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South Wales Borderers

Last updated: 9 December 2013

Pattern 1896 other ranks’ cap badge, The South Wales BorderersPattern 1896 other ranks’ cap badge, The South Wales Borderers
NAM. 1970-12-223-5

Introduction

Formed in 1689 by Sir Edward Dering for service in Ireland under William III, the regiment saw its first major action at Blenheim and Ramilles during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), with the allied commander John Churchill (later Duke of Marlborough) as its colonel.

In 1751 it was given the numeral 24 in the line infantry order of precedence, but only five years later it had to surrender to the French as part of the British garrison on Minorca. 1758 saw the regiment’s 2nd Battalion become a regiment in its own right, the 69th Foot.

The 1st Battalion was captured twice, once in 1777 at Saratoga by American Revolutionary troops and once at sea in 1810 by the French. However, it also saw successful action in the early 19th century in Egypt, South Africa and the Peninsula, gaining the battle honours Egypt, Cape of Good Hope and Talavera along with the sphinx symbol on its cap badge.

It fought in the Gurkha War in Nepal in 1814 before a long posting to Canada from 1829 to 1841. Next it was in India, suffering heavy casualties at Chillianwala during the Second Sikh War (1848-49) and garrisoning the Punjab during the Indian Mutiny (1857-59).

It spent the 1860s garrisoning Mauritius, Burma and India itself and during this decade five members of the regiment won Victoria Crosses on one day saving a naval landing party from the Andaman Islands. Members of the regiment also won ten VCs during the Zulu War, including two at Isandlwana for trying to save the regimental colour (the first ever posthumous awards of the medal) and seven for the famous defence of Rorke’s Drift.

Lieutenants Melville and Coghill attempting to save the regimental colours at Isandlwana in 1879Lieutenants Melville and Coghill attempting to save the Regimental Colours at Isandlwana in 1879
NAM. 1956-02-285-1

Since 1782 the regiment had been associated with Warwickshire, but in 1873 the regimental depot moved to Brecon in south Wales. This was recognised by the 1881 army reforms, which renamed it The South Wales Borderers and made it the county regiment for Monmouthshire, Breconshire and the three counties of mid Wales.

The 24th spent the period between 1881 and 1914 on further postings to India, Burma, South Africa and China, before its 1st Battalion joined the original British Expeditionary Force to France in 1914. Its 2nd Battalion joined the Japanese invasion of the German naval base at Tsingtao as well as landing at Gallipoli (1915). One of the regiment’s wartime officers was the poet Saunders Lewis, later the founder of the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru.

Both battalions spent the inter-war period on peacekeeping duties in Ireland and Palestine, whilst in 1922 the future Edward VIII became the regiment’s colonel in chief. During the Second World War the regiment fought in Norway, Iraq, Tobruk and Burma as well as providing the only Welsh battalion to land on D-Day (1944).

The post-war period saw it back in Palestine, along with postings to Cyprus, Eritrea, Malaya, West Germany, Hong Kong and Aden. In 1969 it was amalgamated with The Welch Regiment to form The Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot).

Key facts

Nicknames:

  • Howard’s Greens (after the colour of the facings on their uniforms and Thomas Howard, their colonel from 1717 to 1737)
  • The Bengal Tigers (after their actions during the Indian Mutiny)

Titles to date:

  • Sir Edward Dering’s Regiment of Foot
  • 24th Regiment of Foot
  • 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot
  • The South Wales Borderers
  • The Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot)
  • 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh (Royal Regiment of Wales)
 The Royal Welsh
2006-present
 
                
     
The Royal Welch Fusiliers
1689-2006
 The Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot)
1969-2006
 
              
     
 The South Wales Borderers
1689-1969
 The Welch Regiment
1881-1969
 
          
     
 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot
1758-1881
 41st (Welsh) Regiment of Foot
1719-1881

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