BRIEF HISTORY OF THE KRRC IN WORLD WAR TWO
history of the KRRC is fascinating, glorious and
extensive from 1755 onwards, I am focussing on the
KRRC in the Second World War; mostly because this is
the time period that the game this site was written
for, WWIIOL is a Second World War simulation!
In 1937 the
development of armoured formations necessitated
highly mobile and well-trained infantry to support
the armour and work in close co-operation with them.
Speed, long-range communications and the ability to
work independently at platoon and company groups were
required. This was a very similar situation to that
which the Regiment had fulfilled with such
distinction in its early years in North America,
Spain and more recently in South Africa. The KRRC and
the Rifle brigade were selected to become motor
battalions, an honour in accord with their history
In 1938 the 2nd
Battalion was re-organised at Aldershot as a
motorised unit. The 1st battalion in Egypt soon
followed. By 1941, all 3 of the territorial regiments
of the KRRC (Queen Victoria Rifles, Queens
Westminsters and the Rangers) had two motorised
battalions. The 1st Motor training battalion was also
Harbour, 17 American citizens were granted
commissions in the KRRC. This was a unique
distinction and a link with the 60ths original
roots as a Royal American Regiment. Four were killed
in the war and several were wounded.
rifleman in combat dress, 1940, minus rifle.
The Defence of
In May 1940, a
Green Jacket Brigade (2nd KRRC, 1st RB and 1st Queen
Victoria's Rifles) crossed the Channel at the
shortest notice to assist the evacuation of the BEF
from Dunkirk, by holding Calais against a thrust by 2
German armoured divisions. After four days of bitter
fighting with inadequate Anti-Tank weapons they were
gradually overpowered after suffering heavy losses
and with no ammunition left.
On a memorable
occasion Churchill wrote that it had added
another page to the glories of the Light
Division. The German commander that accepted
the final surrender of the heavily depleted and
ammunition-less brigade asked the brigade commander
to bring out the heavy guns. The commander replied
Im sorry, sir, I cant do that.
There arent any heavy guns. The German
commander was quite taken aback and could not work
out how three battalions had held up his two armoured
divisions for three days with nothing heavier than
Boyes Anti-Tank rifles!
(I intend to do
a more detailed account of the battle for Calais at
some stage but this will have to do for now.)
The Desert War
Battalion was the first Green Jacket Motor Battalion
in the Desert and was guarding the Western frontiers
of Egypt when, in June 1940, Italy declared war. In
April it was joined by a detachment of the Royal
Rhodesia Regiment. The Rhodesian Company became one
of the finest companies in the battalion. In the
first seven months of this war, the Italian army was
destroyed. Four KRRC battalions took part in this
campaign, fighting in close association with the 7th
Armoured Division and sharing their Desert
Rat badge. The 1st KRRC fought almost to the
last at Sidi Rezegh, only 55 all ranks escaped in the
battle where the regiments 23rd VC was won. The
1st, 2nd and 12th fought at Alamein and through to
the final battles in Tunisia.
in the desert, 1940-1943. Sketch by Capitain Oswald
War in Greece
In the spring
of 1941 the 9th KRRC (The Rangers) fought a desperate
rearguard action in Greece. Their gallant stand in
the Florina Cap inflicted heavy casualties on the
Germans. The remainder of the Battalion with few
arms, little ammunition and no air support fought
until overwhelmed in Crete. 14 escaped. Towards the
end of the war until 1946, the 11th KRRC (Queens
Westminsters) fought the communist rebels in Greece.
battalions of the KRRC fought in Italy. The 1st
Battalion, after a year of determined fighting, had
reached the Austrian Frontier when Germany
surrendered in May 1945. The 2nd Battalion was
withdrawn to England in early 1944 and later the 11th
was withdrawn to Egypt.
battalions, the 2nd and the 12th fought from the
landings in Normandy in June 1944 to the surrender of
the German army on Luneberg Heath on 5th 1945.
From 1939 to
1945 the Regiment had raised 8 battalions at various
times; more than one thousand all ranks were killed
and over 8 thousand were wounded or missing. The
names of those who gave their lives are recorded on
the Roll Of Honour book in Winchester Cathedral. On
the quay at Calais stands a memorial to the three
Green Jacket battalions who fought there in 1940.
with permission by David Blatcher from The
Kings Royal Rifle Corps (60th Rifles)
Bicentenary Edition, published 1955, which was
kindly supplied by Colonel I H McCausland of the
Celer et Audax club.