Regt. Ranking Structure
| Lt. Colonel|| ||Lt. Col.|| |
| Major|| ||Maj.|| |
| Captain|| ||Capt.|
| Lieutenant|| ||Lieut.|
| Ensign|| ||Ens.|| |
| Serjeant-Major|| ||Sjt-Maj.|| |
| Colour Serjeant|| ||CSjt.|| |
| Serjeant|| ||Sjt.|| |
| Corporal|| ||Cpl.|
| Lance Corporal|| ||LCpl.|| |
| Grenadier|| ||Gren.|| |
| Fusilier|| ||Fus.|| |
| Private|| ||Pte.|| |
| Recruit|| ||Rec.|
Formation & the Napoleonic Wars
In 1740, As Britain and France became embroiled in what was to become known as the “War of Austrian Succession”, the British Government increased the size of the regular army by a further seven Regiments to be numbered 54th to 60th. Colonel James Long, then of the of the Grenadier Guards, was commissioned as Colonel of the 55th Regiment of Foot on 7th January 1741 and commanded to raise a Regiment. This regiment kept the number 55 until the conclusion of the war with the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. Where, upon the cessation of hostilities, the ten marine regiments numbered 44 to 53 were disbanded and the regimental numbers assigned to those regiments next in line. Thus in 1748, the 55th Foot became the 44th Foot, a designation it was to have until the territorial re-organisation of the army in 1881. It was to America that the regiment sailed in 1776 to participate in the American War of Independence.
In 1793, Revolutionary France declared war on Britain and the Flank Companies of the 44th were sent to the West Indies where they participated in the seizure of Guadeloupe, whilst the Battalion Companies fought in the Lowlands and at one stage were brigaded under Sir Arthur Wellesley in his first experience of active warfare. Following tours in the West Indies and the Mediterranean, the Regiment were selected for inclusion in General Abercromby’s expedition to Egypt in 1801. A successful campaign resulting in the defeat and eviction of the French from Egypt, won the regiment its first Battle Honours and the right to bear on the colours “The Sphinx” and “Egypt”. In 1803 following the resumption of war after the short lived peace of Amiens, the “Army of Reserve Act” was passed for raising men for home service and in line with other regiments, a second Battalion was added to the 44th. This Battalion, raised in Ireland was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Nicholl and fixed at ten companies, it was destined for home duties for the next 7 years being based at the Isle of Wight and Guernsey.
On March 20th 1810, the 2/44th under the command of Lt. Colonel Charles Bulkeley, embarked for the Peninsular. After an initial stay in Cadiz, the Regiment eventually landed in Portugal on October 4th. Towards the end of December the 44th joined up with the main British army inside the lines of Torres Vedras. Despite being present at Fuentes De Onoro and the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, it was not until April 6th 1812 as part of Leith’s division that the 2nd Battalion of the 44th took part in their first major action - the storming of Badajoz. The 44th escaladed the walls of the San Vincente Bastion, it’s colours being the first to be planted on top of the walls. The 2nd Battalion’s casualties where considerable—losing 39 officers and men.
On the 22nd July 1812, the regiment saw action at Salamanca, Lieutenant Pearce famously taking the Eagle from the French 62nd Regiment of Line. The Battalion entered Madrid in August 1812 and afterwards marched north to take part in the disastrous siege of and retreat from Burgos. During the course of which, the regiment distinguished itself once again during the skirmishing at Vila Muriel. By this time the 2nd Battalion had been so heavily reduced that it could only muster 130 men fit for duty.
By July 1813 the whole regiment had, under Wellington’s orders, returned to England to recruit and re-organise. Soon afterwards the 2nd Battalion departed once again, this time to Holland to take part in the disastrous campaign against Bergen-op-Zoom. The Battalion then moved to quarters in Ostend until April 1815, when they where posted to the 95th British Infantry Brigade under the command of Sir Dennis Pack. The 2nd Battalion suffered 165 casualties during the Waterloo Campaign and was particularly hard pressed at Quatre Bras, where on June 16th, Ensign Christie, despite receiving serious injuries, distinguished himself by saving the regimental Colour. After the battle of June 18th, the 44th marched to Paris, not returning to England until January 1816.
In January 1816 the 2nd Battalion of the 44th Regiment of Foot embarked at Calais for Dover and on the 24th January was disbanded. The Officers received full pay until 24th March and all men fit for service were transferred to the 1st Battalion. The 44th East Essex remained a one Battalion regiment, winning more glory and honours until 1881, when on 1st July, as a result of the territorial reorganisation scheme, the 44th became the 1st Battalion, the Essex Regiment and the 44th East Essex ceased to exist.
Private, Battalion Coy, 44th Regt.
French eagle captured at Salamanca by the 44th.
First Anglo-Burmese War: The regiment embarked for India in 1822 and was deployed to Burma for service in the First Anglo-Burmese War in early 1825. It formed part of an army which advanced up the River Irrawaddy to the Kingdom of Ava and then, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Shelton, captured the city of Arakan in March 1825. After suffering many casualties from fever the regiment was withdrawn and returned to India in 1826.
First Anglo-Afghan War: The regiment proceeded to Kabul in 1840 for service in the First Anglo-Afghan War. Major-General William Elphinstone decided to order a retreat from the city. The regiment, which formed the rearguard for the retreat, became engaged in a continuous running battle in thick snow, with Ghilji forces. On 13 January 1842, matters came to a head when the Ghilji forces surrounded the remaining British troops on a rocky hill near the village of Gandamak. The only person to actually complete the journey was Surgeon William Brydon who reached the British garrison at Jalalabad on the afternoon of the same day. The Ghilji forces announced that a surrender could be arranged but the men of the 44th did not trust them and, making a last stand against the Ghilji forces, were massacred by them. The only other survivor was Captain Thomas Souter, who had wrapped himself in the regimental colours and was taken prisoner, the Ghilji forces thinking he was a high ranking military official.
Crimean War: The 44th Foot was reconstituted and landed at Varna in summer 1854 for service in the Crimean War. It served under General Sir Richard England in the 3rd Division and saw action at the Battle of the Alma in September 1854, the Battle of Inkerman in November 1854 and the Siege of Sevastopol in winter 1854. At Sevastopol it took part in the capture of the cemetery.
Second Opium War: The regiment embarked for China in 1860 for service in the Second Opium War. It took in the capture of the Taku Forts on 21 August 1860 as part of the Anglo-French forces under command of General Sir James Hope Grant. The regiment was in the vanguard of the assault on the North Taku entrenchments. The attacking force crossed a series of ditches and bamboo-stake palisades under heavy Chinese musketry, and tried to force entrance by the main gate. When this effort was unsuccessful, an assault party climbed the wall to an embrasure and forced entry to the fort. The first British officer to enter the fort was Lieutenant Robert Montresor Rogers who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his conspicuous bravery. He was closely followed by Private John McDougall who was also awarded the VC. The regiment left China in October 1861 and returned to India.
Amalgamation: As part of the Cardwell Reforms of the 1870s, where single-battalion regiments were linked together to share a single depot and recruiting district in the United Kingdom, the 44th was linked with the 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot, and assigned to district no. 44 at Warley Barracks near Brentwood. On 1 July 1881 the Childers Reforms came into effect and the regiment amalgamated with the 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot to form the Essex Regiment. Following the release of the 1957 Defence White Paper which saw the British Army undergo restructuring yet again, the Essex Regiment was merged with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment to form the 3rd East Anglian Regiment. This regiment existed for only a small number of years as the 1966 Defence White Paper was released and saw the British Army undergo even more transitions, resulting in the 1st East Anglian Regiment, 2nd East Anglian Regiment, 3rd East Anglian Regiment and The Royal Leicestershire Regiment being merged together to create one larger regiment - the Royal Anglian Regiment. The Royal Anglian Regiment still exists now and is composed of three battalions - two regular and one reserve. The legacy of the 44th Regiment of Foot is upheld to this day as the 3rd East Anglian Regiment became the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment.