Britain's Most Massacred Regiments
British Regiments massacred in battle during the 18th and 19th Centuries:
Pride of place must go to the 44th Foot, later the Essex Regiment and now the Royal Anglian Regiment, massacred on three occasions.
The 44th, as Lee’s Regiment, formed part of Sir John Cope’s army annihilated at the battle of Prestonpans on 21st September 1745 by Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s highlanders. Almost all the infantry were killed, wounded or captured. The other regiments massacred by the highlanders at Prestonpans were the 6th (now the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers), 46th (now the Light Infantry) and 47th (now the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment).
Almost exactly 10 years later on 9th July 1755, the 44th, commanded by Colonel Sir John Halkett, who as lieutenant colonel had commanded the regiment and been taken prisoner at Prestonpans, was part of Major General Edward Braddock’s force massacred by the Indians fighting for France on the Monongahela River, in what is now Western Pennsylvania. Halkett and his son died in the battle with many of his officers and soldiers. The other regiment massacred in the battle was the 48th (now also the Royal Anglian Regiment). Braddock was killed by the Indians.
In August 1840, the 44th was part of General Sale’s ill-fated army in the First Afghan War. The army was forced to retreat from Kabul pursued by the Afghans in strength. At Gandamak in the Afghan mountains the 44th Regiment was annihilated.
The 24th Foot was massacred by the Zulus at the battle of Isandlwana on 22nd January 1879. Caught unawares by the sudden attack of the Zulu army, the 1st Battalion, 24th Foot, failed to take up the square formation essential against the overwhelming number of Zulu warriors and were wiped out to a man. The successor regiment to the 24th Foot is the Royal Regiment of Wales.
The 66th Foot was massacred at the battle of Maiwand by the Ghazis on 27th July 1880 in the Third Afghan War; one of the few survivors being a dog called “Bobbie”. In 1882 the regiment, or what was left of it, became the 1st Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. Two massive stone lions in Forbury Park, Reading, the county town of Berkshire, inscribed with the names of the fallen commemorate the battle. The regiment is now embodied in the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment.
The colossal memorial Lion in Forbury Gardens, Reading, commemorating the Battle of Maiwand and the loss of the 66th Regiment