Many Merseysiders will remember the King’s Regiment, which served with distinction for nearly half a century from 1958 to 2006.
Formed from the King’s Regiment (Liverpool) first raised in 1685 and the Manchester Regiment, its soldiers were deployed as far afield as the Falklands, Honduras, Cyprus and Iraq.
The new regiment inherited the battle honours of its glorious past when it was awarded its colours in November 1958.
The original Kings (Liverpool) – one of the oldest infantry regiments in the British army – fought at Blenheim and Culloden, as well as in the Napoleonic wars and the American War of independence.
More recently, the Kings (Liverpool) served with distinction in the early Afghan campaigns, the Second Boer War, World Wars I and II and the Korean War.
The regiment formed no less than 49 battalions in the First World War. More than 15,000 men died fighting in Salonika, on the North West Frontier and in the trenches of the Western Front.
The bleak reality of life on the front line is portrayed in a remarkable photograph taken by Private Fyfe of Z Company who was wounded in Bellewaerde, Belgium.
It shows a trench just recaptured from the Germans. The flag is to warn the British artillery to aim further forward to avoid hitting their own men.
An image from just two months later shows the men playing leapfrog on Margate beach in a brief respite from the horrors of war.
Their joy is all the more poignant for its stark contrast to what had gone before – and what would follow.
Nine Victoria Crosses, the highest decoration for valour, were awarded to the Kings Regiment during World War I.
On September 1st 1958, the new King’s Regiment (Manchester and Liverpool) formally came into existence. The regimental sub-titles were dropped a decade later.
It retained its strong association with the Queen Mother, who had become Colonel-in Chief of the Manchester Regiment in 1947.
Regimental colours were presented by the 18th Earl of Derby on November 28th 1958 – and the new unit was swiftly deployed to Kenya in the wake of the Mau Mau uprising.
The regiment then served in the Persian Gulf to protect Kuwait against possible Iraqi aggression before returning to Kenya and then Britain.
The King’s Regiment received the Freedom of City of Liverpool in May 1962. Before the presentation, the regiment was inspected by Lieutenant General Sir Edward Howard-Vyse.
Our photo shows the view along Castle Street as crowds under umbrellas proudly watch the troops march past the Town Hall.
In July 1962, the regiment was stationed in Berlin, where it patrolled the border with Soviet-occupied East Berlin.
In 1964, the King’s Regiment became part of the UK Strategic Reserve. It was converted into a mechanized battalion in West Germany, equipped with armoured personnel carriers.
Crews from the anti-tank section honed their skills with competitive manoeuvres. Our photo shows soldiers relaxing with a pint after breaking their own record time for a gun drill in June 1966.
Fifteen soldiers from the King’s Regiment lost their lives on military operations in Northern Ireland from 1972 to 1990.
In May 1972 an IRA bomb detonated at the battalion headquarters in Springfield Road, Belfast, killing two men and injuring six more.
Casualties would have been much higher had the bomb exploded while hundreds of soldiers were watching a film in the canteen.
The King’s Regiment was stationed in the Falkland Islands for four months before returning to Northern Ireland in May 1986.
The regiment moved to Cyprus in 1996 and was deployed to Iraq with 19 Mechanised Brigade in July 2003 as a peace-keeping force.
In July 2006, the King’s Regiment amalgamated with the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment and the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment to form The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
A new era had begun.