Royal Welch Fusiliers

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The Royal Welch Fusiliers was an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Prince of Wales' Division. It was founded in 1689 to oppose James II and the imminent war with France. The regiment was numbered as the 23rd Regiment of Foot, though it was one of the first regiments to be granted the honour of a fusilier title and so was known as The Welsh Regiment of Fusiliers from 1702. The "Royal" accolade was earned fighting in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713.

It was one of the oldest regiments in the regular army, hence the archaic spelling of the word Welch instead of Welsh. In the Boer War and throughout the First World War, the army officially called the regiment "The Royal Welsh Fusiliers" but the archaic "Welch" was officially restored to the regiment's title in 1920 under Army Order No.56. During those decades, the regiment itself unofficially used the "Welch" form. As of 2004, it was one of only five line infantry regiments never to have been amalgamated in their entire histories, the others being:

The regiment was however amalgamated with the Royal Regiment of Wales (RRW) on 1 March 2006, to become 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh (RRW becoming the 2nd Bn).

Soldiers of this regiment were distinguishable by the unique feature of the "flash", consisting of five overlapping black silk ribbons (seven inches long for soldiers and nine inches long for officers) on the back of the uniform jacket at neck level.[1] This is a legacy of the days when it was normal for soldiers to wear pigtails. In 1808, this practice was discontinued, but the RWF were serving in Nova Scotia[1] when the order to discontinue the use of the flash was issued. Upon their return they decided to retain the ribbons with which the pigtail was tied, and were granted this special concession by the King. The Army Council attempted to remove the flash during the First World War citing the grounds that it would help the Germans identify which unit was facing them. As Fusilier Robert Graves reported, "the regiment retorted by inquiring on what occasion since the retreat from Corunna, when the regiment was the last to leave Spain, with the keys of the town postern in the pocket of one of its officers, had any of His Majesty's enemies seen the back of a Royal Welch Fusilier?," and the matter remained "in abeyance throughout the war."[2] As a fusilier regiment, the RWF wore a hackle, which consisted of a plume of white feathers mounted behind the cap-badge of the modern beret. The full dress of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, as worn by the entire regiment until 1914, included a racoon-skin hat (bearskin for officers) with a white hackle and a scarlet tunic with the dark blue facings of a Royal regiment. This uniform continued to be worn by the RWF's Corps of Drums and the Regimental Pioneers until the amalgamation of 2006.

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