The King's Shropshire Light Infantry
The King's Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) was a regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

 of the 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...

, formed in 1881, but with antecedents dating back to 1755. The KSLI was amalgamated with three other county light infantry regiments in 1968 to became part of The Light Infantry
The Light Infantry
The Light Infantry was an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Light Division. It was formed on 10 July 1968 as a "large regiment" by the amalgamation of the four remaining light infantry regiments of the Light Infantry Brigade:...

. In February 2007 The Light Infantry itself became part of the new large regiment, 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 King's Light Infantry (Shropshire Regiment) was formed on July 1, 1881, as the county regiment of Herefordshire
Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire" NUTS 2 region. It also forms a unitary district known as the...

 and Shropshire
Shropshire is a county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes, the county is a NUTS 3 region and is one of four counties or unitary districts that comprise the "Shropshire and Staffordshire" NUTS 2 region. It borders Wales to the west...

 as part of the Childers Reforms
Childers Reforms
The Childers Reforms restructured the infantry regiments of the British army. The reforms were undertaken by Secretary of State for War Hugh Childers in 1881, and were a continuation of the earlier Cardwell reforms....

. It was renamed as The King's (Shropshire Light Infantry) in March 1882.

The regiment was an amalgamation of the 53rd (Shropshire) Regiment of Foot and the 85th (King's Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot
85th Regiment of Foot
Three regiments of the British Army have been numbered the 85th Regiment of Foot:*85th Regiment of Foot , raised in 1759*85th Regiment of Foot , raised in 1779*85th Regiment of Foot , raised in 1793...

, which became the regular 1st and 2nd Battalions. The 1881 reforms also redesignated the militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 and rifle volunteers
Volunteer Force (Great Britain)
The Volunteer Force was a citizen army of part-time rifle, artillery and engineer corps, created as a popular movement in 1859. Originally highly autonomous, the units of volunteers became increasingly integrated with the British Army after the Childers Reforms in 1881, before forming part of the...

 units within the regimental district as battalions of the regiment. Accordingly the Shropshire Militia and Royal Herefordshire Militia became the 3rd and 4th (Militia) Battalions respectively, and the 1st and 2nd Shropshire Rifle Volunteer Corps became the 1st and 2nd Volunteer Battalions. The 1st Herefordshire (Herefordshire and Radnorshire) Rifle Volunteer Corps was also affiliated as a volunteer battalion, without change of title.

In 1908 the Territorial Force
Territorial Force
The Territorial Force was the volunteer reserve component of the British Army from 1908 to 1920, when it became the Territorial Army.-Origins:...

 was formed, the two militia battalions were merged to form the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion and the 1st and 2nd VBs were merged to form the 4th Battalion (TF). At the same time, the Herefordshire RVC became an independent territorial Herefordshire Regiment
Herefordshire Light Infantry
The Herefordshire Light Infantry was a regiment of the British Army from 1861 to 1967. Its heritage survives as a platoon of Company, 4th Battalion the Mercian Regiment.The Regiment had no lineal connection with the 36th Regiment of Foot....


The regiment was greatly expanded during the First World War with 13 battalions serving in various theatres. In 1921 the regiment was renamed as The King's Shropshire Light Infantry. The KSLI again formed additional battalions during the Second World War, although not on the same scale as the previous conflict.

In 1948 the KSLI was reduced to one regular battalion and became part of the Light Infantry Brigade
Light Infantry Brigade
The Light Infantry Brigade was an administrative formation of the British Army from 1948 to 1968. The Brigade administered the regular English light infantry regiments....

, and in 1968 the four regiments of the Brigade (the KSLI, Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry
Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry
The Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry was an infantry regiment of the British Army.It was formed in 1959 by the merger of two regiments: The Somerset Light Infantry and The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry...

, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was a regiment of the British Army. It officially existed from 1881 to 1968, but its predecessors go back to 1755. The regiment's traditions and history are now maintained by The Rifles.-The 51st Foot:...

 and Durham Light Infantry
Durham Light Infantry
The Durham Light Infantry was an infantry regiment of the British Army from 1881 to 1968. It was formed by the amalgamation of the 68th Regiment of Foot and the 106th Regiment of Foot along with the militia and rifle volunteers of County Durham...

) amalgamated to form The Light Infantry, with the 1st KSLI being redesignated as the 3rd Battalion of the new regiment.


The KSLI served with distinction in Egypt in 1882, the Eastern Sudan, 1885-86 and in all the major campaigns of the 20th Century, including 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...

, 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...

, 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...

, the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, and other tours. Notably it was a member of the KSLI who was recorded as the first British Army casualty of the Second World War, killed in France during the German invasion - Corporal Thomas Priday was killed by a landmine near Metz on 9 December 1939 when 1 KSLI was based near the Maginot Line
Maginot Line
The Maginot Line , named after the French Minister of War André Maginot, was a line of concrete fortifications, tank obstacles, artillery casemates, machine gun posts, and other defences, which France constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in light of its experience in World War I,...

 as part of the original British Expeditionary Force
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....

. Remarkably, it was also members of the KSLI who were part of the operation to arrest Grand-Admiral Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz was a German naval commander during World War II. He started his career in the German Navy during World War I. In 1918, while he was in command of , the submarine was sunk by British forces and Dönitz was taken prisoner...

, successor to Hitler, at the very end of the war.

Battle honours

As well as inheriting the battle honour
Battle honour
A battle honour is an award of a right by a government or sovereign to a military unit to emblazon the name of a battle or operation on its flags , uniforms or other accessories where ornamentation is possible....

s of the 53rd and 85th Foot the KSLI bore the following honours on their colours:
  • Egypt 1882
  • Suakin 1885
  • Paardeberg
  • South Africa 1899-1902
  • Ten selected honours for the First World War:
    • Armentieres, 1914
    • Ypres 1915, '17
    • Frezenberg
    • Somme 1916, '18
    • Arras, 1917, '18
    • Cambrai, 1917, '18
    • Bligny
    • Epehy
    • Doiran, 1917, '18
    • Jerusalem
  • Ten selected honours for the Second World War:
    • Dunkirk, 1940
    • Normandy Landing
    • Antwerp
    • Venraij
    • Hochwald
    • Bremen
    • North-West Europe 1940, '44-'45
    • Tunis
    • Anzio
    • Italy, 1943-5
  • Korea, 1951-2

Depot and museum

The KSLI were based at Copthorne Barracks (built 1877-81) in Shrewsbury: this is now the HQ of the 5th Division and 143 West Midlands Brigade, along with TA, cadet and support units.
Its regimental museum has been located in Shrewsbury Castle
Shrewsbury Castle
Shrewsbury Castle is a red sandstone castle in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. It stands on a hill in the neck of the meander of the River Severn on which the town originally developed. The castle is situated directly above Shrewsbury railway station....

 since 1985 and combines the collections of the 53rd, the 85th, the KSLI to 1968, the local Militia, Rifle Volunteers and Territorials, as well as those of other county regiments - the Shropshire Yeomanry
Shropshire Yeomanry
The Shropshire Yeomanry was a yeomanry regiment of the British Army, first raised in 1795, which served as a cavalry and dismounted infantry regiment in the First World War and as a cavalry and an artillery regiment in the Second World War, before being amalgamated with the Shropshire Royal Horse...

 and the Shropshire Artillery. The museum was attacked by the IRA in 1992 and extensive damage to the collection and to some of the Castle resulted. It re-opened in 1995.

External links

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