Royal Fusiliers

This article is about the historic regiment. For the modern regiment, see Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
7th Regiment of Foot
Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)

Cap badge of the Royal Fusiliers
Active 1685–1968
Country  Kingdom of England (1685–1707)
 Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1968)
Branch  British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line infantry

1–4 Regular battalions
Up to 3 Militia and Special Reserve battalions
Up to 4 Territorial and Volunteer battalions

Up to 36 Hostilities-only battalions
Garrison/HQ Tower of London
Nickname(s) The Elegant Extracts
Motto(s) Honi soit qui mal y pense
March The Seventh Royal Fusiliers

The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army in continuous existence for 283 years. It was known as the 7th Regiment of Foot until the Childers Reforms of 1881.[1] The Royal Fusiliers Monument, a memorial dedicated to the Royal Fusiliers who died during the First World War, stands on Holborn in the City of London.

Throughout its long existence, the regiment served in many wars and conflicts, including the Second Boer War, the First World War and the Second World War. In 1968, the regiment was amalgamated with the other regiments of the Fusilier Brigade – the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers and the Lancashire Fusiliers – to form a new large regiment, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.


The Royal Fusiliers marching through the City of London


It was formed as a fusilier regiment in 1685 by George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth, from two companies of the Tower of London guard, and was originally called the Ordnance Regiment. Most regiments were equipped with matchlock muskets at the time, but the Ordnance Regiment were armed with flintlock fusils. This was because their task was to be an escort for the artillery, for which matchlocks would have carried the risk of igniting the open-topped barrels of gunpowder.[2] The regiment became the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers) in 1751, although a variety of spellings of the word "fusilier" persisted until the 1780s, when the modern spelling was formalised.[3]

American War of Independence

The Royal Fusiliers was sent to Canada in 1773. The regiment was broken up into detachments that served at Montreal, Quebec, Fort Chambly and Fort St Johns (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu). In the face of the American invasion of Canada in 1775/76, most of the regiment was forced to surrender. The 80 man garrison of Fort Chambly attempted to resist a 400-man Rebel force but ultimately had to surrender. This is where the regiment lost its first set of colours. Captain Owen's company of the 7th, along with a handful of recruits, assisted with the Battle of Quebec in December 1775.[2]

The men taken prisoner during the defence of Canada were exchanged to British held New York City in late 1776. Here, the regiment was rebuilt and garrisoned New York and New Jersey. In October 1777, the 7th participated in the successful assaults on Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery. In December 1777, the regiment reinforced the garrison of Philadelphia. During the British evacuation back to New York City, the regiment participated in the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778. The 7th participated in Tryon's raid in July 1779.[2]

Late in 1779, the Royal Fusiliers was brigaded with the 23rd Regiment of Foot for the capture of Charleston. Once Charleston fell, the regiment helped garrison the city.[2] In January 1781, a contingent of 171 men from the Royal Fusiliers was detached from General Charles Cornwallis's army and fought under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens in January 1781.[4] The Royal Fusiliers was in the first line during the battle: Tarleton was defeated and the regiment's colours were lost in the heat of the battle.[2] A contingent from the regiment fought through North Carolina participating in the Battle of Guilford Court House in March 1781.[5] There was another detachment, which remained in the South under the command of Lt Col. Alured Clarke: these men remained in garrison in Charleston, until they were transferred to Savannah, Georgia in December 1781.[6]

Peninsular War

The Royal Fusiliers formed part of the famed Fusilier Brigade in Wellington's Peninsular Army along with the 23rd Regiment of Foot (The Royal Welch Fusiliers) at the Battle of Albuhera on 16 May 1811.[7]

From 1881 to 1914

In 1881, under the Childers Reforms when regimental numbers were abolished, the regiment became The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment).[8][9] The 2nd battalion of the regiment took part in the Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902.[10] A 4th regular battalion was formed in February 1900,[11] and received colours from the Prince of Wales (Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment) in July 1902.[12]

First World War

22 August 1914: Men of "A" Company of the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), resting in the town square at Mons.
A 1915 recruitment poster for 2nd City of London Battalion, Royal Fusiliers.

The Royal Fusiliers served with distinction in the First World War:[13]

Regular Army

The 1st Battalion landed at Saint-Nazaire as part of the 17th Brigade in the 6th Division in September 1914 for service on the Western Front;[14] major engagements involving the battalion included the Battle of the Somme in autumn 1916 and the Battle of Passchendaele in autumn 1917.[15]

The 2nd Battalion landed at Gallipoli as part of the 86th Brigade in the 29th Division in April 1915; after being evacuated in December 1915, it moved to Egypt in March 1916 and then landed in Marseille in March 1916 for service on the Western Front;[14] major engagements involving the battalion included the Battle of the Somme in autumn 1916 and the Battle of Arras in spring 1917.[15]

The 3rd Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the 85th Brigade in the 28th Division in January 1915; major engagements involving the battalion included the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 and the Battle of Loos in September 1915.[15] The battalion moved to Egypt in October 1915 and then to Salonika in July 1918.[14]

The 4th Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the 9th Brigade in the 3rd Division in August 1914 for service on the Western Front;[14] major engagements involving the battalion included the Battle of Mons and the Battle of Le Cateau in August 1914, the First Battle of the Marne and the First Battle of the Aisne in September 1914 and the Battle of La Bassée, the Battle of Messines and the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914.[15] Members of the Battalion won the first two Victoria Crosses of the war near Mons in August 1914 (Lieutenant Maurice Dease[16] and Private Sidney Godley).[17]

New Armies

Men of the 10th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) marching to the trenches, St Pol (Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise), France, November 1916.

The 8th and 9th (Service) Battalions landed in France and both saw action on the Western Front as part of the 36th Brigade of the 12th (Eastern) Division.[14] The 10th (Service) Battalion, better known as the Stock Exchange Battalion, was formed in August 1914 when 1,600 members of the London Stock Exchange joined up: 400 were killed on the Western Front. The battalion was originally part of the 54th Brigade of the 18th (Eastern) Division, transferring to the 111th Brigade, 37th Division.[18] The 11th, 12th, 13th and 17th (Service) Battalions landed in France and all four battalions saw action on the Western Front: the 11th Battalion being part of the 54th Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division, the 12th with the 73rd Brigade, later the 17th Brigade, 24th Division, the 13th with the 111th Brigade, 37th Division and the 17th with the 99th Brigade, 33rd Division, later transferring to the 5th and 6th Brigades of the 2nd Division.[14] The 18th through 21st (Service) Battalions of the regiment were recruited from public schools; all four battalions saw action on the Western Front, all originally serving with the 98th Brigade in the 33rd Division, the 18th and 20th Battalions transferring to the 19th Brigade in the same division.[14] The 22nd (Service) Battalion, which was recruited from the citizens of Kensington, also landed in France and saw action on the Western Front.[14] The 23rd and 24th (Service) Battalion, better known as the Sportsmen's Battalions, also landed in France and saw action on the Western Front:[14] they were among the Pals battalions and were both part of the 99th Brigade of the 33rd Division, later transferring to command of the 2nd Division, with the 24th Battalion joining the 5th Brigade in the same division.[19] The 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, formed in February 1915, served in East Africa.[14] The 26th (Service) Battalion was recruited from the banking community; it saw action on the Western Front as part of the 124th Brigade of the 41st Division.[14] The 32nd (Service) Battalion, which was recruited from the citizens of East Ham, also landed in France and saw action on the Western Front as part of the 124th Brigade of the 41st Division.[14] The 38th through 42nd Battalions of the regiment served as the Jewish Legion[20] in Palestine; many of its members went on to be part of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.[14]

The Royal Fusiliers War Memorial, stands on High Holborn, near Chancery Lane tube station, surmounted by the lifesize statue of a First World War soldier, and its regimental chapel is at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate.[21]

Second World War

During the Second World War, the 1st Battalion was part of the 17th Indian Infantry Brigade for the majority of the war and they were attached to the 8th Indian Infantry Division and served with them in the Italian Campaign.[22]

Infantrymen of the 1st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers reconstruct a street-fighting scene in a street in Caldari, Italy, 17 December 1943.

The 2nd Battalion was attached to the 12th Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and was sent to France in 1939 after the outbreak of war to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). In May 1940, it fought in the Battle of France and was forced to retreat to Dunkirk, where it was then evacuated from France. With the brigade and division, the battalion spent the next two years in the United Kingdom, before being sent overseas to fight in the Tunisia Campaign, part of the final stages of the North African Campaign. Alongside the 1st, 8th and 9th battalions, the 2nd Battalion also saw active service in the Italian Campaign from March 1944, in particular during the Battle of Monte Cassino, fighting later on the Gothic Line before being airlifted to fight in the Greek Civil War.[23]

The 8th and 9th Battalions, the two Territorial Army (TA) units, were part of the 1st London Infantry Brigade, attached to 1st London Infantry Division. These later became the 167th (London) Infantry Brigade and 56th (London) Infantry Division. Both battalions saw service in the final stages of the Tunisia Campaign, where each suffered over 100 casualties in their first battle. In September 1943, both battalions were heavily involved in the landings at Salerno, as part of the Allied invasion of Italy, later crossing the Volturno Line, before, in December, being held up at the Winter Line.[24] Both battalions then fought in the Battle of Monte Cassino and were sent to the Anzio beachhead in February 1944.[25]

Two other TA battalions, the 11th and 12th, were both raised in 1939 when the Territorial Army was ordered to be doubled in size. Both were assigned to 4th London Infantry Brigade, part of 2nd London Infantry Division, later 140th (London) Infantry Brigade and 47th (London) Infantry Division respectively.[26] Both battalions remained in the United Kingdom on home defence duties. In 1943, the 12th Battalion was transferred to the 80th Infantry (Reserve) Division and later to the 47th Infantry (Reserve) Division.[27]

The regiment raised many other battalions during the war, although none of them saw active service overseas in their original roles, instead some were converted to other roles. The 21st Battalion, for example, formed soon after the Dunkirk evacuation, was sent to India in the summer of 1942 and later became part of the 52nd Infantry Brigade, acting in a training capacity in order to train British troops in jungle warfare for service in the Burma Campaign. The 23rd Battalion, also created in June/July 1940, was later converted into 46th Battalion, Reconnaissance Corps, assigned to the 46th Infantry Division, serving with it for the rest of the war.[28]

Post 1945

In August 1952, the regiment, now reduced to a single Regular battalion, entered the Korean War. On 23 April 1968, the regiment was amalgamated with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (5th Foot), the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers (6th Foot) and the Lancashire Fusiliers (20th Foot) to form the 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.[29]

Fusiliers Museum

Royal Fusiliers Regimental Museum, August 2014

The Fusilier Museum is located in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Headquarters at HM Tower of London.[30]

Battle honours

The Garden of Remembrance at St Sepulchre's Church was originally meant as a memorial to Fusiliers killed in the two World Wars but is now dedicated to all Fusiliers killed in action since 1914

The regiment's battle honours included:[31]



Colonels-in-Chief have included:[31]


The Royal Fusiliers War Memorial on Holborn, a memorial to Royal Fusiliers killed in both the First and Second World Wars.

The colonels of the regiment included:[32]

Victoria Cross

Victoria Crosses awarded to members of the regiment were:

See also

The Royal Fusiliers were mentioned in Pink Floyd's film The Wall. It was the regiment that the character Pink's father died in, as well as the writer and producer Roger Waters' father, Eric Fletcher Waters, to whom the Pink Floyd album The Final Cut was dedicated.

The Royal Fusiliers is also mentioned in Jeffrey Archer's bestseller novel, As the Crow Flies. The protagonist of the book, Charlie Trumper, is part of the regiment which fights in the First World War.


  1. Westlake, R. English and Welsh Infantry Regiments: An illustrated Record of Service (195) Stroud,GLS,UK (Spellmount) ISBN 1-873376-24-3
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Royal Fusiliers". British Empire. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  3. "Universal Register; London, Birth Day". The Times. Jun 6, 1785. p. 2. Orders are given for a camp to be formed on Ashford-Common, near Winsor, for the 7th regiment of foot, who are to be employed in making new roads, and repairing others; the private men are to have 1s. per day extra for their labour.
  4. "The Battle of Cowpens" (PDF). The Florida Society of the Sons of the Revolution. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  5. "The Battle of Guilford Court House". The American Revolution in North Carolina. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  6. "Field Marshal Sir Alured Clarke GCB". British Empire. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  7. "Lisbon Papers; Cadiz, May 7". The Times. 29 May 1811. p. 2. Lord Wellington has also sent two divisions of his army, the 3d and 7th, that way... Intelligence is just received that the battle is fought, and we are again victorious. The affair took place at Albuhera, on the 16th: Soult attacked, and was defeated with immense loss on both sides.
  8. "House of Commons, Thursday, June 23". The Times. Jun 24, 1881. p. 6.
  9. The London Gazette: no. 24992. pp. 3300–3301. 1 July 1881.
  10. "Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)". Anglo-Boer War. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  11. "Increase in the Army". The Times (36067). London. 16 February 1900. p. 10.
  12. "The Prince of Wales and the Royal Fusiliers". The Times (36812). London. 5 July 1902. p. 9.
  13. Gray, W. E. The 2nd City of London Regiment-Royal Fusiliers-in the Great War, 1914–19 (1929, London, Seeley, Service & Co)
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 "Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  15. 1 2 3 4 "Royal Fusiliers during the Great War". The Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  16. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28985. p. 9957. 24 November 1914. Retrieved 19 July 2012. Original citation
  17. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28985. p. 9957. 24 November 1914. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  18. "The Royal Fusiliers". Forces War Records. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  19. Mullen, Peter, Tearing down religious standards Northern Echo 19 Mar 2002
  20. EMAIL, Jewish Magazine. "the Jewish Legion and the Israeli Army". Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  21. "Royal Fusiliers". St Sepulchre-without-Newgate. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  22. "17th Indian Infantry Brigade". Order of Battle. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  23. "History of 12 Mech Bde HQ and Sig Sqn (228)" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  24. "56th Division". Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  25. Paule, Edward D. "A History of the Royal Fusiliers Company Z". Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  26. Joslen, pp. 235, 374
  27. Joslen, p. 374
  28. Doherty, Richard (2007). "The British Reconnaissance Corps in World War II" (PDF). Osprey. p. 52. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  29. "New Fusilier Regiment". The Times. Apr 17, 1968. p. 12. The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, a new regiment, with national rather than regional loyalties, is to be formed on St. George's Day, April 23, the Ministry of Defence announced yesterday.
  30. "Raised at the Tower of London in 1685". The Fusilier Museum. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  31. 1 2 "The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)". Archived from the original on January 3, 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  32. "Royal Fusiliers Colonels". British Empire. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  33. The London Gazette: no. 21676. p. 1054. 13 March 1855. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  34. The London Gazette: no. 23379. p. 2804. 15 May 1868. Retrieved 16 August 2009.


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