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The West Kent Light Infantry was a militia regiment in the United Kingdom from 1758 to 1881, when it was amalgamated into The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment).

The regiment was organised in 1758 as the West Kent Militia. It was embodied in 1778, at which time it was ranked the 12th regiment of militia, and remained active for five years. It was regularly re-ranked through its embodiment, becoming the 4th in 1779, 36th in 1780, 27th in 1781, and 23rd in 1782.

It was embodied again in 1793 for the French Revolutionary Wars, ranked as the 1st, and disembodied in 1802. With the resumption of hostilities in 1803, it was embodied as the 57th, and disembodied with the peace in 1814, being briefly embodied again in 1815-16.

In 1833, it was ranked as the 37th, and redesignated as light infantry. It was embodied during the Crimean War, from January 1855 to July 1856. In 1876 it was split into two battalions, the 1st and 2nd.

In 1881, under the Childers Reforms, the regiment was transferred into The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) as the 3rd and 4th Battalions; these were amalgamated in 1894 into a single battalion, the 3rd. This was embodied for the South African War in December 1899, and disembodied in mid-1901, after garrison service in the Mediterranean.

During the Haldane Reforms in 1908 the battalion was transferred to the Special Reserve, and was embodied on mobilisation in 1914 for the First World War. As with all Special Reserve battalions, it served as a regimental depot, and was disembodied following the end of hostilities in 1919, with personnel transferred to the 2nd Battalion. The battalion nominally remained in existence throughout the Second World War, but was never activated, and was finally disbanded in 1953.

References

Publications

  • Beckett, Ian F W (2011). Britain's Part Time Soldiers. The Amateur Military Tradition 1558—1945 (2 ed.). Barnsley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 9781848843950. 
  • Hay, George Jackson (Colonel) (1987) [1908]. An Epitomized History of the Militia (The "Constitutional Force"). Ray Westlake Military Books. ISBN 0-9508530-7-0. 

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