1881 – The 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot and 55th (Westmoreland) Regiment of Foot amalgamate to form The Border Regiment; 34th becoming 1st battalion Border Regt, & 55th becoming 2nd battalion Border Regt.
First World War
The 2nd, 4th, 8th, and 11th battalions The Border Regiment were those most associated with Kendal, although men from the town did serve (and die) in other battalions – notably the 6th Bn at Gallipoli, and 7th Bn who incorporated West & Cumb Yeo.
1st Bn & 2nd Bn Border Regiment were the regular battalions.
In 1914, 1st Bn were in India, relieved by 4th so the 1st regulars could go to Gallipoli, later France. 2nd Bn (traditionally Westmorland Regiment) went to France & Flanders in October 1914 remaining on Western Front throughout the war.
Several Kendal men in the 2nd Bn, (who also had a lot of PoWs.) 4th Bn – Cumberland & Westmorland Territorials, with a base at drill hall, Queen Katherine St., Kendal. Divided into two parts: – 1/4th went to Burma in December 1914 where fought tribesmen in Kachin Hills (hence qualifying for medals as they served in a “war zone”). Spent remainder of war in Burma & India. 2/4th- went to India & fought in the Third Afghan war in 1919. (There was briefly a 3/4th Bn. a reserve/ training unit later absorbed.) 8th Bn. – “The Kendal Pals” . The largest number of Kendal men served in this Service “Kitchener” Battalion. 11th Bn – The Lonsdales. Probably the best known Border Battalion raised by Lord Lonsdale of Lowther Castle and decimated on the first day of the Somme.
A lot of Kendal men in this battalion. This battalion had a unique badge – a dragon based on the Lonsdale family crest, unlike the other Border badges. Lord Lonsdale also wanted to dictate the uniform of “his” battalion and chose the colour field grey, until it was pointed out that the Germans were already using that colour and they would have to wear khaki like everyone else!
Second World War
1st & 2nd Border again regulars. 4th Bn Territorials. 1939 Colours laid up in Kendal parish church, before they went to France. On Somme in 1940. D Company (Kendal) were on Dunkirk rearguard at Incheville where they were all either killed or taken prisoner. Lieut John Watton of Kendal was a PoW at Colditz and postwar became a well known artist and sculptor in Kendal. He painted the title page crest of the Border Regiment roll of honour book. The reformed 4th battalion later fought at Tobruk and in Burma. 8th HD ( home defence) Bn- was the designation for the Home Guard units in South Lakes. (but a 11th Westmorland HD burial at Sedbergh)
55th Regiment 200th anniversary journal title page with the picture of the colours cabinet in Kendal parish church (two parts).