The South Wales Borderers was an infantry regiment of the British Army. It first came into existence in 1689, but was not called the South Wales Borderers until 1881. The regiment served in a great many conflicts, including the American Revolutionary War, various conflicts in India, the Zulu War, Boer War, and World War I and II. The regiment was absorbed into the Royal Regiment of Wales in 1969. As its name suggests, the regiment recruited primarily from South Wales.
Sir Edward Dering's Regiment of Foot (1689 -1751)
Marlborough's Wars ' 1702-1713
In November 1700 Charles II of Spain died, leaving his dominions in Spain, the Netherlands and the Americas to Philip of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV of France. King William immediately ordered the twelve regiments in Ireland to embark for Holland. The regiment under Colonel William Seymour sailed from Cork in June 1701.
In February 1702, William Seymour transferred to the Queen's Regiment and John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, Commander-in-Chief of King William's forces on the Continent and one of England's greatest soldiers, took over as Colonel of the Regiment. The regiment served throughout the War of the Spanish Succession and fought at the famous battles of Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709).
24th Regiment of Foot (1751-1782)
American War for Independence - 1775-1783
Early in 1776 two expeditions were sent from England to quell the rebellion in North America. The main force under Sir William Howe was directed against New York, where he would await the arrival of the second force who would join him after relieving Quebec. By the time that the 24th Regiment arrived in Canada, Quebec had been relieved and the Americans were in full retreat to the Border. The advance South under General Burgoyne began in June 1777 and continued for two months. The 24th Regiment, as part of the advance guard, were frequently in action. By 17th September 1777, Burgoyne's army had reached Stillwater, near Saratoga, where 10,000 Americans under General Gates were entrenched. Through lack of provisions and reinforcements, Burgoyne found his position untenable and he withdrew. The force was soon overtaken by the Americans and Burgoyne was forced to surrender at Saratoga. The campaign ended in disaster, but the 24th have no reason to be anything but proud of the part they played in it by showing the true soldierly qualities of hard marching, initiative, self-reliance and good discipline.
24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot (1782 -1881)
The Napoleonic Wars - 1801-1813
In June 1801, five regiments including the 24th Regiment were sent to Egypt to reinforce the British force under General Hutchinson fighting the French. They arrived to take part in the capture of Alexandria which ended the campaign. The 24th, together with the other regiments engaged, were awarded the Sphinx, superscribed Egypt which was later an insignia on the Regimental Colour and the collar badge of the regiment.
In August 1805, the battalion sailed under Sir David Baird, later to become Colonel of 24th, to the Cape of Good Hope. By January 1806 at Blaauwberg, the Dutch forces had surrendered and Cape was secured.
In September 1804, a 2nd Battalion was raised and took part in Wellington’s great victories in Spain gaining nine Battle Honours for the regiment. The most significant and hardest was Talavera in July 1809 when the 2nd/24th held their line, suffered many casualties but allowed the Foot Guards to re-form in the rear to secure a famous victory for Wellington.
India: The 2nd Sikh war – 1848-1849
In 1849 the 1st Battalion of the 24th fought as part of General Sir Hugh Gough’s Army of the Punjab at Chillianwallah in the 2nd Sikh War. On this occasion its conduct inspired General Colin Campbell to write: “It is impossible for any troops to have surpassed the gallantry displayed in this attack. This single regiment actually broke the enemy’s line and took the large number of guns to their front”. In 1866, an impressive regimental memorial was erected in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to remember those killed at Chillianwallah on 13th January 1849. It is the only regiment to be honoured there in this way.
The Andaman Islands - 1867
In 1867 the 24th was stationed at Rangoon, with a detachment of 3 officers and 100 soldiers in the Andaman Islands. In May that year the crew of a British ship was reported to have been murdered by natives of the Little Andaman, and a party was sent to investigate. On arrival at the reputed place of the massacre, two boats were put ashore, due to the heavy surf only one reached the shore. The landing party were able to discover the bodies of the murdered crew, but hostile natives soon appeared. The shore party’s ammunition was soon exhausted in their attempt to escape and re-float their boat when it was upset in the surf. Several attempts were made to rescue the shore party, but finally the second boat, crewed by Assistant-Surgeon Douglas and Privates Bell, Cooper, Griffiths and Murphy, which had remained off-shore, managed to pick up the men by making two trips through the difficult waters and thus saving the soldiers from certain death. The crew of the rescue boat were later to receive the Victoria Cross – the first members of the 24th to be given this recently established but much coveted decoration.
The South African campaigns – 1877-1879
Both 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 24th were engaged in the Ninth Frontier War in the Eastern Cape in 1877-1878 and subsequent war against the Zulus in 1879. On 22nd January 1879, five companies of the 1st Battalion and one company of the 2nd, in camp at Isandlwana, were attacked by a great mass of Zulus. Surrounded and greatly outnumbered, they fought desperately but were finally overwhelmed when the supply of ammunition failed. 21 officers and 575 men of the regiment perished that day and only 10 soldiers of the 24th escaped with their lives.
When it was evident that all was lost, Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill were ordered to save the Queen’s Colour of the 1st Battalion. They fought their way through to the Buffalo River, but there, both officers were killed. Some two weeks later the Colour was recovered from the muddy waters of the Buffalo and restored to the battalion. The families of Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill later received their posthumous Victoria Crosses.
Meanwhile, B Company 2nd/24th, under Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead was at Rorke’s Drift, some ten miles from the scene of the disaster. That same afternoon the victorious Zulus swept on, and some 4,000 of them launched a series of fierce attacks on the tiny garrison at Rorke’s Drift. The attacks continued until the early hours of the next morning but were all beaten off. This action undoubtedly saved Natal from invasion. Of the 24th, Lieutenant Bromhead and six NCOs and men were awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Rorke’s Drift. No other regiment has been awarded seven Victoria Crosses for a single action.
The Cardwell Reforms - 1873-1881
By 1873, the 24th Regiment was recruiting mainly from Welsh border counties (Cardigan, Radnor, Brecknock and Monmouth) and its Depot was established in Brecon. It was therefore logical that in 1881 when the whole Army was given territorial titles, it should assume the title of The South Wales Borderers. Shortly after this the Volunteer Battalions of Monmouthshire, as well as those of Brecknock and Radnor, were affiliated to the regiment. It was at this time that the 24th lost their grass green facings for white. Happily, this distinction was restored in 1905.
The South Wales Borderers(1881-1969)
The Second Anglo-Boer War – 1899-1902
After ‘Black Week’ in December 1899, the 2nd Battalion was sent to South Africa. The Boer War also gave a first-ever chance for the Volunteer and Militia units of the South Wales Borderers of active overseas service. The success of the volunteers saw the creation of the Monmouthshire Regiment (TF) in 1908 from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Volunteer Battalions of the South Wales Borderers.
First World War – 1914-1918
In the First World War, the 24th raised twenty-one Battalions, gained six Victoria Crosses and was awarded seventy-four Battle Honours, of which none was better earned than Gheluvelt on 31st October 1914 where the 1st Battalion The South Wales Borderers, alongside the 2nd Battalion The Welch Regiment, withstood the German onslaught and enabled 2nd Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment to launch their famous counter-attack, thus halting the whole German offensive towards the coast.
Also in 1914, but on the other side of the world in North China, the 2nd Battalion took part with the Japanese in the capture of the German Treaty Port of Tsingtao and thereby gained a Battle Honour unique in the British Army. The 2nd Battalion returned via Hong Kong to England in early 1915, only to form part of the 29th Division which was sent to land at Cape Helles on the Gallipoli peninsular on 25th April 1915. After the failure of the Dardanelles campaign, the 29th Division was withdrawn merely to arrive in France in March 1916. Its first big action was on 1st July 1916, the opening day of the great battle of the Somme, when it attacked the impregnable position at Beaumont Hamel. The 2nd Battalion advancing south of the village in the leading line was mown down by machine guns in the first few minutes and lost 11 officers and 235 men killed and missing and 4 officers and 149 men wounded out of a total of 21 officers and 578 men. Some gallant fellows reached the German wire 300 yards away, but neither here nor at other places did the Division’s attack succeed. The battalion was soon re-formed and after periods in various parts of the Line fought most gallantly at Monchy Le Preux during the Arras offensive in April and May 1917, where Sergeant White was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for magnificent leadership and self-sacrifice.
In 1916 the 4th (Service) Battalion was involved in operations to relieve General Townsend’s force besieged at Kut al Amara in Mesopotamia (Iraq). On 4th April, the British attacked the Hanna position. The battalion pushed on under heavy machine gun fire over ground devoid of cover, and despite severe losses reached a line about 800 yards from the Turkish trenches. During the advance an officer fell and one of his men, going to his help, was hit and disabled. Captain Angus Buchanan thereupon dashed out from behind cover and not only carried the officer in despite a heavy fire but, going out again, brought the private in also, for which gallantry he was awarded the Victoria Cross. A few days later, on 8th April, came the night assault on the Turkish position at Sannaiyat, with the 4th Battalion in the front line. The attack failed with heavy loss, but the regiment gained another Victoria Cross of the Battalion. Private James Fynn crept out in broad daylight to two men who were lying within 300 yards of the Turkish line, bandaged them and brought them in.
For its epic actions on 18th September 1918, the 7th Battalion were awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French for their attack on the Grand Couronné in Macedonia; only eleven units of the British Army have been given this distinct honour. The Commanding Officer, Colonel Daniel Burges was awarded the Victoria Cross.
During the Great War, 5,777 soldiers of the South Wales Borderers and 2,430 soldiers of the Monmouthshire Regiment gave their lives for their Country. The South Wales Borderers and Monmouthshire Regiment are credited with thirty-one battalions, seventeen of which served overseas in the following operational theatres
The Second World War - 1939-1945
Soldiers from the South Wales Borderers were selected to support the newly created Parachute Regiment in one of the most daring operations of the Second War when they landed in occupied France during the night 27/28 February 1942. Their mission was to capture a German radar site at Bruneval near Le Harve and seize vital parts for subsequent intelligence evaluation. The raid was entirely successful and a welcome morale boost for the British public.
At home, the Brecknockshire Battalion was a draft finding unit and the 1st South Wales Borderers, after a difficult time in the Western Desert in 1942, amalgamated with the 4th Monmouthshires, served as a training unit, both vital if unexciting roles.
In June 1944, the 2nd Battalion had the distinction of being the only Welsh battalion to land on the Normandy Beaches on D-Day, and together with the 2nd and 3rd Monmouths fought throughout the North-West Europe Campaign until VE Day, whilst the 6th Battalion was one of the outstanding battalions in Burma and of particular note was its action at the Mayu Tunnels in February 1944 where railway tunnels, used a storage depot by the Japanese, were destroyed by a determined company assault and the inspirational use of a Sherman tank.
During the Second World War, the South Wales Borderers and the Monmouthshire Regiment had nine battalions, five of which served overseas
War of the Spanish Succession
Blenheim, Ramilles, Oudenarde, Malplaquet.Nineteenth century
French Revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars
Egypt, Cape of Good Hope 1806, Talavera, Busaco, Fuentes d'Onoro, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, Peninsular
Battle of Chillianwala, Goojerat, Punjaub, South Africa 1877-8-9, Burma 1885-87, South Africa 1900-02
World War I
Mons, retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914'18, Ypres 1914'17'18, Langemarck 1914'17, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Givenchy 1914, Aubers, Loos, Somme 1916'18, Bazentin, Pozières, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916, Arras 1917'18, Scarpe 1917, Messines 1917'18, Pilckem, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917'18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Bailleul, Kemmel, Béthune, Scherpenberg, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Havrincourt, Épéhy, St. Quentin Canal, Beaurevoir, Courtrai, Selle, Valenciennes, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18,
Doiran 1917 '18, Macedonia 1915-18
Helles, Landing at Helles, Krithia, Suvla, Sari Bair, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915-16
Egypt 1916, Tigris 1916, Kut el Amara 1917, Baghdad, Mesopotamia 1916-18
World War II
Normandy Landing, Sully, Caen, Falaise, Risle Crossing, Le Havre, Antwerp-Turnhout Canal, Scheldt, Zetten, Arnhem 1945, North-West Europe 1944-45
Gazala, North Africa 1942
North Arakan, Mayu Tunnels, Pinwe, Shweli, Myitson, Burma 1944-45
Victoria Cross Recipients
Corporal William Wilson Allen (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Private David Bell (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Lieutenant Edward Stevenson Browne (1st Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Burges (7th (Service) Battalion, South Wales Borderers)
Lieutenant Nevill Josiah Aylmer Coghill (1st Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Temporary Captain Angus Buchanan (4th (Service) Battalion, South Wales Borderers)
Private James Cooper (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Assistant Surgeon Campbell Mellis Douglas (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Lieutenant Edric Frederick, The Lord Gifford (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Private James Henry Fynn (4th (Service) Battalion, South Wales Borderers)
Private William Griffiths (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Private Frederick Hitch (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Private Alfred Henry Hook (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley Graham Johnson (2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers)
Private Robert Jones (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Private William Jones (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Lieutenant Teignmouth Melvill (1st Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Private Thomas Murphy (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Sergeant Ivor Rees (11th (Service) Battalion (1st Gwent), South Wales Borderers)
Sergeant Albert White (2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers)
Company Sergeant-Major John (Jack) Henry Williams (10th (Service) Battalion (1st Gwent), South Wales Borderers)
Private John Williams (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot)
Why Join Us?
The 24th Foot was formed by members of the 2nd Queens Own in late 2013 on the Anglo Zulu mod. It went from strength to strength, Bumblebonce had a period of absence from 2015-2020, with Shadow taking command in the mean time. Bumblebonce returned in 2020 and the regiment has continued to go from strength to strength, the 24th is now expanding into the Napoleonic Wars DLC.
The 24th are a well known regiment with many years of experience behind them, the 24th has a rich history spanning the entire globe, no two days are the same within the 24th.
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