Royal Green Jackets

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Royal Green Jackets
Rgjcapbadge.jpg
Royal Green Jackets Cap Badge
Active 1 January 1966 - 1 February 2007
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Rifles
Role Light Infantry
Size 6 Battalions
Part of Light Division
Garrison/HQ 1st Battalion - Weeton
2nd Battalion - Bulford
Nickname The Black Mafia
was given to the RGJ because of the very high number of senior officers they produced in the second half of the 20th Century, and the black buttons worn on their dress uniforms.
Motto Celer et Audax (Latin: Swift and Bold)
March Quick - Huntsman's Chorus/Italian Song
Double Pass - The Road to the Isles
Anniversaries Waterloo (18 June)
Commanders
Colonel-in-Chief HM Queen Elizabeth II
Colonel Commandant Lieutenant General N. R. Parker

The Royal Green Jackets (RGJ) was an infantry regiment of the British Army, one of two "large regiments" within the Light Division (the other being The Light Infantry).

History[edit]

It was formed in 1966 by the amalgamation of the three separate regiments of the Green Jackets Brigade:

There were also two Territorial Army battalions made up as follows

  • 4th(V) Bn Royal Green Jackets - formed from the remnants of the Rangers (KRRC), London Rifle Brigade, Tower Hamlets Rifles, Queens Westminsters, Queen Victoria's Rifles, Queen's Royal Rifles and Civil Service Rifles.
  • 5th(V) Bn Royal Green Jackets - formed from the 4th Bn the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (TA) and the Buckinghamshire Battalion of the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry

During the 1980s, the battalions were deployed to various parts of Northern Ireland (Operation Banner). The 1st, 2nd and 3rd battalions were also based in West Germany, Osnabrück (1RGJ), Minden (2RGJ) and Celle (3RGJ), where the Queen visited the Regiment in the mid 1980s. The 4th and 5th Battalions were also part of the NORTHAG NATO forces based in West Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In 1992 1st RGJ was disbanded and 2/RGJ and 3/RGJ renumbered 1/RGJ and 2/RGJ respectively. The last ever Royal Green Jackets unit was the London Oratory CCF who were rebadged as Irish Guards in 2010.

The regiment's greatest loss of life came on 20 July 1982 when seven RGJ bandsmen were killed by a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb which exploded during a public concert featuring the music from Oliver! to 120 people at the bandstand in Regents Park.[1]

After the 1992 reorganisation, the unit was mostly based overseas in Dhekelia, Cyprus and Paderborn, Germany as well as in Northern Ireland and saw action in Bosnia and Kosovo during the Yugoslav Wars. Both battalions returned to the UK by 2002 and one battalion served on Operation Telic in Iraq, the regiment's last ever assignment before the amalgamation. In 1975 to 1977 in Berlin 3 RGJ had a mascot called Charlie the Pig

Traditions[edit]

Their motto was Celer et Audax (Latin: "Swift and Bold"). As they were used as shock troops and marksmen, they had to get to the front line of battle as fast as was possible; as a result the RGJ marched at 140 paces per minute (at a 15" pace) whereas other regiments march at just 120 (with an 18" stride). Until recently no other regiment has devoted so much time to becoming highly proficient with the rifle, even though it has been part of standard army issue for 140 years; as a consequence, the RGJ's lowest rank (other than 'recruit') is Rifleman (Rfn), rather than Private (Pte), as in other regiments.

The regiment was classed as a 'rifle' regiment, having its lineage in the regiments of foot that were equipped with the first Baker rifles. Traditionally, rifle regiments wore rifle green tunics, an early form of camouflage, instead of the red jackets worn by line infantry, hence the regimental name. Also, the regiment carried no colours, as traditionally rifle regiments, being skirmishers and sharpshooters, had no need to identify where their fellows were on the battlefield. So, the battle honours of the Royal Green Jackets were worn on the regiment's cap badge. Infantry in the regiment wore a beret with the badge behind the left eye towards the side of the head, traditionally to show that they do not need to hide behind their colours to show how good the regiment is. The Maltese Cross cap badge itself was sometimes nicknamed the "News of The World", referencing its several Battle honours which resemble news headlines. The Royal Green Jackets' predecessors were issued with short swords instead of bayonets as the Baker rifles of the past were shorter than the traditional musket, fitting the sword to the rifle made the overall weapon length the same as a musket with bayonet attached. The RGJ consequently referred to their bayonets as 'swords'.

The Royal Green Jackets and its antecedent regiments, have been awarded, with a total of 59, more Victoria Crosses than any other infantry unit. The Royal Artillery, with 65, currently hold the most in the British Army.

Amalgamations of 2007[edit]

As part of the 2004 restructuring of the infantry, the RGJ was scheduled to be largely unaffected - though the regiment had already been reduced to two Regular battalions in 1992. The regiment would have received a new Territorial Army battalion through the grouping together of the various RGJ companies of the Royal Rifle Volunteers and the London Regiment.

However, on 24 November 2005 it was announced that after discussions between The Light Infantry and the RGJ, the two would be merged with the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry and Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry (RGBW) by the end of 2007 to form a single large regiment to be called The Rifles. The new regiment was to contain five Regular Battalions and two TA Battalions.

The reorganisation into "The Rifles" took effect on 1 February 2007:[2]

  • The 1st Battalion Royal Green Jackets became 2nd Battalion, The Rifles
  • The 2nd Battalion Royal Green Jackets became 4th Battalion, The Rifles
  • the surviving Territorial Army companies of 4 & 5 RGJ, along with a company of the RGBW became 7th Battalion, The Rifles

The Maltese Cross cap badge of the RGJ was adopted as the belt badge of The Rifles and will carry the battle honours. The Rifles is a Rifle Regiment and as such will not carry colours. The title "rifleman" was adopted for soldiers of the rank of private, as it had been with the Royal Green Jackets.

The Royal Green Jackets had four Combined Cadet Force units, which were part of the London Oratory School CCF, Winchester College CCF, Rutlish School CCF and Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe CCF (which was originally attached to the Buckinghamshire Battalion). A Fifth CCF unit was at Shiplake College, Henley-on-Thames.

Battle honours[edit]

A memorial sign of 1982 Regent's park bombing

Uniform[edit]

All Green jackets would have historically been made of wool with a lining of linen to give shape to the garment. The modern scarlet wool is also supplied by "Abimelech Hainsworth" and is much lighter than the traditional material, which was intended for hard wear on active service. Their boots were made of thick, imitation animal hide; this was then lined with a thin layer of wool. They had a small pouch on the side of their hip which contained the ammunition for their rifles.

Notable members[edit]

Alliances[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]