Green Howards

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The Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own Yorkshire Regiment; 19th Regiment of Foot)
Green Howards cap badge
Active 20 November 1688 – 6 June 2006
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Line infantry
Role Light infantry
Size One battalion
Garrison/HQ Richmond Barracks, North Yorkshire
Colors Green Facings
March Quick – The Bonnie English Rose
Slow – Maria Theresa
Anniversaries Alma (20 September)
Last Colonel in Chief King Harald V of Norway
Last Colonel Field Marshal Peter Inge KG, GCB, PC, DL
Tactical Recognition Flash Green Howards TRF.svg

The Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own Yorkshire Regiment), frequently known as the Yorkshire Regiment until the 1920s,[1] was a line infantry regiment of the British Army, in the King's Division. Raised in 1688, it served under various titles until it was amalgamated with the Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire and the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding), all Yorkshire-based regiments in the King's Division, to form the Yorkshire Regiment (14th/15th, 19th and 33rd/76th Foot) on 6 June 2006. Following further merges, in 2012, the battalion was removed from the order of battle.[2]


The regiment was formed in 1688 from independent companies of infantry in Devon. It was known by the names of its various colonels until 1751, when it became the 19th Regiment of Foot. In 1782, all regiments of foot without a special designation were given a county title "to cultivate a connection with the County which might at all times be useful towards recruiting".[3] The regiment became the 19th (1st North Riding of Yorkshire) Regiment of Foot, and its main recruiting efforts continued in this area until 2006, particularly in Middlesbrough, Redcar, Northallerton and Scarborough.

The Two Howards[edit]

The regiment was known as the Green Howards from 1744. At that time, regiments were known by the name of their colonel. The 19th regiment's colonel was Hon. Sir Charles Howard. However, at the same time, the 3rd Regiment of Foot had been commanded by its colonel Thomas Howard, since 1737. To tell them apart (since they both would have been known as 'Howard's Regiment of Foot'), the colours of their uniform facings were used to distinguish them. In this way, one became 'Howard's Buffs' (eventually simply The Buffs), while the other became the Green Howards. Although the Green Howards were referred to unofficially as such from then on, it was not until 1921 that the regiment was officially retitled as the Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own Yorkshire Regiment).[4] Under the Childers reforms, all non-royal English infantry regiments were to wear white facings from 1881. In 1899, the regiment was able to reverse this decision with the restoration of the grass green facings formerly worn by the 19th Foot.[5]

Princess of Wales's Own[edit]

In 1875, Princess Alexandra, Princess of Wales presented new colours to the 1st Battalion at Sheffield, and consented to the regiment bearing her name, thus becoming the 19th (1st Yorkshire North Riding – Princess of Wales's Own) Regiment of Foot.[6] The regiment adopted a cap badge consisting of the Princess's cypher "A" combined with the Dannebrog or Danish cross and topped by her coronet. The Princess became Queen Alexandra in 1901, and was the regiment's Colonel-in-Chief from 1914 until her death in 1925.[7]

Childers Reforms[edit]

In 1881, the infantry of the line were reorganised. The regular regiments of foot lost their numbers, instead taking on a territorial or county title, and amalgamating with the militia battalions and rifle volunteers in its designated regimental district. The regiment was renamed as the Princess of Wales's Own (Yorkshire Regiment), with its recruiting area continuing to be the North Riding.

A 3rd (Militia) Battalion was embodied in December 1899, and embarked the following month for service in South Africa during the Second Boer War. Many of the officers and men returned home in May 1902 on the SS Sicilia.[8]

In 1902, the regiment was redesignated as Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own (Yorkshire Regiment).[7]

World War I[edit]

In common with all other infantry regiments, the regiment was greatly expanded in size for the duration of the war by the formation of extra battalions: either by the duplication of existing Territorial Force (TF) units or by the raising on new "service" battalions. The following battalions saw active service:[9]

  • 1st Battalion (regular army). Initially part of the 2nd (Sialkot) Cavalry Brigade, the battalion remained in India throughout the war. Took part in Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919.
  • 2nd Battalion (regular army). On Western Front from October 1914.
  • 3rd (Reserve) Battalion. (former North Yorkshire Regiment of Militia). Remained in UK providing trained drafts to other battalions.
  • 1/4th Battalion (TF): On Western Front from May 1915.
  • 1/5th Battalion (TF): On Western Front from May 1915.
  • 6th (Service) Battalion: raised August 1914. Landed at Suvla Bay August 1915, took part in Gallipoli campaign. On Western Front from 1916 – 1918.,
  • 7th (Service) Battalion: raised September 1914: on Western Front from July 1915 until disbandment in February 1918.
  • 8th (Service) Battalion: raised September 1914: on Western Front from September 1915.
  • 9th (Service) Battalion: raised September 1914: on Western Front from August 1915, moved to Italy in November 1917, returned to France in September 1918.
  • 10th (Service) Battalion: raised September 1914: on Western Front from September 1915 until disbandment in February 1918.
  • 12th (Service) Battalion (Teesside Pioneers): Formed as the "Middlesbrough Pals" by the Mayor and Town of Middlesbrough in December 1914, became part of the regiment August 1915 and converted to pioneers in the following month. Served on Western Front from June 1916 until disbandment in June 1918.
  • 13th (Service) Battalion: formed July 1915 as a Bantam Battalion: moved to Western Front June 1916, returned to UK in June 1918, moved to Murmansk November 1918.
  • 16th (Labour) Battalion: Raised June 1916, worked on lines of communication in France from July 1916 to May 1917.

World War II[edit]

Men of D Company, 1st Battalion, Green Howards occupy a captured German communications trench during the breakout at Anzio, Italy, 22 May 1944.

During the Second World War, the regiment was again increased in size, although not to as large an extent as in the 1914–1918 conflict. In all, twelve battalions saw service: the 1st, with 15th Brigade, and 2nd regular army Battalions, the 4th and 5th Territorial Army Battalions, both serving with 150th Brigade, the 6th and 7th Battalions (both formed as 2nd Line duplicates of the 4th and 5th, when the Territorial Army was doubled in size in 1939, served with 69th Brigade), the 8th was formed for home defence, the 9th was formed for garrison duty (and later converted into the 108 LAA Regt RA), the 10th was formed by the conversion of the 2nd East Riding Yeomanry (a war-time duplicate of this yeomanry unit) in 1940 and subsequently becoming the 12th (Yorkshire) Parachute Battalion attached to the 5th Parachute Brigade and part of the 7th Airborne Division[10] The 11th, 12th and 13th were all formed in 1940.[11][12]

In 1942, the 12th Battalion was converted to armour as the 161st Regiment in the Royal Armoured Corps, but retained its Green Howards cap badge on the black beret of the Royal Armoured Corps as did all other infantry units converted in the same way.[13] In October 1943 it was then converted again, this time to the reconnaissance role, as 161st (Green Howards) Regiment in the Reconnaissance Corps. It never went into action as a regiment, but provided a replacement squadron to 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment, which had suffered heavy losses when its transport was sunk on the way to France to fight in the Battle of Normandy.[14]

Post World War II tours of duty[edit]

From 1949 to 1952, the regiment took part in the campaign against Chinese and Malayan Communist Insurgents in Malaya. After 1952, it served in Afghanistan, Austria, West Germany, Suez, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Libya, Belize, Berlin and Northern Ireland.


Green Howards Memorial, Crépon

In 2004, as part of the re-organisation of the infantry, it was announced that the Green Howards would merge with the Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire (PWO) and the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (DWR) to form the new Yorkshire Regiment. The official rebadging took place on 6 June 2006, whilst elements of the regiment were stationed in Bosnia and Kosovo.[11]

From May 2006 until the regiment's rebadging, the Green Howards was one of five remaining line infantry regiments that had not been amalgamated in their entire history, a claim shared with:

A and B (Green Howards) companies of the Tyne-Tees Regiment, based in Scarborough and Middlesbrough respectively, merged with the PWO and DWR companies of the East and West Riding Regiment to form the 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, with the official rebadging date, 10 June 2006, being four days after their regular counterparts.

As amalgamation drew ever nearer, on 19 March at a farewell dinner at Dunster Castle in Somerset, the regiment farewelled its Colonel-in-Chief after HM King Harald V chose to end his role with the end of the regiment's independent existence, while on 28 March, the 1st Battalion held their final parade on British soil. The Colonel of the Regiment, Brigadier JSW Powell OBE, took the parade and took the opportunity to award various service medals to members of the battalion. Almost all personnel of the regiment had deployed to Bosnia and Kosovo.


King Harald's Company[edit]

Each year, all companies in the battalion took part in a competition, consisting of sports and military skills tests, to win the right to be named 'King Harald's Company', after the regiment's Colonel-in-Chief. The winning company was given a special flag bearing the King's personal cypher, the Company Sergeant Major was presented with a special pace stick, and all members of the company were permitted to wear a special red badge on the arm of their uniform. The last company to hold the title was B (KH) Coy; the tradition was retained on rebadging to the new regiment.


The Green Howards Regimental Museum is located in the old Trinity Church in the centre of the market place in Richmond, North Yorkshire. The former Green Howards Regimental Headquarters, located within the museum, has now taken on the role of an Area Headquarters for the Yorkshire Regiment.

Battle honours[edit]

Victoria Cross recipients[edit]

Soldiers of the Green Howards awarded the Victoria Cross (VC)




Bond of Friendship:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28121. p. 2157. 20 March 1908.
  2. ^ [1] Yorkshire Regiment regimental history
  3. ^ Royal Warrant dated 31 August 1782
  4. ^ Army Order 509/1920, in effect 1 January 1921
  5. ^ Eric Hamilton, Bulletin of the Military History Society, Special Issue No.1, 1968
  6. ^ The Norwegian Link (Friends of the Green Howards)
  7. ^ a b "Evolution of a Name". Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "The War - Troops returning home" The Times (London). Monday, 28 April 1902. (36753), p. 8.
  9. ^ Baker, Chris. "The Yorkshire Regiment". The Long, Long Trail. The British Army in the Great War. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  10. ^ 12th (Yorkshire) Battalion, The Parachute Regiment at by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 July 2007)
  11. ^ a b c "The Green Howards Campaigns and Wars". Green Howards Museum. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  12. ^ "The Green Howards". Regiments.Org. Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  13. ^ George Forty, "British Army Handbook 1939–1945", Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998, p. 51
  14. ^ "161st (Green Howards) Reconnaissance Regiment". Retrieved 5 July 2012. 

External links[edit]