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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS
The regimental quick march, Light Infantry, is a modern composition but the double past, The Keel Row, comes from an old Tyneside love song used by the Durham Light Infantry. Double marching is a fast- paced progression peculiar to light infantry and rifle regiments that simulates their historic role in running across the battlefield ahead of the main army.
Marches played on suitable occasions are Prince Albert and Palace Guard (SLI), One and All and Prelawney (DCLI), Minden March and With a Jockey to the Fair (KOYLI), Old Towler and Daughter of the Regiment (KSLI), and The Light Barque and The Old 68th (The Prince Regent) of the DLI.
The regimental quick march of the Devon and Dorsets is a composition of Widecombe Fair, We've Lived and Loved Together and The Maid of Glenconnel. The latter, a favourite of the wife of the founder of the 54th Regiment, was played in both quick and slow time for the Dorset Regiment. The D&D slow march brings together The Rose of Devon and The Maid of Glenconnel.
The RGBW chose Army of The Nile for its quick march and Scipio as its slow march. Army of The Nile, in previous form, was a secondary march of the Gloucesters that was played to honour their sphinx tradition.
In 1959, the new Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment adopted The Farmer's Boy as its quick march because it had associations with both the Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments. The DERR slow march, Auld Robin Grey, came from the Wiltshires and, before 1881, the 99th Regiment. The Wiltshires was based on the old county fable which told of the Moonrakers who fooled excise officers by pretending to be simple yokels and sang 'The Vly be on the turmat but there bain't no vlies on we'. The regimental march of the Royal Berkshires was The Dashing White Sergeant.
Gloucestershire Regiment marches are headed by The Kynegad Slashers (based on a Leinster jig and an old nickname of the 28th), The Silver-tailed Dandies (an old nickname of the 61st), The Royal Canadian (played from 1925 as a tribute to this allied regiment in the Canadian army) and Salamanca Day (written for the Corps of Drums).
The regimental day (22 July) is the anniversary of the Battle of Salamanca in 1812, Wellington's first large-scale battle and his masterpiece victory over the French in Spain. Four antecedents of the LI took part: the 51st (York, West Riding), the 68th (Durham), 32nd (Cornwall) and the 53rd (Shropshire), the last named both taking heavy casualties in the fighting. The Devonshire Regiment kept the day in memory of 'The Bloody Eleventh', who came up against a deadly resistance in the closing moments of the battle. In the Gloucestershire Regiment two privates replaced colour sergeants in the escort to the colour on Salamanca Day to honour Privates Crawford and Coulson of the 61st, who rescued their battalion colours in the battle.
The Wiltshire Regiment custom was to give its sergeants custody of the colours on Ferozeshah Day (21 December), the anniversary of a Sikh wars battle. In this case the 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment was cut up to the extent that its colours, carried into battle by ensigns, had to be brought out by sergeants.
On Minden Day (1 August) white roses are worn in the custom of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) and other regiments that picked roses for hat decoration on the way to the battlefield.
R. Caton Woodvilie's painting of a breach in the walls of Badajoz and a British storming party
The battle honour 'Jellalabad' is carried on the regimental colour with a mural crown, as on the bugle badge of the Somerset Light Infantry. It was awarded to the 13th Regiment to mark the siege of the Indian border town, defended by Sir Robert Sale from November 1841 to April 1842 against the Afghan army of Akbar Khan. The regiment became famous at the time as 'The Illustrious Garrison' and 'The Jellalabad Heroes', while receiving the more lasting accolade of Prince Albert's title.
68th (Durham) Light Infantry re-enactment team display light infantry tactics of the Peninsular War period
On Esla Day (31 May) the KOYLI would compete with the 15th/19th Hussars for a painting of the crossing of the Esla river in northern Spain. During this incident of the Peninsular War men of the 51st had to grab hold of stirrups of the 15th Hussars to avoid being swept away downriver.
Other important battle anniversaries are Lucknow Day (17 November) from the DCLI, Paardeberg (27 February) and Anzio (14 May) from the KSLI, and Hooge (9 August) and Inkerman (5 November) from the DLL Vesting Day (10 July) celebrates the day in 1968 when the four light infantry regiments came together as one. The Devonshire and Dorsets' Amalgamation Day (17 May) is observed with a major parade and regimental reunion.
Wagon Hill Day (6 January) remembers the recovery of Wagon Hill by three companies of the 1st Devons during the Siege of Ladysmith in 1900. Warrant officers and sergeants are invited to the officers' mess, a tradition of the regiment that acknowledges the debt owed to the sergeants who took the place of officers shot in the battle.
Bois des Buttes Day (27 May) commemorates the gallant resistance put up by the 2nd Devons during the German drive on Paris in 1918, when fighting in the woods ended with 551 battalion men killed. In 1921 the regiment erected a memorial to its dead in the village of La Ville-aux-Bois les Pontevert and a special toast to the French Army was introduced into the officers' mess ritual. The D&D support a junior NCOs' dinner night on the day.
Detail from a painting of the 2nd Devons at Bois des Buttes in 1918. (RHQ D&D)
Sarah Sands Day (11 November) replays the fateful voyage of the SS Sarah Sands and its cargo of soldiers en route to India in 1857. Fire broke out on board ship in mid-ocean, which persuaded the crew to take to the boats, leaving men of the 54th to Fight the terrifying inferno with their families. It took eighteen hours to bring the flames under control, a feat of endurance that was read out at the head of even' regiment in the army. The day is marked with inter-company competitions and ends with the traditional Sarah Sands Ball in the warrant officers' and sergeants' mess.
The Vernon bell, which used to be placed at DERR barrack gates, was presented to the regiment in 1960 to cement the affiliation between HMS Vernon and the Wiltshire Regiment. In 1951 a naval crown, superscribed '2nd April, 1801', was granted to the Royal Berkshire for its presence at the Battle of Copenhagen. A coiled rope in the badge of the regiment manifested this connection with the Royal Navy.
Plassey Day (23 June) records Clive's famous victors' of 1757 in India, and the only British regiment present, the 39th Foot.
Back Badge Day (21 March) takes its theme from the Gloucesters' strange practice of wearing a badge on the back and front of its headgear, a commemoration of the back-to-back fighting at Alexandria in 1801. This custom of the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment was eventually given official sanction in 1830. An army order of 1955 granted the 1st Battalion special permission to fly a streamer from the pikestaff of the regimental colour on Back Badge Day in the blue of the US Presidential Citation. The streamer is emblazoned with 'Solma-ri', the Korean valley in which the regiment made its name in 1951.
A newspaper report on the battle at the Imjin river in April 1951 hailed the stand made by The Glorious Glosters' against a Chinese army 30,000 strong as it crossed the Imjin and attacked the British 29th Infantry Brigade. The 'Glosters' fought back against impossible odds but by the evening of 24 April were pushed back on a hill where they fought desperately throughout the night. On the morning of the 25th the survivors attempted to break out but 526 men fell into enemy hands and were taken as prisoners of war.
The 66th (Berkshire) Regiment suffered a similar fate at the hands of the fanatical Ghazis of Afghanistan in 1880. The Royal Berkshires commemorated the battle on Maiwand Day (27 July) and a gigantic lion monument was erected in the heart of Reading to the memory of the 'last eleven' to succumb to the horde.
The LI has three mottoes on its blue regimental colours. Aucto splendore resurgo (Rise again with increased splendour) comes from the old Buckinghamshire Volunteers and relates to previous regiments that were ranked 85th in line. Cede nullis (Yield to none) came by way of the KOYLI from the 105th Regiment. Faithful was the family motto of Col Lambton of the old 68th, unofficially displayed on the caps of the regiment. The Devons' badge motto Semper fidelis (Always faithful) is now displayed with the Dorsets' Primus in Indis (First in India), an achievement of the 39th Regiment. Montis insignia Calpe (By the sign of the Rock) came with the castle and key badge of the Dorset Regiment and relates to its battle honour 'Gibraltar 1779-1783'.
The right to dispense with the necessity of drinking the loyal toast was inherited from two regiments. The Durhams' dispensation was given by King George III, possibly as a considered response to the official ban on its unofficial motto Faithful. The Shropshires were not required to drink the toast, nor to stand for the national anthem, a legacy of the 85th Regiment whose officers won the gratitude of George IV when they intervened to save him from a mob at the Theatre Royal in Brighton during an unpopular period in his reign. Officers of the Dtike of Cornwall's made the toast just once a year, on the sovereign's birthday, a unique custom which began with the privations of the Siege of Lucknow in 1857, when the officers' wine ration in the hard- pressed 32nd dwindled to such an extent that a decision was taken to reserve what was left for the Queen's birthday toast. The loyal toast as practised by officers of the Gloucestershire Regiment seems to ignore everyone present except the mess president and vice-president, who propose and respond the toast between themselves. This custom began during the Peninsular War, after a battle that left just two officers of the 28th standing, with an obligation to toast the King's health in this way. The regiment's membership of the Wolfe Society originated at the Battle of Quebec, where Gen Wolfe fell, mortally wounded, at the head of the 28th Regiment.
Special toasts were given in at least two regiments. The officers' mess of the 1st KOYLI drank a toast to 'Dyas and his Stormers', after which members and guests would stand in silence. This re-creation of a Peninsular War toast in the 51st Regiment focused on Ensign Dyas, famed for his bravery in leading a forlorn hope of volunteers to scale the walls of the fortress Badajoz in the siege of 1812. A Bumper toast to the 1st Duke of Kent, originally the province of the 2nd Dorset Regiment and their forerunners, the 54th Regiment, began in 1802 when Prince Edward took over the governorship of Gibraltar. His harsh discipline proved so unpopular, however, that soldiers from the garrison marched on his residence with assassination in mind, only to be scattered by a volley from the more loyal 54th. The Duke gratefully presented a silver punch bowl to the officers of the 54th, who have returned the consideration ever since by drinking the toast and inviting successive Dukes of Kent to be Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment.
DWR colours and large honorary colours being marched through the streets of Huddersfield in the 1970s
Officers of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry were reminded of the origins of the bugle badge with a mess dinner call taken from the French Messe de St Hubert, the patron saint of hunters.
The regiment was formed in 2006 with the union of three regular infantry battalions: the Green Howards (regimental headquarters (RHQ) at Richmond with TA companies in Cleveland and North Yorkshire); the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (RHQ at Halifax with TA units in Keighley, Bradford and Huddersfield); and the Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire, the former West and East Yorkshire Regiments (RHQ in York with TA detachments at Leeds, Hull and Beverley). The 4th Battalion is Yorkshire's TA element.
The blue peaked cap and khaki beret carry the new badge, which is made up of the White Rose, worn by the Yorkshire Brigade in the 1950s and the Yorkshire Volunteers from 1967, and the demi-lion from the Duke of Wellington's cap badge. The Duke's crest and tide were conferred on the 33rd (West Riding) Regiment after his death in 1852, in honour of the long association between man and regiment that began in 1793 when he purchased a lieutenant colonelcy in the 33rd. As a younger officer Arthur Wellesley served with the 76th Foot. The new badge is pinned to a square green patch on the beret, a custom of the Green Howards. Stable belts are green with a blue band and scarlet stripe in the centre.
Eighteenth-century re-enactment group in the vestments of a marching regiment of the line at the time of Gen Wolfe's campaigns
The East Yorkshires' badge, a star with the white rose of York on black in the centre, was employed by the PWO as a collar badge. The black part of the badge echoes the black line in the regiment's maroon and buff side hats and stable belts, and in the officers' shoulder cords, an old distinction of the East Yorkshire Regiment (EYR) which commemorates the death of Gen Wolfe at Quebec. Buff was the old facing colour of the 14th Regiment, restored to the West Yorkshire Regiment (WYR) in 1900. PWO buttons, impressed with the West Yorks' Prince of Wales's plume and the Horse of Hanover, omitted their button honours - the royal tiger within a circle inscribed INDIA and WATERLOO. The Prince of Wales's crest and title were bestowed on the 14th Regiment in 1876 after an inspection by His Royal Highness at Lucknow.
The Duke of Wellington's Regiment (DWR) badge had been worn on a scarlet backing since the Second World War. Scarlet was the facing colour of the 33rd and 76th Regiments that was returned to the DWR in 1905 and later extended to its stable belts, lanyards, ranking and bugle cords. The DWR collar badge, an elephant with howdah circumscribed HINDOOSTAN, was granted to the 76th Regiment in 1807 for distinguished service on Lord Lake's campaign of 1803, during which the regiment was known as 'The Old Immortals' from its remarkable ability to climb back to fighting strength after each devastating battle of the Mahratta Wars.
The band of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment marching through the ranks prior to its amalgamation with other bands of the King's Division in 1994. (Soldier)
The Green Howards' badge brought together the coronet and A cypher of Princess Alexandra with the Dannebrog (Danish cross) of her homeland, above the regimental numeral XIX. The title Princess of Wales's Own was conferred on the 19th Regiment in 1875 after she had presented new colours at Sheffield. As a cap badge the design incorporated a scroll inscribed with the regiment's title, which was updated to the Green Howards in 1951. This curious title was invoked in 1920 from an old nickname which came about in 1744 when the regiment, then known as the Hon. Charles Howard's, found themselves on campaign with another called Howard's. The two regiments had to distinguish between themselves and did so by the facings colours on their red coats, which produced 'Howard's Buffs' and 'Green Howards'. A few years after this all regiments were identified by a number based on their seniority in the line and the problem was eliminated.
The Leeds Rifles, a much-decorated TA battalion originally formed with the rifle volunteers in 1859, wore a green/yellow/blue ribbon on its shoulder straps, a silver metal maple leaf on the upper sleeve (marking service with the Canadians in the Second World War), a Croix de Guerre ribbon (for distinguished service at Bois de Petit Champ and Bligny in 1918) and an embroidered tank sleeve badge, representing a term spent with the Royal Tank Regiment in North Africa and Italy in 1942-5.
Maria Theresa, an arrangement of three funeral marches presented to Col Howard at the Viennese court in 1742, is the oldest of this collection and stands as the regimental slow march of the Green Howards. Their quick march, Bonnie English Rose, was adopted by the 19th in 1868 and officially sanctioned to the regiment in 1881, when its badge was the white rose of York.
A painting of the Battle of Famars in 1793 showing the 14th Regiment storming a redoubt to their drummers' stolen beat
Ca Ira, the regimental quick march of the West Yorkshire Regiment, is unique in being the only march gained in battle. It was the Duke of York who ordered the 14th to adopt this French Revolutionary chant in 1793 following the action at Famars, where Lt-Col Doyle rallied his men with the command 'Drummers, strike up Ca Ira and break the scoundrels to their own damned tune!' The French were stunned and the day was won but the regiment's return to England was slightly marred by the good people of Dartford, who stoned the band for playing the enemy's music. Today the march is played with Yorkshire Lass, the regimental march of the East Yorkshires, arranged in 1881 from Egerton's 1875 composition My Bonnie Yorkshire Lass.
The PWO slow march, God Bless the Prince of Wales/March of the XVth Regiment, similarly unites the slow marches of the WYR and EYR. The XVth von England was used by the 15th (Yorks, East Riding) Regiment from 1790, along with the troop The Duke Of York.
The title Duke of York's Own was authorised to the EYR in 1935 on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the regiment and the Silver Jubilee of King George V to honour the Duke of York, Colonel-in-Chief of the East Yorkshires since 1922.
The Wellesley, the old regimental march of the 33rd, was adopted by the Duke of Wellington's Regiment for its title, the family name of the Iron Duke' when he became colonel of the 33rd in 1806. The regiment's second march, Scotland the Brave, tells of the origins of the old 76th Regiment. On guest nights in the officers' mess Rule Britannia is traditionally played with a medley of rugby tunes, the West Riding being a strong rugby-playing area and The Dukes' very successful in the Army Challenge Cup.
The 19th Regiment re-enactment team in 2005; display of rifle drill and uniform of the Crimean War
Formation Day (6 June) was chosen to fall on the anniversary of D Day, a battle honour shared by all three regiments.
'The Dukes' observe two anniversaries: St George's Day (23 April), when a white rose is worn in the cap, and Waterloo Day (18 June) to commemorate the heavy losses of the 33rd in the battle, under their former colonel the Duke of Wellington. During the Napoleonic Wars the 33rd became known as 'The Havercake Lads', after a West Riding oatcake used by recruiting sergeants to tempt hungry young men to the colours. The regiment is unique in being able to parade a pair of honorary colours in addition to the regulation pair. The originals were presented to the 76th Regiment on Jersey in 1808 on the wishes of Lord Lake, who had the 76th in his 1803 Hindustan campaign against the Mahrattas. Renewed in 1830, 1886, 1906 and 1969, the honorary colours carry the elephant with howdah and mahout, circumscribed HINDOOSTAN, and the battle honours 'Mysore, Nive, Corunna, Peninsula, Laswaree Nov. 1 1803, Deig Dec. 23 1804, Agra Oct. 10 1803, Delhi Sep. 11 1803 and Ally Ghur Sep. 4 1803'. The last three blazons are accredited to no other British regiment.
Green Howards drummers wrapping the five Russian drums with oak leaves for Alma Day at Aldershot in 1934. (Green Howards Regimental Museum)
Imphal Day (22 June) celebrates the raising of the Siege of Imphal in Burma in 1944, in which the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the West Yorkshire Regiment fought the Japanese for four months without respite. The date is also significant in being the birth of the regiment in 1685.
Quebec Day (13 September) remembers the 15th Regiment in the Canadian campaign of 1759 and its association with the Wolfe Society. The East Yorkshire Regiment would decorate its colours with white roses on this day.
Alma Day (20 September) is observed in the Green Howards Battalion with a colour trooping and parade of Russian drums captured in the battle. The sergeants' mess honours the sergeants of the 19th Regiment who picked up their battalion colours as they fell and carried them forward into battle.
Generations of Green Howards have held military appointments in Norway and there exists a regimental alliance with the country's Kongens Garde. The regiment's relationship with the Norwegian royal family came through King Haakon VII, son-in-law of Queen Victoria and Colonel-in-Chief of the Green Howards from 1942. Soon after his death in 1957 King Olav V succeeded to the appointment, and King Harald V in 1992. The champion company goes under the title of King Harald's Company and bears his emblem. A special toast to the colonel-in-chief is followed by a silent toast to Queen Alexandra in the officers' mess. Mess protocol observes a number of interesting customs. The loyal toast was proposed only after three taps of the gavel, and the mess president and vice-president had bowed to each other and passed the port. Officers of the 2nd Battalion were wont to pass round a snuffbox, once the gift of a grateful Napoleon to Marshal Ney. Subalterns new to the mess are faced with the Brights Cup and its formidable 14 pints capacity. Retiring officers are breakfasted out of the Green Howards instead of being dined out, a custom that originated in the Ulster 'troubles' of the 1970s, when security duties often altered normal procedures.
In the East Yorkshire Regiment the loyal toast was customarily proposed and seconded by the mess president, a nod to a certain dinner party at which the vice-president was found to be too inebriated to be able to voice his part of the toasting ritual. The PWO upheld the custom with the mess ignoring the president's first (seated) proposal to the vice-president. Only when the president stands and repeats it to the mess does everyone stop talking and respond with the toast. Orderly officers of the EYR wore their swords to dinner as a reminder of stormy days in Scotland during 1689, when arms were rarely laid aside because of the constant threat of Jacobite raids. In the PWO Battalion the orderly officer symbolises this readiness by wearing cap and sword when in the anteroom of the officers' mess before dinner.
Mess silver is the pride of any officers' mess and that polished up for the Duke of Wellington's Regiment includes two pieces of historical interest. The central section of King Theodore's Drum, taken at Magdala in 1868, is inscribed, 'This drum of gold from the Dejaj Match Oukie which he gave to Queen Meuvin in the year of St Mark 1737'. The Abyssinian Cup was made to duplicate the regiment's Cornwallis Cup of 1806. Lord Charles Cornwallis was colonel of the 33rd Regiment before the Duke of Wellington and is remembered for raising it to a level of excellence in the eighteenth century.
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