Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Queen's Division. Currently, the regiment has two battalions: the 1st battalion, part of the Regular Army, is an armoured infantry battalion based in Tidworth, Wiltshire, and the fifth battalion, part of the Army Reserve, is based across the northeast of England. There are also a number of independent Reservist Fusilier sub-units based across England. Whilst the Fusiliers traditionally recruited in specific counties, today, as an English regiment, the Fusiliers recruit nationally. The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was largely unaffected by the infantry reforms that were announced in December 2004, but under the Army 2020 reduction in the size of the Army, its second battalion was merged into the first in 2014.

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
The Capbadge of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Active23 April 1968 – Present
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch British Army
TypeLine Infantry
Role1st Battalion - Armoured Infantry
5th Battalion - Army Reserve
SizeTwo Battalions
Part ofQueen's Division
Nickname(s)The Fighting Fifth
The Shiners
The Old and the Bold
Lord Wellington's Bodyguards
Motto(s)"Honi soit qui mal y pense" (French) "Evil be to him who evil thinks"
MarchQuick - The British Grenadiers
Slow - Rule Britannia
Mascot(s)Traditional - Black Buck - Bobby
Substitute - Otterhound - George
AnniversariesSt. George's Day (23 April)
Gallipoli Day (25 April)
Albuhera Day (16 May)
Normandy Day (06 June)
Minden Day (1 August)
Colonel in ChiefThe Duke of Kent, KG, GCMG, GCVO
Tactical Recognition Flash
HackleRed over White
From Royal Northumberland Fusiliers


The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was formed on 23 April 1968 as part of the reforms of the British Army that saw the creation of 'large infantry regiments', by the amalgamation of the four English Fusilier regiments:[1]

The 3rd battalion of the regiment saw active service in Iraq during the Gulf War in 1991.[2] All battalions were also deployed to Northern Ireland on Operation Banner multiple times.[3]

In 2003, the 1 Fusiliers battlegroup were at the forefront of the coalition invasion of Iraq, ultimately occupying the city of Basra.[4] Over the next decade, the regiment carried out multiple operational tours of Iraq.[3]

In 2006, elements of the second battalion were deployed to Afghanistan to support the International Security Assistance Force. Deployed to the town of Now Zad in Helmand Province, they rapidly found themselves fighting off a sustained Taliban attack that lasted for 107 days - the longest siege of British troops since World War II.[5] Over the following years, elements of the regiment deployed on several occasions to Afghanistan and saw heavy fighting.[6] Most recently, the entire first battalion deployed to Nahri Saraj District in Helmand in 2013, where they took part in mounted and dismounted infantry operations.[7]

The regiment received a reserve battalion, the 5th battalion, through the redesignation of the Tyne-Tees Regiment, on 1 April 2006.[8]

In September 2014, the second battalion was amalgamated with the first under Army 2020, forming just one regular battalion - an armoured infantry battalion under 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade.[9]

First battalion

The first battalion is an armoured infantry battalion based in Tidworth Camp, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire. Equipped with the Warrior IFV, the battalion is part of the army's 3rd Division and is held at high readiness as part of the army's armoured war-fighting reserve. In 2016, the battalion was the army's Lead Armoured Battlegroup and was held at extremely high readiness in case it was required to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice. The battalion is highly experienced with multiple deployments in the last two decades to Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. Many soldiers from the second battalion with more experience joined the first battalion on the merger, increasing the operational experience within the ranks. More recently, the first battalion deployed around the world on exercise in places as diverse as Brunei, Kenya, the Baltic States and Canada.[10]

The first battalion also regularly works in support of the civil powers in the UK. In 2013, large elements of the battalion were deployed to Wraysbury and the surrounding area to support the flood relief efforts.[11]

The battalion won the Army Boxing Championships in 2016, beating the second battalion of the Parachute Regiment in the final.[12]

Fifth battalion

The fifth battalion is a Reserve battalion with its Regimental Headquarters in the northeast of England. As a battalion within the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division, the fifth battalion specialises in armoured infantry operations and has deployed all over the world on operations and on exercise both as a formed unit and as individual augmentees to the first battalion. The fifth battalion is now paired with the first battalion and continues to support them in operations and on exercise.[13]

Fifth Fusiliers maintains subunits at the following locations:


As a Fusilier regiment, the Fusiliers wear a hackle – the red-over-white hackle of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. This distinction was originally a white plume which His Majesty's Fifth Regiment of Foot had taken from the headdress of fallen French troops at St. Lucia in December 1778. In 1829, King George IV ordered the white plume to be worn by all infantry regiments, and in order not to take away from the Fifth (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot's peculiar distinction and reflecting that they had won it in battle (according to legend the original plumes were stained red with the blood of their foes), their plume was differentiated by being made "half red and half white, the red uppermost, instead of the plain white feather worn by the rest of the army per the 1829 order, as a peculiar mark of honour."[14]

Victoria Crosses

The combined Victoria Crosses of the Fusiliers and its ancestor regiments total fifty five.[15] Of particular note are the first and last Victoria Crosses of the First World War - won by Lt Dease and Pte Godley at Mons in 1914 and Sgt Pearse in North Russia in 1919 - and the famous "Six VCs Before Breakfast" won at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.[16]


The regiment's traditional mascot is an Indian Blackbuck Antelope called Bobby, inherited from the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers.[17] However, Indian Blackbuck Antelopes are now protected under animal welfare rules and the Regiment has not been allowed one for several years. As a substitute, the Regiment uses an Otterhound called George, who holds the rank of Fusilier and attends all the major parades in which the Regiment is involved.[18]


To mark certain Regimental Days, the Fusiliers wear roses in their headdress and bedeck the Battalion Colours with garlands. The tradition comes from their victory at the Battle of Minden, where, according to legend, soldiers marched at dawn to battle through rose fields and so went into action with the roses adorning their headdress. On St Georges Day, they wear red and white roses. On Minden Day, they wear red and yellow roses. New Fusilier Officers also must eat a rose at their first Minden Dinner on joining the Regiment.[19]


The Queen’s Colour of each battalion of the regiment is identical except for the battalion numeral. The field of this Colour is blue which is the same as the facing colour of the Regiment. The Regimental title is in gold in a crimson circle within a Union Wreath of roses, thistles and shamrocks. The Regimental title is in gold in a crimson circle within a Union Wreath of roses, thistles and shamrocks. St George within the Garter, which is the centre badge, is on a crimson ground within the circle. The whole is ensigned with St Edward’s Crown. Forty battle honours, 20 in respect of World War I and 20 in respect of World War II, are borne on scrolls in gold in three groups of six honours on each horizontal arm of St George’s Cross and one group of four honours on the lower vertical arm of the Cross. Honours are emblazoned in chronological order by theatres across the horizontal arm of the Cross and vertically on the lower arm of the Cross. The fringe is of crimson and gold alternate strands.[15] Honorary distinction badges of the four former regiments are borne in each canton of the Colour:[15]

  • Royal Fusiliers - On a mount vert the White Horse of Hanover, in the lower canton nearer the pike.
  • Lancashire Fusiliers - The red rose of Lancaster with two petals uppermost, in the lower canton further from the pike and The Sphinx, superscribed on a scroll ‘Egypt’, immediately below the tie of the large laurel wreath bearing the Battle Honour scrolls.

Finally, thirty-eight battle honours, which were borne on the Regimental Colours of the four former regiments, are emblazoned on gold scrolls placed on the branches of a large laurel wreath outside the Union Wreath.[15]

The Drummer’s Colour (or Wilhelmstahl Colour) is of gosling green silk edged with gold, embroidered with St George and the Dragon in the centre, with red scrolls edged with gold, above and below. The motto of the Northumberland Fusiliers ‘QUO FATA VOCANT’ is, on the upper scroll, and the word ‘NORTHUMBERLAND’ between V REGT, also in gold, on the lower scroll. A wreath of green laurel with red berries and the ‘slipped’ red and white rose surmounted by a crown in the four corners, makes up the design. This unusual third colour is traditionally carried by the youngest drummer on the annual St George's Day parade.[15]

Lineage of the regiment

1880[20]1881 Childers Reforms[20]1921 Name changes1957 Defence White Paper1966 Defence White Paper1990 Options for Change2003 Delivering Security in a Changing World
5th (Northumberland) (Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot The Northumberland Fusiliers
renamed in 1935:
The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
6th (Royal First Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot The Royal Warwickshire Regiment
renamed in 1963:
The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers
7th (Royal Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot The Lancashire Fusiliers

Battle honours

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers carries the combined battle honours of its four antecendent regiments, as well as two honours obtained during the years of the regiment's own existence. There are a total of 40 representative honours each emblazoned on the Queen's Colour and Regimental Colour.[21]

Regimental Colonels

Regimental Colonels have been:[22]

Order of Seniority Within the Line of Battle

Preceded by
Duke of Lancaster's Regiment
Infantry Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Royal Anglian Regiment


See also

Media related to Royal Regiment of Fusiliers at Wikimedia Commons


  1. Swinson, Arthur (1972). A Register of the Regiments and Corps of the British Army. London: The Archive Press. ISBN 0-85591-000-3.
  2. "Units in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm". Britain's small wars. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  3. "Royal Regiment of Fusiliers". British Army units 1945 on. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  4. "Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Basra, 22-23 April 2003". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  5. James Ferguson (2008). A Million Bullets - The True Story of the War in Afghanistan. Bantam Press. ISBN 978-0593059036.
  6. "Operation Veritas: British units deployed". Britain's small wars. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  7. "Units to deploy as part of Herrick 18 announced". Ministry of Defence. 12 February 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  8. "Army engineers big change for Terriers". Evening Chronicle. 24 March 2006. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  9. "Transforming the British Army: An Update" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. p. 7. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  10. "1st Battalion - Armoured Infantry". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  11. "UK weather: Residents in Berkshire say military response is 24 hours too late". The Independent. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  12. "Army Major Units Boxing Final 2016". Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  13. "Fifth Fusiliers". Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  14. "Royal Regiment of Fusiliers: Regimental history". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  15. "Regimental Handbook" (PDF). Regiments Direct. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  16. "The six 'before breakfast' VCs reunited at last". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 Sep 2016.
  17. Ollington, Robin (2004). Bobby of the Fusiliers: The Story of Our Famous Regimental Mascot and Its Service and Adventures with Us for Over Two Hundred Years. Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. ISBN 9780954862909.
  18. "Meet Fusilier George". BFBS. Retrieved 5 Sep 2016.
  19. "In The Highest Tradition: The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers". BBC. Retrieved 4 Sep 2016.
  20. The London Gazette, Page 3300-3301 (1 July 1881). "Childers Reform" (24992). Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  21. The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Regimental Handbook (PDF). RRF. 2019. p. 44.
  22. "The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers". Archived from the original on 6 January 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  23. "No. 61372". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 October 2015. p. 18567.
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