80: South Wales Borderers (1689) & The Welsh Regiment (1719)

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South Wales Borderers

The South Wales Borderers was an infantry regiment of the British Army. It first came into existence, as the 24th Regiment of Foot, in 1689, but was not called the South Wales Borderers until 1881. The regiment served in a great many conflicts, including the American Revolutionary War, various conflicts in India, the Zulu War, Boer War, and World War I and II. The regiment was absorbed into the Royal Regiment of Wales in 1969.

The regiment was formed as Sir Edward Dering’s Regiment of Foot in 1689, becoming known, like other regiments, by the names of its subsequent colonels. It became the 24th Regiment of Foot in 1751, having been deemed 24th in the infantry order of precedence since 1747. In 1782 it became the 24th (The 2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot. The 1st Warwickshires were the 6th (1st Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot.

In 1776 the regiment was sent to Quebec where it subsequently fought American rebels who had invaded the province during their War of Independence. The regiment was part of the 5,000 British and Hessian force, under the command of Gen. John Burgoyne, that surrendered to the American rebels in the 1777 Saratoga Campaign and remained imprisoned until 1783.

In 1814 the 1st Battalion took part in The Gurkha War which saw the British and the Gurkhas gain mutual respect. Gurkhas were recruited by the British after the war, becoming part of the British Indian Army and then, after Indian independence in 1947, four Gurkha regiments joined the British Army.


In 1875 the 1st Battalion arrived in Southern Africa and subsequently saw service, along with the 2nd Battalion, in the 9th Xhosa War in 1878.

In 1879 both battalions took part in the Zulu War, begun after a British invasion of Zululand, ruled by Cetshwayo. The 24th Foot took part in the crossing of the Buffalo River on 11 January, entering Zululand. The first engagement (and the most disastrous for the British) came at Isandhlwana. The British had pitched camp at Isandhlwana and not established any fortifications due to the sheer size of the force, the hard ground and a shortage of entrenching tools. The 24th Foot provided most of the British force and when the overall commander, Lord Chelmsford, split his forces on 22 January to search for the Zulus, the 1st Battalion (5 companies) and a company of the 2nd Battalion were left behind to guard the camp, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Pulleine (CO of the 1/24th Foot).

The Zulus, 22,000 strong, attacked the camp and their sheer numbers overwhelmed the British. During the battle Lieutenant-Colonel Pulleine ordered Lieutenants Coghill and Melvill to save the Queen’s Colour—the Regimental Colour was located at Helpmakaar with G Company. The two Lieutenants attempted to escape by crossing the Buffalo River where the Colour fell and was lost downstream, later being recovered. Both officers were killed. At this time the Victoria Cross (VC) was not awarded posthumously. This changed in the early 1900s when both Lieutenants were awarded posthumous Victoria Crosses for their bravery. The 2nd Battalion lost both its Colours at Isandhlwana though parts of the Colours—the crown, the pike and a colour case—were retrieved and trooped when the battalion was presented with new Colours in 1880.

The 24th had performed with distinction during the battle. The last survivors made their way to the foot of a mountain where they fought until they expended all their ammunition and were killed. The 24th Foot suffered 540 dead, including the 1st Battalion’s commanding officer.

Rorke’s Drift

After the battle, some 4,000 to 5,000 Zulus headed for Rorke’s Drift, a small missionary post garrisoned by a company of the 2/24th Foot, native levies and others under the command of Lieutenant Chard, Royal Engineers, the most senior officer of the 24th present being Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead. Two Boer cavalry officers, Lieutenants Adendorff and Vane, arrived to inform the garrison of the defeat at Isandhlwana. The Acting Assistant Commissary James Langley Dalton persuaded Bromhead and Chard to stay and the small garrison frantically prepared rudimentary fortifications.

The Zulus first attacked at 4:30 pm. Throughout the day the garrison was attacked from all sides, including rifle fire from the heights above the garrison, and bitter hand-to-hand fighting often ensued. At one point the Zulus entered the hospital, which was stoutly defended by the wounded inside until it was set alight and eventually burnt down. The battle raged on into the early hours of 23 January but by dawn the Zulu Army had withdrawn. Lord Chelmsford and a column of British troops arrived soon afterwards. The garrison had suffered 15 killed during the battle (two died later) and 11 defenders were awarded the Victoria Cross for their distinguished defence of the post, 7 going to soldiers of the 24th Foot.

After the Cardwell-Childers Reforms of the British Armed Forces, the 24th Foot became the South Wales Borderers on 1 July 1881. The regiment’s regimental depot had been moved to Brecon in Wales in 1875 and this, understandably, led to the regiment having close links with South Wales. The South Wales Borderers became the county regiment of Brecknockshire, Cardiganshire, Monmouthshire, Montgomeryshire, and Radnorshire.

1st Battalion

In 1893 the 1st Battalion arrived in Egypt and after a two-year stay there moved to Gibraltar. The battalion moved back to the east when it joined the British garrison in India in 1897. As with most British battalions posted to India, it was a lengthy stay, not leaving until 1910. It was based in Britain when the First World War began.

First World War

Western Front

The 1st Battalion was part of the original British Expeditionary Force (BEF) that was sent to France shortly after war was declared.

In March 1916 the 2nd Battalion arrived into the carnage of the Western Front in France.

Welsh poet and language activist Saunders Lewis served in the South Wales Borderers during Wold War I.

Middle East and Other Theatres

The 2nd Battalion provided the only British contribution, a symbolic one, to the Japanese invasion of Tsingtao — a German naval base in China that was the base of the East Asiatic Squadron. Shortly after the capture of Tsingtao, the battalion arrived in Hong Kong and then back home in January 1915.

As part of the 29th Division, the battalion took part in the Dardanelles Campaign, landing at S Beach, Cape Helles on 25 April 1915. Unlike other beaches, the 2nd South Wales Borderers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel H.G. Casson, met little opposition and the landing, supported by the battleship HMS Cornwallis, was completed by 7:30am.


1st Battalion

The end of war gave the 1st South Wales Borderers no respite. The battalion moved to Dunshaughlin in 1919 where it was part of the British Army during the Irish War of Independence. They were involved in operations against Michael Collins and the Irish Republican Army. After the Anglo-Irish Treaty established the Irish Free State, the Battalion was evacuated.

In 1928 the 1st Battalion arrived in Egypt where they remained until they were posted to Hong Kong in 1930. In 1934 the 1st Battalion was, once more, posted to India, based in Rawalpindi.

The battalion was sent, for a brief time, to Iraq in 1937, a rare deployment for a British Army unit, Iraq being under Royal Air Force administration. It returned to India the following year where it took part in operations against hostile tribes in the volatile North-West Frontier. It was still in India when World War II began in 1939.

2nd Battalion

In 1919 the 2nd Battalion arrived at Barrackpore, India. It remained there, based in a variety of places, for many years, until it was posted to Aden (now part of the Yemen) in 1927 where it remained until returning to Britain in 1929.

The battalion was back in the Middle East in 1936 when it was sent to Palestine to assist in quelling a rebellion by Arabs. The battalion left in December, moving Northern Ireland. It was still based in the UK when World War II began.

Second World War

North-West Europe

The 2nd Battalion, as part of 24th Guards Brigade (Rupertforce), took part in the Norwegian campaign, fighting the Nazi German invaders.

In 1944 the 2nd Battalion had the distinction of being the only Welsh battalion to take part in the Normandy Landings landing under command of 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division. It was under command of 7th Armoured Division for a few days in June 1944, reverting to 50th (Northumbrian Division). In August 1944 it was briefly under command of 59th (Staffordshire) Division and on August 20 joined 49th Infantry Division. It ended its war in Germany, and remained there, as part of the occupation forces, until 1948 when it returned home.

Africa and the Middle East

The 1st Battalion, as part of the Indian 10th Infantry Division, was sent to Iraq to quell a German-inspired uprising in Iraq. The battalion saw subsequent service in Iran.

The 1st Battalion sustained enormous casualties in Libya near Tobruk when they lost around 500 officers and men captured or killed during a general retreat. The battalion found itself cut off when the German forces outflanked them, the commanding officer, Lt. Col. F.R.G. Matthews, decided to attempt to escape around the enemy and break through to British lines. It turned into a disaster with only four officers and around one hundred men reaching Sollum. To the surprise of the survivors the battalion was ordered to disband in Cyprus and the remnants of the battalion were transferred, with the exception of a cadre that returned to the UK, to the 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster). A few months later the battalion was re-formed from the cadre and the 4th Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment though it would remain in the United Kingdom for the duration of the war.


In 1945 the 1st Battalion was embroiled in the volatile uprising in Palestine, as well as undertaking operations to assist in the prevention of illegal Jewish immigration into the territory.

The 2nd Battalion was disbanded in 1948—every other second battalion of the Line Infantry was also disbanded as a consequence of defence cuts implemented shortly after the Second World War.

In 1946 the 1st Battalion arrived in Cyprus where it remained until 1949 when it deployed to the Sudan. The following year the regiment became part of the occupation force in Eritrea — a former Italian colony that was ruled by a British military administration after World War II. The regiment left after Eritrea joined its larger neighbour Ethiopia in 1952 after the United Nations ratified a resolution creating a federation between the two countries.

In 1948 a State of Emergency was declared in Malaya shortly after Communist insurgents, mostly from the large ethnic Chinese community, began a campaign against the British presence in Malaya as they did not believe Malaya’s eventual independence would lead to the installation of a Communist regime. This situation was what the South Wales Borderers entered in October 1955, in a conflict known as the Malayan Emergency. It was a vicious, brutal campaign, one of claustrophobia when they sent patrols deep into the Malayan jungle to search for the elusive guerillas—they were known as Communist Terrorist (CT) in British parlance. The regiment returned to the UK in 1958.

The regiment’s conduct during the war compelled Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer — a distinguished British officer during World War II and a man instrumental in the defeat of the CTs during the Emergency—to state that, “there has been no better regiment in Malaya during the ten years of the emergency and very few as good”.

In 1953 the regiment arrived in Brunswick, West Germany as part of the British Army of the Rhine.

In 1960 the regiment was posted to Minden, Germany and returned home two years later. In 1963 the regiment arrived in Hong Kong,[Stanley Fort], performing internal security duties until it returned home in 1966 to Lydd in Kent. During this time in the UK the Regiment was given the honour of performing ceremonial duties at Windsor Castle and the Tower of London. (Normally a Regiment of Guards duty). In January 1967 the regiment arrived in Aden — a British territory in the Middle East, in what is now the Yemen, that was experiencing turbulent times shortly before it achieved independence from the British—where it performed internal security duties until it returned home later that year

In 1969 the regiment was amalgamated with the Welch Regiment to form the Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot)



Welch Regiment


The Welch Regiment (or “The Welch”, an archaic spelling of “Welsh”) was an infantry regiment of the British Army from 1881 to 1969. Until 1920 it was called the Welsh Regiment.


The Origins of the Regiment:

The Welch Regiment had its origins in two regiments, the 41st and 69th Regiments of Foot, the first of which has long standing links with the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The 41st was raised in March 1719 as a Regiment of Invalids, namely Out-Pensioners of the Royal Hospital, to release active units for service overseas in the wars against the French. Known as Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Fieldings Regiment of Foot (or the Invalids), between 1719 and 1787 it carried out garrison duties in Portsmouth, Plymouth and the Channel Islands. In 1757 a second battalion was raised for the 24th Foot, and placed at the disposal of the Admiralty for service as marines with the fleet. In 1758 this Battalion was redesignated as the 69th Foot and, in 1782, linked to South Lincolnshire for recruiting purposes. In 1787 the Invalid character of the 41st was abandoned and the Regiment re-formed as a marching regiment of line fit for worldwide service. Between that date and 1881 the two Regiments pursued roles independent of one another, but drew closer when a common depot was established at Fort Hubberstone in 1871. Both campaigned and saw service in many parts of the world – achieving magnificent records of service – ultimately to be linked under the title ‘The Welch’.

A chronological history of both Regiments follows:

1719 – When units were needed for garrison duties at home in order to release active units for service overseas in the wars against the French, a number of the more active out-pensioners of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, who were fit for light duties at home, were enrolled and formed Colonel Edmund Fielding’s Regiment of Invalids.

1751 – The Regiment of Invalids became 41st Regiment of Foot (or Invalids).

1756 – A Second Battalion of the 24th Regiment, to become eventually The South Wales Borderers, was raised and in 1758 became the 69th Regiment of Foot. The 41st and 69th followed separate careers until 1881 when they became respectively the 1st and 2nd Battalions of The Welsh Regiment.

1761 – The 69th first distinguished itself at the Capture of Belle Île. Belleisle is the Regiment’s oldest Battle Honour although for some reason it was not actually awarded until 1951.

1762 – A year later the 69th took part in an equally successful operation in the West Indies against the French-held island of Martinique.

1782 – During the Napoleonic Wars in the latter part of the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries Infantry Regiments sometimes served on board ships of the Royal Navy and performed many of the duties carried out by the Royal Marines. In this year the 69th took part in the Battle of the Saintes. For their share in this victory the 69th was included in a Vote of Thanks passed by both Houses of Parliament, and was awarded a Naval Crown, superscribed ’12 April 1782′ to be carried on the Regimental Colour. This battle honour is unique.

In the same year the 69th became the South Lincolnshire Regiment and for this reason The Welsh Regiment played ‘The Lincolnshire Poacher’ as one of its Regimental Marches. The 69th continued its service afloat and served, amongst other ships, in HMS Agamemnon under the command of Horatio Nelson, then a captain. A little later, when Nelson commanded HMS Captain, he came across a detachment of the 69th serving aboard his ship, greeting them as ‘My Old Agamemnons’ a nickname that prevailed for many years.

Lt Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, joined the 41st Regiment of Foot on 23 January 1788 and served with the Regiment until 25 June 1789 when he transferred to the 12th Light Dragoons.

1796 – The 69th moved once more to the West Indies when two detachments served on HMS Britannia and HMS Captain both of which were present at the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797. These detachments greatly distinguished themselves, particularly that under the command of Lieutenant Charles Pierson in HMS Captain (still commanded by Nelson), which played a leading part in the capture and boarding of the Spanish ship San Josef.

The Welch Regiment is intensely proud of the unique Battle Honour of St. Vincent and in 1951 was given permission to associate it with the Battle Honour of the Naval Crown.

1797 – The battle of St Vincent marked the end of the 69th’s service afloat and in 1799 it took part in an expedition to Holland and in 1800 returned to the West Indies. Following this and after a spell at home the 69th moved East and commenced a tour of India that covered a period of twenty years. Having taken part in a series of operations in this time it earned the Battle Honour India.

Twice between 1805 and 1825 the 69th sailed on seaborne expeditions from India.

1799 – The 41st moved to Canada and carried out garrison duties there until war broke against the United States in 1812.

1803 – A second Battalion of the 69th (2/69th) was raised and was in garrison in Belgium when Napoleon escaped from Elba.

1810 – the 69th’s first expedition was against the French-held island of Bourbon, as Réunion was then called, and Mauritius. Both were attacked from the sea and captured. The second was against Dutch-owned Java, but occupied by the French. The expedition was successful although the fighting was severe and casualties considerable. In the meantime the final phases of the Napoleonic Wars were being played out in Europe.

1812 – The war against the United States lasted two years and was fought mainly on the Canadian border. The 41st played a leading part in the successful actions at the Siege of Detroit, the Battle of Queenston Heights, the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, and Miami for which Battle Honours were awarded.

The Battle Honours Detroit and Miami are unique to The Welch regiment.

1815 – In June Napoleon moved up to the Belgian Frontier to attack the Allied Army commanded by the Duke of Wellington, who some years earlier had served as a Lieutenant in the 41st. The 2/69th fought at Quatre Bras on 16 June where, owing to mistaken orders, it was caught unprepared and badly mauled by French cavalry. The Battle of Waterloo was fought on the 18 June.

At the end of the campaign the 2/69th was disbanded.

1822 – The 41st moved to India.

1824 – The Regiment took part in an arduous campaign against the Ava Kingdom, to become known as Burma and now Myanmar (Interestingly, in 1945 the 69th camped on the ‘maidan’ made by the 41st during the Ava campaign.).

1831 – On the 25 February on the recommendation of Colonel Sir Edmund Williams, then in command, royal approval was given to the ’41st Regiment being in future styled the 41st or THE WELSH REGIMENT OF INFANTRY’. Later in the same year the 41st was permitted to bear on its Colours the Prince of Wales‘s Plume and Motto – ‘GWELL ANGAU NA CHYWYLIDD’ (Rather death than dishonor).

So began the Regiment’s association with Wales which has been maintained with great pride ever since.

1842 – The 41st took part in the First Afghan War which broke out in this year and was engaged in the fighting at Kandahar, the Battle of Ghazni and finally Kabul the Afghan capital; following which the Regiment returned to England.

1854 – The Crimean War broke out in which Britain, France and Turkey fought against the Russians who were seeking supremacy in the region. The 41st fought throughout the campaign gaining Battale Honours at Alma, Inkerman and Sebastopol. The 41st was most heavily engaged at Inkerman, the last occasion on which the Colours were carried in Battle.

It was a ‘Little’ Inkerman fought on 26 October 1854 that Sergeant Ambrose Madden won the Victoria Cross, the first to be awarded to a member of the Regiment.

Inkerman ‘the soldier’s battle’ was fought on 5 November in thick mist, through which the Russians advanced in overwhelming numbers. The battle was fought out hand-to-hand in small groups and the Russian attack was finally broken. Captain Hugh Rowlands was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry in this battle. In another engagement Ensign John Stirling, carrying the Reimental Colour, was shot dead. The Colour was sized by a Russian but recovered by Sergeant Major Daniel Ford for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his courage.

This episode is commemorated in the silver centerpiece of the 41st which was made from some of the silver that was salvaged from the Officer’s Mess that was burned down at Pembroke Dock in 1905. Until its amalgamation the Battle of Inkerman was commemorated annually in the Regiment on 5 November.

1870 – the 69th saw no further active service in the 19th Century and having served in Canada was at home in 1881.

1881 – The Crimean War was the last occasion on which either the 41st or 69th fought under their original tiles; in this year they became respectively the 1ST AND 2ND BATTALIONS THE WELSH REGIMENT.

1881 to 1913

1881 – As the result of General Order 41 of 1 May the eighty-two single Battalion Regiments in the Army were amalgamated by pairs. Reducing these single Battalion Infantry regiments to forty-one resulted in the formation of two Battalion Regiments with new titles. Linking the 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment with the 41st Regiment may seem strange but the two had been linked for drafts for some time. There were strange anomalies in pairing and it was not an easy time for the Army as a whole. This policy may have seemed a logical step for Ministers but some ‘married’ pairs felt otherwise. The new depot for both battalions was established at Cardiff forging links with the city that are still extant.

At the time of the amalgamation 1st Battalion was deployed in South Africa and the 2nd Battalion in Sheffield, England; they were not to meet for some time so there were no ceremonial parades or other events to ‘consummate’ the pairing. This was not to happen for another eleven years.

1886 – The 1st Battalion moved to Egypt where they were issued with the new khaki drill uniform consigning their redcoats they had worn from their inception to ceremonial occasions only.

1888 – on 20 December the 1st Battalion took part in the Battle of Suakin under the leadership of the force commander colonel (later Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener), who wrote in his dispatches;

The half-Battalion of The Welsh Regiment are seasoned soldiers and whatever I asked of them to do they did well. Their marksmen at Gemaizah Fort and the remainder of the half-Battalion on the left fired section volleys driving the Dervishes from their right position and inflicting severe punishment upon them when in the open. Significantly the Battalion did not lose a man.

1892 – Following the tour in Egypt the 1st Battalion moved to Malta and there for the first time they met with the 2nd Battalion on its way by troopship to India. It was recorded at the time that ‘much cordiality’ followed before the 2nd Battalion went on its way.

1894 – The 1st Battalion returned home to Pembroke Dock where on St. David’s Day in 1895 the Officers’ Mess was totally destroyed and almost all the Regiment’s artifacts, plate and silver was lost.

1899 – When the Second Boer War broke out the 1st Battalion was in Aldershot and was immediately mobilized and dispatched to South Africa where it landed at Port Elizabeth on 26 November.

The 1st Battalion were first engaged in the Relief of Kimberley, where a British Force was besieged and was again in action on the 10 February at Battle of Paardeberg, where they lost heavily, and again at the Battle of Driefontein on the 10 March. The war became very fluid and developed into a prolonged struggle between the light, irregular and very mobile Boers and the more heavily laden and orthodox British Army. The 1st Battalion provided a company in the 6th Mounted Infantry Battalion, recorded as an initially motley unit provided with a mixed and indifferent stable of horses, and reinforcements from South Wales included soldiers from the Volunteer Battalions in South Wales to become the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Volunteer Service Companies.

The 3rd Militia Battalion of the Regiment was also embodied and served as a separate unit and with great with distinction from 1900–1902.

For service throughout the campaign The Welsh Regiment was awarded the Battle Honours of Relief of Kinberley, Paardeburg as well as the theatre Honour South Africa 1899–1902′.

One historian has commented about this period:

Despite the jingoism and victory bells at home, Britain had little to be proud of. It had taken 450,000 troops (including 256,000 regulars) two and half years to defeat the ‘rabble’ of some 87,000 Boer farmers. The war had cost £20 million and 20,721 British soldiers lives (of whom 13,310 died of disease). The Boers lost an estimated 4,000 killed.

1902 – Meanwhile, the 2nd Battalion were still serving peacefully in India and in this year were involved in the Delhi Durbar, organized by Lord Curzon the Viceroy, which was one of the most lavish and spectacular military events ever staged in India, to celebrate the Coronation of Edward VII as King-Emperor following the death of Queen Victoria on 23 January 1901.

1904 – The lst Battalion returned home to barracks at Gravesend, Kent in July.

1910 – The 1st Battalion were now in India and the 2nd Battalion at Pembroke Dock. From 23 August to 13 September this year the 2nd Battalion were chosen to undertake ceremonial guard duties at Buckingham and St. James’s palaces in relief of the Guards Brigade who undertook field training at that time.

1913 – Just prior to the outset of the First World War the 2nd Battalion were undergoing a field training exercise with Aldershot Command at Bordon, whilst the 1st Battalion continued to serve quietly in India

1914 to 1918 

When war broke out on 4 August 1914 The Welsh Regiment consisted of 1st and 2nd Battalions, respectively, in India and at home. Regimental Headquarters with 3rd (Special Reserve) and 7th (Cyclist) Battalions at Cardiff, 4th Battalion at Llanelli, 5th Battalion at Pontypridd and the 6th Battalion at Swansea.

Service Battalions were formed and the total number of Battalions of The Welsh Regiment rose to thirty four.

Fighting in the First World War was world-wide but the main theatre of war was in France and Belgium where the greatest strengths were deployed and the most important battles were fought and the heaviest casualties sustained. In a war of such magnitude covering so many theatres upon so vast a scale it is impossible to give detailed accounts of battles fought by The Welsh Regiment in this short history. But there are names that will live forever in the annals of The Welch Regiment and Wales.

On the 14 September 1914 at Chézy sur Aisne Lance Corporal William Charles Fuller won the Regiment’s first Victoria Cross of the war when, under withering and sustained rifle and machine gun fire, he advanced one hundred yards to rescue Captain Mark Haggard who was mortally wounded; Captain Haggard’s dying words of encouragement to his men ‘STICK IT THE WELSH’ are immortalized above the clock over the door of the main Barrack block at Maindy Barracks, Cardiff. Captain Edgar Kinghorn Myles and Private Hubert William Lewis each won Victoria Crosses in 1916 at the Siege of Kut, and Evzonoi, Macedonia respectively.

Of the thirty four Battalions of The Welsh Regiment, nineteen served actively overseas at a cost of nearly 8000 officers and men killed or died of wounds or illness.

So wide-flung was the extent of the First World War that it was finally decided that each Regiment should be awarded 10 Principal Battle Honours to be borne on the Colours and that, in addition, further Honours to which it was entitled would be shown on the Army List. Of these latter Honours the Regiment earned sixty one.

The Principal Battle Honours carried on the Colours of the Regiment’s Battalions are:

Aisne 1914,1918; Ypres 1914,1915,1917; Gheluvelt; Loos; Somme 1916,1918; Pilckem; Cambrai 1917,1918; Macedonia 1915–1918; Gallipoli; Gaza.

1918 to 1938

1918 – Once the war ended the Service Battalions were disbanded and the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion was disembodied. The Territorial Army Battalions were re-formed and the 7th (Cyclist) Battalion was absorbed into the 6th Battalion.

1919 – The 1st Battalion returned to British India until 1924 where it fought in Waziristan.

1920 – The regiment changed its name slightly to the Welch Regiment.

1927 – The 2nd Battalion had remained at home until moving to China to become part of the Shanghai Defence Force.

1938 – The Territorial Army was again mobilized as the possibility of another European conflict was deemed inevitable and so the Territorial Army was doubled in size with each unit forming a duplicate. In Wales the 2/5th and 15th Battalions were raised, both as 2nd Line duplicates of the 4th and 5th battalions. The 6th Battalion became an Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Battalion and was lost to the Infantry at that time.

1939 to 1945[edit]

1939 – The 1st Battalion moved to Palestine to play its part in operations connected with the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine. At the outbreak of war on 3 September the Welch Regiment comprised the 1st Battalion in Palestine and the 2nd Battalion in British India. In South Wales the Regimental Headquarters and Depot was in Cardiff with the four Territorial Army battalions situated 4th and 15th in Carmarthen and 1/5th and 2/5th in Glamorgan. In this World War the number of infantry battalions raised by the Welch Regiment was eleven. However, only the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 1/5th saw active service overseas and the rest would be used mainly for home defence or as training units.

Around 1,400 officers and other ranks of the Welch Regiment were killed or died from wounds or sickness during World War II with many more wounded.

1940 – The 1st Battalion first saw action in the Western Desert Campaign of 1940.

1941 – The 1st Battalion landed in Crete in February but was overwhelmed by the enemy in fighting at Suda Bay; Canea; and Sphakia Beach. Eventually the 1st Battalion was reformed in Egypt and joined the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade, part of the 4th Indian Infantry Division and moved back again to the Western Desert.

1942 – After heavy fighting in the area of Benghazi the 1st Battalion was again overrun and again suffered heavy casualties when the Afrika Korps swept through Cyrenaica, Libya.

1943 – Following a period of rest and training in Egypt and the Sudan the 1st Battalion was re-organized as 34th (Welch) Beach Brick and in March landed with the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, part of General Montgomery’s British Eighth Army, during the invasion of Sicily in July. Returning to Egypt it then became the 37th (Welch) Beach Brick until May 1944.

1944 – In May 1944 the 1st Battalion received replacements and became an effective infantry unit again. In July the battalion landed in Italy and fought in the Italian Campaign and would remain there for the rest of the war. The battalion was assigned to 168th (London) Infantry Brigade, part of 56th (London) Infantry Division. They took part in heavy fighting on the Gothic Line, one of many German defensive lines in Italy, and in the Croce area where the battalion, and the rest of the 56th Division, suffered heavy casualties and the 168th Brigade was disbanded.

Having been mobilized in 1939, the 4th and 15th Battalions had been retained at home where the 15th Battalion rendered valuable service training infantry replaceements to units overseas. The 4th Battalion was in Northern Ireland with the 1/5th Battalion in the 160th Infantry Brigade attached to the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division. In June 1944 they were, after many years of training, ordered to France to join the British Second Army in the Normandy Campaign. From the start of the campaign the 4th Battalion was involved in fierce fighting during the Battle for Caen, and around the Falaise pocket, the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of the Reichwald where it sustained very heavy casualties and involved some of the fiercest fighting in the North West Europe Campaign for British soldiers as they were up against determined German paratroopers.

Meanwhile the 1/5th and 2/5th Battalions, mobilized at the same time as the 4th and 15th Battalions, were retained at home where the 2/5th also trained and prepared drafts for overseas although it remained at home throughout the whole war as a Home Defence Battalion. The 1/5th Battalion, originally with the 160th Infantry Brigade, moved to Normandy in late June 1944 and fought alongside the 4th Battalion in the 53rd (Welsh) Division in the North West Europe Campaign distinguishing itself at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Falaise Gap, the Ardennes and the Reichwald Forest. In August 1944 the 1/5th Battalion was transferred from 160th Brigade to the 158th Infantry Brigade, still with 53rd (Welsh) Division. Some of the hardest fighting took place around the Falaise Gap where on 16 August 1944, near Balfour, Lieutenant Tasker Watkins of the 1/5th Battalion was awarded the Victoria Cross for supreme personal bravery and inspired leadership.

1944 – While this fighting was going on in Northern Europe the 2nd Battalion had been retained in India but in October 1944 the battalion moved to Burma as part of the 62nd Indian Infantry Brigade attached to the 19th Indian Infantry Division where it joined the British Fourteenth Army, led by Bill Slim. In November the battalion crossed the Chindwin River at Sittang, captured Pinlebu and saw some very hard fighting on the Swebo Plain.

1945 – In March 1945, after the 168th Brigade was disbanded, the 1st Battalion was strangely transferred to the 1st Guards Brigade, part of 6th Armoured Division, and remained with it until the end of the war. In April they took part in Operation Grapeshot which ended with the capture of thousands of prisoners of war and the surrender of the German Army in Italy on May 2. The 2nd Battalion saw its bitterest fighting along the TaungooMawchi Road where for a hundred miles, with deep jungle on either side, the Japanese defended vigorously all the way.

The Second World War ended in Europe on the 8th May 1945, now known as VE-Day, and against the Japanese on 14 August, VJ-Day. The deployment of the active battalions of the Welch Regiment at this time was: the 1st Battalion at Tarvisio, North East Italy; the 2nd Battalion at Taungoo, Burma; and both the 4th and 1/5th Battalions in Hamburg, Germany.

1946 to 1959[edit]

1946 – 4th and 5th Battalions ceased to be operational following occupation duties in Düsseldorf and the Ruhr respectively.

1947 – The 4th and 5th Battalions were re-formed as TA Battalions on St.David’s Day.

The 1st Battalion returned home and was garrisoned at Malvern, Worcester with the 2nd Battalion that had returned from Burma.

1948 – In February the 1st Battalion moved to Brecon and assumed the role of Welsh Brigade Training Centre.

On 14 June as a result of Infantry reductions the 2nd Battalion amalgamated with the 1st bringing to an end nearly two hundred years of active service on both land and sea.

1950 – In the Spring the 1st Battalion relinquished its training role and re-formed as an active Infantry Battalion and moved to Colchester where it undertook an intense period od training prior to moving to the Korean Peninsula where the Korean War had just started.

The Battalion sailed from Southampton on 10 October and disembarked Pusan on 12 November. Joining the 29th British Infantry Brigade in the 1st Commonwealth Division and at once relieved lst Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment.

During the Korean War the Battalion won no less that three Distinguished Service Orders, three Military Crosses and many Mention in Despatches. It also gained the Battle Honour ‘Korea 1951–52’ that remains the only Battled Honour won by any Welsh Regiment since the end of the Second World War.

1952 – On 9 November the Battalion moved to Hong Kong and became part of 27th Infantry Brigade and was stationed in the New Territories.

1954 – The Battalion returned home in November and took up residence again in Pembroke Dock (Llanion Barracks) where it had once before been stationed in 1895.

1956 – The Battalion moved to Luneburg, North West Germany on 6 June becoming part of the 10th Infantry Brigade.

1957 – In September the Battalion underwent intensive training at Malvern, Worcestershire in preparation for a tour of duty in Cyprus. The Battalion sailed for Cyprus on 31 October arriving in Lefka on the north east coast of the island on 10 November.

1958 – Following distinguished service in the Cyprus campaign the Battalion moved to North Africa and established its Headquarters in Benghazi with company detachments at Derna, Marj and Al Adm.

1959 – The Battalion returned to Maindy Barracks, Cardiff where it remained until moving to Berlin in 1960.

1960 to 1963

The 1st Battalion was stationed in Berlin at Brooke Barracks in Spandau. This was at the height of the Cold War and in 1961 came the erection of the infamous Berlin Wall. The battalion incurred numerous duties within the defence parameters of the city such as the Ice Keller duties of an armoured escort to an 8 year old boy from his home on the Iron Curtain border to his school in Spandau and return. The Corps of Drums were trained to become a Mines and Explosives response team (EOD) to help the Royal Engineers in time of trouble. After the shooting of Peter Fechter, who was left to die on the wall, the allied forces arranged for a military ambulance to be stationed on Checkpoint Charlie in the American Zone. This was crewed by members of the Corps of Drums together with the RAMC staff and they would have to enter East Berlin and risk their lives to rescue any persons shot on the east side of the wall by the East German guards {VOPOS – Volkspolizei} and take them to an East Berlin hospital. Also the battalion contributed to the guarding of the famous Berlin Troop Train, that operated from West Germany through East Germany into West Berlin.

The year 1962 was significant in that it saw the end of National Service and the last National Servicemen left the Battalion in Berlin. His name was Wayne Rawlings from Caerphilly. This moment was recorded in the Regimental Journal ‘The Men of Harlech’ in the following words ‘For the first time for almost 25 years we are an all-Regular Battalion’. This valedictory was less than generous to the men who had served, fought and died in the Regiment and all those involved could be mightily proud of the time they served in the Regiment and the often arduous duties they performed for Queen and Country in that time.

1963 to 1965

The 1st Battalion became the Demonstration Battalion of The School of Infantry, stationed first at Netheravon and then Knook Camp in Heytesbury. In 1965 they became the first occupants of the newly built Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster.

1966 to 1968

For their final overseas posting 1 Welch took over from 1SWB in Stanley Fort on Hong Kong Island. Here they carried out internal security duties, border patrols and ceremonial duties. Sgt Matchett was awarded a George Medal for rescuing two Police Officers who had been injured in a minefield.


The 1st Battalion The Welch Regiment amalgamated with The 1st Battalion The South Wales Borderers to form the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Wales 24th/41st on 11 June in Cardiff Castle. The newly appointed Colonel-in-Chief, HRH The Prince of Wales, presented new Colours to the Regiment and the traditions of both Regiments were handed to the Royal Regiment of Wales. Later that year in Caernarvon Castle The Prince of Wales wore the uniform of the Regiment at his Investiture.

Regimental holders of The Victoria Cross

(Prior to 1881)

  • Lieutenant Ambrose MADDEN VC (Sergeant-Major in 41st (the Welsh) Regiment of Foot)
  • General Sir Hugh ROWLANDS VC KCB (Captain in 41st (the Welsh) Regiment of Foot)

(Post 1881)

Battle honours

The Regiment was awarded the following battle honours:

  • From the 41st Regiment of Foot: Detroit, Queenstown, Miami, Niagara, Ava, Candahar 1842, Ghuznee 1842, Cabool 1842, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol
  • From the 69th Regiment of Foot: Bourbon, Java, Waterloo, India
  • Belleisle1, Martinique 17621, The Saints2, St Vincent 1797 1, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, South Africa 1899–1902

From the above Battle Honours the following were actually borne on the Regimental and Queen’s Colour:

  • The Regimental Colour:

Belleisle, Martinique 1762, St. Vincent 1797, India, Bourbon, Java, Detroit, Queenstown, Miami, Niagara, Waterloo, Ava, Candahar 1842, Ghuznee 1842, Cahool 1842, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeburg, South Africa 1899–1902, Korea 1951–52.

  • The Queen’s Colour:

Aisne 1914–18, Ypres 1914-15-17, Gheluvelt, Loos, Somme 1916–18, Pilkem, Cambrai 1917–18, Macedonia 1915–18, Gallipoli 1915, Gaza, Falaise, Lower Mass, Reichswald, Croce, Italy 1943–45, Crete, Canae, Kyaukmyaung Bridgehead, Sittang 1945, Burma 1944–45.

¹ Awarded for the services of the 69th Foot.

² Awarded in 1909 for the services of the 69th Foot, with the badge of a Naval Crown superscribed 12th April 1782.


‘History of the services of the 41st (The Welsh Regiment)’ by Captain and Adjutant D.A.N. Lomax, ‘The History of The Welsh regiment. 1719 – 1918’ author unknown, ‘The History of The Welch Regiment 1919–1951’ Based on the original work of CaptainJ.de Courcy and amplified and enlarged by Major General CEN Lomax CB CBE DSO MC (Colonel The Welch regiment)

External links

41st (Welsh) Regiment of Foot, 41st (Welsh) Regiment of Foot – National Army Museum, The Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh (Brecon), 41st – Regiment History, The Regiment, 1719 to now – 41st Regiment of Foot, Information Services – 17th Battalion The Welch Regiment, Pembroke County War Memorial – Boer War Memorial, 4th (Carmarthenshire) Battalion The Welch Regiment TA, 5th Battalion The Welch Regiment, 6th (Glamorgan) Battalion The Welch Regiment TF.



Royal Welsh Regiment


Royal Welsh Regiment

Active 1999–2006
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Line Infantry
Role Infantry

The Royal Welsh Regiment was an infantry regiment of the Territorial Army in the United Kingdom.


The regiment was formed in 1999 as part of the restructuring of the TA by the amalgamation of the two Welsh TA battalions:

The regiment had a total of five companies:

No new cap badge was created for this regiment, soldiers wore their former regimental cap badge or were badged according to the company they joined. As part of the restructuring of the infantry announced in 2004, the Royal Welsh Regiment became the TA battalion of the new amalgamated regiment of Wales, the Royal Welsh, on the 1 March 2006.



Royal Welsh

The Royal Welsh (R WELSH) (Welsh Y Cymry Brenhinol) is one of the new large infantry regiments of the British Army. Its formation was announced on 16 December 2004 by Geoff Hoon and General Sir Mike Jackson as part of the restructuring of the infantry and it was actually formed on St David’s Day, 1 March 2006. The 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh (Royal Regiment of Wales), is to be scrapped as part of the Army 2020 defence review.A more recent news report stated that “it will in fact be the 1st Battalion which will disappear, being dissolved into the 2nd Battalion with the latter then being renamed as the 1st.” After the restructuring and reorganisation of the army in 2006, the Royal Welsh is one of three regiments to trace its lineage and draw its recruits primarily from Wales.


The Royal Welsh consists of just one Regular Army battalion, plus an Army Reserve battalion, and was created through the merger of two single battalion regiments. The former regiments formed part of the battalion title (in brackets):

  • 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh (Royal Welch Fusiliers) (ex 1st Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers (23rd Foot)) – a Regular Army light infantry battalion based since August 2008 at Dale Barracks, Chester. This follows a two year tour in Cyprus. Under Army 2020, this will be the only Royal Welsh battalion in the regular army and its new role will be as an armoured infantry battalion, under 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade.
  • 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh (Royal Regiment of Wales) (ex 1st Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot)) – a Regular Army armoured infantry battalion based at Lucknow barracks, Tidworth. This battalion merged with 1 R WELSH on 2 April 2014 to form just the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh.

The Regiment’s cap badge is a representation of the Prince of Wales’s feathers (formerly the cap badge of the Royal Regiment of Wales), while the hackle of the Royal Welch Fusiliers is worn by all NCOs and Other Ranks. HM The Queen is the new regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief.

The regiment includes a goat, presented by the monarch; this is not a mascot but a ranking soldier. Lance Corporal William Windsor retired on 20 May 2009; a replacement, Fusilier William Windsor, was appointed on 15 June 2009.

The 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh (3 R WELSH) is the Regiment’s Reserve battalion. Paired with 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, they will deploy on future Operations with them. The Battalion’s HQ is at Maindy Barracks in Cardiff, with Company locations in Swansea, Pontypridd, Aberystwyth and Colwyn Bay.

Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Welsh

The Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh is an all-brass band within the British Army. Formed of 30 soldiers who are all members of the Army Reserve (United Kingdom), it is renowned for its versatility, and can provide:

  • Marching Band
  • Concert Band
  • Fanfare Team

They are perhaps most well-recognised for their performances in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, performing pre-match entertainment and the National Anthems before Wales International Rugby games. They have travelled abroad extensively, including countries such as Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Canada and Australia.

On many engagements, the Band is enhanced by the presence of “The Corps of Drums of The Royal Welsh” who with their own inimitable style and expertise add the final polish to any engagement.

In October 2009, due to £54m of Ministry of Defence budget cuts affecting front line services including the war in Afghanistan, all bookings from end of October 2009 until April 2010 were cancelled. This covered the Autumn Rugby Union Internationals and Remembrance Day. Band members agreed to honour all charity appearances during this period, but without pay.[9] These budget cuts have since been reversed and the band continues to perform.


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