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Northumberland Fusiliers
Active 1674 - 1968
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Line Infantry, Fusilier
Size World War I
57 Battalions
World War II
8 Battalions
Garrison/HQ Alnwick
Nickname The Fighting 5th , 5th of Foot
Motto Quo Fata Vocant (Whither the Fates call)
Colors Gosling green facings
Anniversaries St Georges Day 23rd April
Robert Leith-Macgregor (1st Battalion, 1960–62)
Hackle Red over White

The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers was an infantry regiment of the British Army. Originally raised in 1674, the regiment was amalgamated with three other fusilier regiments in 1968 to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.



The regiment was originally part of the Dutch service and known as the Irish Regiment, or Viscount Clare's Regiment. The regiment was transferred to the British Service on 5 June 1685, establishing its order of precedence as the 5th Regiment of the Line. Until 1751, like most other regiments, it was known successively by the names of the colonels who commanded them at the time.

Early History 1674–1751


Nine Years War

Siege of Namur

The regiment took part in the Irish campaign of 1690 – 1691, and was present at the Battle of the Boyne, the Second Siege of Athlone and the 1691 Siege of Limerick.

In 1692 the unit sailed for Flanders where they were to remain for five years. In 1695 they were part of the allied forces that recaptured Namur. With the ending of the war by the Treaty of Ryswick they returned to England.

War of the Spanish Succession

Soldier of the 5th Regiment of Foot in 1742

The regiment spent the years 1707 – 1713 in Spain. They were one of four English regiments who fought a rearguard action with their Portuguese allies at Campo Maior in 1709, and fought an action on the River Caia.

Anglo-Spanish War

During the Anglo-Spanish War of 1727, the regiment formed part of the garrison of Gibraltar which withheld the Spanish during the four-month long siege.

5th Regiment of Foot 1751–1782

On 1 July 1751 a royal warrant provided that in future regiments would not be known by their colonels' names, but by their "number or rank". Accordingly Lieutenant-General Irvine's Regiment was redesignated as the 5th Regiment of Foot.[1]

Seven Years' War

The next major conflict in which the 5th foot was involved was the Seven Years' War. The regiment took part in the Raid on Cherbourg in 1758, the Battle of Warburg in 1760, the Battle of Kirch Denkern in 1761 (where they captured the entire French Rouge regiment) and the Battle of Wilhelmstahl in 1762.

American Revolution

The 5th left Monkstown, Ireland on 7 May 1774, for Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Their presence was necessary because of strong civil unrest in the area. Arriving in July, 1774 the 5th camped on Boston Common.
On 19 April 1775, the Light Infantry and Grenadier Companies participated in the march to Concord, and the resulting fighting at Lexington, Concord, and the march back to Boston. Casualties were five men killed, three officers and 15 men wounded, and one man captured.
On 17 June 1775, after being under siege by American forces for two months, the regiment participated in the attack on the fortifications at Breed's Hill (the Battle of Bunker Hill). The American forces were finally driven off after intense fighting. The regiment was heavily engaged and had suffered 24 dead, 137 wounded.
After spending two months on board ship in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the 5th sailed to New York to participate in the effort to capture the city from the Americans. They took part in the Battle of Long Island and the Battle of White Plains, the capture of Fort Washington, New York, the capture of Fort Lee, New Jersey. The then spent the winter of 1776-1777 quartered near New York City and were involved in skirmishes with the American forces. They were then part of Howe's campaign to capture Philadelphia, being engaged in the Battle of Brandywine Creek, where they broke the Continental Army's center at Chadds Ford, capturing 5 cannon. On the retreat through New Jersey, on 28 June 1778, the regiment was involved in the fighting at Monmouth Court House. While in New York, the 5th participated in several raids and skirmishes, including a raid on Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey. The Americans had been using the harbour for privateering, and this raid succeeded in destroying many buildings and boats. The then embarked from New York on 3 November 1778, for the French West Indies, landing on 13 December 1778, on the island of Saint Lucia. The 5th was engaged with a small force of French and captured a 4 cannon battery. On the 18 December 1778, a force of 9,000 French troops were landed on St. Lucia. The small British force of 1,400 men occupied a hill located on the neck of a peninsula. The French were fairly raw soldiers trained to fight in the classic European style of linear battles. The French advanced on the British force several times. The British, veterans of colonial fighting, inflicted a stinging defeat on the French. The French lost 400 killed and 1100 wounded to the British losses of 10 killed and 130 wounded, which included two officers from the 5th Foot. As a result of the defeat, the French force abandoned the island. After the battle, the 5th Foot took the white plumes worn by the French soldiers and placed them on their caps as a sign of honour.
After 2 years in the West Indies, the 5th Foot was sent to Ireland in December 1780. They were still in Ireland when hostilities between Great Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the former Colonies officially ended in 1783.

5th (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot 1782–1836

On 1 August 1782, all those regiments of the line that did not have a special title were given a county designation. The primary purpose was to improve recruiting, but no links were actually formed with the the counties after which the regiments were named. The 5th became the "5th (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot": the county being chosen as a compliment to the colonel, Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland.

Peninsula War

Whilst in the Peninsula the regiment earned the nicknames the " Old and Bold," " The Fighting Fifth," and also " Lord Wellington's Bodyguard." It formed part of a small force which beat off an overwhelming body of the enemy at El Boden in 1811, a performance which Wellington notified to the Army as a memorable example of what can be done by steadiness, discipline, and confidence." [2] The Regiment was in the 3rd Division, 2nd Brigade under command of Major General Charles Colville, the formation was:

The regiment fought in the;
Battle of Roliça
Battle of Vimeiro
Battle of Corunna
Battle of Bussaco
Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (1810)
Battle of Badajoz
Battle of Salamanca
Battle of Vitoria
Battle of Nivelle
Battle of Orthez
Battle of Toulouse (1814)

Sir Charles Broke [or Brooke, subsequently Vere) was in Lower Canada with his regiment,the 5th (Northumberland)Regiment of Foot, which was at the Battle of Plattsburg in 1814. Later he was with the Army of Occupation in France, receiving the Waterloo medal despite arrivin too latefor the battle (from Manasek).(from a note on A. Arrowsmith's map of North America in the David Rumsey Map Collection).

5th (Northumberland Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot 1836–1881

On 4 May 1836, the 5th became a fusilier regiment and was redesignated as the 5th (Northumberland Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot:

The King has been pleased to command, that the 5th, or Northumberland, Regiment of Foot shall in future be equipped as a Fusilier Regiment, and be styled the 5th Regiment of Foot, or Northumberland Fusiliers.[3]

The regiment, which was increased to two battalions in 1857, saw active service in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Second Anglo-Afghan War. By 1881 the 5th foot had been awarded the following battle honours:[4][5]

Honour Date of action or campaign Date of grant
Wilhelmstahl 1762 1836
Roleia 1808 1817
Vimiera 1808 1825
Corunna 1809 1825
Busaco 1810 1825
Ciudad Rodrigo 1812 1817
Badajoz 1812 1818
Salamanca 1812 1817
Vittoria 1813 1817
Nivelle 1813 1817
Orthes 1814 1818
Toulouse 1814 1818
Peninsula 1808 – 1814 1815
Lucknow 1857 1863
Afghanistan 1878–1880 1878–1880 1881

The Northumberland Fusiliers 1881–1935


Under the Childers reforms of 1881, the numbered regiments of the line were given new titles, and were linked with a particular recruiting district, usually a county or county. At the same time the existing militia and rifle volunteer units of the district became battalions of the regiment.

Accordingly on 1 July 1881 the Northumberland Fusiliers was formed as the county regiment of Northumberland, (including the Counties of the towns of Newcastle upon Tyne and Berwick upon Tweed) with the following battalions:

Regular battalions

  • 1st Battalion (formerly 1st Battalion, 5th Foot)
  • 2nd Battalion (formerly 2nd Battalion, 5th Foot)

Militia battalion

  • 3rd (Militia) Battalion (formerly Northumberland Light Infantry Militia)

Volunteer battalions

  • 1st Northumberland (Northumberland and Berwick-on-Tweed) Rifle Volunteer Corps: renamed as 1st Volunteer Battalion in 1883
  • 2nd Northumberland Rifle Volunteer Corps: renamed as 2nd Volunteer Battalion in 1883
  • 1st Newcastle-on-Tyne Rifle Volunteer Corps: renamed as 3rd Volunteer Battalion in 1883

The Second Boer War

The 1st Battalion formed part of the 9th Brigade together with the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment, 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry, and part of the 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment). While the 2nd Battalion sailed as corps troops, and was then brigaded with the 1st Royal Scots, and 1st Sherwood Foresters, under General Sir William Gatacre.[4] The battalions fought in the following battles:

The regiment received two battle honours for the conflict: "Modder River" and "South Africa, 1899–1902".[4]

Reorganisations 1900– 1908

With the continuation of the war in South Africa, a number of regiments containing large centres of population formed additional regular battalions. The Northumberland Fusiliers formed 3rd and 4th Battalions in 1900. The 3rd were stationed in South Africa, while the 4th formed part of the garrison in Ireland. Both were disbanded in 1907.[6]

In 1908 a reorganisation of reserve forces was carried out under the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907. The militia were transferred to a new "Special Reserve" while the Volunteer Force was reorganised to become the Territorial Force. The "Volunteer Battalion" designation was discarded, and territorial battalions were numbered on after those of the regular army and special reserve. The new organisation was thus:[6]

  • 1st Battalion
  • 2nd Battalion
  • 3rd Battalion (Special Reserve)
  • 4th Battalion (T.F.) (HQ Hexham, from bulk of 1st V.B.)
  • 5th Battalion (T.F.) (HQ Walker, redesignation of 2nd V.B.)
  • 6th (City) Battalion (T.F.) (HQ Newcastle, redesignation of 3rd V.B.)
  • 7th Battalion (T.F.) (HQ Alnwick, from part of 1st V.B.)
  • 8th (Cyclist) Battalion (formed 1908, redesignated Northern Cyclist Battalion 1910 and transferred to Army Cyclist Corps 1915)

World War One

During World War I the Northumberland Fusiliers raised 52 battalions and 29 of them served overseas.

The increase in strength was done partly by forming duplicates of existing T.F. battalions, and partly by the creation of new "Service" battalions. An example of the first instance was the 4th Battalion, which the 1/4th in August 1914 on forming a duplicate 2/4th Battalion. A 3/4th Battalion followed in June 1915.[7]

Among the Service Battalions were the Tyneside Scottish (20th - 23rd Battalions) and the Tyneside Irish (24th - 27th Battalions), while the 17th (Service) Battalion was formed by staff of the North Eastern Railway, and was involved in railway construction.[7]

The regiment was awarded the following battle honours:[8]

  • Mons
  • Le Cateau
  • Retreat from Mons
  • Marne 1914
  • Aisne, 1914,'18
  • La Basée 1914
  • Messines 1914, '17, '18
  • Ypres 1914, '15, '17, '18
  • Gravenstafel
  • St. Julien
  • Frezenburg
  • Bellewaarde
  • Loos
  • Somme, 1916, '18
  • Albert, 1915, '16
  • Bazentin
  • Delville Wood
  • Flers-Courcelette
  • Morval
  • Thiepval
  • Le Transloy
  • Ancre, 1916
  • Arras, 1917, '18
  • Scarpe, 1917, '18
  • Arleux
  • Pilckem
  • Langemarck, 1917
  • Menin Road
  • Broodseinde
  • Passchendaele
  • Cambrai, 1917
  • St. Quentin
  • Bapaume, 1918
  • Rosieres
  • Lys
  • Estaires
  • Hazebrouck
  • Bailleuil
  • Kemmel
  • Scharpenberg
  • Dracourt-Quéant
  • Hindenburg Line
  • Epéhy
  • Canal du Nord
  • Beaurevoir
  • Courtrai
  • Selle
  • Valenciennes
  • Sambre
  • France and Flanders, 1914-1918
  • Piave
  • Vittorio Veneto
  • Italy, 1917-18
  • Struma
  • Macedonia, 1915-18
  • Suvla
  • Landing at Suvla
  • Scimitar Hill
  • Gallipoli, 1915
  • Egypt, 1916-17

Those shown in bold print were selected to be borne on the king's colours.

The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers 1935–1968

In June 1935 George V celebrated his silver jubilee. This opportunity was taken of granting royal status to four regiments, principally in recognition of their service in the previous war.

On the occasion of His Majesty's Birthday and in commemoration of the completion of the twenty-fifth year of his reign, the King has been graciously pleased... to approve that the following regiments shall in future enjoy the distinction "Royal" and shall henceforth be designated:—

World War Two

The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers served in France (1939 – 1940), North Africa, Singapore, Italy, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, North West Europe (1944 – 1945), India and Greece. They were awarded twenty-nine battle honours:[10]

  • Defence of Escaut
  • Arras counter attack
  • St Omer-La Bassée
  • Dunkirk 1940
  • Odon
  • Caen
  • Cagny
  • Falaise
  • Nederrijn
  • Rhineland
  • North-West Europe 1940, 1944-5
  • Sidi Barrani
  • Defence of Tobruk
  • Tobruk 1941
  • Belhamed
  • Cauldron
  • Ruweisat Ridge
  • El Alamein
  • Advance on Tripoli
  • Medenine
  • North Africa 1940-43
  • Salerno
  • Volturno Crossing
  • Monte Camino
  • Garigliano Crossing
  • Cassino II
  • Italy 1943-5
  • Singapore Island

Those shown in bold print were selected to be borne on the king's colours.[9]

Korean War

The 1st Battalion was attached to the 29th Infantry Brigade which had been sent to Korea to reinforce the Allied effort there. When it arrived in Korea in December 1950 it comprised the 1st Battalion 1st Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment, later to win matchless fame, 1st Battalion, the Royal Ulster Rifles, 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars, C Squadron, 7th Royal Tank Regiment, with specialised armour, 45 Field Regiment RA, 11 LAA Battery RA, and 170 Mortar Battery RA, plus supporting units.

In July 1951 it was re-organized as 29th British Infantry Brigade and absorbed into the 1st Commonwealth Division

In August 1958 the Regiment was awarded the following battle honours:[10]

  • Imjin
  • Seoul
  • Kowang-San
  • Korea 1950-51.

Those shown in bold print were selected to be borne on the regimental colours.

Badges and dress distinctions

The 5th Regiment of Foot was one of the 'Six Old Corps', which entitled it to use a badge (St George killing the Dragon) on its Regimental Colours, drums and other devices rather than the typical GR cipher as used by normal Regiments of the Line.

In the center of their colours was an image of St. George killing the dragon, this being their ancient badge, and in the three corners of their second colour, the rose and crown.

As a fusilier regiment, it wore a hackle, which in this case is red over white. This distinction was originally a white plume which His Majesty's Fifth Regiment of Foot had taken from the head dress of fallen French troops at St. Lucia in December 1778. The Fifth Regiment of Foot became His Majesty's Fifth (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot with the county affiliations of 1782. In 1829 King George IV ordered the white plume to be worn by all infantry regiments, and in order not to take away from the Fifth (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot's battle honour, their plume was distinguished by being made red over white. This came from the legend that the men of the Fifth ( Northumberland) Regiment of Foot having dipped the white plumes in the blood of the French at St. Lucia.

Victoria Cross

The following member of the Regiment were recipients of the Victoria Cross.

George Cross

Only one member of the regiment was the recipient of the George Cross


On 23 April 1968, following the publication of the following notice in the London Gazette:

By virtue of the provisions of the Royal Warrant dated 5th April, 1968 (published in Army Order 18 of 1968) all officers of the Land Forces belonging to The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (5th), The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers (6th), The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) (7th), and The Lancashire Fusiliers (20th) are transferred to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers with effect from 23rd April, 1968.[13]

the regiment was amalgamated into the the new Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

See also


  1. ^ Royal Warrant 1 July 1751 (PRO/WO/26/21) reproduced in Edwards, T J (1953). Standards, Guidons and Colours of the Commonwealth Forces. Aldershot: Gale & Polden. pp. 194-200. 
  2. ^ Field-Marshal His Majesty the King George V of the United Kingdom
  3. ^ London Gazette: no. 19382, p. 844, 13 May 1836.
  4. ^ a b c Norman, C B (1911). Battle Honours of the British Army. London: John Murray. 
  5. ^ Sumner, Ian (2001). British Colours & Standards 1747–1881 (2): Infantry. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 1841762016. 
  6. ^ a b T F Mills (10 July 2006). "The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers". Land Forces of Britain, The Empire and Commonwealth. Archived from the original on 19 December 2007. Retrieved 17 September 2009. 
  7. ^ a b Chris Baker. "The Northumberland Fusiliers". The Long, Long Trail, The British Army of 1914-1918 for family historians. Retrieved 17 September 2009. 
  8. ^ "Battle Honours. Awards to 12 Infantry Regiments". The Times: p. 4. 10 May 1924. 
  9. ^ a b "Honours For The Army". The Times: p. 21. 3 June 1935. 
  10. ^ a b "Award of Battle Honours". The Times: p. 10. 27 August 1958. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44570, p. 4637, 19 April 1968. Retrieved on 16 September 2009.

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