In the year 1674, ten companies of Englishmen were raised to fight against the French in Holland. These companies were formed into four Regiments. When the Monmouth Rebellion threatened England in 1685, two Regiments were called back to England. These Regiments later became the 5th and 6th of Foot, their relative seniority based on the order in which they disembarked and both later becoming Fusilier regiments.
Monmouth’s Rebellion worried James II so much that in June of 1685 he ordered Lord Dartmouth to raise a Regiment of Fusiliers; so called because he decreed that it should be armed with the ‘snap-hance’ musket which was the same as the French ‘fusil’. The King referred to this Regiment, which was formed at the Tower of London, as ‘Our Royal Regiment of Fuzileers’.
The Regiment became the 7th of Foot, the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). Other infantry regiments subsequently became Fusiliers, the most famous of which were the Royal Northumberland (5th of Foot), Lancashire (XX of Foot) and in the 1960s the Royal Warwickshire (6th of Foot). These, together with the Royal Fusiliers, came together in 1968 to form the Royal Regiment of Fusilier in 1968 – England’s infantry at its very best.
History as former Regiments up to 1968
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers inherited a unique history and set of traditions from its four former regiments.
Each former regiment has an exceptional place in military history:
- from the Northumberland Fusiliers winning of the Hackle at the battle of St Lucia,
- to the Lancashire Fusiliers winning 6 Victoria Crosses at Gallipoli.
- The Royal Warwickshires led the way on D-Day
- while the Royal Fusiliers counter attack at Albuhera in 1811 undoubtedly saved Wellington’s campaign in Spain against Napoleon.
All four regiments fought in WW1, raising 196 battalions between them, and were represented in every major campaign.
In WWII all four regiments took part in some of the most incredible operations of that period, from the Lancashire Fusiliers operating as Chindits against the Japanese in Burma to the Royal Warwickshires D-Day landing and the Royal Northumberland and Royal Fusiliers fighting in North Africa and Italy.
After WWII the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and Royal Fusiliers fought in Korea and all four regiments saw service in one of the many trouble spots around the world from Malaya to Kenya.
Since 1968 and the Regiments formation, Fusiliers have seen service across the world and found themselves at the sharp end in countries as diverse as Northern Ireland and Cyprus. More recently the Regiment served in the Balkans, Kosovo, the first and second Gulf wars and the Afghanistan campaign.
Formation of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 1968
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was formed on April 23rd 1968, as part of the reforms of the Army that saw the creation of the first ‘large infantry regiment’.
The Regiment was made up with the amalgamation of the four English Fusilier regiments, which were
- The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
- The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers
- The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
- The Lancashire Fusiliers
Since 1968 and the Regiment’s formation, Fusiliers have seen service across the world and found themselves at the sharp end in countries as diverse as Northern Ireland and Cyprus. More recently the Regiment served in the Balkans, the first and second Gulf wars and the Afghanistan campaign.
The distinctive red and white Hackle, worn by all ranks in the Regiment, was handed down from the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. The Hackle was awarded in recognition for the defeat of the French at the Battle of St Lucia in 1778.
The white hackles were removed from the French dead by the Fusiliers. In 1829 King William IV ordered the white plume to be worn by all line infantry regiments, and in order not to take away from the Fifth (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot’s battle honour, their plume was distinguished with a red tip making the plume red over white.