The Biscuit Boys

Section 2000


Before the Great War

The Army has two quite distict strands for its history. First there were the citizen armies organised by the Lords Lieutenant of each county whose task it was to defend their area from outside agression. In Saxon times this was referred to as the 'Fyrd' and each town or village was required to provide a number of men when required. This later became the Militia and they also took over all the ceremonial duties in the county. However when the Crimean War broke out many militia units were sent to replace regular units stationed around the Empire to release them for the war. As a consequence they were supplemented by Volunteer units who filled in while their militia away. These became the Territorials in 1908 while the militias were absorbed as reserves for the regular army. Today the territorials too have been classified as the Reserves. The cavalry units became known as Yeomanry and the Territorials branched out to other Corps, such as the Artillery and Service Corps.

The second strand was the private armies of the great nobles of the realm who fought their own battles and waged their own wars although they would often lend their troops to the king in national campaigns such as the Anglo-French wars.Towards the end of the 18th century these units were 'nationalised' and turned into Regiments of Foot under the control of the War Department, often just referred to as 'Horseguards' after their headquarters in London. Their job was almost exclusively to garrison the Empire and each regiment would have a spell of seven years or so away and a similar period at home when they would look after recruiting and supporting one of the units away. Some regiments maintained two battalions so that they always had control of both home and away units but the majority had only one and had to rely on some other regiment while they were away. Gradually many of them adopted a county name although generally this was purely nominal.

In 1881 under the Cardwell Reforms pairs of regiments were made permanent and given a permanent county afiliation. In Berkshire's case the 49th (Hertfordshire) regiment was joined with the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment to form the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the new Berkshire Regiment with its base at Brock Barracks in Reading.

By the time of the outbreak of the Great War the Army had settled down to the new system with almost every county having its own infantry regiment and yeomanry.

The sections covered are:-


2053 The 66th Regiment of Foot


2052 The 49th Regiment of Foot


2061 The Royal Berkshire Regiment 1881 to 1899


2062 The Boer War(1899-1902)


2063 The Royal Berkshire Regiment 1902-1914


2084 The Militia (to 1908)


2085 The Volunteers 1858-1908


2081 The Yeomanry (to 1914)










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