Cambridgeshire Regiment and the Scouts

Cambridge District Scout Archive

This is a page that is yet to be fully researched. The intent is to look through the regimental records for the wartime experience of Cambridge Scouts.

The Cambridgeshire Regiment is the local regiment and, particularly in early WW1, most of the soldiers were based in the County. Whilst there was no direct connection between Scouting and the Regiment some volunteers and some conscripts would have previously been Scouts.

From John Chambers Collection

Formed in 1860 it was active between 1908 and 1961. Those men who were in the Territorial Forces before WW1 and WW2 would have been attached to this unit and on call up stayed with the regiment. The link was increasingly broken with conscription and reallocation after injury or sickness.

The other local Regiment attracting men from Cambridgeshire was the Suffolk’s, and during WW1 the 11th Battalion was known as the 11th (Cambridge) Battalion Suffolk Regiment.

A few men of the Cambs Regiment did end up in the 11th Suffolk, usually later in the war (1917 and 1918).

Ben’s army number tells me he is a direct recruit into the 11th (Cambridgeshire) Btn, The Suffolk Rgt in the early stages of the war. The 11th Suffolk was sent overseas in January 1916, whereas the 1/1st Cambridgeshire Rgt went overseas in February 1915, with its other battalions (all formed during the war) not seeing overseas service but acting as reinforcement units.

Clifford Brown of the Cambridgeshire Regiment Website kindly corrects my earlier misinterpretation and I have added his summary below.

http://www.cambridgeshireregiment1914-18.co.uk/

The 11th Suffolk were known as the Cambs Suffolk Regiment. The only link with the Cambridgeshire Regiment was that it was formed in Cambridgeshire, and that the Cambs Rgt (Territorials – part-time soldiers) came under the general auspices of the Suffolk Regiment before and during the war. When war was declared those men of the Cambs Rgt who had agreed to serve overseas (along with new recruits filling the gaps left by those who did not volunteer) were sent into further training before going overseas in Feb 1915. Those who did not volunteer for overseas were placed in a new 2nd battalion, which was used purely to supply reinforcements to replace losses during the war. Later, the 3rd and 4th battalions were formed, which also stayed in the UK and supplied reinforcements. Reinforcements could end up in any regiment on the Western Front.

77 Officers and 789 Other ranks died in WW1

The many University based Scouters often went to units based in their home towns. They were less likely to be attached to the local Territorial Forces. During WW2 those new to a military role were often placed where an immediate need or their skills dictated. None of the contributers to the Evercircular letters were posted to the Cambridgeshire Regiment.

24 Officers and 760 Other ranks died in WW2

The involvement of both Battalions of the Regiment in the fall of Singapore in WW2 was recorded in the Evercircular letters. Many of the deaths were during their period of internment.

WW1

  • Benjamin Robert Thompson Drummer, 11th (Cambridge) Battalion Suffolk Regiment, MM, Injured Le Boisselle, July 1916, died August 1916.
  • Arthur William Harry Curzon 8th July 1917 1st /1 Btn Cambridgeshire Reg
  • Victor Thomas King 1161 1st Btn Cambridgeshire Regiment Possibly a 2nd Cambridge scout
  • Benjamin Henry Tabor 325720 1st Btn Cambridgeshire Regiment Possibly a 2nd Cambridge scout

WW2

1st Battalion Cambridgeshire Regiment

In early 1939 both Cambridgeshire battalions served with the East Anglian Infantry Division, initially on the Norfolk Coast and were then sent to the Far East. The Battalion fought at Sime Road Camp in Singapore before being ordered to surrender  by the commander of the garrison.

  • Private Samuel Wilfred Whitley 5933027, 1st Battalion Cambridgeshire regiment POW
  • Private Thomas Leonard Whitley, 5933142, 1st Battalion Cambridgeshire regiment Died as POW

See

  • Evercircular Letters
  • Local History/ WW1 WW2/ POW
  • Local History/ WW1 WW2/Roll of Honour/ 28th Cambridge Roll of Honour
  • People/ Individuals/ Cambridge Scouts/ Benjamin Robert Thompson
Territorial Force1908 – 1927
Territorial Army1927 – 1967
Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve1967 – 2011
Army Reserve2011 –
From ‘The Suffolk Regiment 1928 – 1946’ Colonel W N Nicholson

JWR Archivist Feb 2020