The title of this book is misleading, since more than half of it (168pp) is the history of the 1st Battalion (44th Foot) from formation in 1740 to 1914, with one hundred pages devoted to the Great War. In the first one hundred and seventy years of its existence the regiment certainly saw a great deal of action as described in the first part of this volume. – in Flanders, N America, Canada, Peninsular War, Waterloo, India, Burma, Afghanistan (retreat from Kabul), Crimea, China and the S African War. During the Napoleonic wars a second battalion was formed (2/44th) in 1803 and disbanded after Waterloo in 1816. It would be another sixty-five years before a second battalion was again formed when, following the Cardwell Reforms whereby single battalion regiments were linked to create two battalion regiments, the 44th Foot was linked with the 56th to form the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Essex Regiment.
When war broke out in 1914 the 1st Essex was in Mauritious; it came home in December and joined the 86th Brigade in the newly formed 29th Division (‘The Incomparable 29th’). The division landed at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915 and fought there till the peninsula was evacuated in January 1916. In March 1916 it arrived in France and on 1st July 1916 the battalion was in action in the disastrous attack at Beaumont Hamel at the start of the Somme Offensive. In February 1918, 1st Essex was transferred to 112th Brigade of 37th Division with which it remained to the end of the war. In all the battalion lost in killed 1,787 officers and other ranks. The book closes with an account of the years immediately following the end of the war, especially operations in Ireland against Sinn Fein in which the battalion lost two officers and eleven other ranks killed and seventeen wounded; two officers and four other ranks attached were also killedt. Finally, there is a good index.
ESSEX UNITS IN THE WAR 1914-1919. Vol I. 1st Bn The Essex Regiment
A history not just of the 1st Essex in the Great War but of the Regiment from its formation in 1740 to the 1920s, including operations against Sinn Fein in the aftermath of the war.