History of the Reserve Battalion of the 56th West Essex

Although the 56th like most battalions at the tome maintained a depot battalion in England while they were on foreign service for a short period there was a Reserve Battalion which was a battalion in it's own right.

It was formed in 1846 at a time when the country was suffering from public disorder from potato disease and agitation against the corn laws.

Approval was given for the establishment of the 56th to be raised to 1,292 men, which would allow for two Battalions to be formed.

Lt Colonel Nicholson was appointed to command the new Battalion which was named the 56th Reserve Battalion.

In December 1846 the First Battalion of the 56th was posted to Gibraltar while the Reserve Battalion remained in England for a period, recruiting and then training before joining them in Gibraltar. At this time their strength was two staff sergeants, 38 sergeants, 14 drummers and 483 rank and file men.

Both Battalions served in Gibraltar and were recorded as parading for a visit by the Infanta of Spain. This was an important symbolic event marking the first visit by a member of the Spanish Royal Family since the siege of Gibraltar during which the 56th played such a big part.

In 1850 the Reserve Battalion was disbanded with some members transferring to the main Battalion and some being allowed to volunteer for ships belonging to the experimental Squadron under command of Commodore Martin.