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18th December 2004Future British Army Structure
By Martin Everett
On 16 Dec 04, the Chief of the General Staff (General Jackson) announced changes to the structure of the infantry in the British Army which involves a reduction of 4 battalions (each about 800 men) and the creation of larger regiments to repond to the need to have a more agile, deployable and flexible force.

The Royal Welch Fusiliers (23rd Foot) and The Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot) will come together in a new 2 battalion regiment called The Royal Welsh (some newspapers are calling it - The Royal Welsh Regiment - which is incorrect). The changes will take place over the next 4 years. Meanwhile the RRW - to become 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh - will return from Germany to Tidworth in May 2005.

The full text of the Chief of the General Staff's statement can be found at:
18th December 2004Martin Conway
I hope that this new regiment will be called, after the 'Royal Welsh' part, the 23rd/24th/41st Foot. A bit of a mouthful, yes, but it will help to carry on the traditions.
18th December 2004TREVOR
We as a nation should be screaming with disgust at this degrading way progressive governments keep butchering these Regiments.
What foriegn armies couldn't do over the centuries in battle. Idiots in whitehall can defeat and desemate Regiments. It's true! The pen IS mightier than the sword. This is in the name of efficiancy. MY ARSE!!!!
20th December 2004Graham Mason
To ALL involved in the Anglo Zulu War field let us hope we can all work towards finding each and every grave of those that fell not only at Kwajimu but the rest of the campaign in 1879 and to seek out as much CORRECT information as is possible .

I hope the SWB Museum will stay in Brecon as this is the spirtual home of the old 24th , to see it move elsewhere would be a tragedy , akin to Wimbledon being held in Glasgow or Bradford ! ( nothing wrong with these places by the way ) .

On a personal note i am looking for a copy of the book " The road to Isandlwana " concerning Durnford , as an ex RE i would like a copy ( not too expensive please ! ) . Everyone out there , have a great and peaceful Christmas , Graham .
20th December 2004Michael Boyle
Martin Everett

Let's see if I have this right;in effect they are combining two former regiments into a two battalion regiment, much the same as they combined the 24th and 41st Foot into the Royal Regiment of Wales,but no longer calling it a regiment,just The Royal Welsh.

Maybe it's just me but that seems somehow demeaning.The simple name"Royal Welsh" could refer to anything from a musical ensemble to a pub (Crown perogatives not withstanding). Why refuse the designation 'Regiment'? (Unless it's with the idea of at some time reconstituting the original regiments and calling it " The Royal Welsh Brigade", although the term 'brigade' is, traditionally,only used as a tactical deployment designation.)

And please say they have no plans to relocate the depot or museum.(Not that I've ever been there but hope springs eternal.)


20th December 2004Peter Ewart
If a lighter note is not too inappropriate on this topic, I see in a letter published in "The Times" this morning that it has not gone unnoticed by some wag that a colloquial name for one of the new regiments might be apt:

The amalgamation of The Prince of Wales' Own, the Green Howards and the Duke of Wellington's will perhaps lead to their being known unofficially as The Prince Of Wales' Green Wellington's!!! That brightened up my Monday morning - the origin is apparently the website known as the Army Rumour Service, which somehow manages to operate under the acronym ARSSE, so you weren't too far out , Trevor.

So next time we see a snapshot of Prince Charles traipsing across the grouse moor in his green wellies, it will remind us of some rich regimental heritage ...

20th December 2004Phil Pearce
LOL Peter

Where name changes & other things are concerned I am a great beliver in why mend it if it's not broken.Perhaps I am just lazy. Must confess however that using the term Royal Welsh only reminds me of a rather over priced & overrated agricultural show that takes place every summer in Llannelwedd near Builth Wells . 3 hours in a traffic jam for the privilage of parking in a field full of bovin waste matter only then to have to pay £15.00 to walk around a glorified open air market.Charles complete with green wellies usually turning up on a Tuesday.
Where moving the museum is concerned I have not heared anything on this topic outside of the postings here. Given the income this facility generates from tourism I would imagin that the local powers that be would do quite a bit to keep it in the town should this come to pass. Think there would also be a tad of opposition from other quarters as well.

20th December 2004Trevor
Not much fighting spirit here lads.
Long live the Black Watch.
20th December 2004Mike Snook

Early days but as I understand it the two halves will be titled as follows:

1st Bn The Royal Welsh (The Royal Welsh Fusiliers)

2nd Bn The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales)

Michael - hence the absence of the word 'regiment' up front - so that we can use it in the bracket and keep hold of our original title.

I could be wrong but I think that's the plan.

Regards to all

21st December 2004Michael Boyle

Thanks, that makes sense from a contemporary viewpoint but it is yet one more removal from the 'Wreath of Immortelles'.At least the museum should remain unchanged.

Still I suppose when The Warwicksires became The South Wales Borderers and the SWB became the Royal Regiment of Wales there was similar consternation.



21st December 2004Mike Snook

I don't know if they have got to the stage of making final decisions on such things but I imagine The Wreath of Immortelles will continue to be borne on the Colours of the 2nd Bn, but not on those of the 1st (which would be historically unsustainable). There is no merging of the respective histories - each battalion will keep alive the history and traditions of its forbear regiment - that is why the old names are there in brackets. The essential difference will be that officers and soldiers will have to be prepared to serve in either battalion at various points in their career. To do so is no hardship - for example under the old system I was seconded to command a company in the Cheshire Regiment at one point. There has always been quite a lot of mobility within Divisions of Infantry - in our case the Prince of Wales's Division. Not least at CO level.

Thus the new changes are not really one more removal historically for the two Welsh regiments of the line. The thing that has to be borne in mind is that it could have been a whole lot worse.

For interest, with garrisons and roles becoming stable, you might wish to know that the 2nd Bn will be based on Tidworth and will be in the armoured infantry role - ie. equipped with Warrior series IFVs - which is very much the cutting edge end of the market so to speak.

21st December 2004Peter Ewart

Yes, I would be surprised if there wasn't a great deal of indignation on the news that the 24th were to become the SWBs. Many of the Cardwell reforms were vociferously opposed by all & sundry in the army. Those reforms involved restructuring the regiments & changing local loyalties as well as introducing the short service engagement etc.

Here in Canterbury the Buffs escaped wholesale change or amalgamation because they already contained two battalions and their regimental depot was already established, but they still made a big fuss over the loss of their traditional buff facings, which - like most of the rest of the infantry - reverted to white. By the late 1890s, however, the War Office (or whoever decided those things) relented, and the buff facings returned. Presumably the green facings disappeared from the 24th's uniforms with the change to the SWBs?

" ... he's a warrior every inch,
He's a soldier of The Buffs;
You can tell him by his collar
And his cuffs!"

Can't recall the rest off hand! But the changes of the 1960s onwards which have submerged the Buffs (EK Reg't), QORWK, Queen's, Middlesex, Hants, W or E Surreys (forget which) & Royal Sussex (not in that order) into the Princess of Wales's Royal Reg't - now affected again - seem far more profound than this latest batch of changes.

It sees to me that the Scottish regiments appear to have survived intact for far longer than most English ones, or is it that there were fewer of them?

21st December 2004Peter Ewart
Actually I think it's "soldier every inch" and "warrior of the Buffs" rather than the other way round, before any Canterburians shout.

(Incidentally, at present the city is home to the Argyll & Sutherlands, (91st/93rd) who took over last year from the Royal Irish Reg't).

21st December 2004Rich
Just a question to Mike Snook...

Mike: What if anything is the British Army doing now with respect to examining its way of militray force doctrine? You may be aware that the US Army has been re-assessing doctrine now in the face of the kinds of war its personnel are asked to fight., i.e.close fought, urbanized conflict with emphasis on speed and flexibility. Are those regiments you noted seeing any changes like in the US? have they changed? Thanks.
21st December 2004Mike Snook

Nothing in these changes is connected with doctrine or the internal organization of battalions - they are to do with efficiency - principally with ending arms plotting in which our units relocate and re-role every few years. This costs a lot of money, causes too much turbulence for families and makes a proportion of our units less available than would otherwise be the case.

Taking doctrine as a separate issue - and I don't particularly want to get dragged in on this subject on a website that is very much about history - we define doctrine as 'what is taught.' Prior to deployment our units will undergo training at the hands of instructors recently returned from the relevant theatre of operations so that 'what is taught' is bang up to date. We have a settled and rather well presented series of doctrinal publications, which of course are updated at regular intervals - doctrine which is not subject to review, we say, becomes dogma. In general terms I think it would be pretty universally agreed that our post 1945 experience (withdrawal from empire and NI) has equipped us well, conceptually speaking, for anti-terrorist operations.

phew! no expressions of opinion or compromise of secrets - but Rich let me off the hook on this one please - before I do drop a clanger and land up in trouble.

Regards as ever

22nd December 2004Michael Boyle

I thought as much. The US Marine Corps avoided much of this type of consternation by simply deactivating regiments and divisions when they were deemed no longer necessary and reactivating them when needed,with all battle honours intact,tradition being upheld by former members.Of course the US Marine Corps and Army have never been regimentally based (no depots) excepting our National Guard (whose unit designations are often changed when called to active US Army service, but their Honours still return to their original designations).


I guess I was taking the term 'Immortelle" too literally. The survival of the tradition is the important factor.(Although having only half a regiment able to claim it might lead to some interesting intra-regimental rivalry.) However moving the depot to Tidworth may have unfortunate implications.

It's good to know that the British Army has defined dogma (I fear the US Defense Dept. is still grappling with the concept) and have altered their tactical dispositions according to experience.In defference to the Official Secrets Act and the Patriot Act we need not continue this discussion in contemporary terms.

It should be remembered that Sir Bartle-Frere and Lord Chelmsford based their (respective) operational plans on the experiences of the then recent Cape Frontier Wars and we know where that got them.(Although Chelmsford recovered rather handily.)



23rd December 2004Rich
Thank you this point I can l conclude that the British Army has shown its "flexibility" since the days of Chelmsford and Frere! Nuff said!

BTW, when's that book coming out Mike S??. Am I going to get the opportunity to buy it around here? Or willl I now have to keep filling the coffers of England filled to the brim with my hard earned dollars????
24th December 2004Mike Snook

At the risk of being 'sent off' for advertising on the site, 'How Can Man Die Better' has been brought forward and should be out this summer.

'Like Wolves on the Fold, ' about 6 months after that.

As to whether you will have to pay bucks or the Queen's shilling my friend, well that rather depends on the book buyers on your side of the pond. I have no doubt that my publisher will offer it to them!

You should see the first one advertised before too long.

Regards as ever,

3rd January 2005Rich
Thank you Mike. I'm looking forward to getting them and getting a good read. I know you've put alot of work and effort into them. I certainly intend to get a little bit more educated on this famous War with the books.