Welcome to the English Light Infantry site, dedicated to the English Light Infantry and its history over the last few hundred decades, from the Regiment being formed at Leicester in 1756 as the 2nd battalion of the 23rd Regiment of Foot, the fight against Napoleon, the North American Wars of the 1750s, two World Wars and up to the present day
Light infantry were equipped more lightly than regular line regiments, and marched at 140 paces per minute. Tasks of the light infantry included advance and rear guard action, flanking protection for armies and forward skirmishing. They were also called upon to form regular line formations during battles, or as part of fortification storming parties. During the Peninsular War, they regarded as the army's elite corps. By the late 19th century, with the universal adoption of the rifle and the abandonment of traditional formation fighting, the distinction between heavy and light infantry had effectively vanished. A number of regiments were titled as light infantry in the 1881 Cardwell Reforms , but this was effectively a ceremonial distinction only; they did not have any specialised operational roles. Two "light divisions", composed of battalions from light infantry regiments, fought in the First World War - the 14th (Light) Division and the 20th (Light) Division , both of the New Army - but were employed purely as conventional divisions.
By the Second World War , however, new tactics were beginning to be developed for the employment of a more modern form of light infantry. The growing mechanisation of the infantry meant that a distinction was created between normal battalions, which were carried in lorries and often possessed heavy weaponry, and those battalions which did not use them due to terrain or supply conditions. At the same time, the war saw the appearance of new parachute infantry , mountain infantry and special forces units, all lightly equipped and often non-motorised.
Between 2004 and 2007, a number of amalgamations took place in the British Army, following an earlier series that dated back to 1968. The aim of this most recent round was to produce a more flexible fighting force to combat the threats of today, much removed from those of the Cold War; which ended in the early 1990s. Most of the regiments in existence prior to 1968 have now been disbanded or have been restructured into numbered battalions of larger regiments. This process has affected all of the historic light infantry regiments. The reorganised infantry branch incorporates different battalions with the specialised roles of infantry; light , Air assault (or Airborne ), armoured , mechanised and commando support, within a reduced number of large regiments such as the Rifles .
I would like to say a special thank you to the following people for there help and input.
David Hardy, Ballygawley Bus Bombing Story.
Geoff, Webmaster of the Light Infantry Depot and Reunited.
Les Parkin, my PR man.
Mr B Bott for the photos of Kenny and Salkeld.
Mr Shaun McGuire for the photo of John Byrne's headstone and house.
Mr Eddie Dixon ex 3LI for the photos of RH Adamson headstone.
STORIES OF INTERESTQuick Links
BATTLE OF GATE PA This battle was fought on 29 April 1864 and was one of a number of engagements fought in the period 1860 - 1872 in what are known as the New Zealand Wars or the Maori Wars. These wars were fought between the native Maori and the British Government which at that time administered New Zealand as a colony. Gate Pa was to be a major defeat for the British at the hands of an out numbered Maori and even today there is no clear reason why this defeat occurred.
THE DURHAMS IN THE CRIMEA On the night of 14 November 1854, a hurricane struck the Allied armies besieging Sevastopol in Southern Russia. Tents, stores and the shipping in Balaklava harbour were whirled away to destruction. Col. Henry Smyth, commanding the 68th Durham Light Infantry, wrote in his diary: Such a scene of confusion. Caps flying away and in the middle of the storm the big drum of some other regiment came rolling through our lines. It was impossible to stop it.
PTE JOHN GREEN Private John Green served with the 68th Light infantry in the battle against Napoleon's forces in Spain. He published his reminiscences in 1827. This extract describes what happened after he was wounded at St Sebastian in August 1813.The enemy having obtained a strong reinforcement, now advanced in close column, their drums beating in order to keep them together.
BALLYGAWLY BUS BOMBING With the kind permission of the originator David Hardy. My Account of the Ballygawley Bus Bombing 20th Aug 1988. 8 soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry were killed in a landmine attack at Curr near Ballygawley roundabout, County Tyrone , while travelling back by coach to base in Omagh from the International Airport at Aldergrove.
DURHAM'S IN THE PENINSULA The 68th put its training to good use during the Walcheren campaign of 1809, when a British army successfully captured Flushing, in Holland, only to succumb in large numbers to a species of malaria. After a spell of recovery, the 68th embarked in June 1811 for the Iberian Peninsula. In 1811 the situation in Spain and Portugal was still uncertain enough for anything to happen. Napoleon, having defeated Russia, Prussia, Austria and the other European..
VICTORIA CROSS DLI The Victoria Cross, cast in bronze and bearing the Royal Crest and the inscription "For Valour", is the highest decoration that that a soldier may receive. This supreme rewardfor valour was created in 1856 by Queen Victoria because, during the Crimean War, there was no one medal that she could award to all ranks for exceptional acts of bravery "in the presence of the enemy".