History of the Regiment
Who We Are
A Regiment is much about people and their character, character that has been influenced by fear, loyalty and bravery, fashioned and hardened by war.
St David’s Day 2006 sees the formation of a new Regiment – The Royal Welsh – that unites the regular, reserve and cadet infantry battalions of The Royal Welch Fusiliers and The Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot) in the principality of Wales.
These parent regiments have a history and heritage that goes back over three hundred years. They were first mustered within days of each other in March 1689, when King William III, in a single commission parchment, charged Lord Herbert of Chirbury and Sir Edward Dering to each raise a regiment of foot for service in Ireland. Since those early days, these regiments have participated in many significant events in British history.
Over the years, these Regiments’ names have evolved to meet changing roles and national needs. The significant contribution by its soldiers in the two major World Wars alone ensure the names of the 23rd or The Royal Welch Fusiliers, 24th or The South Wales Borderers, and the 41st or The Welch Regiment will live in the hearts and memories of many people for a very long time. The last of the territorial battalions of the Monmouthshire Regiment, inextricably parts of the Corps of the South Wales Borderers disappeared in 1967. In 1969, tinged with much sadness, the Borderers and the Welch amalgamated to form The Royal Regiment of Wales. For the Great War, the collective figures for these infantry regiments appear incomprehensible today with 250,000 men in 105 battalions, gaining 106 Battle Honours, at a cost of 25,886 lives with many more soldiers maimed and disabled for life.
This joining together of two distinguished line Regiments, each with its own distinctive characteristics, has created a Regiment rich in the traditions of both the old Regiments., bonded by their Welsh backgrounds, but a Regiment which will immediately develop its own distinctive style and customs.
A glance at the Royal Welsh’s history underlines the richness of the fighting heritage of the Regiment. There are numerous instances where the parent regiments found themselves fighting side by side, in Marlborough’s campaigns, in the Crimea, at Memetz Wood in the Great War and finally, in 1944, in giving freedom to the city of 's Hertogenbosch in Holland. Throughout time, individual officers and soldiers have been inter-posted between regiments contributing to a strong blend of mutual comradeship and understanding.
The Royal Welch Fusiliers distinguished itself in many campaigns; of note are Minden in 1759, Yorktown in America, Albuhera in the Peninsula, the saving of the Colours at Alma in the Crimea, the Relief of Lucknow during the Mutiny in India, the unique Honour gained after the Boxer rebellion in Peking and their heroic stand in 1944 at Kohima on the borders of India.
The South Wales Borderers are perhaps best remembered for Marlborough’s campaigns when the Duke was their Colonel, the American war of Independence, in the Peninsula at Talavera, and in the Sikh wars at Chillianwallah. Its involvement in the Zulu campaign was both tragic and glorious; Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift are likely to be remembered for a long time.
The Welch Regiment, formed in 1719 as a Regiment of Invalids for garrison duties, went on to distinguish itself in a wide variety of campaigns, most notably in Canada, in the Crimea, the Napoleonic wars (in which elements served at both Waterloo and with the Royal Navy as Naval Infantry) not to mention the two world wars and afterwards in Korea.
In more recent times, soldiers of the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Royal Regiment of Wales have played a vital role during operational tours in Northern Ireland, the Balkans and in Iraq, gaining many honours, individual awards and much praise for steadfastness, sheer professional approach combined with their typical Welsh humour and sense of fair play.
The Regiment has gained 244 Battle Honours, far more that can be displayed on the Colours, and 43 of its soldiers have received Britain’s highest award for valour – The Victoria Cross. Above all else, the Regiment has today a strong sense of identity with Wales and its people, which gives all its Battalions (regular, reserve and cadet) a distinct flair and esprit de corps. It is predicted that The Royal Welsh will emulate the fine standards and traditions of its gallant forebears, to make it on of the finest Regiments in the British Army. Within this website you will find information on all three Battalions of The Royal Welsh.