formed out of the original Local Defence Volunteers and served on guard duties in England. It was a relatively short-lived formation as were the 50th Battalion, formed at Seaford to supply drafts to other battalions, and the 10th Battalion, which belonged to the 10th Independent Beach Brigade on the Sussex and Kent beaches. The 70th Battalion, formed in September 1940, helped to defend vulnerable points in Sussex, Surrey, and Kent, and later provided drafts for overseas duty


The post-war era, 1945-1967


The post-war period has seen considerable changes in the organisation of the British Army. The first came into operation in 1946 with the introduction of the Group System whereby regiments were combined into regional groups. The Royal Sussex, together with The Queen's, The Buffs, The Royal Fusiliers, The East Surrey Regiment, The Royal West Kent Regiment, and The Middlesex Regiment, formed the Home Counties Group


Within the Regiment itself another important change took place on 12th September 1948 when the 1st and 2nd Battalions were amalgamated into one battalion called the 1st Battalion and the 4th and 5th Battalions were amalgamated into the 4th/5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion, Territorial Army


The 1st Battalion subsequently served in Egypt, Jordan, Germany, Korea, Gibraltar, Belfast, Malta, and Aden, and while in England in 1963 it performed Public Duties in London


On 31 December 1966 The Royal Sussex Regiment became part of the newly formed Queen's Regiment - together with The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment, The Queen's Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment, and The Middlesex Regiment. The 4th/5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion was disbanded in March 1967 on the formation of Territorial and Army Volunteer units of the Queen's Regiment. However, although the separate identity of The Royal Sussex Regiment may have since been lost, the most cherished customs and traditions of the Regiment are preserved in its successor, the 3rd Battalion, The Queen's Regiment, and in the work of The Royal Sussex Regimental Association

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