The Worcestershire Regiment served all over the world in World War 2, from Iceland to Rangoon.
1st Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment.
In 1939 the 1st Battalion were in Palestine, keeping the fragile peace between Arabs and Jews around Jerusalem. When war broke out they moved across into North Africa. They were sent to Abbysinia and Eritrea (which are now Ethiopia), which were Italian colonies. They fought a harsh campaign here, fighting in scorching deserts and dry mountains as the Italians put up a bitter resistance. Eventually, after the battle of Keren, the Italians surrendered. By taking these colonies, the British had secured their supply lines through the Suez Canal and won Britain’s first major land victory of the war.
In 1941 the 1st Battalion transferred to the Western Desert in order to fight the Germans. As the Germans advanced, the Battalion became trapped in Tobruk. Just outside this port the Battalion made a gallant stand, at a place called Point 187, holding back the German tanks for 24 hours before finally pulling back.
In June 1942 the 1st Battalion were with the garrison of Tobruk when it surrendered. Only a few men escaped back to England.
In January 1943 the Battalion was reborn as the 11th Battalion, then renumbered as the 1st. The new Battalion landed in Normandy in June 1944 and were heavily involved in the Battle of Caen and the advance on the River Seine. On the 16th August they crossed the River under heavy fire – the first unit across.
The Battalion later fought through the liberation of Belgium and Holland, and the invasion of Germany. In March 1945 they played a major part in the crossing of the Rhine.
2nd Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment.
In 1939 the Battalion was in India. Until 1942 they guarded the North-West Frontier. Then Japan entered the war and swept through Burma and the Pacific. Fearing invasion, the Battalion moved to the south-east coast.
In February 1944 the Battalion moved up to the Burmese border, and in November crossed it and entered the war. After fighting to relieve the Allied posts at Kohima and Imphal, they began the long march south.
Fighting through thick, oppressive jungle, they pushed the toughened and experienced Japanese Army back. It was a claustrophobic war, fighting the environment as well as the enemy.
After a hard fight at Nanka (December) they reached Shwebo and crossed the Irrawaddy River in January 1945. Pushing on down behind Japanese lines, they resisted a counter-attack at Kule (February) and liberated Mandalay in March 1945.
7th Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment.
When war broke out, the 7th Battalion was part of the Territorial Army
In 1940 the Battalion was sent to France, and fought through the campaign against the German invasion. After much hard fighting, they were evacuated through Dunkirk.During the retreat from Dunkirk the Battalion lost the instruments from their band. In 1944, when the British advanced back through the same areas, a French villager came forward with the missing equipment which he had found and hidden back in 1940.
After Dunkirk the Battalion served in England and Northern Ireland, and then were sent to India in 1942.
When the British liberated Burma in 1944 they fought from Kohima and Imphal all the way down to Rangoon (1945) with distinction. At Schwebo the local population were so thankful at being liberated they presented the Battalion with an ornate bowl.
8th Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment.
At the outbreak of war the 8th Battalion were a Territorial Army unit.
In 1940 the Battalion saw action in France at Wormhoudt and Dunkirk . One night in April 1940 a patrol from the 8th snuck out and through German lines to a church from which the Germans had been flying a large Nazi flag. They managed to climb up the steeple and steal it, eventually making it back to their own lines 22 hours after leaving.
After Dunkirk the unit became a training battalion in England, where it remained for the rest of the war.
9th Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment.
The 9th Battalion were raised in 1939, and spent the war in England and Northern Ireland as a home defence and training unit.
10th Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment.
The 10th Battalion were raised in 1939, and served on home defence in England and Northern Ireland. They were part of the force who acted as decoys for the D-Day preparations, fooling the Germans into thinking that the invasion was going to be through Calais. After this they became a training battalion.
11th Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment.
The 11th Battalion was raised in 1940, and served on home defence untill 1942 when they were disbanded and the men used to reform the 1st Battalion.
12th Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment.
The 12th Battalion was raised in 1940, and saw service as a garrison in Iceland before being changed into the 179th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery in 1942. They served in this role through France and Germany in 1944-5.