The Territorial Battalions Post War – 1946

The end of the War in Europe saw 128 Brigade with the 1/4th and 5th Hampshire going into Austria to guard the Austrian/Yugoslav border, to keep the peace and deal with the many displaced persons. These two Territorial Battalions later moved to undertake a similar role on the Austro/Hungarian border. The 5th Hampshire was the first to disband in January 1946, the same month that the 1/4th moved to Vienna on occupation duties. Briefly returning to Furstenfeldt near the border, the 1/4th disbanded on 1st September 1946.

In Athens, to keep the opposing Greek factions apart, the 2/4th sailed for Crete some 3 weeks after VE Day, to again hold the ring between some 10,000 German prisoners of war and a vengeful Cretan population. Returning to Greece in August to hold the peace together until 3rd January 1947 and was the last Territorial Battalion to disband.

The 7th Hampshire found themselves at Gnarrenburg on the Ost/Hamms canal and poised for an attack on Bremerhaven. The first move was to Winsen on the south bank of the Elbe disarming the German army in the first instance, then to deal with the many displaced persons. Between October 1945 until March 1946 the Battalion occupied the appropriately re-named ‘Bournemouth Barracks’, before a move to Berlin and responsibility for the Tiergarten area where all four Allied Occupation Zones met, and an area renowned for black marketers and other ne’er-do-wells. VE Day 1946 was a notable occasion when the Colours of the Battalion were borne down the Charlottenburg Chaussée. After a month in Luneberg the Battalion was finally disbanded on 17th August 1946.

Reformation of the Territorial Army began in 1947, and the 4th Hampshire was the first to re-form, on 1st March 1947 with its Headquarters in Newburgh House, Winchester, as in pre-War days.

Next was the old 5th Hampshire, when on 17th October 1948 its Colours were entrusted to 14th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, with its sub-title of 5th Battalion, The Royal Hampshire Regiment. Its headquarters were in Carlton Place, Southampton, (headquarters of the old 5th, and until August 1939, the 5/7th Battalion).

The fate suffered by the 6th and 8th Hampshire before the War by conversion to artillery Regiments also befell the 7th Hampshire which re-formed as 524 (later re-numbered as 642) Light Anti-Aircraft and Searchlight Regiment, but also with the subsidiary title of 7th Battalion The Royal Hampshire Regiment.

The Post War successors in title to the 6th and 8th were revived as 383 (Duke of Connaught’s Own Hampshire) Light Regiment and 428 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment (Princess Beatrice’s Isle of Wight Rifles).

The following twenty years saw the 4th and the old 5th Battalions providing a reserve should the Cold War turn ‘hot’, attending training sessions at weekends and at the annual fortnight’s Camp. From time to time the emphasis of role changed, for example with training in Civil Defence in the early 1960’s. Ceremonial events included the King’s Review in 1948, the re-dedication of the County Memorial and the Regiment’s own Memorial Garden, the Freedom of the City of Portsmouth in 1950, the provision of Coronation contingents in 1953 and Royal Guards of Honour in Romsey in 1957, and Newport, Isle of Wight in 1965.

With the nation’s global commitments shrinking, the 14th Battalion lost its parachuting role and the Battalion reverted to the title of 5th Battalion, The Royal Hampshire Regiment in 1956. Following the impact on the Territorial Army of economies in defence expenditure, the 4th and 5th Battalions amalgamated to form the 4/5th Battalion in 1961. More ceremonial followed in the Presentation of new Colours to the 4/5th at Broadlands, the home of the Battalion’s Honorary Colonel, Admiral of the Fleet Earl Mountbatten of Burma in 1963. Almost uniquely, on the same parade, new Colours were presented to 383 Field Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Royal Hampshires) Royal Artillery, for artillery Regiments their ‘colours’ are with the leading gun on a ceremonial parade.

By 1967 the Regiment’s Territorial Battalions were represented in 383 (Duke of Connaught’s Own Hampshire) Regiment (6th); “P” (Royal Hampshire) Battery, 383 Regiment (7th); HQ (Princess of Beatrice’s IoW Rifles) Battery, 457 (Wessex) Heavy Air Defence Regiment (8th). The end of the Territorial Army came in that year when the government imposed a £20 million cut in the Defence budget. Faced with the choice of losing four major Regular units, thus weakening the first line of national defence, or saving the annual £20 million cost of the TA, the Army’s Chief of Staff chose the latter. Thus on 1st April 1967 – with unique agreement to extend the Battalion’s existence by one day – the 4/5th Battalion, The Royal Hampshire Regiment (TA) disbanded.

On the same day selected officers and soldiers formed B Company (Hampshire), The Wessex Volunteers and a tenuous link with the Royal Hampshire Regiment was maintained by Permanent Staff being found by the Regiment.