1/4th Bn Essex Regiment

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by DavidW, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Was the 1st Battalion 4th Essex regiment present in North africa prior to joining the 161st Indian Motor Brigade in March 1942?
  2. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello David,

    I believe the 1/4th Bn Essex Regiment was with the 161st Indian Infantry Brigade between November 1941 to March 1942 when it undertook garrison duty in Cyprus!


  3. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Was the 1st Battalion 4th Essex regiment present in North africa prior to joining the 161st Indian Motor Brigade in March 1942?

    the 1/4th Battalion, The Essex Regiment was part of the 161st Infantry Brigade from the beginning of the war while this brigade was part of 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division. During early 1941 it was transferred firstly to the West Africa, then to Egypt and finally to Cyprus. There brigade became 161st Indian Infantry Brigade in November 1941.
  4. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Sol do you know when it first went to Egypt (prior to Cyprus)?
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  6. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    From ordersofbattle.com

    03-Sep-1939 to 20-Jul-1940: United Kingdom
    04-Jan-1941 to 18-Jun-1941: West Africa
    19-Jun-1941 to 27-Jul-1941: At Sea
    28-Jul-1941 to 06-Nov-1941: Middle East - Egypt
    07-Nov-1941 to 18-Mar-1942: Mediterranean - Cyprus
    18-Mar-1942 to 16-Nov-1943: Middle East - Egypt, Libya, Tunisia
    16-Nov-1943to 22-Nov-1943: At Sea
    22-Nov-1943 to 31-Aug-1945: Mediterranean - Italy, Greece

    Orders of Battle - 1/4 The Essex Regiment [British Commonwealth]

    But as Owen suggested try to contact Idler for confirmation or more details.
  7. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys.

    Very prompt & full of info, I'm impressed!
  8. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here are some details on the 1st/4th Essex Regiment prior to coming under command of 5th Indian Infantry Brigade:

    1st/4th Battalion, The Essex Regiment (T.A.)

    161st Infantry Brigade – 3 September 1939 to 20 July 1940
    The battalion was known as the 4th Battalion until March 31st, 1939. It was embodied on September 1st, 1939 and represented West Essex in the 161st Infantry Brigade. It had its HQ at Ilford with ‘A’ Company at Dagenham, ‘B’ Company at Burnham, ‘C’ Company at Epping and ‘D’ Company at Manor Park. It initially did internal security duty in East London until October 1st, 1939, when the brigade left the London Division and came under the control of the 54th (East Anglia) Division. It concentrated at Epping on October 10th. It moved to Kelvedon and Witham to train on December 21st. Companies were detached to Maldon, North Weald and Hornchurch as at the start of 1940 for aerodrome and coast defence on the east coast and remained in that role until the spring of 1940. It moved to Woller, Northumberland on April 16th and provided a detachment to the No. 3 Independent Company for service in Norway. The battalion was detached from the 161st Brigade to the 162nd Infantry Brigade at Belford Hall from June 20th to July 1st, when it returned to the 161st Brigade at Wooler.

    WO Control – 20 July 1940 to 31 August 1940
    The battalion left the 161st Brigade on July 20th was mobilised on July 23rd, 1940, completing by August 1st. It left Wooler on August 4th and embarked at Liverpool on August 5th for West Africa.

    HQ Sierra Leone Area, HQ Military Forces, West Africa – 31 August 1941 to 4 January 1941
    It disembarked at Freetown, Sierra Leone on August 31st and moved into Wilberforce Barracks coming under the command of West Africa Force.

    161st Infantry Brigade – 4 January 1941 to 25 November 1941
    The battalion was assigned to the 161st Brigade on January 4th, 1941, but did not come directly under command until January 11th, when the brigade arrived in Freetown with the 2/5th Essex Regiment. The battalion left Wilberforce Barracks on June 13th, 1941 and handed over to the 4th Nigeria Regiment. It embarked under the brigade on June 16th and sailed on June 20th for Egypt.
    The battalion arrived at Suez on July 27th under the 161st British Infantry Brigade and moved to El Tahag Camp. It was detached from the brigade on August 5th, 1941 to Maaten Baggush where it joined the 11th Indian Infantry Brigade for operations, while remaining under the 161st Infantry Brigade for training. The battalion took over the anti-aircraft defence and aerodrome defence of the Sidi Barrani landing grounds under the XIII Corps and was attached to the 12th AA Brigade. It remained there until October 22nd, when it was relieved by the 1st Buffs. The battalion then concentrated at Sidi Haneish, where the 1st/5th and the 2nd/5th Battalions left the brigade and were replaced by the 3rd/7th and 4th/7th Rajput Regiments. The brigade then came under the command of the 5th Indian Infantry Division. The battalion then moved to Alexandria, where the advance party left for Cyprus. The main party left Haifa for Famagusta, Cyprus shortly after.

    161st Indian Infantry Brigade – 26 November 1941 to 18 March 1942
    The brigade was renamed the 161st Indian Infantry Brigade on Cyprus on November 26th, 1941 and remained there until March 18th, when the battalion left Cyprus and the brigade.

    HQ British Troops in Egypt – 18 March 1942 to 30 April 1942
    It arrived in Egypt, where it remained until the end of April. It then moved to Palestine.
  9. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member


    Thanks for that.
    Sol in his post above does not mention the move to Palestine in May of 1942.
    When did they return to the Western Desert after their Palestinian sojourn?
  10. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    I am assuming that you are well aware of 1/4 Essex's historic action in the Castle at Cassino in the Third Battle of Monte Cassino?

  11. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

  12. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is the rest of the battalion's history:

    5th Indian Infantry Brigade – 30 April 1942 to 10 August 1944
    It arrived at Karkur in Palestine, where it joined the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade on April 30th. The battalion took over the defence of Jenin and Nablus in Palestine from early May 1942 until June 11th, 1942, when it left these stations and embarked for Egypt at Hadera Station with the brigade. It arrived in the Western Desert on the same day and moved into Mersa Matruh on June 12th. It left there on June 15th to occupy the Kennels then the ‘Playground’ on June 17th and Sollum Pass on June 18th. It returned to Mersa Matruh by June 25th after the brigade was withdrawn from Sollum and Halfaya on June 22nd/23rd. The brigade was in action at Mersa Matruh from June 26th to 29th and then rallied on the night of June 29th/30th at Ruweisat Ridge. The brigade then moved into the rear at the Delta on July 1st, but the battalion remained in the line. It formed the main component of ‘Robcol’ with two companies and the 11th Field Regiment, RA and fought until July 2nd. It remained at the front in action under 1st Armoured Division until July 14th, when it rejoined the 5th Indian Brigade on Ruweisat Ridge. It remained there with the brigade until August, being detached to the 161st Indian Brigade from July 21st to 29th. It was back in the line on August 31st under the brigade during the battle of Alam el Halfa. The brigade formed a reserve in the battle of El Alamein until October 26th, when it went into action. After the battle, the brigade was involved in battlefield cleanup. The division moved to the Tobruk area on December 10th, 1942 and the battalion moved to El Adem-Benghazi during the first week of January 1943.
    The battalion left Benghazi for the front on March 8th. It served at Mareth-El Hamma, Wadi Akarit, Djebel Garci, Enfidaville, and Medjez el Bab in North Africa. After the campaign, the battalion spent the rest of May and early June at Misurata before returning to the Delta to refit on June 22nd. It arrived at Alexandria on July 6th and remained in camp there for ten days. It did initial amphibious training during September and October 1943 at Kabrit and then moved to Baalbek, Syria for mountain warfare training. It returned to El Tahag, Egypt after that it moved to Alexandria by November 18th, where it embarked for Italy.
    It arrived in Italy on November 22nd and moved into the 16th Reinforcement Camp at Statte to prepare for battle. It trained at Avigliano and moved up to Lanciano by January 15th, 1944. It relieved the 22nd New Zealand Battalion and the 2nd New Zealand Divisional Cavalry and concentrated at Salarolo and Bianco. The 4th Indian Division transferred to the Cassino front on February 2nd and the battalion fought in the Cassino battle until March 20th.
    It withdrew to Wadi Villa after the battle and remained there until April 2nd, when the division moved to the Adriatic front and arrived at Consalus on April 9th. The battalion remained in the line there or in reserve at Orsagna until the end of May. It moved to Campobasso to train in June and returned to the divisional concentration area at Andrea on July 10th. It then fought in the advance to Arezzo, which was reached by July 22nd. It continued in the line until August 10th, when the 1st King’s Own relieved it. The battalion then left the brigade for rest and reorganisation.

    X Corps, 8th Army – 10 August 1944 to 7 December 1944
    The battalion then left the brigade and the division for rest and reorganization. It rested and refitted in Italy from September 2nd until October 1st and then came under the command of Wheeler Force of X Corps. This force was to open up Highway 71. This was followed by an assault on Tezzo by the battalion and the Nabha Akal Infantry as part of Lindforce.

    18th Infantry Brigade – 8 October 1944 to 5 November 1944
    The battalion joined the 18th Infantry Brigade on October 8th and remained under it during the advance north until November 5th. On November 4th, the battalion left Arezzo from Rimini.

    8th Army – 5 November 1944 to 17 December 1944
    It joined Porterforce with the 27th Lancers until November 13th. It operated from Zuccaria to Gambellaria until November 14th and returned to Rimino on November 16th.

    5th Indian Infantry Brigade – 7 December 1944 to 31 August 1945
    From Rimini, the battalion moved to Taranto and rejoined the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade on December 7th on its sailing for Greece. The brigade landed at Piraeus on December 9th/10th and was used to clear the Kallipolis Peninsula. It was in action in the Athens area until January 8th, 1945. The battalion moved to Kifisia, Piraeus on February 6th. From there it moved to Portaria and Leehonia and then to Edhessa on March 27th, where it remained until March 1st, 1946.
  13. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Thank you.
  14. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Sorry for the late appearance, been away. Dryan67's summary is pretty much what the history says.

    It might be worth adding that the move to Cyprus was a very quick change of destination The battalion's advance party was on its way to Haifa when it was diverted to Cyprus by high-speed destroyer. The same mode of transport to Cyprus was used by the main body once it had arrived at Haifa. The reason: it was feared that Cyprus might be the next Crete.

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