[This Day in History – November 25 ]
Establishment of the Barbados Regiment
On November 25, 1948, the Volunteer Force was restored under the new name of the ‘Barbados Regiment.’ The Force had taken an active role in World War II, with several of its Volunteers enlisting, and in 1942 the War Department absorbed the Force into a special Caribbean Regiment. The local Battalion, consisting of members from the Volunteer Force was known as the Barbados Regiment. In 1942, a section of this Battalion, along with forces from neighbouring islands ‘went to the assistance of the forces in Dominica during operation “Gale Force.”’ The Barbados Battalion of the Caribbean Regiment was disbanded in 1947, leaving the island with no subsidiary force, until Governor Sir Hilary Blood, appointed a committee for the reconstruction of the Volunteer Force.
The Barbados Regiment was presented with the Queen’s colours and Regimental colours by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal on February 23rd , 1953, during her visit to the island; thus becoming the first non-regular regiment (Colonial Auxillary Force) to have its own colours.
The Regiment took a unique approach when it began to recruit women into its ranks during 1974. The first of these women was 741898 Woman Private Florence Gittens, who joined the Regiment on March 17th 1974. Gittens quickly became an Officer Cadet (her field was nursing) and, following the completion of basic training, was commissioned as a Lieutenant on October 1st, 1974. Gittens was joined by 741899 Rita Franklin (her field was catering), who enlisted in April 1974 and held the post of Warrant Officer Class 2. These two women paved the way for others to follow.
On August 15th 1979 an Act was passed, converting the Barbados Regiment into the Barbados Defence Force. The Defence Act was crafted by Justice Sherman Moore. The Barbados Defence Force is the name given to the combined armed forces of Barbados. It is comprised of the Barbados Regiment, the main land force component, encompassing both regular and reserve units and the Barbados Coast Guard, which also comprises regular and reserve units. The Barbados Cadet Corps also falls within the ambit of the Barbados Defence Force. The Cadet Corps was created in 1904 following the withdrawal of the British forces. However, it was not until 1909 that the Cadets Corps became affiliated to the Barbados Volunteer Force.