RGBW Regimental Association

 

 

 
 22 July 2005, Salamanca Day, RGBW became The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry (RGBW LI). This title will be retained until such time as they join with the Devon and Dorset’s LI to become a battalion in the Light Division, sometime in late 06.


The following was sent to all serving members of the Regiment on the 22nd July 05.

The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry

 

Message from

HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Colonel in Chief, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire

AND Wiltshire Light Infantry


The British Army has had to endure a number of major changes in recent years. The creation of a large Light Infantry Regiment brings together the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment with the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment. I hope it is a good omen that this change takes place on the anniversary of the Battle of Salamanca on 22 July, when the Regiments fought side by side in that famous battle, along with the King's Shropshire Light Infantry and the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.

I send my best wishes for the future to all the members of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment as you become Light Infantrymen.

 

Message from

General Sir Kevin O'donoghue

Colonel, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and  Wiltshire Light Infantry

To
All members of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry


Today, on the anniversary of the Battle of Salamanca, we become The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry. At the same time our friends in The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment - who like us joined The Light Division earlier this year - become The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry.


The RGBWLI will wear the rifle green beret of The Light Infantry but, in all other ways, we will continue as we have since 1994. This step is significant as it illustrates our becoming Light Infantrymen; late next year, after 1 RGBWLI returns from operations in Afghanistan, we shall form a new Battalion within The Light Infantry.


Throughout our long and glorious history our forebears have served alongside those of the DDLI within the Wessex Brigade, within the Prince of Wales's Division and on the battlefield. At the Battle of Salamanca in 1812 the 61st (South Gloucestershire) Regiment fought alongside the forebears of The Devonshire Regiment and those of The King's Shropshire Light Infantry and The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. We are joining Regiments with whom we have enjoyed success in battle and with whom we will be well placed to face the challenges of the future.


It is quite natural that these changes can appear unsettling, but we can take much reassurance from the outstanding success that was our last amalgamation and the fine reputation that this Regiment has built for itself in just 11 years. In moving forward I send you my best wishes in the certain knowledge that this Regiment's future is bright as well as Light - we will continue to serve and represent both the country and our counties with distinction.



22nd July 2005

 

MESSAGE FROM

GENERAL SIR KEVIN O'DONOGHUE

COLONEL, THE ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE BERKSHIRE AND WILTSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY

TO
Lieutenant General Sir Cedric Delves KBE DSO
Colonel, The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry


Today, on the anniversary of the Battle of Salamanca, we commemorate the brave deeds of former members of both our Regiments. Our close friendship continues from 22 July 1812 when remnants of our two battalions, both of which had suffered heavy losses, formed for a while one victorious battalion. Since then, our soldiers have taken part in many campaigns together and have, of course, served together in the Wessex Brigade and the Prince of Wales's Division. All officers and soldiers of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Light Infantry join me in sending heartfelt greetings to all ranks of The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry as we embark on the next chapter of our history. We look forward to our bright future together as Light Infantrymen.

22nd July 2005

 

MESSAGE FROM
THE COLONEL OF THE DEVONSHIRE AND DORSET LIGHT INFANTRY
TO
THE COLONEL OF THE ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE, BERKSHIRE AND WILTSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY

SALAMANCA DAY
FRIDAY 22 JULY 2005

The Colonel of the Regiment and all members The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry send their warmest greetings to you and all members of the Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry on this the One Hundred and Ninety Third anniversary of the Battle of Salamanca when our forebears fought shoulder to shoulder in Hulse's Brigade. Today as we start our moves to join fully in the Light Infantry we look back to our shared experiences in many campaigns, and on many battlefields, and as members of the Wessex Brigade and Prince of Wales's Division. And we also take comfort in our long and true friendship. It all lends the utmost confidence. We look forward with optimism to our future together.

 

MESSAGE FROM THE COLONEL OF THE REGIMENT [DDLI]

SALAMANCA DAY
FRIDAY 22 JULY 2005

To all members of the Regiment, past and present, and our friends in the two Counties.

Today, the One Hundred and Ninety Third anniversary of the Battle of Salamanca, we formally adopt the title The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry; and, as an outward symbol of that change, we wear for the first time the Green Beret of the Light Infantry. We do this at the same time as our friends and comrades of the RGBW whose forbears of the 61st Foot fought shoulder to shoulder with us in Hulse's Brigade on that same bloody battlefield, a battle honour held also by the Light Infantry.

So, shoulder to shoulder we make our move to join our friends and comrades of the Light Infantry, a move that will see us becoming in time their First Battalion, an honour generously given, an honour with responsibilities willingly accepted, warmly received.

Of course this has undertones of sadness for us all. But any dynamic and successful organization must by definition undergo constant adjustment. The Regiment has changed and prospered in the past, always meeting the demands placed upon it. I am so proud of the way that you have all faced up to the challenges and needs of today. I am confident that the changes upon which we are now embarked will ensure that we will preserve the best of our Regimental heritage while equipping ourselves to face the challenges of the future. Let us go forward with pride, confidence and indeed optimism.



Lieutenant General Sir Cedric Delves KBE DSO
Colonel, The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry

 

The 61st at the Battle of Salamanca - Spain

22nd July 1812

The Duke of Wellington described Salamanca as the battle of the Peninsular War of which he was most proud, and the 61st Regiment could certainly make the same claim, although during the early stages of the battle it was in reserve with the rest of the 6th Division of which it formed part.

The battlefield was dominated by two steep-sided hills known as the Greater and the Lesser Arapiles, the former in French hands and the latter in British. During the course of the battle our 4th Division was sent to attack the Greater Arapile, but scarcely had they reached it when the French launched a successful counter attack with a fresh formation against their flank. Immediately the 6th Division was ordered to regain the ground thus lost, and the 61st with the 11th Foot (later the Devonshire Regiment) on its right, was directed to capture the feature. After three ringing cheers they advanced steadily on their enemy and gradually drove them backwards up the slopes of the hill. The men of both British regiments went down by scores as battalion after battalion of Frenchmen attempted to halt their progress. Having at last gained their objective they came under the fire of a battery of twelve guns and a swarm of sharpshooters, but they stood awaiting further orders with perfect discipline in the gathering darkness.

Elsewhere the French were withdrawing, leaving a division as rearguard along the top of a steep escarpment, and once more the 6th Division was called upon to attack. As it came within the range of the French muskets the 61st received a devasting volley, but closing its ranks to fill the gaps thus made, it pressed on, answering shot for shot. In the gathering darkness the hill was one vast sheet of flame, for the dry grass had caught fire, and it looked to an observer as though the British were attacking a burning mountain. During the final charge all the officers and the sergeants with the Colours fell together under the enemy's fire but they were seized by two privates. Crawford and Coulston, who bore them triumphantly to the summit.

No less than six reliefs of officers and sergeants had been shot under the Colours during this fierce day of battle. The Regiment went into action with a strength of 27 officers and 420 men, and of these 24 officers including Colonel Barlow, the CO and 342 men were either killed or wounded. The Regiment received unstinted praise for its gallantry on this occasion and an officer of the 32nd Foot who was present throughout wrote "The 61st which was almost annihilated in this severe action, was by far the finest Regiment in the 6th Division".



Capt [Retd] Ian G Spence
Regimental Secretary
Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Light Infantry

 


Extracted from the official LI Website for your information

The Future Structure of the Regiment
“Her Majesty Queen Victoria, in consideration of the enduring gallantry displayed in the Defence of Lucknow, has been pleased to direct the 32nd be clothed, equipped and trained as a light infantry regiment.”  - Army restructuring c.1858

The Light Infantry, the county Infantry Regiment of Durham, Yorkshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Somerset and Cornwall, is due to be joined by the Devonshire and Dorset (D and D) Regiment, and the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire (RGBW) Regiment, under plans announced by the Army Board as part of the Future Infantry Structure of the British Army.
As part of this transition, both Regiments will convert to Light Infantry on 22 Jul 2005 - Salamanca Day.  Both will be adopting 'Light Infantry' as part of their Regimental titles (DDLI and RGBW LI).
The 1st battalions of the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry and the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry will then merge to form a new battalion, which will become the 1st Battalion, The Light Infantry (1LI) in the future.
Our current regular battalions, will re-number to become 2LI and 3LI. In anticipation of this expansion, the D and D have already joined the Light Division, and the RGBW is expected to do so in the very near future.
Although change is unsettling, this expansion is widely seen as a real opportunity to build an even more powerful Regiment. All Light Infantrymen extend a very warm welcome to those in the D and D and the RGBW. At the same time, the Light Infantry is taking the opportunity to examine forming an even larger Regiment with the Royal Green Jackets, and a working group has been established, consisting of the commanding officers of the regular battalions of the Light Division, to examine this wider opportunity. 
The D and D and the RGBW will become Light Infantrymen and at the heart of this new Regiment will be Sir John Moore’s founding ideals in ethos, character and appearance. The Light Division will also be sensitive to the heritage of the D and D and RGBW as it is they who are taking a larger step; we will celebrate their history as we celebrate our own. This year sees the 250th anniversary of the raising of the 51st and 53rd Regiments, and next year the 68th Regiment. 
As we celebrate in Yorkshire, Shropshire and Durham respectively, we reflect on the remarkable history of the Regiment during those 250 years. This is a journey that others now join – proud of their own past and confident in our future. Our Light Infantry, and indeed the Light Division identity continues to span the breadth of England. This is an essential part of our character and the basis for our success. We should not be considered, either by the Army, or by our own counties, to be a south-western regiment. It has always been Yorkshire and Durham that have produced the exponential manning – Regular and Territorial Army – that has been the cornerstone of our success. 
We must preserve and build upon this fact, whilst using all the manning resources that the South West and the Marches have traditionally supplied and which have kept the national balances within our Regiment. Our 6 counties (Cornwall, Somerset, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Yorkshire and Durham), soon to expand to 11 (with the addition of Devonshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Berkshire), drawn from across the country, are the essential foundation producing the totality of the Regiment. We come from the counties and return to the counties. So Regulars and Territorial Army soldiers alike owe a great deal to our Cadets (Army Cadet Force and Combined Cadet Force), County Offices, Regimental Association and our plentiful friends and supporters. We will continue to nurture this totality.
As the planning for the expansion of the Regiment develops, and the Future Infantry Structure is brought to reality, we are positive in looking forward, being proactive in the strongest tradition of Light Infantrymen over the last 250 years, and calm against rumour. As a regiment, we are confident in each other. These are the qualities required in testing times, as our predecessors proved throughout the Second World War. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ending of that heroic struggle, we salute those who made the sacrifices – and we resolve to build a regiment they would both recognise and champion.


 

 
 

General Sir Mike Jackson GCB CBE DSO ADC Gen
Chief of the General Staff
5th Floor, Zone M,
Main Building, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2HB

GS/11/4/7 (CGS)

See Distribution 9 June 2005


CGS’s MESSAGE TO THE ARMY
FUTURE INFANTRY STRUCTURE (FIS)


THE DEVONSHIRE AND DORSET REGIMENT (D and D) AND THE ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE, BERKSHIRE AND WILTSHIRE REGIMENT (RGBW) - TRANSITIONAL REGIMENTAL TITLES

1. In my last Message to the Army about FIS , I explained that the Director of Infantry, together with the Colonel Commandant of the Light Division and the Colonels of The Light Infantry (LI), D and D and RGBW, would be examining the detailed mechanism by which the D and D and RGBW will amalgamate to become a battalion in the Light Division.

2. The Director of Infantry has recently proposed to ECAB that, as a critical step in this process, both Regiments should adopt transitional titles: The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry (D and D LI) and The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry (RGBW LI) respectively. These titles would be adopted on 22 July 2005, when D and D, RGBW and LI will all be celebrating Salamanca Day, and retained until such time as the D and D LI and RGBW LI join to become a battalion in the Light Division, sometime in late 06. These transitional titles would afford these Regiments an early opportunity to demonstrate, to their regimental families and wider county communities, the direction of their futures in the Light Division.

3. After taking into account the wider implications of the use of these titles, including the Light Division’s response, ECAB decided to endorse the proposals. I have informed Ministers of our decision. Finally, I am pleased to report that Her Majesty has graciously approved the adoption of these transitional titles.



Letter signed by General Sir Mike Jackson GCB CBE DSO ADC Gen

CGS

Distribution:

CinC LAND (for further distribution as required)
AG (for further distribution as required)
GOC NI (for further distribution as required)
ECAB
Arms and Service Directors
All Infantry Colonels Commandants
All Infantry Regimental Colonels
All Infantry Commanding Officers

 

From: General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue KCB CBE  
           Colonel of the Regiment


THE FUTURE OF THE ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE, BERKSHIRE AND WILTSHIRE REGIMENT

The Regimental Council met on Mon 9 May 05 to discuss implementation of the Secretary of State’s announcement of 9 Mar and the Chief of the General Staff’s subsequent direction. Before I outline the details of the above discussion, I would like to recap on the changes of structure we will undergo during the coming months:

· The RGBW has already moved administratively from the Prince of Wales’s Division to join the Light Division, alongside the D and D, the LI and the RGJ.

· We are currently seeking approval for the RGBW to formally join the LI under the transitional title of The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry (RGBWLI). We hope to action the change from RGBW to RGBWLI on the anniversary of the Battle of Salamanca (a Battle Honour shared by the RGBW, the D and D, the LI and the RGJ) this year.

· In the autumn of 2006, 1 RGBWLI will merge with the 1st Battalion The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry (1 DDLI) to become the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry (1 LI). The LI will then consist of 3 battalions.

It is intended that the RGBWLI will wear the rifle green beret of the Light Division as a clear symbol of the direction in which we are heading. This change of headdress will also demonstrate our willingness to embrace the ‘light/rifle’ ethos espoused by the Light Division which will, in turn, embrace and henceforth carry forward the proud history of the RGBW, just as the RGBW celebrates the heritage of the GLOSTERS and the DERR.

Throughout these changes, our lineage will be clear and the RGBW (then RGBWLI, then LI) will continue to support our wider regimental family, including the TA, the 4 ACF Battalions and our 12 CCF Contingents, just as we will continue to be the county infantry Regiment of Bristol, Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire. We will ensure that the TA, ACF and CCF will continue their affiliation to the Regiment and will also adopt the rifle green beret of the Light Division.

Although no decisions have been taken on future plans for the Regimental Association, it is likely that there will be little change. The LI Regimental Association continues to have branches in all their counties – RGBW branches will be no different and would be welcomed into the LI.

A review is to be undertaken this year on the future role of RHQs. No decision is likely before December at the earliest, but it is likely that we will retain a presence in Gloucester and Salisbury following our merger.

As for the future of the Light Division, it is likely that the LI and the RGJ will choose at some point to merge the whole Division to form a regiment of 5 battalions. The LI and RGJ are discussing this possibility at present and are aware of our strong preference that to minimise disruption any such merger should be coincident with the formation of the new 1 LI in autumn 2006. The RGBWLI would then move straight into the new ‘light/rifle’ regiment without taking the step from RGBWLI to LI en route.

Of course, the eventual future of the Light Division has a bearing on how we might seek to take forward the RGBW’s ‘Golden Thread’ and the Future Working Group (FWG) is mindful in its consideration that it must plan for all possible scenarios. It is important that we bear in mind that the ‘Golden Thread’ comprises the totality of our heritage and celebration of key Battle Honours (particularly Ferozeshah); our counties and affiliations; our Association; our soldiers; and the iconography that represents all this. The FWG is considering carefully our iconography and has provided an early idea of what they believe may turn out to be our priorities to be taken forward into our future regiment including the Back Badge, the Brandywine Flash and the US Presentational Citation. Whatever we take forward will, of course, symbolise the RGBW and therefore all of our antecedent Regiments.

I know that there are those amongst our Regiment’s retired members who feel that the RGBW should be spared further amalgamation so soon after our last. This unfortunately is not possible, given the large regimental structure that the Infantry has decided to adopt to best equip it to meet future operational commitments. That the Infantry should reduce in size while reorganising is a decision over which we have no influence, and I am certain that, given the circumstances, we have reached the best deal we could have hoped for. Indeed, the Regimental Council is clear that the RGBW will be much better placed for its future in the post-Arms Plot Infantry within the Light Division, whether as part of a 3-battalion Light Infantry or a 5-battalion large regiment. The LI (and RGJ) will ensure that the RGBW is able to demonstrably carry forward its ‘Golden Thread’ into the Light Division and the Light Division’s future roles and locations will guarantee broader career opportunity and greater operational diversity than will be available to many Infanteers in other Divisions.

 
London Protest March (Message Posted 24th March 05)
The Executive Committee of the Regimental Association met on the 24th March 05. It discussed the proposal that the Branches should support the March (To Save The Scottish Regiments) that will take place in London on the 9th of April 05.

The Committee felt that the Association should not support the event because:

a. There is insufficient time to ensure a full and worthwhile RGBW attendance.

b. The RGBW faction would be very much smaller than the other contingents and it would simply be subsumed into the Scottish numbers and the RGBW message would be lost.

c. Everyone knows that the Scottish Regiments and the KORBR cannot sustain the number of battalions that they have got. We do not want to be associated with a lost cause.

d. No regimental funding will be available to pay for coaches or travel costs.

The Committee felt that it would be more worthwhile to arrange a fully supported parade in Reading, Salisbury or Gloucester than in London.

Col (Retd) CS Wakelin OBE 
Chairman of The Regimental Association
 

From:   Major General (Retd) RD Grist CB OBE Issued 24 March 05

Dear Supporter,

             THE FUTURE OF THE ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE, BERKSHIRE
                                                       AND WILTSHIRE REGIMENT



Most of you will be aware that Mr Hoon has recently announced a change to the decision he announced in December last year. The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment (RGBW) will now amalgamate with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment (D & D) and form a new battalion within the Light Division. As a result many have believed that the RGBW has been ‘saved’; it hasn’t. At the same time as Mr Hoon was making his statement General Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff issued a message to the Army about the change which included: “however, this amalgamation will be conducted (as had previously been planned) on the basis of a third of the RGBW’s manpower amalgamating with the D and D to become 1 LI, and the remaining two thirds being distributed elsewhere in the Army.”

Although it is a small change for the better that is, in itself, an achievement and the fact that the heritage of both the RGBW and its antecedent regiments will now go in one direction is welcome. This would not have been achieved had it not been for the wave of protest by so many people at the original decision to disband the RGBW; consequently I would like to thank on behalf of the Regiment everyone who has been part of that protest in any way whatsoever. In particular we are most grateful to most of our MPs, through whom so many have been able to express their dismay, and to the media who have publicised this thoroughly unjust decision.


Serving officers and soldiers have welcomed the change. It acknowledges the success of the RGBW; it gives a home in the Light Infantry to most of our officers and soldiers (while only one-third of the Regiment will move to the new 1 LI, it is likely that another third of the RGBW will go to other battalions in the Light Division), and this means that most of our soldiers should continue to serve with friends (individuals will regularly move from one battalion to another within the Division once Arms Plotting ceases). The final third will have to move elsewhere in the Army but this may benefit individual careers. The future consequently appears brighter for the serving members of the Regiment as a result of Mr Hoon’s latest announcement.

Nevertheless the change is, in reality, a very small adjustment. Despite its magnificent record this exemplary infantry regiment, the RGBW, will still be amalgamated and dispersed across the Army. This is not in the interests of the County, the Army or the Infantry and neither is it a fair or a just outcome. We therefore intend to go on campaigning for what is right, the retention in the future Army of RGBW as a complete battalion. To achieve this we will continue to need your support.

Most commentators believe that the Army reduction, particularly the cut of four battalions, is totally unjustified and is merely being done to save money, despite the risks to our security. However it is unlikely that the present Government will make further changes unless external circumstances alter. This may happen:


· The Conservative Party have already announced that, if they formed the next Government, they would increase the size of the Army to 108,500 from the current funded strength of 103,500, maintain the infantry at its current level and retain the existing Regiments.

· The situation in Northern Ireland may prevent the reduction that it was assumed would be possible when the cuts were announced.

· Some quite unforeseen threat to our security or our vital interests may erupt somewhere in the world making it necessary to retain as many infantry battalions as possible.

Of course the changes may eventually be implemented. Planning will therefore continue to ensure that every serving officer and soldier is properly looked after. In addition the way in which the heritage of the RGBW is taken forward into the Light Infantry in general, and the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry in particular, needs to be resolved. Despite reassurances from the Prime Minister, Mr Hoon and General Sir Mike Jackson, we need to ensure that the RGBW heritage, which incorporates that of the Gloucestershire Regiment and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment, is carried forward in a ‘publicly visible way’ and that any ‘transition period’ is many years. Whilst this is largely a matter for the serving officers to resolve, the public pressure to get this right and to retain local links has been, and will continue to be, important.

In a wider context we must continue to question the wisdom of the cuts in our defence capability and the RGBW. We need your support to argue, along with everyone else, that the cuts in the infantry are wrong and ill judged and justifying them mathematically, based on a reduced need in Northern Ireland and changes to the Arms Plot, simply does not
recognise that, since the Strategic Defence Review, the world scene has changed and is changing. We need to be able to embark on expeditionary warfare to defeat global terrorism. It simply isn't enough to 'secure' ourselves, although this is vitally important; unless we defeat terrorism the continuous costs of higher security will otherwise be a constant drain on the Exchequer. We must also be able to intervene in humanitarian situations and to continue to defend our interests in the world. In all these cases we need trained, experienced, and disciplined infantry like the RGBW.

There is expected to be a General Election in early May. Defence is unlikely to be one of the key issues in the campaign, although it probably should be. However it can be locally, and it is important that each candidate is questioned about their position, and that of their party, on defence in general and the infantry in particular. Serving officers and soldiers may not become involved in politics but those who are retired and our supporters can and, if they believe these cuts are wrong and put the security of the nation at risk, should do so. In this way, whoever is elected must continue to be made aware of the issues.

In the meantime it is critical that the RGBW remains an exemplary battalion, and for all who come into contact with them to recognise it. They have shown, since the first announcement last December, their determination not to allow morale to drop and to maintain their very high standards, exemplified by winning the Army Rugby Cup this month. They have now learnt, to their delight, that they are to deploy to Afghanistan on an operational tour in the autumn, another measure of the confidence senior commanders have in them.


Much of our media has given us outstanding support and I hope that the Press will continue to remind their readership and listeners of what is happening. The RGBW are still being split up unlike other Regiment. I attach a Background Briefing Note, which I hope will help to keep you informed of some of the arguments that can be used.

With very best wishes,
Robin Grist

Attachment: Background Briefing



BACKGROUND BRIEFING: THE FUTURE OF THE ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE BERKSHIRE AND WILTSHIRE REGIMENT (RGBW) – 21/3/05

OVERVIEW - The RGBW believes that it has earned the right through its exemplary performance, its cost effectiveness and its support of the Army corporate image, to be retained in the Future Infantry Structure as a complete battalion. Under present plans this will not happen.

Latest Developments
· Jan 2005: 1 RGBW has the best rate of retaining trained manpower of any infantry    battalion in 2004/05, clear evidence of their cost effectiveness.

· As at 1 January 2005 1 RGBW was the 16th best manned infantry battalion (of 40) and is forecast to be 8th best manned by 1 June 2005.

· Jan 2005: Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff visits the 1st Bn RGBW and admits that the RGBW been treated more harshly than any other regiment.

· Mar 2005: RGBW won the Army Rugby Cup beating the Royal Scots 31-24.

· Mar 2005: Mr Hoon announces that, instead of splitting the RGBW as he had originally decided, the reduction will “be achieved by the amalgamation of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment with the RGBW. The resulting new regiment will become the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry”. But this is not quite what it seems (see below).

· Mar 2005: It was announced that the RGBW will deploy to Afghanistan on an operational tour in the Autumn of 2005.

· Mar 2005: Defence Select Committee publishes report expressing concern at the cuts in the services in general and the infantry in particular.

The Facts
· The RGBW are the result of an outstandingly successful amalgamation of the Gloucestershire Regiment (GLOSTERS) with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (DERR) in 1994.

· On 9 Mar 05 Mr Hoon announced that the RGBW would not be disbanded but would amalgamate with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment to form the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry. However in a letter to the Army about this change Gen Sir Mike Jackson has written “the RGBW will now amalgamate as a single entity with the D and D, and the resulting new regiment will become the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry (1 LI)…. However, this amalgamation will be conducted …on the basis of a third of the RGBW’s manpower amalgamating with the D and D to become 1 LI, and the remaining two thirds being distributed elsewhere in the Army.”

· The effect of this change therefore still means that only a small proportion of the RGBW will remain together in a new battalion.

· The heritage of the RGBW will now go to the 1st Bn The Light Infantry but how this will manifest itself has still to be determined.

· The proposed changes will not take place until 2006, at the earliest, and in the meantime the RGBW will carry out an operational tour in Afghanistan from Oct 05.

· The future structure of the TA has yet to be announced.


The Case Against Cutting the Infantry by Four Battalions
· The infantry cuts reduce the Army’s capability to be a 'force for good in the world', which is the Government’s stated intention. This makes the mathematics irrelevant compared to the need for infantry.

· It is not simply rebalancing the Army as is claimed. More manpower is needed in the support services but this is an actual cut in the funded strength of the Army by 1,500 trained personnel simply because of funding constraints. General Sir Mike Jackson has said he needs more infantry but this is not possible “within existing constraints”.

· Risks are being taken with training because the infantry are ‘overstretched’, and have been for years. Increasing the availability of infantry by ceasing arms plotting should be used to reduce overstretch but the cuts will ensure that it continues.


· There are currently two artillery regiments in Iraq in the ‘infantry role’.

· 11 of the 36 future infantry battalions will continue to ‘arms plot’.

· The infantry reduction was also partly based on finalising the peace process in Northern Ireland, an outcome that currently appears to be further away than was assumed.

· The TA is losing over 4% of it strength annually – these cuts are likely to make this situation worse.


The Case for Changing the Decision to Amalgamate the RGBW
· The decision is not in the best interests of the Army and the infantry, and is unfair on a Regiment formed by amalgamation as recently as 1994.

· It means the whole of the South West Region will, in future, be represented by only two infantry battalions.

· ‘Sustainable Manning’ was intended to be the only criteria for deciding which regiments should be amalgamated. The study into which regiments had the best ‘Sustainable Manning’ statistics was 'adjusted' to remove those regiments that it was felt could not be cut for various reasons, thus invalidating the criteria; excluding regiments that had been recently formed through amalgamation was not one of them.

· The option of creating a large Prince of Wales’s Regiment of 2 Wessex, 2 Welsh and 2 Mercian battalions, which would have been highly cost effective and least disruptive, was
ignored because it would have meant the amalgamation of the Cheshires and the Staffords, ordered under ‘Options for Change’ but then stopped.

· The RGBW retention rate is the best in the infantry. From Apr – Nov 04 just 16 trained soldiers left the RGBW early, whilst the rate in four other regiments was over 45. The cost of recruiting and training a new infantry recruit is £26,000 so replacing this wastage will cost an additional £750,000 per regiment.

· It is impossible to understand how retaining unsustainable battalions whilst the Army is losing one of its best manned and most cost effective battalions can be “in the long term interests of the Army and the Infantry” as is claimed. In February the 2 Welsh and 3 Mercian battalions were an average of 48 men under strength and by August this is forecast to increase to 68 under strength or the equivalent of more than three rifle companies.

· A complete battalion could replace the 3 Guards ‘incremental companies’ based in Chelsea Barracks and this would provide more capability and flexibility.



Contact: Regimental Headquarters RGBW – 01452 522682. Spokesmen: Maj Gen (Ret’d) Derek Crabtree, Brig (Ret’d) Simon Firth and Maj Gen (Ret’d) Robin Grist.

ENDS                                                        

 

 


From: Major Gen Robin Grist  18th March 2005
The Future
Don't give up, I'm not. We have won a minor battle but we will not have won the war until the whole of the 1st Battalion stays together. It is going to be tough, its going to take a long time but resilience is a quality of our Regiment.
I know some are concerned about heritage, Association etc but the discussions on all these have hardly started and as far as I am aware nothing has been decided.
I am working on a new letter to all supporters, should be out on Monday (above), your support so far has been invaluable but please keep it up and go on supporting 1RGBW because if they do not stay excellent we won't win.

Best wishes to all

RDG

 

This statement  issued by RHQ Gloucester 1500hrs 16 March 05.

From the Colonel of the Regiment:

I am sure you have heard that the Secretary of State announced last Wednesday that the RGBW will no longer be split, but will instead move in one direction as a Regiment to the Light Infantry. Both the RGBW and its antecedent regiments will therefore be represented in the future. This is extremely good news and our thanks must go to all those who played a part in stimulating this change of heart.

We have not saved the Regiment in its current form, but this was never on offer as it had been decided that every battalion, except those of the Guards Division, should be part of a large regiment and that Arms Plotting should cease. As the Secretary of State restated, “the RGBW will form the basis of the reduction by one battalion of The Prince of Wales’s Division.” We may disagree with the process by which this decision was reached, but we are where we are and must now work on how we implement this decision.

We have, with this latest decision, a new solution which offers considerable advantages to the RGBW and in particular the 1st Battalion compared to the previous situation. I believe it is important that members of the Regiment understand how we will move to the LI.

The original announcement on 16th December was that the RGBW should be dismembered. This was a catastrophic decision for the Regiment and for the 1st Battalion. Manpower was to be spread across 2 Divisions of Infantry and those that could not find vacancies within the receiving regiments would have been spread yet further. In my initial discussions with the PWRR it was suggested that, due to the PWRR’s own full manning, RGBW manpower would have to be dispersed across all 3 of the Queen’s Division’s Regiments. Our heritage was also to be split, despite 10 years of hard work in building the cohesion of the RGBW. This plan inevitably reignited former regimental passions; this has been particularly unhelpful and potentially very divisive. Indeed, the view of the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess following this original announcement, as reported to me by the RSM, was that the RGBW should opt to disband rather than allow ourselves to be torn apart.


Now the RGBW complete is to join the Light Division. Some time after 1iRGBW returns from operations in Afghanistan in the spring of 2006, we will become 1st_Battalion, The Light Infantry (1 LI) with 1 D and D. The present 1 LI and 2 LI will rename as 2 LI and 3 LI. As before, we are guaranteed 1/3rd of the slots in the new 1iLI, both in terms of manpower and rank structure, and the CO is confident after discussions with the Light Division that the vast majority of his soldiers who wish to join the Light Division will be able to do so. [1]Of course, the future system of individual posting of soldiers around a large regiment will mean that RGBW soldiers across the Light Division will continue to serve with friends throughout their careers.
[1] CO (Designate) attended the 2nd Light Division Working Group on 11 March.  At that meeting it was agreed in principle that, where possible, the 'remaining 2/3rds' of the RGBW will be found 'homes' within the Light Division (ie 2 LI, 3 LI, 1 RGJ and 2_RGJ).  Naturally this will be dependent of the appropriate vacancies; the Light Division COs were tasked to identify potential ORBAT shortfalls in order that further detailed career management of the 'remaining RGBW 2/3rds' can take place.  In parallel, CO 1 RGBW will be identifying the Battalions assets that could potentially fill these posts.

So, the majority of our soldiers and officers will now move in one single direction to a new regimental home. The soldiers, most of whom have never served with either GLOSTERS or DERR and who never understood the split that had been ordered in December, are greatly relieved by the removal of uncertainty over their future. There will be some who decide, for career reasons or for choice of location or role, that they would prefer to serve outside the Light Division. Most importantly they will have choice; some other regiments remain badly undermanned and will welcome our high quality soldiers with open arms.

There is still a lot of work to be done. Although it is clear that our heritage, most of which is inherited from the GLOSTERS, the DERR, the Royal Berkshires and the Wiltshires, will be retained within the Light Infantry, it is not yet decided how this will manifest itself. CGS has written recently “in order to establish the most appropriate way to safeguard both the D and D’s and RGBW’s ‘golden thread’, a requisite that ECAB has made clear is most important, I have asked ACGS to oversee the process on my behalf and to report back to ECAB for its endorsement. I envisage that there will be strong and publicly visible links to the antecedents during a transition period.” We will of course argue that the ‘transition’ will take a very long time.

So we are to become part of a 3-battalion Light Infantry regiment, together with 1 D and D. I am confident that the LI, a fine regiment which already has many years experience of
successfully retaining regional links and preserving the heritage of its previous regiments, will embrace the traditions and ethos of its new line infantry components. As part of the LI we will continue to have strong regional links to our three counties and the City of Bristol (where the LI already recruits). As far as the future is concerned, should in due course the Light Division form an even larger regiment by merging the Light Infantry with the Royal Green Jackets, we must ensure that the RGBW will be able to trace its lineage through the new 5-battalion Light regiment.

Our Regimental Association and Officers’ Club will continue to have one central focus; their relationship with the Light Infantry will be modelled on our successful 1994 amalgamation. We welcome the opportunity to take our Combined Cadet Forces and Army Cadet Forces forward with us; they can then continue to reinforce our footprint in the counties. The future of the TA is still to be resolved but I hope that those soldiers and officers of the Rifle Volunteers and Royal Rifle Volunteers currently cap badged RGBW will be able to move to the LI with us and thereby continue to represent us in our counties.

This is not an easy time for anyone in the infantry; everyone faces considerable change with the decision to end Arms Plotting. We in the RGBW face more difficulties than almost anyone else, but we are fortunate to have been welcomed so positively by the LI. There is in 1 RGBW great determination to make this work and ensure that the spirit and quality that has been the trademark of the RGBW goes forward into the LI along with our heritage. I very much hope that everyone will continue to support the Regiment as we embrace the changes that lie ahead.


Yours ever,

Gen Sir Kevin O'Donoghue KCB CBE

 
 To: Members of the RGBW Officers Club and Regimental Association
From: Major General Robin Grist 09.02.05

The RGBW believes that it has earned the right through its exemplary performance, its cost effectiveness and its support of the Army corporate image, to be retained in the Future Infantry Structure as a complete battalion. Ministers should be pressing ECAB to review their reasons for recommending disbanding the Regiment.

  Latest Developments
  • Jan 2005: Geoff Hoon says RGBW “unlucky” and he would be willing to reconsider splitting the Regiment if Executive Committee of the Army Board (ECAB) recommended he should.
 
  • 1 RGBW now has the best rate of retaining trained manpower of any infantry battalion in 2004/05, clear evidence of their cost effectiveness.
 
  • As at 1 Jan 05 1 RGBW was the 16th best manned infantry battalion (of 40) and is forecast to be 8th best manned by 1 Jun 05.
 
  •  Jan 2005: Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff visits the 1st Bn RGBW and admits that the RGBW been treated more harshly than any other regiment.
 
  • Feb 2005: RGBW beat the Royal Welch Fusiliers, one of the best Army rugby teams, 18-8 in the quarterfinals of the Army Rugby Cup.
   The Facts
  • The RGBW are the result of an outstandingly successful amalgamation of the Glosters with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (DERR) in 1994.
 
  •  On 16 Dec 04 it was announced that "the prior ‘GLOSTERS’ element of the RGBW is to merge with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment (D&D) and together form a new battalion in the Light Infantry, whilst the prior DERR element of the RGBW is to merge into the existing two battalions of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (PWRR)".

 
  • 75% of the RGBW were never in either the GLOSTERS or the DERR; they have joined the RGBW since 1994.
 
  • The proposed changes will not take place until 2006, at the earliest, and in the meantime the RGBW need to stay fully manned, as they have been warned that they will be deployed on operations in September 05.

The Case for Changing the Decision to Disband the RGBW

The decision is wrong as it is not in the best interests of the Army and the infantry, is grossly unfair and the ‘due process’ that was laid down was probably not followed.

 

‘Sustainable Manning’ was intended to be the only criteria for deciding which regiments should be amalgamated. The study into which regiments had the most ‘Sustainable Manning’ was 'adjusted' to remove those regiments that it was felt could not be cut for wider political reasons, thus invalidating the criteria.

 

It is becoming increasingly likely that an early decision was taken in the MOD that within the Prince of Wales’s Division (PofW Div) the cuts should fall on the RGBW and the D & D, regardless of their future manning prospects, to avoid either of the two Welsh regiments being effected, for political reasons, or the three Mercian regiments (Geoff Hoon’s constituency is part of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (WFR) area and Bruce George, Chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, is a Stafford MP). The option of a large Prince of Wales’s Regiment of 2 Wessex, 2 Welsh and 2 Mercian battalions, which would have been highly cost effective and least disruptive, was therefore ignored.

 

To ensure the RGBW were targeted the Infantry were told which regiments were likely to be cut before the Government announcement in July. Mr Hoon’s claim that "there has been a wide-ranging and detailed consultation exercise, with the infantry being invited to express their views on how the restructuring should be implemented" is misleading.

 

 Furthermore the PofW Div did not put forward the option selected by ECAB during the consultation process. Nor did ECAB advise the Cols of PofW Div Regts that this option was under consideration, or invite them to comment on it. 

 

The RGBW retention rate is the best in the infantry. From Apr – Nov 04 just 16 trained soldiers left the RGBW early, whilst the rate in four other regiments was over 45. The cost of recruiting and training a new infantry recruit is £26,000 so replacing this wastage will cost an additional £750,000 per regiment.

 

 It is impossible to understand how retaining unsustainable battalions whilst the Army is losing one of its best manned and most cost effective battalions can be “in the long term interests of the Army and the Infantry” as is claimed. The 2 Welsh and 3 Mercian battalions are currently an average of 41 under strength and by June this is forecast to increase to 61 under strength or three rifle companies.
 As a less cost effective solution has been selected it might properly be referred to the ‘Audit Commission’.

 

 Mr Hoon knew of the quality and record of the RGBW as he praised them by name in an article in the Daily Telegraph yet within a month announced that he was punishing their success by disbanding them instead of defending excellence.

 
A complete battalion could replace the 3 Guards ‘incremental companies’ based in Chelsea Barracks and this would provide more capability and flexibility.
 

There is an assumption that it is possible to undo decisions implemented over 10 years ago, it isn’t - it merely destroys success and punishes those individuals who have made the RGBW such an exemplary infantry regiment.

 

The promised ‘Golden threads of identity’ cannot be preserved as, since 1994, these have gone through the RGBW and cannot simply be ‘airbrushed’ away.

 

The PWRR are 17 over strength now. The whole of the Queens Division are only 18 under strength.

 

The PWRR are already allocated for recruiting Hampshire, Surrey, West and East Sussex and Kent. Neither they, nor the Queens Division need more recruiting area so to allocate them Berkshire and Wiltshire is quite unnecessary, and does not in any way justify dismembering the RGBW.

  The Case Against Cutting the Infantry by Four Battalions

 It reduces the Army’s capability to be a 'force for good in the world', which is the Government’s stated intention.  This makes the mathematics irrelevant compared to the need for infantry.

 

It is not simply rebalancing the Army and putting manpower where it is most needed in the support services, which is needed.  It is also an actual cut in the funded strength of the Army by 1,500 trained personnel simply because of funding constraints.

 

 High tech equipment will seldom if ever be used in anger whilst the infantry are certain to be used, in anger and in the critical role of peacekeeping.

 

Already the infantry is overstretched and battalions being required to do the job of two or even three.  This will eventually lead to a catastrophe.

 

The TA is losing over 4% of it strength annually – these cuts are likely to make this     situation  worse. 

  Contact:

 Regimental Headquarters RGBW – 01452 522682.  Spokesmen:  Maj Gen (Ret’d) Derek Crabtree, Brig (Ret’d) Simon Firth and Maj Gen (Ret’d) Robin Grist.

 
 

This statement  issued by RHQ Gloucester 1500hrs 09 March 05.

From the Colonel of the Regiment:

Future Infantry Structure – The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Geoffrey Hoon):
On 16 December 2004 I announced changes to the future structure of the Infantry, including a decision on how we would achieve a reduction by one in the number of battalions in The Prince of Wales’s Division. The antecedent components of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment (RGBW) were to merge with, in the case of the Gloucestershire element, The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment (which would also transfer to The Light Infantry) and, in the case of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment element, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.

However, following my announcement, there was a widespread perception that the plan to split the RGBW along the lines of its antecedent parts amounted to the disbandment of the RGBW and the abandonment of its own heritage.

In view of this, I asked the Executive Committee of the Army Board (ECAB) to review its original recommendation in relation to the future of the RGBW. In the process of this review, ECAB noted that in formulating its original recommendation on the RGBW it had given insufficient weight to the sense of identity that has evolved during the 10 years since the RGBW was created.

ECAB concluded that although the substance of the original recommendation – that the RGBW will form the basis of the reduction by one battalion of The Prince of Wales’s Division – should not change, more could be done to preserve the identity and heritage of the RGBW itself, and not just of its antecedents. ECAB now recommends that this should be achieved instead through an amalgamation of The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment with the RGBW. The resulting new regiment will become the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry (reflecting the original decision for the D and D to join The Light Infantry).

I have accepted the need for this adjustment to the original recommendation. The details of how the amalgamation will be taken forward will be a matter for the Army to manage and will be worked out by those concerned over the coming months.

                                                                      

 

To all members of the Regimental Family
           A Letter from the Colonel Of The  Devonshire & Dorset Regiment


The Future of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment (This statement extracted from their official website)


I am very aware that the stark announcement from the Ministry of Defence that we would be joining the Light Infantry has caused much concern in many places throughout the South West and within the Regimental Family. Up to now it has not been possible to give you detail of our future even though it is by every account a most promising one, and certainly not the axing described so vividly and inaccurately by both press and television.

We as a Regiment The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment are moving lock stock and barrel into the Light Division to join our brothers in the Light Infantry and The Royal Green Jackets. We have asked that this should happen as soon as possible and in fact at the beginning of March this year, although this has yet to be agreed. We have also asked that to mark our move to the Light Division the suffix 'Light Infantry' should be added to our title so that the 1st Battalion will become '1st Battalion The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment Light Infantry', thus preserving our past while acknowledging our future. At some future date we will be joined by the Gloucester element of the Royal Gloucester, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, their other elements joining the Queens Division.


Already plans are being made to bring the four Regiments involved: ourselves; the Gloucester element (together making one Battalion), The Light Infantry (two Battalions), and the Royal Green Jackets (two Battalions), into one new five Battalion Regiment. Although no decisions have yet been made the Army board have already indicated that the historic links of the past Regiments must be maintained. I must emphasize that nothing has yet been formally agreed but this is what we are all amicably working towards.

I hope it will reassure you that our identity is being preserved and that our regimental future - albeit in a larger grouping is indeed bright.



The Colonel of the Regiment


 

 

The Future Structure of the Light Infantry Regiment (This Extract taken from their official website. How they see it, author unknown).

On 16th December 2004, the Secretary of State for Defence announced the latest review of Army restructuring, titled "Future Army Structures". Unlike many regiments in the Army, who will be merged and re-titled, the Light Infantry is to continue as a Regiment in its own right.

One important change to the current structure of the Regiment has however been decided. The tradition of converting other regiments to light infantry continues. We are to be joined by The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment and Gloucester element of The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment. We must welcome them all most warmly and we recognise the sacrifices and changes this means for them.

The Regiments' aim is to build an even more attractive Light Infantry of fully manned battalions with quality officers and soldiers, building on successes and exploit new opportunities with agility and vigour. Further into the future, the Light Infantry remains on track to join our sister Regiment, The Royal Green Jackets (RGJ), in creating a large Light Division Regiment. The Light Infantry therefore has the opportunity of building an even more powerful Regiment than Sir John Moore could ever have imagined. There is a lot for the Regiment to absorb following the 16th December 2004 announcements. The core identity, ethos and way of The Light Infantry will remain, as will that of the Light Division (Bugle, Rifle et al). Equally, the Regiment must embrace, indeed celebrate, the history of those joining us. It will establish sensitive, sensible, transitionary arrangements.

Our new Light Infantry Battalion will become 1LI, with our current Battalions renumbering to 2LI and 3LI. This, of course, is how the Regiment handled reductions some 12 years ago. It is so much more agreeable doing it under expansion! County identity will be retained in the TA. The Light Infantry remains vibrant in health in every respect of its business. The Colonel of the Regiment, Major General R V Brims CBE, DSO recently paid tribute to all the generations who have made this so. It is known across the Army that the Light Infantry has serious qualities throughout its ranks: physical and mental agility, the willingness and nerve to innovate, quiet confidence, and – perhaps above all – real decency.

These factors and qualities will see us through this next evolution of our treasured Regiment. We remain "Exceedingly Lucky" in the words of Sir John Moore and true to one of our motto's Aucto Splendore Resugo - I rise again with increased splendour.

 
 

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