‘The Vikings’

The 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment now recruits from the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex. The Battalion is the product of a series of amalgamations beginning in 1959 when the Royal Norfolk Regiment (the 9th Regiment of Foot) amalgamated with the Suffolk Regiment (the 12th Regiment of Foot) to form the 1st Battalion The East Anglian Regiment, one of three regiments comprising the East Anglian Brigade.

Lt Col AF Campbell MC a Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion The East Anglian Regiment, sought to establish a new and unifying identity for the new Battalion and instigated the nickname ‘The Vikings. This was duly announced in the March 1961 edition of the Britannia and Castle. It would be fair to say that his aim has been well and truly achieved.

In 1963 the 1st Battalion Royal Leicestershire Regiment (nicknamed ‘The Royal Tigers’) joined the East Anglian Brigade.

In 1964 the East Anglian Brigade was reorganised to become a single Regiment ‘The Royal Anglian Regiment’ of which the ‘Vikings’ became the 1st Battalion. The Royal Leicester’s became the 4th Battalion, which was reduced to Company strength as ‘Tiger Company’ in 1970, and finally disbanded in 1975, the Regiment thereafter consisting of three Regular Battalions. In 1992 the Regiment reduced from three to two regular Battalions, and the ‘Vikings’ have since assumed the responsibility formerly held by the 3rd Battalion for the links to Essex and the Essex Regiment (The 44th and 56th Regiments of Foot).


The motto ‘Stabilus’ (Steady) was part of the personal family arms of Colonel Scipio Duroure, Colonel of the 12th Regiment of Foot 1741 to 1751, which he commanded at the Battle of Dettingen.

A substantial part of the Regimental Colour of Duroure’s Regiment, showing the motto, is on display in the Suffolk Regiment Gallery at Moye’s Hall Museum, Bury St. Edmunds and is one of the oldest portions of a Colour still in existence.

‘Stabilus’ has never been adopted as an official motto because the future use of family badges and mottos by Regiments was forbidden in a Royal Warrant of George II dated 1st July 1751. However ‘Stabilus’ has survived proudly and unofficially as a reminder to all of the steadfastness which has characterised the Regiment throughout its history.

1964 to 1965

The Battalion was stationed in Waterloo Lines Aden when the Royal Anglian Regiment was formed on the 1st September 1964.

The Battalion departed Aden in September 1965.

1965 to 1968

In 1965 the Battalion moved to West Germany to take up the role of Mechanised Infantry. They were stationed in Trenchard Barracks, Celle. During this tour the Battalion also exercised in Libya.

1968 to 1970

In 1968 the Battalion moved back to Catterick in Yorkshire.

They were roled as a UK based Mechanised Infantry Battalion and would return to BAOR annually to exercise in mechanised warfare. Initially the Battalion was split between Alma Barracks and Bourlon Barracks until they moved into Somme Lines en mass.

1970 to 1972

The Battalion moved to Londonderry, Northern Ireland to take up post as the first 2 year resident Battalion in Ebrington Barracks.

The Barracks; formerly known as HMS Sea Eagle, although the Battalion’s home for nearly two years saw very little of the men who were almost continually deployed during the troubles.

1972 to 1974

In 1972 the Battalion moved to Cyprus and this period saw the majority of the Battalion stationed in Salamanca Lines, Episkopi with Support Company at Dhekelia. During this tour the Battalion also exercised in Kenya and Sharjah.

1974 to 1978

The Battalion moved to Assaye Barracks in Tidworth in 1974 to take up the AMF (L) role which had responsibility for the NATO Northern and Southern Flank.

This role involved annual training in Norway and during this period exercises were undertaken in Sardinia, Jamaica and Italy.

In 1974 the Battalion deployed to Northern Ireland on a 6 month Op Banner tour, covering Portadown, Lurgan and Dungannon. During this period in Tidworth the Battalion were also twice called upon to cover the ‘Fireman’s Strike’.

1978 to 1982

In 1978 the Battalion returned to Trenchard Barracks in Celle, West Germany for another Mechanised Infantry Role. They also deployed to Belfast in 1979, and Fermanagh in 1981 on Op Banner tours.

1982 to 1984

During this period the Battalion were stationed in Oakington Near Cambridge and also completed a deployment to Belize for 6 months. The Battalion were also deployed on the civil unrest at Greenham Common and Moleworthy.

1984 to 1987

The Battalion returned to Ebrington Barracks during this period and were again heavily involved in the Northern Ireland Operations.

1987 to 1989

In 1987 the Battalion moved to Gibraltar for a two year posting and were stationed in Lathbury Lines.

1989 to 1995

The Battalion were stationed in Colchester from 1989 to 1995 and this involved Operational tours to South Armagh – August 1989 until January 1990, Fermanagh – April 1991 until October 1991 and Co Tyrone – December 1993 until June 1994.

During this period tours were also conducted in Cyprus (1992) and Fort Lewis in the USA (1995).

From July to October 1995 the 1st Battalion was sent to Croatia as part of 24 Airmobile Brigade.

In 1992 the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment was merged into the 1st and 2nd Battalions.

1995 to 1999

The Battalion was again stationed in Oakington Barracks

In 1996 C Company (1st Bn) was sent with the Parachute Brigade that was taking part in the biggest Airborne exercise since the Second World War in South Carolina, U.S.

During 1996 to 1997 the Battalion completed an Op Banner tour in Belfast.

In 1996 elements of the Battalion exercised in Kenya.

1999 to 2001

The Battalion once again returned to Ebrington Barracks during this period and were again heavily involved in the Northern Ireland Operations.

2001 to 2008

The Battalion have been stationed in Pirbright since 2001 to the present. In March 2002, 1 R ANGLIAN was deployed to Afghanistan, where it was based in the capital Kabul as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The battalion often patrolled the more dangerous parts of the capital to maintain order in a city under constant fear of attack by Al Qaida and the Taliban.

It is an interesting fact that the ISAF force at that time was commanded by Major-General John McColl, a former officer with 1 R ANGLIAN. General Sir John McColl is presently Deputy SACEUR.

In 2005 1 R ANGLIAN had a successful tour in Iraq as part of Op TELIC 6 where the battle group was responsible for the Basra Rural South area of operations. C (Essex) Company was detached to act as a Brigade Operations Company and was involved in several high profile arrest operations including the arrest in Basra of 14 insurgents.

From March to September 2007 as part of 12th Mechanised Brigade 1 R Anglian was deployed to Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 6. They were stationed in the infamous Helmand Province and the Vikings Battle Group faced some of the fiercest fighting since the Korean War. The fighting attracted much media attention due to the ferocity of the combat with soldiers often having to resort to using bayonets, and the Battalion suffered 9 casualties killed in action during its tour, with many more seriously wounded.

As of 2008 1 R ANGLIAN is still part of 12th Mechanised Brigade, based in Pirbright. As mechanised infantry the battalion primarily operates the Saxon. By the end of the arms plot in 2009, the 1st Battalion will be permanently based at Bulford.

The 2007 deployment was the subject of the Sky One documentary Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, broadcast in January/February 2008.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar