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In the years following the second world war, all Infantry Regiments in the British Army had to suffer the amalgamation of the two Regular Battalions. The Royal Berkshire Regiment was no exception. At the time of the amalgamation the 2nd Battalion were on Active Service against the 'Shifta' Rebels in Eritrea with the 1st Battalion in Germany. A decision was made to join the two Battalions together in Eritrea. The Parade to Amalgamate these two Battalion took place on the 5th March 1949 and that is where our story starts.



of the 1st and 2nd Battalions Royal Berkshire Regiment

Asmara produced its best weather for the amalgamation parade of the Royal Berkshire Regiment on Saturday, March 5th 1949. It was estimated that nearly two thousand people were present at the airport to witness the ceremony. The Commander in Chief, Middle East Land Forces, inspected the Battalion on parade and took the salute. The Chief administrator and the Kaid were present, as also were other high ranking Officers, including Brigadier R.A. BRAMWELL-DAVIS D.S.O., who is in charge of infantry matters at G.H.Q., and Brigadier D.W.B.T. HOGG M.B.E., also of G.H.Q. who is himself a member of the Regiment.

Mr Robert MASON, the foreign office representative, Colonel Fitzpaterick, Commissioner of Police, numerous members of the British Community, the Ethiopian Liaison Officer for Eritrea, and a good attendance of Italians and of Eritrean's were also present.


1st & 2nd Bn Colours Asmara

Colours of the 1st and 2nd Battalions on parade together, Asmara, Eritrea,

1st Bn Colours

2nd Bn Colours

1st Battalion's Colours

2nd Battalion's Colours

Salute the Colours

The inspecting Officer salutes the colours

Colours Parade Asmara


Who were the 'Shifta'Rebels, and Where is Eritrea ?

Eritrea is a small mountainous country on the borders of the Red Sea, sandwiched between the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan to the North West and Ethiopia (Formerly Abyssinia) to the South. Its history is inextricably connected with Ethiopia and Italy.

In 1869 on completion of the Suez Canal, an Italian trading Company purchased from the local chief certain  areas near Assab. In 1882 these areas were taken over by the Italian Government and colonization had begun. The coast at this point was unhealthy and the Italian settlers finding it so, began to push inland, and shortly Massawa (now the only useful port) was annexed.

In 1888  fresh Italian forces were sent to Massawa, their influence spread throughout the territory and by this time they were thinking in terms of a protectorate over Ethiopia itself. In  1889 certain other territories were ceded by the Emperor Menelik of Ethiopia to Italy.

Between 1902 and 1908 various treaties were signed by the Italians and Emperor Menelik guaranteeing the Eritrea-Ethiopian borders whilst in 1906 England, France and Italy signed a treaty virtually guaranteeing the independence of Ethiopia.

All remained peaceful until 1934 when a confrontation took place between Italian and Ethiopian Levees at Wal Wal on the Italian Somaliland- Ethiopian border. All moves to sort this out failed and on the 3rd October  1935 Italian troops crossed the border. Haile Selassie achieved a few local successes but by May 1936 the Italians were in control.

In 1941 the British fought and beat the Italians in this country and from that date the British had garrisoned the country.


The word 'SHIFTA' had come to mean almost any wrongdoer, but this is not quite correct. A 'SHIFTA' proper is a type, native, of course, who like the Indian of the North-West provinces, lives by means of his rifle - a bandit, outside the law, who for many reasons appears to have assumed the role of a modern robin hood, for such they are regarded by the local natives. In many cases they protect their villages against other marauding bands operating in a similar manner. 'SHIFTA' bands consist mostly of Copts. Some were politically minded terriosts the most notorious being the Mosarghi Brothers, Uoldegabriel and Berthe.

Surrendered Shiftas 1951

Seven Surrendered Shifta, Barentu, Eritrea 1951

Dagushi (Leader) in centre

And it was in this country operating against these gangs that the Royal Berkshire Regiment operated, some of the worlds toughest country. They remained there until 1951 went they went to Egypt via Cyprus.

The story of the Battalions activity during this time is covered in 'The Last Twelve years' on sale at the Regimental Museum.

Snapshots from Eritrea

Colour Party Asmara 1950

Lt ELLIS's Patrol

Colour Party Asmara 1950


Sgt STRONG Lt J ELLIS, Sgt Jock. Lt ELLIS died of wounds, shot by Shifta rebels 1950

Patrol in Eritrea

Funeral of Cpl CURTIN

Patrol of Royal Berkshire's in Eritrea

Funeral of Cpl CURTIN, Killed in Ambush Eritrea 1950


Agoradt Jungle camp Eritria

1st Royal Berkshires at the Jungle camp Agoradt 

2 Royal Berks soldiers in the ULU

Briefing Eritria
2 Unnamed Royal Berkshire Soldiers in the 'ULU'

Briefing for a patrol in Eritrea

Ron Allcock

1 Royal berks Machine Gunners

A pause on a long patrol, Eritrea. Ron ALLCOCK faces the camera. He went on to serve in the DERR leaving in 1969

The 1st Royal Berkshires Machinegun section, Eritrea.

Unnamed Royal Berks Soldier, Eritria

Royal Berks Soldier Eritria

Unnamed Royal Berks Soldier in Eritrea Unnamed Royal Berks Soldier in Eritrea

Royal Berks Bren gun Carrier

Royal Berkshire Shooting team Eritrea, includes Alan AULT, later to serve in DERR

Royal Berkshire Bren gun carrier, Eritria

Lt ELLIS Killed in Action

Lt ELLIS, 1st Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment, Killed in Action, Eritria


The Web team would like to thank Alan AULT and Sheila ALLCOCK, Ron ALLCOCK'S Widow for their help in obtaining images for this page.
                             Copyright 2000 All rights reserved.
                            Revised: 19 July 2006.