16th Regiment of Foot

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Known as The Bedfordshire Regiment


  • 1688 raised as Douglas' Regiment of Foot by Col Archibald Douglas
  • 1751 became 16th Regiment of Foot
  • 1782 became 16th (Buckinghamshire) Regiment of Foot
  • 1809 became 16th (Bedfordshire) Regiment of Foot
  • 1881 became The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment (known as The Bedfordshire Regiment until 1919)
  • 1958 merged with The Essex Regiment to form the 1st Battalion 3rd East Anglian Regiment
  • 1964 amalgamated with the four regiments of the East Anglian Brigade to become 3rd Battalion (16th/44th Foot) Royal Anglian Regiment

Service in British India

First World War

Three Garrison Battalions were sent to India. Garrison Battalions were composed of men who were classified medically unfit for front line war operations.

  • 1st Garrison Battalion: Formed in Bedford in December 1915. Moved to India in February 1916. Came under command of the Dehra Dun Brigade in the 7th (Meerut) Divisional Area. Moved in March 1918 to the Delhi Brigade in the same area.[1]
Additional information: The 1st Garrison Battalion was raised at Seaford 18/12/15 by Major Smithers by the transfer of about 400 ranks from the Middlesex Regiment, 200 men of the Suffolk Regiment and by drafts of men from the Essex Surrey, Kent and Sussex Regiments.
The Battalion reached Delhi Fort March 1916 where they remained for 3 years. March 26th [1916], 300 men under Major Ward went to Landour a hill station.
The Battalion lost 51 men during its stay in Delhi and they rest in Delhi Cemetery. Tombstones were erected and the Regiment placed a brass tablet to their memory in St James Church, Delhi.[2]
Between Jan to April 1918 the Bn proceeded to Chuabattia, up to this time several drafts of had got fit & left for service elsewhere. The Battalion had a few thousand pass through it from December 1915 and it supplied men for types of jobs which could be done by men unfit for active service, (clerks etc) It also served as a recuperative establishment. They also stopped the Delhi riots (one day).[3]
One soldier died in Ceylon, likely to have been landed sick from the troopship en route to India.[4]
  • 2nd Garrison Battalion. Formed in Bedford in December 1916. Moved to India in February 1917. Came under command of the Karachi Brigade in the 4th (Quetta) Division.[1]
Additional information[3]: Men from the 1/5th Devons remaining in India as either unfit or too old for active service in Egypt/Palestine were transferred to the 2nd Garrison Bn., Bedforshire Regiment at Hyderabad in May 1917.
  • 3rd Garrison Battalion. Formed in Bedford in January 1917. Moved to India and thence to Burma. Came under command of the Burma Division and under the Rangoon Brigade of the same Division in November 1917.[1]
Additional information[3]: They arrived in India on the 12th June 1917. On arrival they were topped up from downgraded men left behind from the TF battalions who left India for the EEF. They joined the Rangoon Brigade of the Burma Division in November 1917 remaining with the Burma Division throughout the war.
Served in Burma March 1918-June 1919. Primarily their role in Burma would have been to supply guards and escorts for the Turkish POW camps at Thayetmyo, Meiktila and Shwebo. It seems probable that HQ and two companies were stationed at Meiktila. The other two companies were probably at Mandalay. The 3rd GB Bedfords relieved the 2/5th SLI at Meiktila. A significant number (>50) of the 2/5th SLI joined the 3rd GB Bedfords at this point.
Served in India June-December 1919 in Regimental District 16.

The three Garrison Battalions were disbanded in January 1920.[5]

Regimental Journal

The Wasp: The Journal of the 16th Foot or The Wasp. Published from 1922.

In the past, copies were available at Bedford Central Library,[6] but check for current availability. This journal does not appear in the catalogue of the British Library.

External Links

Historical books on-line

  • Historical Record of the Sixteenth, or The Bedfordshire Regiment of Foot: containing an account of the formation of the regiment in 1688, and of its subsequent services to 1848 by Richard Cannon 1848. Google Books Page 30 states the Regiment went to Ceylon in 1820. Indian service commenced in 1829
  • Narrative of a Three Month's March in India by Harriette Ashmore, Wife of an Officer in the 16th Foot London 1841 Google Books


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Bedfordshire Regiment The Long, Long Trail
  2. inniskilling dragoons 1st Garrison Battalion Bedfordfordshire Regiment Great War Forum 11 May 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2019. Based on an article by Colonel William Blakeney, who served with the Battalion during the whole of its stay in India.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 ddycher et al. Garrison Battalions, Bedfordshire Regiment Great War Forum 31 March 2010 onwards. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  4. Sotonmate WW1 Beds Regiment man died Ceylon Great War Forum 24 November 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  5. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd (Garrison) Battalions "The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War". Refer External links.
  6. Raster Scanning. 4th bedfordshires Great War Forum 25 July 2005. Retrieved 25 April 2019.