Royal Warwickshire Regiment

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6th Regiment of Foot
6th (1st Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot
6th (1st Royal Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot
Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers
Charnwood advance.jpg
Men of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 185th Brigade, 3rd Division, advancing through a wheat field during Operation Charnwood, July 1944.
Active 1685–1968
Country  Kingdom of England (1685–1707)
 Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1968)
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line infantry

1-4 Regular battalions
Up to 2 Militia battalions
Up to 4 Territorial and Volunteer battalions

Up to 22 Hostilities-only battalions
Garrison/HQ Budbrooke Barracks, Warwickshire

Quick: The British Grenadiers, Warwickshire Lads

Slow: MacBean's Slow March
Mascot Indian black buck antelope, 'Bobby'[1]

The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, previously titled the 6th Regiment of Foot, was a line infantry regiment of the British Army in continuous existence for 283 years. The regiment saw service in many conflicts and wars, including the Second Boer War and both World War I and World War II. On 1 May 1963 the regiment was re-titled, for the final time, as the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers[2] and became part of the Fusilier Brigade.

In 1968, by now reduced to a single Regular battalion, the regiment was amalgamated with the other regiments in the Fusilier Brigade – the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) and the Lancashire Fusiliers – into a new large infantry regiment, to be known as the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, becoming the 2nd Battalion of the new regiment.


The regiment traces its origins to the 17th century. In the Netherlands in 1674 the government retained two regiments of English troops, two of Scots and one Irish. In 1685 when James II requested their services during the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion and organised them into two units, given the precedence as the 5th and 6th Regiments of Foot.

After Monmouth's defeat they returned to the Netherlands, but when William III became king of England in 1688 they accompanied him, with their seniority being confirmed from 1685. The 6th were nicknamed the "Dutch Guards" by William. Service in Ireland followed and the regiment was present at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and Aughrim in 1691. Campaigning in Flanders 1692-1695 followed, with action at Steenkirk 1693 and the storming of Namur 1695 which was the 6th's first battle honour.

18th century[edit]

During the War of the Spanish Succession the 6th were in Spain and Portugal fighting the armies of Spain and France. The regiment fought at Barcelona in 1706 and suffered heavy casualties at Almanza in 1707. In 1710 the 6th played a major part in the victory of Almenar and won undying fame at Saragossa and Brihuega. The regiment's next conflict was the Jacobite rising of 1745. The 6th were sent to secure the highland forts between Inverness and Fort William. Two companies were with the ill-fated army under General Sir John Cope at the Battle of Prestonpans, where they were among the few who stood their ground. The 6th also defended Fort William, beating off every attack as all the other highland forts surrendered. The regiment went to Gibraltar in 1753 before moving on to the West Indies on garrison duty. On the outbreak of the American War of Independence detachments from the 6th arrived in New York in 1776 and saw action, but were of insufficient strength and were sent home. When, as an aid to recruiting, territorial links of infantry regiments were first established in 1782, the 6th became the 1st Warwickshire Regiment, reflecting their recent connections with the county. During the French Revolutionary Wars in 1794 in the West Indies, the 6th took part in the invasions of Martinique, Guadeloupe and St Lucia from the French and in Casdebar in August 1798 they gained a Battle honour.

Napoleonic Wars[edit]

The 1st Battalion went from Gibraltar to the Iberian Peninsula and were at Rolica and Vimeira in 1808. The battalion took part in the retreat to Corunna, losing 300 men during the march. The men were then shipped to UK before taking part in the Walcheren expedition before returning to the Peninsula in 1812. Present at Vittoha 1813 and heavily engaged at the later action at Roncesvalles. At the Heights of Echalar in August 1813 Wellington watched the regiment's attack against 6,000 French in rugged positions in the mountains and described it as "The most gallant and the finest thing he had ever witnessed". They were held in reserve at the Nive and were again heavily engaged at Orthes 1814. Once again, this so impressed the Duke that he subsequently scratched on the officers' mess silver snuff box, which since 1785 had borne the words "Seek Glory", the additional words "Huzza for the 6th Regiment Now Keep Glory".

The regiment sailed for Canada in early May 1814. Once there they gained the battle honour Niagara for their repulse of an American sortie into British territory.

Queen Victoria's wars[edit]

3rd Battalion on parade at Prospect Camp, Bermuda, circa 1902.

In 1832 the 6th became a Royal Regiment and their title was changed to the Royal (1st) Warwickshire Regiment. The 6th took part in the 7th and 8th Kaffir Wars in South Africa and received the battle honour South Africa 1846-47, 1851-53. Service on the North-West Frontier took place between 1849 and 1868. The Regimental Depot was established at Budbrooke Barracks in 1873 and following the 1880-1881 Childers Reforms, the regimental title became the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The Birmingham Volunteer Rifle Corps was affiliated with the regiment as its 1st Volunteer Battalion (a double battalion), becoming the 5th Bn and 6th Bn in the Territorial Force under the Haldane Reforms in 1908. In 1898 the regiment fought at Atbara and Omdurman during Lord Kitchener's reconquest of the Sudan and saw service in the Second Boer War at Johannesburg, Diamond Hill and Belfast.

First World War[edit]

Men of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment resting during the Battle of the Somme 1916

During the Great War the Royal Warwickshire Regiment raised 30 battalions. Three of these, 14th, 15th and 16th (Service) battalions, were raised in September 1914 from men volunteering in Birmingham. These units were additionally entitled 1st, 2nd and 3rd City of Birmingham battalions, and were known as the Birmingham Pals.

The Regiment gained 80 Battle Honours. During 1914 battalions were present at Le Cateau, the Retreat from Mons, Nery, the Marne, the Aisne, Armentieres, Ypres, Langemarck, Gheluvelt and Neuve Chapelle. The following year opened with 2nd Ypres followed by St Julien, Frezenberg, Aubers, Festubert, Bellwarde and Loos. During 1916 battalions were at Mount Sorrel, the Somme, Albert Canal, Bazentin, Delville Wood and a number of other engagements including Thiepval. The big battles of 1917 saw battalions in action at Arras, Vimy, 3rd Ypres, Menin Road, Passchendaele and Cambrai.

Private John Brettle in Royal Warwickshire Regiment Uniform 1918

The Somme, Amas, Lys and the Hindenburg Line were among numerous actions which involved the 6th in 1918. In addition to the Western Front, battalions of the 6th also saw action in Italy 1917-18, at Gallipoli 1915-16, Mesopotamia 1916-17 and Persia 1916-19, where they formed part of the Dunsterforce and participated in the Battle of Baku. The Royal Warwickshire Regiment won six Victoria Crosses during the First World War.

Second World War[edit]

Regular Army battalions[edit]

The 1st Battalion of the regiment had served from 1937-39 on the North West Frontier in British India.[3] Throughout the war the 1st Battalion remained mainly on garrison duties and internal security operations, despite many times being promised a chance to fight in the war and in late 1944 began training for jungle warfare. The battalion only very briefly fought in the final stages of the Burma Campaign under Lieutenant-General Bill Slim, an officer who served with the regiment during the Great War and who led the British Fourteenth Army and took part in Operation Dracula, the capture of Rangoon, with the 4th Indian Infantry Brigade, part of the 26th Indian Infantry Division, in April 1945 but saw little contact with the enemy and, on 20 May, the battalion received orders to prepare to, again, return to India. On the 23rd major J.A. Collins, Officer Commanding 'A' Company, led his company against a group of between to 50 and 100 of the enemy, in Tinzeik, and inflicted heavy casualties on them before withdrawing into the jungle. For this action Major Collins was awarded the Military Cross for his leadership, along with Lance Corporal Brooks the Military Medal, and Private McCullum a mention in despatches and the 1st Battalion "earned the commendation of the Division Commander, Major-General Chambers."[4] 'A' Company then rejoined the rest of the battalion in Rangoon, which departed on the 20th, and then moved to Bangalore.[5]

The 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, a Regular Army unit, had been serving in England since 1931[6] and, upon the outbreak of World War II, was serving alongside the 2nd Battalion, Dorset Regiment and 1st Battalion, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in the 5th Infantry Brigade, part of the 2nd Infantry Division. In late September 1939 the battalion was sent overseas to France to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the Franco-Belgian border, where it remained for many months, not involved in any major engagements. On 5 February 1940, due to official BEF policy, the battalion was exchanged in the brigade for the 7th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment[7] and transferred to the 144th Infantry Brigade which was attached to the 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division, a Territorial division. Serving in the brigade alongside the 2nd Battalion were the 8th Battalion, Worcestershires and 5th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment. The battalion, now under command of Lieutenant Colonel Philip Hicks (an officer of the regiment who would serve with distinction in the war), fought in the Battle of France in May 1940 fighting at the defence of the Escaut, Wormhoudt, where they from the Wormhoudt massacre and fought on the Ypres-Comines Canal during the retreat to Dunkirk, from where they were evacuated to England, most of the remaining men arriving on 1 June 1940. After Dunkirk, the battalion moved, with the rest of the brigade[8] and division, to Somerset to counter a German invasion. In early December, however, the battalion transferred to the 24th Independent Guards Brigade Group, alongside two battalions of Foot Guards, the 1st Scots Guards and 1st Welsh Guards and was not, unlike most of the rest of the Army, committed to beach defence duties.[9] At the time the brigade was stationed in London under command of London District. In September 1942 the battalion transferred to the 185th Infantry Brigade, which was originally assigned as the motorised infantry brigade of the 79th Armoured Division. However, the brigade was then transferred to the 3rd Infantry Division, and landed on D-Day on 6 June 1944 with the first assault on the Normandy beaches and fought from the Battle for Caen and the break out from Normandy to the Rhine crossing. They also took part in the capture of Bremen, the last major action of the North West Europe Campaign. From D-Day until the end of the war the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment had lost 286 officers and men killed in action, with nearly another 1,000 all ranks wounded, missing or suffering from exhaustion.[10]

Territorial Army battalions[edit]

Before the war, in 1936, the 5th Battalion had been converted into the 45th (The Royal Warwickshire Regiment) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, Royal Engineers[11] and had become part of 32nd (South Midland) Anti-Aircraft Group, 2nd Anti-Aircraft Division. It transferred to the Royal Artillery in 1940 and later became a Light Anti-Aircraft unit and then an Anti-Tank regiment that saw action in the Burma Campaign, as part of 36th Indian Infantry Division.

Like the 5th Battalion, the 6th Battalion was also converted before the war, becoming 69th (The Royal Warwickshire Regiment) Anti-Aircraft Brigade, Royal Artillery, transferring to the 32nd (South Midland) Anti-Aircraft Group, 2nd Anti-Aircraft Division, alongside the former 5th Battalion.

The 1/7th Battalion was serving with the 8th Battalion in 143rd Infantry Brigade, both as part of the 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division. The battalion departed for France in early 1940 to join the rest of the BEF and, like the 2nd Battalion, was also driven back to Dunkirk, with the 1/7th having been reduced to 15 officers and 200 other ranks.[12] In October 1942 the battalion was transferred from the 48th Division to the 197th Infantry Brigade, serving now alongside the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers and 5th East Lancashire Regiment, part of the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division, at the time serving in Northern Ireland.[13] The battalion served with the 59th in France during Operation Overlord, the Battle of Normandy, arriving in late June 1944 as part of the British Second Army. The 59th Division was considered by General Bernard Montgomery, an officer who served in the regiment throughout the Great War and after, to be one of the best and most reliable divisions in his 21st Army Group. However, the division was disbanded in late August 1944 due to an acute shortage of infantrymen in the British Army during that period and the units were broken up and used as replacements for other British divisions in 21st Army Group as many had suffered heavy casualties. The reason Montgomery chose the 59th for disbandment was merely because it was the most junior division of the British Army in France, being a 2nd Line duplicate of the 55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division formed just before the war began. Despite being overseas for only around 5 weeks, the battalion had suffered losses of 38 officers and 538 other ranks.[14]

The 8th Battalion was also a 1st Line Territorial battalion and served with both the 2nd and 1/7th battalions in France in 1940. After being evacuated at Dunkirk, during which it was reduced to 8 officers and 134 other ranks,[15] the battalion spent many years on home defence anticipating a German invasion and remained in the United Kingdom for the rest of the war.[16]

The 2/7th and 9th battalions, both formed in mid-1939 during the doubling of the Territorial Army, were raised as duplicates of the 1/7th and 8th battalions, respectively. Both battalions were assigned to 182nd Infantry Brigade, 61st (South Midland) Infantry Division. However, both remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war, both briefly serving in Northern Ireland until being reduced to reserve training battalions, with the 9th being disbanded in late 1944.[17]

Hostilities-only battalions[edit]

The 12th (Overseas Defence) Battalion was created in November 1939, formed mainly from ex-servicemen around the age of 35-50 and with the duty of garrison duties overseas, in the rear areas guarding important areas and line of communications.[18] In March 1940 the battalion was sent overseas to France, fulfilling its job of guarding the rear echelons, until ordered to evacuate, with the rest of the BEF, and were evacuated from Brest and St. Malo on June 16/17 1940, without a single casualty.[19] When the battalion returned to the United Kingdom, it followed the usual pattern that consumed the British Army after Dunkirk, mainly guarding against an invasion, which it continued to do so until March 1942, when the 12th Battalion, its services judged to be over, was disbanded.[20]

The 13th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was formed in July 1940. Later in the year the battalion became part of the 213th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home), later becoming part of the Norfolk County Division. The battalion was converted in late 1942 to become a battalion of the newly-formed Parachute Regiment, namely the 8th (Midlands) Parachute Battalion, and also included many numerous volunteers from other battalions of the regiment, such as the 70th. They were assigned to the 3rd Parachute Brigade, serving alongside the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and the 9th (Eastern and Home Counties) Parachute Battalion, originally as part of the 1st Airborne Division but were later assigned to the newly raised 6th Airborne Division. As well as being assigned to a new division the battalion additionally received a new Commanding Officer - Lieutenant Colonel Alastair Pearson - who would eventually rise to become one of the most highly respected and decorated soldiers in the history of the Parachute Regiment. The 8th Parachute Battalion would participate in Operation Tonga, the British airborne drop on the night before D-Day, and throughout the Normandy Campaign, the Ardennes offensive (otherwise known as the Battle of the Bulge), and Operation Varsity, the largest airborne drop of the Second World War where the division, alongside the U.S. 17th Airborne Division, suffered heavy casualties. The battalion ended the war in Germany.

The 50th (Holding) Battalion was formed in May 1940, during the time of the Dunkirk evacuation, and had the job of holding and training new recruits as well as to defend the coastline against invasion. At the end of the year, it was converted into a standard infantry battalion and was redesignated as the 14th Battalion, and became part of the 226th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home), later becoming part of the Dorset County Division.[21] Throughout 1941 and 1942 the battalion was stationed in Dorset, later Devonshire and eventually became part of 211th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home), at the time part of the 77th Infantry Division. In September 1942 the battalion became part of the 223rd Independent Infantry Brigade (Home). Soon after, however, the 14th Battalion was reformed as 16 Primary Training Centre and ceased to exist.

The 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion was raised in late December 1940/early 1941 from volunteers who were mainly around the ages of 18 and 19 and, therefore, too young to be conscripted, the age of conscription being 20 at the time. Sometime after its birth the battalion joined the 47th (London) Infantry Division, where it "soon won an excellent reputation (it was said to be the best Young Soldiers' battalion in the country)".[22] The battalion remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war and was disbanded in August 1943, as were all such units.[23]

Post war years[edit]

Between 1945 and 1948, the regiment saw service in Palestine, then Korea between 1953 and 1954, Cyprus between 1955 and 1959, and then was based in the Arabian Peninsula from 1957 to 1960.

In 1958, the depot in Warwick was closed and the regiment was reduced to a single regular battalion, sharing a depot in Strensall with the three other regiments of the Midland Brigade (renamed the Forester Brigade in 1958).[24][25] In November 1962, it was announced that the Forester Brigade was to be broken up and the Royal Warwickshire Regiment was promptly transferred to the Fusilier Brigade.[26] The other regiments in the Brigade were the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, Royal Fusiliers and Lancashire Fusiliers.

In February of the following year, it was announced that the Queen had approved of the regiment becoming fusiliers and adopting the title of Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers from 1 May 1963.[27] As a fusilier regiment, the Royal Warwicks were entitled to wear a coloured feather hackle in the headdress. The colours chosen by the regiment were royal blue over orange (described as "old gold with a touch of Dutch pink").[28] The colours were those of the Royal House of Nassau, recalling the regiment's Dutch origins.[29]

On 23 April 1968, the four regiments of the Fusilier Brigade were amalgamated to become a large regiment as the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.[30]

Battle honours[edit]

  • Namur 1695, Martinique 1794, Rolica, Vimiera, Corunna, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, Peninsula, Niagara, South Africa 1846-47, 1851–53, Atbara, Khartoum, South Africa 1899-1902
  • The Great War (30 battalions): Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914 '18, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1914 '15 '17, Langemarck 1914 '17, Gheluvelt, Neuve Chapelle, St. Julien, Frezenberg, Bellewaarde, Aubers, Festubert 1915, Loos, Somme 1916 '18, Albert 1916 '18, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Guillemont, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916, Arras 1917 '18, Vimy 1917, Scarpe 1917 '18, Arleux, Oppy, Bullecourt, Messines 1917 '18, Pilckem, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Bailleul, Kemmel, Béthune, Drocourt Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Épéhy, Canal du Nord, Beaurevoir, Selle, Valenciennes, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Piave, Vittorio Veneto, Italy 1917-18, Suvla, Sari Bair, Gallipoli 1915-16, Tigris 1916, Kut al Amara 1917, Baghdad, Mesopotamia 1916-18, Baku, Persia 1918
  • The Second World War: Defence of Escaut, Wormhoudt, Ypres-Comines Canal, Normandy Landing, Caen, Bourguébus Ridge, Mont Pincon, Falaise, Venraij, Rhineland, Lingen, Brinkum, Bremen, North-West Europe 1940 '44-45, Burma 1945

Victoria Crosses[edit]

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


There has for some years been a museum dedicated to the regiment which is currently located in St John's House Museum, Warwick.


Canada The South Saskatchewan Regiment


  • History of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment 1919-1955, Marcus Cunliffe


  1. ^ Reyburn, Ross (4 July 1998). "Military memories; The Royal Warwickshire Regimental Museum is being transformed". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Deployments, 1st Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment 1881-1968 at by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 3 January 2006)
  4. ^ Cunliffe, p. 130.
  5. ^ Cunliffe, p. 131.
  6. ^ Deployments, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment 1881-1948 at by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 4 January 2006)
  7. ^ "Unit History: Royal Warwickshire Regiment". Forces War Records. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  8. ^ Scully, Louis. "Dunkirk - 8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment (1939-40)". Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  9. ^ Dunliffe, p. 68.
  10. ^ Delaforce, p. 210.
  11. ^ 5th Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment 1859-1967 at by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 17 January 2006)
  12. ^ Dunliffe, p. 64.
  13. ^ Cunliffe, p.72.
  14. ^ Cunliffe, p. 120.
  15. ^ Dunliffe, p. 64.
  16. ^ Dunliffe, p. 73.
  17. ^ Cunliffe, p. 73.
  18. ^ Dunliffe, p. 65.
  19. ^ Dunliffe, p. 66.
  20. ^ Dunliffe, p. 69.
  21. ^ Cunliffe, p. 67.
  22. ^ Dunliffe, p. 67.
  23. ^ Dunliffe, p. 71.
  24. ^ T F Mills. "Forester Brigade". Archived from the original on 2 January 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  25. ^ "Forester Brigade for Midlands". The Times. 12 July 1958. p. 8. 
  26. ^ "Army Brigade to be Split Up". The Times. 15 November 1962. p. 6. 
  27. ^ "R. Warwickshire Fusiliers". The Times. 7 February 1963. p. 6. 
  28. ^ Gray, John (2010). Climbing the Army Ladder. p. 97. ISBN 9781450078948. 
  29. ^ "The Royal Warwickshire Regiment / Fusiliers". Stable Belts of the British Army. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  30. ^ "New Fusilier Regiment". The Times. 17 April 1968. p. 12. 

External links[edit]