Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment

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The Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment
RNZIRCapBadge.jpg
Cap badge of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment
Active 9 January 1947 – Present
Country  New Zealand
Allegiance HM The Queen
Branch Army
Type Line Infantry
Role Light Role Infantry
Size Five battalions
Garrison/HQ 1st Battalion – Linton
2/1st Battalion – Burnham
2nd/4th Battalion
3rd/6th Battalion
5th/7th Battalion - Trentham
Motto Onward
March 1st Battalion -
Quick - Sons of the Brave
Slow - Scipio
2/1st Battalion -
March on - Action Front
March past (quick) - Great Little Army
March past (slow) - Scipio
March off - Army of the Nile
Commanders
Colonel in Chief HM The Queen
Colonel of
the Regiment
Major General K.M. Gordon, CBE (Rtd)
Insignia
Tac Sign RNZIR Tac-Sign.PNG
Abbreviation RNZIR

The Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment is the main combat unit in the regular New Zealand Army.

History[edit]

The regiment was formed on 9 January 1947 as the New Zealand Regiment with a single infantry battalion as part of the newly created infantry corps. By 1 August 1947 the regiment was augmented by the reorganisation of the Jayforce (the New Zealand occupation force in Japan):

  • 1st Battalion – redesignation of original regiment
  • 2nd Battalion – redesignation of 22nd Battalion, NZEF
  • 3rd Battalion – redesignation of 27th Battalion, NZEF

The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were disbanded in 1948 following their return to New Zealand. The honours and traditions of the 22nd Battalion, NZEF were then perpetuated through the Wellington (City of Wellington's Own) Regiment, the Hawke's Bay Regiment and the Wellington West Coast and Taranaki Regiment.

The 2nd Battalion was raised again in 1959 and saw service in Malaya before converting to a depot for the 1st Battalion in 1963. The regiment received its present name on 1 April 1964, when all of the Territorial Force battalions were absorbed into its structure, receiving battalion numbers:

In 1973, the regiment gained an additional regular battalion, when the Regimental Depot was redesignated as 2/1st Battalion, RNZIR. This structure was in place until 1999, when the TF regiments resumed their separate identities following the re-organisation of the army structure. Today, the RNZIR has two regular battalions:

  • 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (light infantry) – the original battalion formed in 1947, is currently taking over the High Readiness Capability (HRC) role for the Army. Changed its role from mechanised infantry back to light infantry in 2012, as QAMR is expanding to include more mechanized infantry in addition to its traditional cavalry role.
  • 2/1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (light infantry) – originally the 2nd Battalion, this was given its current name in 1973. In 1989 the 2/1st Battalion designated A Company as Ranger Company and trained in several specialist fields, being cliff assault, boat assault, helo rappelling, and parachuting this was in effect for less than 1 year and reverted to A Company in 1990 although training in the above courses was still undertaken as late as 1995. Officially A Company or POE Company (Point of Entry Company) was staffed exclusively by Parachute Trained volunteer's (manned at approximately 120 soldiers, Company strength trained at the Parachute Training School Unit based in Whenuapai, Auckland staffed by RNZAF) exchanges took place between other parachute allied countries (Exercise Long look) including the Parachute Regiment and Commandos of the United Kingdom and 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) until in 1997 this role was also stripped from A Company which then reverted to a normal infantry company. Future roles include extreme cold weather environments, it's traditional speciality the bush/jungle, and potentially a company of paras.

The 3/1st Battalion, RNZIR was a planned TF mobilisation unit, a concept which arose during 1990s reorganisation planning which did not go beyond 'paper' status. Previously, under the three-battalion plan, upon mobilisation of TF infantry units from the six battalion groups, each of the regular battalions would be augmented by a company, while the remaining four would be used to form 3/1st Battalion.

In addition, the RNZIR contributed two companies to the ANZAC Battalion in Vietnam between 1968 and 1971. It is this that has provided the RNZIR with its only battle honour thus far, which is the only battle honour awarded to a New Zealand unit since World War II.

On 17 March 2013 the six TF battalions were amalgamated into three with the 2nd Battalion (Canterbury and Nelson-Marlborough and West Coast Regiment) combining with 4th Battalion (Otago and Southland Regiment) to form the 2nd/4th Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, the 3rd Battalion (Auckland [Countess of Ranfurly's Own] and Northland Regiment) combining with 6th Battalion (Hauraki Regiment) to form the 3rd/6th Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (3/6 RNZIR) and the 5th Battalion (Wellington West Coast and Taranaki Regiment) and 7th Battalion (Wellington [City of Wellington's Own], Hawkes Bay Regiment) combining to form the 5th/7th Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (5/7 RNZIR).[1]

Organisation[edit]

A member of 1 RNZIR in East Timor during 2007

In the New Zealand Army, an Infantry Platoon is commanded by a second lieutenant or a lieutenant with a Platoon Sergeant (holding the rank of sergeant), a Platoon Signaller and a medic (where relevant) comprising the Platoon Headquarters. The Platoon is sub-divided into three sections of between 7–10 soldiers, each commanded by a corporal with a lance corporal as the Section second-in-command (Section 2iC). Each section can be sub-divided into two fire-teams, commanded by the Section Commander and 2iC respectively, as well as normal two man Scout, Rifle and Gun Teams. In recent years the section organisation consists of the two fire team concept, where the section is divided into two fire teams with a Gun team in each and one commanded by the section corporal and the other section lance corporal with a section marksmen in each team and the leftover riflemen divided equally among the two fire teams. The section corporal is still in overall command and is in contact with the other fire team via radio if the situation changes.

There are three platoons in a Rifle Company, which is commanded by a major, and three rifle companies within an infantry battalion, which is commanded by a lieutenant colonel. An infantry battalion will also contain an organic Support Company including a signals platoon, mortar platoon (mortars now officially under the Artillery corps but still used by Infantry on deployment), Direct Fire Support Weapons Platoon which includes 7.62 mm MAG 58s in the sustained fire role, 84 mm Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, Browning .50 Caliber machine-guns, Reconnaissance Platoon and Sniper cell, and a Logistics Company (transport and stores). It used to include an Assault Pioneer platoon, but this was removed due to government cost cutting. The battalion totals around 400 to 500 soldiers depending on retention levels. Individual rifle companies might be given a speciality to focus on for training purposes for example "enhanced infantry" special forces support, or extreme cold weather environments.

The above organisation is a greatly reduced battalion strength, as a full strength battalion should field 800 to 1,000 soldiers. This is due to consecutive governments downsizing the New Zealand military to reduce costs.

Battle honours[edit]

Because it is recruited on a nationwide basis, and has no specific regional links, the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment claims descent from the old New Zealand Regiment and all previous Territorial Infantry Regiments of the New Zealand Army. As a consequence, it is permitted to display a selection of 105 battle honours awarded to ten separate regiments:

  • New Zealand
  • South Africa 1900–02
  • The Great War: Somme 1916 '18, Messines 1917, Ypres 1917, Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, Arras 1918, Hindenburg Line, France and Flanders 1916–18, Anzac, Gallipoli 1915
  • World War II: Greece 1941, Crete, Minqar Qaim, El Alamein, Takrouna, North Africa 1940–43, Cassino I, The Senio, Italy 1943–44, South Pacific 1942–44
  • South Vietnam 1967–70[Note 1]

Current deployments[edit]

  • One company from the 2/1st Battalion is currently deployed on overseas operations in conjunction with Australian forces – stationed in East Timor/Timor Leste
  • One platoon from a Territorial unit is in the Solomon Islands. This is a rotational operation, called Operation Rata, and involves a rotation of Territorial troops from throughout New Zealand, usually alternating between North Island and South Island units.

Alliances[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Only battle honour awarded to a New Zealand unit since 1945.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Royal Guard to Mark TF Merger". Army News (New Zealand Army) (440): 7. Retrieved 9 April 2013.