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
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
General Sir Kevin O'donoghue
Colonel, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light
All members of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light
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
GENERAL SIR KEVIN O'DONOGHUE
COLONEL, THE ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE BERKSHIRE AND WILTSHIRE LIGHT
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
22nd July 2005
THE COLONEL OF THE DEVONSHIRE AND DORSET LIGHT INFANTRY
THE COLONEL OF THE ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE, BERKSHIRE AND WILTSHIRE LIGHT
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]
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
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
Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Light Infantry
Extracted from the official LI Website for your
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
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
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
CinC LAND (for further distribution as required)
AG (for further distribution as required)
GOC NI (for further distribution as required)
Arms and Service Directors
All Infantry Colonels Commandants
All Infantry Regimental Colonels
All Infantry Commanding Officers
General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue KCB CBE
Colonel of the
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
· 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
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
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
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
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.
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
a. There is insufficient time to ensure a full and worthwhile RGBW
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
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
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,
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.
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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 decision is not in the best interests of the Army and the
infantry, and is unfair on a Regiment formed by amalgamation as recently
· 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.
From: Major Gen Robin Grist
18th March 2005
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
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
This statement issued by RHQ Gloucester
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.
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.
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
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
Gen Sir Kevin O'Donoghue KCB CBE
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.
- 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 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.
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.
PWRR are 17 over strength now. The whole of the Queens Division are
only 18 under strength.
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
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.
Regimental Headquarters RGBW –
01452 522682. Spokesmen: Maj Gen (Ret’d) Derek Crabtree, Brig (Ret’d) Simon Firth and Maj Gen (Ret’d)
This statement issued by RHQ Gloucester 1500hrs 09
From the Colonel of the Regiment:
Future Infantry Structure – The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and
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
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.
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
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
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
The Colonel of the Regiment
Future Structure of the Light Infantry Regiment (This
Extract taken from their official website. How they see it, author
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.