List of oldest military units and formations in continuous operation

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This is a list of oldest military units and formations in continuous operation. In continuous operation here means not units that no longer exist, or recent creations sharing only the name with an older unit.

Please note: Whereas modern standing armies first developed in the 15th century, the defining terminology for contemporary military units and formations, such as company, battalion, regiment etc. mostly arose in the early modern period, during the 16th and 17th centuries.[citation needed]

Oldest active military units still in operation[edit]

Year Heraldry Name Founder Founding
Notes Ref.
1248 Coat of Arms of the 1st King's Immemorial Infantry Regiment of AHQ.svg King's Own Immemorial 1st Infantry Regiment Ferdinand III of Castile Crown of Castile SpainMadrid, Spain It was one of the first standing units in Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire, remaining in the order of battle of the Castilian and Spanish armies since its creation. At present the Regiment is the Unit responsible for providing the central seat of Spanish Army Headquarters security, services, and support needed for its functioning.[third-party source needed] [1]
1479 Insigne 1er Régiment d'Infanterie.svg 1st Infantry Regiment King Louis XI of France  Kingdom of France France Sarrebourg, France Founded in 1479-1480 by King Louis XI as Bandes de Picardie. It became the Légion de Picardie in 1558 during the Italian War of 1551–1559 and then Régiment de Picardie on May 29, 1569. It was ultimately renamed 1er régiment d'infanterie de ligne in 1791 after the military reforms of Louis Le Bègue Duportail. It is now part of the Franco-German Brigade (French units of the brigade are part of 1st Division) and was recently deployed in Afghanistan, Mali and the Central African Republic.[third-party source needed] [2]
1485 Badge of the Yeomen of the Guard Yeomen of the Guard King Henry VII  Kingdom of England England
St. James's Palace, London, England
The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard is a bodyguard of the British Monarch. The oldest British military corps still in existence, it was created by King Henry VII in 1485 after the Battle of Bosworth Field. The Yeomen today are purely ceremonial, and perform ceremonial and royal duties at State Opening of Parliament, The Most Noble Order of the Garter, Maundy Service, Royal Garden Parties, Investitures, Coronations, plus other events such as Royal Weddings and Royal Funerals, Epiphany, State Visits and Diplomatic Receptions. They are all based and administered from St James's Palace. [3]
1506 Banner of the Pontifical Swiss Guard Papal Swiss Guard Pope Julius II  Papal States   Vatican City The Pontifical Swiss Guard is one of the oldest active military units presently in existence. They are famous for their last stand which allowed Pope Clement VII to flee from Rome during War of the League of Cognac. [4]
1509 Coat of Arms of the 9th Infantry Regiment Soria.svg 9th Infantry Regiment “Soria” Ferdinand II of Aragon Kingdom of Naples, Crown of Aragon SpainFuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain Founded in 1509 as "Tercio of Napoli" or "Tercio de Zamudio". It is the second oldest regiment still used for overseas military operations. [5][6]
1521 Livgardet vapen.svg Life Guards (Sweden) Gustav Vasa SwedenStockholm, Sweden SwedenKungsängen Founded in 1521 as the Royal bodyguards to Gustav Vasa [7]
Coat of Arms of the 67th Infantry Regiment.svg
Tercio Viejo de Sicilia Charles I of Sicily Kingdom of SicilyKingdom of Sicily SpainSan Sebastián and Irun, Kingdom of Spain Founded in 1534 to control the possessions the Kings of Sicily who at that time resided abroad, the tercio participated in numerous battles including the battle of Lepanto. In recent years, its units have participated in international missions in Bosnia Herzegovina, Lebanon, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. [8]
1537 Emblem of the Spanish Navy Marines.svg Spanish Navy Marines Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor SpainSan Fernando, Cádiz, Spain Founded on 27 February 1537 when Old Sea Companies of Naples were permanently assigned to Mediterranean Galley Squadrons.[citation needed]
1537 HAC Officers Beret Badge.jpg Honourable Artillery Company King Henry VIII England England City of London City of London Incorporated by Royal Charter in 1537 by King Henry VIII as the Fraternity or Guild of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handguns. Fought with distinction in both World Wars. The oldest surviving regiment in the British Army (now part of the Army Reserve)[third-party source needed]. [9]
1556 2-Régiment-Dragons.png 2nd Dragoon Regiment Louis, Prince of Condé Kingdom of France Kingdom of France France France Despite the recent formation of the regiment in its current configuration, it is the oldest French cavalry regiment, dating back to 1556. The French Revolution gave it the designation of the second regiment of dragoons in the French Army, and with brief interruptions it has served under this name in successive French armies ever since. It is the French Army NBC Defense Unit. Still in Service. [10]
1614 Emblem for the Danish Guard Hussar Regiment.svg Guard Hussar Regiment (Denmark) King Christian IV of Denmark Denmark Denmark Denmark Denmark Unit amalgamated with and perpetuates Zealand Life Regiment, which was disbanded on 1 January 2001 [11]
1618 Brasao CCF.jpg Portuguese Marine Corps Portugal Portugal
1636 181InfRegtCOA.png 181st Infantry Regiment (United States)  Massachusetts Bay Colony Massachusetts Massachusetts United States Part of the Massachusetts National Guard [12]
1636 182nd Infantry (former 182nd Cavalry) Regiment Coat of arms.jpg 182nd Infantry Regiment (United States)  Massachusetts Bay Colony Massachusetts Massachusetts United States Part of the Massachusetts National Guard [12]
1642 Scots Guards Badge.jpg Scots Guards (third regiment of foot guards) King Charles the First  Scotland  United Kingdom Raised in 1642 to form a personal body guard to King Charles I when he campaigned in Ireland; became part of English Army in 1661 [13]
1648 Coat of arms for Danish Artillery Regiment.svg Danish Artillery Regiment  Denmark  Denmark Current formation from 2019; traces origins back to 1648 [14]
1650 Coldstream Guards Badge.png Coldstream Guards George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle Commonwealth of England Commonwealth of England United Kingdom United Kingdom Raised in 1650; became part of the English Army in 1661 [15]
1656 Grenadier Guards Royal Cypher Grenadier Guards Thomas Wentworth, 5th Baron Wentworth, John Russell  England United Kingdom United Kingdom Senior Regiment of the Guards Division [16]
1658 Coat of arms for Danish Royal Life Guards.svg Royal Life Guards (Denmark) King Frederick III of Denmark Denmark Denmark Denmark Denmark Both a Guard/Ceremonial unit of the Danish Monarch and Infantry Regiment of the Danish Army [17]
1659 CoA mil ITA rgt granatieri 1.png 1st Regiment "Granatieri di Sardegna" Duke Carlo Emanuele II di Savoia Savoy Savoy Italy Italy Formed April 18, 1659 as the "Reggimento delle Guardie" [18]
1664 RoyalMarineBadge.svg Royal Marines King James II  England United Kingdom United Kingdom Now roughly small brigade size. [19]
1670 Coat of arms of Jutland Dragoon Regiment.svg Jutland Dragoon Regiment Field marshal Ernst Albrecht von Eberstein Denmark Denmark Denmark Denmark [20]
1670 SGSC.Ultima.Ratio.jpg South Carolina State Guard Province of South Carolina South Carolina South Carolina United States Founded in 1670 as the Charleston Militia. Served in Revolutionary War, War with Mexico, Spanish-American War. Later "South Carolina State Defense Force" (c. 1941), renamed "South Carolina State Guard" (1944). [21]
1684 Coat of arms of the Engineer Regiment (Denmark).svg Engineer Regiment Christian V Denmark Denmark Denmark Denmark Current formation from 1997; traces origins back to 1684 [22]
Nepal Army Logo.svg
Nepal Army Prithvi Narayan Shah Nepal Nepal Nepal Army, known as Royal Nepal Army before 2008 until the abolition of monarchy was established in 1744 by King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Nepal. There are seven independent units that operates with in the various sector in defense. [23]
1747 111InfantryRegCOA.jpg 111th Infantry Regiment Benjamin Franklin Colonial-Red-Ensign.svg Colony of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Commonwealth of Pennsylvania The 111th is the oldest unit in the Pennsylvania National Guard. Today, 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry is part of the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division [24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "REGIMIENTO DE INFANTERIA INMEMORIAL DEL REY Nº 1 DEL CGE". (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 18 September 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)[better source needed]
  2. ^ "Régiments de Picardie et du Colonel Général" (PDF).
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Spotlight on the Swiss Guard". Retrieved 8 February 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ VILLATORO, MANUEL P. (8 June 2014). "El regimiento más antiguo de Europa empezó siendo un tercio español y combatió contra Napoleón". Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  6. ^ Tierra, JEME - Ejercito de. ".:Ejército de tierra:". Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  7. ^ "Livgardet i Stockholm". Retrieved 7 September 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Regimiento de Infantería "Tercio Viejo de Sicilia" Nº 67". Retrieved 3 May 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Where We Come From". Retrieved 10 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Bruyère, Paul (1885). Historique de 2e Régiment de Dragons, 1635–1885 (in French). Chartres: Imprimerie Garnier. pp. 7–8.
  11. ^ Brøndum, Christian (17 November 2014). "Dronningen fejrer tvivlsomt jubilæum". (in Danish). Berlingske Media. Retrieved 28 September 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ a b "Organizational History". U.S. Army Center of Military History. U.S. Army Center of Military History. 1999. p. 29. Retrieved 24 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Dalton, Charles (1896). English Army Lists and Commission Registers, 1661-1714, Vol. IV (2018 ed.). London: Forgotten Books. p. 3. ISBN 978-1333543266.
  14. ^ Maach, Maja Lærke (8 February 2019). "Oprustning af Forsvaret fejret: Dronningen gav fanen tilbage til danske soldater". (in Danish). DR. Retrieved 15 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "History of the Coldstream Guards". Archived from the original on 6 September 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "History - British Army Website: Grenadier Guards". 2010-09-29. Archived from the original on 2010-09-29. Retrieved 2019-10-19.
  17. ^ "Livgardens historie" (in Danish). Forsvarskommandoen. 18 December 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "1° Reggimento "Granatieri di Sardegna" - La Storia". Italian Army. Retrieved 17 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ "Royal Marines History and Traditional Facts" (PDF). Marine Society & Sea Cadet. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 July 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ Jydske Dragonregiment. "Historien bag Jydske Dragonregiment". (in Danish). Retrieved 10 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ "History of the S.C. State Guard". Retrieved 10 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. ^ "Historie". (in Danish). Forsvarskommandoen. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. ^ Nepali Army | नेपाली सेना (
  24. ^ "111th Infantry Regiment (The Associators)". Department of the Army Lineage and Honors. U.S. Army Center of Military History.