Island of Jersey
Artillery has always been a major element of the Militia
From early times Jersey must have had some force for repelling invasion. In 1337 at the beginning of the Hundred Years War with France, this was remodelled. Edward III ordered the Wardens to enrol all able bodied men, to divide them into companies, to provide them with arms, and appoint officers. For the next three centuries the organisation was parochial, each parish having its own company.
- Beaumont Cannon, the story of a St Peter gun and the structure of the Militia in its early days
In 1665 these companies were united into three regiments, the East, the North, and the West. In 1678, for the first time, the men were put into uniform, red musketeers' cloaks. The Artillery was made a separate corps in blue cloaks lined with scarlet.
In 1730 there were five regiments made up of six battalions:
- 1st - St Ouen, St Mary, St John
- 2nd - Trinity, St Martin
- 3rd - St Saviour, Grouville, St Clement
- 4th - 1st/4th St Helier 2nd/4th St Lawrence
- 5th - St Peter, St Brelade
By the code of 1771 there was compulsory service for all males between the ages of 17-35 and youths between 15-17 had to drill once a week. At this time there was one regiment of artillery, one of cavalry and six battalions of infantry in addition to the regular troops in the castles.
On 6 January 1831 on the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Jersey the entire Channel Island Militias were granted the 'Royal' prefix by King William IV. At this time all the Militia insignia was changed in accordance with the 'Royal' title, including uniforms which now had blue facings. In 1844 the Parish Arsenals were built and the cannon removed from the parish churches. In the mid-1860s a Troop of Horse existed, known as the Royal Jersey Militia Dragoons. They carried messages on horseback between the regiments and wore black leather helmets with a black horse-hair plume and red tunics. The Troop was disbanded in the 1870s. Also at this time rifle companies existed. They wore the 1861 'quilted' shako but were short-lived and were disbanded when the Militia was reorganized once again in 1877.
There were then three infantry regiments with 500 NCOs and men, each under a Lieut-Colonel. These were as follows:
- 1st - made up of old St Lawrence and 5th (South)
- 2nd - made up of old 2nd (North) and 3rd (East)
- 3rd - made up of old St Helier and residents of St Lawrence (ex 4th)
By General Order of 1881 from Her Majesty Queen Victoria the Battle Honour 'Jersey 1781' was granted to the following Militia Regiments, 1st (West), 2nd (East) and 3rd (South).
The Militia was reorganized yet again in 1890 into two field artillery companies, four garrison artillery companies and three light infantry battalions, West, Town and East.
In 1891 there was a mutiny by Militiamen of the St Ouen section as they were not allowed to parade in their lawful position on the right of the line as had been previously accorded them. This mutiny was not due to disloyalty but to injured pride. A contingent of the Royal Jersey Militia took part in the Empire Parade in London on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Diamond (60th) Jubilee on 22nd June 1897.
The Militia came under the Army Act in 1905 and at this time it consisted of the Royal Jersey Artillery with two field batteries and two garrison companies, a Corps of Militia Engineers, a Militia Medical Company and three battalions of Light Infantry.
The Militia was mobilized in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War and on 2nd March 1915 the Jersey Overseas Contingent consisting of 6 Officers and 224 Other Ranks under Captain, later Lieutenant Colonel, Stocker proceeded overseas to serve with the 7th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles. During the First World War 6,292 Jerseymen served in HM Forces, 862 were killed in action or died of wounds. During the First World War the Militia also provided part of the guard for the German Prisoner of War camp at Blanches Banque, St Brelaide, in Jersey. In 1918 at the end of the war the Jersey Militia was demobilized and was subsequently was granted the Battle Honour 'The Great War 1914-1918'.
On 24th December 1921 a new law was passed reducing the Militia to just one Regiment entitled 'The Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey'. In 1925 new colours were presented and the old ones laid up in the various Parish Churches. Compulsory service was ended in 1929 and the strength reduced to just 260 men, the cost was to be borne by the States of Jersey and not the British Government.
World War 2
Upon the outbreak of the Second World War the Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey (RMIJ) was mobilized once more and assembled at the Town Arsenal (now Jersey Fire Station) and marched to Fort Regent, overlooking St Helier, which became their Headquarters. On 2nd June 1940 the British Government recalled all the regular troops from the Channel Islands and on 20th June Lieutenant-Colonel H.M. Vatcher MC upon receiving orders for the demilitarization of the island informed the Lieutenant-Governor that he had been recalled and the island would be undefended. He therefore requested permission for the RMIJ to leave the island to fight overseas. Permission was granted and at 3.00pm on 21st June 1940 11 Officers and 193 Other Ranks left for England on the potato ship SS Hodder. The German Forces subsequently invaded the Channel Islands on 1st July 1940 where they remained in occupation for almost five years. The first Germans to arrive in Jersey were in an aircraft from Aufklarungsgruppe 123 a Luftwaffe Reconnaissance Squadron.
The RMIJ initially served as the 11th (Royal Militia Island of Jersey) Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment and although the 11th Battalion did not leave the UK many members of the original contingent served in various theatres of the war, including Africa, Italy, Holland and France. Of the original 193 men who left the island in 1940 ten were killed in action.
On 8th May 1945 the Royal Navy sent HMS Bulldog & Beagle to the Channel Islands as part of Operation Nestegg in order to accept the German surrender. On 9th May 1945 Force 135 (Channel Islands Liberation Force) led by Colonel William P.A. Robinson MC of the Royal Artillery and his Adjutant Captain Hugh Le Brocq (RMIJ) landed at the harbour. They advanced to the Pomme D'Or Hotel where the Jersey Harbour Master Captain H.G. Richmond raised the Union Jack ending the German occupation of Jersey.
On 14th February 1946 the War Office advised the Lieutenant-Governor that the 11th (RMIJ) Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment was being disbanded and as the National Service Act was not adopted in the Channel Islands the RMIJ ceased to exist. On 10th January 1954 the Regimental Colours were laid up in the Town Church.
Territorial field squadron
In 1986 the British Government requested that Jersey should contribute towards the Defence Budget of the United Kingdom and the Field Squadron Royal Engineers (Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey) Territorial Army was formed in October 1988. The role of the Squadron was later changed from a Field Squadron to a RAF Harrier Force Support Squadron. In 1995 on the 50th Anniversary of the Liberation of Jersey the Squadron was granted the 'Privilege' by the States of Jersey this is the equivalent to granting the freedom of the city. The Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey Association meet regularly throughout the year and is supplemented by members of the Field Squadron ensuring that the Association will continue for many years to come. Thus, the Royal Jersey Militia in its various forms has had a long and varied history.
- The Militia and the military role of Jersey in history
- Invaders and the Militia which fought them Added 2016
- Military colours of the Royal Militia
- Jersey Militia Colours
- Militia Victorian head-dress
- Militia shoulder belt plates
- Militia long service medal
- Militia camps in 1906
- A history of the Militia by Geoff Wright
- Wikipedia entry
- Militia and garrison pictures
- Jersey Archive information leaflet on the militia
- Web page of the Jersey Field Squadron, successor to the Militia
With the exception of this photograph, one of our all-time favourites in Jerripedia, we have moved our gallery of photographs of the Royal Militia Island of Jersey to a separate page;