403: Green Howards (Alexandra`s Yorkshire) & Cornwall Light Infantry

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Green Howards

The Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment) was an infantry regiment of the British Army, in the King’s Division. Originally raised in 1688, they served under various titles until they were amalgamated with The Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire and The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, all Yorkshire-based regiments in the King’s Division, to form The Yorkshire Regiment on 6 June 2006.


The regiment was formed in 1688 from independent companies of infantry in Devon. Until 1751 it was known by the names of its various colonels, when it became the 19th Regiment of Foot. In 1782 all regiments of foot without a special designation were given a county title “to cultivate a connection with the County which might at all times be useful towards recruiting”. The regiment became the 19th (1st North Riding of Yorkshire) Regiment of Foot, and its main recruiting efforts continued in this area until 2006, particularly in MiddlesbroughRedcarNorthallerton and Scarborough.

The Two Howards

The regiment was known as the Green Howards from 1744. At that time, regiments were known by the name of their colonel. The 19th regiment’s colonel was Hon. Sir Charles Howard. However, at the same time the 3rd regiment had been commanded by its Colonel Thomas Howard, since 1737. In order to tell them apart (since they both would have been known as ‘Howard’s Regiment of Foot’), the colours of their uniform facings were used to distinguish them. In this way, one became ‘Howard’s Buffs’ (eventually simply The Buffs), while the other became the Green Howards. Although the Green Howards were referred to unofficially as such from then on, it was not until 1921 that the regiment was officially retitled to the Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment).Under the Childers reforms all non-royal English infantry regiments were to wear white facings from 1881. In 1899 the regiment was able to reverse this decision with the restoration of the grass green facings formerly worn by the 19th Foot

Princess of Wales’s Own

In 1875 Princess Alexandra, Princess of Wales presented new colours to the 1st Battalion at Sheffield, and consented to the regiment bearing her name, thus becoming the 19th (1st Yorkshire North Riding – Princess of Wales’s Own) Regiment of Foot. The regiment adopted a cap badge consisting of the Princess’s cypher “A” combined with the Dannebrog or Danish cross and topped by her coronet.

The Princess became Queen Alexandra in 1901, and was the regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief from 1914 until her death in 1925.

Childers Reforms

In 1881 the infantry of the line were reorganised. The regular regiments of foot lost their numbers, instead taking on a territorial or county title, and amalgamating with the militia battalions and rifle volunteers in its designated regimental district. The regiment was renamed as the Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment), with its recruiting area continuing to be the North Riding. In 1902 the regiment was redesignated as Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment).

During the First World War (1914-1918) twenty four battalions of the Regiment were raised, and the Regiment took part in most of the principal battles and campaigns of the war, including that in North Russia in 1919.

Over 65,000 men served in the ranks of the Regiment, and of these over 7,500 were killed and nearly 24,000 wounded. Twelve Victoria Crosses were awarded during World War I.

Between 1918 and 1939, the Regiment took part in the third Afghan War of 1919, the operations in Palestine during 1938, the Waziristan operations of 1937-1939, and many other internal security duties overseas including those in Shanghai between 1927 and 1930.

In the Second World War (1939-1945), twelve battalions of the Regiment were raised. The Regiment fought in Norwaythe Western DesertSicilyItalyBurmaFranceHolland and Germany. Two battalions were amongst the first to land in the assault on D-Day 1944, where a member of the 6th Battalion was the only Victoria Cross to be awarded on D-Day.

Between 1949 and 1952 the Regiment served with great distinction in the campaign against the Chinese and Malayan Communist Terrorists in Malaya.

In the years since 1952, the Regiment has served in AfghanistanAustriaWest GermanySuezCyprusHong KongLibyaBelizeBerlin and England. It has distinguished itself in operations in Northern Ireland. One Regimental Officer was killed in action whilst serving with very great gallantry in the Falkland Islands in 1982. Elements of the First Battalion took part in the Gulf War in 1991, and in operations in Bosnia 1996-97.

Post World War II tours of duty

From 1949 to 1952 the regiment took part in the campaign against Chinese and Malayan Communist Terrorists in Malaya. After 1952 it served in Afghanistan, Austria, West Germany, Suez, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Libya, Belize, Berlin and Northern Ireland.


In 2004, as part of the re-organisation of the infantry, it was announced that the Green Howards would merge with the Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire (PWO) and the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (DWR) to form the new Yorkshire Regiment. The official rebadging took place on the 6 June 2006, whilst elements of the regiment were stationed in Bosnia and Kosovo.

From May 2006 until the regiment’s rebadging, the Green Howards were one of five remaining line infantry regiments that had not been amalgamated in their entire history, a claim shared with:

A and B (Green Howards) companies of the Tyne Tees Regiment, based in Scarborough and Middlesbrough respectively, merged with the PWO and DWR companies of the East and West Riding Regiment to form the 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, with the official rebadging date, 10 June 2006, being four days after their regular counterparts.

As amalgamation drew ever nearer, on 19 March at a farewell dinner at Dunster Castle in Somerset, the regiment farewelled its Colonel-in-Chief after HM King Harald V chose to end his role with the end of the regiment’s independent existence, while on 28 March, the 1st Battalion held their final parade on British soil. The Colonel of the Regiment, Brigadier JSW Powell OBE, took the parade and took the opportunity to award various service medals to members of the battalion. Almost all personnel of the regiment had deployed to Bosnia and Kosovo.

King Harald’s Company

Each year, all of the companies in the battalion took part in a competition, consisting of sports and military skills tests, to win the right to be named ‘King Harald’s Company’, after the regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief. The winning company was given a special flag bearing the King’s personal cypher, the Company Sergeant Major was presented with a special pace stick, and all members of the company were permitted to wear a special red badge on the arm of their uniform. The last company to hold the title was B (KH) Coy; the tradition was retained on rebadging to the new regiment.

Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The Duke of Cornwall‘s Light Infantry (DCLI) was an infantry regiment of the British Army from 1881 to 1959. Its lineage is continued today by The Rifles.

The regiment was created on 1 July 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms, by the merger of the 32nd (Cornwall Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot and the 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of Foot.The DCLI also incorporated the militia and rifle volunteers of Cornwall.

In 1959 it merged with the Somerset Light Infantry to form the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry.



Under the Childers system, one regular battalion of each regiment was to be at a “home” station, while the other was abroad. Every few years, there was to be an exchange of battalions. In the period from the regiment’s formation to the outbreak of the Second Boer War the two regular battalions were stationed as follows:


In October 1899 war broke out between the United Kingdom and the Boer Republics. The 2nd Battalion arrived in South Africa in the following month, where they took part in minor actions on the western border of the Cape Colony. In February 1900 they became part of the 19th Brigade. They entered action against the Boers at Paardeburg, and in March 1900 entered Bloemfontein. They continued to take part in a series of skirmishes until the end of the war. The 1st Battalion took no part on the war, moving from India to Ceylon in 1900 where they gurded South African prisoners of war.

Following the war in South Africa, the system of rotating battalions between home and foreign stations resumed as follows:

Reserve battalions 1881–1914

The 1881 reorganisation also redesignated the militia and rifle volunteers of Cornwall as battalions of the regiment as follows:

  • 3rd (Militia) Battalion (formerly the “Royal Conwall Rangers, Duke of Cornwall’s Own Rifles”, raised 1760)
  • 1st Volunteer Battalion (formerly 1st Cornwall Rifle Volunteer Corps, raised 1860)
  • 2nd Volunteer Battalion (formerly 2nd Cornwall Rifle Volunteer Corps, raised 1860)

Neither militia nor volunteer battalions were liable for service outside the United Kingdom. However, during the Second Boer War, both volunteer battalions contributed “Active Service Companies” that reinforced the regular battalions, and were awarded the battle honour “South Africa 1900–1901”.

In 1908 reserve forces were reorganised by the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907. The militia was renamed as the “Special Reserve”, with the duty of providing trained recruits in time of war. The volunteer battalions became part of the new Territorial Force, which was organised into 14 infantry divisions which called upon to serve abroad.[11] On 1 April 1908 the three reserve battalions were accordingly redesignated as the 3rd (Special Reserve), 4th (Territorial Force) and 5th (Territorial Force) Battalions, DCLI.

World War I

The war saw a large expansion of the regiment. This was done in two ways: by the formation of duplicate units to the existing territorial battalions, and by the raising of wartime “New Army” or Service battalions. The following battalions of the DCLI saw active service in the conflict:

Battalion Service
1st Battalion Western Front 1914–1917; Italian Front 1917–1918; Western Front 1918
2nd Battalion Western Front 1914–1915; Macedonian Front 1915–1918
1/4th Battalion India 1914–1916; Aden 1916–1917; Egypt 1917–1918
2/4th Battalion (Formed September 1914) India 1914–1918
1/5th Battalion Remained in UK until 1916. Western Front 1916–1918
6th (Service) Battalion (Formed August 1914) Western Front 1915–1918 (disbanded February 1918)
7th (Service) Battalion (Formed September 1914) Western Front 1915–1918
8th (Service) Battalion (Formed September 1914) Western Front 1915; Mesopotamian Front 1915–1918
10th (Service) Battalion (Cornwall Pioneers) (Formed March 1915) Western Front 1916–1918

World War II

In 1944 Hill 112 in Normandy acquired the name “Cornwall Hill” after Cornish soldiers of 5th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry suffered 320 casualties in the fighting there.

Recipients of the Victoria Cross

Eight soldiers of the DCLI were awarded the VC including:

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