The Royal Sussex Regiment was officially formed in 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms when the 35th and 107th Regiment of Foot were amalgamated. The Regiment can trace its history back to over 100 years prior.
The 35th Regiment was founded in Belfast by Arthur Chichester, 3rd Earl of Donegal, in 1701. Arthur raised the Regiment at his own expense so King William III gave his permission for the officers and soldiers to wear orange facings on their uniforms.
The Regiment was then known as “The Earl of Donegal’s Regiment of Foot”. The 35th Regiment of Foot’s early campaigns and battles included Cadiz 1702, Gibraltar 1704-5 and Spain 1704-8. From 1757, the Regiment was stationed in Canada and America. Its most notable battle was in Quebec in 1759, on the Heights of Abraham.
Here it fought and defeated the French Roussillon Regiment and incorporated their white feathered plume into their cap badge.
The Regiment’s association with Sussex came in 1787 when Lord Charles Gordon Lennox, later the 4th Duke of Richmond, joined the Regiment and recruited men from his family estates in the county. In 1804 he obtained royal permission for the title Sussex to be used by the 35th Regiment.
In 1861 the 107th Regiment of Infantry, nicknamed the “Fighting Tigers” as a result of their service in India, became part of the British Army. In 1875 the 107th Regiment was garrisoned in the barracks in Broyle Road, Chichester and in 1881 they were merged with the 35th Regiment to form the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment. In the 1880s they saw service in Egypt and from 1900-02 in South Africa.
During the First World War the 1st Battalion were stationed in India and remained there for the duration despite pleas to be sent to France. The 2nd Battalion arrived in France on August 23, 1914. Its defence of Marne in September earned the epithet “Iron Regiment”. The First World War meant that there was a great need for additional manpower and as a result the Royal Sussex Regiment was expanded with additional battalions totalling 23.
The 4th, a Territorial Battalion, served at Gallipoli, Egypt, Palestine and the Western Front. The 5th Battalion took part in the attack on Auber’s Ridge on May 9, 1915, and later moved to the Italian Front.
The 7th, 8th and 9th were Service Battalions and saw heavy fighting in France. One of those enlisted in the 7th Battalion was Sgt Charles Tullet, one of 12 Shippams employees to have initially been recruited from the factory.
These men regularly wrote letters back home, in particular to Ernest Shippam, the owner of the company. The 11th, 12th and 13th Battalions were raised by Colonel Lowther, initially known as the “Southdown Battalions”.
They later became known as ‘Lowther’s Lambs’ due to the heavy losses they suffered. This included Chichester man Walter Dew, a postman living in Tower Street, who had joined the Regiment in 1916.
Unfortunately, Walter died in 1919 following an operation on wounds sustained in the war.
In June 1919, Chichester’s City Mayor Sir Archibald Garland welcomed a section of the Royal Sussex. Over the course of the First World War the Regiment had lost a total of 7,096 men and had received 69 battle honours, including four Victoria Crosses.
The pictures were donated by the Royal Sussex Regiment Museum Trust.