On March 1st 1961, the amalgamation took place of two of England’s finest county regiments, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) and the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment. At the end of the amalgamation parade the two old regiments marched off into history.
The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) had strong historic links with East Kent and Canterbury for over 200 years. The Regiment, raised in 1572, was first ‘associated’ with the area in 1782 and established a Depot in Canterbury in 1817. The regimental depot of The Buffs was permanently based in Canterbury in 1873 and in 1948 the Regiment was honoured with the Freedom of the City.
Since then, bonds between the Regiment and the City continued to be further strengthened with many ‘Old Buffs’ living in Canterbury or the towns and villages of East Kent. Consequently the Queen’s Own Buffs Regimental Association, especially Canterbury and Ramsgate Branches, have been well supported and continue to be so to this day. In addition, the concentration of ‘Old Buffs’ in the immediate neighbourhood has made it possible to maintain the roster of ‘Turning the Page’ in the Warriors’ Chapel in Canterbury Cathedral, which is carried out every weekday by a member of the Regimental Association. This dedication is, in itself, an achievement and the short daily ceremony is probably unique, a true demonstration of Regimental pride. Indeed, the chapel is often called ‘The Buffs Chapel’.
With the closure of The Buffs Depot where the Museum was first located, and in conjunction with the City of Canterbury, it was agreed in 1961 to eventually house the museum in the Beaney Institute, a central and popular venue in the City centre. In this museum the name of The Buffs, its history and traditions were kept well in the public eye.
Following the reopening of the museum in the Beaney Institute no room set aside for The Buffs Regimental Museum. Instead, only one display cabinet has been made available for a very limited number of items covering the Regiment’s history in the 19th century, while many others would be placed in permanent storage in the National Army Museum in Chelsea.
The Regiment existed for nearly four centuries, and was the only English regiment whose history spanned two Elizabethan reigns,
With the demise of The Buffs Museum the name ‘The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)’ and the record of its long and distinguished history of service to the Country, the County of Kent and the City of Canterbury will slowly disappear. In view of this unique history and remembering the supreme sacrifice made by thousands of Buffs over the years, 7,000 names of whom are inscribed in the Books of Life in the Warriors’ Chapel the Friends of The Buffs-Royal East Kent Regiment was formed, determined to keep the unique history of a fine county Regiment firmly in the public eye for as long as possible.
Anyone who has an interest in preserving the name of The Buffs can join, although the initial membership is made up almost entirely of veterans who have served in the Regiment. Details of how to join The Friends can be found within this web site.
The declared aim of the organisation is undertake a variety of projects that will keep the name of the regiment alive. These projects include, regular lectures on the regiment, some have already been carried out this year and have proved to very popular, others are booked. A web site has being designed and will be completed shortly and a DVD on the history of the Regiment has been completed.. Exhibition equipment has been purchased and has been dressed with the history of the Buffs portrayed. It is also proposed to investigate the possibility of organising workshops/presentations on the regiment to local schools in support of their history curriculum. A regular newsletter will also be distributed to members to keep you all in touch with events etc