Regiments of the Malta Garrison Manchester Regiment (63rd/96th)
Manchester Regiment (63rd/96th)
The Manchester Regiment was formed on 1 July 1881 from the amalgamation of the 63rd (West Suffolk) Regiment with the 96th Regiment of Foot. The 63rd became the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment; the 96th became the Second Battalion.
The 63rd was raised in 1756 as the 2nd/8th Foot (The King's). Two years later, it was constituted as a separate regiment. From 1782 to 1881, the 63rd was the West Suffolk Regiment. The Fleur de Lys was associated with the 63rd Foot during the first half of the 19th century. In 1923, the Fleur de Lys replaced the Arms of the City of Manchester as the regimental badge of the Manchester Regiment.
In July 1881, the the 63rd Foot linked with the 96th Regiment of Foot to form The Manchester Regiment.
20 Mar 1881 The 96th Foot embarked at Portsmouth from Aldershot on 11 Mar 1881, arriving in Malta on 20 March.
The battalion had an average strength of 520 men. It had 601 admissions (1155.8/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 12 deaths (23.07/1000 mean strength). 15 invalids were returned to England. Its average daily sick was 37.44 (72/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 26.28 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 22.74 days.
The 96th Regiment gave the highest rate of mortality during the year (23.07/1000 mean strength). Three soldiers drowned while serving in the command. One soldier blew out his brains at Fort Ricasoli.
1 July 1881 The 96th Regiment became the 2nd Battalion The Manchester Regiment.
The 2nd/Manchester Regiment had an average strength of 540 men. It had 435 admissions (805.5/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 4 deaths (7.40 deaths/1000 mean strength). 36 invalids returned to England.
Its average constantly sick was 29.26 (54.18/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 19.77 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 24.55 days.
14 Aug 1882 The 2nd/Manchester Regiment embarked for Egypt on the troopship HMS Euphrates, having served 1 year and 5 months in Malta. It moved to Bombay from Egypt on 15 Oct 1882.
20 May 1940 8th Manchester arrived from Gibraltar and moved to Ghajn Tuffieha Camp. It formed part of Northern Brigade under Brigadier W. H. Oxley.
8th Manchester was to prevent enemy movement southwards over the Wardija Ridge and to to man posts at R3 Grid 337308, R4 Grid 348308 and R5 Grid 352312. The Bn HQ, HQ Coy and a Rifle Coy were at Ghajn Tuffieha Camp, a Rifle Coy was at RAF Station Hal Far Grid 4716 under command of 2nd/Devon, a rifle coy was at Luqa Airport Grid 448218 under command of 2nd/RWK, a rifle coy was at Ta Qali Grid 388255 under command of RWK and a platoon was at San Anton Palace grid 415259 to protect the palace.
A detachment was at Targa Gap Grid 3828 and another detachment was at Naxxar Gap grid 4029 to prevent enemy movement southwards across Victoria Lines.
It was expected for 8th Manchester to take over Fawra Coy and St Paul's Bay Coy from 2nd/Royal Irish Fusiliers. A third Coy was along Wardija Ridge; a fourth Coy at Ta' Qali landing ground. HQ Coy was at Tas Saliba Cross roads with Reserve Coy at Iz Zebbieh.
20 May 1940 A Coy of 8th/Manchester was at Hal Far, another at Luqa.
14 June 8th/Manchester occupied Wardija Ridge with its HQ at Ta' Saliba Crossroads.
30 June 1940 Strength: 27 officers, 778 men. The medical officer was 70801 Captain P O' Donnell RAMC (TA).
26 Oct 1940 Lt Smith RAMC reported for duty at ADS Mgarr but left for duty at St Andrews on 13 November. During October there were no battle casualties but an epidemic of Catarrhal Jaundice broke out at Tas Saliba (area north of Zebbieh) and Ghajn Tuffieha among men of the HQ Coy 8 Manchester. There were two cases from L3 position of D Coy situated near Ghajn Tuffieha. 7 officers and 14 other ranks were admitted to hospital with jaundice. All contacts were kept under observation. Sporadic cases of jaundice were reported in November. Soldiers were at Fort Wardija and Iz Zebbieh. A new cook house was completed at ADS Mgarr on 30 December 1940 and the school was sandbagged to protect the ADS from blast.
Feb 1941 8th/Manchester were responsible for the Ghajn Tuffieha area north of the Victoria Lines and the aerofrome defence of Ta Qali. The Victoria Lines from Falka Gap inclusive to the western end of the Victoria Lines was also their responsibility.