Regiments and Corps

28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot

The Battle of Alexandria, 1801

Origins

In 1694 Sir John Gibson, the Lieutenant-Governor of Portsmouth, raised a regiment. Three years later he took it to Newfoundland colony to counter French expansionism. He arrived in June 1697 to find the colony wiped out.

Most his men sailed back for England the following October, but of the 300 who remained about 70 per cent died from the winter cold. By this time France and Britain had signed a peace treaty and the regiment was disbanded in the cutbacks that followed.

Shako plate, 28th (The North Gloucestershire) Regiment, c1870

A musketeer of the 28th Regiment, 1694

Early 18th century

Gibson raised the regiment again in 1702 during the War of Spanish Succession (1701-14). It arrived on the continent too late to fight at Blenheim (1704) but helped break the fortified line between Antwerp and Namur, known as the Lines of Brabant (1705), and fought at Ramillies (1706). It was then sent to Spain, where it lost half its men in the defeat at Almanza (1707). 

It was ordered to disband when peace came in 1714, but this was revoked a year later as tensions rose in Scotland. In 1719 the regiment was used in the raid on Vigo and later that year began a 24-year-long garrison duty in Ireland. In 1742 it was given the numeral 28.

The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48) saw it fighting at Fontenoy (1745) in Flanders and in raids on the French coast.

A grenadier of the 28th Regiment of Foot, 1759

North America

The Seven Years War (1756-63) took the 28th to Canada. There it fought at Louisburg (1758) and Quebec (1759) where Major-General James Wolfe stationed himself with the regiment on the Plains of Abraham.

It arrived back in North America in May 1776 to serve in the American War of Independence (1775-83), including action at the Battle of White Plains (1776). The regiment also fought in the West Indies where it helped take St Lucia (1778). It was then itself captured by the French on St Kitts in 1782 and interned until the war’s end. 1782 also saw it granted its territorial association with North Gloucestershire.

British troops landing at Quebec, 1759

Napoleonic era

The regiment landed in Egypt in 1801, where it simultaneously beat off cavalry attacks on both sides of its line at Alexandria. The square was the more usual formation for repelling cavalry but there was not enough time to form one, so the rear ranks of the line about-turned. This gave the unit the distinction of wearing a cap badge on the front and the Egyptian sphinx on the back of its headdress.

In 1804 the 28th raised a 2nd Battalion. In 1805 1st Battalion moved to fight in North Germany, from where it was redeployed to Copenhagen (1807), Sweden (1808) and finally the Peninsula (1808). 

Medal awarded to Private Shea for bravery at Corunna, 1809

The Battle of Albuera, 1811

Peninsula

1st Battalion was evacuated from Corunna (1809), but a detachment remained behind, where it was later joined by 2nd Battalion. The rest of 1st Battalion was sent to Holland on the Walcheren Expedition (1809), but re-joined the detachment in the Peninsula in 1810.

By 1811 2nd Battalion had suffered such heavy losses in the Peninsula that most of its survivors were drafted into 1st Battalion. The rest returned to England to re-recruit, remaining there until disbandment in 1814. 1st Battalion meanwhile saw action at Talavera (1809), Barrosa (1811), Albuera (1811) and Vittoria (1813).

In 1815 the 28th fought at both Quatre Bras and Waterloo, becoming the only English infantry regiment to be mentioned by name in Wellington’s Waterloo Despatch.

Colonel Sir Richard Llewellyn, 28th Regiment of Foot, c1835

A private of the 28th Regiment in the Crimea, c1855

Victorian wars

The regiment spent the two decades after 1815 in the Mediterranean, Ireland and England. It then sailed with convict ships to Australia as garrison troops before transferring to India in 1842.

The 28th also served in the Crimea (1854-56), fighting at the Alma (1854), Inkerman (1854) and Sevastopol (1855). It returned to India for seven years in 1858, before garrison duties in the Mediterranean. 

Legacy

Its final independent postings were to Hong Kong, Singapore, Malacca and Penang in the 1870s, before being merged with the 61st (South Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot in 1881 to form The Gloucestershire Regiment.

The Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum

The National Army Museum works together with Regimental and Corps Museums across the country to help provide a network of military museums for everyone to visit and enjoy.

Explore the history and collections of the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment by visiting the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum in Gloucester.

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