The 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, was an infantry battalion of the British Army. The battalion was part of the Royal Sussex Regiment and existed from 1908 until 1966 when it was disbanded.
The 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment was raised on 1 April 1908 upon the creation of the Territorial Force, formed by the amalgamation of the Volunteer Force and the Yeomanry. Along with the 4th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, it was attached to the Home Counties Division for training, but was not an integral part of the division.
The 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion was mobilised in August 1914, immediately upon the outbreak of World War I. The 1/5th Battalion was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, which included the Regular 2nd Royal Sussex, 1st Division from February to August 1915. On 20 August it transferred to the 48th (1st South Midland) Division as the pioneer battalion of the division, serving on the Western Front.
The 2/5th Battalion was raised at Hastings in November 1914 from the 'home service' men of the 1/5th Battalion who did not wish to serve overseas, together with the many recruits who came flooding in.
The battalion was mobilised on 1 September 1939, and was initially employed guarding vulnerable points in Sussex. It then moved to Dorset to carry out heavy training for deployment overseas. The HQ Wing seems to have been sent to Cattistock, with the other companies at Toller, Melbury and Evershot. Here they joined with the 2nd and 4th battalions to form the 133rd Infantry Brigade of the 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division.
On 3 April 1940, the battalion left Cattistock for Southampton and was then shipped to Cherbourg on the night of the 8/9 April on board the S.S. Amsterdam. The battalion was made up of 29 Officers and 690 other ranks. During the night of the 9/10 April the Bn was then moved on to Vivoin, and did some final training. The Bn then moved to Belleuse, and then after 2 days marched to St. Pol, with the HQ being set up at Conteville, Somme, with the other companies at Eps, Pas-de-Calais and Hestrus. On 11 May they then moved on to Lillers to perform L or C Duties (Line of Communication ???) also listed as Guard duties. The unit then moved on to Vichtrat Peteghen (Belgium) via Motor transport to take up defensive duties. After arrival they were told to march back 17 miles into France, then after marching all night were ordered to turn round again and head straight back to where they had come from, so marched 35 miles in 24 hours. On 20 May they moved on to Wortegem to take up definsive duties covering the river Escaut, with trenches on the forward slopes.
The battalion started combat on 20 May when they came under shell & mortar fire. On the 22nd the Bn retreated to Coutrai, and then on the 23rd to hospital for incurables at St. Andre (near Lille), 160 casualties were reported here. On 24 May the battalion was sent to Viller Berquin, and on the 25th to Strazelle where they encountered German tanks and took heavy fire. On the 25th/26th they moved on to rouge Croix, taking a defensive position facing Hazebrouck, then pulled back to Mont de Cats. On the 27th they come under heavy fire from Dive Bombers and shells. Finally, on the 28th they retreated via Poperinghe, to Bray Dunes from where they were eventually evacuated.
The battalion, along with the brigade and 44th Division, were evacuated to England. They spent the next two years on home defence and preparing for the German invasion of England, Operation Sea Lion, which never arrived.
In February 1942 the 44th Division was ordered to prepare for overseas service.
In the spring and summer of 1939 the Territorial Army was ordered to be doubled in size by the duplication of existing units to form a 2nd Line, on a similar basis as in the First World War. As such, the 5th Royal Sussex formed a duplicate unit, to be known as the 7th (Cinque Ports) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment which came into existence in June 1939, when the 5th Battalion was almost double its normal strength. The 7th Battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel R. Gethen, with headquarters at Brighton.
The 7th (Cinque Ports) Battalion was assigned to 37th Infantry Brigade, alongside 5th Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) 6th Royal Sussex, part of 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division.