Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)

Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Royal East Kent Regiment ("The Buffs"); 3rd Regiment of Foot)

dates= 1572 to 1961.
country=United Kingdom
type=Line Infantry
role=Light Infantry
size=One battalion
garrison=Canterbury (1873)
nickname="Howard's Buffs"
"The Old Buffs".
motto="Veteri Frondescit Honore"
Latin: "Its Ancient Honour Flourishes"; "Its Ancient Honour is Ever-Green"
colors= Buff Facings
march= Quick: "The Buffs" Slow: "The Men of Kent"
battles= Corunna (17 January 1811) Albuhera (16 May 1811)
notable_commanders= Colonel Charles Churchill (1689-1707) John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll (1707-1713) Archibald Douglas, 2nd Earl of Forfar (1713-1715) Lieutenant-General Thomas Howard (1737-1749) Colonel Sir George Howard (1749-1763).
anniversaries= Albuhera Day (16 May).

The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) had a history dating back to 1572 and was one of the oldest regiments in the British Army being the 3rd Regiment of Foot. Its regimental museum is the Buffs Regimental Museum at Canterbury, Kent.


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 1737-1743 at which point it became the 3rd Regiment of Foot, "Howard's Buffs".
*1751-1782 3rd (Kent) Regiment of Foot, "The Buffs"
*1782-1881 3rd (East Kent) Regiment of Foot ("The Buffs")
*1881-1935 The Buffs, (East Kent Regiment)
*1935-1961 The Buffs, (Royal East Kent Regiment)

Origin of "The Buffs"

The 3rd Regiment received its nickname of "The Buffs" because it had been issued buff coats - armour made of soft leather - first when it served abroad in Holland and later when it was a Maritime Regiment of Foot. It was later given buff-coloured facings and waistcoats to distinguish itself from those of other regiments and had their leather equipment in buff rather than dyed the traditional white.

It received the title of "The Old Buffs" 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 buff facings, the sovereign called out, "Bravo, Buffs! Bravo!". When one of his aides, an officer of the 3rd regiment, corrected His Majesty, he then cheered non-plussed, "Bravo, Young Buffs! Bravo!", thus granting the 31st the honour of being nicknamed the "Young Buffs". The 3rd Regiment then took to calling themselves the "Old Buffs" to keep themselves distinct 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 Buff's" had a tour of service from 1821 until 1827 in the British colony of New South Wales. For the duration of their service, The Buff's were divided into four detachments. The first was based in Sydney from 1821. The second arrived in Hobart in 1822. The third, entitled "The Buff's 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 Buff's 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 the parade grounds of a garrison.

It comes from when the 2nd Battalion was stationed at Malta in 1858 and were quartered with the 21st Royal (North British) Fusiliers. Adjutant Cotter of The Buffs was a Scot who had formerly served in the 21st Fusiliers as a Sergeant Major. Adjutant 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 and they called 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".

Reorganisations and Amalgamations

*From 1595 to 1665, the four regiments of the English Brigade served under Dutch command. In 1665, with the coming of the Second Anglo-Dutch War the British and Scotch Brigades were ordered to swear loyalty to the "Stadtholder". Those who obeyed would be allowed to continue in Dutch service and those who disobeyed would be cashiered. Using his own funds, Sir George Downing, the English ambassador to the Netherlands, raised the Holland Regiment from the starving remnants of those who refused to sign. It was designated as the 4th Regiment of Foot.

*In 1689 the Glorious Revolution deposed James II Stuart and seated William Henry, Prince of Orange-Nassau and Stadtholder of the United Netherlands, on the throne of Great Britain as William III of England. To reduce confusion between the Regent's Dutch Blue Guards regiment and the Stuart-era "Holland Regiment", the latter was renumbered the 3rd Regiment and had its title changed to The Lord Admiral's Regiment. Since Prince George of Denmark was Lord Admiral (and thus was its Honorary Colonel), it was also known as Prince George of Denmark's Regiment until his death in 1708.

*The 1st (Regular) Battalion existed continuously from 1572-1961.

*The 2nd (Regular) Battalion was intermittently raised in 1678-1679, 1756-1758, 1803-1815, and 1857-1949.

*In 1758, the 2nd Battalion raised in 1756-1758 was converted into the 1st Battalion, 61st (South Gloucestershire) Regiment. In 1881, it was converted into the 2nd Battalion, 28th/61st The Gloucestershire Regiment, whose battalions were later amalgamated together in 1948. In 1994 The Gloucestershire Regiment was amalgamated with The Duke of Edinburgh's Royal (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Regiment to form The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment. In 2004 the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment was amalgamated with the Devon and Dorset Light Infantry to form 1st (Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire) Battalion, The Light Infantry. In 2005 the The Light Infantry amalgamated with the Royal Green Jackets to form The Rifles. The 1st (Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire) Battalion, The Light Infantry will be renamed the 1st (Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry) Battalion, The Rifles.

*In the Cardwell reforms of 1881 the East Kent Militia became the regiment's 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion [1881-1953] and its short-lived 4th (Special Reserve) Battalion [1881-1888] .

*From 1881-1908 the Territorial Army's 1st (Kent) Volunteers and 2nd (The Weald of Kent) Volunteers Battalions were raised. From 1908-1921 and 1939-1947 they became the regiment's 4th and 5th Battalions. In 1921-1939 and 1947-1961 they were amalgamated as the 4th/5th Battalion.

First World War (1914-1918)

For service in World War I, nine battalions were raised:
*2/4th (Territorial Army) Battalion [1914-1917]
*3/4th (Territorial Army) Battalion [1915-1916] ; 3/4th (Reserve) Battalion [1916-1919]
*2/5th (Territorial Army) Battalion [1914-1917]
*3/5th (Territorial Army) Battalion [1915-1916]
*6th (Service) Battalion [1914-1919]
*7th (Service) Battalion [1914-1919]
*8th (Service) Battalion [1914-1918]
*9th (Service) Battalion [1914-1915] ; 9th (Reserve) Battalion [1915-1916]
*10th (Royal East Kent & West Kent Yeomanry) Battalion [1917-1918]

econd World War (1939-1945)

For service in World War II, ten battalions were raised :
*4th (Territorial Army) Battalion [1939-1947]
*5th (Territorial Army) Battalion [1939-1947]
*6th (Home Defence) Battalion [1939-1941]
*7th Battalion [1940-1945] This was converted to armour in 1941 and was known as 141 RAC, The Kentish Regiment (The Buffs)
*8th Battalion [1940-1942]
*9th Battalion [1940-1946]
*10th Battalion [1940-1943]
*11th Battalion [1940]
*30th Battalion [1941-1943]
*70th (Young Soldiers') Battalion [1940-1943]

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 3rd "The Buffs", Royal East Kent Regiment was amalgamated with 50th/97th The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment to form: 3rd/50th/97th The Queen's Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment.

In 1966, the 3rd/50th/97th 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.


*1689-1708 Prince George of Denmark KG
*1906-1914 HM King Frederick VIII of Denmark
*1914-1947 HM King Christian X of Denmark, KG, GCB, GCVO
*1947-1961 HM King Frederick IX of Denmark, KG, GCB, GCVO


*1665-1668 Col. Robert Sidney
*1668-1673 Maj-Gen. Sir Walter Vane
*1673-1682 Lt-Gen. John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham and 3rd Earl of Mulgrave, KG
*1682-1684 Col. Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield
*1684-1685 Lt-Gen. John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham and 3rd Earl of Mulgrave, KG
*1685-1688 Brig-Gen. Sir Theophilus Oglethorpe
*1688-1707 Gen. Charles Churchill
*1707-1711 F.M. John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, KG, KT (Earl of Islay, Lord Lorne)
*1711-1713 Col. John Selwyn
*1713-1715 Brig-Gen. Archibald Douglas, 2nd Earl of Forfar
*1716-1725 Gen. Sir Charles Wills, KB [also 1st Gds, 30th Foot]
*1726-1729 Col. Thomas Pitt, 1st Earl of Londonderry
*1729-1737 Lt-Gen. William Tatton
*1737-1749 Lt-Gen. Thomas Howard
*1749-1763 F.M. Sir George Howard, KB
*1763-1764 Col. John Craufurd
*1764-1768 Maj-Gen. Ralph Burton
*1768-1779 F.M. Sir Jeffrey Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst, KB
*1779-1786 Lt-Gen. William Style
*1786-1809 Gen. Thomas Hall [also 79th Foot]
*1809-1815 Gen. Charles Leigh
*1815-1829 Lt-Gen. Sir Henry Clinton, GCB, GCH
*1829-1832 Gen. Sir George Don, GCB, GCH
*1832-1845 Gen. Kenneth Alexander Howard, 1st Earl of Effingham, GCB
*1845-1854 Gen. Sir Henry King, CB, KCH, KC
*1854-1857 Lt-Gen. Sir Nathaniel Thorn, KCB, KH
*1857 Lt-Gen. Nicholas Wodehouse
*1857 Maj-Gen. Sir Henry Havelock, KCB [died at Lucknow]
*1857-1860 Lt-Gen. Berkeley Drummond
*1860-1863 Gen. The Hon. Charles Grey
*1863-1864 Lt-Gen. John Wharton Frith
*1864-1870 Lt-Gen. Day Hort Macdowall
*1870-1874 Lt-Gen. The Hon. Sir James Lindsay, KCMG
*1874-1882 Gen. William Craig Emilius Napier
*1882-1909 Gen. Sir Julius Augustus Robert Raines, GCB
*1909 Maj-Gen. Frederick Taylor Hobson
*1909-1914 Maj-Gen. Robert George Kekewich
*1914-1928 Gen. Sir Arthur Henry Fitzroy Paget, GCB, KCVO
*1928-1937 Maj-Gen. Sir Arthur Lynden Lynden-Bell, KCB, KCMG
*1937-1943 Maj-Gen. Sir John Kennedy, GBE, CB, CMG, DSO
*1943-1953 Maj-Gen. The Hon. Percy Gerald Scarlett, CB, MC
*1953-1961 Maj-Gen. Valentine Boucher, CB, CBE [later Dep. Col. "Queen's Own Buffs"]

Notable Soldiers

*During the Battle of Albuhera, the 3rd Regiment, serving as part of Colborne’s brigade, was caught in a heavy rainstorm. Then they were caught in the open by French cavalry, their muskets rendered useless by the downpour. Before they could form square, the cavalry had ripped through their ranks and began slaughtering them. Ensign Thomas, who had earlier rallied his company after his captain was wounded and captured, was carrying the Regimental Colour. He was later surrounded and was called upon to surrender. Crying “Only with my life,” he only gave up the Colour after being cut down and mortally wounded (though it was later recaptured by "Sergeant Gough" of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers). He was buried after the battle by a sergeant and a private of his company, the only two men out of an original complement of 63 to survive the battle.

*Also during the Battle of Albuhera, a similar act of heroism was to unfold. "Ensign Charles Walsh" was carrying the King’s Colour. The pikestaff of the Colour had been broken by cannon shot, his escort had fallen and he was surrounded and badly wounded. Just before he was about to be taken prisoner, Lieutenant Latham rushed forward and seized the Colour from him with his left hand and defended it with heroic gallantry with his sword in the other, refusing to yield it to the enemy. Then a French Hussar seized the staff and struck Latham with a sabre blow that severed one side of his face and nose but he still continued to struggle. A second sabre stroke severed his left arm, but Latham seized the staff with his right hand and continued to resist until he was thrown down, trampled on and pierced several times with lance thrusts. At this moment a British Cavalry regiment, The 4th (Queen's Own) Dragoons, arrived and drove off the French troopers. Latham then exerted the little strength left to him to conceal the Colour in his jacket, where it was later found. Latham survived his grievous wounds and not only recuperated but stayed in the army until he retired in 1820. As a reward for his gallantry and his heroic defense of the Colour, Latham was given a special promotion to Captain and was later presented with a gold medal by his brother officers. A trophy depicting the scene made in sterling silver, called the "Latham Centerpiece", was designed for the 3rd Regiment's Officer's Mess; it is now in the Regimental museum along with Latham's gold medal. Latham is buried in Blingel churchyard in the Pas de Calais, France. His headstone commemorates his brave action and mentions the 'loss of his arm and half his face'.

*Private John Moyse was captured during the march on the Taku Forts (which took place during the continuation of the Second Opium War). He was later executed by Chinese soldiers for refusing to kow-tow to a local mandarin. His act of defiance was later immortalised in "The Private of the Buffs" [ [http://www.heretical.com/miscella/moyse.html Sir Francis Doyle: Moyse, the Private of the Buffs ] ] , a poem by Sir Francis Hastings Doyle.

*Among the officers of The Royal East Kent regiment was Captain Derek D. Bridle (1923-1998). An officer of "The Buffs" from 1942-1947, he served in Northern Italy, Austria and Germany, and after demobilisation he trained and became a qualified Architect, who retired in 1985 as County Architect of Gloucestershire.

* Captain William Douglas-Home served in the 7th battalion (also known as 141 RAC) in World War II and was imprisoned for refusing to obey orders. After the war he became a successful playwright.

Ancient Privilege

The Buffs is one of five regiments that can march through the City of London 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)
*BLENHEIM (1704) = 1st Battalion.
*RAMILLES (1706) = 1st Battalion.
*OUDENARDE (1708) = 1st Battalion.
*MALPLAQUET (1709) = 1st Battalion.

War of the Austrian Succession, (King George's War)
*DETTINGEN (1743) = 1st Battalion.

Seven Years' War, (French and Indian War)
*GUADELOUPE 1759 = 1st Battalion.
*Belleisle (1761) = 1st Battalion.

Napoleonic Wars
*DOURO (1809) = 1st Battalion.
*TALAVERA (1809) = 1st Battalion.
*ALBUHERA (1811) = 1st Battalion.
*VITTORIA (1813) = 1st Battalion.
*PYRENEES (1813) = 1st Battalion.
*NIVELLE (1813)= 1st Battalion.
*NIVE (1813) = 1st Battalion.
*ORTHES (1814) = 1st Battalion.
*TOULOUSE (1814) = 1st Battalion.
*PENINSULA (1808-13) = 1st Battalion.

"Pax Britannia"
*PUNNIAR (1843) Gwalior Campaign = 1st Battalion.
*SEVASTOPOL (1855) Crimean War = 1st Battalion.
*TAKU FORTS (1860) Second Opium War = 1st Battalion.
*SOUTH AFRICA 1879 Zulu War = 2nd Battalion.
*CHITRAL (1895) North-West Frontier = 1st Battalion.
*RELIEF OF KIMBERLEY (1900) Second Anglo-Boer War = 2nd Battalion.
*PAARDEBERG (1900) Second Anglo-Boer War = 3rd Battalion.
*SOUTH AFRICA 1900-02 Second Anglo-Boer War = 2nd & 3rd Battalions.

World War I (1914-1919)
*Aisne (1914)= 1st Battalion.
*ARMENTIERES 1914 = 1st Battalion.
*YPRES 1915-17 = 2nd, 7th & 8th Battalions.
*Gravenstafel (1915) = 2nd Battalion.
*St. Julien (1915) = 2nd Battalion.
*Frezenberg (1915) = 2nd Battalion.
*Bellewaarde (1915) = 2nd Battalion.
*Hooge (1915) = 1st Battalion.
*LOOS (1915) = 2nd, 6th, & 8th Battalions.
*SOMME 1916-18 = 1st, 6th, 7th, & 8th Battalions
*Albert (1916-18) = 6th & 7th Battalions.
*Bazentin (1916) = 7th Battalion.
*Delville Wood (1916) = 8th Battalion.
*Poziers (1916) = 6th Battalion.
*Flers-Courcelette (1916) = 1st Battalion.
*Morval (1916) = 1st Battalion.
*Thiepval (1916) = 7th Battalion.
*Le Transloy (1916) = 6th Battalion.
*Ancre Heights (1916) = 7th Battalion.
*Ancre (1916-18) = 6th & 7th Battalions.
*ARRAS 1917 = 6th & 7th Battalions.
*Scarpe (1917) = 7th Battalion.
*Messines (1917) = 8th Battalion.
*Pilckem (1917) = 8th Battalion.
*Passchendale (1917) = 7th Battalion.
*Cambrai (1917-1918) = 1st & 6th Battalions.
*St. Quentin (1918) = 1st & 6th Battalions.
*Avre (1918) = 7th Battalion.
*Amiens (1918) = 6th & 7th Battalions.
*Bapaume (1918) = 7th Battalion.
*HINDENBURG LINE (1918) = 1st, 6th, 7th, & 10th Battalions.
*Epehey (1918)= 1st, 6th, 7th, & 10th Battalions.
*St. Quentin Canal (1918) = 1st & 6th Battalions.
*Selle (1918) = 1st & 7th Battalions.
*Sambre (1918) = 7th Battalion.
*France and Flanders (1914-18) = 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th, 8th & 10th Battalions.
*STRUMA (1916-17) = 2nd Battalion.
*Doiran (1918) = 2nd Battalion.
*Macedonia (1915-18) = 2nd Battalion.
*Gaza (1917) = 10th Battalion.
*JERUSALEM (1917) = 10th Battalion.
*Tel Asur (1918) = 10th Battalion.
*Palestine (1917-18) = 10th Battalion.
*Aden (1915-16) = 4th Battalion.
*Tigris (1916) = 5th Battalion.
*Kut al Amara (1917) = 5th Battalion.
*BAGDAD (1917) = 5th Battalion.
*Mesopotamia (1915-18) = 5th Battalion.

World War II (1939-1945)
*Defence of Escaut (1940) = 2nd Battalion.
*St. Omer-La Basse (1940) = 2nd Battalion.
*Withdrawal to Seine (1940) = 4th Battalion.
*NORTH-WEST EUROPE 1940 = 2nd, 4th, & 5th Battalions.
*Sidi Suleiman (1941) = 1st Battalion.
*ALEM HAMZA (1941)= 1st Battalion.
*Alam El Halfa (1942)= 2nd Battalion.
*EL ALAMEIN (1942)= 2nd Battalion.
*El Agheila (1942) = 1st Battalion.
*Advance on Tripoli (1942-43) = 1st Battalion.
*Tebaga Gap (1943) = 1st Battalion.
*El Hamma (1943) = 1st Battalion.
*Akarit (1943)= 1st Battalion.
*Djebel Azzag (1943) = 5th Battalion.
*ROBAA VALLEY (1943) = 5th Battalion.
*Djebel Bech Chekaoui (1943) = 5th Battalion.
*Heidous (1943) = 5th Battalion.
*Medjez Plain (1943) = 5th Battalion.
*Long Stop Hill (1943) = 5th Battalion.
*North Africa (1941-1943) 1st, 2nd, & 5th Battalions.
*Centuripe (1943) = 5th Battalion.
*Monte Rivoglia (1943) = 5th Battalion.
*SICILY 1943 = 5th Battalion.
*Termoli (1943) = 5th Battalion.
*TRIGNO (1943) = 5th Battalion.
*Sangro (1943) = 5th Battalion.
*ANZIO (1944) = 1st Battalion.
*Cassino I (1944) = 5th Battalion.
*Liri Valley (1944) = 5th Battalion.
*Aquino (1944) = 5th Battalion.
*Rome (1944) = 1st Battalion.
*Trasimene Line (1944) = 5th Battalion.
*Coriano (1944) = 1st Battalion.
*Monte Spaduro (1944) = 1st Battalion.
*Senio (1945) 5th Battalion.
*ARGENTA GAP (1945) = 1st & 5th Battalions.
*Italy (1943-45) = 1st & 5th Battalions.
*LEROS (1943) = 4th Battalion.
*Middle East (1943)= 2nd Battalion.
*Malta (1940-42) = 4th Battalion.
*SHWELI (1945) = 2nd Battalion.
*Myitson (1945) = 2nd Battalion.
*Burma (1945) = 2nd Battalion.


*CAN - The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada (1914-1935), (1935-1961)


External links

* [http://www.the-queens-own-buffs.com/main_pages/Buffs/Mainpage_buffs_.html Regimental Association]

* [http://www.3rdbuffs.co.uk The 3rd East Kent Regiment or Buffs Reenactment Society]
* [http://www.3rdbuffs.org The 3rd Foot or Buffs Napoleonic/War of 1812 American Reenactment group ]

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