royal regiment of fusiliers

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The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers were presented with New Colours today by His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, in a Parade held in Tidworth.

The Old Colours were marched off before the Regiments’ Colonel in Chief, HRH The Duke of Kent inspected those on parade, taking time to speak to soldiers individually. HRH then presented the New Colours to the Regiment.

Colours were last carried in battle in 1881 and today they constitute the symbol of a regiment’s honour and represent its devotion to duty.

British Pattern 1897 Infantry Officer’s Sword with the Badge of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

A Victorian 1897 pattern Infantry Officer’s sword, having an 82 cm etched blade marked to the forte Poole & Co. Saville Row, London W, having a blackened pierced ¾ hilt with applied Fusiliers flaming grenade emblem and crowned VR cypher with wire bound fish skin grip, in a blackened steel scabbard, 104 cm.

A are special regimental pattern for the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.

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Early 20th Century dress uniform, helmet, shako and claybeg sword of the 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers, now the Royal Highland Fusiliers after they amalgamation with the Highland Light Infantry in 1959.

The sword hilt is the alternative to the mortuary hilt of the claybeg in the medieval style.

This is on display at the Royal Highland Fusiliers Museum in Glasgow.

IRAQ. Basra governorate. March 21, 2003. A Challenger 2 main battle tank, of the Queens Royal Lancers, crosses an Iraqi defensive ditch by means of a General Support Bridge prepared by 39th Squadron, 32nd Regiment, Royal Engineers. Troops of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, provided a guard as the sappers breached these first obstacles, clearing the way for British troops to enter Iraq from Kuwait.

Photograph: Cpl Paul (Jabba) Jarvis RLC/MOD

Today marks the third anniversary of the death of the man pictured above.
 Fusilier Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He was a veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan where he served as a machine gunner.

He was murdered in the streets of London near his barracks by two Muslim assailants. I will not list their names here as they do not deserve such recognition.

I would ask that you remember this act and if  you would, spare a moment of silence in memory of  this serviceman who had his life taken not just unfairly, but in a cruel and degrading manner.

Lest we forget.

I went a few steps and suddenly my feet disappeared beneath the mud.
I made valiant struggles to get out but the more I struggled, the deeper I sank. I was now beginning to panic as I realized like a flash of lightning that I was in a bag. The more I struggled the deeper I sank. Beads of perspiration were streaming down my face with my efforts to free myself.
A terrible fear gripped my heart. I was now up to my knees and I knew I dare not to struggle any more. I could feel the terrible suction around my feet… What a death, what an end, to die and not get a fighting chance. Oh the agony of it; I was nearly mad.
I was beginning to sink deeper. I was up to the waist, and I knew that I was now slowly but surely approaching my end.
I peered into the blackness, and at last a despairing thought came to me. I began to shout for help… no answer came. I cried again to God: ‘O God have mercy on me.’ I shouted until I thought my lungs wild burst. Then suddenly I saw a very small light, roughly speaking about two hundred yards away. I renewed my cry for help and I shouted until I was utterly exhausted. The lights then came nearer and I made a supreme effort to shout again.
I then heard a faint cry of 'Hullo there, where are you?’ They heard me - I was almost fainting. I looked up to where I knew God was in heaven and it was speechless thankfulness. I could not speak.
It was then that I saw dimly the figures of two men, with farm lamps. A rope came whizzing through the air; it dropped short but the second time it was just past my head, and I managed to get hold of it and put it round my body. I was dragged through the mud and stinking water with my head and face almost submerged.
I was in such a state that I could only stutter, 'thank you lads, you saved my life.’ I had been rescued by two lads of the King’s Liverpool Regiment.
—  Private Thomas Williamson of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, writing about being trapped and gradually sucked down into the quagmire of mud. Quoted in Scottish Voices, pp. 113-114
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The American officer riding on captured German tank destroyer Marder III (Sd.Kfz.139). The car was captured by the Americans, together with the German crew of the ACS in the area of fighting near the village of Castellonorato (Castellonorato). Castellonorato, Italy, 17.05.1944
Soldiers of the U.S. army, visiting ACS Marder III, the road to Rome. 24 may 1944
German 150-mm assault guns Sturmpanzer IV “Brummbar” (15 cm Sturmpanzer IV “Brummbar”) from the 216 th attack battalion (Stu.Pz.Abt. 216) on the road in the Italian town of Cisterna (Cisterna di Latina). Between ACS is the Transporter of ammunition Munitionspanzer III. Italy, 1944
American soldiers inspect a destroyed Italy German 150-mm self-propelled howitzer “Hummel”
An allied soldier examines an abandoned German tank destroyer “Marder III” in the vicinity of Rome.
German tank destroyer “Marder III” on the road in Italy.
Camouflaged German self-propelled howitzer “Cricket” fighting group of Gresser.

In the background are also visible German armored vehicle Sd.Kfz. 251 captured by the Germans, the American tank M4 “Sherman”. Place Carroceto in the area of Aprilia.
German SAU Sturmpanzer IV (“Brummbär”) from the 216 battalion of assault guns (Sturmpanzerabteilung 216). Italy, 1944.
ACS Marder III captured and used by the soldiers of the 1st Royal regiment of Fusiliers. Italy, 30 December 1943.
ACS Marder III captured and used by the soldiers of the 1st Royal regiment of Fusiliers. Italy, 30 December 1943.

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Officers Shako and Uniform of the 21st (Royal North British Fusilier) Regiment of Foot dated around the mid 19th Century on display at the Royal Highland Fusiliers Museum in Glasgow

The 21st fought at the Battle of Inkerman in 1854 where, alongside the 63rd and Rifle Regiments, retook Home Hill from the Imperial Russian army. While the Guards Regiments and the rest of the 4th Division assaulted the Russian positions they remained with the French Forces to defend the Allied entrenchments. 

Despite heavy fighting and positions being lost and retaken the Russians were unable to defeat the Allied Forces. However the Allies were unable to break the Russian Army and so they settled down to the long Siege of Sevastopol. The Imperial Russian Army had overwhelming numbers but were armed with smoothbore muskets unlike the Allies who were armed with long range and accurate rifles.

Photographs taken by myself

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The colours of the Royal Irish Regiment, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers, the Prince of Wales’ Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians), and the Royal Munster Fusiliers in Windsor Castle. 

They have been held at Windsor since the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, when the six regiments of the British Army from that part of Ireland which had become independent were disbanded.  

April 24, 1916 - First Day of the Easter Rising

Pictured - As a wrecked barricade blazes behind them, British troops fire and advance down a Dublin street.

Dubliners woke to the sound of gunfire on Easter Monday as 1,500 insurgents rose up against British rule. The rebels, members of the pro-independence, anti-British Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army, seized key buildings in the city center, making their headquarters at the General Post Office, which soon had two green flags fluttering above it, emblazoned with the words “Irish Republic”.  It was the beginning of the Easter Rising, an attempt by Ireland’s radical nationalists to establish an independent Irish state that lead to six days of bloody street battles in Dublin and a few other areas throughout the country.

The Rising was spearheaded by members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a revolutionary organization which rejected the position of milder independence groups, which wanted to help Britain in the First World War, after which they hoped the British would implement a Home Rule bill, granting Ireland self-government.  The leaders of the IRB, however, believed that only a violent revolution could win Irish independence.  Lead by Irish teacher and poet Pádraig Pearse, and James Connolly, the commander of a nationalist paramilitary called the Irish Volunteers, the revolutionaries planned an uprising to take place on Easter week, aimed at ending British control in Ireland while Britain was distracted by the war. 

Planning for the rebellion, however, had not been well organized.  The Royal Navy had captured a German ship bringing modern rifles to the rebels, and the British had captured Sir Roger Casement, one of the rebel leaders.  London knew that a rebellion was planned for Easter based on these captures and radio signals intercepted from Germany, which supported the rebels.  London telegraphed orders to officers in Ireland to arrest leaders of the independence movement on Monday, April 24.

Many members of the Irish revolutionary movement argued against launching the Rising, since it was known that the British were aware, and because of the capture of the German ship carrying modern Mosin-Nagant rifles with which the rebels had planned to arm their troops.  Most of the Irish Volunteers and Citizen Army troops only had handguns or old Mauser rifles smuggled in from Germany before the war, that had to be reloaded with every shot and sent up great plumes of smoke, plus a smattering of more up-to-date arms and hand-grenades.  Eoin MacNeill, the Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Volunteers, believed that the uprising was hopeless and published orders in all Sunday newspapers warning Irish Volunteers not to take part in any armed rebellion.  Because of MacNeill’s order, far fewer rebels took to the streets on April 24 than planned.

The seven-man Military Council of the IRB met to discuss whether to call off the operation, but news of the incoming arrests by the British government persuaded them to give the go-ahead.  On Monday, April 24, 1,500 rebels, divided into several brigades and including 90 women, captured the GPO and other strategic buildings in Dublin city-center.  Pearse stood outside the GPO and read out a proclomation announcing the creation of the Irish Republic, which began:

“Irishmen and Irishwomen, in the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.”

Somewhat unwisely, a further paragraph praised Germany, the Republic’s “gallant Allies”, a choice of words which must have upset many Dubliners whose fathers, brothers, and sons, in the words of one historian, “had been fighting those allies in Europe for the past twenty months.”

Though there were far fewer than hoped, the rebels planned to hold the center of Dublin against British counterattacks, defending from positions such as the GPO, the Four Courts law building, the seat of the government at Dublin Castle, the armory at Phoenix Park, and a wireless station, which sent out a Morse code message announcing the birth of the Irish Republic.  Squads from the Irish Citizen Army, no doubt influenced by news from the front, dug trenches in St. Stephen’s Green.  It was not long before their defenses were put to the test.

British guards in Dublin had been overwhelmed by the initial outburst of violence, and the Dublin Metropolitan Police had been pulled off the street after the rebels killed several unarmed policemen.  Although the rebels had hoped to spark a popular uprising, they had very limited public support. The first detachments of British reinforcements to arrive were Irish soldiers of the two most-recently raised Irish regiments, the 3rd Royal Irish Rifles and the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers (including your author’s great-grand uncle, then a lance-corporal with the Royal Irish Rifles).  Taken aback and surprised at the rebellion, most Dubliners welcomed the British troops openly, cheering them on in the streets, while a handful of armed students successfully defended Trinity College from capture.  One Irish soldier spotted his wife and children in the crowd and gave them a happy wave.  A few minutes later, he lay dead in the street, killed by a rebel sharpshooter.

A rebel squad of Irish Volunteers on-top the roof of the College of Surgeons. Armed with forty-year old single-shot Mauser rifles, they were outgunned from the start.

The British counter-attack was uncoordinated on the first day, but the British troops had weight of numbers, superior weaponry, and more training and experience on their side.  Nevertheless, they made little impact on the rebel positions on day one.  A troop of British cavalry, sent to investigate the position at the GPO, took casualties from rebel fire, as well as a platoon of elderly reservists. A British gunboat in the River Liffey retaliated by wrecking the rebel position at Liberty Hall. 

Besides constant sniping from rooftops and barricades, the first day of the Easter Rising ended with little other significant combat. Outside of Dublin, a few minor firefights flared up in other cities and in the countryside.  Meanwhile, thousands of British troops continued to pour into Dublin, preparing to fight the next day.  Civilians suffered worse in the claustrophobic city battle, from both sides: besides policemen, the rebels shot dead a number of civilians attempting to dismantle their barricades, while the British troops gunned down a nurse, Margaret Keogh, as she tried to tend to wounded people in the street. 

Ban’s Top 5 Books for Understanding the American Revolution from a British Perspective

The old adage that history is written by the victor too often proves to be true. It undoubtedly is when it comes to the American Revolution. Unsurprisingly, the world’s current leading superpower has spent the last 239 years ruminating on every single facet of its founding. There’s something for every American who wants to study the Revolution, whether they want gritty hard truths, comforting founding myths, or anything and everything in between.

The contrast between British and American scholarship regarding the War of Independence is sharp. British authors have consistently shied away for the subject. Especially among the more nationalistic scholars, the tendency is to focus on the Napoleonic Wars (there are more British-authored books about Waterloo than there are about the whole topic of the Revolutionary War) or, if colonial America is your thing, about the Seven Years War. 

Thankfully that trend is slowly turning, helped in no small part by the willingness of US historians to look at the events of 1775 - 1783 from different angles. The past decade has seen a selection of works that finally assess the Revolutionary conflict through more than simply the prevailing US-centric lense, and the field is all the better for it. In an effort to assist this new trend (not to mention maybe one day join it), here are the top five books I’d recommend for understanding the American Revolution from a British perspective.

1) Rebels and Redcoats by Hugh Bicheno. This work is certainly not the be-all and end-all of Revolutionary War studies, but it works as a handy narrative primer for further reading. It isn’t focused solely on the British aspect of the war, but it’s author is British, and it provides a refreshing commentary on various events that endless American works have made a little stale. 

2) With Zeal and With Bayonets Only by Matthew H. Spring. Hands down the best military history of the British Army during the Revolution. Spring’s work is scholarly and immersive. It blows countless old myths out of the water, and shows how the British military was an adaptable, dedicated and hard-working organisation. Such a reanalysis not only changes preconceptions about Britain’s 18th century army, but also enhances the achievements of the revolutionaries, especially the Continental Army which is so often overlooked in populist US writings in favour of the militia. 

3) Fusiliers by Mark Urban. Coming a close second to With Zeal in terms of analysis of the British Army during the Revolution, Fusiliers is certainly the most immersive historical work I have ever read. It follows the 23rd Regiment (the Royal Welsh Fusiliers) in their battles from Bunker Hill all the way to Yorktown. Not as scholarly as With Zeal (it needs more references), but a brilliant narrative history and one that further dissolves the dusty old myths about the war’s military aspects.

4) British Soldiers, American War by Don H. Hagist. A vital contribution to the field, Hagist’s work takes a number of primary accounts by British soldiers (importantly, a mix of officers, NCOs and privates) and not only reprints them, but offers contextual analysis for each one. More so than any other author, Hagist has worked to give a voice to the ordinary men who fought the war in red coats, and reminds us that far from being brutalised robots, the differences between us and them are in the minority. 

5) The Men Who Lost American by Andrew O’Shaughnessy. This work is a case study of six leading British political and military figures, such as George III and Earl Cornwallis. It not only analyses each in turn, but uses their impact on the war to chart the conflict itself, seeing how their efforts and decisions shaped events each step of the way. Serious failings in both the military and political establishment are analysed, but O’Shaughnessy also is unafraid to give credit where it is due - the stumbling British high command is finally exonerated of some outstanding failures, and certainly don’t appear as inept as past histories have made them out to be. He also examines the global aspect of the war, assessing the fighting in Europe, the Caribbean and India. It can be said that, for Britain, the serious conflict didn’t start until Yorktown in 1781. Such an analysis really does create food for thought, and merits further study. 

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The British Army

From top to bottom:

The final assault of The First Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who were honing their dismounted infantry skills during a two-week field firing battle camp in Norfolk.

Scots Guards on parade.

 A Bomb Disposal Officer of the Royal Logistic Corps wearing his protective suit, which he wears when dealing with devices.

An Army Air Corps Apache at the Royal International Air Tattoo.

A Sniper from 1 LANCS emerges from the forest.

29 Commando Regt. RA live firing with their 105mm Light Gun in the direct role in Norway.

Major Linda Taberner, an Army Reserve and Health Visitor with one of the many young patients she saw during a medical exercise in remote areas of Kenya.

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