King's Royal Rifle Corps
The King's Royal Rifle Corps was a British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 regiment, originally raised in colonial North America as the Royal Americans, and recruited from American colonists. Later ranked as the 60th Regiment of Foot, the regiment served for more than 200 years throughout the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. In 1966 the regiment became part of the Royal Green Jackets
Royal Green Jackets
The Royal Green Jackets was an infantry regiment of the British Army, one of two "large regiments" within the Light Division .-History:...



The King's Royal Rifle Corps was raised in the American colonies in 1756 as the 62nd (Royal American) Regiment to defend the thirteen colonies against attack by the French and their native American allies. After Braddock's defeat in 1755, royal approval for a new regiment, as well as funds, were granted by Parliament just before Christmas 1755 – hence the regiment's traditional birthday of Christmas Day. However parliamentary delays meant it was 4 March 1756 before a special act of parliament created four battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

s of 1,000 men each to include foreigners for service in the Americas.
According to a regimental history compiled in 1879 by a captain in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, in November 1755 Parliament voted the sum of 81,000 Pounds for the purpose of raising a regiment of four battalions, each one thousand strong for service in British North America
British North America
British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...

. Parliament approved “An Act to enable His Majesty
George II of Great Britain
George II was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Archtreasurer and Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 until his death.George was the last British monarch born outside Great Britain. He was born and brought up in Northern Germany...

 to grant commissions to a certain number of foreign Protestants, who have served abroad as officers or engineers, to act and rank as officers or engineers in America only, under certain restrictions and regulations.” Earl of Loudoun
John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun
Major-General John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun was a British nobleman and army officer.-Early career:Campbell inherited the peerage on the death of his father in 1731, becoming Lord Loudoun. The earl raised a regiment of infantry that took part in the Jacobite Rising of 1745 on the side of the...

, who as commander-in-chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the forces in North America, was appointed colonel-in-chief
In the various Commonwealth armies, the Colonel-in-Chief of a regiment is its patron. This position is distinct from that of Colonel of the Regiment. They do not have an operational role. They are however kept informed of all important activities of the regiment, and pay occasional visits to its...

 of the regiment. About fifty officers’ commissions were given to Germans and Swiss, and none were allowed to rise above the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

According to a modern history of the regiment, the idea for creating this unique force was proposed by Jacques Prevost, a Swiss soldier and adventurer who was a friend of The Duke of Cumberland (William, who was the King's second son and was Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
The Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, or just the Commander-in-Chief , was the professional head of the British Army from 1660 until 1904, when the office was replaced by the Chief of the General Staff, soon to become Chief of the Imperial General Staff . From 1870, the C-in-C was subordinate to...

.) Prevost recognised the need for soldiers who understood forest warfare, unlike the regulars who were brought to America in 1755 by General Braddock.

The regiment was intended to combine the characteristics of a colonial corps
Colonial troops
Colonial troops or colonial army refers to various military units recruited from, or used as garrison troops in, colonial territories.- Colonial background :...

 with those of a foreign legion
Foreign legion
Foreign legion or Foreign Legion is a title which has been used by a small number of military units composed of foreign volunteers.It usually refers to the French Foreign Legion, part of the French Army established in 1831.It can also refer to:...

. Swiss and German forest fighting experts, American colonists and British volunteers from other British regiments were recruited. These men were Protestants, an important consideration for fighting against the predominantly Catholic French. The officers were also recruited from Europe – not from the American colonies – and consisted of English, Scots, Irish, Dutch, Swiss and Germans. It was the first time foreign officers were commissioned at British Army officers. The total regiment consisted of 4,160 enlisted men, 101 officers and 240 non-commissioned officers. The battalions were raised on Governors Island
Governors Island
Governors Island is a island in Upper New York Bay, approximately one-half mile from the southern tip of Manhattan Island and separated from Brooklyn by Buttermilk Channel. It is legally part of the borough of Manhattan in New York City...

, New York. The regiment was renumbered the 60th (Royal American) Regiment in February 1757 when the 50th (Shirley's) and 51st (Pepperel's) foot regiments were removed from the British Army roll after their surrender at Fort Oswego
Fort Oswego
Fort Oswego was an important frontier post for British traders in the 18th century. A trading post was established in 1722 with a log palisade, and New York governor William Burnet ordered a fort built at the site in 1727. The log palisade fort established a British presence on the Great Lakes....


Among the distinguished foreign officers given commissions in the 60th (Royal Americans) was Henri Bouquet, a Swiss citizen, whose ideas on tactics, training and man-management (including the unofficial introduction of the rifle and 'battle-dress`) would become universal in the British Army some 150 years later. Bouquet was commanding officer of the 1st battalion, and with his fellow battalion commanders, set about creating units that was better suited to warfare in the forests and lakes of northeast America. The Royal Americans represented an attempt to produce a more able soldier who was encouraged to use his initiative while retaining the discipline that was noticeably lacking in the irregular units of colonial Rangers that were being raised at the same time.

The new regiment fought at Louisbourg
Siege of Louisbourg
Siege of Louisbourg may refer to:* Siege of Louisbourg , the capture of the settlement by British forces during the War of the Austrian Succession...

 in 1758 and Quebec in 1759 in the campaign which finally wrested Canada from France; at Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 it won from General James Wolfe
James Wolfe
Major General James P. Wolfe was a British Army officer, known for his training reforms but remembered chiefly for his victory over the French in Canada...

 the motto Celer et Audax (Swift and Bold). These were conventional battles on the European model, but fighting during Pontiac's Rebellion
Pontiac's Rebellion
Pontiac's War, Pontiac's Conspiracy, or Pontiac's Rebellion was a war that was launched in 1763 by a loose confederation of elements of Native American tribes primarily from the Great Lakes region, the Illinois Country, and Ohio Country who were dissatisfied with British postwar policies in the...

 in 1763 was of a very different character. The frontier war threatened the British control of North America. The new regiment at first lost several outlying garrisons but finally proved its mastery of forest warfare under Bouquet's leadership at the victory of Bushy Run
Battle of Bushy Run
The Battle of Bushy Run was fought on August 5-6, 1763, in western Pennsylvania, between a British column under the command of Colonel Henry Bouquet and a combined force of Delaware, Shawnee, Mingo, and Huron warriors. This action occurred during Pontiac's Rebellion...


The 60th were uniformed and equipped in a similar manner to other British regiments with red coats and cocked hats or grenadier caps, but on campaign, swords were replaced with hatchets, and coats and hats cut down for ease of movement in the woods.

Napoleonic Wars

During the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 the regiment saw action in the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

. The first four battalions had been raised as regular line battalions, but in 1797 a 5th battalion had been raised and equipped entirely with the Baker rifle
Baker rifle
The Baker rifle was a flintlock rifle used by the Rifle regiments of the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars. It was the first standard-issue, British-made rifle accepted by the British armed forces....

s, and wore green jackets with red facings. The mixing of rifle troops and muskets proved so effective that eventually the line battalion light companies were replaced with rifle companies. The line battalions found themselves in several different theatres, including the West Indies. The rifle battalion was soon joined by a second, and these found themselves in the Peninsula with Wellington's army, serving along with the 95th Rifles, and the King's German Legion
King's German Legion
The King's German Legion was a British Army unit of expatriate German personnel, 1803–16. The Legion achieved the distinction of being the only German force to fight without interruption against the French during the Napoleonic Wars....

 rifle units. A 7th battalion was eventually raised as a rifle battalion specifically for service in the American War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...


After the Napoleonic Wars the regiment received a new title: first, in 1815, its name was changed to The Duke of York's Own Rifle Corps and then, in 1830, to the King's Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC). In 1858 the Rifle Depot at Winchester was made their headquarters. During the rest of the 1800s the unit was active in China, Canada (Wolseley Expedition
Wolseley Expedition
The Wolseley Expedition was a military force authorized by Sir John A. Macdonald to confront Louis Riel and the Métis in 1870, during the Red River Rebellion, at the Red River Settlement in what is now the Canadian province of Manitoba...

), Afghanistan, India, Burma
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

 and South Africa. The regiment was deployed during the Second Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

 from the outset playing a key role in the first battle at Talana Hill
Battle of Talana Hill
The Battle of Talana Hill, also known as the Battle of Glencoe, was the first major clash of the Second Boer War. A frontal attack by British infantry supported by artillery drove Boers from a hilltop position, but the British suffered heavy casualties in the process, including their commanding...

. Two officers from the regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross; Lieutenant Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts
Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts
Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts VC , son of the famous Victorian commander Field Marshal Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, was born in Umballa, India, and received the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and...

 and Lieutenant Llewelyn Alberic Emilius Price-Davies.

World War I

In World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 the KRRC was expanded to twenty-two battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

s and saw much action on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

, Macedonia
Macedonian front (World War I)
The Macedonian Front resulted from an attempt by the Allied Powers to aid Serbia, in the autumn of 1915, against the combined attack of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria. The expedition came too late and in insufficient force to prevent the fall of Serbia, and was complicated by the internal...

 and Italy with 60 battle honours awarded. 12840 men of the regiment were killed while seven members were nominated and received the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 and over 2,000 further decorations were awarded.

After 1918 the unit returned to garrison duties in India, Palestine and Ireland. In 1922 the regiment was reduced from four to two battalions with the third and fourth being disbanded. In 1926 the regiment was reorganised as one of the first mechanised infantry regiments.

World War II

In World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 after initial deployment to France as part of the BEF
British Expeditionary Force (World War II)
The British Expeditionary Force was the British force in Europe from 1939–1940 during the Second World War. Commanded by General Lord Gort, the BEF constituted one-tenth of the defending Allied force....

, the regiment lost two battalions at the Defence of Calais (2nd Bn KRRC and 1st Bn the Queen Victoria's Rifles (TA)) where a Green Jacket Brigade held up the German advance to enable the evacuation of the allied armies at Dunkirk. Redeployed to northern Africa the unit began to see success, continuing with actions in Italy, Austria, Germany and in the Battle of Greece
Battle of Greece
The Battle of Greece is the common name for the invasion and conquest of Greece by Nazi Germany in April 1941. Greece was supported by British Commonwealth forces, while the Germans' Axis allies Italy and Bulgaria played secondary roles...

 and Crete (where its 9th Battalion, The Rangers (TA), served with 1st Armoured Brigade Group
British 1st Armoured Brigade
The 1st Armoured Brigade was a regular British Army unit formed from the redesignation of the 1st Light Armoured Brigade on 3 September 1939.-Second World War History:...

). The 1st Battalion served in the 4th Armoured Brigade that failed to link up with the 1st Parachute Division at the Battle of Arnhem
Battle of Arnhem
The Battle of Arnhem was a famous Second World War military engagement fought in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel and the surrounding countryside from 17–26 September 1944....

. Rifleman John Beeley
John Beeley
John Beeley VC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

 was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 for his actions during Operation Crusader
Operation Crusader
Operation Crusader was a military operation by the British Eighth Army between 18 November–30 December 1941. The operation successfully relieved the 1941 Siege of Tobruk....

. The regiment was awarded 41 battle honours for service in World War II. Post-war the unit was deployed in Germany.

Royal Green Jackets

In 1948, for administrative purposes the KRRC was brigaded with the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry
Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was an infantry regiment of the British Army.The regiment was formed as a consequence of Childers reforms, a continuation of the Cardwell reforms, by the amalgamation of the 43rd Regiment of Foot and the 52nd Regiment of Foot , forming the 1st...

 and the Rifle Brigade to form the Green Jackets Brigade.

In 1958 the Regiment was re-titled as the 2nd Green Jackets, The King's Royal Rifle Corps, as were the two other regiments of the Green Jackets Brigade
Green Jackets Brigade
The Green Jackets Brigade was an administrative formation of the British Army from 1948 to 1968. The Brigade administered the English rifle regiments. The designation "Green Jackets" was derived from their rifle green tunics indicating their status as rifles....

, re-titled 1st and 3rd Green Jackets respectively.

In 1966 the three regiments were amalgamated to form the three battalions of the Royal Green Jackets
Royal Green Jackets
The Royal Green Jackets was an infantry regiment of the British Army, one of two "large regiments" within the Light Division .-History:...

 Regiment (RGJ).

In 1992 the 1st Battalion, Royal Green Jackets was disbanded, and the KRRC were renumbered as the 1st Battalion, with the 3rd Battalion (former Rifle Brigade) becoming the 2nd Battalion.

In 2007, the two-battalion RGJ regiment was amalgamated with the remaining Light Infantry regiments, to form the five Regular and two Territorial battalions of The Rifles
The Rifles
The Rifles is the largest regiment of the British Army. Formed in 2007, it consists of five regular and two territorial battalions, plus a number of companies in other TA battalions, Each battalion of the Rifles was formerly an individual battalion of one of the two large regiments of the Light...


The regiment's traditions are preserved by the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, which is a redesignation of the 1st Battalion, Royal Green Jackets.

Territorial Battalions

  • Queen Victoria’s Rifles
    Queen Victoria’s Rifles
    The Queen Victoria's Rifles was the designation of the 9th Battalion the London Regiment, a Territorial unit of the British Army. This was formed in 1908 in order to regiment the various Volunteer Force battalions in the newly formed County of London, Queen Victoria's Rifles were one of twenty...

  • The Rangers
  • The Queen's Westminsters
    The Queen's Westminsters
    The Queen's Westminsters was a regiment of the British Territorial Army .-History:It was formed on 31 December 1921 as the 16th Battalion , The London Regiment by the amalgamation of the 15th Battalion , The London Regiment and the 16th The Queen's Westminsters was a regiment of the British...

In World War II these territorial battalions were made formally part of the KRRC as follows:
  • 1st Battalion Queen Victoria's Rifles – 7th Battalion KRRC
  • 2nd Battalion Queen Victoria's Rifles – 8th Battalion KRRC
  • 1st Battalion The Rangers – 9th Battalion KRRC
  • 2nd Battalion The Rangers – 10th Battalion KRRC
  • 1st Battalion The Queen's Westminsters – 11th Battalion KRRC
  • 2nd Battalion The Queen's Westminsters – 12th Battalion KRRC

As well as the territorial battalions there were the cadet battalions. Even today the KRRC 1st Cadet Battalion still exists. The units that still survive are A Company 231 KRRC (Paddington) Rifles ACF, B Company 232 KRRC (Westminster) Rifles ACF, C Company 233 KRRC (Camden) Rifles ACF and up until recent years D Company 234 KRRC (Putney) RGJ ACF , which formed the London Oratory School RGJ ACF unit (now CCF) although they were rebadged as Irish Guards in 2010 (making them the last remaining RGJ unit and also the first Irish Guards CCF unit).

See also

:Category:Battle honours of the King's Royal Rifle Corps
  • Rifle Brigade – sister regiment sharing much common history and traditions

External links

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