The Light Infantry
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|The Light Infantry|
Cap badge of the Light Infantry
|Active||10 July 1968-1 February 2007|
|Role||Armoured Infantry (one battalion)
Light Role (one battalion)
|Part of||Light Division|
|Garrison/HQ||1st Battalion - Paderborn, Germany
2nd Battalion - Edinburgh
|Motto||Aucto Splendore Resurgo, Cede Nullis, Faithful|
|March||Quick - Light Infantry
Double Past - Keel Row
|Anniversaries||Salamanca (22 July)|
|Colonel-in-Chief||HRH Princess Alexandra|
|Brigadier TJ Gregson MBE|
|Tactical Recognition Flash|
The Light Infantry was an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Light Division. It was formed on 10 July 1968 as a "large regiment" by the amalgamation of the four remaining light infantry regiments of the Light Infantry Brigade:
- Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry
- King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
- King's Shropshire Light Infantry
- Durham Light Infantry
The Light Infantry was descended from the original light troops that formed what were known as 'light companies' of line infantry regiments and later regiments in their own right. These soldiers were trained to act independently on the battlefield, within the framework of the battle, as skirmishers. In this respect, the Light Infantry shared many characteristics with the old rifle regiments and their descendant, the Royal Green Jackets, with which the Light Infantry formed the administrative Light Division. The Light Infantry though was not a rifle regiment, and the majority of its traditions resembled those of the ordinary line infantry regiments. Prior to 1914 the various light infantry regiments wore the same scarlet and blue full dress as the line infantry, being distinguished solely by their dark green cloth helmets and bugle horn badges.
The uniforms of the Light Infantry as created in 1968 did however have much in common with those of the rifle regiments: dark (Rifle) green No 1 dress tunics, rifle green berets and stable belts and black officers' shoes. The separate identity of the light infantry was however maintained by the retention of details such as the dark blue trousers also worn in No 1 dress and the red sashes of sergeants.
On creation as a new regiment in 1968 there were four battalions, however on 31 March 1969 4LI (formerly The Durham Light Infantry) was disbanded leaving three regular battalions. The remaining battalions remained in service until 1993 when they merged to form two battalions renamed 1st and 2nd Battalions.
- The Light Infantry Volunteers was formed in the Territorial Army on 1 April 1967 from the territorial battalions of the four predecessor regiments. On 1 August 1972 it was redesignated the 5th Battalion, The Light Infantry. It lost its Cornish company and its last Durham company in 1981, and in 1987 it lost its Yorkshire companies and began recruiting only in Shropshire and Herefordshire. On 1 July 1999 it amalgamated to form two companies of the new West Midlands Regiment.
- The 6th Battalion was formed in Somerset and Cornwall on 1 April 1971. On 1 July 1999 it amalgamated to form two companies of the new Rifle Volunteers.
- The 7th Battalion was formed in Durham and Yorkshire on 1 April 1975. It began recruiting from Durham only in 1981. On 1 July 1999 it amalgamated to form one company of the new Tyne-Tees Regiment.
- The 8th Battalion was formed in Yorkshire on 1 January 1987. On 3 August 1996 it was converted to a reconnaissance unit as the King's Own Yorkshire Yeomanry. On 1 July 1999 it amalgamated to form one company of the new East and West Riding Regiment.
- The various amalgamated D&D/RGBW companies and the Light Infantry companies have now become a new battalion in the new regiment, The Rifles as part of the restructuring of the infantry.
Amalgamations of 2007
In 2004, it was announced that the Gloucestershire element of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment would amalgamate with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. Because the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment was higher in the Order of Precedence than the Light Infantry, the new battalion was to be numbered as the 1st Battalion, Light Infantry, with the other two renumbered accordingly as the 2nd and 3rd. As of 2005, this amalgamation would have involved the whole of the RGBW.
On 24 November 2005, in a change to the planned amalgamations, it was announced by the Ministry of Defence that, after discussions between The Light Infantry, the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets, the four regiments would amalgamate to form a single, large regiment to be named The Rifles. The new regiment, which formed on 1 February 2007, contains five Regular Battalions and two TA Battalions.
- The 1st Battalion, The Light Infantry became 5th Battalion, The Rifles
- The 2nd Battalion, The Light Infantry became 3rd Battalion, The Rifles
The cap badge of The Rifles is the traditional bugle horn that The Light Infantry had as its cap badge.
The amalgamation described above has been criticised as leading to the disappearance of the Light Infantry as a separate branch of the infantry with its distinctive traditions and history. It is part of a process spread over 2006-2007 aimed at reducing and rationalising the infantry regiments into large multi-battalion units.
- Canada - The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment)
- Canada - Le Régiment de Maisonneuve
- Canada - The North Saskatchewan Regiment
- New Zealand - The Canterbury, and Nelson-Marlborough and West Coast Regiment
- Pakistan - 11th Battalion, The Baloch Regiment
- Pakistan - 1st Battalion, Sindh Regiment
- Kenya - 1st Battalion, The Kenya Rifles
- Mauritius - Special Mobile Force
- South Africa - The Rand Light Infantry
- Royal Navy - HMS Cornwall