The History of The Royal Welsh

The timeline below shows the history of The Royal Welsh and its component regiments. For further information, click on the white circles for more detail.

1689Colonel Lord Herbert's Regiment of Foot

1689Sir Edward Dering's Regiment of Foot

   

Early days, War of the Spanish Succession

     

1702The Welsh Regiment of Fuzileers

Dering's Regiment and Marlborough's Wars

   

1714The Prince of Wales's Own Royal Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers

 

1719Colonel Edmund Fielding's Regiment of Invalids

 

War of the Austrian Succession

 

Beginnings

175869th Regiment of Foot

175123rd Regiment of Foot, or Royal Welsh Fusiliers

175124th Regiment of Foot

175141st Regiment of Foot (Invalids)

Land and Sea with Nelson

Seven Years' War

 

178741st Regiment of Foot

178269th (South Lincoinshire) Regiment of Foot

American War for Independence

American War for Independence

Ireland and the West Indies

 

War with France, Waterloo

 

Canada, America, France

Quatre Bras, Waterloo

Canada

178224th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot

India, Afghanistan

India, East Indies

   

183141st (The Welsh) Regiment of Foot

 

The Crimea

The Napoleonic Wars

The Crimea

Colonial Service 1826-1881

Indian Mutiny

India, Andaman Islands

The West Indies, India, Aden, Natal

 

Ashanti

Anglo-Zulu War 1879

   

1881The Royal Welsh Fusiliers

1881The South Wales Borderers

1881The Welsh Regiment

 
   

Natal, Egypt, Sudan, Malta

 

Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902

Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902

Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902

 

Boxer Rebellion

     

The First World War

The First World War

The First World War

 
 

Between the Wars

   

1920The Royal Welch Fusiliers

 

1920The Welch Regiment

 

Inter-War Years

 

Between the Wars

 

The Second World War

The Second World War

The Second World War

 
 

Post-War Developments

Cold War, Korea, Cyprus

 
       
 

1969The Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot)

   

Cold War, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, The Balkans, Iraq

Cold War, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, The Balkans, Iraq

   
       
 

2006The Royal Welsh

   
 

Iraq, Afganistan, service continues

   
 

Militia, Volunteers, Territorials , Home Guard and Cadets in Wales

   

The History of The Royal Welsh

Colonel Lord Herbert's Regiment of Foot ' 1689-1713

Early Days

The overthrow of James II and the succession of William III and Mary in early 1689 signalled a major expansion of the Army to oppose James's French and Irish troops in Ireland and the imminent war with France. On 16th March 1689 Henry, 4th Lord Herbert of Chirbury received a warrant to raise volunteers for a regiment of foot to be assembled at Ludlow, with precedence soon to be granted as the 23rd Regiment of Foot.

In the following month he handed over to his cousin Charles and by August Lord Herbert's Regiment joined the army in Ireland to deal with the threat posed by James and his French allies. In June 1690 King William joined his troops in Ireland and on the 1st July led them to victory at the battle of the Boyne. The regiment remained in Ireland and in 1691 took part in the victory at Aughrim, where their Colonel, Charles Herbert, was 'unfortunately taken prisoner, and a few hours later barbarously murdered to prevent his being rescued'.

War of the Spanish Succession - 1702-1713

The overthrow of James II and the succession of William III and Mary in early 1689 signalled a major expansion of the Army to oppose James's French and Irish troops in Ireland and the imminent war with France. On 16th March 1689 Henry, 4th Lord Herbert of Chirbury received a warrant to raise volunteers for a regiment of foot to be assembled at Ludlow, with precedence soon to be granted as the 23rd Regiment of Foot.

In the following month he handed over to his cousin Charles and by August Lord Herbert's Regiment joined the army in Ireland to deal with the threat posed by James and his French allies. In June 1690 King William joined his troops in Ireland and on the 1st July led them to victory at the battle of the Boyne. The regiment remained in Ireland and in 1691 took part in the victory at Aughrim, where their Colonel, Charles Herbert, was 'unfortunately taken prisoner, and a few hours later barbarously murdered to prevent his being rescued'.

The History of The Royal Welsh

Colonel Sir Edward Dering's Regiment of Foot

Early Days - Dering's Regiment

It is often said that if one gets off to a good start one never looks back. Dering's Regiment, later to become known as the 24th Regiment, is a good example of the truth in that saying.

On the 8th March 1689, King William issued a commission to Sir Edward Dering to raise a regiment of foot. The first muster took place on 28th March 1689, and in August that year the new regiment embarked for its first campaign in Ireland under the command of General Lord Schomberg. They served throughout the three years of a campaign of great hardship and sickness, which ended in the fall of Limerick and the withdrawal of the French in August 1692.

Marlborough's Wars ' 1702-1713

In November 1700 Charles II of Spain died, leaving his dominions in Spain, the Netherlands and the Americas to Philip of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV of France. King William immediately ordered the twelve regiments in Ireland to embark for Holland. The regiment under Colonel William Seymour sailed from Cork in June 1701.

In February 1702, William Seymour transferred to the Queen's Regiment and John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, Commander-in-Chief of King William's forces on the Continent and one of England's greatest soldiers, took over as Colonel of the Regiment. The regiment served throughout the War of the Spanish Succession and fought at the famous battles of Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709).

Marlborough was the first senior commander who really cared for the welfare of his troops. This Marlborough tradition, maintained over the years, has helped to foster the family spirit which has always been a marked feature of the regiment and has led to many outstanding achievements and the award of twenty-three Victoria Crosses to its soldiers.

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Prince of Wales's Own Royal Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers ' 1713-1751

War of the Austrian Succession ' 1742-1748

For the next thirty years the regiment remained in England, with occasional forays north of the border, once to help in the suppression of the Porteous Riots in Edinburgh. Peace, which rarely lasted for long in eighteenth-century Europe, ended in 1740. Britain managed to avoid involvement until 1742 when an expeditionary force, including the 23rd Foot, sailed for Holland. At the battle of Dettingen in 1743, in which George II was the last British Sovereign to lead his army in battle, Colonel Newsham Peers became the last Colonel of the Welch Fusiliers to lead his Regiment in person and died so doing. To commemorate this battle the White Horse of Hanover is carried on the regimental colour. At Fontenoy in 1745 although defeated the British army was not disgraced, and the 23rd were one of heaviest sufferers, sustaining over three hundred casualties. After the battle, as a reward for his gallant conduct, Sergeant Peter Hewitt was granted a commission in the regiment, almost certainly the first recorded incidence in the history of the regiment.

The History of The Royal Welsh

Colonel Edmund Fielding's Regiment of Invalids

Beginnings ' 1719-1787

A forerunner of the later Veteran Battalions the regiment was raised from out-pensioners of the Royal Hospital Chelsea for garrison duty at home. Known originally as 'Colonel Edmund Fielding's Regiment of Invalids', its Colonel was like many of the pensioners a veteran of Marlborough's wars. Many were partially disabled, but all were considered capable of performing the duties required of a soldier in garrison. On 1st July 1751, the regiment was numbered 41st and re-designated as the 41st Foot (or Invalids). Its service was confined mainly to the Portsmouth garrison with detachments at Plymouth and Channel Islands.

On 11th December 1787, the Invalids character of the regiment was abandoned and the out-pensioners discharged. Re-categorised as a marching regiment of the line, younger men were recruited in preparation for active or general service at home or abroad. The strong links with the Royal Hospital Chelsea continue to this day.

The History of The Royal Welsh

69th Regiment of Foot ' 1758-1782

By Land and Sea

Raised as a 2nd Battalion to the 24th Foot in 1756, the regiment was shortly after its formation placed at the disposal of the Admiralty for service with the Fleet. Re-numbered as a regiment in its own right the battalion in April 1758 was re-designated as the 69th Foot. Although intermittent, its sea service between 1757 and 1800 was extensive. As a result of their 'numbering', the 69th acquired the sobriquet 'The Ups and Downs'.

Naval Honours

The regiment saw service on land in the West Indies, at home, in France, and in 1794 in Corsica. However, it was its service as marines with the Fleet which are best remembered today. On the 12th April 1782, the regiment served as the Marines in Hood's division of Admiral Rodney's fleet at the Battle of the Saints, which secured control of the Caribbean for the British. A detachment was present with Howe's fleet at the battle known as the Glorious First of June, 1794. Following service at sea in the Mediterranean detachments served with distinction with Sir John Jervis's fleet at the Battle of St. Vincent, 14th February 1797.

The Welch Regiment in its day was unique in being the only British regiment to carry two naval battle honours on its regimental colour, namely a Naval Crown superscribed 12th April l782, for the Battle of the Saints and a battle honour scroll 'St. Vincent' to mark its services on the 14th February 1797. The honours and their uniqueness continue today.

For more, please download the fact sheet on Naval Honours

The History of The Royal Welsh

23rd Regiment of Foot or Royal Welsh Fusiliers

Seven Years' War- 1755-1763

The outbreak of war in 1756 found the 23rd as part of the garrison of the island of Minorca, that included the 24th Foot. Britain was on the side of Prussia against Austria, France and Russia. A large French force attacked the island, but the defenders held out for two months. Eventually the small garrison was overwhelmed and had to surrender. As a mark of respect for their gallant defence the regiments were allowed to march out with all the honours of war, namely 'fire-locks on their shoulders, drums beating, colours flying .... '. The losses of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers exceeded those of any other regiment.

In the same year a second battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers was raised, in which Captain Peter Hewitt of Fontenoy fame, was a company commander. In 1758 it was formed into a separate regiment, the 68th, later the Durham Light Infantry

In July 1759 the 23rd were part of an allied army under Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick confronting the French who were established close to the fortress of Minden on the river Weser. Although outnumbered Ferdinand was determined to bring the French to battle. At last he succeeded and on 1st August the two armies faced each other in battle array. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers were in Waldegrave's Brigade with the 12th and 37th Regiments, with the 20th, 25th, and 51st forming a second line to the rear. An Aide-de-Camp gave Waldegrave the warning order that 'when the troops advance, they will do so with drums beating'. Waldegrave, assuming this to be an executive order, led his three battalions towards the French cavalry. The latter, with massive artillery support, advanced to the charge. The steadfast British line held its fire until the last, with devastating effect, and dead men and horses soon lay around them. After three hours of fighting the French army was in flight. The 23rd had suffered forty per cent casualties. The behaviour of the six British battalions was a marvellous example of skill, courage, discipline and firepower. The French commander, Marshal Contades, said later 'I never thought to see a single line of infantry break through three lines of cavalry ranked in order of battle and tumble them to ruin'. The war continued until a peace treaty was signed at Fontainebleau in 1762.

Thirteen years of peace followed which the 23rd spent at home. Following a review by George III in 1771 a newspaper, the Gazeteer, reported that 'The Royal Regiment of Welch Fuzileers is as well known to all veterans in Europe as any regiment in their respective nations'.

The History of The Royal Welsh

23rd Regiment of Foot or Royal Welsh Fusiliers

War of American Independence 1775-1783

In 1773 the regiment sailed for America where it was soon embroiled in the conflict with the disaffected colonists. The 23rd were in the thick of the fighting and particularly distinguished themselves at the battles of Bunker Hill in 1775 and Guilford Court House in 1781. Leadership of the army in America was less than impressive, and in September 1781 American troops invested Yorktown, the garrison of which included the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. They were holding a redoubt at the end of the line and beat off three major assaults. In the face of overwhelming odds General Cornwallis offered to surrender. Those who could stand marched out with the Honours of War, and the Colours of the regiment were saved by being concealed under the jackets of officers. The Fusilier Redoubt, with its memorial to the regiment, marks the spot to this day. A contemporary diary records that 'Even the French ... gave the Royal Welsh Fuziliers their unqualified approbation and praise for their intrepidity and firmness in repulsing three attacks made by such vastly superior numbers on the redoubt and could not easily believe that so few men had defended it'. In 1783 the war ended and in the following year the regiment was back in Britain.

For more, please download the fact sheet on American War

The History of The Royal Welsh

24th Regiment of Foot ' 1751-1782

American War for Independence - 1775-1783

Early in 1776 two expeditions were sent from England to quell the rebellion in North America. The main force under Sir William Howe was directed against New York, where he would await the arrival of the second force who would join him after relieving Quebec. By the time that the 24th Regiment arrived in Canada, Quebec had been relieved and the Americans were in full retreat to the Border. The advance South under General Burgoyne began in June 1777 and continued for two months. The 24th Regiment, as part of the advance guard, were frequently in action. By 17th September 1777, Burgoyne's army had reached Stillwater, near Saratoga, where 10,000 Americans under General Gates were entrenched. Through lack of provisions and reinforcements, Burgoyne found his position untenable and he withdrew. The force was soon overtaken by the Americans and Burgoyne was forced to surrender at Saratoga. The campaign ended in disaster, but the 24th have no reason to be anything but proud of the part they played in it by showing the true soldierly qualities of hard marching, initiative, self-reliance and good discipline.

In 1782, the 24th Regiment was instructed to style itself the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot, and it was under this title that the regiment was known for the next one hundred years.

The History of The Royal Welsh

41st Regiment of Foot

Ireland and The West Indies - 1787-1796

A great deal of time was devoted to recruiting in 1788, a year which on 23rd January saw Lieutenant the Honourable Arthur Wesley (Wellesley) exchange from the 76th Foot into the regiment. Wellesley, afterwards the Duke of Wellington, was a 'bird of passage' who moved on into the 12th Light Dragoons within 17 months, but his connection was always proudly valued by the regiment.

In 1793 the 41st embarked at Cork for the West Indies where they were present at the capture of Martinique, St. Lucia and Guadeloupe, and in operations in San Domingo (Haiti/Dominican Republic). In 1796 surviving private soldiers were transferred to the 17th Foot. The Officers and NCOs disembarked at Portsmouth in October of the same year.

The History of The Royal Welsh

23rd Regiment of Foot or Royal Welsh Fusiliers

French Revolutionary War - 1793-1801

The advent of the French Revolution in 1789, and the subsequent rise to power of Napoleon, led to almost twenty-five years of war in Europe and the New World. In the early years Britain’s share of the fighting was limited to naval actions and small expeditions such as those to Santa Domingo (Haiti) in the West Indies, Ostend, North Holland, and Ferrol in Spain, in all of which the Royal Welsh Fusiliers took part. In 1797 a number of naval mutinies broke out. The regiment was despatched to the Nore to stop the mutineers from landing. On arrival an attempt was made to suborn the soldiers, but they resisted and submitted the following address to the King: “How much we detest the infamous attempts made on the minds of the army of late, in the distribution of certain seditious handbills. We are happy to say that no atrocious villain has ever yet been daring enough to attempt by artifice (or otherwise) to seduce the Royal Welsh Fuzileers from their hitherto unerring fidelity”. It is believed that the King’s gratification was such that he gave permission for the officers of the regiment to dispense with the drinking of the Loyal Toast, a tradition which continues to this day.

In 1799 an amphibious expedition was despatched to the Helder to capture the Dutch fleet and to raise a rebellion in Holland. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers were amongst the first ashore and secured a beachhead. After the capture of a number of Dutch ships it was decided to evacuate the force. Nearly half of the regiment, including a number of women and children, were embarked on a captured Dutch frigate, the Valk, with an inexperienced Dutch crew. A sudden storm drove the ship onto a sandbank, and 235 were drowned.

The Napoleonic Wars - 1801-1814

An expedition in 1801 under Sir Ralph Abercromby drove Napoleon’s forces out of Egypt. The 23rd, which was in Sir John Moore’s Brigade, were amongst the first to land. Fixing bayonets, they rushed up the sandy hills and drove the French from them. This ensured the safe landing of the rest of the army which led to the surrender of Alexandria and complete victory. In recognition of their conduct the troops received the thanks of Parliament and permission to bear the Sphinx on their Colours with the honour Egypt.

After Egypt the regiment returned to Gibraltar and thence to England. In 1807 they took part in the seizure of the Danish fleet at Copenhagen, and in 1808 were stationed in Nova Scotia. In January 1809 they were part of a successful expedition sent to take the island of Martinique in the West Indies, and captured a French eagle standard, one of four surrendered when Fort Bourbon capitulated. They returned to Nova Scotia where they remained until 1810.

Meanwhile, in 1804, the regiment was instructed to raise a second battalion. Initially stationed in England, in 1808 it was despatched to Portugal to reinforce the army of Sir John Moore, who was supporting Spanish guerrillas against the French. Learning that the former had been routed, and that Napoleon, with a vastly superior army, intended to envelop and rout the British, General Moore began his famous retreat to Coruňa. The men suffered terribly from a lack of supplies in the snow-covered mountains but, thanks to their discipline Coruňa was reached. The next day, when the army was embarked, the rearguard was commanded by Captain Thomas Fletcher of the 23rd. Being the last to leave, Fletcher pocketed the keys with which his corporal had locked the gates, and to this day the keys of Coruňa, with the marks where a bayonet was used to turn them, may be seen in the Regimental Museum in Caernarfon Castle. Shortly after its return from Portugal the 2nd Battalion took part in the expedition to capture the French fleet at Antwerp. It failed, and the troops were brought home seriously weakened by sickness; thus ended the war services of the 2nd Battalion which was disbanded in 1814 on the reduction of the army.

For more, please download the fact sheet on Egypt and Curuňa

In November 1810 the 1st Battalion left Nova Scotia to join Wellington’s army in Portugal, where the Peninsular War was hanging in the balance. The 23rd, together with the 1st and 2nd Battalions The Royal Fusiliers, were in the Fusilier Brigade which formed part of Cole’s 4th Division. On 16th May 1811 an allied army under Beresford was drawn up near Albuera. The French attacked and seized some high ground from which they were able to rake the whole British position. Two counter attacks failed and retreat appeared almost inevitable when the 4th Division was brought up as a last resort. Emerging through the midst of the smoke they met with a fearful discharge of grape and in the words of Napier: “The fuzileer battalions, struck by the iron tempest, reeled and staggered like sinking ships; but suddenly and sternly recovering they closed on their terrible enemies, and then was seen with what a strength and majesty the British soldier fights ... Nothing could stop that astonishing infantry ... their dreadful volleys swept away the head of every formation”. In the battle the 23rd Foot suffered 340 casualties.

For more, please download the fact sheet on Albuera

Waterloo – 1815

The regiment had earned another eight Battle Honours in the Peninsula before Napoleon was forced to abdicate in April 1814. The peace, however, was short-lived for he soon escaped from Elba and on 18th June 1815 Wellington and Napoleon faced each other at Waterloo. Just before the battle Wellington wrote, “I saw the 23rd the other day, and I never saw a regiment in such order. They are not strong, but it was the most complete and handsome military body I ever looked at”. Starting the battle in reserve it was not long before they were engaged, and they took part in the final rout of the Imperial Guard, in which their highly regarded commanding officer, Colonel Henry Walton Ellis, was mortally wounded. As a reward for the victory every private soldier received a medal, and prize money of £2.11s.4d (£2.62). The defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo brought peace once again, and this time it was almost forty years before Britain was involved in another European war. The regiment served with the army of occupation in France until 1818, and then spent five years in Ireland before being posted to Gibraltar (1823-1827) and Portugal (1827-1834).

For more, please download the fact sheet on Waterloo

The History of The Royal Welsh

41st Regiment of Foot

Canada - The Anglo-American War of 1812-1814
France - With the Army of Occupation 1815

In August l799, the 41st embarked at Cork for Canada where in 1812 a declaration of war by the United States destroyed any hopes of an early homeward passage. The corps gained the distinction of being amongst the small number of British line regiments, who with Canadian support saved Canada for later independence. During the difficult campaign, the 41st was reinforced by a 2nd Battalion (raised 1812). United as one battalion, they were actively engaged until the war ended in December 1814. In June 1815, the battalion arriving in Spithead was diverted to Belgium and thence Paris to join Wellington?s Army of Occupation. In November they returned to England and in due course received the battle honours Detroit, Queenstown, Miami and Niagara for their campaign in North America.

For more, please download the fact sheet on the war of 1812

The History of The Royal Welsh

69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot

Quatre Bras and Waterloo - 1815

A 2nd Battalion of 69th Foot was raised under the Additional Forces Act, July 1803. In March 1814, the 2nd Battalion took part in the disastrous assault on Bergen op Zoom. Later as part of Halkett’s 5th British Brigade, the battalion due to mishandling by the Prince of Orange was badly cut up at Quatre Bras and lost its King’s Colour. The battalion on 18th June 1815 fought again at Waterloo and by that service added the battle honour Waterloo to the colour of the 69th Regiment. The 2nd Battalion was in 1816 disbanded as part of a general plan of demobilisation and its remaining personnel absorbed into the 1/69th Foot then serving in India.

For more, please download the fact sheet on Quatre Bras and Waterloo

The History of The Royal Welsh

23rd Regiment of Foot or Royal Welsh Fusiliers

Canada – 1838-1853

The Battalion remained in England for two years before proceeding to Ireland. In 1838 it sailed for Canada where, in 1842, it was joined by the newly raised Reserve Battalion. In the following year the 1st Battalion left Canada for the West Indies, where it remained until it returned to England, via Canada, in 1848. The 2nd Battalion suffered a tragedy in 1850 when the steamer Commerce, which was carrying a company on Lake Erie, collided with another ship and sank with the loss of thirty-three, including families. The Officers’ Mess silver was also lost. Three years later the Battalion returned home to be disbanded with personnel being transferred to the 1st Battalion.

The History of The Royal Welsh

41st (The Welsh) Regiment of Foot

Campaigning in Burma - 1826
The 1st Afghan War- 1842-1843

In 1822 the 41st embarked at Gravesend for India and by 1824 was serving with Sir Colin Campbell’s expeditionary force to the Kingdom of Ava (now Burma), where until March 1826 they were involved in the 1st Burma War. That campaign was followed by years of garrison duty in India, a period highlighted mainly by the territorialisation of the regiment as the 41st or The Welsh Regiment of Infantry in February 1831. In 1842 the regiment formed part an Army of Retribution which launched a two pronged attack on Afghanistan. Included in General Nott’s Column, its services in the arduous campaign was later marked by the award of the battle honours Candahar, Ghuznee and Cabul. Returning to the United Kingdom in 1843, the regiment served in South Wales. In 1845 it moved on to Ireland and garrison duties until 1851.

The History of The Royal Welsh

69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot

India and the East Indies – 1805-1826

The 69th disembarked at Madras in July 1805. At Vellore in July 1806, the regiment survived an attack by mutinous sepoys losing two officers and 80 other ranks. After service in the Travancore campaign in 1809, the regiment in 1810 was present at the capture of Bourbon (Reunion Island) and Mauritius; and in 1811 was included in Auchmuty’s expeditionary force which captured Java. The next 14 years were spent expanding and consolidating British influence in India, and service in the Mahratta War 1817-1820. In February l826, the 69th disembarked at Gravesend and was on 30th May awarded the battle honour India in recognition of its distinguished service in that sub-continent.

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Crimean War – 1854-1856

India and the East Indies – 1805-1826

In 1854 the Crimean War broke out between Russia and Turkey, with Britain and France on the side of the latter. In April the 23rd embarked at Southampton and were amongst the first to land in the Crimea, at Kalamita Bay, 35 miles north of Sevastopol. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers formed part of the Light Division. Soon after the advance on Sevastopol began the allies were threatened by a Russian force drawn up on high ground behind the River Alma, with the ‘Great Redoubt’ containing fourteen heavy guns, in the centre. This redoubt was the objective of the Light Division. On 20th September, as the 23rd surged up the steep slope towards the redoubt, the Ensigns carrying the Colours were killed. Sergeant Luke O’Connor, already badly wounded, seized the Queen’s Colour and dashing forward succeeded in planting it on the redoubt. In the confusion Captain Edward Bell captured a Russian gun almost single-handed and took it back to the British lines. A Russian counter attack drove the Light Division from the redoubt but, reinforced by the 1st Division, they succeeded in recapturing it. The 23rd sustained over 200 casualties in the battle, including the Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Chester. Captain Bell and Sergeant O’Connor were both awarded the Victoria Cross; the latter being commissioned in the field.

The siege of Sevastopol, which began in November, was sustained throughout the terrible Russian winter during which the soldiers suffered appalling hardships, and continued until it fell on the 8th September 1855. The 23rd took part in the final assault on the Redan which, although it ended in failure, earned the regiment two more Victoria Crosses. They were awarded to Assistant Surgeon Sylvester and Corporal Shields who, under heavy fire, brought in the mortally wounded Adjutant. Casualties in the assault totalled 263.

For more, please download the fact sheet on the Crimea

The History of The Royal Welsh

24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot

The Napoleonic Wars - 1801-1813

In June 1801, five regiments including the 24th Regiment were sent to Egypt to reinforce the British force under General Hutchinson fighting the French. They arrived to take part in the capture of Alexandria which ended the campaign. The 24th, together with the other regiments engaged, were awarded the Sphinx, superscribed Egypt which was later an insignia on the Regimental Colour and the collar badge of the regiment.

In August 1805, the battalion sailed under Sir David Baird, later to become Colonel of 24th, to the Cape of Good Hope. By January 1806 at Blaauwberg, the Dutch forces had surrendered and Cape was secured.

In September 1804, a 2nd Battalion was raised and took part in Wellington’s great victories in Spain gaining nine Battle Honours for the regiment. The most significant and hardest was Talavera in July 1809 when the 2nd/24th held their line, suffered many casualties but allowed the Foot Guards to re-form in the rear to secure a famous victory for Wellington.

The History of The Royal Welsh

41st (The Welsh) Regiment of Foot

Garrison Duty at Home and Abroad - 1842-1853
The Crimean War – 1854-1855

The 41st embarked from Ireland for the Mediterranean in 1851 where for two years they formed the Ionian Islands garrison. As part of the British Second Division, the regiment in September 1854 landed in the Crimea and subsequently fought in and gained battle honours for the battles of the Alma, Inkerman and the Siege of Sebastopol. Two Victoria Crosses and seventeen Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded to members of the 41st for gallantry during the campaign. The regiment disembarked at Portsmouth on 28th July 1856, and on the following day were together with other Crimea veterans reviewed by HM Queen Victoria at Aldershot.

For more, please download the fact sheet on Crimean campaign

The History of The Royal Welsh

69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot

The ‘Ups and Downs’ on Colonial Service – 1826-1881

This period saw the 69th serve on garrison duty in England (l826-1831) the West Indies and Demerara, South America (1831-1838), Nova Scotia (1839-1842) and then England. From 1847 to 1851 the regiment served in Malta then moved on to the West Indies in 1851. Back in England in 1857, the Ups and Downs were within six months on their way to Burma, and were the first regiment to use the overland route via Egypt to the East. From India in 1864 the 69th returned to England prior to embarking in 1867 for Canada. In 1870 on the United States/Canadian border the regiment successfully routed an incursion by Fenians into Canadian territory, an action which earned for battalion members the Canada General Service Medal. Later that same year the 69th moved to Bermuda and in 1873 back to Europe and the Gibraltar garrison. In 1878 the regiment returned to England where in July 1881, it was re-designated as the 2nd Battalion, The Welsh Regiment.

The History of The Royal Welsh

23rd Regiment of Foot or Royal Welsh Fusiliers

The Indian Mutiny- 1857-1859

With the war over, the 23rd returned to Britain, but it was not long before they were again on active service abroad. In 1857 they embarked for China, but the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny caused them to be diverted, and they joined Sir Colin Campbell’s relieving force near Lucknow. During the evacuation Lieutenant Hackett and Boy George Monger, aged only seventeen, brought in a seriously wounded corporal whilst ‘exposed to a heavy musketry fire’. For this display of gallantry both were awarded the Victoria Cross. In March 1858 the Battalion participated in the recapture of Lucknow, earning high praise for its part in the capture of the Residency with “the 23rd Fusiliers charging through the gateway, and driving the enemy before them at the point of the bayonet….”. They remained in India until 1869 when they returned to Britain.

The History of The Royal Welsh

24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot

India: The 2nd Sikh war – 1848-1849

In 1849 the 1st Battalion of the 24th fought as part of General Sir Hugh Gough’s Army of the Punjab at Chillianwallah in the 2nd Sikh War. On this occasion its conduct inspired General Colin Campbell to write: “It is impossible for any troops to have surpassed the gallantry displayed in this attack. This single regiment actually broke the enemy’s line and took the large number of guns to their front”. In 1866, an impressive regimental memorial was erected in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to remember those killed at Chillianwallah on 13th January 1849. It is the only regiment to be honoured there in this way.

For more, please download the fact sheet on Chillianwallah

The Andaman Islands - 1867

In 1867 the 24th was stationed at Rangoon, with a detachment of 3 officers and 100 soldiers in the Andaman Islands. In May that year the crew of a British ship was reported to have been murdered by natives of the Little Andaman, and a party was sent to investigate. On arrival at the reputed place of the massacre, two boats were put ashore, due to the heavy surf only one reached the shore. The landing party were able to discover the bodies of the murdered crew, but hostile natives soon appeared. The shore party’s ammunition was soon exhausted in their attempt to escape and re-float their boat when it was upset in the surf. Several attempts were made to rescue the shore party, but finally the second boat, crewed by Assistant-Surgeon Douglas and Privates Bell, Cooper, Griffiths and Murphy, which had remained off-shore, managed to pick up the men by making two trips through the difficult waters and thus saving the soldiers from certain death. The crew of the rescue boat were later to receive the Victoria Cross – the first members of the 24th to be given this recently established but much coveted decoration.

The History of The Royal Welsh

41st (The Welsh) Regiment of Foot

The West Indies, India, Aden and Natal – 1857-1881

In January 1857 the Welsh embarked at Portsmouth for the West Indies to serve in garrison at Trinidad and Barbados and Jamaica where they remained April 1860. At Sheffield in 1862, the regiment received from the Queen a white billygoat from the Royal herd as replacement for its Russian goat which had died in the West Indies. From Ireland in 1865 the regiment embarked for India. Service in the sub continent was followed in 1874 by a year in the Aden garrison prior to returning to the United Kingdom in March 1875. Service at home which included some time in Pembrokeshire was in 1880 followed by seven months in the Gibraltar garrison and then service in Natal policing the colony in the aftermath of the Zulu campaign. There in July 1881, a new territorial system saw the 41st (The Welsh) united with the 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment to form respectively the 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Welsh Regiment. The reorganisation saw the Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry Militia become the Regiment’s third battalion and four South Wales Rifle Volunteer Corps affiliated as Volunteer Battalions of the regiment. A new regimental depot was established at the then recently completed Maindy Barracks in Cardiff.

The History of The Royal Welsh

23rd Regiment of Foot or Royal Welsh Fusiliers

Colonial Wars – 1873-1891

Meanwhile, in 1858, a second battalion was formed yet again. In 1873-1874 it took part in the expedition under Sir Garnet Wolseley to Asante (Ashanti) on the west coast of Africa. Their task was to punish the Asante people for raiding and plundering settled tribes in the Gold Coast. A long march through dense jungle led to the capital, Kumasi, which was razed to the ground. “So ended”, wrote Wolseley, “the most horrible war I ever took part in”.

After a tour in Ireland the 1st Battalion embarked in 1880 for India, where it was to remain for the next sixteen years, two of which were spent on operations in Burma, including the capture of King Theebaw at Mandalay. In 1891 it was on the North West Frontier of India as part of the Hazara Black Mountain Expedition. It returned to Britain in 1896 and was at Pembroke Dock in 1899 when war broke out in South Africa. The 2nd Battalion, following its return from Asante, was stationed in Gibraltar until 1880. After a short tour in Britain it arrived in Ireland in 1883 where it remained until 1892. In January 1899 it reached Hong Kong via Britain, Malta, and Crete.

The History of The Royal Welsh

24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot

The South African campaigns – 1877-1879

Both 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 24th were engaged in the Ninth Frontier War in the Eastern Cape in 1877-1878 and subsequent war against the Zulus in 1879. On 22nd January 1879, five companies of the 1st Battalion and one company of the 2nd, in camp at Isandlwana, were attacked by a great mass of Zulus. Surrounded and greatly outnumbered, they fought desperately but were finally overwhelmed when the supply of ammunition failed. 21 officers and 575 men of the regiment perished that day and only 10 soldiers of the 24th escaped with their lives.

When it was evident that all was lost, Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill were ordered to save the Queen’s Colour of the 1st Battalion. They fought their way through to the Buffalo River, but there, both officers were killed. Some two weeks later the Colour was recovered from the muddy waters of the Buffalo and restored to the battalion. The families of Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill later received their posthumous Victoria Crosses.

Meanwhile, B Company 2nd/24th, under Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead was at Rorke’s Drift, some ten miles from the scene of the disaster. That same afternoon the victorious Zulus swept on, and some 4,000 of them launched a series of fierce attacks on the tiny garrison at Rorke’s Drift. The attacks continued until the early hours of the next morning but were all beaten off. This action undoubtedly saved Natal from invasion. Of the 24th, Lieutenant Bromhead and six NCOs and men were awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Rorke’s Drift. No other regiment has been awarded seven Victoria Crosses for a single action.

For more, please download the fact sheet on Anglo-Zulu War

For more, please download the Rorke’s Drift Roll

On the return of the 1st Battalion from South Africa, Queen Victoria expressed a wish to see the Isandlwana Colour recovered from Buffalo river, and with her own hands placed upon it a wreath of immortelles (dried flowers), directing that a silver replica should always be borne round the staff of the Queen’s Colour of both battalions, to commemorate the devotion of Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill and the noble defence of Rorke’s Drift by B Company of the 2nd Battalion. This Queen’s Colour was carried by the 1st Battalion until 1933, and now hangs in the Regimental Chapel in Brecon Cathedral. Beneath it, in an oaken case, is Queen Victoria’s original wreath.

For more, please download the fact sheet on Anglo-Zulu war Colours

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers

Second Anglo-Boer War - 1899-1902

War with the Boers broke out in 1899 and an Army Corps was despatched to South Africa. The 1st Battalion reached Durban in November where they joined the 6th Fusilier Brigade, part of the column marching to the relief of Ladysmith. Their first major engagement was at Horse Shoe Hill in February 1900, where the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Thorold was killed. This was followed by the triumphal entry into Ladysmith on 3rd March. For the rest of the war the Battalion was engaged on anti-guerrilla operations to protect army supply lines from Boer detachments. It was a thankless task that involved prodigious feats of marching in blazing sun and bitter cold, through dust storms, and always short of food and shelter. Peace was signed in May 1902 and in the following year the Battalion returned to England.

For more, please download the fact sheet on the Anglo-Boer War

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Welsh Regiment

Natal, Egypt, The Sudan, Malta and the United Kingdom 1881-1898

In 1886, the 1st Battalion moved from Natal to Egypt where on 20th December 1888, a half battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel CC Smyth saw action against a Dervish force at Fort Gemaizah near Suakim. In 1889 the battalion mounted infantry were active against Dervishes in the vicinity of Tosci. After Egypt the battalion moved to Malta and thence to Wales and Pembroke Dock in December 1893. There in March 1895 a disastrous fire resulted in the loss of much officers mess silver and many early manuscript regimental records. Meanwhile the 2nd Battalion served at home, Ireland and then moved to India..

The History of The Royal Welsh

The South Wales Borderers

The Cardwell Reforms - 1873-1881

By 1873, the 24th Regiment was recruiting mainly from Welsh border counties (Cardigan, Radnor, Brecknock and Monmouth) and its Depot was established in Brecon. It was therefore logical that in 1881 when the whole Army was given territorial titles, it should assume the title of The South Wales Borderers. Shortly after this the Volunteer Battalions of Monmouthshire, as well as those of Brecknock and Radnor, were affiliated to the regiment. It was at this time that the 24th lost their grass green facings for white. Happily, this distinction was restored in 1905.

The Second Anglo-Boer War – 1899-1902

After ‘Black Week’ in December 1899, the 2nd Battalion was sent to South Africa. The Boer War also gave a first-ever chance for the Volunteer and Militia units of the South Wales Borderers of active overseas service. The success of the volunteers saw the creation of the Monmouthshire Regiment (TF) in 1908 from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Volunteer Battalions of the South Wales Borderers.

For more, please download the fact sheet on the Anglo-Boer war

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Welsh Regiment

The Second Anglo-Boer War – 1899-1902
The Haldane Reforms - 1908

The war in South Africa saw the 1st Battalion disembark at Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape in November 1899 to participate in a war where for the first time the regulars of the battalion found themselves supported by Volunteer companies drawn from the four Volunteer Battalions of The Welsh Regiment at home in South Wales. In April 1908 the implementation of the Haldane reforms resulted in the 3rd (Militia) Battalion being re-categorised as Special Reserve and four new battalions for the Territorial Force were created from the Volunteer battalions of the regiment.

For more, please download the fact sheet on the Anglo-Boer war

Prelude to War – 1903-1913

On its return to the United Kingdom from South Africa in 1904, the 1st Battalion enjoyed some home service prior to embarking in December 1909 for service in Egypt and the Sudan. In February 1914, the battalion moved on to India where at the outbreak of World War 1, it was stationed at Chakrata. Ordered back to the United Kingdom, the 1st Battalion was brought up to war establishment and embarked for France on 16th January 1915.

From England in 1892, the 2nd Battalion embarked for India. After almost fourteen years in the sub-continent, in 1906 the 2nd Battalion moved to garrison duties in South Africa before returning to the United Kingdom in 1910. The battalion was for a period stationed at Pembroke Dock, but moved to Bordon just prior to the outbreak of World War 1. It embarked for France on 12th August 1914 where with the 6th Battalion (TF) it represented the regiment in ‘Britain’s Contemptible little Army’.

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers- 1900-1913

Boxer Rebellion - 1900

The 2nd Battalion meanwhile had been despatched from Hong Kong to China in June 1900 where the ‘Boxers’, a secret society of xenophobes, were besieging the foreigners sheltering in the British Legation in Peking. The Battalion fought alongside the United States Marine Corps at Tientsin, and later at the relief of Peking, thus beginning a close relationship that exists to this day. The Battle Honour ‘Pekin 1900’ is unique to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, as they were the only British infantry regiment present.

In 1901 the regiment was honoured when the Prince of Wales, later King George V, became its first Colonel-in-Chief.

During the short time remaining until the outbreak of the First World War, the 1st Battalion served in Britain and Ireland before being posted to Malta in January 1914. The 2nd Battalion was in India from 1902 until it returned to England in March 1914. It had been abroad for eighteen years. When passing Malta, there was an opportunity for officers of both battalions to meet. This was also the year that Major General Sir Luke O’Connor VC, of Alma fame, was appointed Colonel of the Regiment.

For more, please download the fact sheet on the Boxer Rebellion

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers- 1900-1913

The Great War – 1914-1918

The assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne at Sarajevo in June 1914 plunged Europe into war. At the time the regiment consisted of seven battalions: two regular - the 1st and 2nd considered by many to be elite battalions; the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion; and four Territorial battalions - the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th. By 1917 that number had risen to forty battalions, of which over half saw active service abroad. It is impossible in the space available to do more than give the briefest indication of the part played by the regiment in the War.

The 2nd Battalion, recently returned to Britain from India, was the first to be engaged in Europe, at Mons in August 1914. The 1st Battalion followed in October, and by the end of the month it had been virtually annihilated. In November they were joined in France by the 1/4th (Denbighshire) Battalion. In the meantime Lord Kitchener had called for a hundred thousand volunteers, and Lloyd George and other prominent Welshmen determined to raise a Welsh Army Corps. Such were the numbers who flocked to the recruiting offices that the Territorial Force battalions formed second and third line battalions, and ‘service’ battalions were raised from scratch, two of which were enlisted in London.

In May 1915 the 1st Battalion played a distinguished part in the battle of Festubert in which Company Sergeant Major Barter together with eight men seized and held five hundred yards of trench. The Battalion suffered five hundred and fifty casualties and Barter was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Meanwhile, the landing at Gallipoli had got off to an inauspicious start in April. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross at Sedd-el-Bahr when, as a staff officer and armed only with a cane, he led a disparate group of soldiers against a key Turkish position and was killed as it was overrun. The 8th (Service) Battalion landed at Anzac Cove in June in support of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and they were followed in August at Suvla Bay by 53rd (Welsh) Division which included the 1/5th, 1/6th and l/7th Battalions.

During 1915 seven more Service Battalions, the 9th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th, arrived in France, the last five in 38th (Welsh) Division. The 11th (Service) Battalion went to Macedonia (Salonika) in November where it was engaged alongside the Serbs against Austrians, Germans and Bulgarians until the end of the war in an inhospitable terrain made worse by the presence of malarial mosquitoes.

In 1916, ten battalions were engaged in the battle of the Somme, including those in 38th Division, which fought with great heroism at Mametz Wood. By the time the Germans had been cleared from the wood, the Royal Welsh losses amounted to well over 1,000 men, and included four out of five commanding officers. On 20th July, Corporal Joseph Davies and Private Albert Hill, both of the 10th Battalion, were awarded Victoria Crosses for their gallantry in attacking, killing and driving off superior numbers of Germans at Delville Wood.

In February 1916 the 8th Battalion was sent to Mesopotamia (Iraq) as part of the force involved in the abortive attempt to relieve the troops besieged at Kut al Amara. It remained in Mesopotamia until the end of the war.

In Europe, 1917 was marked by the battles of 3rd Ypres and Cambrai. Nine battalions fought at Ypres, including the five with 38th Division which distinguished itself at Pilckem Ridge, where Corporal James Davies of the 13th Battalion was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for capturing two supposedly impregnable pill-boxes with bayonet and grenade. At Cambrai, the first time that massed tanks were used, the 19th, a bantam battalion (men under 5’ 3” – 160cms in height), upheld the regiment’s reputation for steadiness whilst suffering 370 casualties. In southern Europe the Italian army was shattered by an Austro-German assault at Caporetto in November 1917. The 1st Battalion were part of the reinforcements sent to bolster the Italian front.

The German spring offensive that opened in March 1918 destroyed much of Fifth Army. In the initial stages the 9th Battalion suffered over 450 casualties, and the 4th, which was subjected to a mustard gas bombardment, nearly three hundred. The former went on to fight with great tenacity at Lys, Bailleul, Kemmel and Scherpenberg despite being reduced to a skeleton three times in three months.

In Palestine, the 24th and 25th Battalions took part in the capture of Jericho before being sent to France as reinforcements. The 1/5th, 1/6th and 1/7th Battalions fought at Gaza and Tell ‘Asur, and went on to serve in General Allenby’s final offensive and defeat of the Turks.

In Italy the 1st Battalion was at the crossing of the Piave, and in the battle of Vittorio Veneto which led to the rout of the Austrian army.

Back in France the German offensive ran out of steam and in July the allies began to strike back. Corporal Weale, 14th Battalion and Lance Sergeant Waring, 25th Battalion, the latter posthumously, were awarded Victoria Crosses in the closing stages of the war. Sergeant Waring’s award was the second Victoria Cross to a soldier of this former dismounted Yeomanry battalion.

The cost of the war was enormous. Almost 10,000 officers and men gave their lives, and in so doing an amazing eighty-eight Battle Honours were won by the regiment. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers is credited with forty battalions, twenty-two of which served overseas in the following operational theatres (dates of arrival in theatre shown in brackets):

Battalion RWFTheatre of warDownload
1st France and Flanders (Oct 1914), and Italy (1917)download sheet
2ndFrance and Flanders (Aug 1914)download sheet
4thFrance and Flanders (Nov 1914) initially as infantry later as pioneers to 47th Divisiondownload sheet
5th, 6th & 7thGallipoli (1915), Egypt (1916) and Palestine (1917) as part of 53rd (Welsh) Divisiondownload sheet
8thGallipoli (1915), Egypt (1916) and Mesopotamia (1917)download sheet
9thFrance and Flanders (1915)download sheet
10thFrance and Flanders (1915)download sheet
11thFrance (Sep 1915) and Salonika (Nov 1915)download sheet
13thFrance and Flanders (Dec 1915) as part of 38th (Welsh) Divisiondownload sheet
14thFrance and Flanders (Dec 1915) as part of 38th (Welsh) Divisiondownload sheet
15th (London Welsh)France and Flanders (Dec 1915) as part of 38th (Welsh) Divisiondownload sheet
16thFrance and Flanders (Dec 1915) as part of 38th (Welsh) Divisiondownload sheet
17thFrance and Flanders (Dec 1915) as part of 38th (Welsh) Divisiondownload sheet
19th (Bantam)France and Flanders (1916)download sheet
24th (Denbighshire Yeomanry)Egypt, Palestine (1917) and France (1918)download sheet
25th (Montgomeryshire & Welsh Horse Yeomanry)Egypt, Palestine (1917) and France (1918)download sheet
1st GarrisonGibraltar (1915)not yet available
2nd GarrisonEgypt (1916)not yet available
4th Garrison (later 26th)France and Flanders (1916)download sheet
6th GarrisonEgypt (1917) and Salonika (1918)download sheet

The History of The Royal Welsh

The South Wales Borderers

The Great War – 1914-1918

In the First World War, the 24th raised twenty-one Battalions, gained six Victoria Crosses and was awarded seventy-four Battle Honours, of which none was better earned than Gheluvelt on 31st October 1914 where the 1st Battalion The South Wales Borderers, alongside the 2nd Battalion The Welch Regiment, withstood the German onslaught and enabled 2nd Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment to launch their famous counter-attack, thus halting the whole German offensive towards the coast.

Also in 1914, but on the other side of the world in North China, the 2nd Battalion took part with the Japanese in the capture of the German Treaty Port of Tsingtao and thereby gained a Battle Honour unique in the British Army. The 2nd Battalion returned via Hong Kong to England in early 1915, only to form part of the 29th Division which was sent to land at Cape Helles on the Gallipoli peninsular on 25th April 1915. After the failure of the Dardanelles campaign, the 29th Division was withdrawn merely to arrive in France in March 1916. Its first big action was on 1st July 1916, the opening day of the great battle of the Somme, when it attacked the impregnable position at Beaumont Hamel. The 2nd Battalion advancing south of the village in the leading line was mown down by machine guns in the first few minutes and lost 11 officers and 235 men killed and missing and 4 officers and 149 men wounded out of a total of 21 officers and 578 men. Some gallant fellows reached the German wire 300 yards away, but neither here nor at other places did the Division’s attack succeed. The battalion was soon re-formed and after periods in various parts of the Line fought most gallantly at Monchy Le Preux during the Arras offensive in April and May 1917, where Sergeant White was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for magnificent leadership and self-sacrifice.

In 1916 the 4th (Service) Battalion was involved in operations to relieve General Townsend’s force besieged at Kut al Amara in Mesopotamia (Iraq). On 4th April, the British attacked the Hanna position. The battalion pushed on under heavy machine gun fire over ground devoid of cover, and despite severe losses reached a line about 800 yards from the Turkish trenches. During the advance an officer fell and one of his men, going to his help, was hit and disabled. Captain Angus Buchanan thereupon dashed out from behind cover and not only carried the officer in despite a heavy fire but, going out again, brought the private in also, for which gallantry he was awarded the Victoria Cross. A few days later, on 8th April, came the night assault on the Turkish position at Sannaiyat, with the 4th Battalion in the front line. The attack failed with heavy loss, but the regiment gained another Victoria Cross of the Battalion. Private James Fynn crept out in broad daylight to two men who were lying within 300 yards of the Turkish line, bandaged them and brought them in.

For its epic actions on 18th September 1918, the 7th Battalion were awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French for their attack on the Grand Couronné in Macedonia; only eleven units of the British Army have been given this distinct honour. The Commanding Officer, Colonel Daniel Burges was awarded the Victoria Cross.

During the Great War, 5,777 soldiers of the South Wales Borderers and 2,430 soldiers of the Monmouthshire Regiment gave their lives for their Country. The South Wales Borderers and Monmouthshire Regiment are credited with thirty-one battalions, seventeen of which served overseas in the following operational theatres (dates of arrival in theatre shown in brackets):

Battalion SWBTheatre of warDownload
1stFrance and Flanders (Aug 1914)Download
2ndTsingtao (Sep 1914), Gallipoli (Apr 1915), France and Flanders (Mar 1916)Download
4thGallipoli (Jul 1915), Mesopotamia (1916)Download
5thFrance and Flanders (Jul 1915) as pioneers to 19th DivisionDownload
6thFrance and Flanders (Sep 1915) as pioneers to 30th DivisionDownload
7th & 8thFrance and Flanders (Sep 1915), Salonika (Nov 1915)Download
10th & 11thFrance and Flanders (Dec 1915) as part of 38th (Welsh) DivisionDownload
12th (Bantam)France and Flanders (Jun 1916)Download
51st, 52nd & 53rdArmy of Occupation on the Rhine (1919)Download
1/1 BrecknocksAden (Dec 1914), India (Aug 1915)Download
1st MonmouthsFrance and Flanders (Feb 1915), initially as infantry later as pioneers to 46th DivisionDownload
2nd MonmouthsFrance and Flanders (Nov 1914), initially as infantry later as pioneers to 29th DivisionDownload
3rd MonmouthsFrance and Flanders (Feb 1915), initially as infantry later as pioneers. Broken up in August 1916Download

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Welsh Regiment

The Great War – 1914-1918

Of the Welsh Regiment’s thirty-four battalions active during the war nineteen saw active service overseas in France, Belgium, Gallipoli, Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia and Macedonia. Three members of the regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross for valour.

Of special mention was the important role played by the service battalions of Lloyd George’s ‘Welsh Army’. In December, 1915, the 38th (Welsh) Division, consisting of Service troops, all enlisted in Wales, disembarked in France and included new battalions from the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, South Wales Borderers and the Welsh Regiment. The Battalions of the Welsh Regiment included were the 10th and 13th (Rhondda), 14th (Swansea) and 15th (Carmarthen) as part of 115th Brigade. In addition there were the 16th Welsh (City of Cardiff) and the 19th Welsh (Pioneers). After spells in the Line at Givenchy in the spring of 1916, the Division moved to the River Ancre on 3rd July at the opening of the Battle of the Somme, and both battalions had their first real action in the attack on Mametz Wood. Here they had five days’ hard fighting in a thick wood flanked by machine guns. It required skill and determination on the part of all ranks to turn the Germans out, and fine work was done with bomb and bayonet by the courage and initiative of junior leaders. The stiffness of the fighting may be gauged by the casualties of the 38th Division which amounted to 190 officers and 3,803 other ranks, of which 75 officers and 1,598 other ranks belonged to Welsh Regiment - Lieutenant-Colonel J Hayes, 14th Welsh, particularly distinguished himself, and several DSOs and MCs, together with 17 Military Medals were awarded to the Welsh. By the end of the conflict in 1918, 7,679 soldiers of the Welsh Regiment had given their lives for their Country. Later the regiment was awarded seventy battle honours, of which ten were selected for display on the King’s Colour of the regular and Territorial Force battalions. In 1919, the Territorial Force and Service Battalions stood down and the cadres of the 1st and 2nd Battalions on being brought up to their established strength at Pembroke Dock prepared for peacetime service.

During the Great War, the Welsh Regiment is credited with thirty-four battalions, twenty-one of which served overseas in the following operational theatres (dates of arrival in theatre shown in brackets):

Battalion WELSHTheatre of warDownload
1stFrance and Flanders (Jan 1915), Salonika (Nov 1915)Download
2ndFrance and Flanders (Jan 1915), Salonika (Nov 1915)Download
4th & 5thGallipoli (1915), Palestine (1916) as part of 53rd (Welsh) DivisionDownload
6thFrance and Flanders (Oct 1914)Download
8thGallipoli (1915), Mesopotamia (1916)Download
9thFrance and Flanders (1915)Download
10thFrance and Flanders (1915)Download
11thFrance and Flanders (Sep 1915), Salonika (Nov 1915)Download
13thFrance and Flanders (Dec 1915) as part of 38th (Welsh) DivisionDownload
14thFrance and Flanders (Dec 1915) as part of 38th (Welsh) DivisionDownload
15thFrance and Flanders (Dec 1915) as part of 38th (Welsh) DivisionDownload
16thFrance and Flanders (Dec 1915) as part of 38th (Welsh) DivisionDownload
17th (Bantam)France and Flanders (1916)Download
18th & 25th (Bantam)France and Flanders (1916)Download
19thFrance and Flanders (1915) as pioneers to 43rd DivisionDownload
23rdSalonika (1916) as pioneers to 28th DivisionDownload
24th (Pembroke & Glamorgan Yeomanry)Palestine (1915), France and Flanders (1918)Download
51st, 52nd & 53rdArmy of Occupation on the Rhine (1919)Download

The History of The Royal Welsh

The South Wales Borderers

Between the Wars - 1919-1939

The years between the wars were not particularly peaceful for both battalions were involved in the trouble spots of the Empire. The 1st Battalion served in Egypt, Palestine, Hong Kong and India on the North West Frontier; and the 2nd in India, Malta, Palestine and finally in Northern Ireland. In 1929, the ‘Corps of The South Wales Borderers’ was officially recognised as comprising the two regular Battalions and the three Battalions of The Monmouthshire Regiment.

For more, please download the fact sheet on the North West Fontier

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Royal Welch Fusiliers

Official approval by the Army Board was given on 27th January 1920 for the re-instatement of the spelling ‘Welch’.

The Inter-War years - 1919-1939

Very quickly the regiment was reduced to its two regular battalions as others were disbanded, and it was soon back to business as usual. The 1st Battalion after re-forming at Oswestry was sent overseas to India where life was little different to what it had been before the War, with drill, marching and sport occupying the time. Ireland, where the situation was deteriorating rapidly, required reinforcements and the 2nd Battalion arrived in 1919 and remained until December 1922. The tour was marred by the tragic loss of Major GL Compton-Smith DSO who had commanded the 10th Battalion in 1917. He was kidnapped by Sinn Fein in April 1921 and shot. In a note discovered sometime later he wrote, “I should like my death to lessen rather than increase the bitterness which exists between England and Ireland. I have been treated with great kindness and ... have learned to regard Sinn Feiners rather as mistaken idealists than as a ‘Murder Gang’.”

From Ireland the 2nd Battalion moved to Pembroke Dock and then, in 1926, it joined the British Army of the Rhine at Bingen, remaining until the final withdrawal in 1929. Returning briefly to Tidworth they received in 1930 a visit from Lieutenant-Commander John Philip Sousa, the American composer, who presented the regiment with the score of his march The Royal Welch Fusiliers in honour of its close relationship with the United States Marine Corps. In 1931 the Battalion went to Gibraltar.

The 1st Battalion, meanwhile, had been sent to the North West Frontier of India where the Mahsuds were causing trouble in Waziristan. The Battalion suffered many casualties from snipers as they picqueted routes and escorted convoys. In one such action at Split Hill Picquet in February 1923 no less than four soldiers were awarded Military Medals for rescuing wounded comrades under fire. Shortly after this the Battalion returned to India and were pleased to learn that the War Office had approved of the use of the rank ‘Fusilier’ for private soldiers. When the tour in India ended in 1930 the Battalion was sent to the Sudan, with one company detached to Cyprus. In October 1931 a revolt broke out in Cyprus and the Governor's house was burnt to the ground. C Company, the only troops on the island, managed to restore order before reinforcements could arrive by air. On their way home in April 1932 the two battalions met at Gibraltar, and the officers were able to dine together for the first time since 1914 in Malta.

The 1st Battalion remained in England until the outbreak of war in 1939, and endured the frustrations of trying to train using taxis as armoured cars and rattles to represent machine guns. The 2nd Battalion, which reached Hong Kong in 1934, was called upon to go to Shanghai in 1937 as part of a multi-national force formed to protect the International Settlements which the Sino-Japanese war threatened to engulf. Whilst there, the close links with the United States Marine Corps were renewed. By the end of 1938 the Battalion was in India.

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Welch Regiment

Official approval by the Army Board was given on 27th January 1920 for the re-instatement of the spelling ‘Welch’.

Between the Wars – 1919-1939

By 1920 the regular battalions were as they had been in August 1914, with the 2nd Battalion at home and the 1st Battalion in India.

In 1920-1921, the 2nd Battalion saw service in troubled Ireland whilst 1923-1924 found the 1st Battalion on active service against Waziris on the North West Frontier. In 1927, 1 Welch moved via Aden back to the United Kingdom whilst 2 Welch embarked for Shanghai and duty with the China Defence Force. From China, 2 Welch after service at Singapore moved on to India where in 1935 the battalion served at Landi Kotal on the North West Frontier. At the close of 1938, the 1st Battalion was stationed at Belfast and the 2nd Battalion at Agra in India.

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Royal Welch Fusiliers- 1900-1913

The Second World War – 1939-1945

The 1st Battalion as part of the British Expeditionary Force fought in North West Europe in 1940. Overwhelmed by the Germans, and with their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Harrison, killed, four officers and 263 men were evacuated from Dunkirk. The Battalion had suffered nearly 500 casualties, many becoming prisoners of war. Meanwhile, No 2 Independent Company (a precursor of the later commandos), under command Major Hugh Stockwell, with a significant number of Royal Welchmen, participated in the Norway campaign in May 1940.

The 2nd Battalion returned from India in July 1940 and two years later took part in the capture of Madagascar from the Vichy French. In early 1943 it returned to India, thus joining the 1st Battalion which had arrived in the previous year. The latter first saw action against the Japanese at Donbaik in Burma in March 1943. In a battle which, according to General Slim, should never have been fought, he said that “….The last and final assault…. was led by the Royal Welch Fusiliers and on that day they showed valour which I think has rarely been surpassed….”. The Battalion casualties amounted to thirteen officers and 149 other ranks. It returned to India and in April and May 1944 it fought in the bloody battle for the relief of Kohima, in Assam. It went on to Burma where it was engaged until the end of the war.

The 2nd Battalion operated in North Arakan during the first half of 1944 and then went to northern Burma where it was engaged in clearing the ‘Railway Corridor’.

In 1942 the 10th Battalion was converted to the parachute role as 6th (Royal Welch Fusiliers) Parachute Battalion. They served as infantry on the Adriatic flank of the Italian campaign and at Cassino before taking part in the airborne landings in the south of France in August 1944. Two months later they dropped near Athens and became involved in ending the Greek Civil War.

The three Territorial battalions, the 4th, 6th and 7th, landed in Normandy in June 1944 as part of 53rd (Welsh) Division. They received a bloody baptism of fire at Evrecy in July. They fought across France, Belgium, and in Holland where they were engaged in the successful battle for ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and went on to the Reichswald, the Rhine crossing, and the pursuit across Germany, ending the war in the Hamburg area.

The regiment’s casualties during the war included over 1,200 killed. In addition to the two Regular, three Territorial and one Parachute battalion that saw service overseas, at home there were two Territorial, five Home Defence and twenty-six Home Guard battalions, all of which bore the regiment’s name and wore the Flash.

During the Second World War, the Royal Welch Fusiliers had thirteen battalions, six of which served overseas (periods in theatre shown in brackets):

Battalion RWFTheatre of warDownload
1st France and Belgium (1940), India and Burma (1942–45)Not yet available
2ndIndia (1939–40), Madagascar (1942),  India and Burma (1943–45)Not yet available
4thNorth West Europe (1944–45) as part of 53rd (Welsh) DivisionNot yet available
10thConverted to 6th (RWF) Bn Parachute Regiment (Aug 1942) – North Africa (1943), Greece (1944-45) and Palestine (1945-46)Not yet available

The History of The Royal Welsh

The South Wales Borderers

The Second World War - 1939-1945

In 1939, the 1st Battalion was stationed in India and 2nd in Northern Ireland. Neither was to be involved in the British Expeditionary Force sent to France in September 1939 to stop the German forces’ advance through Europe. However, when the Germans invaded the neutral counties of Norway and Denmark in March 1940, the 2nd Battalion joined 24th (Guards) Brigade to form part of a small allied force sent to aid Norway north of the Arctic Circle. The battalion arrived in mid-April and advanced towards Narvik with other allied troops. In early May, the battalion successfully beat off a German attack, but in mid-May it was withdrawn. The whole force was withdrawn at the end of May. The expedition had failed largely because the Germans had full command of the air and allied forces lacked the training and equipment to fight under Arctic conditions. The 2nd Battalion lost 6 dead and 13 soldiers were wounded, and two DCMs were later awarded for gallantry.

Soldiers from the South Wales Borderers were selected to support the newly created Parachute Regiment in one of the most daring operations of the Second War when they landed in occupied France during the night 27/28 February 1942. Their mission was to capture a German radar site at Bruneval near Le Harve and seize vital parts for subsequent intelligence evaluation. The raid was entirely successful and a welcome morale boost for the British public.

At home, the Brecknockshire Battalion was a draft finding unit and the 1st South Wales Borderers, after a difficult time in the Western Desert in 1942, amalgamated with the 4th Monmouthshires, served as a training unit, both vital if unexciting roles.

In June 1944, the 2nd Battalion had the distinction of being the only Welsh battalion to land on the Normandy Beaches on D-Day, and together with the 2nd and 3rd Monmouths fought throughout the North-West Europe Campaign until VE Day, whilst the 6th Battalion was one of the outstanding battalions in Burma and of particular note was its action at the Mayu Tunnels in February 1944 where railway tunnels, used a storage depot by the Japanese, were destroyed by a determined company assault and the inspirational use of a Sherman tank.

During the Second World War, the South Wales Borderers and the Monmouthshire Regiment had nine battalions, five of which served overseas (periods in theatre shown in brackets):

Battalion SWBTheatre of warDownload
1stIraq (1941), North Africa (1941-42)Download
2ndNorway (1940), North West Europe (1944–45) – landed on D-DayDownload
6thBurma, Sumatra (1943-46)Download
2nd MonmouthsNorth West Europe (1944–45) with 53rd (Welsh) DivisionDownload
3rd MonmouthsNorth West Europe (1944–45) with 11th Armoured DivisionDownload

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Welch Regiment

The Second World War – 1939-1945

During World War 2, eleven battalions of the regiment were active, but only four saw service overseas. The 1st Battalion which at the outbreak of war was serving in Palestine served in the Western Desert, Crete, Sicily and Italy, whilst the 2nd Battalion served with the 14th Army in the Burma campaign. After home defence service, the 4th and 1/5th Territorial Army battalions served with the 53rd (Welsh) Division during the 1944-1945 campaign in France and through North West Europe.

Over 1,100 soldiers gave their lives during the conflict. The regiment was later awarded twenty two battle honours of which ten were selected for display on the King’s Colour of each battalion. The Welch Regiment had ten battalions, four of which served overseas (periods in theatre shown in brackets):

Battalion WELSHTheatre of warDownload
1stNorth West Europe (1944–45) with 53rd (Welsh) DivisionDownload
2ndBurma (1943-45)Download
4thGallipoli (1915), Palestine (1916) as part of 53rd (Welsh) DivisionDownload
1/5thGallipoli (1915), Palestine (1916) as part of 53rd (Welsh) DivisionDownload

The History of The Royal Welsh

The South Wales Borderers

An end and a new beginning – 1945-1969

The post-war years saw the regiment dealing with illegal Jewish immigrants in Palestine and Cyprus; curbing the Shifta’s activities in Eritrea; fighting communist terrorists in Malaya, after which Field-Marshal Sir Gerald Templer wrote “...there has been no better regiment in Malaya during the ten years of the emergency and very few as good...”. While the battalion was based in Hong Kong (1963-1966), three platoons were in turn deployed to Borneo on counter insurgency operations and were attached to 1 Gordons, 1 Scots Guards and 1 Durham Light Infantry respectively. The Borderers final operational tour was policing the Ma’alla district of Aden in 1967.

As a result of the 1967 Defence Review, drastic cuts in the armed forces were proposed. The Welsh Brigade was to be reduced by one battalion. Fortunately, an interchange of officers and senior ranks between regiments in the Brigade had occurred for many years, so the amalgamation of the South Wales Borderers with the Welch Regiment, although tinged with much sadness, enabled the newly formed Royal Regiment of Wales to capitalise immediately on the traditions and soldierly qualities of two fine Welsh regiments.

For more, please download the fact sheet on Malaya

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Welch Regiment

The post Second World War years – 1945-1969

In 1947 the regular battalions returned to the United Kingdom after years of peacetime and wartime foreign service. In 1948 the 2nd Battalion was disbanded thus leaving the regiment with one regular battalion. The 4th and 1/5th Territorial Battalions which had stood down in 1946 were in 1947 re-formed and resumed a programme of peacetime training activities. In 1950 on completion of a training role the 1st Battalion resumed duties as an active battalion of infantry and was in 1951 sent to Korea to serve under United Nations command in the Commonwealth Division. Its year of service during the war brought the battle honour Korea 1951-52 to the Colours and was followed by a period of service in the Hong Kong garrison.

Thereafter the battalion, interposed with service at home, was involved increasing activity with the British Army of the Rhine particularly in Berlin when ‘The Wall’ was built in 1963, in Cyprus during the EOKA campaign, Libya and again in Hong Kong in support of the police during the riots at the height of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In 1968 the Battalion when stationed at Gravesend undertook public duties in London and in 1969 celebrated the 250th anniversary of its formation.

On the 11th June l969, came amalgamation with the 1st Battalion, The South Wales Borderers to form the 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot), thus bringing to a distinguished close its 250 years of independent service.

For more, please download the fact sheet on Korea

The History of The Royal Welsh

The Royal Welch Fusiliers- 1945-2006

Having been brought up to strength in Wrexham in 1946 the 1st Battalion was sent to join the British Army of the Rhine in Germany where it remained until 1951. During its tour it spent a year in Berlin at the time of the ‘airlift’ when all but aerial access to Berlin was denied by the Russians. At the end of the war the 2nd Battalion went to Japan as part of the army of occupation. After a tour in Malaya (1947-1948), it returned to Britain in 1948 to be disbanded.

With the impetus given to independence movements as a result of the war, internal security duties became an increasing part of the army’s life. In 1951 the 1st Battalion arrived in Jamaica and companies were detached elsewhere in the Caribbean. It played a significant part in disaster relief following the hurricane in Jamaica in August. Whilst based in the West Indies eighteen soldiers and dependents lost their lives when an early trooping flight crashed off Newfoundland.

The start of the Korean War led to an army expansion and the 2nd Battalion was re-formed in 1952, and in the following year went to Germany. Returning to the UK in 1954 it was joined by the 1st and 4th Battalions at a Presentation of Colours ceremony by HM The Queen. Immediately afterwards the 2nd Battalion left for Korea, but its destination was changed en route and it was diverted to Malaya to fight the communist terrorists. When its tour ended it was again disbanded.

The 1st Battalion, which had been in Germany and Berlin, went to Cyprus in 1958 to help combat the EOKA terrorist campaign for union with Greece. The battalion was conspicuously successful in eliminating terrorists from its area. Just over three years in Bulford was followed by a tour as a mechanised battalion in Iserlohn and Minden in Germany, and a six month United Nations tour in Cyprus.

After two years at Honiton the battalion was posted in 1969 to Hong Kong, and spent many weeks guarding the Sino-Hong Kong border at a time of much tension during the period of the cultural revolution. In 1972 it went to Northern Ireland for the first of many anti-terrorist tours of duty which have dominated the life of the army since 1969. Others followed in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1986, 1987-89, 1993, 1996, 1998-2000 and 2005-06. All have been most successful, but none more so than in 1981 when, following a particularly difficult tour, members of the battalion were awarded a DSO, MBE, DCM, MC, MM, six Mentions in Despatches, and nine GOC’s Commendations.

From 1978 to 1982 the Battalion was based in Lemgo, Germany. On its return to England it became the demonstration battalion at the School of Infantry, Warminster. In October 1985, the battalion moved to Tern Hill in Shropshire. Whilst based there they undertook a six months garrison tour of duty in the Falkland Islands. A residential tour of Northern Ireland based Ballykinler followed. In 1989, because of operational commitments in the Province only two companies were released to take part in the Tercentenary celebrations of the regiment. Later, in July, the battalion went to Berlin where they witnessed the end of the Cold War, and the removal of ‘The Wall’. Whilst in Berlin they won the BAOR Rugby Cup for an unprecedented three consecutive times. After two years in Tidworth (1992-1994) the battalion moved to RAF Brawdy in Pembrokeshire. It was the first time since 1926 that a regular battalion of the regiment had served in Wales.

On 1st March 1995 the 1st Battalion, which had just joined UNPROFOR in war-torn Bosnia, assumed responsibility for Gorazde, Kiseljak and Bugojno. It carried out its extremely difficult task of protecting the population until the ending of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement at the beginning of May, and the NATO bombing of Bosnian Serb positions, made it impossible. On 28th May thirty-three members of the battalion were taken hostage by the Bosnian Serbs. The subject of their safety dominated the news until the last batch was released on 16th June. HM The Queen visited the Rear Party in Brawdy during the crisis and spoke with the families of the hostages. Whilst in Bosnia the battalion often used Welsh for security to communicate orders, as had been done fifty years earlier in Burma. On 28th August and not without difficulty the last elements evacuated Gorazde, and within a matter of days the battalion was reunited in Wales. Awards for the tour included a DSO, a CGC, three MCs, two MBEs, seven Mentioned in Despatches, and numerous other commendations.

The 1st Battalion moved to Chepstow in December 1995. In May 1996 the 1st Battalion was proud to receive new Colours from Her Majesty The Queen, its Colonel-in-Chief. The soldiers of the Second World War were not forgotten when in November 1997 a regimental memorial was unveiled at Saint-Venant, Pas de Calais to commemorate those involved with the British Expeditionary Force (1940) and then in July 1998 a memorial was erected at Evrecy, Normandy to remember those who served and died with 4th, 6th and 7th Battalions during the Normandy campaign (June-August 1944). On the sports field, the 1st Battalion won the Army Rugby Cup and the Infantry Cricket Championship in 2000. The 1st Battalion, which had moved to Tern Hill Shropshire (2000-2002) after a two-year resident battalion posting in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, was deployed from Aldershot operationally in April 2004 to Basra on Operation Telic 4. The awards for the tour included one OBE, three MCs, five mentions in despatches and two commendations.

On 1st March 2006, as a result of the Ministry of Defence’s 2005 paper on ‘Future Infantry Structures’, and discussions between the Colonels of Regiments within The Prince of Wales’s Division, it was announced on 16th December 2004 that the 1st Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers would form the 1st Battalion of a new larger regiment with the title ‘The Royal Welsh’. This change, over three hundred years after it was raised, was tinged with much sorrow, as it was one of only five line infantry regiments of the British Army never to have been amalgamated.

The History of The Royal Welsh

THE ROYAL REGIMENT OF WALES (24TH/41ST FOOT) – 1969-2006

Despite its short existence of just over 36 years, 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot) was nevertheless involved in a demanding, challenging but very interesting and exciting range of events in its many and varied postings and operational tours.

Within two months of amalgamation, the battalion was serving in Northern Ireland and was one of the first units to be deployed on the streets when the troubles began in August 1969. At the end of that year the battalion was posted to Osnabrück in West Germany for four years but returned to Northern Ireland on two occasions for short tours. On one occasion, Lance Corporal Bennett was awarded the George Medal for bravery while under fire.

In 1973 the battalion returned to Belfast for two years as the resident unit, but afterwards in 1975 it had the benefit of an enjoyable two years in Berlin. From 1977 to 1982 the battalion was based in Aldershot, but spent time in Belize and Hong Kong as well as on exercise in Germany. In 1979 the battalion re-enacted the defence of Rorke’s Drift as part of the centenary events at the Cardiff Castle Tattoo. Six months later the battalion was on public duties mounting Royal Guards at Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. Towards the end of 1979, 25 soldiers were to play a significant role during Operation Agila which monitored the fragile ceasefire in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) prior to and during the first all-party elections.

Anti-terrorist duties in Northern Ireland continued to dominate life in the battalion during this period. Of particular note was its deployment to Belfast for an emergency tour in May 1981 following the death of hunger-striker Bobby Sands when soldiers found themselves patrolling the streets of the city alongside the 1st Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers. There were further operational tours in the province in 1983-84 and 1986-87. In 1982 the battalion moved to Lemgo in West Germany to begin a six-year tour of duty as a Mechanised Infantry Battalion with battle-group training taking place at Suffield in Canada for six weeks in 1985. In 1988 the battalion returned to Warminster in Wiltshire as the School of Infantry’s Demonstration Battalion. In 1989 the regiment held its Tercentenary Parade at Cardiff Castle to celebrate the formation of the regiment in March 1689. In 1990 the battalion arrived in Hong Kong where it deployed to the Sino-Hong Kong Border and also carried out anti-smuggling operations with the police. The opportunities to travel, to play sport and to participate in adventurous training were numerous and overseas deployments took members of the Battalion as far as Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Borneo and Malaysia.

Three years later the Battalion returned to Britain to be stationed at Tern Hill in Shropshire. From there a company group was deployed to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia on an operational tour. Other companies visited Italy and Jamaica as part of exchange visits.

In early 1994 the battalion changed roles and began an intense period of Northern Ireland training prior to its deployment to Ballykelly in County Londonderry as a Resident Battalion. In July that year on 25th anniversary of the appointment of The Prince of Wales as Colonel-in-Chief, a memorable parade and Regimental garden party was held in Cardiff Castle at which His Royal Highness was asked to cut the first slice of a large regimental birthday cake.

After a full tour of public duties in London, the 1st Battalion moved to Paderborn in Germany in February 1998 to take up an Armoured Infantry role, equipped with Warrior armoured fighting vehicles, in 1st (UK) Armoured Division, part of NATO’s Allied Command Europe (ACE) Rapid Reaction Corps. In 1999 and 2001 it was operationally deployed in Bosnia (Op PALATINE) and then Kosovo (Op AGRICOLA). More recently, the 1st Battalion has been involved in two 6-month operational tours in Iraq which involved leaving the families in Paderborn. In 2005 the battalion returned to Britain to be based at Tidworth.

The Tercentenary of the battle of Blenheim in 2004 was marked by a special dinner in London attended by the Colonel-in-Chief accompanied by his future wife.

On 1st March 2006, as a result of the Ministry of Defence’s 2005 paper on ‘Future Infantry Structures’, and discussions between the Colonels of Regiments within The Prince of Wales’s Division, it was announced on 16th December 2004 that the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot) would form the 2nd Battalion of a new larger regiment with the title ‘The Royal Welsh’.

The History of The Royal Welsh

THE ROYAL WELSH – FROM 2006

REGULAR ARMY

1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh (The Royal Welch Fusiliers)

The 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, following the Formation Parade, moved from their base in Mons Barracks, Aldershot to the Sovereign Base Area in Cyprus where it had the 'Light Role'. During the battalion's two-year deployment in Cyprus, besides guarding key installations on the island and providing, at short notice, a reserve for Iraq, it undertook two four-month deployments to the Falkland Islands and took part in a challenging exercise in Jordan. In 2007, Battalion Headquarters and two companies were deployed from Cyprus to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK and third company to Iraq on Operation TELIC. One fusilier later received the MC and NATOs Meritorious Service Medal for his action in Afghanistan. The battalion returned to a permanent base at The Dale Barracks, Chester in August 2008.

In 2009, the 1st Battalion were warned for deployment on Operation HERRICK 11 in Afghanistan. However, the political environment prevailing at the time meant that the battalion's departure date and role was unclear. Nevertheless the battalion weathered the uncertainty and deployed in good spirits on 4th December 2009. In the first part of the deployment the battalion was involved in the United States led Operation MOSHTARAK, the largest aviation assault for a number of years involving soldiers from a number of countries making up the Royal Welsh Battle Group. Later, the 1st Battalion participated in security operations in Nad-e Ali and western Babjaji districts (known as Area 31). The battalion returned home on 4th May 2010 having suffered one fatality. In the subsequent operational awards the battalion was honoured with one OBE, two MCs, three Mentioned in Despatches and six Joint Commander's Commendations. The battalion is expected to deploy again to Afghanistan in the spring of 2012 for Operation HERRICK 16 as part of 12th Mechanised Brigade.

2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales)

The 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh are based in Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth, Wiltshire. The barracks provide one-man, en-suite rooms for 600 soldiers. For operational purposes, the battalion forms part of 1st Mechanised Brigade and is equipped with Warrior armoured personnel-carriers. In May 2007, the battalion returned to Basra on Operation TELIC, its third deployment to that theatre. The battalion suffered over 50 casualties during the six-month tour, including three fatalities (as well as two further fatalities amongst soldiers attached from 3 R SCOTS). The battalion returned to the UK in later November 2007 and received a tumultuous welcome home in December both in Cardiff Castle and the Millennium Stadium. Thousands of people turned out on a particularly cold day to witness the battalion march through the streets of the City of Cardiff. Campaign medals were presented by the Adjutant General, Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Viggers and Major-General Andrew Farquhar (GOC 5 Division). The operational awards published in 2008 contained one OBE, two MCs, nine Mentioned in Despatches, one Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS) and a further seven members of the 2nd Battalion received Joint Commander's Commendations. The QCVS was awarded to a Territorial soldier on attachment from 3rd Battalion, The Royal Welsh.

Over the next two years, the 2nd Battalion provided eighteen months of continuous Armoured Infantry (AI) support in Afghanistan; C Company Group on Operation HERRICK 10, A Company on Operation HERRICK 11 and B (Rorke's Drift) Company on Operation HERRICK 13; with a number of individual officers and soldiers from the battalion attached 16th Air Assault Brigade on Operation HERRICK 13.

Recent MoD announcements

It was, with some sadness, that it was announced by the Secretary of State for Defence on Thursday 5 July 2012 as part of the Army's 2020 Strategic Defence and Security Review that 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh would be removed from the Order of Battle and absorbed into the rest of The Royal Welsh but not before autumn 2013. Subsequently, it was announced that 1st and 2nd battalion would merge to form a single battalion that would be stationed at Tidworth in Wiltshire. New colours would be presented to the regular and territorial battalions of The Royal Welsh at Cardiff on Tuesday 15th July 2014.

TERRITORIAL ARMY

3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh TA

The 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh is the only Territorial Army Infantry unit that recruits from the whole of Wales. Previously, the battalion was known as The Royal Welsh Regiment which was formed on the 1st July 1999 when the 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion, The Royal Welch Fusiliers and the 2nd (Volunteer) Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Wales were amalgamated at Otterburn Camp, Northumberland. With its headquarters in Maindy Barracks Cardiff, the 3rd Battalion has sub-units in Aberystwyth, Caernarfon, Colwyn Bay, Newport, Queensferry, Pontypridd, Swansea and Wrexham. A number of officers and soldiers of the 3rd Battalion have recently served on operational tours in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh

The Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh has versatility of style and repertoire, which is both unique and highly popular whether on parade as a marching band, or on the concert platform. Their playing, marching and singing portrays that musical quality for which the band is renowned throughout Wales. It is also interesting to note that the band is the last surviving all brass band left within the British Army and all its musicians are members of the Territorial Army.

The Band have travelled abroad extensively, including countries such as Belgium, Germany, Canada, France, Australia and in 2009 toured Nova Scotia. The band also plays at many major sporting events, in particular at Rugby Internationals featuring the Welsh Rugby team. The Band’s continued presence at the world-famous Millennium Stadium Cardiff has been greatly appreciated by rugby spectators across the world. On many of the outside engagements, the band is enhanced by the presence of the Corps of Drums of the 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh who with their own inimitable style and expertise always add the final polish to any engagement.

The History of The Royal Welsh

Auxiliary, Reserve and Cadet Forces

THE MILITIA - 1757-1920

The Militia, sometimes referred to as the ‘Constitutional Force’, is the oldest of Britain’s auxiliary forces and has an ancestry rooted in the military obligations of the Anglo-Saxons. These obligations were transmitted through medieval legislation to be enshrined in the first militia statutes of 1558. Thereafter, the Militia had a formal statutory existence almost continuously until 1908. Service was mostly based on property and wealth, but from 1757 manpower was raised by compulsory ballot and after 1852 by voluntary enlistment. The militia regiments of the respective counties were, in 1757, reorganised as infantry regiments, under the control of the Lords Lieutenant, whose members were obliged to train annually and were required to render continuous service when their regiments were embodied for home garrison duties in time of war.

Thus the county militia regiments in Wales were embodied for service during the Seven Years’ War, the War of American Independence, the War of the French Revolution and between 1803 and 1816 for the long embodiment of the Napoleonic period when in addition to their services in the home garrisons and Ireland they provided hundreds of trained men for service with the regular army, and thus contributed to the success of British units abroad. In recognition of their contribution during the Napoleonic period, each of the Welsh county militia battalions was given the appellation ‘Royal’. A period of decline from 1817 to 1851 ended in 1852 with a revival of the Militia nationally, and in 1881 the Cardwell Reforms brought the Militia under the control of the War Office and closer to their ‘territorial’ regular battalions.

In North Wales, the 1881 Reforms saw the creation of the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, with their titles finally being established in 1890 as the 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Royal Denbigh and Flint Militia) and 4th Battalion The Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Royal Carnarvon and Merioneth Militia). The Anglesey Militia had become Engineers in 1877. In 1908 the 4th Battalion was disbanded and the 3rd became a Special Reserve battalion. During the Great War, it acted as a Depot, first in Wrexham and then Liverpool, before being sent in November 1917 to Limerick because of fears of possible Sinn Fein activity. It was disembodied in 1919.

In South Wales in 1876, the militia quotas of Radnor and Brecon were united under the title The Royal South Wales Borderers Militia (Royal Radnor and Brecknock Rifles). Five years later, The RSWB Militia and the Royal Montgomery Rifles Militia were respectively re-designated as the 3rd and 4th (Militia) Battalions, The South Wales Borderers. The Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry Militia became the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, The Welsh Regiment. [The Royal Monmouthshire Militia had become Engineers in 1877 and exist today as the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia)]. The 3rd South Wales Borderers and 3rd Welsh volunteered to serve overseas and were involved in the lines of communication duty during the second Boer war. In 1908, the 4th South Wales Borderers was disbanded and the remaining two militia battalions became ‘Special Reserve’ Battalions of their respective regiments and as such provided the active service battalions of the regiments with a steady flow of reinforcements throughout the Great War. The two battalions stood down in 1920 and although officially listed until 1953 were never again reactivated.

THE VOLUNTEERS - 1858-1908

The Volunteers, which had existed at various times simultaneously with the Militia, are principally associated with the Napoleonic period, 1794-1816, with volunteer infantry and mounted yeomanry. The hostile attitude adopted by France in the late 1850s forced the British Government in 1859 to authorise the raising of a permanent part-time volunteer force. To begin with, these County rifle volunteer corps were largely independent, choosing their own style of uniform and administering themselves at very little cost to the public. The reforms instituted by Cardwell in the period 1868-1874 aimed to weld the Regular, Militia and Volunteers into one homogeneous army. In 1873 the country was divided into Regimental Districts each with a depot for regular battalions; the militia and volunteer units in the district were then linked to the local regulars. This re-organisation was carried a stage further in 1881, when volunteer units adopted the same territorial titles as their constituent regular unit. The result in Wales and the border counties was:

In North Wales with a Regimental District at Wrexham, the 1st Denbighshire and the 1st Flintshire and Carnarvonshire Rifle Volunteer Corps were affiliated to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and in 1884 became the 1st and 2nd (Volunteer) Battalions The Royal Welsh Fusiliers respectively. Thirteen years later, a 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion was formed as an offshoot of 2nd.

The volunteer units of Brecon, Monmouth, and Radnor became the 1st (Brecknockshire), 2nd, 3rd, 4th Volunteers Battalions, The South Wales Borderers in Monmouthshire with a Regimental District being established at Brecon. In 1897, a further battalion entitled 5th (Volunteer) Battalion The South Wales Borderers was raised in Montgomery and Cardiganshire.

The volunteer units of Pembrokeshire and Glamorgan became the 1st, 2nd and 3rd (Volunteer) Battalions The Welsh Regiment with a Regimental District based in Cardiff. The 3rd Glamorgan Rifle Volunteers whose Colonel was then HRH The Prince of Wales, and was nominally 4th Volunteer Battalion, retained its old title.

The first overseas service for volunteer units came in 1900 when they provided composite active service companies to serve, with their regular counterparts, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The South Wales Borderers and 1st Battalion The Welsh Regiment against the Boers in South Africa; thus gaining the first battle honour ‘South Africa 1900-02’ for their respective Volunteer Battalions.

TERRITORIAL FORCE - 1908-1920

In 1908, when the Territorial Force (TF) was formed, the three Volunteer Battalions of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers became the 4th, 5th and 6th Battalions of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and the 5th (Volunteer) Battalion The South Wales Borderers, based in Montgomeryshire, became the 7th Battalion. In the following year their official titles became the 4th (Denbighshire), 5th (Flintshire), 6th (Carnarvonshire and Anglesey), and 7th (Merioneth and Montgomery) Battalions The Royal Welsh Fusiliers (TF). The remaining four volunteer battalions of the South Wales Borderers became Brecknockshire Battalion, The South Wales Borderers; 1st, 2nd 3rd Battalions The Monmouthshire Regiment. The 1st Monmouths fiercely maintaining their rifle antecedence retained their dark green rifle uniforms with black buttons. The 1st and 3rd Volunteer Battalions of the Welsh Regiment became the 4th and 5th Battalions. The 2nd Volunteer Battalion converted to Artillery. The 3rd Glamorgan Rifle Volunteers forming the 6th Battalion The Welsh Regiment (TF). A new battalion to be called 7th (Cyclist) Battalion The Welsh Regiment (TF) was authorised.

All first line battalions fought with great distinction in the Great War, the 4th Battalion The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, the three battalions of the Monmouthshire Regiment and 6th Battalion The Welsh Regiment saw service in France and Flanders, and the rest with 53rd (Welsh) Division in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine. The 2nd Monmouths had the distinction of being the first Territorial unit to be allocated a battalion sector in the trenches in December 1914. At the end of the war they were the only British Territorial battalion to march into Germany.

The Brecknockshire Battalion saw active service in Aden in 1915, gaining a Battle Honour, before becoming a garrison battalion in India. The 7th Battalion The Welsh Regiment remained in Britain as a garrison battalion. Three new Territorial battalions were formed in Egypt in 1917 when five dismounted Welsh Yeomanry regiments, the Denbighshire, Glamorgan, Pembroke and the Welsh Horse and Montgomeryshire Yeomanry were converted to infantry to form the 24th (Denbighshire Yeomanry) and 25th (Montgomery and Welsh Horse Yeomanry) Battalions The Royal Welsh Fusiliers and 24th (Pembroke and Glamorgan Yeomanry) Battalion The Welsh Regiment. They were soon engaged in Egypt, Palestine and Syria. At Beersheba in October 1917, Corporal Collins of the 25th Battalion The Royal Welsh Fusiliers gained a Victoria Cross for bringing in the wounded under heavy fire and saving many lives. This battalion was awarded its second Victoria Cross in September 1918 when Sergeant Waring was killed when leading a successful attack against four enemy machine guns at Ronssoy in France.

TERRITORIAL ARMY

Inter-War Years - 1921-1939

After the Great War, all Territorial Force battalions were disbanded but soon re-activated in 1921 with the formation of the new Territorial Army (TA). The four pre-war Royal Welch Fusiliers battalions continued as before. The 7th Welch was amalgamated with the 6th Battalion thus leaving the Welch Regiment with three Territorial Battalions viz: 4th Carmarthenshire Battalion, and the 5th and 6th Glamorganshire Battalions. The Brecknocks were absorbed by 3rd Monmouths.

Further changes occurred in 1938 with the increasing threat to mainland Britain, the 5th Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers, become an anti-tank unit with the Royal Artillery, the 1st Monmouths and 6th Welch were converted into a Searchlight Regiments and they too were lost to the Royal Artillery.

Finally in 1939, shortly before the start of the second World War, the TA was doubled and the following new battalions were formed the 8th, 9th and 10th The Royal Welch Fusiliers (out of the 4th, 6th and 7th Battalions respectively), 4th Monmouths (out of 2nd Monmouths), Brecknocks (out of 3rd Monmouths), 15th Welch (out of 4th Welch) and 2/5th Welch (out of 5th Welch).

Second World War - 1939-1945

The Territorial Battalions were embodied in 1939. The 4th, 6th and 7th Battalions The Royal Welch Fusiliers, the 2nd Monmouths, 4th and 1/5th Battalions Welch were to serve with the 53rd (Welsh) Division in the United Kingdom until June 1944. Shortly after D-Day, the battalions moved with the Division to reinforce the Normandy bridgehead and thereafter through to VE Day were actively involved with the Welsh Division in the liberation of France, the Low Countries and the advance into Northern Germany. Also involved in the fight through North West Europe was 3rd Monmouths as part of 11th Armoured Division, when in ten months casualties of the battalion amounted to over 1,100 including 67 officers; of this number 267, including two Commanding Officers, were killed. Two Victoria Crosses were awarded to TA soldiers during the North West Europe campaign (1944-45). The first was gained by Lieutenant Tasker Watkins of 1/5th Battalion, The Welch Regiment near Barfour whilst fighting for Falaise in Normandy in August 1944. The other was awarded to Corporal Edward Chapman of 3rd Monmouths during fighting in the wooded Teutoburger Wald in Germany in April 1945. After the war, Corporal Chapman was to continue to serve as a Senior NCO with the 2nd Monmouths.

At this time the 8th, 9th and 10th Battalions The Royal Welch Fusiliers, the Brecknocks, 2/5th and 15th Welch served in the United Kingdom in a home defence, training and draft finding role, and provided between them many hundreds of trained soldiers for active service with the first line and regular battalions of the regiment. In 1942, the 10th Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers was converted to the parachute role, for which over two-thirds of its members volunteered, and was renamed 6th (Royal Welch) Parachute Battalion.

Post-Second World War - 1945-1967

Just after the war, in 1946, all TA battalions were disbanded but the following year saw the reactivation of the TA, when 4th, 6th and 7th Battalions The Royal Welch Fusiliers, 2nd and 3rd Monmouths, 4th and 5th Welch were re-formed. By 1947 the former 6th and 7th Battalions Royal Welch Fusiliers and 3rd Monmouths were converted to light anti-aircraft regiments with the Royal Artillery. In 1956, a 6th/7th Royal Welch Fusiliers was formed with its Headquarters in Caernarfon and 6th Welch re-appeared being re-formed from 16th (Welsh) Parachute Battalion (TA).

Territorial & Auxiliary Volunteer Reserve (T&AVR) 1967-1971

In 1967, the TA was drastically reduced in size and re-named the Territorial & Auxiliary Volunteer Reserve (T&AVR). This change saw the formation of a single infantry battalion in Wales called The Welsh Volunteers, comprising companies from each of the three Welsh infantry regiments, was raised with a NATO support role, while the existing TA battalions (retaining the title Territorial) were given a purely home defence role and reduced to cadre form.

Territorial & Auxiliary Volunteer Reserve (T&AVR) - 1971-1999

In April 1971, an expansion of the volunteers occurred. The Welsh Volunteers was replaced by 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers, the 3rd and 4th (Volunteer) Battalions, The Royal Regiment of Wales which were raised absorbing the existing T&AVR companies and the cadres of the Territorial battalions, with Battalion Headquarters based on Wrexham, Cardiff and Llanelli respectively. In April 1985, these battalions were each augmented by a Home Service Force (HSF) company, comprising of volunteers who wished a reduced training commitment. These HSF companies had a short life and were disbanded in March 1993. In April 1986, again the battalions were augmented gaining an extra rifle company. The Headquarters of 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Wales moved from Llanelli in 1987, when a new TA Centre, named after Sir Tasker Watkins VC, was opened at Morfa in Swansea. In October 1993, in yet another re-organisation, this time a reduction, 3rd and 4th Battalions The Royal Regiment of Wales merged to form the 2nd (Volunteer) Battalion of the Regiment.

Territorial Army - 1999-to date

Further reductions to the TA were implemented in July 1999 when the 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers amalgamated with 2nd (Volunteer) Battalion The Royal Regiment of Wales to form a new volunteer regiment The Royal Welsh Regiment (RWR). Two rifle companies (Wrexham and Caernarfon) were badged RWF with Headquarters (Cardiff) and two rifle companies (Swansea and Pontypridd) badged RRW. The battalion hosts and administers the Territorial Army Band of Wales (The Royal Regiment of Wales) based in Newport, Monmouthshire which takes part in many public and military events across the Principality.

The Royal Welsh Regiment continued to provide an increasing number of individual TA soldiers for 6-month operational tours of duty working alongside their regular counterparts in the Balkans, Afghanistan and in Iraq. In March 2006 this battalion became part of the new ‘Royal Welsh’ family being designated 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh.

HOME GUARD

Other elements of the antecedent regiments of The Royal Welsh were ‘Volunteer’ battalions whose soldiers wore regimental cap badges raised in Wales during the Great War – these units were the forerunners of the more well-known county Home Guard units of the Second World War who also wore their antecedent regiment’s cap badge. Of special mention is Private G Jones of the Monmouthshire Home Guard who was awarded a Military Medal for rescuing a seriously wounded comrade during a heavy German air-raid on Newport Docks in July 1940; thought to be the only incident of this gallantry medal being awarded for an action on the mainland of Britain.

CADETS

The Army Cadet Force, which continues to provide a challenging youth organisation for boys and girls and a source of recruits for the regular and reserve forces, has county based battalions in Wales. In many towns and small communities in Wales, these isolated Cadet detachments are the only representatives of the army in the locality and many of these cadets now wear the cap badge of The Royal Welsh. Those in Clwyd, Counties of Glamorgan and Gwynedd immediately strengthened their links with the regiment by formally adopting the subsidiary titles - 4th (Cadet) Battalion, 5th (Cadet) Battalion and 6th (Cadet) Battalion of The Royal Welsh respectively. Subsequently, a further re-organisation of the ACF took place in April 2009 which linked together Clwyd and Gwynedd, Dyfed and Glamorgan, and Gwent and Powys and the regimental battalion titles were dropped.

The Royal Welsh also has connections with schools that have Combined Cadet Force units. These include Monmouth School, Christ College Brecon, Llandovery College, Ruthin School, St Bridget’s School Denbigh and Hartridge High School Newport. Monmouth School CCF is the only remaining unit that continues to wear the Monmouthshire Regiment cap badge.