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Light Infantry - Customs

Regimental Customs & Traditions

Loyal Toast

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 toast.

Regimental Day
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 increased splendour.

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.

(3) Faithful

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 CB belonged.

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 1842.

'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 Lacedemonians.

'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 title.

The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
'The Koylies' - from the initial letters of their title.

'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. AO 1681809.

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'.

Salamanca Day

Gibraltar Day

Minden Day

Anzio Day

Inkerman Day

Salamanca Day - 22 July - The Light Infantry Regimental Day

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 of Foot)
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 in 1704!

(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 of Foot.

(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 Light Infantry
(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 cannons.

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 beaten off.

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 day.

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 Army.

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 organization.

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 splendour'.

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 at Balaclava.

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.

Regimental Museums

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.

Regimental Journal

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.


Wednesday, 17 October, 2007 15:35

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