Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry: Wikis


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Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Active 1881 - 1958
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Branch British Army
Type Line Infantry
Role Light Infantry
Nickname The Ox and Bucks
Anniversaries Waterloo (18 June)
Ceremonial chief HM Carlos I of Portugal

The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was an infantry regiment of the British Army.

The regiment was formed as a consequence of Childers reforms, a continuation of the Cardwell reforms, by the amalgamation of the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry) and the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry), forming the 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Oxfordshire Light Infantry on 1 July 1881.

In 1908 the regiment's title was altered to become the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, commonly shortened to the 'Ox and Bucks'.


Operations across the Empire

1st Battalion

The 43rd Foot was based in Burma when it became the 1st Battalion. In 1882 it moved to Bangalore, India. In 1887 the battalion returned home, being based in Parkhurst, England. It moved to Kinsale, Ireland in 1893 and, having been based in other parts of Ireland, returned to England in 1898. In December 1899 the Second Boer War began and the 1st Battalion arrived in Southern Africa to take part in it. It saw extensive service in the conflict, including in the relief of the besieged British garrison at Kimberley and in the defeat of the Boers at Paardeberg in February. The war raged on for a further two years and the regiment saw extensive service for the duration of the conflict. The Oxfordshires returned to the UK in 1902 with the conclusion of the war. It moved to India the following year where it was based until the outbreak of war in 1914.

2nd Battalion

The 52nd Light Infantry was based in Oxford, England when it became the 2nd Battalion. This was the 52nd of Waterloo fame who, under the command of Colonel Sir John Colborne, broke a battalion of the Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard. In 1884 it arrived in Gibraltar and the following year took part in the expedition to Egypt. In 1886 they were based in India, where they would remain into the 20th century. During their stay they took part in the Tirah Expedition in the volatile North-West Frontier in 1897. In 1903 the battalion returned home, being based in Chatham. They were still based in Britain when World War I was declared.

First World War (1914-18)

During the war, the Ox & Bucks raised 12 battalions (17 in all), six of which fought on the Western Front, two in Italy, two in Macedonia and one in Mesopotamia. The regiment won 59 Battle Honours and four Theatre Honours. Many gallantry honours were awarded to the Ox & Bucks, including two Victoria Crosses -- the most prestigious honour for bravery in the face of the enemy—that were awarded to Company Sergeant Major Edward Brooks and Lance-Corporal Alfred Wilcox, both of the 2/4th Battalion.


Western Front

2nd Ox & Bucks defeating the Prussian Guard at Nonne Bosschen. Painting by William Barnes Wollen (1857–1936)

In 1914 the 2nd Ox and Bucks arrived on the Western Front as part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division – one of the first divisions of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to arrive in France. The battalion took part in the first British battle of the war, at Mons, where the British defeated the German forces that they had encountered on 23 August. The battalion subsequently took part in the retreat that began the following day, not stopping until just on the outskirts of Paris, then halting the German advance at the First Battle of the Marne (5–9 September). The 2nd Ox & Bucks later took part in all the subsidiary battles of the First Battle of Ypres (19 October – 22 November) that saw the heart ripped out of the old Regular Army, with 54,000 casualties being sustained by the British Army. On 11 November the Germans made another attempt to capture Ypres, sending – on the orders of the German Kaiser – the élite Prussian Guard against the British forces. The 2nd Battalion counter-attacked them at Nonne Bosschen wood, proceeding to prevent their advance and rout them. First Ypres was the last major battle of 1914.

At the Battle of Festubert – which was launched in support of the French attack south of Vimy Ridge – in May 1915 the 2nd Ox and Bucks were part of the second wave of the 5th Brigade attack and, during the course of the battle, sustained just under 400 casualties; the largest the regiment had suffered so far in the war, and the largest it had suffered for over 100 years. Battalions of the regiment also saw action at Loos in September, and the 2nd Ox & Bucks alone took part in the subsequent attack against the Hohenzollern Redoubt in October. The 1/4th Ox & Bucks took part in the First Day of the Somme on 1 July 1916, in which the British Army suffered over 60,000 casualties – the largest casualties sustained in a day by the British Army. The battalions of the Ox & Bucks on the Western Front saw extensive service during the Battle of the Somme (1 July – 18 November), suffering heavily, including at Mametz Wood, Pozières, and at Ancre the last major subsidiary battle.

In March 1917 the Germans began the retreat to the Hindenburg Line and the regiment's battalions saw much involvement in the Arras Offensive that began on 9 April and ended on 16 May, including at the Battles of Scarpe and Arleux. The battalions of the Ox & Bucks saw further service in many of the subsidiary battles during the Battle of Passchendaele (also known as Third Ypres) that took place between 31 July-6 November. Some of the battles that the Ox & Bucks took part in included Menin Road and Polygon Wood in September and early October. The Ox & Bucks also took part in the Battle of Cambrai (20 November-3 December) that saw the first large-scale use of tanks by the British and was the last major battle 1917. On 21 March 1918 the Germans launched the last-gasp Spring Offensive (Operation Michael) and the Ox & Bucks suffered yet more heavy casualties as part of the defence of the Somme during the St. Quentin and in subsequent battles that saw the Germans achieve significant gains. After that offensive lost its momentum, the Germans launched Operation Georgette in April which the Ox & Bucks defended against in the Battle of the Lys and subsequent actions. By August the Germans offensives had failed and the Allies had launched a counter-offensive against the Germans. In August the 2nd Ox & Bucks took part in the Battle of Albert (1918) and the Second Battle of Bapaume while the 2/4th Ox & Bucks and the 2/1st Buckinghamshires took part in the advance into Flanders, with both offensives seeing the Allies advance to the Hindenburg Line by early September. The 2nd Ox & Bucks took part in the offensive against it that saw the Allies break through the defence, taking part in the Battle of Havrincourt, Battle of the Canal du Nord and the Second Battle of Cambrai. The Regiment then took part in the last actions of the war, taking part in the Battle of the Selle and the Battle of Valenciennes. The war ended on 11 November 1918 with the signing of the Armistice between the Allies and Germany.


The 1st Ox & Bucks, as part of the 17th (Ahmednagar) Brigade, 6th (Poona) Division, left India for Mesopotamia (now Iraq); there, the Battalion took part in the campaign against the Ottoman forces that ruled the country.

The Battalion took part in the march towards Kut-al-Amara with the intention of capturing it from the Ottomans. The battle for Kut began on 26 September and raged for a number of days until the Ottomans went into retreat and Kut was captured on 28 September. The Battalion then took part in the Battle of Ctesiphon (22-24 November) during the pursuit of the Ottoman forces and in the effort to capture the capital Baghdad, which ended in the 6th Poona Division being defeated by the Ottomans. The Division subsequently retreated to Kut, reaching it on 3 December, where they were besieged by the Ottomans, beginning on 7 December, with a garrison of 10,000 British and Indians. The Ottomans launched numerous attempts to take Kut, all of which were repulsed by the defenders, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. The British launched numerous attempts to relieve Kut, all of which failed with heavy losses. On 26 April 1916—supplies had dwindled significantly and many of the garrison's defenders were suffering from sickness—the garrison negotiated a cease-fire with the Ottomans and on 29 April the British-Indian force of 8,000 surrendered to the Ottomans, including 300 men of the 1st Ox & Bucks. Many of the Ox & Bucks taken at Kut, like the rest of the prisoners, suffered mistreatment by the Ottomans and did not survive the war; it is estimated that just under 2,000 British and up to 3,000 Indians perished in captivity.

A Provisional Battalion had been formed in January 1916 from reinforcements intended for the 1st Ox & Bucks, joining the 28th (Garwhal) Brigade, 7th (Meerut) Division. The battalion joined the Lines of Communication (LoC) force and the Provisional Battalion was re-titled the 1st Battalion on 6 July 1917. On 19 October 1917 the Battalion transferred to the 50th Brigade, 15th Indian Division. By then, the British had taken Baghdad and were gradually pushing the Ottomans further back. Between 26-27 March 1918 it took part in fighting against the Ottomans at Khan Baghdadi. The Ottomans signed an Armistice with the Allies on 30 October, ending the war in the Middle East.

Italy and Macedonia

The 1/4th Ox & Bucks and 1/1st Buckinghamshire Battalion were part of the 145th (South Midland) Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division that left the Western Front for Italy in November 1917—a member of the Allies since May 1915—after it suffered very heavy casualties and came close to collapsing after it was defeated at the Battle of Caporetto. The Regiment and the rest of the British forces did not take part in a major battle until June 1918 when they took part in the Battle of Asiago (15-16 June) that saw the Austro-Hungarians -- an ally of Germany—successfully defeated in their offensive against the Allies; it was the last Austro-Hungarian offensive against Italy. On 23 October the Allies launched a successful offensive against Austria-Hungary, with the Regiment crossing the Piave River, taking part in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. The Austro-Hungarians signed an Armistice with the Allies on 4 November 1918 and the 1/4th Ox & Bucks and 1/1st Buckinghamshires ended the war in Austria-Hungary.

In October 1915 the British and French landed in Salonika at the request of the Greek Prime Minister. The British 26th Division -- including the 7th (Service) and 8th (Service) Battalions, Ox & Bucks—landed between December 1915 and February 1916. The Regiment's time in the Balkans was mostly quiet, experiencing sporadic fighting, but it included the repulsing of a Bulgarian invasion of Greece at Lake Doiran in April-May 1917. The Regiment saw very heavy fighting against the Bulgarians around Doiran the following September, after the Allies had launched an offensive in July 1918 with the intention of ending the war in the Balkans. The war did end on 30 September 1918, with Bulgaria signing an Armistice with the Allies. The Ox & Bucks, along with the rest of the division, was subsequently employed for a brief period of time on occupation duties in Bulgaria.


1st Battalion

The 1st Ox & Bucks arrived in Archangel, Northern Russia in May 1919 as part of the Allied force that intervened in the Russian Civil War to assist the 'White Russians' in their fight against the Bolsheviks. The Battalion left later in the year, being based in Limerick, Ireland in 1920 to assist in operations against Sinn Féin and the IRA. It moved to Shorncliffe, England two years later. In 1925 the Battalion joined the British Army of Occupation in Germany, remaining there for two-years before heading for Parkhurst, England. The 1st Ox & Bucks remained in England until the outbreak of war in 1939.

2nd Battalion

In 1919 the 2nd Ox and Bucks left the Western Front, moving to Tipperary, Ireland to, like the 1st Battalion, take part in operations against the IRA and Sinn Féin. In March 1922 the Battalion arrived in Rawalpindi, India and, in about eighteen years there, saw service in the North-West Frontier, and remained there until they returned home in July 1940.

Second World War (1939-45)

On 3 September 1939—two days after Germany had invaded Poland -- the British Empire, France, and their Allies declared war on Germany, beginning the Second World War. The Regiment, as in the First World War, raised a number of battalions which saw service in France, North Africa, Burma, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.

North-West Europe (France & Belgium (1939-40))

The British rapidly sent the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to France in September, which included the 1st Ox & Bucks and the Territorial 1st Buckinghamshire Battalion, later joined by the 4th Ox & Bucks, all of which eventually became part of the 48th (South Midland) Division, with the 1st Ox & Bucks part of the 143rd Brigade and the 4th Ox & Bucks and 1st Buckinghamshires part of the 145th Brigade.

The Germans launched their invasion of the Low Countries on 10 May 1940, shattering a period of the conflict that was known as the Phony War. The German invasion of northern Belgium—where the BEF was located—was a diversion with the main attack being through the poorly-defended Ardennes forest. The BEF withdrew west towards the Dendre river after the Dutch Army had surrendered, and then withdrew further towards the Scheldt river by 19 May. The British force, having given a good account of themselves in the defence of the Scheldt, eventually withdrew into France, moving towards the Dunkirk area where, on 26 May, the evacuation of the British force back to Britain began, known as Operation Dynamo (26 May-3 June). The 1st Ox & Bucks took part in the defence of the Ypres-Commines Canal (26-28 May) and was eventually evacuated, having suffered heavy casualties. The other battalions took part in the defence of Mount Cassel until 29 May where they eventually attempted a breakout though the 4th Battalion was encircled by German forces near Watou and being overwhelmed. The 1st Buckinghamshires, having also suffered heavily, made it to Dunkirk and was evacuated back to Britain. The Dunkirk evacuation was extremely successful, with over 330,000 British and French troops evacuated.

North-West Europe (D-Day to Germany (1944-45))

1st Battalion The Buckinghamshire Battalion was part of the 6th Beach Group, landing on D-Day on 6 June 1944 as part of the beach group that organised the units on the landing beaches. The 1st Ox & Bucks landed later that month as part of the 71st Infantry Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. On 25 June Operation Epsom began that was intended to take the town of Caen—a vital objective for the British that proved to be a formidable town to capture—and failed in its intention of capturing Caen though, however, it did divert significant numbers of Germans away from the Americans. The Germans counter-attacked and the Ox & Bucks moved to positions around the Odon where it suffered from heavy German artillery barrages. The Allies launched further attempts to capture Caen, and the first Allied troops entered it on 9 July; by then, much of it had been destroyed. Fighting around Caen continued for much of the month, with the Battalion sustaining significant casualties. In August the Battalion took part in an advance towards Falaise, known as Operation Totalize, that saw the Allies reach and capture it. The Falaise Pocket was eventually closed, encircling two German armies, one of which was effectively destroyed by the Allies. The victory of the Falaise Pocket signified the end of the battle for Normandy. The 1st Ox & Bucks then took part in the advance east, eventually entering Belgium in early September.

On 17 September the invasion of the Netherlands began, known as Operation Market Garden in a combined land and airborne operation. The Battalion took part in the ground operation that was intended to cross through three bridges taken by airborne troops and into Germany, that would end at the furthest captured bridge at Arnhem—taken by 1st Airborne—though the operation ended in failure by 25 September. The 1st Ox & Bucks subsequently took part in operations around the Lower Maas that took place between October and November. On 16 December 1944 the Germans launched their last-gasp major offensive of the war in the Ardennes that became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The 1st Ox & Bucks, along with the rest of its division, was rushed to Belgium shortly afterwards to assist in the defence where it experienced awful weather conditions, some of the worst Belgium had seen in years. The Allies launched a counter-attack in early January and the German offensive was defeated later that month, by which time the 53rd Welsh Division had been relieved and returned to Holland soon afterwards in preparation for the invasion of Germany.

In February the Battalion was involved in the Allied invasion of the German Rhineland, including taking part in the Battle of the Reichswald, where it saw extensive involvement. The Battalion crossed the Rhine in late March and advanced east, seeing action at, among others, Ibbenburen in April where they saw heavy fighting against determined German defenders though, in spite of this, the British succeeded in capturing the town, and the 1st Ox & Bucks eventually reached the city of Hamburg—captured on 3 May by British forces—where they remained until the end of the war.

T-Force During spring and summer 1945 two companies of the Buckinghamshire Battalion, along with the 5th Battalion of the King's Regiment, were attached to a secretive unit known as T-Force. Their role was to locate Nazi scientists and military research facilities. The creation of T-Force had been inspired by James Bond author Ian Fleming who had created 30 Assault Unit, which worked alongside T-Force in Germany. They carried out investigations in Hannover, Bremen and Hamburg. Post-war, elements of the Bucks who had been attached to T-Force were absorbed into No1 T Force which continued to search for military secrets in the Ruhr.[1]

2nd Battalion

Transport moving across the Caen Canal Bridge at Benouville, June 1944. The bridge was renamed Pegasus Bridge after the mythical winged horse on the formation sign of British airborne forces.

In 1941 the 2nd Battalion re-roled as an airborne, specifically an Air Landing, unit, joining the 1st Airborne Division and in 1943 the 6th Airlanding Brigade, 6th Airborne Division. As part of Operation Tonga just before the landings on D-Day 6 June 1944, D Company, 2nd Ox & Bucks Commanded by Maj. John Howard as well as Royal Engineers and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment (totalling 181 men), were to land via 6 Horsa gliders to capture the vital Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal and the bridge over the Orne River (known as Horsa Bridge and east of Pegasus). This was intended to secure the eastern flank to prevent German armour from reaching the British 3rd Infantry Division that was landing on Sword Beach.

Pegasus Bridge

The Ox and Bucks landed very close to their objectives at 16 minutes past midnight—the first Allied troops to land in France—and poured out of their battered gliders, completely surprising the German defenders, and taking the bridges within 10 minutes, losing two men—Lieutenant Den Brotheridge and Lance-Corporal Greenhalgh—in the process. One Glider assigned to the capture of Horsa Bridge was landed at the bridge over the Rives Dives, some 7 miles from where they were meant to land. They, in spite of this, captured the River Dives bridge, advanced through German lines towards the village of Ranville where they eventually rejoined the British forces. The Ox & Bucks were reinforced half an hour after the landings by 7 Para, with further units arriving shortly afterwards. The Germans launched many attempts to re-capture the bridges, all being repulsed. Later in the day, at about 1:00pm, Lord Lovat and elements of his 1 Special Service Brigade arrived to relieve the exhausted defenders, followed by the British 3rd Infantry Division. The operation was immortalised in the film The Longest Day.

As the first day of the landings closed, more reinforcements arrived as part of Operation Mallard, including the rest of the 2nd Ox & Bucks led by Lt. Col. Mark Darell-Brown DSO who assumed command of the Battalion replacing the injured Roberts and continued in command during the defence of the Ardennes and on the Rhine landing. On 7 June the Battalion captured the small village of Herouvillette and then headed for the village of Escoville where they met some extremely determined resistance. Having experienced intense fighting with German troops supported by armour and unable to successfully dig in and hold the village, the Battalion withdrew, moving back to Herouvillette where they took part in its defence. The Battalion subsequently held the line on Bréville ridge until August, then taking part in the British breakout and advance to the Seine that began in August, known as Operation Paddle. After a successful offensive, the 2nd Ox & Bucks, along with the rest of 6th Airborne, was withdrawn to the UK in early September to recuperate and reorganise. By then, of the original 181 men that had taken part in the Pegasus and Horsa operation, just 40 remained fit for active duty. The 2nd Ox and Bucks and the rest of the 6th Airborne were then rushed back to Belgium to take part in the defence of the Ardennes after the German invasion on 16 December. By the time the Battalion arrived in the Ardennes the German offensive had lost its momentum. One of its companies was involved in heavy fighting whilst in support of 13 Parachute Battalion in the village of Bure. The 2nd Ox and Bucks remained in the Ardennes until 24 January. The Battalion then moved to the Netherlands, before returning to Britain in late February.

The 2nd Ox and Bucks were once again involved in a glider assault known as Operation Varsity that was intended to cross the Rhine. The operation began on 24 March 1945. The Battalion, like many others during the assault, suffered heavily as the Germans met the landing gliders with ferocious fire in the air and on the ground, suffering hundreds of casualties. It saw very heavy fighting at Hamminkeln, where its objectives were the railway station and the bridge over the River Issel, having to undertake a bayonet charge to take the bridge. The Germans launched a number of counter-attacks, all of which were repelled. The Battalion subsequently took part in the advance east, including taking part in the opposed crossing of the Weser and eventually linking up with the Russians near the Baltic port of Wismar on 3 May 1945. The Battalion provided the Guard of Honour for the meeting between British commander Field Marshal Montgomery and his Russian counterpart, Rokossovsky, at Wismar on 7 May 1945.

North Africa & Italy (1942-45)

Far East (1944-45)

Post-WWII (1945-1966)

In October 1945 the 2nd Battalion arrived in Palestine during turbulent times there. In 1946 the 1st Battalion deployed to Trieste -- the following year the Free Territory of Trieste -- as part of the British-American force there. The Battalion left in May 1947. In 1948, with the end of the Second World War, the British Government implemented substantial defence cuts, which involved all second battalions in the Line Infantry being amalgamated with the 1st Battalions, this included the Ox & Bucks.

In October 1951, following a short period in Cyprus, the Regiment deployed to the British-controlled Suez Canal Zone in Egypt. There, the Regiment saw active service performing internal security duties. The Regiment left Suez in April 1953. It was subsequently based in Osnabruck, West Germany as part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). In July 1956 the Regiment took part in operations against EOKA terrorists in Cyprus. On 7 November 1958, after transferring from the Light Infantry Brigade to the Green Jackets Brigade, the Regiment was re-titled as the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) and subsequently left Cyprus for home—the first time it had been based in the UK since 1939.

In April 1962, almost two years after the Malayan Emergency was declared over, the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) arrived in the Malayan state of Penang. Peace did not reign for long and the Regiment led by Lieutenant Colonel Tod Sweeney MC was deployed to Brunei on the island of Borneo in December 1962, after an Indonesian-backed uprising occurred. In 1963, while still in Borneo, the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) was re-designated as a rifle regiment to conform to the rest of the Green Jackets Brigade. The Regiment returned to Penang in April 1963. In March 1965 the Regiment was posted to West Berlin -- its last overseas deployment as a regiment. On 1 January 1966 the Regiment amalgamated with the two other regiments of the Green Jackets Brigade to form the three battalion Royal Green Jackets, the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) becoming the 1st Battalion Royal Green Jackets. The battalion was disbanded in 1992 as a consequence of Options for Change and the 2nd Battalion (formerly The King's Royal Rifle Corps) was re-designated as the 1st Battalion. The 3rd Battalion was renumbered as the 2nd.

Victoria Cross recipients

  • Company Sergeant Major Edward Brooks (2/4th Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry)
  • Lance-Corporal Alfred Wilcox (2/4th Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry)

Other information

  • Colonel-in-Chief: HM Carlos I of Portugal
  • Anniversaries: Waterloo (18 June)
  • Alliances:
    • 52nd Regiment (Prince Albert Volunteers) -- Canada
    • Le Régiment de Joliette -- Canada
    • 43rd Battalion (The Hindmarsh Regiment) -- Australia
    • The Western Australia University Regiment
    • The Hauraki Regiment -- New Zealand

See also

Battle honours


  1. ^ T Force, The Race for Nazi War Secrets, 1945 by Sean Longden Published by Constable & Robinson Sep 2009

External links


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