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Unit History: Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry The Regiment was officially formed in 1881 when the 32nd and 46th Regiments of Foot were amalgamated as part of the Childers Reforms; however it can trace its history back over 180 years prior to this date.

The 32nd was first formed in 1702 during the War of Spanish Succession (1701–1714) fighting at the siege and capture of Gibraltar (1705) and the Battles of Roliça and Vimiero. In 1782 all British Regiments without Royal titles were awarded county titles in order to aid recruitment from that region therefore the 32nd became the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot. It was part of the unsuccessful Walcheren Expedition (1809) during the War of the Fifth Coalition (1809) were the Regiment suffered greatly from Walcheren fever (thought to be a combination of malaria and typhus). The Regiment went on to serve during the Peninsular War (1808-1814) fighting the French at the Battle of Salamanca and all major conflicts into France until the Battle of Quatre Bras which halted Napoleon’s advance. The Regiment also fought during the Battle of Waterloo (1815) and suffered the greatest loss of all the British Regiments, losing 516 men in two days.

In 1833 Colonel John Eardley Inglis joined the Regiment and would serve his entire military career in the 32nd becoming famous for his command at the siege of Lucknow. In 1837 the Regiment serviced during the Lower Canada Rebellion (1837-1838), when armed rebels tried to establish the independent republics of Quebec and Ontario, fighting at the actions of St. Denis and St. Eustache. The 32nd was deployed to India and served during the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848–1849) fighting at the Siege of Multan and the Battle of Gujrat. The Regiment also defended Lucknow during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Brigadier Inglis was in charge of the Lucknow Residency during the siege and maintained a successful defence for 87 days against an overwhelming force. He was promoted to major-general and awarded Knight Commander of the Bath. In 1860 after further service in India he was given command of the British troops in the Ionian Islands. The Regiment was refitted and trained as Light Infantry for its service at Lucknow and re-titled as 32nd (The Cornwall) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry).

The 46th was first raised in 1741 initially as the 57th Regiment of Foot but became the 46th seven years later. The Regiment saw its first action in Canada during the Seven Years War (1754–1763) fighting at the Assault on Fort Ticonderoga, the Assault and Capture of Fort Niagara, the Assault and Capture of Fort Lévis and the Capture of Montreal. From 1762 the Regiment moved to the Caribbean and took part in the capture of Martinique and Havana. The Regiment remained on garrison duties in Ireland for 8 years from 1767. In 1776 the Regiment was deployed to America during the American War of Independence (1775–1783) and fought at the Capture of Long Island, New York, Fort Washington, the Battle of Brandywine Creek, Action of Paoli's Tavern, the Capture of Philadelphia, the Battle of Germantown, the Action of Monmouth Court-House, the Assault and Capture of Bedford, the Assault and Capture of Martha's Vineyard. In 1778 the Regiment moved to the Caribbean and fought during the Invasion and Capture of St. Lucia, the Defence of La Vigie, and the Capture of St. Eustatius. In 1782 the 46th became associated with South Devonshire and became the 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of Foot.

In 1814 the Regiment escorted convicts to New South Wales and remained in Australia until 1817, serving in Sydney, Newcastle, Parramatta and Van Diemens Land before deployment to Madras, India. The Regiment also served during the Crimean War, (1854-1856) fighting at the Battle of the Alma, the Battle of Balaklava, the Battle of Inkermann, the Siege of Sebastopol, the Assault on the Quarries, the First Assault on the Redan, and the Final Assault on the Redan.
In 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms, which restructured the British army into a network of multi-battalion Regiments, the 46th (South Devonshires) Regiment of Foot and the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot were merged to form The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. The newly formed Regiment went on to serve during the Second Boer War (1899-1902) fighting at Paardeburg and Bloemfontein and two World Wars.

In 1959, the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry was merged with the Somerset Light Infantry to form the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry. In 1968, the Regiment was amalgamated with The Durham Light Infantry, The Shropshire Light Infantry and The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry to form The Light Infantry Brigade. In 2007 another round of amalgamations meant the Light Infantry was merged with The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry and The Royal Green Jackets to form The Rifles.

Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry during WW1

Since 1815 the balance of power in Europe had been maintained by a series of treaties. In 1888 Wilhelm II was crowned ‘German Emperor and King of Prussia’ and moved from a policy of maintaining the status quo to a more aggressive position. He did not renew a treaty with Russia, aligned Germany with the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire and started to build a Navy rivalling that of Britain. These actions greatly concerned Germany’s neighbours, who quickly forged new treaties and alliances in the event of war. On 28th June 1914 Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist group Young Bosnia who wanted pan-Serbian independence. Franz Joseph's the Austro-Hungarian Emperor (with the backing of Germany) responded aggressively, presenting Serbia with an intentionally unacceptable ultimatum, to provoke Serbia into war. Serbia agreed to 8 of the 10 terms and on the 28th July 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, producing a cascade effect across Europe. Russia bound by treaty to Serbia declared war with Austro-Hungary, Germany declared war with Russia and France declared war with Germany. Germany’s army crossed into neutral Belgium in order to reach Paris, forcing Britain to declare war with Germany (due to the Treaty of London (1839) whereby Britain agreed to defend Belgium in the event of invasion). By the 4th August 1914 Britain and much of Europe were pulled into a war which would last 1,566 days, cost 8,528,831 lives and 28,938,073 casualties or missing on both sides.

The Regiment raised 16 Battalions, it was awarded 57 Battle Honours and 1 Victoria Cross losing 4,510men during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Curragh as part of the 14th Brigade of the 5th Division.
15.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed in Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1914
The Battle of Mons and subsequent retreat, The Battle of Le Cateau and the Affair of Crepy-en-Valois, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914, The First Battle of Ypres.
1915
The Second Battle of Ypres and the Capture of Hill 60
12.01.1916 the 14th brigade became the 95th Brigade of the same Division;
1916
The Attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The Battle of Vimy, The Attack on La Coulotte, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Capture of Oppy Wood, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
Dec 1917 Deployed to Italy to strengthen Italian resistance after a recent disaster at the Battle of Caporetto and positioned along the River Piave.
April 1918 Returned to France arriving at Frevent;
1918
The Battle of Hazebrouck, Defence of Nieppe Forest, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, The Battle of the Epehy, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Le Quesnoy, France.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Hong Kong.
Nov 1914 Arrived in England and moved to Winchester and joined the 82nd Brigade of the 27th Division.
21.12.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The action of St Eloi, The Second Battle of Ypres
27.11.1915 Embarked for Salonika at Marseilles arriving 05.12.1915 and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
1916
The capture of Karajakois, The capture of Yenikoi and The battle of Tumbitza Farm.
1917
The capture of Homondos.
1918
The capture of the Roche Noir Salient, The passage of the Vardar river and The pursuit to the Strumica valley.
30.09.1918 Ended the war at Dedeli N.W. of Lake Doiran, Macedonia.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Bodmin and then moved to Falmouth.
May 1915 Moved to Freshwater, Isle of Wight and remained there.

1/4th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Truro as part of the Devon & Cornwall Brigade of the Wessex Division and then moved to Falmouth and then Perham Down, Salisbury Plain.
09.10.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton arriving at Bombay 10.11.1914 where the Division was broken up.
22.01.1916 Embarked for Aden from Bombay.
Feb 1917 Deployed to Egypt arriving at Suez.
13.02.1917 Defending the Lines of communication.
14.04.1917 Transferred to the232nd Brigade and then the 233rd Brigade.
25.06.1917 Transferred to the 234th Brigade of the 75th Division and engaged in various actions as part of the Palestine Campaign including;
1917
The Third Battle of Gaza, The Capture of Gaza, The Capture of Junction Station, The Battle of Nabi Samweil.
1918
The Battle of Tell'Asur, The Battle of Berukin, The Battle of Sharon.
31.10.1918 Ended the war at Kerkus south of Haifa, Palestine.

1/5th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Bodmin as part of the Devon & Cornwall Brigade of the Wessex Division and then moved to Falmouth and then Salisbury Plain.
(Foreign service volunteers transferred to the 1/4th battalion, the 1/5th was now under strength and replaced in the Division by the 1/6th and moved to Newquay).
1915 Moved to Falmouth.
April 1916 Moved to Perham Down and then Tidworth and became a Pioneer Battalion of the 61st Division.
22.05.1916 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Attack at Fromelles (unsuccessful diversionary tactic during the Battle of the Somme).
1917
The Operations on the Ancre, The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Langemark, The German counter attacks.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Actions at the Somme Crossings, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Bethune, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Parquiaux N.W. of Le Quesnoy, France.

2/4th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Truro as part of the 2/ Devon & Cornwall Brigade of the 2/Wessex Division and then moved to Salisbury Plain.
12.12.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton arriving at Karachi.
09.01.1915 Division broken up and battalion remained in India throughout the war.

2/5th Battalion Territorial Force
May 1915 Formed at Bodmin and then moved to Tavistock.
Spring 1916 Moved to Hursley Park, Winchester.
08.04.1916 Became the 5th (Reserve) Battalion.
01.09.1916 Absorbed by the 4th (Reserve) Battalion.

3/4th Battalion Territorial Force
Mar 1915 Formed at Bodmin and then moved to Bournemouth.
Spring 1916 Moved to Hursley Park, Winchester.
08.04.1916 Became the 4th (Reserve) Battalion.
01.09.1916 Absorbed by the 5th (Reserve) Battalion as part of the Wessex Reserve Brigade.
Oct 1916 Moved back to Bournemouth.
Mar 1917 Moved to Sutton Veny and then Larkhill, Salisbury Plain.
April 1918 Moved to Ireland in the 15th Brigade and later the 27th Brigade at Buncrana.

6th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Bodmin as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Aldershot to join the 43rd Brigade of the 14th Division and then moved to Witley.
Feb 1915 Moved to Aldershot.
22.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1915
The Action of Hooge, part of the first flamethrower attack by the Germans, The Second Attack on Bellewaarde.
1916
The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Langemark, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of the Avre.
20.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

7th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Bodmin as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Aldershot and Woking to join the 61st Brigade of the 20th Division and then moved to Pirbright.
Feb 1915 Moved to Witley and then Amesbury.
25.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1915
Trench familiarisation and training in Fleurbaix area.
1916
The Battle of Mount Sorrel, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Langemarck, The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Cambrai Operations.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The actions at the Somme crossings, The Battle of Rosieres, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at St. Waast La Vallee east of Cambrai, France.

8th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Bodmin as part of the Third New Army (K3) and then moved to Codford to join the 79th Brigade of the 26th Division and then moved to Bath.
May 1915 Moved to Sutton Veny, Salisbury Plain.
22.09.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne.
13.11.1915 Embarked for Salonika from Marseilles and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
1916
The Battle of Horseshoe Hill.
1917
The Battles of Doiran.
1918
The Battle of Doiran, The Pursuit to the Strumica Valley.
30.09.1918 Ended the war near Hamzali N.W. of Lake Doiran, Macedonia.

9th (Reserve) Battalion
29.10.1914 Formed at Falmouth as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) as part of the 103rd brigade of the 34th Division.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve Battalion.
May 1915 Moved to Wareham as part of the 10th Reserve Brigade.
01.09.1916 Absorbed into the Training Reserve Battalions of the 10th Reserve Brigade.

10th (Service) Battalion (Cornwall Pioneers)
29.03.1915 Formed by the Mayor and the City of Truro.
June 1915 Moved to Penzance and then Hayle.
24.08.1915 Taken over by the War Office.
20.06.1916 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre, transferred to the 2nd Division as a Pioneer Battalion and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of the Ancre, Operations on the Ancre.
16.07.1917 Transferred to the 66th Division;
The Operations on the Flanders Coast, The Battle of Poelcapelle.
07.11.1917 Returned to the 2nd Division;
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras 1918, The Battle of Albert, The Second Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Ruesnes N.W. of Le Quesnoy, France.

11th (Reserve) Battalion
Nov 1915 Formed at Launceston as a local reserve battalion from the depot companies of the 10th battalion.
Mar 1916 Moved to Chisledon and became the 95th Training Reserve battalion of the 22nd Reserve Brigade.

12th (Labour) Battalion
April 1916 Formed at Plymouth and then deployed to France as Army Troops Fourth Army.
April 1917 Became the 156th & 157th Labour Companies of the Labour Corps.

13th Battalion
01.06.1918 Formed at Aldeburgh.
02.06.1918 Absorbed into the 6th Somerset Light Infantry at Cromer.
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Active From: 1881 - 1959

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