Ever wonder where the term Fusiliers came from? Well here is your answer — The Royal Fusiliers. They were a very old (est. 1685) & a very fashionable regiment. Since It was based in the Tower of London & near the throne.
Nonetheless it was a very hard fighting outfit filled with London Cockneys. Here is it’s story.
|7th Regiment of Foot
Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
Cap badge of the Royal Fusiliers
|Country|| Kingdom of England (1685–1707)
Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
United Kingdom (1801–1968)
|Size||1–4 Regular battalions
Up to 3 Militia and Special Reservebattalions
Up to 4 Territorial and Volunteerbat
Up to 36 Hostilities-only battalions
|Garrison/HQ||Tower of London|
|Nickname(s)||The Elegant Extracts|
|Motto(s)||Honi soit qui mal y pense|
|March||The Seventh Royal Fusiliers|
The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army in continuous existence for 283 years. It was known as the 7th Regiment of Foot until the Childers Reforms of 1881.
The Royal Fusiliers Monument, a memorial dedicated to the Royal Fusiliers who died during the First World War, stands on Holborn in the City of London.
Throughout its long existence, the regiment served in many wars and conflicts, including the Second Boer War, the First World War and the Second World War.
In 1968, the regiment was amalgamated with the other regiments of the Fusilier Brigade – the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers and the Lancashire Fusiliers – to form a new large regiment, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
- 2Fusiliers Museum
- 3Battle honours
- 5Victoria Cross
- 6See also
- 9External links
It was formed as a fusilier regiment in 1685 by George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth, from two companies of the Tower of London guard, and was originally called the Ordnance Regiment.
Most regiments were equipped with matchlockmuskets at the time, but the Ordnance Regiment were armed with flintlock fusils. This was because their task was to be an escort for the artillery, for which matchlocks would have carried the risk of igniting the open-topped barrels of gunpowder. The regiment went to Holland in February 1689 for service in the Nine Years’ War and fought at the Battle of Walcourt in August 1689 before returning home in 1690. It embarked for Flanders later that year and fought at the Battle of Steenkerque in August 1692 and the Battle of Landen in July 1693 and the Siege of Namur in summer 1695 before returning home.
The regiment took part in an expedition which captured the town of Rota in Spain in spring 1702 and then saw action at the Battle of Vigo Bay in October 1702 during the War of the Spanish Succession. The regiment became the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers) in 1751, although a variety of spellings of the word “fusilier” persisted until the 1780s, when the modern spelling was formalised.
American War of Independence
The Royal Fusiliers were sent to Canada in April 1773. The regiment was broken up into detachments that served at Montreal, Quebec, Fort Chambly and Fort St Johns (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu). In the face of the American invasion of Canada in 1775/76, most of the regiment was forced to surrender. The 80 man garrison of Fort Chambly attempted to resist a 400-man Rebel force but ultimately had to surrender. This is where the regiment lost its first set of colours. Captain Owen’s company of the 7th, along with a handful of recruits, assisted with the Battle of Quebec in December 1775.
The men taken prisoner during the defence of Canada were exchanged in British held New York City in late 1776. Here, the regiment was rebuilt and garrisoned New York and New Jersey. In October 1777, the 7th participated in the successful assaults on Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery. In December 1777, the regiment reinforced the garrison of Philadelphia. During the British evacuation back to New York City, the regiment participated in the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778.The 7th participated in Tryon’s raid in July 1779.
In April 1780, the Royal Fusiliers took part in the capture of Charleston. Once Charleston fell, the regiment helped garrison the city. In January 1781, a contingent of 171 men from the Royal Fusiliers was detached from General Charles Cornwallis‘s army and fought under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens in January 1781. The Royal Fusiliers was in the first line during the battle: Tarleton was defeated and the regiment’s colours were lost in the heat of the battle. A contingent from the regiment fought through North Carolina participating in the Battle of Guilford Court House in March 1781. There was another detachment, which remained in the South under the command of Lt Col. Alured Clarke: these men remained in garrison in Charleston, until they were transferred to Savannah, Georgia in December 1781. The regiment returned to England in 1783.
The regiment embarked for Holland and saw action at the Battle of Copenhagenin August 1807 during the Gunboat War. It was then sent to the West Indiesand took part in the capture of Martinique in 1809. It embarked for Portugallater that year for service in the Peninsula War and fought at the Battle of Talaverain July 1809, the Battle of Bussaco in September 1810. and the Battle of Albuera in May 1811.
The regiment then took part in the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812,the Siege of Badajoz in spring 1812 and the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812 as well as the Battle of Vitoria in June 1813. It then pursued the French Army into France and fought at the Battle of the Pyrenees in July 1813,the Battle of Orthez in February 1814 and the Battle of Toulouse in April 1814. It returned to England later that year before embarking for Canadaand seeing action at the capture of Fort Bowyer in February 1815 during the War of 1812.
The Victorian era
The regiment embarked for Scutari for service in the Crimean War in April 1854 and saw action at the Battle of Alma in September 1854, the Battle of Inkerman in November 1854 and the Siege of Sebastopol in winter 1854. The 1st battalion embarked for India in 1858 and took part in the Ambela Campaign in 1863. Meanwhile, the 2nd battalion was deployed to Upper Canada in October 1866 and helped suppress the Fenian raids and then deployed to India and saw action at the Battle of Kandahar in September 1880 during the Second Anglo-Afghan War.
The regiment was not fundamentally affected by the Cardwell Reforms of the 1870s, which gave it a depot at Hounslow Barracks from 1873, or by the Childers reforms of 1881 – as it already possessed two battalions, there was no need for it to amalgamate with another regiment. Under the reforms, the regiment became The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) on 1 July 1881. The 2nd battalion of the regiment took part in the Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902. A 4th regular battalion was formed in February 1900, and received colours from the Prince of Wales (Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment) in July 1902.
In 1908, the Volunteers and Militia were reorganised nationally, with the former becoming the Territorial Force and the latter the Special Reserve; the regiment now had three Reserve and, because they had been transferred into the London Regiment, no Territorial battalions.
First World War
The Royal Fusiliers served with distinction in the First World War:
The 1st Battalion landed at Saint-Nazaire as part of the 17th Brigade in the 6th Division in September 1914 for service on the Western Front; major engagements involving the battalion included the Battle of the Somme in autumn 1916 and the Battle of Passchendaele in autumn 1917.
The 2nd Battalion landed at Gallipoli as part of the 86th Brigade in the 29th Division in April 1915; after being evacuated in December 1915, it moved to Egypt in March 1916 and then landed in Marseille in March 1916 for service on the Western Front; major engagements involving the battalion included the Battle of the Somme in autumn 1916 and the Battle of Arras in spring 1917.
The 3rd Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the 85th Brigade in the 28th Division in January 1915; major engagements involving the battalion included the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 and the Battle of Loos in September 1915. The battalion moved to Egypt in October 1915 and then to Salonika in July 1918.
The 4th Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the 9th Brigade in the 3rd Division in August 1914 for service on the Western Front; major engagements involving the battalion included the Battle of Mons and the Battle of Le Cateau in August 1914, the First Battle of the Marne and the First Battle of the Aisne in September 1914 and the Battle of La Bassée, the Battle of Messines and the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914. Members of the Battalion won the first two Victoria Crosses of the war near Mons in August 1914 (Lieutenant Maurice Dease and Private Sidney Godley).
The 8th and 9th (Service) Battalions landed in France; they both saw action on the Western Front as part of the 36th Brigade of the 12th (Eastern) Division.The 10th (Service) Battalion, better known as the Stock Exchange Battalion, was formed in August 1914 when 1,600 members of the London Stock Exchangejoined up: 400 were killed on the Western Front. The battalion was originally part of the 54th Brigade of the 18th (Eastern) Division, transferring to the 111th Brigade, 37th Division. The 11th, 12th, 13th and 17th (Service) Battalions landed in France; all four battalions saw action on the Western Front: the 11th Battalion being part of the 54th Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division, the 12th with the 73rd Brigade, later the 17th Brigade, 24th Division, the 13th with the 111th Brigade, 37th Division and the 17th with the 99th Brigade, 33rd Division, later transferring to the 5th and 6th Brigades of the 2nd Division. The 18th through 21st (Service) Battalions of the regiment were recruited from public schools; all four battalions saw action on the Western Front, all originally serving with the 98th Brigade in the 33rd Division, the 18th and 20th Battalions transferring to the 19th Brigade in the same division. The 22nd (Service) Battalion, which was recruited from the citizens of Kensington, also landed in France and saw action on the Western Front. The 23rd and 24th (Service) Battalion, better known as the Sportsmen’s Battalions, also landed in France and saw action on the Western Front: they were among the Pals battalions and were both part of the 99th Brigade of the 33rd Division, later transferring to command of the 2nd Division, with the 24th Battalion joining the 5th Brigade in the same division. The 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, formed in February 1915, served in East Africa. The 26th (Service) Battalion was recruited from the banking community; it saw action on the Western Front as part of the 124th Brigade of the 41st Division. The 32nd (Service) Battalion, which was recruited from the citizens of East Ham, also landed in France and saw action on the Western Front as part of the 124th Brigade of the 41st Division. The 38th through 42nd Battalions of the regiment served as the Jewish Legion<
/a> in Palestine; many of its members went on to be part of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.
The Royal Fusiliers War Memorial, stands on High Holborn, near Chancery Lane tube station, surmounted by the lifesize statue of a First World War soldier, and its regimental chapel is at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate.
Second World War
For most of the Second World War, the 1st Battalion was part of the 17th Indian Infantry Brigade, 8th Indian Infantry Division. It served with them in the Italian Campaign.
The 2nd Battalion was attached to the 12th Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Divisionand was sent to France in 1939 after the outbreak of war to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). In May 1940, it fought in the Battle of France and was forced to retreat to Dunkirk, where it was then evacuated from France. With the brigade and division, the battalion spent the next two years in the United Kingdom, before being sent overseas to fight in the Tunisia Campaign, part of the final stages of the North African Campaign. Alongside the 1st, 8th and 9th battalions, the 2nd Battalion also saw active service in the Italian Campaign from March 1944, in particular during the Battle of Monte Cassino, fighting later on the Gothic Line before being airlifted to fight in the Greek Civil War.
The 8th and 9th Battalions, the two Territorial Army (TA) units, were part of the 1st London Infantry Brigade, attached to 1st London Infantry Division. These later became the 167th (London) Infantry Brigade and 56th (London) Infantry Division. Both battalions saw service in the final stages of the Tunisia Campaign, where each suffered over 100 casualties in their first battle. In September 1943, both battalions were heavily involved in the landings at Salerno, as part of the Allied invasion of Italy, later crossing the Volturno Line, before, in December, being held up at the Winter Line. Both battalions then fought in the Battle of Monte Cassinoand were sent to the Anzio beachhead in February 1944.
Two other TA battalions, the 11th and 12th, were both raised in 1939 when the Territorial Army was ordered to be doubled in size. Both were assigned to 4th London Infantry Brigade, part of 2nd London Infantry Division, later 140th (London) Infantry Brigade and 47th (London) Infantry Division respectively.