THE HISTORY OF THE LIGHT INFANTRY

THE ORIGINS OF THE LIGHT INFANTRY

FORMATION OF THE NEW REGIMENT

THE EARLY YEARS

THE YEARS OF CONSOLIDATION 1979-1989

OPTIONS FOR CHANGE AND AFTER

LIGHT INFANTRY DRESS REGULATIONS

THE REGIMENTS

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LIGHT INFANTRY DRESS REGULATIONS

 

1. Light Infantry Dress Regulations are published by RHQ the Light Infantry and are distributed to all battalions. Amendments to Light Infantry Dress are considered by The Regimental Council. Any proposed changes which need MOD approval are forwarded through the Light Division Office to the Army Dress Committee.

2. Instructions on the wearing of badges of all types are in LI Dress Regulations.

3. The original role of' 'Light Armed' troops was to skirmish ahead of the main force and in this employment the cumbersome drum was not suitable for conveying orders in the field and was discarded in favour of the bugle. The bugle is now incorporated into the badges of all Light Infantry and Rifle Regiments as a reminder of their original role. The bugle as a musical instrument evolved from the horn of the bugle, which is the old name for the European wild ox and thus correctly the badge of the Light Infantry is known as a 'bugle horn'.

The instrument was first introduced into the British Army by the Regiments of Light Dragoons and a list of calls was issued in 1778. Heraldically the bugle horn has for centuries been associated with the forester and hunter and was the sign of St Hubert, Patron Saint of Hunters. However, it was the foresters of Germany who first introduced the bugle horn badge and Jaeger green dress into military uniform, one of the earliest Regiments, being the Prussian Field Jaeger Corps of 1744.

4. Light Companies of Foot Regiments added to the British Establishment in 1770 (WO 26/28 pp 360-1) adopted the bugle horn from the Jaeger Regiments who served in the Hanoverian Army and it naturally followed that the Light Infantry and Rifle Regiments subsequently formed continued the tradition. Following the expansion of Light Infantry and Rifle Regiments during the Napoleonic Wars, an attempt was made to standardize the design of the bugle horn badge in 1814:

Horse Guards - General Order No 282, 28th December 1814.

His Royal Highness the Prince Regent having been pleased to command that the caps of the Rifle and Light Infantry Corps and the Rifle and Light Infantry Companies of Regiments shall have a bugle horn, with the number of the Regiment below it instead of the brass plate worn by the rest of the Infantry. The Commander-in-Chief has directed that the same shall be established throughout the several Companies and Corps of Riflemen and Light Infantry in His Majesty's Service.

5. Thus the bugle horn badge as adopted for the Light Infantry Regiment formed in 1968 has existed with good authority from the earliest formation, but as a result of the sartorial elegance of the First Empire the French horn badge of the Chasseur and Infanterie Legere gained favour in military dress during the Victorian era. The French horn was largely adopted by the Rifle Volunteers of the period 1860-1908 who originally modelled their dress on the American Civil War pattern of grey uniform with Kepi cap, the American Army being then French in tradition.

The derivation of the French horn worn by the KOYLI is in doubt, for whilst Regimental tradition has it that it was adopted after the Battle of Waterloo to commemorate the 51st Regiment's engagement with a French Regiment of mounted Chasseurs whose badge it was, it was not in fact adopted until some years after, by which time the French tradition was generally in favour.

6. The Light Infantry badge is now worn in silver, but originally it was in gilt. General Orders 492 and 495 of 1830 confirmed that the distinction in dress between the Regular Army and the Auxiliary Forces would be the colour of the insignia and lace. III the Regular Army the lace and badges would be gold and gilt respectively, whilst the Militia and 'Volunteers were to wear silver lace and silver badges. With the formation of County Regiments in 1881, certain of the Militia and Volunteer Battalion badges were introduced into the new Regular County Regiments in order to give the former numbered Regiments of Foot some 'Territorial' tradition and gradually white metal badges appeared in the Regular Battalions. The vast majority of the Militia and Volunteers were rifle units at the close of the Victorian era with the result that their black or silver Maltese cross or bugle horn badges become recognized as Rifle and Light Infantry insignia to the exclusion of the former brass regulation badge for Light Infantry Regiments.

7. In all these bugle horn badges the horn is suspended by cords tied with silk ribbons. In the Royal Regiments the cords are in blue and in the remaining Regiments in green.

8. The distinction of wearing a red backing to the cap badge was originally awarded as a result of the participation of the Light Company of the 46th Foot (later to become the 2nd Bn DCLI) in an attack on the Americans during the American War of Independence. On the night of 20th September 1777 the Light Companies attacked a detachment of 1,500 Americans lying in the forest at Paoli, inflicting 300 casualties, and capturing 100 at a cost of three killed. As a result of this action the Americans vowed vengeance, declaring they would give no quarter. The Light Companies in their turn sent word that they would stain the feathers in their caps red, so that others not involved would not suffer. After the war the Light Company of the 46th continued to wear red feathers and eventually permission was obtained for the whole of the Regiment to wear this distinction. With the abolition of the shako, the red feathers were represented by a piece of red cloth worn behind the cap badge. This distinction was confirmed for all battalions of the DCLI after the 1881 amalgamations, when the 32nd (Cornwall) Light Infantry and the 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment were linked to become the 1st and 2nd Battalions DCLI. However, the red feathers continued to be worn in tropical dress up to the abolition of the pith helmet during the Second World War. On the amalgamation of The Somerset Light Infantry and The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry in 1959, the distinction was preserved in the form of red backing to the SCLI collar badge. This, though historically incorrect, had to be accepted because Dress Regulations forbade the wearing of coloured backing to the brigade cap badge unless it was worn by all members of the brigade. The brigade cap badge was adopted in 1959.

9. The reorganization undertaken in 1968 presented an opportunity of restoring the red patch to its rightful position behind the cap badge. The red backing is only worn with the cap badge.

10. The Inkerman silver whistle and chain is worn by all Warrant Officers Class II, Colour Sergeants and Sergeants.

11. In 1854 the 68th Light Infantry embarked for the Crimea. At the Battle of Inkerman, the 68th fought without their greatcoats in the bitter cold so that they could more easily get at their ammunition. They drove the Russian Yakutsk Regiment from the field with the bayonet. There were heavy officer casualties and in consequence non-commissioned officers of the Battalion played a very responsible part in command and control during the battle. Warrant Officers and Sergeants of the 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry continued to wear the whistle and chain as worn at Inkerman. This distinction was later extended to all Warrant Officers and Sergeants of The Durham Light Infantry and subsequently of The Light Infantry. The silver whistle and chain is not on ordnance issue. They may be bought from RHQ.

12. Warrant Officers Class 11, Colour Sergeants and Sergeants wear the sash tied on the right side. The WOs and Sjts of the Somerset Light Infantry had the unique distinction of wearing their sashes over their left shoulder and tied on the right side; whilst those of all other regiments and corps wore it on the opposite side. The precise origin of this custom is unknown; some attribute it to the Regiment's actions at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 and others to Killiecrankie in 1689. As far as can be ascertained, officers and sergeants of the Regiment wore their sashes in this way for many years, probably from the late 18th century. Subsequent authorities were:

a. Army Order 1865. Sergeants of the 13th Light Infantry were authorized to wear their sashes tied in the same way as officers, namely, on the right side.

b. 1898. Officers of all regiments were ordered to wear their sashes tied on the left side. Officers and sergeants of the 13th Light Infantry continued to wear theirs on the right side.

C. 1931. A submission that officers as well as sergeants of the 13th should wear their sashes tied on the right side was approved on 26th February 1931 by the then Colonel-in-Chief, the Duke of York, later to become King George VI.

d. 1959. The War Office Dress Committee accepted the authorities of the 1865 and 1931 submissions and confirmed the right of the new Regiment (The Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry) to allow officers, warrant officers and sergeants to wear sashes tied on the right side.

13. On 6 June 1918 when the right flank of a British brigade was being seriously threatened by the progress of a heavy enemy attack, the 1st/4th Battalion of The King's Shropshire Light Infantry, was called upon to counter attack the Montagne de Bligny an important position from which their comrades had just been ejected. They drove the enemy from the position with the bayonet and completely restored the situation. For this gallant action the battalion was awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palme.

14. The Cockade was worn by all those in possession of SD, No I or No 2 dress caps, the remainder wore the flash on both shoulders. This custom was continued by the successor sub unit to the 4th Battalion The King's Shropshire Light Infantry and subsequently by 5th Battalion The (Shropshire) Light Infantry (Volunteers).

15. The Regimental Colour of 5 LI is decked with the Croix de Guerre Medal and Cockade.

16. A Regimental tie, with a dark green background and alternate thick red and thin silver stripes has been adopted.

17. The Light Infantry carry the 1895 Infantry pattern sword and on the steel guard the cipher 'Crown above EIIR'. The same cipher appears on the blade. LI pattern scabbard is in nickel plated steel. Sword belt is en suite with cross belt and pouch, the latter two being in patent leather.

18. The cross belt and pouch replaced the Sam Browne on 10 July 1977. Fitting instructions are given in Dress Regulations.

19. The Regiment follows the custom of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry by the wearing of a white rose on Minden Day, 1st August.

THE REGIMENTS

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