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32nd (Cornwall Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot

6 min read

House defended by the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment at Lucknow, 1858


In 1702, Colonel Edward Fox raised a regiment of marines for service during the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-13). It fought at Cadiz and Vigo under Admiral Sir George Rooke and gained its first battle honour in 1705 at Gibraltar.

The regiment was briefly disbanded in 1713, before being re-formed the following year under the colonelcy of Jacob Borr. 

Glengarry badge, 32nd (Cornwall) Light Infantry, c1874

The Battle of Dettingen, 1743

Late 18th century

The regiment remained in the British Isles until 1743, when it was sent to the Continent during the War of the Austrian Succession (1742-48), serving at Dettingen (1743) and Fontenoy (1745).

Recalled home during the 1745 Jacobite Rising, it was stationed first in Lancashire and then Scotland. It was sent back to Flanders, where it fought at Lauffeld (1747), before returning to Gibraltar. In 1751, it was officially ranked as 32nd in the order of precedence.

From the 1750s to the 1780s, the 32nd garrisoned Scotland, the West Indies and Ireland. Towards the end of that deployment, in 1782, it was first given its association with Cornwall.

In 1783, the regiment deployed to Gibraltar for the third time, staying there until the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars (1793-1802). It spent the first few years of the war in the West Indies and Ireland, before returning to England.

In 1804, it raised a 2nd Battalion. This remained in Britain, Guernsey and Ireland until its disbandment in 1814.

A private of the 32nd Regiment, c1742


Meanwhile, 1st Battalion joined the force sent to Copenhagen in 1807. It deployed to the Peninsular War (1808-14) the following year, fighting at Rolica (1808) and Vimiero (1808), and then took part in the retreat to Corunna (1809). It was sent on the Walcheren Expedition to the Netherlands in 1809, before joining the Irish garrison in 1810.

1st Battalion was sent back to the Peninsula in 1812, fighting at Salamanca (1812), Burgos (1812), Vitoria (1813), Sorauren (1813), Nivelle (1813), Nive (1813), Orthes (1814) and Tolouse (1814). It then returned to Ireland. Less than a year later, it was redeployed to the Continent to fight at Quatre Bras and Waterloo in 1815.

The Battle of Salamanca, 1812

The Battle of Vitoria, 1813

19th century

From 1817 to 1841, the regiment formed part of the garrison of the British protectorate of the Ionian Islands and Canada.

It began its first Indian posting in 1846, remaining there for 13 years. It fought at Multan (1848) and Gujerat (1849) during the Second Sikh War (1848-49). It also served during the Yusufzai Expedition on the North-West Frontier (1852).

One company of the regiment was destroyed at Cawnpore in 1857 during the Indian Mutiny (1857-59). The remainder led the defence of Lucknow for three of the siege's five months. Four officers and men won Victoria Crosses for their actions there. In recognition of its bravery, the 32nd was converted into a light infantry regiment in May 1858.

Its final independent overseas postings were to Mauritius and South Africa between 1866 and 1877.

Box made from timber salvaged from the Lucknow Residency by a soldier of the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment, 1857

House used by the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment during the Siege of Lucknow, c1858


During the 1881 Army reforms, the 32nd was merged with the 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment to form The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.

Regimental museums

The National Army Museum works with a network of Regimental and Corps Museums across the UK to help preserve and share the history and traditions of the Army and its soldiers.

Discover more about the 32nd (Cornwall Light Infantry) Regiment by visiting Bodmin Keep.

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