Lancashire Fusiliers

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Peyton's Regiment of Foot
20th Regiment of Foot
20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot
Lancashire Fusiliers
Lancashire Fusiliers Badge.jpg
Cap badge of the Lancashire Fusiliers
Active 1688–1968
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Line infantry
Role Fusilier
Size 1-2 Regular battalions
2 Militia and Special Reserve battalions
1-4 Territorial and Volunteer battalions
Up to 24 Hostilities-only battalions
Garrison/HQ Wellington Barracks, Bury
Nickname(s) The Two Tens
The Minden Boys
Kingsley's Stand
Motto Omnia audax
Anniversaries Gallipoli (25 April)
Minden (1 August)
Inkerman (5 November)
Hackle Primrose

The Lancashire Fusiliers was a line infantry regiment of the British Army that saw distinguished service through many centuries and wars, including the Second Boer War both World War I and World War II, and had many different titles throughout its 280 years of existence. In 1968 the Regiment was amalgamated with the other regiments of the Fusilier Brigade – the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers and the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) – to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Some of the most famous soldiers of the Regiment are Edward Cornwallis, James Wolfe, John Parr, Robert Ross and J. R. R. Tolkien.[1][clarification needed]

17th–19th century[edit]

Peyton's Regiment of Foot (1688–1751)[edit]

Soldier of 20th Regiment (1742)

By a commission dated 20 November 1688 the regiment was formed in Torbay, Devon under Sir Richard Peyton[2] as Peyton's Regiment of Foot. (The regiment's name changed according to the name of the colonel commanding until 1751.) The regiment served in the Glorious Revolution under King William III and at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 and Aughrim in 1691. During the War of Spanish Succession (1701–1714), it aided in the capture of Spanish galleons at Battle of Vigo Bay in 1702. The regiment distinguished itself at the Battle of Dettingen in June 1743, and at Fontenoy in May 1745, and served in the Battle of Culloden in April 1746.

20th Regiment of Foot (1751–1782)[edit]

In 1751, the regiment became the 20th Regiment of Foot, often written in Roman numerals 'XX Foot', (hence the nickname The Two Tens). During the Seven Years' War the regiment earned honour at the Battle of Minden on 1 August 1759, when, as an infantry formation, they stood up to and broke a French cavalry charge. During the American Revolution the regiment was sent to Quebec in April 1776 and assisted in the relief of Quebec in May 1776. Serving under General John Burgoyne for the remainder of the Canadian campaign, they later surrendered along with General Burgoyne at Saratoga.

20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot (1782–1881)[edit]

The 20th Foot at the Battle of Inkerman, by David Rowlands

The 20th Regiment of Foot was designated the 20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot in 1782. The 2nd Bn was raised in 1858.[3] During the Napoleonic Wars the 20th Foot fought in several early campaigns before serving with distinction in the Peninsular War, their performance was particularly noted at the Battle of Vittoria where they formed part of the "backbone" of the Duke of Wellington's forces. During the Crimean War, in 1854, they took part in the two major battles of Alma and Inkerman.

Lancashire Fusiliers (1881–1968)[edit]

The regiment became the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1881. Under the 1881 Childers Reforms each county regiment had two Militia battalions attached to it: these were found by the 7th Royal Lancashire Militia, raised in 1855 and recruited from Bury, Manchester and Salford. This formed the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers. In addition, Rifle Volunteer Corps were attached to their local regiments. In 1883 the 8th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (raised at Bury on 22 August 1859) became the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, and the 12th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (originally the 24th, raised at Rochdale in February 1860) became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion. In 1886 the 56th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (raised at Salford on 5 March 1860) was transferred from the Manchester Regiment to become the 3rd Volunteer Battalion.[4][5]

In common with other regiments recruited from populous urban areas, the Lancashire Fusiliers raised two further regular battalions, the 3rd in 1898, and the 4th in 1900. This necessitated adjustments to the numbers of the Militia battalions, which became the 5th and 6th battalions. However, the 3rd and 4th Regular battalions were disbanded in 1906.[3]

In 1898 the 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers took part in Kitchener's campaign to reconquer the Sudan and fought at the battle of Omdurman.

During the Second Boer War, in 1899, the 2nd Battalion saw action at the Battle of Spion Kop and also the Fusiliers took part in the Relief of Ladysmith. The 6th (Militia) Battalion also served in the war, leaving for South Africa on 10 February 1900.[6]

Haldane Reforms[edit]

Under the Haldane Reforms of 1908, the Militia were redesignated Special Reserve, with the dual wartime role of Home Defence and providing drafts for the Regular Battalions. The Lancashire Fusiliers' militia became 3rd (Reserve) Battalion and 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, both based at Bury. The volunteers now became the Territorial Force (TF), with battalions numbered in sequence after the militia. Thus the 1st Volunteer Battalion at Bury became 5th Battalion, 2nd Volunteer Battalio at Rochdale became the 6th Battalion, and the 3rd Volunteer Battalion formed the 7th and 8th battalions both based in Salford.[7][8] These four battalions formed the Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade, in the East Lancashire Division of the TF, on the eve of the First World War.[9]

First World War[edit]

The Lancashire Fusiliers expanded to over thirty battalions for service in the Great War and would serve with distinction. Eighteen members of the regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross. The regiment was represented in every campaign of the war.[citation needed]


A boat carrying Lancashire Fusiliers, bound for Gallipoli. Photo by Ernest Brooks.

At the initial landings of the Gallipoli Campaign at Cape Helles on 25 April 1915, six Victoria Crosses were awarded to 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers – 'the six VCs before breakfast'. The landing spot was later known as 'Lancashire Landing'.

Shortly afterwards, the four Territorial battalions from the regiment in 125th (Lancashire Fusiliers) Brigade landed at Helles and took part in the Second Battle of Krithia (6–8 May) under command of the 29th Division. The brigade later rejoined the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division for the Third Battle of Krithia and Battle of Krithia Vineyard.[9]

A subsequent landing further north at Suvla Bay took place on the night of 6/7 August. The Kitchener's Army volunteers of 9th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, part of 34th Brigade of 11th (Northern) Division, waded ashore in deep water and darkness and were pinned down on the beach losing their CO and a number of officers.

A service of commemoration has been held in the regimental town, Bury, every Gallipoli Sunday, the nearest Sunday to 25 April, since 1916. It has recently been decided that this commemoration will continue despite the death of the last survivor of the Lancashire Fusiliers who was present at Gallipoli.

Western Front[edit]

Tolkien in 1916, wearing his British Army uniform in a photograph from Carpenter's Biography.

The regiment, like most British regiments in the war, sent the majority of its battalions to the Western Front, in France and Belgium. During the Battle of the Somme in 1916 there were eleven battalions of the regiment that saw action in the campaign including three Pals battalions (including the Accrington Pals) and three Bantam battalions.
The famous fantasy author J. R. R. Tolkien served in this regiment, training with the 13th (Reserve) Battalion from 1915 and was later sent to the 11th (Service) Battalion, part of the 74th Brigade of the 25th Division, from 1916 until contracting trench fever during the Battle of the Somme in October 1916.

Second World War[edit]

The Lancashire Fusiliers raised seventeen battalions for service in the Second World War but only a few of them saw active service abroad. The regiment saw service in nearly every theatre of war.

Regular Army battalions[edit]

After recovering its numbers from the First World War the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers spent the interwar years based in various garrisons around the British Empire. In 1939 the battalion was based in British India. During the Burma Campaign the 1st Battalion fought with various units until 1943 when it became a Chindits formation with the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade which was commanded by Brigadier Orde Wingate and the Chindits were his idea. The battalion was involved in both major Chindit operations, suffering many casualties before the war ended.

Fusilier Frank Jefferson of the 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers with his parents after receiving his VC.

From the outbreak of war in 1939 to 1940, the 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was deployed with the 11th Infantry Brigade, alongside the 1st East Surreys and 1st Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry (later replaced by the 5th Northants). The brigade was part of the 4th Infantry Division and was sent overseas in October 1939 to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). The 2nd Battalion fought against the German Army in the battles of Belgium and France, until being forced to retreat to Dunkirk and were evacuated back to the United Kingdom, where they stayed until late 1942, anticipating a German invasion. In June 1942 the 11th Brigade, of whom the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers were a part of, was transferred to the newly created 78th Infantry Division. They then served in the final stages of the North African Campaign, the Tunisia Campaign, where the 78th Battleaxe Division gained an excellent reputation, Medjez El Bab, Sicily, and the Italian Campaign (as part of the Gothic Line). During the fighting in Italy Fusilier Frank Jefferson was awarded the Victoria Cross Wallace Jackson, died on Thursday 12 November 2009 aged 89 years. [10] [11] Another well known member of the battalion is C/Sgt Peter Maher MM who now lives in Clitheroe Lancashire.[citation needed]

Territorial Army battalions[edit]

The 1/5th Battalion was a 1st-Line Territorial Army (TA) Battalion serving in the 42nd (East Lancashire) Infantry Division with the 1/6th and 1/8th battalions in the 125th Infantry brigade. They were sent to France in April 1940 to join the rest of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and fought in the Battle of Dunkirk where they were evacuated to Britain. In 1941 the battalion was converted to armour as 108th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps (Lancashire Fusiliers). Units converted in this way continued to wear their infantry cap badge on the black beret of the Royal Armoured Corps.[12]

The 1/6th Battalion served alongside the 1/5th Battalion in France in April–June 1940 and were driven back to Dunkirk. In 1941 this 1st-Line TA Battalion was converted, like the 1/5th Battalion, to armour as 109th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps. Units converted in this way continued to wear their infantry cap badge on the black beret of the Royal Armoured Corps[12]

In 1936 the 7th Battalion was converted into 39th (The Lancashire Fusiliers) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Engineers, based in Salford. In the summer of 1940, while serving in 53 Anti-Aircraft Brigade, covering the North Midlands, it was transferred to the Royal Artillery. In May 1943 it converted back to infantry as 7th Lancashire Fusiliers[13][14]

The 1/8th Battalion began the war in 125th Brigade with the 1/5th and 1/6th battalions, but while in France with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) it exchanged with the 1st Battalion, Border Regiment into the 4th Infantry Brigade part of 2nd Infantry Division, as part of official BEF policy to mix the Regular and Territorial armies.[15] During the Battle of France, the 1/8th Lancashire Fusiliers, along with the 1st Battalion, Royal Scots and the 2nd Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment, were overrun on 26–27 May 1940 around the village of Locon, 2 kilometres north of Bethune by advancing German troops. Several massacres of Allied prisoners took place shortly thereafter, such as the Le Paradis massacre, primarily by the German SS Totenkopf Division. Later the battalion fought in the Burma Campaign and participated in many famous battles, such as the Battle of Kohima, serving in the British Fourteenth Army under Bill Slim.

Insignia of the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division.

The 2/5th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was formed in 1939 as a duplicate of the 1/5th, was part of the 197th Infantry Brigade, once again the 2nd-Line duplicate of the 1st-Line 125th Infantry Brigade.[16] It served with the 66th Infantry Division until 23 June 1940 when the division disbanded. The brigade then transferred to the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division. They landed in Normandy as part of Operation Overlord on 29 June 1944 and first saw action in early July at Malon on the North West outskirts of Caen as part of Operation Charnwood, where they suffered 121 casualties. They also took part in Operation Pomegranate and the battles on the Orne River. Of all the companies in this battalion, B Company stood out for the highest number of officers killed (in just two months B Company lost three Commanding Officers, and ALL Officers on a company attack just outside of Vendes). On 21 August 1944, the divisional commander visited the battalion and informed them the that 59th Division was to be disbanded, due to a severe shortage of infantryman at the time, in order to provide replacements for infantry units, and most had been battered during the recent heavy fighting. As a result, on 26 August, the battalion was officially disbanded and the companies were dispatched to different British battalions and divisions in the 21st Army Group. A Company was sent to 7th Royal Welch Fusiliers (53rd (Welsh) Division), B Company to 2nd Gordon Highlanders (15th (Scottish) Division), C Company to 2nd Glasgow Highlanders (15th (Scottish) Division) and D Company to 1st East Lancashire Regiment (53rd (Welsh) Division).[17] The 59th Division was considered by Bernard Montgomery to be one of the best and most reliable divisions in his 21st Army Group and was only chosen for disbandment because it was the youngest British division in France. The Battalion War Diary claimed it to be "A sad day. 5 years of training for 8 weeks fighting, and unfortunately the break up of the Bn leaves the Regiment without representative in this Theatre of War".

Throughout the spring and summer of 1939 the possibility of war with Nazi Germany was becoming increasingly obvious and so the Territorial Army was doubled in size and the 2/6th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers came into being as a 2nd Line duplicate of the 1/6th Battalion. Like the 2/5th Battalion, the 2/6th Battalion was also part of 197th Infantry Brigade in the 66th Infantry Division and was also transferred to 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division after 66th Division disbanded. However, in October 1942 the battalion was transferred elsewhere when it was replaced in the 197th Brigade by the 1/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The 2/6th Battalion remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war, serving with many different brigades, including the 211th Brigade from October 1942 to October 1943.[18] From July 1944, the battalion served with the 203rd Brigade and acted in a training role for the rest of the war.

This 2/8th Battalion was formed as a duplicate of the 1/8th Battalion and began the war in the 199th Infantry Brigade, alongside the 6th and 7th Manchester Regiment, part of the 66th Infantry Division and later transferred to the 55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division when the 66th Division was disbanded in July 1940. It did not leave the United Kingdom and was disbanded in October 1944.[19]

Hostilities-only battalions[edit]

The 9th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was a hostilities-only battalion raised in June 1940[3] The battalion, commanded initially by Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Lyne, was very briefly assigned to the 208th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home) until December when it was reassigned to the 125th Infantry Brigade, part of 42nd (East Lancashire) Infantry Division, alongside the 1/5th and 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers. Both the brigade and division had seen active service earlier in the year in Belgium, France and Dunkirk. In late 1941 the 9th Battalion was converted to armour as 143rd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps.[12] However, the regiment was disbanded in late 1943 and many of its men volunteered to join the Parachute Regiment or were sent to other British tank units.

The 10th Battalion was also raised in 1940[3] and served for a year in 208th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home), alongside the 9th Battalion, 13th King's Regiment (Liverpool) and 22nd Royal Fusiliers.[20] In 1942 it was shipped to India and fought in the Arakan Campaign 1942-1943 as part of 7th Indian Infantry Division, with 23rd Indian Infantry Brigade.[21] The battalion was disbanded on 31 October 1945.

The 11th Battalion was a hostilities-only battalion raised in 1940, originally as the 50th (Holding) Battalion, whose role was to temporarily 'hold' men who were medically unfit, awaiting orders, on courses or returning from abroad.[3] In October 1940 the battalion was redesignated the 11th Battalion. The 11th Battalion served in the garrison of Malta during the Siege with the 233rd Infantry Brigade.[22] In July 1944 it was to be disbanded but instead it transferred to the 66th Infantry Brigade, serving alongside the 2nd Battalion, Royal Scots, a Regular unit, and 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, a Territorial. The brigade became part of 1st Infantry Division which was serving in the Italian Campaign, where it took part in the fighting on the Gothic Line, suffering severe casualties. Early in 1945 the 11th Battalion was transferred to Palestine with the rest of the 1st Infantry Division and remained there for the rest of the war.[23]


After the war all the Territorial and war service battalions were disbanded. The 5th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was reformed in 1947 when the Territorial Army was reconstituted but was later disbanded. In 1948 all infantry regiments of the British Army were reduced to only a single regular battalion and the 2nd Battalion was disbanded and merged with the 1st Battalion.

Battle honours[edit]

  • Great War (30 Battalions): Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914 '18, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1915 '17 '18, St. Julien, Bellewaarde, Somme 1916 '18, Albert 1916 '18, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Thiepval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916 '18, Arras 1917 '18, Scarpe 1917 '18, Arleux, Messines 1917, Pilckem, Langemarck 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Bailleul, Kemmel, Béthune, Scherpenberg, Amiens, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Épéhy, Canal du Nord, St. Quentin Canal, Courtrai, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914–18, Doiran 1917, Macedonia 1915–18, Helles, Landing at Helles, Krithia, Suvla, Landing at Suvla, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915, Rumani, Egypt 1915–17
  • Second World War: Defence of Escaut, St. Omer-La Bassée, Caen, North-West Europe 1940 '44, Medjez el Bab, Oued Zarga, North Africa 1942–43, Adrano, Sicily 1943, Termoli, Trigno, Sangro, Cassino II, Trasimene Line, Monte Ceco, Monte Spaduro, Senio, Argenta Gap, Italy 1943–45, Malta 1941–42, Rathedaung, Htizwe, Kohima, Naga Village, Chindits 1944, Burma 1943–45

Victoria Cross recipients[edit]

The following members of the Regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross:


The football team of the 1st Battalion was a member of the Irish Football League for the 1891-92 season, while deployed in Victoria Barracks, Belfast, and won the Army Cup in 1896-97 while deployed to Athlone.[24][25][26]


  1. ^ 20th Regiment - Regimental History
  2. ^ "The Army". Freeman's Journal. 10 December 1830. Retrieved 29 October 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ a b c d e Lancashire Fusiliers
  4. ^ Lancashire Record Office Handlist 72
  5. ^ Monthly Army List 1881–1908.
  6. ^ "The War - The Militia" The Times (London). Friday, 2 February 1900. (36055), p. 11.
  7. ^ The Long, Long Trail: Lancashire Fusiliers
  8. ^ The Regimental Warpath: Lancashire Fusiliers
  9. ^ a b Becke, pp. 35–41.
  10. ^ The Lancashire Fusiliers homepage, 6 April 2014.
  11. ^ The Westmorland Gazette, November 12 2009.
  12. ^ a b c Forty, pp. 50–1.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Joslen, pp. 234, 310.
  16. ^ Joslen, p. 361.
  17. ^
  18. ^ name = Joslen361
  19. ^ Joslen, p. 363.
  20. ^ Joslen, p. 371.
  21. ^ Joslen, p. 537.
  22. ^ Joslen, p. 395.
  23. ^ Joslen, p. 298.
  24. ^ Northern Ireland - Final League Tables 1890-1998
  25. ^ (Accessed 4 March 2015)
  26. ^ Ireland's Saturday Night, 1 May 1897


  • History of the XX Regiment
  • 20th Regiment - Regimental History
  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 2a: the Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and the 1st-Line Territoral Force Divisions (42–56), London: HM Stationery Office, 1935/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-84734-739-8.
  • Forty, George (1998). British Army Handbook 1939–1945. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-1403-3. 
  • Lt-Col H.F. Joslen, Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945, London: HM Stationery Office, 1960/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2003, ISBN 1-84342-474-6.
  • Latter, J.C. (1949). The History of the Lancashire Fusiliers 1914–1918, 2 volumes. Aldershot: Gale & Polden. 
  • Moorhouse, G. (1992). Hell's Foundations: A Town, its Myths and Gallipoli. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-43044-3. 

External links[edit]