History of the 2nd Battalion of the 56th West Essex

A Second Battalion of the 56th Essex Regiment was added in 1804.

The Battalion sailed for India in June 1807 in several vessels. Very bad weather damaged the vessels which has to be refitted in South Africa before they could continue their voyage, escorted by HMS Greyhound, arriving at the  Bombay Garrison during December 1807.

In January 1809 the Battalion was split with four companies stationed at Baroda, under Captain D Daly with the remainder at Barachia under Lt Colonel Walker.

150 members of the battalion were amongst those who took the fort of Mallia in just 45 minutes despite good defences and fierce resistance. Lt Newman was among the Forlorn Hope at the forefront of the attack and Captain Arnott were both commended for their conduct in the attack.

In this action 56 men were killed and 13 wounded.

The taking of the fort helped to pacify the area allowing the battalion to be moved to Colaba via Bombay in October 1812 and then on to Dutch Bundes in March 1813.

6 companies under Lt Colonel Kingscote occupying the fort of Palampore as part of political moves to ensure that the throne was inherited by an Indian favourable to the British.

The main enemy of the troops was heat and disease.

On one 18 mile match 10 men died from the effects of the heat and many more were in a bad way.

Guzerat fever was also a killer accounting for more deaths than rebel action.

For the next few years the battalion rotated between Domus, Barachia and Colaba.

In January 1816 the battalion joined the Poona subsidiary force under Colonel Lionel Smith on the plains of Assaye.

In November 1816 the Poona force was disbanded and the 56th marched to Bombay to return to the UK.

The flank companies were required to stay on in India and 400 men volunteered to remain in India and were transferred to other Regiments.

The remainder sailed to the Uk leaving Bombay on 9 January 1817 and arriving at Liverpool in May1817. The flank companied followed in July 1817 arriving at Portsmouth in December 1817.

The battalion were disbanded at Rochester in June 1817. Most men returned to civilian life although some were able to move to other Regiments.