The video above shows images of the final parade in Gloucester when the Colours were marched off for the final time. They are now laid up in the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.
"These are to authorise you by Beat of Drum or otherwise to Raise Volontiers for a Regiment of Foot under your Command, which is to Consist of Thirteen Companys of sixty Privat Soldiers, Three Serjeants, Three Corporalls and Two Drummers in each Company."
Warrant to Colonel John Gibson, March 5,1694
Thus the Regiment that was to become The GLOSTERS was born.
Little can John Gibson have imagined what a distinguished history it would have for the next three centuries, earning by 1952, more Battle Honours on its Regimental Colour than any other in the Army.
Gibson's became De Lalo's Regiment and then Mordaunt's, Windsor's, Barrell's and finally, Braggs, under whom, in 1742 when numerical precedence was introduced; it changed to the 28th Regiment of Foot, although one of its nicknames to this day is 'Old Braggs'. In 1758, during the Seven Years War, the Army was again expanded and one of the regiments raised became the 61st of Foot. Then, in 1782, both Regiments became linked to the County of Gloucestershire, becoming the North and South Gloucestershire Regiments respectively.
Wolfe posted himself at the head of the 28th at Quebec in 1759.
At Alexandria in 1801, the Regiment fought with such resolution, at one point back to back, that they were awarded the unique distinction of wearing a badge on the back of their caps. In 1809 the 28th formed Sir John Moore's rearguard during the retreat to Corunna, and both the 28th and 61st fought throughout the Peninsular war under Wellington, the 61st winning particular glory at Salamanca and Toulouse. The 28th also fought at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, being the only English regiment mentioned by the Duke of Wellington in his Waterloo Despatch.
In 1849 the 61st took part in the Sikh Wars in India where their performance at Chillianwallah caused the Duke of Wellington to observe:
The feat of the 61st on that day was one of the most brilliant exploits ever performed by any regiment in the British army.
In 1854 the 28th was despatched to the Crimea where sickness was more of an adversary than the enemy. At Alma the Colours were carried in battle for the last time. Meanwhile the 61st were in India where, in 1857, the Indian Mutiny erupted. The 61st were ordered to march the 250 miles to Delhi where Surgeon Reade was to win the Regiment's first VC, the medal had been introduced the previous year, by leading a charge against rebels who were threatening the wounded.
In The Cardwell Reforms of 1881 the 28th and 61st were joined together to become the 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Gloucestershire Regiment, but they continued to be referred to within the Regiment by their old numbers. There were however other troops, connected with the County, who were affected by these reforms The Militia were the oldest of our military organisations, being the direct descendants of the ancient levies of Saxon days. In 1759 the Militia was placed on a permanent basis for the Severn Years war, and two years later was split into the North Gloucester Militia based in Cirencester, and the South Gloucester, based first in Gloucester and then Bristol. Both were embodied for full time service in Britain during every war in which the country became engaged. In 1881 they became the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Regiment respectively. There was yet a third element, the Volunteers. For many centuries bodies of volunteers had been raised at times of national crisis and, in 1797, a properly constituted Corps of Volunteers was first raised in Bristol and this example was followed throughout Gloucestershire. All were disbanded after Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo but, in 1859, two units were raised which were to become the 1st (City of Bristol) Volunteer Battalion and the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Regiment in 1881. At the same time the Regimental Depot was established at Horfield in Bristol.
The Boer War was the first in which The Gloucestershire Regiment fought with Volunteers alongside Regulars. Then, in 1908, Lord Haldane carried out a major reform of the Militia and Volunteers. The 3rd Militia became a Special Reserve Battalion, whose primary task in war would be to train reinforcements for the battalions engaged on active service. The Volunteer Battalions were converted to the newly formed Territorial Force, and became the 4th, 5th and 6th Territorials of the Regiment. The 4th and 6th recruited entirely in Bristol whilst the 5th was raised in Gloucestershire.
When the First World War broke out in August 1914, the 28th were at Bordon. They crossed to France within a week and remained there to march triumphantly into Germany two days after the Armistice in November 1918 by which time they had won 31 Battle Honours. The 61st were in China but hurried home and were in France by December. The three Territorial battalions were mobilised and were among the first Territorials to reach the Continent in March 1915. However, before going, each had raised a second battalion (2/4, 2/5 and 2/6th) which followed a year later. Then, in 1915, three more battalions were raised (3/4, 3/ 5 and 3/6th) to serve at home as Reserve Battalions. This was still not enough and so eight Service Battalions and another four Reserve Battalions were formed. In all there were twenty-four battalions of The Regiment. Sixteen of these fought in France and Flanders, Italy, Gallipoli, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia and Macedonia winning 72 new Battle Honours. 8,100 members of the Regiment were killed and many thousands more wounded.
Nine battalions took part in the Second World war of which four saw service overseas. In addition, the 4th Battalion converted into the 66th Searchlight Regiment RA and the 6th Battalion to the 44th Royal Tank Regiment. The 28th were in Burma and provided the rearguard for much of the retreat by the Burma Army in 1942. The 61st crossed to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force and, in 1940, held Cassel for four vital days thus helping to cover Dunkirk during the evacuation; nearly all who survived were taken prisoner. As part of the same force, 5 GLOSTERS were only a few miles away at Ledringham also putting up very strong resistance, but were able to withdraw. The 61st were reformed and took part in the Normandy Invasion in 1944 whilst 10 GLOSTERS played a distinguished role in the recapture of Burma particularly at Pinwe. In all 20 Battle Honours were won and 998 members of the Regiment were killed.
In 1948 the 1st and 2nd Battalions amalgamated to become the 1st Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment (28th/61st). Two years later they were sent to Korea. Here, at the Battle of Solma-ri, overlooking the Imjin River, they stood firm against mass Chinese communist attacks for four days. When eventually they were ordered to break out they were surrounded and only 63 were able to get back to Allied lines. However, by their tenacity they had allowed the United Nations forces to establish a second line of defence. Never again did the communists seek to mount a major offensive. As wireless contact with the Battalion was lost, the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Tom Brodie, wrote in the Brigade log:
No one but the GLOSTERS could have done it.
For this feat the 1st Battalion was awarded the American Presidential Unit Citation by President Truman. It is worn by the GLOSTERS alone of the British infantry to this day.
Since Korea, The GLOSTERS have served on operations in Kenya, Bahrain, Aden and Cyprus, first against EOKA, then peacekeeping and finally as part of UNF1CYP. They have also served eight times in Northern Ireland where, during a recent tour, they gained a total of 32 awards and commendations, a record for one battalion during a tour of the Province. They have also served in a variety of garrisons around the world including BAOR. By 1947 5 GLOSTERS had become the only Territorial Army battalion in the Regiment but, in 1968 as part of a reorganization of the TA, it also disappeared. It has since become A, B(City of Bristol) and C Companies, 1st Battalion The Wessex Regiment (Rifle Volunteers). (Now 6 Rifles)
Members of the Regiment have won eight Victoria Crosses, one George Cross, 141 Battle Honours and a formidable and international reputation, best summarised in the words of Major General Kendrew when the GLOSTERS left Cyprus in 1958:
There is nothing more that any general would want than the GLOSTERS be in his particular command
At the time of the Tercentenary the 1st Battalion was stationed in Catterick, North Yorkshire. On 27th April 1994 they underwent yet another change when it amalgamated with The Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment to become The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment. The new Regiment continued to wear the Back Badge and the United States Presidential Citation. More importantly it continued to have serving in its ranks young men from Gloucestershire, Avon and The City of Bristol. They will ensure that the traditions of courage, steadfastness, good humour and family traditions, that have become the hallmark of the Regiment during the last three centuries, will continue into the future.
On the 1st February 2007 a further amalgamation took place when the Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment became part of the newly formed Rifles with 5 Regular battalions, three reserve battalions, plus a number of companies in other Army Reserve battalions.
The above is taken from the Tercentenary Lunch programme held 19th March 1994. Credit to the Editor