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P.D. GRIFFIN
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS

On Minden Day (1 August) white roses are worn in the custom of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) and other regiments that picked roses for hat decoration on the way to the battlefield.

R. Caton Woodvilie's painting of a breach in the walls of Badajoz and a British storming party

R. Caton Woodvilie's painting of a breach in the walls of Badajoz and a British storming party

The battle honour 'Jellalabad' is carried on the regimental colour with a mural crown, as on the bugle badge of the Somerset Light Infantry. It was awarded to the 13th Regiment to mark the siege of the Indian border town, defended by Sir Robert Sale from November 1841 to April 1842 against the Afghan army of Akbar Khan. The regiment became famous at the time as 'The Illustrious Garrison' and 'The Jellalabad Heroes', while receiving the more lasting accolade of Prince Albert's title.

68th (Durham) Light Infantry re-enactment team display light infantry tactics of the Peninsular War period

68th (Durham) Light Infantry re-enactment team display light infantry tactics of the Peninsular War period

On Esla Day (31 May) the KOYLI would compete with the 15th/19th Hussars for a painting of the crossing of the Esla river in northern Spain. During this incident of the Peninsular War men of the 51st had to grab hold of stirrups of the 15th Hussars to avoid being swept away downriver.

Other important battle anniversaries are Lucknow Day (17 November) from the DCLI, Paardeberg (27 February) and Anzio (14 May) from the KSLI, and Hooge (9 August) and Inkerman (5 November) from the DLL Vesting Day (10 July) celebrates the day in 1968 when the four light infantry regiments came together as one. The Devonshire and Dorsets' Amalgamation Day (17 May) is observed with a major parade and regimental reunion.

Wagon Hill Day (6 January) remembers the recovery of Wagon Hill by three companies of the 1st Devons during the Siege of Ladysmith in 1900. Warrant officers and sergeants are invited to the officers' mess, a tradition of the regiment that acknowledges the debt owed to the sergeants who took the place of officers shot in the battle.

Bois des Buttes Day (27 May) commemorates the gallant resistance put up by the 2nd Devons during the German drive on Paris in 1918, when fighting in the woods ended with 551 battalion men killed. In 1921 the regiment erected a memorial to its dead in the village of La Ville-aux-Bois les Pontevert and a special toast to the French Army was introduced into the officers' mess ritual. The D&D support a junior NCOs' dinner night on the day.

Detail from a painting of the 2nd Devons at Bois des Buttes in 1918

Detail from a painting of the 2nd Devons at Bois des Buttes in 1918. (RHQ D&D)

Sarah Sands Day (11 November) replays the fateful voyage of the SS Sarah Sands and its cargo of soldiers en route to India in 1857. Fire broke out on board ship in mid-ocean, which persuaded the crew to take to the boats, leaving men of the 54th to Fight the terrifying inferno with their families. It took eighteen hours to bring the flames under control, a feat of endurance that was read out at the head of even' regiment in the army. The day is marked with inter-company competitions and ends with the traditional Sarah Sands Ball in the warrant officers' and sergeants' mess.

The Vernon bell, which used to be placed at DERR barrack gates, was presented to the regiment in 1960 to cement the affiliation between HMS Vernon and the Wiltshire Regiment. In 1951 a naval crown, superscribed '2nd April, 1801', was granted to the Royal Berkshire for its presence at the Battle of Copenhagen. A coiled rope in the badge of the regiment manifested this connection with the Royal Navy.

Plassey Day (23 June) records Clive's famous victors' of 1757 in India, and the only British regiment present, the 39th Foot.

Back Badge Day (21 March) takes its theme from the Gloucesters' strange practice of wearing a badge on the back and front of its headgear, a commemoration of the back-to-back fighting at Alexandria in 1801. This custom of the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment was eventually given official sanction in 1830. An army order of 1955 granted the 1st Battalion special permission to fly a streamer from the pikestaff of the regimental colour on Back Badge Day in the blue of the US Presidential Citation. The streamer is emblazoned with 'Solma-ri', the Korean valley in which the regiment made its name in 1951.

A newspaper report on the battle at the Imjin river in April 1951 hailed the stand made by The Glorious Glosters' against a Chinese army 30,000 strong as it crossed the Imjin and attacked the British 29th Infantry Brigade. The 'Glosters' fought back against impossible odds but by the evening of 24 April were pushed back on a hill where they fought desperately throughout the night. On the morning of the 25th the survivors attempted to break out but 526 men fell into enemy hands and were taken as prisoners of war.

The 66th (Berkshire) Regiment suffered a similar fate at the hands of the fanatical Ghazis of Afghanistan in 1880. The Royal Berkshires commemorated the battle on Maiwand Day (27 July) and a gigantic lion monument was erected in the heart of Reading to the memory of the 'last eleven' to succumb to the horde.

The LI has three mottoes on its blue regimental colours. Aucto splendore resurgo (Rise again with increased splendour) comes from the old Buckinghamshire Volunteers and relates to previous regiments that were ranked 85th in line. Cede nullis (Yield to none) came by way of the KOYLI from the 105th Regiment. Faithful was the family motto of Col Lambton of the old 68th, unofficially displayed on the caps of the regiment. The Devons' badge motto Semper fidelis (Always faithful) is now displayed with the Dorsets' Primus in Indis (First in India), an achievement of the 39th Regiment. Montis insignia Calpe (By the sign of the Rock) came with the castle and key badge of the Dorset Regiment and relates to its battle honour 'Gibraltar 1779-1783'.

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