Light Infantry - Customs
Regimental Customs & Traditions
The loyal toast is not drunk in Regimental
messes in The Light Infantry. The Privilege
was earned by the DCLI (32nd) as an honour for
defending Lucknow. It was also conferred on
the 85th, later the 2nd Battalion KSLI, by George
IV after officers of the Regiment had dealt
with rioters who insulted him in a theatre in
Brighton. The custom in the DLI originated during
their campaign in the West Indies against the
Caribs (when they were awarded the designation
'Faithful') since when it has not been considered
necessary to demonstrate their loyalty by drinking
The Regimental Day of The Light Infantry is
22 July, the date of the Battle of Salamanca
in 1812. It is known as Salamanca Day.
The Battle of Salamanca is a significant occasion
in the history of The Light Infantry as all
our former Regiments took part. The battle was
a resounding victory and proved to be the turning
point in the Peninsula Campaign. It is particularly
appropriate that a battle from that Campaign
should be selected, as the record of the Light
Division in the Peninsula War has rarely been
surpassed and is justly seen as a memorial to
Sir John Moore, the father of the Regiment.
Regimental Mottoes and Nicknames
(1) Aucto Splendore Resurgo - I rise again with
Granted to the 85th (Bucks Volunteers) LI on
10 August 1815 - alludes to the three raisings
of the Regiment.
(2) Cede Nullis - Yield to None.
Granted to the 105 Madras LI in 1841.
Granted to the 68th in recognition of the gallantry
of the Regiment in its campaign in the Caribbean
in the 1770s - originally a nickname until 1968.
(4) Manu Forti - With a firm hand.
Granted by BA4 King Edward VII to the Herefordshire
Regiment in 1908. It alludes to the motto 'Firm'
of the old 3 6th Herefordshire Regiment of Foot,
later the 2nd Bn The Worcestershire Regiment
and to the motto of the clan Mackay to which
the then commanding officer, Colonel M J G Scobie
The Somerset Light Infantry
'The Light Bobs' - an old name for The Light
Infantry. 'The Bleeders', 'The Illustrious Garrison',
'The Jellalabad Heroes' all referring to the
Afghanistan Campaign of 1842.
The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
'Murrays Bucks' - from the name of the Colonel
of the 46th 1743-64 and their uniform of Scottish
Livery which also gave them 'The Edinburgh Regiment'.
The 46 wore scarlet with yellow trumps until
'The Lacedemonians' - in allusion to the speech
made by the Colonel of the 46th just before
going into action during the war of American
Independence, on the discipline of the Spartans,
'The Surprisens' - from an incident in the
American War of 1777.
'The Red Feathers' - from the Red Feathers
worn after PAOLI 20th September 1777.
'The Docs' - from the initial letters of their
The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
'The Koylies' - from the initial letters of
'The Stormers' - refers to the gallantry of
the 'forlorn hope' led by Ensign Dyas of the
51st at Badajoz in June 1811. Originally it
was the custom to toast 'Ensign Dyas' throughout
the Peninsula Army but in later years the practice
has been restricted to the KOYLI to toast 'Ensign
Dyas and the Stormers' in silence.
The 1st Bn King's Shropshire Light Infantry
'The Old Five and Threepennies' - alluding to
the Regimental number of the 53rd and to the
daily pay of an Ensign.
'The Brickdusts' - alluding to the red facings
of the 53rd and by the same token Napoleon referred
to the 2nd Bn the 53rd as 'The Red Regiment'
during the period when the 2nd/53rd acted as
his guard at St Helena.
'The Honeysuckers'- bestowed on the 2nd Bn
53rd in the Peninsula War after a number of
men had been flogged for stealing honey against
the express orders of the Duke of Wellington.
The 2nd Bn King's Shropshire Light Infantry
'The Bucks Volunteers'- title bestowed on the
85th Regiment 1st March 1794 to commemorate
the fact that it absorbed a volunteer association
raised on Buckinghamshire for Home Defence prior
to the Peace of Amiens 1802.
'The Young Bucks' - in distinction to the 14th
of Foot The Old Bucks, later the Bedfordshire
and Hertfordshire Regiment.
'The Elegant Extracts' - dissensions amongst
the staff of the 85th were so frequent that
in 1813 The Duke of York dispersed them substituting
officers from other Corps.
'The Stonewallers'- given to 2nd Bn KSLI by
the C-in-C Sir John French for its action as
part of 80th Brigade in the second battle of
Ypres May 1915.
The Herefordshire Infantry
'The Grasshoppers'- The nickname of the Herefordshire
Rifle Volunteers because of the colour of their
facings and the title of their Regimental magazine.
'The Whitefaced 'uns" - alluding to the
Hereford breed of cattle.
The Durham Light Infantry
'Faithful Durham' - refers to faithful and determined
service in many actions and notably amongst
the ravages of the Caribbean in the 1770s. Since
1968 carried on the Regimental Colour of the
Light Infantry as a 'motto'.
SPECIAL ORDERS OF THE DAY
Salamanca Day - 22 July - The Light Infantry
Battle of Salamanca - 22 July 1812
The Peninsula campaign took place in Spain
and Portugal and started in 1804. The war was
against the might of Napoleon and his French
Armies. During the ensuing years the British
and French battled back and forth across these
two ravaged countries. At one stage in 1809
the British were evacuated from the port of
Corunna, after the death of the Commander Sir
John Moore. After a long and arduous campaign
the British Army now under the Duke of Wellington,
faced the French in front of the town of Salamanca.
Wellington had seven Divisions amongst whom
were Regiments now part of the Light Infantry.
Some were already Light Infantry and others
had yet to convert.
In the 6th Division under Major General H Clinton
were the 2/53rd (Shropshire Regiment) and 1/32nd
(Cornwall). In the 7th Division under Major
General V Hope were the 68th Durham Light Infantry
and the 51st Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.
Under Major General Count Charles Von Alten
was the Light Division with Battalions from
the 43rd Oxfordshire Light Infantry and the
95th Rifles. Companies of the 60th Rifles were
attached to the 1st, 3rd and 4th Divisions.
On the 22nd July 1812 after much manoeuvring
the British attacked and defeated the French.
Salamanca is described by historians as Wellington's
finest victory and the turning point of the
war leading to the defeat of Napoleon at Nivelle
on the 10th November 1813.
Gibraltar Day - 6 October
Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry (The Somerset
Light Infantry (Prince Albert's) (13th Regiment
and the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (32nd/46th
Regiments of Foot))
The Capture and Defence of Gibraltar 1704-1705
NB: 6AO - Just a day, not relative to a battle
(1) The Regiments - 13th Foot
Hasting's Foot first came into prominence in
1689 at the Battle of Killicrankie. Theophilus,
Earl of Huntingdon, raised the Regiment in 1685
at the request of James 11. In 1702 the Regiment
became the Earl of Barrymore's Foot, taking
the name of the Colonel Commanding. It arrived
in Gibraltar in Dec 1704 and was awarded the
battle honour for its part in defeating the
Spanish and French besieging forces in 1705.
In 1751 it was numbered as the 13th Regiment
(2) 32 Foot
Colonel Edward Fox was authorized in 1702 to
raise a Regiment of Marines whose duties were
to assist in working and fighting the ships
and the defence of ports for the British Fleet.
Fox's Marines were part of an amphibious force
dispatched in 1704 to the Spanish coast to attack
and destroy Spanish dockyard facilities. Due
to the lassitude of the naval commander, Admiral
Rooke, the force failed to achieve anything
either at Barcelona or Cadiz. Knowing that he
would have to justify his weak and pusillanimous
performance when he returned home, he landed
5,000 men at Gibraltar on 22nd June. To everyone's
surprise the force was opposed by only 500 Spaniards
of whom a mere 150 were regular soldiers. The
fortress surrendered two days later. A counter
attack from the Spaniards and French soon followed
but the marines held the Fort. It was clear
that the Garrison, now consisting of 1,900 English
and 400 Dutch marines would have to protect
the Rock without naval support. The second French
attack would certainly have succeeded had the
French more fully exploited an amphibious assault.
A third attack with 3,000 French infantry and
marines was planned for November but before
they could assemble the British fleet routed
the French men-of-war, By December disease and
exposure had taken their toll and the Garrison
strength was down to 1,000. On 18 December reinforcements
from England arrived but part of the convoy,
including two companies of Barrymore's Foot
were captured. In February 1705 the French surprise
assault penetrated the first and second lines
of defence but the Round Tower was held by Borr,
Fox's successor, and his marines. The garrison
was suffering about thirty casualties a day
from enemy fire which in three months included
70,000 round shot and 800 bombs. The situation
was relieved by the British fleet and in April
1705 the enemy withdrew.
In 1751 The Regiment was numbered as the 32nd
Foot. In 1741 another Regiment later numbered
as the 46th was raised. In 1782 territorial
titles were introduced. The 13th became the
Somersetshire Regiment, the 32nd the Cornwall
Regiment and the 46th the South Devon Regiment.
Further amalgamations in 1881 saw the 32nd,
46th and Royal Cornwall Rangers Militia become
the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (DCLI).
In 1959 the DCLI amalgamated with the Somerset
Light Infantry to form the Somerset and Cornwall
Light Infantry. 1968 saw the formation of the
large Regiment, The Light Infantry.
Minden Day - 1 August - The King's Own Yorkshire
(51st/105th) Regiments of Foot
Battle of Minden, 1 August 1759
In 1758 the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
formed part of a force which, with the Prussian
Army, campaigned against the French on the continent
during the Seven Years War. It was during this
campaign that the regiment won what was perhaps
its greatest Battle Honour.
Early in 1759 a large French Army under Marshal
Contades (52,000) had come up from the Rhine,
taken Minden and was threatening the Electorate
of Hanover. Ferdinand of Brunswick, whose task
it was to cover Hanover, had about 41,000 British
and Hanoverian troops.
The Battle began at 3 o'clock on the morning
of 1st August 1759. Contades had a strong position
behind marshes near the Weser River. Ferdinand
- by exposing an apparent weak spot in his own
lines - induced the Marshal to leave his position
and to attack. For a time the fight was fairly
even, the French striving to drive the allied
troops off the field, the Allies vigorously
maintaining the position.
Ferdinand's reserve consisted of a column of
nine infantry regiments, under the Hanoverian
General Sporcken, amongst which was the 51st
Foot (King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry).
Ferdinand sent an order to Sporcken through
an Aide de Camp that 'when the advance begins
it is to be made with drums beating', as repeated
to the Hanoverian General he took it to be 'Advance,
drums beating with such Regiments as you have
and attack anything in your front'. It was this
misunderstanding which led to the action that
'covered the Minden Regiments with immortal
honour', for to the surprise and consternation
of the watching staff, the column started advancing
by itself. Gallopers were at once sent to stop
it. For a few minutes the column halted behind
a thin belt of firs, but the battalions were
burning to get on and suddenly stepped off like
one man. Their march led them directly against
the mass of French cavalry, and soon the column
had out-stripped the support of its own guns
and was exposed to the fire of 60 powerful French
Over a distance of two hundred yards it calmly
advanced through a storm of shot, the ranks
steadily closing together as men were killed
and wounded. Eleven squadrons of French cavalry
hurled themselves against 'that astonishing
infantry', but the column, remaining quiet until
the horses were only ten paces off, received
them with volley and bayonet. The cavalry were
This was the critical moment, Ferdinand sent
one staff officer after another to General Lord
George Sackville, who was commanding the British
cavalry, vainly ordering him to charge but he
would not move. Once more the French cavalry
charged upon the solitary British column. Again
they were met with perfect coolness and determination,
and again - this time finally they were driven
off the field. Still inexplicably, Sackville
refused to charge, but by this time the rest
of the allied infantry and artillery had caught
up with the Column which had destroyed so great
a part of the enemy's cavalry and the battle
was won. Minden was surrendered the following
Contades, having watched the ruin of the flower
of his Army is said to have declared he had
seen on this day what had never before been
seen and which was impossible of belief, a single
column of infantry break through three lines
of cavalry, and four brigades of infantry, ranked
in order of battle, and tumble them to ruin'.
Lord George Sackville was tried by court-martial
and dismissed from the Army.
When the British Infantry were first advancing
they passed through some German gardens and
the soldiers plucked roses and stuck them in
their coats. Minden Day was thereafter celebrated
annually in all battalions of the KOYLI on 1st
August, when the White Rose of Yorkshire was
worn by all ranks in their caps.
Anzio Day – 11 May – The King’s
Shropshire Light Infantry
(53rd/85th Regiments of Foot)
Battle of Anzio 23 January – 25 May 1944
NB: No significance of 11 May 1944
On 21 December 1755 Colonel Whitmore of Apley,
near Bridgnorth, was authorized to raise, form
and discipline a Regiment of Foot of ten Companies'.
This Regiment was assigned to Shropshire in
1782. In 1803 the 53rd Foot was ordered to raise
a Second Battalion.
The 85th was the oldest, if not the most senior,
of the Light Infantry Regiments by virtue of
its succeeding to the precedence number of the
original 85th, the Royal Volunteers Light Infantry
raised in Shrewsbury in 1759 - the first Light
Infantry Regiment ever formed in the British
In 1821 George IV, an unpopular King was in
danger of being mobbed by rioters outside the
Theatre Royal in Brighton. Officers of the 85th
managed to protect him, and as a reward George
IV granted them dispensation from drinking his
health and also from standing when the National
Anthem is played in barracks. The custom of
not drinking the monarch's health continues
to this day. The 85th became a Royal Regiment
and styled 'The King's Light Infantry'. In 1881
they merged with the 53rd under the territorial
The Regimental Day of the 1st Battalion The
King's Shropshire Light Infantry, Anzio Day,
was chosen to mark the gruelling four months
battle at Anzio in 1944 before the allied breakout
to crush the enemy in Italy.
Anzio, is situated on the west coast of Italy
with Rome only a few miles away to the north;
it was decided that this small town was the
best place to put a fighting force ashore which
would outflank the axis powers, and thus break
the deadlock that paralysed the Italian front
in the latter half of 1943. To this effect a
British American force, consisting of a division
apiece was landed upon the beaches of Anzio
on January 22nd in the early hours of the morning.
Amongst the first troops ashore was the 1st
Bn King's Shropshire Light Infantry, after an
uncertain lull for two days, while corps command
hesitated to push forward, thus enabling the
enemy to seal off the beach-head, the Battalion
found itself involved in heavy fighting as the
allies endeavoured to extend the front line
beyond the beaches.
In early February, the Battalion was in the
thick of the fighting when, trapped at the head
of an exposed salient in the line, companies
desperately held their position before a withdrawal
in contact was skilfully performed in the most
straightened circumstances, leaving the Shropshire
men badly mauled but intact as a fighting force.
Furthermore, it is no small credit to them that
during this terrible battle, the carrier platoon
succeeded in liberating some three hundred allied
prisoners from enemy hands.
However, worse was to follow in the coming
weeks leading up to the break-out in May; a
stalemate fell over the battlefield, and for
a time the officers and men attacked and defended
a series of deep watery ditches, known as the
'Wadis' in appalling conditions uncannily similar
to those of the Somme and Flanders. In addition
to the hardships endured at the front, there
was no comfort to be had in the crowded rear
areas of the beach-head, where even hospitals
filled with wounded were subjected to the harassing
fire of the enemy guns.
Also sharing the rigours of Anzio were the
men of the 1st and 9th Battalions, King's Own
Yorkshire Light Infantry, who came as part of
allied reinforcements to the beleaguered forces
prior to the break-out, which was completed
on 25th May, four months after the initial landings.
In 1968 the KSLI became part of the large Regiment,
The Light Infantry. The Regimental motto 'Aucto
Splendore Resurgo' ensures that should another
call to arms be made the men of Shropshire and
Herefordshire will 'rise again with increased
Inkerman Day - 5 November
The Durham Light Infantry
(68th/106th Regiments of Foot)
The Battle of Inkerman
During the Crimean War against the Russians
an outstanding action took place shortly after
the Battle of Balaclava. During the night of
the 4th November great movement was heard as
the Russians assembled at the foot of the heights
held by the allied British and French armies,
the Russians outnumbered the allies by 5 to
1. As first light came on a cold, wet and misty
morning Sir George Cathcart prepared to assault
down the rocky face against the Russians. 16
Officers, 15 sergeants, 14 buglers and 198 rank
and file of the 68th Durham Light Infantry marched
forward in their grey greatcoats ready for the
attack. As Sir George Cathcart rode in behind
them the Durhams threw off their greatcoats
so that they could fight the better and get
at their ammunition - they were the only troops
that day to fight in their red coats. The charge
was sounded and down the hill the Durhams charged
- their red coats attracting heavy fire from
the Russian artillery. Sir George Cathcart was
killed and two Brigadiers severely wounded,
the Durhams were reduced to half their strength.
The remaining Durhams pressed on, relying on
the bayonet. The massed 'Yakutsk' regiment of
the Russians wavered and, when struck by the
impetuous charge of the Durhams turned and fled
the field of battle. Ever since this feat of
gallantry the WOs and Sgts continued to wear
the Inkerman chain and whistle as an honour
which has been passed down to the WOs and Sgts
of the Light Infantry of today. This heroic
action questioned by Historians as to the soundness
of Sir George Cathcart's orders, is paralleled
with that of the Charge of the Light Brigade
Regimental Flags (Camp Colours)
The Regimental badge placed centrally on a
dark green background. Dimensions 6ft by 4ft.
Battalions fly the Regimental flag with the
appropriate roman numeral inscribed in the top
comer nearest the flag pole. Regimental flags
can be obtained from Messrs Porter and Co, PO
Box 161, King's Dock Mill, Liverpool, L69 IDG
(Tel 051-709-5155). The dimensions of the 'storm'
flag are 3ft by 2ft.
Regimental Association Standards
The Regimental badge placed centrally on dark
green double raycot background. Dimensions 4ft
by 3ft. Underneath the badge in an arc "Light
Infantry Regimental", Association in a
straight line and below the Branch title. Badge
and lettering in silver. Fringed in silver matching
art silk cords and tassels.
The Light Infantry Museum is located at Winchester.
The Museum covers the period from 1968 onwards.
Its purpose is to portray the activities of
the Regiment and to serve as a means of educating
recruits. There is a museum in each of our counties.
The Journal is 'The Silver Bugle'. The editor
is a member of the Regimental Headquarters and
publication is from the Regimental Headquarters.
The 'Silver Bugle' is designed in magazine form
to interest all members of the Light Infantry
both serving and retired and also as a means
of attracting recruits into the Regiment. The
Journal reflects the doings of the Regiment
and acts also as the formal history.