British Regiment


The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment), formerly the 3rd Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army until 1961. It had a history dating back to 1572 and was one of the oldest regiments in the British Army being third in order of precedence (ranked as the 3rd Regiment of the line). It provided distinguished service over a period of almost four hundred years accumulating one hundred and sixteen battle honours. Following a series of amalgamations since 1961 its lineage is today continued by the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.


The origins of the regiment lay in Thomas Morgan’s Company of Foot, The London Trained Bands which was in existence from 1572 to 1648. In 1665 it was known as the 4th (The Holland Maritime) Regiment and by 1668 as the 4th (The Holland) Regiment. In 1688–1689 it was “4th The Lord High Admiral’s Regiment” until 1751 it was named as other regiments after the Colonel Commanding being the 3rd (Howard’s) Regiment of Foot from 1737 to 1743 at which point it became the 3rd Regiment of Foot, “Howard’s Buffs”.

==Origin of “The Buffs”==

The 3rd Regiment’s nickname of “The Buffs” is said to have originated in its use of protective buff coats—made of soft leather— during service in the Netherlands in the 17th century. Later they adopted buff-coloured facings and waistcoats as uniform distinctions and wore equipment of natural buff leather rather than pipe-clayed the customary white.

The name of “The Old Buffs” originated during the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, when the 31st (Huntingdonshire) Regiment of Foot marched past King George II and onto the battlefield with great spirit. Mistaking them for the 3rd due to their similar buff facings, the sovereign called out, “Bravo, Buffs! Bravo!”. When one of his aides, an officer of the 3rd regiment, corrected His Majesty, the non-plussed monarch then cheered “Bravo, Young Buffs! Bravo!” When the 31st subsequently adopted the nickname of “Young Buffs”, the 3rd Regiment took to calling themselves the “Old Buffs” to distinguish themselves from the 31st.

==The two Howards==

The Buffs obtained the name of “The Buffs” officially in 1744 while on campaign in the Low Countries. The 3rd Regiment was then under the command of Lieutenant-General Thomas Howard. At the same time, the 19th Regiment of Foot were commanded by their colonel, the Honourable Sir Charles Howard. In order to avoid confusion (because regiments were then named after their colonels, which would have made them both Howard’s Regiment of Foot), the regiments took the colours of their facings as part of their names – the 19th Foot became the Green Howards, while the 3rd Foot became Howard’s Buffs, eventually being shortened to simply The Buffs.

==Australian service==

In between the campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars and India, “The Buffs” had a tour of service from 1821 until 1827 in the British colony of New South Wales. For the duration of their service, The Buffs were divided into four detachments. The first was based in Sydney from 1821. The second arrived in Hobart in 1822. The third, entitled “The Buffs’ Headquarters”, arrived in Sydney in 1823. The fourth arrived in Sydney in 1824, but variously saw service throughout the colonies, being stationed at Port Dalrymple, Parramatta, Liverpool, Newcastle, Port Macquarie and Bathurst. The regiment reunited and was transferred to Calcutta in 1827. During their service in New South Wales, The Buffs were commanded by Lieut. Colonel W. Stewart and Lieut Colonel C. Cameron.

==”Steady, The Buffs!”==

This famous cry has been rumoured by many to have been uttered on the field of battle, but it was actually born on a garrison parade ground. In 1858, the 2nd Battalion was stationed in Malta and quartered with the 21st Royal (North British) Fusiliers. Lieutenant John Cotter, Adjutant of the 2nd Buffs, had formerly served as a Sergeant Major. Lieutenant Cotter would not brook any disarray on the parade ground from his raw recruits, shouting “Steady, The Buffs! The Fusiliers are watching you!” This greatly amused the Fusiliers who took to calling out “Steady, The Buffs!” on the slightest provocation, first in Malta and later whenever the two regiments met from then on. The phrase caught on and was soon shouted whenever The Buffs marched by. It then passed into common usage, even appearing in Rudyard Kipling’s novel Soldiers Three (1888) and his play Pity Poor Mama.

Among several characters in literature and television who have uttered the phrase are: Lord Peter Wimsey, Rab C. Nesbitt. Dennis and Margaret Thatcher in the film The Iron Lady are portrayed using the phrase.

==Reorganisations and amalgamations==

==Second China War (1855–1860)==

The following unit participated in the Taku Forts action during the Second China War:

==Perak War (1875–1876)==

The following unit participated in the Perak War:

==Anglo-Zulu War (1879)==

The following units participated in the Anglo-Zulu War:

==Anglo-Egyptian War (1882)==

The following units participated in the Anglo-Egyptian War:

==Second Boer War (1899–1902)==

The following units participated in the Second Boer War:

Captain Naunton Henry Vertue of the 2nd Battalion also served as Brigade Major to the 11th Infantry Brigade under Major General Edward Woodgate at the Battle of Spion Kop where he was mortally wounded.

==First World War (1914–1918)==

For service in World War I, nine battalions were raised:

Corporal William Richard Cotter was awarded the VC whilst serving with the 6th Battalion.

==Third Afghan War (1919)==

The 4th Battalion fought during the brief Third Afghan War of 1919.{Citation needed|reason=april2009|date=April 2009}

==Second World War (1939–1945)==

For service in World War II, ten battalions were raised :

==Post-War amalgamations==

In 1956 the 410th (Kent) Coast Regiment (Royal Artillery) was disbanded and converted into infantry. It was then combined with elements of the 4th (Territorial Army) Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent) Regiment to form the 5th (Territorial Army) Battalion of The Queen’s Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment and was the last separate unit to bear the distinct honours of The Buffs. In 1966 it became the 5th Battalion, The Queen’s Regiment. In 1967 it merged with the 4th Battalion to become the 4th/5th (East Kent TAVR) Battalion, The Queen’s Regiment.

In 1961 the “The Buffs”, Royal East Kent Regiment was amalgamated with The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment to form: The Queen’s Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment.

In 1966, the The Queen’s Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment was amalgamated with the other three regiments of the Home Counties Brigade to form The Queen’s Regiment.

In 1992 the Queen’s Regiment was amalgamated with the Royal Hampshire Regiment to form the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.



==Notable soldiers==

==Freedom of the City of London==

The Buffs was one of five regiments enjoying the Freedom of the City of London. This gave them the right to march through the City with drums beating, bayonets fixed, and colours flying. This is due to a Royal Warrant written in 1672 allowing them to raise volunteers “by beat of drum” in the City of London. Since recruiting parties paraded in full array accompanied by company or regimental musicians and marched with a colour, this right was given to the regiment as a whole.

==Battle honours==

The honours in capital lettering were worn on the Colours. The regiment was awarded 116 battle honours.

War of the Spanish Succession, (Queen Anne’s War)

War of the Austrian Succession, (King George’s War)

Seven Years’ War, (French and Indian War)

Napoleonic Wars

“Pax Britannia”

World War I (1914–1919)

World War II (1939–1945)

==Victoria Cross==

The following members of the Regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross:

==Uniform and insignia==

In 1667 the Holland Regiment is recorded as wearing “red jackets lined with yellow”. Subsequently, Nathan Brook’s Army List of 1684 referred to “Coated red, lined with a flesh colour”. This marked the beginning of the historic association of the Regiment with buff facings (a dull-yellow colour). A notice in the London Gazette of 21 January 1685 describing the clothing of three deserters from what was still the Holland Regiment, referred for the first time to the colour buff:”a new Red Coat lin’d with a Buff colour’d lining, surtout Sleeves, cross Pockets with three scallops, large plain pewter Buttons, Breeches of ths same colour as the Coat lining”.

An illustration of the Colonel’s colour in 1707 shows a dragon on a buff background, following the award of this distinctive symbol to the regiment as “a reward for its gallant conduct on all occasions”; according to the Army historian Richard Cannon in a book published in 1839. The dragon was believed to have been adopted as it was one of the supporters of the royal arms of Elizabeth I, who issued the warrant for the raising of the regiment in 1572. Through the remainder of the 18th century both the dragon and the buff facings (worn on cuffs, lapels and coat linings) remained as particular distinctions of the regiment. A Royal Warrant of 1751 standardising all colours (flags), badges and uniforms listed the “3rd Regiment, or The Buffs”. The Buffs were at this time the only infantry regiment to owe their official title to their facing colours. The green dragon was recorded in the same document as the “ancient badge” of the Buffs – displayed as a woven or painted device on the mitre cap of the Regiment’s grenadiers, the colours and the drums.

In 1881 the reorganisation of most infantry regiments on a territorial basis under the Childers Reforms led to the newly renamed “The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)” losing its buff facings in favour of the white collars and cuffs intended to distinguish all non-Royal English and Welsh regiments. The dragon survived as part of the (now metal) headdress badge, although replaced on collars by the white horse of Kent. The horse had formed the insignia of the East Kent Militia with formed the 3rd battalion of the new regiment. Both changes were unpopular within the Regiment and in 1887 the Buffs were authorised to convert the white facings on their scarlet tunics to buff – at the Regiment’s expense and using a pipeclay mixture developed by an officer of the 2nd Battalion. In 1890 buff was officially restored as the regimental colour on flags, tunics and mess jackets. On 23 May 1894 approval was given for the dragon to be resumed as the collar badge. For the remainder of its history both dragon and buff facings remained as primary distinctions of this “distinguished old Regiment”. This was the case even on the simplified dark blue “No. 1 Dress” worn by most of the British Army as full dress after World War II, although the buff colour was here reduced to piping edging the shoulder straps.


==Regimental museum==

The Buffs Regimental Museum is located at Canterbury, Kent, though ownership of the museum’s objects was transferred to the National Army Museum in London in 2000. It closed for maintenance from November 2008 until 2012, with its collections being housed at NAM’s London base during that period.