75: Jersey & Guernsey Light Infantry & Lowland & Highland Regiment

This entry was posted by Monday, 22 November, 2010
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Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey

The Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey was formed in 1337 and can claim to be the oldest regiment of the British Army, although, because it is a Militia regiment, and was disbanded for some years in the late 20th Century, it is not the most senior.


In 1337, at a time of almost continuous tension with France, King Edward III ordered “all his faithful peoples of the islands” to be levied for war, forming the Jersey Militia. In 1622, it was organized in three regiments, the North, West and East and in 1685, a Troop of Horse was raised (which later became Dragoons). Around 1730, it was reorganized into five regiments, based on the Parishes of the island, of which the 4th had two battalions. In 1771, compulsory military service was introduced and the militia increased to a Regiment of Cavalry, a Regiment of Artillery and five Regiments of Infantry.

In 1781, it fought alongside Regiments of the regular British Army at the Battle of Jersey when an attempted French invasion (intended to remove the threat the island posed to American shipping in the American Revolutionary War) was defeated. In 1831, it was designated the Royal Jersey Militia on the 50th anniversary of this battle. The regiments were re-organized on several occasions between 1870, when the Troop of Dragoons was disbanded, and the outbreak of the Great War.

In 1915, one Company was detached to the 7th (Service) Battalion, the Royal Irish Rifles. In 1917, the 7th Battalion was disbanded, and personnel transferred to 2nd Battalion, The Hampshire Regiment. Other members of the Regiment served as guards at a Prisoner of War Camp located at St Brélade.

In 1921, the militia was reconstituted as one infantry battalion, the Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey.

In World War II, it served as the 11th (Royal Militia Island of Jersey) Battalion, The Hampshire Regiment, which was disbanded in 1946. Because the National Service Act did not apply in the Channel Islands, the Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey went into suspended animation (sc. it existed on paper, but had no personnel) until it was formally disbanded, along with the other British Militia regiments, in 1953.

1987, it was re-formed as a Territorial Army regiment, the Jersey Field Squadron (The Royal Militia Island of Jersey), 111th Regiment, Royal Engineers, later 73rd Regiment, Royal Engineers. In 2007, it came under the operational control of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers.

Royal Guernsey Light Infantry

Royal Guernsey Light Infantry was a regiment in the British Army that was formed from the Royal Guernsey Militia in 1916 to serve in World War I. They fought as part of the British 29th Division. Of the 2280 Guernseymen who fought on the western front with the RGLI, 327 died and 667 were wounded.

The regimental motto, Diex Aix, derives from the battle cry used by the Normans at the Battle of Hastings.

The Regiment lives on in the Guernsey Army Cadet Force (Det.) Light Infantry, who, although they do not wear the RGLI Cap Badge, still keep alive the history of the Regiment within the Detachment.

Brief History of the Regiment

1916 17 December

Royal Guernsey Light Infantry established. (Royal Guernsey Militia disbanded)


Training in Guernsey at Fort George, L’Ancresse and Beaucamps

1 June To England – Bourne Park Camp near Canterbury for advanced infantry training.

September Soldiers sent on a final leave

26 September The RGLI 1st Service Battalion (44 Officers and 964 other ranks) boarded trains to Southampton and onwards to France.

9-14 October Battle of Poelcappelle (Part of Third Battle of Ypres, or ‘Passchendaele’). After this, rest and training for Cambrai.

20 November – 3 December Battle of Cambrai, where the RGLI’s role was to go through the Hindenburg Line after the first wave and take ‘Nine Wood’ to the north of Marcoing. This went according to plan, and they then moved into Marcoing and on to the front line at Masnières. The Guernseymen found themselves defending the small town of Les Rues Vertes against a huge and determined German counter-attack. They suffered heavy casualties, with nearly 40% of the regiment either killed or injured during the battle, but only withdrew when ordered to by the high command. After this, rest, refitting, training.

1918 18-26 January

RGLI went back into the front line at St Jean (north east of Ypres). After this, work parties, training.

8-29 March In Battle zone, front line at Poelcappelle. After this, rest and training

3-7 April In front line, Passchendaele sector.

10-14 April Battle of the Lys, east of Hazebrouck. German 6th Army under Von Quast smashes 5 miles through allied lines. The RGLI is bussed south to help stem the German advance. Hopelessly outnumbered, but holding the Germans in a fighting retreat from Doulieu to near Merris, the Battalion suffers appalling casualties for the second time in the war. The RGLI is relieved by the Australians.

30 April The RGLI, withdrawn from the 29th Division and 86th Brigade, become GHQ troops well to the rear in Ecuires for the rest of the war and beyond.

1919, 22 May The RGLI return to Guernsey from France.

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