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 BattalionTrentham
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 parent administrative regiment of regular and reserve infantry battalions in the New Zealand Army.

History[edit]

Formation[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.[1] 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[2]
  • 3rd Battalion – redesignation of 27th Battalion, NZEF[3]

The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were disbanded in 1948 following their return to New Zealand.[4][5] 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.

Malaya[edit]

The 2nd Battalion was raised again in 1959 and saw service in Malaya before converting to a depot for the 1st Battalion in 1963.[6] 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:

Vietnam War[edit]

In 1967, during the Vietnam War, 1 RNZIR which was stationed in Malaya, contributed Victor Company, a 182-man rifle company to Vietnam which served from May 1967 until November 1967. For the first two weeks the company served with 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment at Nui Dat and then came under 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment for the remainder of the tour.[7] Despite being under 2RAR operationally, V Company did maintain some command autonomity for all non-operational administrative matters which were reported to the New Zealand Headquarters in Saigon. During its six months in Vietnam V Company participated in Operation Paddington (8–16 July 1967), Operation Cairns (25 July – 1 August 1967), Operation Atherton (16 August – 3 September 1967), Operation Ainslie (4–21 September 1967) and Operation Kenmore (29 September – 11 October 1967).[8] Victor Company was replaced by Whisky One Company in December, also from 1 RNZIR in Malaya. A fresh Victor Company also joined and the two New Zealand companies continued to serve under 2RAR until the formation of the ANZAC Battalion in 1968.

1 March 1968 saw the formation of the "ANZAC Battalion" which was a merger of A, B and C Companies of 2RAR with V and W Companies of RNZIR[9] and renamed 2RAR/NZ (ANZAC). W and V Companies operated as New Zealand companies, maintaining their identity and designation within the Australian battalion they were part of. The new ANZAC Battalion's first operation was Operation Pinnaroo (27 February – 15 April 1968) with 3RAR, followed by Operation Cooktown Orchid (April 1968).[10] In May 1968 Victor 3 replaced Victor 2, 2RAR was replaced by 4RAR and the ANZAC Battalion became 4RAR/NZ (ANZAC) until May 1969 when it became 6RAR/NZ (ANZAC). During this rotation two New Zealand mortar sections and two Assault Pioneer sections were added.[11] In July 1970 6RAR/NZ was relieved by 2RAR/NZ (ANZAC). Finally, the ANZAC Battalion was replaced by 4RAR/NZ (ANZAC) on 2 May 1971[12] serving until the withdrawal of the last Australian and New Zealand combat troops in December 1971.[13]

New Zealand infantry participated in many operations in Vietnam thereafter including Operation Coburg (24 January – 1 March 1968), Operation Kosciusko[14] (15–20 June 1968), Operation Merino[15] (18–25 July 1968), Operation Lyre Bird[16] (1–4 September 1968), Operation Innamincka[17] (7–12 September 1968), Operation Hawkesbury (12–24 September 1968), Operation Sceptre,[18] an independent operation by W Company (28 September – 6 October 1968), Operation Capitol (12–30 October 1968), Operation Goodwood (December 1968 – February 1969) which included the Battle of Hat Dich, Operation Federal (27 March – 8 April 1969), Operation Overlander[19] (8–17 April 1969), Operation Stafford[20] (17 April – 1 May 1969), Operation Lavarack (31 May – 30 June 1969), Operation Mundingburra (14–15 August 1969), Operation Burnham (29 August – 30 September 1969), Operation Marsden (1–27 December 1969), Operation Petrie (29 June – 13 July 1970), Operation Nathan (13 July – 2 August 1970), Operation Cung Chung II (3 August – 20 September 1970), and Operation Cung Chung III (21 September 1970 – 31 January 1971).

After three tours W Company RNZIR was withdrawn from Vietnam in November 1970 along with 8RAR but V Company RNZIR stayed on. With W Company gone V Company participated in the ongoing Australian efforts to secure the area and defeat D445 Vietcong Battalion, the primary enemy force in Phuoc Tuy Province. V Company was involved in Operation Phoi Hop (1 February – 2 May 1971), Operation Overlord (5–14 June 1971) including Battle of Long Khanh, Operation Hermit Park (14 June – 27 July 1971), Battle of Nui Le (21 September 1971), and Operation Valiant (3–6 October 1971).

V Company also did their own independent operations including Operation Waiouru[21] (5–9 July 1969), Operation Tekapo[22] (26–28 August 1969), Operation Ross[23] (15–24 October 1969), Operation With the ARVN[24] (24–28 November 1969), Operation Napier[25] (10 January – 20 February 1970), Operation Waipounamu[26] (18–20 March 1970) and Operation Townsville[27] (20 March – 23 April 1970).

With other Australian battalions having been withdrawn earlier in 1971, only 3RAR and 4RAR/NZ remained by mid 1971. V Company's last operation was one of protecting the activities of the 1st Australian Task Force withdrawal from Vietnam during Operation South Ward (6–16 October 1971). Having completed six tours in Vietnam V Company was returned to 1 RNZIR in Singapore on 9 December 1971.[28]

RNZIR casualties (including RNZE attachments)[29] during the Vietnam War were:

  • 2RAR/NZ – 10
  • 4RAR/NZ – 5
  • 6RAR/NZ – 14

Post-Vietnam[edit]

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 volunteers (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, its 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 the 3/1st Battalion.

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).[30]

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 anti armour, heavy machine guns and automatic grenade launchers, Reconnaissance Platoon and Sniper cell, and a Logistics Company (transport and stores). The battalion totals around 400 to 500 soldiers depending on retention levels.

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]

Alliances[edit]

Notes[edit]

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

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Breen, Bob (1988). First to Fight: Australian Diggers, N.Z. Kiwis and U.S. Paratroopers in Vietnam, 1965–66. Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-320218-7. 
  • Lyles, Kevin (2004). ANZACs: Australian and New Zealand Troops in Vietnam 1962–72. United Kingdom: Osprey. ISBN 978-184-176702-4. 
  • McGibbon, Ian (2010). New Zealand's Vietnam War: A History Of Combat, Commitment and Controversy. Auckland, New Zealand: Exisle Publishing. ISBN 978-0-908988-96-9.