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King's Royal Rifle Corps

The King's Royal Rifle Corps was a British Army formation, originally raised in colonial America as the Royal Americans, and recruited from American colonists.


The King's Royal Rifle Corps was raised in the American colonies in 1756 as the 62nd (Royal American) Regiment to defend the thirteen colonies against infiltration by the French and their native American allies. After Braddock's defeat in 1755, in March 1756 a special Act of Parliament created 4 battalions of 1,000 men to include foreigners for service in the Americas. Swiss and German forest fighting experts, American colonists and British volunteers from other British regiments were recruited. The battalions were raised on Governors Island, New York. The regiment was renumbered the 60th (Royal American) Regiment in 1757 when the 50th (Shirley's) and 51st (Pepperrell's) foot regiments were removed from the British Army roll after their surrender at Fort Oswego.

Among the distinguished foreign officers given commissions in the 60th (Royal Americans) was Henri Bouquet, a Swiss citizen, whose ideas on tactics, training and man-management (including the unofficial introduction of the rifle and 'battle-dress`) were only to become universal in the British Army after another 150 years. With his counterparts, Bouquet, the commanding officer of the 1st battalion, set about creating a unit that was uniquely suited to warfare in the forests and lakes that were the North American theatre of battle between Great Britain and France. The Royal Americans represent a deliberate attempt to produce a different and more able soldier who was encouraged to use his initiative, whilst retaining the discipline that was noticeably lacking in the irregular units of colonial Rangers that were being raised at the same time.

The new regiment fought at Louisbourg in 1758 and Quebec in 1759 in the campaign which finally wrested Canada from France; at Quebec it won from General James Wolfe the motto `Celer et Audax` (Swift and Bold). These were conventional battles on the European model, but the challenge of Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763 was of a very different character and threatened the British control of North America. The new regiment at first lost several outlying garrisons but finally proved its mastery of forest warfare under Bouquet's leadership at the decisive victory of Bushy Run.

They were uniformed and equipped in a similar manner to other British regiments with red coats and Grenadier hats , but on campaign swords were replaced with hatchets, and coats and hats would be cut down for ease of movement on the North American frontier.

Napoleonic Wars

During the Napoleonic Wars the unit played a part in the Peninsular War. The first four regular battalions had been raised as regular line battalions, but a 5th battalion was raised and equipped entirely with the Baker rifles, and wore green jackets with red facings. The mixing of rifle troops and muskets proved popular enough that eventually the line battalion's light companies, were replaced with rifle companies. The line battalions found themselves in different theatres, including the West Indies. The rifle battalion was soon supplemented with a second, and found themselves in the Peninsula with Wellington's army, serving along with the 95th Rifles, and the King's German Legion rifle units. A 7th battalion was eventually raised as a rifle battalion specifically for service in the American War of 1812.

The unit's name was not changed until after the Napoleonic Wars; first to The Duke of York's Own Rifle Corps and then in 1830 to the King's Royal Rifle Corps. In 1858 the Rifle Depot at Winchester was made their headquarters. During the rest of the 1800s the unit was active in China, Canada (Wolseley Expedition), Afghanistan, India, Burma and South Africa.

World War I

In World War I the unit was expanded to twenty-two battalions and saw much action on the Western Front. Over 12,000 soldiers of the regiment were killed while eight members won the Victoria Cross and over 2,000 further decorations were awarded. After 1918 the unit returned to garrison duties in India, Palestine and Ireland. In 1926 the regiment was reorganized as one of the first mechanized infantry regiments.

World War II

In World War II after initial deployment to France as part of the BEF, the regiment lost two battalions at the Defence of Calais (2nd Bn KRRC and 1st Bn the Queen Victoria's Rifles(TA)) where a Green Jacket Brigade held up the German advance to enable the evacuation of the allied armies at Dunkirk. Redeployed to northern Africa the unit began to see success, continuing with actions in Italy, Austria, Germany and in the Battle of Greece and Crete (where its 9th Battalion, The Rangers (TA), served with 1st Armoured Brigade Group). Post war the unit was deployed in Germany.

Royal Green Jackets

On 7 November 1958 the Regiment was re-titled as the 2nd Green Jackets, The King's Royal Rifle Corps, and the two other regiments of the Green Jackets Brigade - which had existed since 1948 - also had their titles changed. In 1966 the three regiments of the brigade were amalgamated to form the three battalion Royal Green Jackets Regiment. This regiment was again amalgamated in 2007 to form the five regular and two territorial battalion regiment The Rifles.

Territorial Battalions

In WW2 these territorial battalions were made formally part of the KRRC as follows:

  • 1st Btn Queen Victoria's Rifles - 7th Btn KRRC
  • 2nd Btn Queen Victoria's Rifles - 8th Btn KRRC
  • 1st Btn The Rangers - 9th Btn KRRC
  • 2nd Btn The Rangers - 10th Btn KRRC
  • 1st Btn The Queen's Westminsters - 11th Btn KRRC
  • 2nd Btn The Queen's Westminsters - 12th Btn KRRC


See also

  • Rifle Brigade - sister regiment sharing much common history and traditions


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