365: The Royal Warwickshire (1751) & The Leicestershire (1686) Regiment

This entry was posted by Sunday, 31 July, 2011
Read the rest of this entry »

Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Previously titled the 6th Regiment of Foot and The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was an infantry regiment of the British Army. In 1968, it was absorbed, with the other Fusilier regiments, into the four-battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

The regiment traces its origins to the 17th century. In Holland in 1674 the government retained two regiments of English troops, two of Scots and one Irish. In 1685 when James II requested their services during the Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion and organised them into two units, given the precedence as the 5th and 6th Regiments of Foot.

After Monmouth’s defeat they returned to Holland, but when William III became king of England in 1688 they accompanied him, with their seniority being confirmed from 1685. The 6th were nicknamed “The Dutch Guards” by William. Service in Ireland followed and the regiment was present at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and Aughrim in 1691. Campaigning in Flanders 1692-1695 followed, with action at Steenkirk 1693 and the storming of Namur 1695 which was the 6th’s first battle honour.

The 18th century

During the War of Spanish Succession the 6th were in Spain and Portugal fighting the armies of Spain and France. The regiment fought at Barcelona in 1706 and suffered heavy casualties at Almanza in 1707. In 1710 the 6th played a major part in the victory of Almenar and won undying fame at Saragossa and Brihuega. The regiment’s next conflict was the Jacobite Rising of 1745. The 6th were sent to secure the highland forts between Inverness and Fort William. Two companies were with the ill-fated army under General Sir John Cope at the battle of Prestonpans, where they were among the few who stood their ground. The 6th also defended Fort William, beating off every attack as all the other highland forts surrendered. The regiment went to Gibraltar in 1753 before moving on to the West Indies on garrison duty. On the outbreak of the American War of Independence detachments from the 6th arrived in New York in 1776 and saw action, but were of insufficient strength and were sent home. When, as an aid to recruiting, territorial links of infantry regiments were first established in 1782, the 6th became the 1st Warwickshire Regiment, reflecting their recent connections with the county. During the French Revolutionary Wars in 1794 in the West Indies, the 6th took part in the capture of MartiniqueGuadeloupe and St Lucia from the French and in Casdebar in August 1798 they gained a Battle Honour.

The Napoleonic Wars

The 1st Battalion went from Gibraltar to the Iberian Peninsula and were at Rolica and Vimeira in 1808. The battalion took part in the retreat to Corunna, losing 300 men during the march. The men were then shipped to UK before taking part in the Walcheren expedition before returning to the Peninsula in 1812. Present at Vittoha 1813 and heavily engaged at the later action at Roncesvalles. At the Heights of Echalar in August 1813 Wellington watched the regiment’s attack against 6,000 French in rugged positions in the mountains and described it as “The most gallant and the finest thing he had ever witnessed”. They were held in reserve at the Nive and were again heavily engaged at Orthes 1814. Once again, this so impressed the Duke that he subsequently scratched on the officers’ mess silver snuff box, which since 1785 had borne the words “Seek Glory”, the additional words “Huzza for the 6th Regiment Now Keep Glory”. The regiment sailed for Canada in early May 1814. Once there they gained the Battle Honour Niagara for their repulse of an American sortie into British territory.

Queen Victoria’s Wars

In 1832 the 6th became a Royal Regiment and their title was changed to The Royal (1st) Warwickshire Regiment. The 6th took part in the 7th and 8th Kaffir Wars in South Africa and received the Battle Honour South Africa 1846-7, 1851-2-3. Service on the North-West Frontier took place between 1849 and 1868. The Regimental Depot was established at Warwick in 1873 and following the 1880-1881 Childers Reforms, the regimental title became The Royal Warwickshire Regiment. In 1898 the regiment fought at Atbara and Omdurman during Lord Kitchener‘s reconquest of the Sudan and saw service in the Second Boer War at Johannesburg, Diamond Hill and Belfast.

The First World War

During the First World War The Royal Warwickshire Regiment raised 30 battalions. Three of these, 14th, 15th and 16th (Service) Battalions, were raised in September 1914 from men volunteering in Birmingham. These units were additionally entitled 1st, 2nd and 3rd City of Birmingham Battalions, and were known as The Birmingham Pals.

The Regiment gained 80 Battle Honours. During 1914 battalions were present at Le Cateau, the Retreat from Mons, Nery, the Marne, the Aisne, Armentieres, Ypres, Langemarck, Gheluvelt and Neuve Chapelle. The following year opened with 2nd Ypres followed by St Julien, Frezenberg, Aubers, Festubert, Bellwarde and Loos. During 1916 battalions were at Mount Sorrel, the Somme, Albert Canal, Bazentin, Delville Wood and a number of other engagements including Thiepval. The big battles of 1917 saw battalions in action at ArrasVimy, 3rd Ypres, Menin Road, Passchendaele and Cambrai.

The Somme, Amas, Lys and the Hindenburg Line were among numerous actions which involved the 6th in 1918. In addition to the Western Front, battalions of the 6th also saw action in Italy 1917-1918, at Gallipoli 1915-1916, Mesopotamia 1916-1917 and Persia 1916-1919. The Royal Warwickshire Regiment won six Victoria Crosses during the First World War.

Second World War

After service 1937-1940 on the North West Frontier of India, the 6th were with the British Expeditionary Force in Belgium and France 1939-1940, fighting at the defence of the Escaut, Wormhoudt, where some suffered the Wormhoudt massacre, and on the Ypres-Comines Canal. After Dunkirk, men of the 6th landed on D Day on 6 June 1944 with the first assault on the Normandy beaches and fought from Caen and the break out from Normandy to the Rhine crossing. They took part in the capture of Bremen, the last major action of the European war. During 1942-1945 battalions of the 6th fought in Burma and took part in the capture of Rangoon.

The Post War Years

Service in Palestine 1945-1948 followed World War II, then Korea 1953-1954, Cyprus 1955-1959 and the Arabian Peninsula 1957-1960. In 1963 in one of the ever more frequent reorganisations of the British Infantry, the 6th were required to join with the 5th (Royal Northumberland Fusiliers), 7th (Royal Fusiliers – City of London Regiment) and 20th (Lancashire Fusiliers) in the Fusilier Brigade; for this reason they were required to become, against their will and without historical reason, The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers. On 23 April 1968 the 6th were absorbed with the other Fusilier regiments into the four battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. 1954-1956 the regiment served in Eygpt. Stationed at Fayid on the cannel zone.


Royal Leicestershire Regiment


The Leicestershire Regiment (Royal Leicestershire Regiment after 1946) was an infantry regiment of the line in the British Army, with a history going back to 1688. It saw service for three centuries, before being amalgamated into The Royal Anglian Regiment in 1964.


1688 – 1881

On 27 September 1688 a commission was issued to Colonel Solomon Richards to raise a regiment of foot. From 1688 to 1751 the regiment was known by the name of its various colonels. The regiment saw service in the Flanders from 1694 to 1697, before moving to Ireland. In 1701 the regiment moved to the continent of Europe, and took part in the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1709 the unit returned to England, moving to Minorca in 1725.

In 1751 a royal warrant assigned numbers to the regiments of the line, and the unit became the 17th Regiment of Foot. It saw service during the French and Indian War at Louisbourg in 1758, Ticonderoga in 1759, and in Caribbean engagements in 1761 and 1762. Following that war it also saw duty during Pontiac’s Rebellion before eventually returning to England in 1767. The 17th were again in service during the American War of Independence, landing in Boston on New Year’s Day 1776. The regiment’s performance at the Battle of Princeton was commemorated in the addition of an unbroken laurel wreath to its insignia. Several companies were captured at the Battle of Stony Point by a daring night-time bayonet charge by “Mad” Anthony Wayne. The regiment moved to Nova Scotia before returning to England in 1786.

A royal warrant dated 31 August 1782 bestowed county titles on all regiments of foot that did not already have a special designation “to cultivate a connection with the County which might at all times be useful towards recruiting”. The regiment became the 17th (Leicestershire) Regiment of Foot.

The regiment was increased to two battalions in 1799 and both battalions served in the Netherlands before the second was disbanded in 1802. In 1804 the 17th moved to India, and remained there until 1823. In 1825 the regiment was granted the badge of a “royal tiger” to recall their long service in the sub-continent.[1] The Regiment was posted to New South Wales from 1830-1836.

The regiment returned to India in 1837, and then took part in the First Afghan War from 1838 to 1842. The 17th next came under fire in the Crimean War from 1854 to 1856.

In 1858 a second battalion was raised. The battalions served in Afghanistan, Burma, Canada.

1881 – 1914

The Childers reforms of 1881 created multi-battalion regiments. Each regiment had a designated regimental district and also incorporated the local militia and rifle volunteers. Regiments of foot were no longer to have numbers, but were to bear a territorial title.

The Leicestershire Regiment was accordingly formed on 1 July 1881. The regimental depot was at Glen Parva, and the regiment consisted of:

  • The 1st and 2nd Battalions (formerly the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 17th Foot)
  • 3rd (Militia) Battalion (formerly the Leicestershire Militia)
  • 1st Leicestershire Rifle Volunteer Corps, redesignated as the 1st Volunteer Battalion in 1883

The 1st and 3rd battalions fought in the Second Boer War 1899 – 1902. The 2nd Battalion was stationed as a garrison regiment at Gibraltar from early 1900.

In 1908, with the creation of the Territorial Force, the 1st Volunteer Battalion formed the 4th and 5th Battalions (TF). There was a minor controversy in the same year, when new colours were issued to the 1st Battalion to replace those of the 17th foot. A green tiger had been shown on the old colours and the regiment refused to take the new issue into use. The issue was resolved when the regiment received permission for the royal tiger emblazoned on the regimental colours to be coloured green with gold stripes.

1914 – 1918

In the First World War, the regiment increased from five to nineteen battalions which served in France and Flanders, Mesopotamia and Palestine.[5] The regiment lost approximately 6,000 dead in the four years of war.

1918 – 1939

The regiment reverted to its pre-war establishment in 1919. The 1st Battalion was involved in the Irish War of Independence 1920 – 1922, before moving to various overseas garrisons including Cyprus, Egypt and India. The 2nd Battalion was in India, Sudan, Germany and Palestine.

In 1931 the regimental facing colour was changed from white to pearl grey. Previous to 1881 the 17th foot had “greyish white” facings.

The 3rd (Militia) Battalion was placed in “suspended animation” in 1921, eventually being formally disbanded in 1953. In 1936 the 4th Battalion was converted to an anti-aircraft unit of the Royal Engineers, later part of the Royal Artillery. The size of the Territorial Army was doubled in 1939, and consequently the 1/5th and 2/5th Battalions were formed from the existing 5th.

1939 – 1945

Battalions of the regiment served in many theatres of the war, including Burma, Greece, Italy, North Africa, North West Europe and Norway.

1945 – 1964

In 1946 the regiment was granted “royal” status, becoming the Royal Leicestershire Regiment.In 1948, in common with all other infantry regiments, the 2nd Battalion was abolished. The 5th Battalion (TA) had been reformed in 1947.

In 1948 the regiment became part of the Forester Brigade, sharing a depot with at Warwick with The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, The Royal Lincolnshire Regiment and The Sherwood Foresters. Glen Parva was downgraded to regimental headquarters.

The 1st Battalion served in the Korean War from 1951 to 1952. They subsequently moved to England (exercising the freedom of the City of Leicester in 1952), Germany, Sudan, where they operated with the Sudan Defence Force and departed on 16 August 1955, Cyprus, Brunei and Aden.

In 1961 the territorial 5th Battalion absorbed the anti-aircraft successor to the former 4th Battalion to become the 4th/5th Battalion.

In 1963 the Forester Brigade was dissolved, with the Royal Leicesters and Royal Lincolns moving to the East Anglian Brigade where they joined the 1st, 2nd and 3rd East Anglian Regiments.

Amalgamation as a battalion of The Royal Anglian Regiment 

On 1 September 1964 the regiments of the East Anglian Brigade became The Royal Anglian Regiment. The 1st Battalion, Royal Leicestershire Regiment became the 4th (Leicestershire) Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment. The “Leicestershire” subtitle was removed on 1 July 1968 and the battalion was disbanded in 1975. The Royal Leicestershire heritage was included in the new regiment’s button design, which features the royal tiger within an unbroken wreath.

The 4th/5th Battalion, Royal Leicestershire Regiment continued to exist as a territorial unit of the Royal Anglians until its disbandment in 1967.


Leave a Reply