Royal Gibraltar Regiment

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Coordinates: 36°08′57″N 5°20′31″W / 36.149028°N 5.3419°W / 36.149028; -5.3419

The Royal Gibraltar Regiment
Royal Gibraltar Regiment cap badge.png
Cap badge of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment
Active April 1958-
Country Gibraltar
Branch  British Army
Type Home Defence
Role Internal Security
Size One battalion
Part of Queen's Division
Garrison/HQ Devil's Tower Camp, Gibraltar
Motto "Nulli expugnabilis hosti" (Latin) "Conquered by no Enemy"
March The British Grenadiers
Anniversaries Regimental Day: 28 April
Engagements Defence of Gibraltar, 1940-45
Colonel in Chief Lieutenant General Sir James Dutton KCB, CBE, ADC

Maj Sir Willie Thomson;

Lt Col Charles Norton
Tactical Recognition Flash Royal Gibraltar Regiment TRF.svg
Arm Badge Key of Gibraltar
Abbreviation RG

The Royal Gibraltar Regiment is the home defence unit for the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. It was formed in 1958 from the Gibraltar Defence Force as an infantry unit, with an integrated artillery troop. The Regiment is included in the British Army as a colonial force.[1]


Initially a reserve force, on the withdrawal of the British Army garrison from the territory in 1991, the Regiment was reorganised into an all infantry unit and took over the duties of the resident battalion. The re-roled regiment consisted of a headquarter company (Thompson’s Bty) and three rifle companies of which G Company was regular with the others being made up of TA soldiers.[2]


The Royal Gibraltar Regiment recruits from the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and the Commonwealth.

  • Organisation
    • HQ Company (Thomson's Battery, Regular)
    • G Company (Regular)
    • I Company (Regular)
    • B Company (Reserves)

In 1999, the regiment was granted the Royal title. In March 2001, for the first time, the regiment mounted the guard at Buckingham Palace. In addition to this, The Regiment has fired three 62 Gun Royal salutes at the Tower of London on the occasion of the Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, a duty normally carried out by the Honourable Artillery Company.[3] The regiment also has responsibility for the Ceremony of the Keys in Gibraltar.

HQ Company is made up currently of the Artillery Troop, Motor Transport Platoon, Signals Wing, Catering Platoon and Clothing Stores.

G Company comprises 3 regular rifle platoons.

I Company is a regular rifle company, but also holds the regiment's specialists when fully manned. These are:

  • 2 x Recce Sections,
  • 5 x Sniper Pairs,
  • 2 x Machine Gun Sections,
  • 2 x Assault Pioneer/Soldier Sections,
  • 2 x High Assurance Search Teams,
  • 2 x Low Risk Search Teams,
  • The Regiment's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Teams (EOD)

These are grouped in platoons for management purposes, e.g. Recce & Snipers form a platoon, Search Teams and EOD form a platoon, MG & Pioneers form a platoon.

B Company is the Army Reserve unit of the regiment, and also consists of three Rifle Platoons. It also provides two Sharpshooter Pairs, two Machine Gun Sections and one Low Risk Search Team.

In total, the regiment operationally is a Bn(-), and is designed to be able to deploy a fully manned Rifle Company (+) with specialist attachments at short notice anywhere in the world as part of JFC's force projection, whilst maintaining its defensive role in Gibraltar.

The regiment specialises in multiple roles[dubious ], it is the British Army's foremost experts on tunnel warfare[citation needed], as well as being extensively involved with British Military Advisory Training Teams in North Africa, namely Morocco, where the regiment has been forging close ties with the Moroccan Forces since 2000. The regiment until as recently as February 2013 had a BMATT team working in The Gambia, training forces to fight in Darfur. In the past, it has also sent its soldiers and officers to train units in other countries, both in Africa and the caribbean.

The regiment has begun to form close ties with 4th (Mechanised) Brigade who have taken operational responsibility for North Africa as part of the Army's 2020 reforms[citation needed]. It also has permanent postings in the Joint Counter-Terrorism Advisory Team (JCTAT[citation needed]) and at HQ Joint Forces Command (JFC)[citation needed], which it now falls under command of.

Further to these roles, the regiment is still the British Army's and Commander British Forces Gibraltar's Primary asset in the defence of Gibraltar, and during 2013 the regiment was deployed on numerous tasks across Gibraltar, working closely with the Royal Navy's Gibraltar Squadron against the Spanish Guardia Civil and numerous rogue Spanish fishermen violating Gibraltar's territorial waters.

A soldier of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment on ceremonial duty.

Ceremonially, the regiment undertakes all tasks for the Army in Gibraltar as the only major unit. It is responsible for Guarding His Excellency the Governor at his residence the Convent, and performing the Ceremony of the Keys twice a year. It also performs the Queens Birthday Parade in Casemates square, as well as any other Guards of Honour that are required. As well as 2001, in 2012 the Regiment once again provided the Queens Guard at Buckingham palace for the Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations, as well as firing numerous 62 Gun Salutes in her honour. The regiment is rumoured to have so impressed numerous dignitaries and senior officers with their outstanding performance that they are due to perform the Queens Guard again in the near future.[citation needed]

Unit history[edit]

18th century[edit]

The earliest verifiable historical evidence of local civilians enrolled to defend Gibraltar dates to 24 June 1720 and, by 1755, an armed organisation of local men were mounting guard on the picket line from Bayside to Devil's Tower to prevent soldiers from the garrison deserting across to the enemy.[4] These men were known as the Genoese Guard and were disbanded at the end of the Seven Years' War.[4]

During the Great Siege of Gibraltar, 160 local labourers volunteered to take part in the action during the night of 26/27 November 1781. They were tasked with following the advancing troops and assist in the dismantling and demolition of the Spanish batteries, magazines and trenches.[4]

19th century[edit]

During the Mahdist War, 100 local men were deployed by the commissariat as transport drivers, known as Los Carreteros Del Rey (The King’s Cart Drivers). The expedition was involved in several battles with the Dervishes. During a parade held in Gibraltar, the cart drivers were awarded the Egyptian War Medal with a clasp bearing the title ‘Suakin 1885’.[4]

20th century[edit]

During the Second Boer War, in 1900, a group of Gibraltarians offered to form a Local Corps of Volunteers. The suggestion was made that some of the Volunteers might be organised as a Rifle Corps. However, the war was over before the Corps was formed.[4]

World War I[edit]

During the World War I, a group of local rowing club members volunteered to take up arms. Such was the interest that soon some 400 Gibraltarians joined. One of the tasks was to act as stretcher bearers for the many casualties arriving on hospital ships from Gallipoli. The wounded were taken to the Royal Naval Hospital Gibraltar and a number of temporary hospitals.[5] The volunteers obtained recognition from the Governor, General Sir Herbert Miles, on 3 July 1915. Addressing the volunteers at Wellington Front, the Governor said that the Corps had "come into being not because of any official demand but as a result of their patriotic fervour and of their love and respect for the Crown".[6]

The Corps was based at Orange Bastion, with the Headquarters on the ground floor of what is now City Hall. Later, the group moved to Wellington Front. The volunteers were divided into four rifle companies, A, B, C and D: each was commanded by a Captain, with two subalterns, one Sergeant Major, four Sergeants, eight Corporals, two buglers and about 80 men. The first Commanding Officer was Major G B Roberts of the Royal Engineers. During the war, the Corps provided reinforcement to assist in the defence of the Rock. The Corps was disbanded on 1 February 1920.[6]

World War II[edit]

In 1938, the Governor General (Sir Edmund Ironside, 1st Baron Ironside) formed a Territorial Artillery unit to help man the anti-aircraft guns on Gibraltar. The Volunteers paraded for the first time on 28 April 1939. Just before the outbreak of the war, more volunteers were called for and men were allocated to the 4th and 27th Coast Batteries of the Royal Artillery as well as to the Royal Signals, Royal Army Service Corps and Royal Army Medical Corps.[6]

On the 2 September 1939, the Gibraltar Defence Force was mobilised. The Heavy Anti Aircraft section was attached to 19 AA Battery Royal Artillery and deployed with two 3 inch guns to the Admiralty oil tanks, on the east side of the Rock. They fired their first shots in anger on 7 July 1940 and from then on they were often in action against Vichy French and Italian planes, engaging German planes later in the war. They shot down their first enemy aircraft on the night of 20 August 1940. The entry in the unit’s War Diary reads as follows:[6]

"Third bombing raid over Gibraltar, first plane came over at 23.30 hours and was picked up by searchlights at the moment of bomb release. It kept a steady course and AA fire was opened. Plane was hit and brought down in the straits".

In April 1942, the Coastal Defence element was merged with the Anti Aircraft section.

Early in 1944, the force was reconstituted under the Defence Force Ordinance 1943. The majority of volunteers were placed on the reserve list, with other sections disbanded.[6]

Post War[edit]

On 30 August 1958, the permanent cadre and the reserve of the Gibraltar Defence Force was formed into the Gibraltar Regiment. The Regiment then had a dual role, being organised as an infantry battalion with four rifle companies and, an artillery troop manning the 9.2 inch coastal guns.[7] This organisation was to remain in force until 1971. With the departure of the last gunner unit in 1958, the Regiment was issued with four 25 pounder guns and took over the responsibilities of firing Royal Gun Salutes.[7]

On 25 September 1971, the regiment was presented with its first colours. At a ceremony held at the Grand Parade, His Excellency the Governor, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Varyl Begg, presented the Regiment with its colours on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.[7] On the same day, the Regiment was granted the Freedom of the City of Gibraltar by the Mayor of Gibraltar, the Hon Alfred Vazquez during a ceremony outside the House of Assembly.[7]

The artillery battery was named Thomson's Battery on 15 September 1973 in honour of the late Sir Willie Thomson OBE JP; and, in December 1975, Thomson’s Battery was issued with three 105mm pack howitzers. Following Operation Corporate, the Ministry of Defence decided, in line with its policy of modernisation and commonality of equipment, to re-equip the regiment with new weapons. In late 1982, six 105mm light guns replaced the three howitzers and eight Blowpipe surface-to-air missile units replaced the four L40/70 AA Guns.[7]

On 1 April 1991, the regiment was reorganised into an all infantry unit and took over the duties of the resident infantry battalion. The re-roled regiment consisted of a headquarters company (Thomson’s Bty), a military band and three rifle companies of which G and I companies were regular and B Company (and the band) consisting of TA soldiers.[7]

On 21 April 1998, the regiment performed its first public duties in London by firing a 62 royal gun salute at the Tower of London on the occasion of HM the Queen’s Birthday. On 1 July 1998, HRH the Duke of Kent presented the regiment with its new colours.[7]

21st century[edit]

In the 21st century, the regiment conducted public duties at Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and St James' Palace between 28 February to 16 March 2001. On 21 April 2004, the Regiment fired its second 62 Royal Gun Salute at the Tower Of London on the occasion of Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday. The regiment has supplied officers and men for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is in these theatres that members of the Regiment have been decorated with two Bronze Stars and a Military Cross.[8] The Royal Gibraltar Regiment is still to sign up to the Armed Forces Act 2011 to bring it in line with British Armed Forces.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]



Preceded by
British Army Reserve
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
The Bermuda Regiment