British Foreign Policy 1815-65

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The Royal Fusiliers

My thanks to J Kelleher, Chief Clerk, The City of London HQ RRF, for correcting several points in this article. This document has been copied from its primary location on The Victorian Web.

In 1685, just after his accession to the throne, James II introduced a new body of soldiers into the British army: he decided to call the unit the 'Ordnance Regiment' or 'Royal Regiment of Fuzileers'. They were named after the weapon that they were going to use: the fusil. This was a flint-lock musket that continued to be used by the British army until well into the nineteenth century.

The first two companies of the new regiment were formed from two Independent Companies, formerly the Tower of London Guard. Captain General George Legge, later the 1st Earl Dartmouth was the first Commanding Officer and he was also Master of The King's Ordnance, Constable of The Tower of London and its Liberties. A further 10 Companies were added (in all probability from Tower Hamlets Ward) and an additional Company of Sappers and Miners.

The Royal Fusiliers saw its first action in Flanders (1692-95). Ater that, the regiment was involved in further actions in what have become known as 'King William's Wars' (1689-1697). The regiment acquired battle honours at Steinkirk (3rd August 1692), Landen (29 July 1693), Namur (3-15 July 1695), Vigo (17 October 1702), and at actions at Messina and Minorca where the regiment was serving as a Marines unit.

The Royal Fusiliers became a crack regiment once the flint-lock became common issue to the British army; other battle honours were acquired during the French Wars, particularly in the Peninsular campaign. During the Crimean War, four Victoria Crosses were awarded to members of the Royal Fusiliers. Subsequently the regiment fought in India, the Afghan campaigns of 1863 and 1879-80. It was in action during the Boer War and took part in the Tibet expedition of 1904. The First World War added further honours to the Regiment, as did the Second World War.

The Royal Fusiliers (The City of London Regiment) were granted the privilege of marching through the City of London in 1924 "Drums Beating, Colours Flying and Bayonets Fixed".

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Last modified 12 January, 2016

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