Welch Regiment

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Welsh Regiment
Welch Regiment
Taffy the IV.jpg
Welch Regiment mascot Taffy IV c1921
Active 1881–1969
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line infantry

1–2 Regular battalions
1 Militia and Special Reserve battalion
Up to 4 Territorial and Volunteer battalions

Up to 27 Hostilities-only battalions
Garrison/HQ Maindy Barracks, Cardiff
Motto Gwell angau na Chywilydd (Better Death than Dishonour)
March Quick: Ap Siencyn (Son of Jenkin)
Mascot Goat
Anniversaries Gheluvelt, 31 Oct

The Welch Regiment (or "The Welch", an archaic spelling of "Welsh") was an infantry regiment of the line of the British Army in existence from 1881 until 1969. The regiment was created in 1881 under the Childers Reforms by the amalgamation of the 41st (Welch) Regiment of Foot and 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot to form the Welsh Regiment, which it was known until 1920 when it was renamed the Welch Regiment. In 1969 the regiment was amalgamated with the South Wales Borderers to form the Royal Regiment of Wales which was, on 1 March 2006, amalgamated with the Royal Welch Fusiliers to form the Royal Welsh.


The Origins of the Regiment

The Welch Regiment had its origins in two regiments, the 41st and 69th Regiments of Foot, the first of which has long standing links with the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The 41st was raised in March 1719 as a Regiment of Invalids, namely Out-Pensioners of the Royal Hospital, to release active units for service overseas in the wars against the French. Known as Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Fieldings Regiment of Foot (or the Invalids), between 1719 and 1787 it carried out garrison duties in Portsmouth, Plymouth and the Channel Islands. In 1757 a second battalion was raised for the 24th Foot, and placed at the disposal of the Admiralty for service as marines with the fleet. In 1758 this Battalion was redesignated as the 69th Foot and, in 1782, linked to South Lincolnshire for recruiting purposes. In 1787 the Invalid character of the 41st was abandoned and the Regiment re-formed as a marching regiment of line fit for worldwide service. Between that date and 1881 the two Regiments pursued roles independent of one another, but drew closer when a common depot was established at Fort Hubberstone in 1871. Both campaigned and saw service in many parts of the world – achieving magnificent records of service – ultimately to be linked under the title 'The Welch'.

A chronological history of both Regiments follows

1719 – When units were needed for garrison duties at home in order to release active units for service overseas in the wars against the French, a number of the more active out-pensioners of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, who were fit for light duties at home, were enrolled and formed Colonel Edmund Fielding's Regiment of Invalids.

1751 – The Regiment of Invalids became 41st Regiment of Foot (or Invalids).

1756 – A Second Battalion of the 24th Regiment, to become eventually the South Wales Borderers, was raised and in 1758 became the 69th Regiment of Foot. The 41st and 69th followed separate careers until 1881 when they became respectively the 1st and 2nd Battalions of The Welsh Regiment.

1761 – The 69th first distinguished itself at the Capture of Belle Île. Belleisle is the Regiment's oldest Battle Honour although for some reason it was not actually awarded until 1951.

1762 – A year later the 69th took part in an equally successful operation in the West Indies against the French-held island of Martinique.

1782 – During the Napoleonic Wars in the latter part of the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries Infantry Regiments sometimes served on board ships of the Royal Navy and performed many of the duties carried out by the Royal Marines. In this year the 69th took part in the Battle of the Saintes. For their share in this victory the 69th was included in a Vote of Thanks passed by both Houses of Parliament, and was awarded a Naval Crown, superscribed '12 April 1782' to be carried on the Regimental Colour. This battle honour is unique.

In the same year the 69th became the South Lincolnshire Regiment and for this reason The Welsh Regiment played 'The Lincolnshire Poacher' as one of its Regimental Marches. The 69th continued its service afloat and served, amongst other ships, in HMS Agamemnon under the command of Horatio Nelson, then a captain. A little later, when Nelson commanded HMS Captain, he came across a detachment of the 69th serving aboard his ship, greeting them as 'My Old Agamemnons' a nickname that prevailed for many years.

Lt Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, joined the 41st Regiment of Foot on 23 January 1788 and served with the Regiment until 25 June 1789 when he transferred to the 12th Light Dragoons.

1796 – The 69th moved once more to the West Indies when two detachments served on HMS Britannia and HMS Captain both of which were present at the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797. These detachments greatly distinguished themselves, particularly that under the command of Lieutenant Charles Pierson in HMS Captain (still commanded by Nelson), which played a leading part in the capture and boarding of the Spanish ship San Josef.

The Welch Regiment is intensely proud of the unique Battle Honour of St. Vincent and in 1951 was given permission to associate it with the Battle Honour of the Naval Crown.

1797 – The battle of St Vincent marked the end of the 69th's service afloat and in 1799 it took part in an expedition to Holland and in 1800 returned to the West Indies. Following this and after a spell at home the 69th moved East and commenced a tour of India that covered a period of twenty years. Having taken part in a series of operations in this time it earned the Battle Honour India.

Twice between 1805 and 1825 the 69th sailed on seaborne expeditions from India.

1799 – The 41st moved to Canada and carried out garrison duties there until war broke against the United States in 1812.

1803 – A second Battalion of the 69th (2/69th) was raised and was in garrison in Belgium when Napoleon escaped from Elba.

1810 – the 69th's first expedition was against the French-held island of Bourbon, as Réunion was then called, and Mauritius. Both were attacked from the sea and captured. The second was against Dutch-owned Java, but occupied by the French. The expedition was successful although the fighting was severe and casualties considerable. In the meantime the final phases of the Napoleonic Wars were being played out in Europe.

1812 – The war against the United States lasted two years and was fought mainly on the Canadian border. The 41st played a leading part in the successful actions at the Siege of Detroit, the Battle of Queenston Heights, the Battle of Lundy's Lane, and Miami for which Battle Honours were awarded.

The Battle Honours Detroit and Miami are unique to The Welch regiment.

1815 – In June Napoleon moved up to the Belgian Frontier to attack the Allied Army commanded by the Duke of Wellington, who some years earlier had served as a Lieutenant in the 41st. The 2/69th fought at Quatre Bras on 16 June where, owing to mistaken orders, it was caught unprepared and badly mauled by French cavalry. The Battle of Waterloo was fought on 18 June.

At the end of the campaign the 2/69th was disbanded.

1822 – The 41st moved to India.

1824 – The Regiment took part in an arduous campaign against the Ava Kingdom, to become known as Burma and now Myanmar (Interestingly, in 1945 the 69th camped on the 'maidan' made by the 41st during the Ava campaign.).

1831 – On 25 February on the recommendation of Colonel Sir Edmund Williams, then in command, royal approval was given to the '41st Regiment being in future styled the 41st or THE WELSH REGIMENT OF INFANTRY'. Later in the same year the 41st was permitted to bear on its Colours the Prince of Wales's Plume and Motto – 'GWELL ANGAU NA CHYWYLIDD' (Rather death than dishonor).

So began the Regiment's association with Wales which has been maintained with great pride ever since.

1842 – The 41st took part in the First Afghan War which broke out in this year and was engaged in the fighting at Kandahar, the Battle of Ghazni and finally Kabul the Afghan capital; following which the Regiment returned to England.

1854 – The Crimean War broke out in which Britain, France and Turkey fought against the Russians who were seeking supremacy in the region. The 41st fought throughout the campaign gaining Battale Honours at Alma, Inkerman and Sebastopol. The 41st was most heavily engaged at Inkerman, the last occasion on which the Colours were carried in Battle.

It was a 'Little' Inkerman fought on 26 October 1854 that Sergeant Ambrose Madden won the Victoria Cross, the first to be awarded to a member of the Regiment.

Inkerman 'the soldier's battle' was fought on 5 November in thick mist, through which the Russians advanced in overwhelming numbers. The battle was fought out hand-to-hand in small groups and the Russian attack was finally broken. Captain Hugh Rowlands was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry in this battle. In another engagement Ensign John Stirling, carrying the Regimental Colour, was shot dead. The Colour was taken by a Russian but recovered by Sergeant Major Daniel Ford for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his courage.

This episode is commemorated in the silver centerpiece of the 41st which was made from some of the silver that was salvaged from the Officer's Mess that was burned down at Pembroke Dock in 1905. Until its amalgamation the Battle of Inkerman was commemorated annually in the Regiment on 5 November.

1870 – the 69th saw no further active service in the 19th Century and having served in Canada was at home in 1881.

1881 – The Crimean War was the last occasion on which either the 41st or 69th fought under their original tiles; in this year they became respectively the 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Welsh Regiment.

1881 to 1913[edit]

1881 – As the result of General Order 41 of 1 May the eighty-two single Battalion Regiments in the Army were amalgamated by pairs. Reducing these single Battalion Infantry regiments to forty-one resulted in the formation of two Battalion Regiments with new titles. Linking the 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment with the 41st Regiment may seem strange but the two had been linked for drafts for some time. There were strange anomalies in pairing and it was not an easy time for the Army as a whole. This policy may have seemed a logical step for Ministers but some 'married' pairs felt otherwise. The new depot for both battalions was established at Cardiff forging links with the city that are still extant.

At the time of the amalgamation 1st Battalion was deployed in South Africa and the 2nd Battalion in Sheffield, England; they were not to meet for some time so there were no ceremonial parades or other events to 'consummate' the pairing. This was not to happen for another eleven years.

1886 – The 1st Battalion moved to Egypt where they were issued with the new khaki drill uniform consigning their redcoats they had worn from their inception to ceremonial occasions only.

1888 – on 20 December the 1st Battalion took part in the Battle of Suakin under the leadership of the force commander colonel (later Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener), who wrote in his dispatches:

The half-Battalion of The Welsh Regiment are seasoned soldiers and whatever I asked of them to do they did well. Their marksmen at Gemaizah Fort and the remainder of the half-Battalion on the left fired section volleys driving the Dervishes from their right position and inflicting severe punishment upon them when in the open. Significantly the Battalion did not lose a man.

1892 – Following the tour in Egypt the 1st Battalion moved to Malta and there for the first time they met with the 2nd Battalion on its way by troopship to India. It was recorded at the time that 'much cordiality' followed before the 2nd Battalion went on its way.

1894 – The 1st Battalion returned home to Pembroke Dock where on St. David's Day in 1895 the Officers' Mess was totally destroyed and almost all the Regiment's artifacts, plate and silver was lost.

1899 – When the Second Boer War broke out the 1st Battalion was in Aldershot and was immediately mobilized and dispatched to South Africa where it landed at Port Elizabeth on 26 November.

The 1st Battalion were first engaged in the Relief of Kimberley, where a British Force was besieged and was again in action on 10 February at Battle of Paardeberg, where they lost heavily, and again at the Battle of Driefontein on 10 March. The war became very fluid and developed into a prolonged struggle between the light, irregular and very mobile Boers and the more heavily laden and orthodox British Army. The 1st Battalion provided a company in the 6th Mounted Infantry Battalion, recorded as an initially motley unit provided with a mixed and indifferent stable of horses, and reinforcements from South Wales included soldiers from the Volunteer battalions in South Wales to become the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Volunteer Service companies.

The 3rd Militia Battalion of the Regiment was also embodied and served as a separate unit and with great with distinction from 1900–1902.

For service throughout the campaign The Welsh Regiment was awarded the Battle Honours of Relief of Kinberley, Paardeburg as well as the theatre honour South Africa 1899–1902.

One historian[who?] has commented about this period:

Despite the jingoism and victory bells at home, Britain had little to be proud of. It had taken 450,000 troops (including 256,000 regulars) two and half years to defeat the 'rabble' of some 87,000 Boer farmers. The war had cost £20 million and 20,721 British soldiers lives (of whom 13,310 died of disease). The Boers lost an estimated 4,000 killed.

1902 – Meanwhile, the 2nd Battalion were still serving peacefully in India and in this year were involved in the Delhi Durbar, organized by Lord Curzon the Viceroy, which was one of the most lavish and spectacular military events ever staged in India, to celebrate the Coronation of Edward VII as King-Emperor following the death of Queen Victoria on 23 January 1901.

1904 – The lst Battalion returned home to barracks at Gravesend, Kent in July.

1910 – The 1st Battalion were now in India and the 2nd Battalion at Pembroke Dock. From 23 August to 13 September this year the 2nd Battalion were chosen to undertake ceremonial guard duties at Buckingham and St. James's palaces in relief of the Guards Brigade who undertook field training at that time.

1913 – Just prior to the outset of the First World War the 2nd Battalion were undergoing a field training exercise with Aldershot Command at Bordon, whilst the 1st Battalion continued to serve quietly in India

1914 to 1918[edit]

When the Great War broke out on 4 August 1914 the Welsh Regiment consisted of 1st and 2nd battalions, respectively, in India and at home. Regimental Headquarters with 3rd (Special Reserve) and 7th (Cyclist) battalions at Cardiff, 4th Battalion at Llanelli, 5th Battalion at Pontypridd, both part of South Wales Brigade, and the 6th Battalion at Swansea.

Additional Territorial and Service battalions (for service in the war only) were formed and the total number of battalions of the Welsh Regiment rose to thirty four. Of these thirty four battalions of the Welsh Regiment, nineteen served actively overseas at a cost of nearly 8,000 officers and men killed or died of wounds or illness.

Fighting in the First World War was world-wide but the main theatre of war was in France and Belgium involved in the trenches of the Western Front where the greatest strengths were deployed and the most important battles were fought and, therefore, the heaviest casualties sustained. In a war of such magnitude covering so many theatres upon so vast a scale it is impossible to give detailed accounts of battles fought by the Welsh Regiment in this short history. But there are names that will live forever in the annals of the Welsh Regiment and Wales.

On 14 September 1914 at Chézy sur Aisne Lance Corporal William Charles Fuller, of the 2nd Battalion, won the Welsh Regiment's first Victoria Cross of the war when, under withering and sustained rifle and machine gun fire, he advanced one hundred yards to rescue Captain Mark Haggard who was mortally wounded; Captain Haggard's dying words of encouragement to his men 'STICK IT THE WELSH' are immortalized above the clock over the door of the main Barrack block at Maindy Barracks, Cardiff. Captain Edgar Myles, of the 8th (Service) Battalion, and Private Hubert William Lewis, of the 11th (Service) Battalion, aged just 20, each were awarded the Victoria Cross in 1916 at the Siege of Kut, and Evzonoi, Macedonia respectively.

So wide-flung was the extent of the First World War that it was finally decided that each Regiment should be awarded 10 Principal Battle Honours to be borne on the Colours and that, in addition, further Honours to which it was entitled would be shown on the Army List. Of these latter Honours the Regiment earned sixty one.

The Principal Battle Honours carried on the Colours of the Regiment's Battalions are:

Aisne 1914,1918; Ypres 1914,1915,1917; Gheluvelt; Loos; Somme 1916,1918; Pilckem; Cambrai 1917,1918; Macedonia 1915–1918; Gallipoli; Gaza.

1918 to 1938[edit]

1918 – Once the war ended the Service battalions were disbanded and the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion was disembodied. The Territorial Army battalions were re-formed and the 7th (Cyclist) Battalion was absorbed into the 6th Battalion.

1919 – The 1st Battalion returned to British India until 1924 where it fought in Waziristan.

1920 – The regiment changed its name slightly to the Welch Regiment.

1927 – The 2nd Battalion had remained at home until moving to China to become part of the Shanghai Defence Force.

1938 – The Territorial Army was again mobilized as the possibility of another European conflict was deemed inevitable and so the Territorial Army was doubled in size with each unit forming a duplicate. In Wales the 2/5th and 15th Battalions were raised, both as 2nd Line duplicates of the 4th and 5th battalions. The 6th Battalion became an Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Battalion and was lost to the Infantry at that time.

1939 to 1945[edit]

1939 – The 1st Battalion moved to Palestine to play its part in operations connected with the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine. At the outbreak of war on 3 September the Welch Regiment comprised the 1st Battalion in Palestine and the 2nd Battalion in British India. In South Wales the Regimental Headquarters and Depot was in Cardiff with the four Territorial Army battalions situated 4th and 15th in Carmarthen and 1/5th and 2/5th in Glamorgan. In this war, the number of infantry battalions raised by the Welch Regiment was eleven. However, only the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 1/5th saw active service overseas and the rest would be used mainly for home defence or as training units.

Around 1,100 officers and other ranks of the Welch Regiment were killed or died from wounds or sickness during the Second World War, with many more wounded.[1]

1940 - The 1st Battalion, Welch Regiment first saw action in the Western Desert Campaign of 1940. 1939 and 1940 also saw the raising of many new battalions of the Regiment, these being the 16th and 17th (Home Defence) battalions, both raised in late 1939 from the National Defence Companies specifically for Home defence duties and the 18th and 19th.[2] The 18th was raised in July 1940 and assigned to the 212th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home). The 19th was raised in October from the redesignation of the 50th (Holding) Battalion and assigned to the 224th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home). However, despite being raised for war service (as was the case with the Kitchener Service battalions in the Great War), none of these battalions would see service in the war, and remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war in a training capacity.

1941 – The 1st Battalion landed in Crete in February but was overwhelmed by the enemy in fighting at Suda Bay; Canea; and Sphakia Beach and had to be evacuated by the Royal Navy. Eventually the 1st Battalion was reformed in Egypt and joined the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade, part of the 4th Indian Infantry Division and moved back again to the Western Desert. In Crete alone the battalion had lost nearly 250 dead, with 400 being captured and the battalion was reduced to a mere 7 officers and 161 other ranks. They received a large draft of 700 officers and men. In this year the 16th and 17th battalions were redesignated as the 30th and 31st battalions, dropping the 'Home Defence' subtitles.

1942 – After heavy fighting in the area of Benghazi the 1st Battalion was again overrun and again suffered heavy casualties when the Afrika Korps swept through Cyrenaica, Libya in the First Battle of El Alamein.

Men of the 4th Battalion, Welch Regiment, part of 158th Brigade of 53rd (Welsh) Division, clean their weapons outside s'Hertogenbosch, Holland, 25 October 1944

1943 – Following a period of rest and training in Egypt and the Sudan the 1st Battalion was re-organized as 34th (Welch) Beach Brick and in March landed with the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, part of General Montgomery's British Eighth Army, during the invasion of Sicily in July. Returning to Egypt it then became the 37th (Welch) Beach Brick until May 1944.

1944 – In May 1944 the 1st Battalion received large numbers of replacements from retrained anti-aircraft gunners of the Royal Artillery and became an effective infantry battalion again. The battalion was now assigned to 168th (London) Infantry Brigade, replacing the now disbanded 10th Royal Berkshire Regiment and serving alongside 1st London Irish Rifles and 1st London Scottish, making the brigade a mixture of Irish, Scottish and Welsh. The 168th Brigade was part of the 56th (London) Infantry Division, which had just been severely mauled fighting at Anzio. In July the battalion landed in Italy and fought in the Italian Campaign and would remain there for the rest of the war. They took part in heavy fighting on the Gothic Line, one of many German defensive lines in Italy, and in the Croce area where the battalion, and the rest of the 56th Division, suffered heavy casualties. As a result of the casualties sustained, and a severe shortage of British infantry replacements in the Mediterranean theatre, 168th Brigade was disbanded and the 1st Battalion was reduced to a small cadre of 5 officers and 60 other ranks.

Having been mobilized in 1939, the 4th and 15th Battalions had been retained at home where the 15th Battalion rendered valuable service training infantry replaceements to units overseas. The 4th Battalion was in Northern Ireland with the 1/5th Battalion in the 160th Infantry Brigade attached to the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division. In June 1944 they were, after many years of training, ordered to France to join the British Second Army in the Normandy Campaign. From the start of the campaign the 4th Battalion was involved in fierce fighting during the Battle for Caen, and around the Falaise pocket, the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of the Reichwald where it sustained very heavy casualties and involved some of the fiercest fighting in the North West Europe Campaign for British soldiers as they were up against determined German paratroopers.[3]

Meanwhile, the 1/5th and 2/5th battalions, mobilized at the same time as the 4th and 15th Battalions, were retained at home where the 2/5th also trained and prepared drafts for overseas although it remained at home throughout the whole war as a Home Defence battalion. The 1/5th Battalion, originally with the 160th Infantry Brigade, moved to Normandy in late June 1944 and fought alongside the 4th Battalion in the 53rd (Welsh) Division in the North West Europe Campaign distinguishing itself at 's-Hertogenbosch, the Falaise Gap, the Ardennes and the Reichwald Forest. In August 1944 the 1/5th Battalion was transferred from 160th Brigade to the 158th Infantry Brigade, still with 53rd (Welsh) Division. Some of the hardest fighting took place around the Falaise Gap where on 16 August 1944, near Balfour, Lieutenant Tasker Watkins of the 1/5th Battalion was awarded the Victoria Cross for supreme personal bravery and inspired leadership.[4]

1944 – While this fighting was going on in Northern Europe the 2nd Battalion had been retained in India but in October 1944 the battalion moved to Burma as part of the 62nd Indian Infantry Brigade attached to the 19th Indian Infantry Division where it joined the British Fourteenth Army, led by Bill Slim. In November the battalion crossed the Chindwin River at Sittang, captured Pinlebu and saw some very hard fighting on the Swebo Plain.

1945 – In March 1945 the 1st Battalion was transferred to the 1st Guards Brigade, serving alongside the 3rd Grenadier Guards and 3rd Welsh Guards and replacing the disbanded 3rd Coldstream Guards, part of 6th Armoured Division, and remained with it until the end of the war. In April they took part in Operation Grapeshot which ended with the capture of thousands of prisoners of war and the surrender of the German Army in Italy on 2 May.[5] The 2nd Battalion saw its bitterest fighting along the Taungoo-Mawchi Road where for a hundred miles, with deep jungle on either side, the Japanese defended vigorously all the way.[6]

The Second World War ended in Europe on 8 May 1945, now known as Victory in Europe Day, and against the Japanese on 14 August, Victory over Japan Day. The deployment of the active battalions of the Welch Regiment at this time was: the 1st Battalion at Tarvisio, North East Italy; the 2nd Battalion at Taungoo, Burma; and both the 4th and 1/5th Battalions in Hamburg, Germany.

1946 to 1959[edit]

1946 – 4th and 5th battalions ceased to be operational following occupation duties in Düsseldorf and the Ruhr respectively.

1947 – The 4th and 5th battalions were re-formed as TA Battalions on St.David's Day.

The 1st Battalion returned home and was garrisoned at Malvern, Worcester with the 2nd Battalion that had returned from Burma.

1948 – In February the 1st Battalion moved to Brecon and assumed the role of Welsh Brigade Training Centre.

On 14 June as a result of Infantry reductions the 2nd Battalion amalgamated with the 1st bringing to an end nearly two hundred years of active service on both land and sea.

1950 – In the Spring the 1st Battalion relinquished its training role and re-formed as an active Infantry Battalion and moved to Colchester where it undertook an intense period od training prior to moving to the Korean Peninsula where the Korean War had just started.

The 1st Battalion sailed from Southampton on 10 October and disembarked Pusan on 12 November. Joining the 29th British Infantry Brigade in the 1st Commonwealth Division and at once relieved lst Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment.

During the Korean War the Battalion won no less that three Distinguished Service Orders, three Military Crosses and many Mention in Despatches. It also gained the Battle Honour 'Korea 1951–52' that remains the only Battled Honour won by any Welsh Regiment since the end of the Second World War.

1952 – On 9 November the Battalion moved to Hong Kong and became part of 27th Infantry Brigade and was stationed in the New Territories.

1954 – The Battalion returned home in November and took up residence again in Pembroke Dock (Llanion Barracks) where it had once before been stationed in 1895.

1956 – The Battalion moved to Luneburg, North West Germany on 6 June becoming part of the 10th Infantry Brigade.

1957 – In September the Battalion underwent intensive training at Malvern, Worcestershire in preparation for a tour of duty in Cyprus. The Battalion sailed for Cyprus on 31 October arriving in Lefka on the north east coast of the island on 10 November.

1958 – Following distinguished service in the Cyprus campaign the Battalion moved to North Africa and established its Headquarters in Benghazi with company detachments at Derna, Marj and Al Adm.

1959 – The Battalion returned to Maindy Barracks, Cardiff where it remained until moving to Berlin in 1960.

1960 to 1963[edit]

The 1st Battalion was stationed in Berlin at Brooke Barracks in Spandau. This was at the height of the Cold War and in 1961 came the erection of the infamous Berlin Wall. The battalion incurred numerous duties within the defence parameters of the city such as the Ice Keller duties of an armoured escort to an 8-year-old boy from his home on the Iron Curtain border to his school in Spandau and return. The Corps of Drums were trained to become a Mines and Explosives response team (EOD) to help the Royal Engineers in time of trouble. After the shooting of Peter Fechter, who was left to die on the wall, the allied forces arranged for a military ambulance to be stationed on Checkpoint Charlie in the American Zone. This was crewed by members of the Corps of Drums together with the RAMC staff and they would have to enter East Berlin and risk their lives to rescue any persons shot on the east side of the wall by the East German guards {VOPOS – Volkspolizei} and take them to an East Berlin hospital. Also the battalion contributed to the guarding of the famous Berlin Troop Train, that operated from West Germany through East Germany into West Berlin.

The year 1962 was significant in that it saw the end of National Service and the last National Servicemen left the Battalion in Berlin. His name was Wayne Rawlings from Caerphilly. This moment was recorded in the Regimental Journal 'The Men of Harlech' in the following words 'For the first time for almost 25 years we are an all-Regular Battalion'. This valedictory was less than generous to the men who had served, fought and died in the Regiment and all those involved could be mightily proud of the time they served in the Regiment and the often arduous duties they performed for Queen and Country in that time.

1963 to 1965[edit]

The 1st Battalion became the Demonstration Battalion of The School of Infantry, stationed first at Netheravon and then Knook Camp in Heytesbury. In 1965 they became the first occupants of the newly built Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster.

1966 to 1968[edit]

For their final overseas posting 1 Welch took over from 1SWB in Stanley Fort on Hong Kong Island. Here they carried out internal security duties, border patrols and ceremonial duties. Sgt Matchett was awarded a George Medal for rescuing two Police Officers who had been injured in a minefield.


The 1st Battalion The Welch Regiment amalgamated with The 1st Battalion The South Wales Borderers to form the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Wales 24th/41st on 11 June in Cardiff Castle. The newly appointed Colonel-in-Chief, HRH The Prince of Wales, presented new Colours to the Regiment and the traditions of both Regiments were handed to the Royal Regiment of Wales. Later that year in Caernarvon Castle The Prince of Wales wore the uniform of the Regiment at his Investiture.

Regimental holders of The Victoria Cross[edit]

(Prior to 1881)

  • Lieutenant Ambrose Madden VC (Sergeant-Major in 41st (the Welsh) Regiment of Foot)
  • General Sir Hugh Rowlands VC KCB (Captain in 41st (the Welsh) Regiment of Foot)

(Post 1881)

Battle honours[edit]

The Regiment was awarded the following battle honours:

  • From the 41st Regiment of Foot: Detroit, Queenstown, Miami, Niagara, Ava, Candahar 1842, Ghuznee 1842, Cabool 1842, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol
  • From the 69th Regiment of Foot: Bourbon, Java, Waterloo, India
  • Belleisle1, Martinique 17621, The Saints2, St Vincent 1797 1, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, South Africa 1899–1902

From the above Battle Honours the following were actually borne on the Regimental and Queen's Colour:

  • The Regimental Colour:

Belleisle, Martinique 1762, St. Vincent 1797, India, Bourbon, Java, Detroit, Queenstown, Miami, Niagara, Waterloo, Ava, Candahar 1842, Ghuznee 1842, Cahool 1842, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeburg, South Africa 1899–1902, Korea 1951–52.

  • The Queen's Colour:

Aisne 1914–18, Ypres 1914-15-17, Gheluvelt, Loos, Somme 1916–18, Pilkem, Cambrai 1917–18, Macedonia 1915–18, Gallipoli 1915, Gaza, Falaise, Lower Mass, Reichswald, Croce, Italy 1943–45, Crete, Canae, Kyaukmyaung Bridgehead, Sittang 1945, Burma 1944–45.

¹ Awarded for the services of the 69th Foot.

² Awarded in 1909 for the services of the 69th Foot, with the badge of a Naval Crown superscribed 12th April 1782.


Further reading[edit]

  • 'History of the services of the 41st (The Welsh Regiment)' by Captain and Adjutant D.A.N. Lomax,
  • 'The History of The Welsh regiment. 1719 – 1918' author unknown,
  • 'The History of The Welch Regiment 1919–1951'

External links[edit]

Preceded by
41st (Welsh) Regiment of Foot
The Welch Regiment
Succeeded by
Royal Regiment of Wales