ONE OF the British Army’s oldest regiments, the Royal Welsh, recently marked a double anniversary having served for three centuries.
Members of the regiment celebrated in the Welsh capital on September 7, which also saw the conclusion of a 350-mile charity bike ride helping mark the tricentenary, while inside Cardiff Castle were performances from The Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Welsh and re-enactors. Positioned outside were one of the regiment’s Warrior IFVs and a Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle.
The Royal Welsh traces its linage back 300 years to two distinct formations, and has forebears that fought in the Waterloo campaign, at Rorke’s Drift and Isandhlwana, and on the Somme and at Mametz Wood. Its ancestor units also include the only Welsh unit to land on D-Day, and the formations that liberated ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Arnhem.
One of these historic components, the 41st Regiment of Foot, was raised in March 1719 by Edmund Fielding. It fought in the War of 1812 and later in Crimea, seeing battle at Alma and Inkerman. It merged with the 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment to form the Welsh Regiment in 1881, renamed Welch in 1920.
This then joined with the South Wales Borderers to form the Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot) in 1969, this year also seeing the 50th anniversary of that amalgamation.
Then, in 2006, the Royal Regiment of Wales integrated with the Royal Welch Fusiliers to form the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Welsh in 2006.
The historic Fusilier component of the Royal Welsh dates back even earlier. Until the merger to create the 1st Battalion, Royal Welsh, it was one of just five British line regiments to have never been amalgamated. It was founded in 1689 as the 32nd Foot, becoming Fusiliers (later Fuzileers) in 1702 and receiving its Royal prefix in 1714. Its name was standardised as Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1920.
The Royal Welsh Regiment and its forebears have accrued a total of 43 Victoria Cross’, with the unit in its current form having deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in recent times. Its 1st Battalion is the longest-serving armoured infantry battalion in the British Army, while the regiment’s 3rd Battalion is a highly regarded reserve formation. The 2nd Battalion, which traced its origin to the 41st Foot, merged with 1st Battalion in 2014.