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P.D. GRIFFIN
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS

The Royal Green Jackets

MUSIC

The regimental march is made up of Huntsman's Chorus from the KRRC and The Italian Song adopted by 4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire on campaign in Italy in 1943. Weber's Huntsman's Chorus (previously Lutzows Wild Chase) speaks of the German Jagers who went to fill the ranks of the 60th Rifles' 5th Battalion in 1797 and Lutzow's German riflemen who fought against Napoleon in the ensuing wars.

Riflemen operating the pairs system in the field

Riflemen operating the pairs system in the field, 1997. (Grenadier Publishing)

The RGJ uphold the fast marching pace of their antecedent regiments and chose The Road to the Isles for their double past. Other regimental marches are Nach Flager Von Grenada (43rd) and The Lower Castle Yard (52nd) of the Ox and Bucks, and I'm Ninety Five of the Rifle Brigade, which held that number in the line before changing to brigade status.

TRADITIONS

Regimental anniversaries concern birth dates and battle days, mostly inherited; 1 January celebrates the formation of the Royal Green Jackets in 1966, but the regimental day is 25 July. In July 1968 battalion subtitles were abolished and a 'one regiment' spirit was encouraged.

The date 17 January marks the birth of the 43rd Regiment in 1741, 20 December the 52nd in 1755 and 25 December the 60th Regiment, also in 1755; 25 August commemorates the day in 1800 when the Rifle Corps first saw action, at Ferrol on the Spanish coast; 11 November remembers the KRRC at the Battle of Nonne Bosschen in 1914; 28 February the Relief of Ladysmith in 1900, which involved the KRRC and the RB; and 18 June the 52nd's defeat of the Chasseurs de la Garde at Waterloo, an important day in the Oxfordshires.

The date 14 September (Delhi Day) commemorates the struggle of the 52nd and the 60th against the Indian mutineers during the siege of 1857, and the start of the KRRCs' enduring friendship with 2nd Gurkha Rifles.

Membership of the Wolfe Society is inherited from the OBLI and the KRRC. At the Battle of Quebec in 1759 Gen Wolfe described the 60th as 'Swift and Bold', an acclamation the regiment later turned into a motto (Celer et Audax) and its ethos.

Green Jackets' drill has long differed from accepted army practice. The normal marching pace of 120 to the minute is upped to 140-180 per minute at the double, a reminder of the Napoleonic Wars when riflemen were trained to run ahead of the main body to skirmish with the enemy. This rapid deployment over wide areas of rough terrain meant that the Green Jackets had to be able to travel light, without the usual paraphernalia carried by the redcoats. Colours and drums, therefore, were dismissed from Green Jacket tradition and bugles replaced drums to convey orders across the battlefield. Today, buglers are seen in the RGJ where drummers are normally employed in other regiments. Rifles are traditionally carried down 'at the trail' with a loose sling, a throwback to days wrhen light infantrymen had to march ready to give fire. Bayonets are referred to as swords because swords used to be issued instead of bayonets to extend the short Baker rifle to normal length. Emphasis is still placed on the Rifle regiments' old philosophy of discipline through encouragement and initiative.

THE SPECIAL AIR SERVICE REGIMENT

The Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) grew out of commando units formed in North Africa during the Second World War for raids behind enemy lines. Maj David Stirling of No. 8 Commando, who initiated parachute training for airborne attacks on German installations in the desert, was given command of the first special service regiment in 1942. After Stirling's capture in January 1943 a second 'special' regiment was created with his brother at its head. The word Special describes the units' departure from conventional tactics.

After the war SAS and commando units were disbanded but in 1947 the former was reconstituted in a TA battalion when the Artists Rifles, a London volunteer unit raised in 1860, was transferred from the Rifle Brigade as 21SAS. During the Malayan emergency a need was identified for a special force that could survive in the jungle. Former Chindits and SAS soldiers were recruited to form the Malayan Scouts (SAS), which was admitted to the army list in 1952 as the Special Air Service. The regiment has been based at Hereford since 1960.

Maj David Stirling with his Long Range Desert Group in North Africa, 1942

Maj David Stirling with his Long Range Desert Group in North Africa, 1942. (Imperial War Museum)

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