|5th (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot|
Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
Cap badge of the Northumberland Fusiliers.
|Country|| Dutch Republic (1674-1689)|
Great Britain (1707-1800)
United Kingdom (1801-1968)
|Size||First World War: 52 battalions|
Second World War: 10 battalions
|Garrison/HQ||Fenham Barracks, Newcastle upon Tyne|
|Nickname(s)||The Fighting 5th, 5th of Foot|
|Motto(s)||Quo Fata Vocant (Whither the Fates call)|
|Colors||Gosling green facings|
|Anniversaries||St Georges Day 23 April|
|Robert Leith-Macgregor (1st Battalion, 1960-62)|
|Hackle||Red over White|
The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers was an infantry regiment of the British Army. Raised in 1674 as one of three 'English' units in the Dutch Anglo-Scots Brigade, it accompanied William III to England in the November 1688 Glorious Revolution and became part of the English establishment in 1689.
In 1751, it became the 5th Regiment of Foot, with the regional title 'Northumberland' added in 1782; in 1836, it was designated a Fusilier unit and became the 5th (Northumberland Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot.
After the 1881 Childers Reforms, it adopted the title Northumberland Fusiliers, then Royal Northumberland Fusiliers on 3 June 1935. In 1968, it was amalgamated with the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers and Lancashire Fusiliers to form the present Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Although briefly designated as 'Irish' when raised in January 1675, the regiment was listed as one of three 'English' units in the Dutch Anglo-Scots Brigade, a mercenary formation whose origins went back to 1586. During the 1672-1678 Franco-Dutch War, it took part in the unsuccessful Siege of Maastricht and the battles of Cassel and Saint-Denis. It accompanied William III to England in the November 1688 Glorious Revolution, before transferring onto the English establishment in 1689.
Like most regiments, until 1751, when it was designated the 5th Regiment of Foot, it was named after the current colonel. Founded by Daniel O'Brien, 3rd Viscount Clare, it began life as Viscount Clare's Regiment, then Sir John Fenwick's, followed by Patrick Westley in 1676. When transferred onto the English establishment, it was commanded by Thomas Tollemache who was replaced in May 1689 by Edward Lloyd.
Posted to Ireland for the 1689-1691 Williamite War, it fought at the Battle of the Boyne, the Second Siege of Athlone and the 1691 Siege of Limerick. Following the October 1691 Treaty of Limerick, it was sent to Flanders for the duration on the Nine Years War. Lloyd died in 1694 and replaced as Colonel by Thomas Fairfax; during the 1695 Siege of Namur, it formed part of Vaudémont's screening force. When the war ended with the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick, it avoided disbandment by being made part of the Irish garrison.
The regiment remained in Ireland for the first part of the War of the Spanish Succession, before being sent to Portugal in 1707 as part of the army under the Earl of Galway. Its first serious action was the May 1709 Battle of La Gudina; a disastrous defeat, where the Allies lost over 4,000 prisoners, the regiment took part in a rearguard action that enabled the rest of the army to withdraw.
This ended offensive operations and when the war ended in 1713, the regiment was posted to Gibraltar, where it spent the next 15 years. It was part of the garrison during the 1727 Anglo-Spanish War, when the Spanish besieged Gibraltar for over four months.
On 1 July 1751, a royal warrant provided that in future regiments would not be known by their colonels' names, but by their "number or rank" and it became the 5th Regiment of Foot.
During the Seven Years' War, it was engaged in the 1758 Raid on Cherbourg, the 1760 Battle of Warburg and Kirch Denkern in 1761, where they captured an entire French regiment. It also took part in the 1762 Battle of Wilhelmsthal, before returning to Ireland after the 1763 Treaty of Paris. Due to the increasing tensions that later resulted in the American Revolutionary War, the regiment was shipped to Boston, Massachusetts in May 1774. Elements of the unit were involved in the Battle of Lexington and Concord in April 1775 and the Battle of Bunker Hill in June.
After being evacuated to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1776 the 5th took part in the expedition to New York, including the battles of Long Island and White Plains, and capture of Fort Washington and Fort Lee, New Jersey. They subsequently joined Howe's 1777 campaign against Philadelphia; at Brandywine Creek, they broke the Continental Army's centre and captured five cannon. Despite this success, in 1778 the British army was forced to retreat and the regiment was involved in fighting at Monmouth Court House.
In November 1778, they left New York for last time and were transported to the French West Indies, where on 13 December 1778, they landed on Saint Lucia. The 5th was engaged with a small force of French and captured a four-cannon battery. On 18 December 1778, a force of 9,000 French troops landed on St. Lucia. The small British force of 1,400 men occupied a hill located on the neck of a peninsula. The French were fairly raw soldiers trained to fight in the classic European style of linear battles. The French advanced on the British force several times. The British, veterans of colonial fighting, inflicted a stinging defeat on the French. The French lost 400 killed and 1100 wounded to the British losses of ten killed and 130 wounded, which included two officers from the 5th Foot.
After two years in the West Indies, the 5th Foot was sent to Ireland in December 1780. They were still in Ireland when hostilities between Great Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the former Colonies officially ended in 1783.
On 1 August 1782, all those regiments of the line that did not have a special title were given a county designation. The primary purpose was to improve recruiting, but no links were actually formed with the counties after which the regiments were named. The 5th became the "5th (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot": the county being chosen as a compliment to the colonel, Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland.
The regiment embarked for Portugal in July 1808 for service in the Peninsular War. The regiment fought in the Battle of Roliça and the Battle of Vimeiro in August 1808, the Battle of Corunna in January 1809 and the Battle of Bussaco in September 1810. It earned the nicknames the "Old and Bold", "The Fighting Fifth" and also "Lord Wellington's Bodyguard". It formed part of a small force which beat off an overwhelming body of the enemy at El Boden in 1811, a performance which Wellington notified to the Army as a memorable example of what can be done by steadiness, discipline, and confidence. The regiment was in the 3rd Division, 2nd Brigade under command of Major General Charles Colville, consisting of the 1st/5th Regiment of Foot, 2nd/83rd Regiment of Foot, 2nd/87th Regiment of Foot and the 94th Regiment of Foot.
The regiment went on to fight at the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812, the Battle of Badajoz in April 1812 and the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812 as well as the Battle of Vitoria in June 1813. It then pursued the French Army into France and saw action at the Battle of Nivelle in November 1813, the Battle of Orthez in February 1814 and the Battle of Toulouse in April 1814.
The 1st Battalion served on the Canadian frontier in 1814, during the War of 1812. It then returned to Europe but arrived too late to take part in the battle of Waterloo, though it did serve in the army of occupation in France.
On 4 May 1836, the 5th became a fusilier regiment and was redesignated as the 5th (Northumberland Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot:
The King has been pleased to command, that the 5th, or Northumberland, Regiment of Foot shall in future be equipped as a Fusilier Regiment, and be styled the 5th Regiment of Foot, or Northumberland Fusiliers.
The regiment was not fundamentally affected by the Cardwell Reforms of the 1870s, which gave it a depot at Fenham Barracks in Newcastle upon Tyne from 1873, or by the Childers reforms of 1881 - as it already possessed two battalions, there was no need for it to amalgamate with another regiment. At the same time the existing militia and rifle volunteer units of the district became battalions of the regiment. Accordingly, on 1 July 1881 the Northumberland Fusiliers was formed as the county regiment of Northumberland, (including the Counties of the towns of Newcastle upon Tyne and Berwick-upon-Tweed) with the following battalions:
The 1st Battalion formed part of the 9th Brigade together with the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment, 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry, and part of the 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. While the 2nd Battalion sailed as corps troops, and was then brigaded with the 1st Royal Scots, and 1st Sherwood Foresters, under General Sir William Gatacre. The battalions fought in the following battles: Battle of Belmont, Battle of Graspan, Battle of Modder River, Battle of Magersfontein, Battle of Stormberg, Battle of Reddersberg, Battle of Sanna's Post and the Battle of Nooitgedacht.
With the continuation of the war in South Africa, a number of regiments containing large centres of population formed additional regular battalions. The Northumberland Fusiliers formed 3rd and 4th regular Battalions in February 1900, when the militia battalion was relabeled as the 5th battalion. The 3rd was stationed in South Africa, and in 1902 some of the men were in Antigua to guard the Boer prisoners of war placed there. The 4th formed part of the garrison in Ireland. Both were disbanded in 1907.
In 1908 a reorganisation of reserve forces was carried out under the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907. The militia were transferred to a new "Special Reserve" while the Volunteer Force was reorganised to become the Territorial Force. The "Volunteer Battalion" designation was discarded, and territorial battalions were numbered on after those of the regular army and special reserve. The new organisation was thus:
During the First World War, the Northumberland Fusiliers expanded to 52 battalions and 29 of them served overseas.[a] It was the second largest infantry regiment of the British Army during the war, surpassed only by the 88 battalions of the London Regiment.
The increase in strength was done partly by forming duplicates of existing T.F. battalions, and partly by the creation of new "Service" battalions. An example of the first instance was the 4th Battalion which was renumbered as the 1/4th in August 1914 on forming a duplicate 2/4th Battalion. A 3/4th Battalion followed in June 1915.
Among the Service Battalions were the Tyneside Scottish (20th - 23rd Battalions) and the Tyneside Irish (24th - 27th Battalions), while the 17th (Service) Battalion was formed by staff of the North Eastern Railway, and was involved in railway construction.
They earned 67 battle honours and won five Victoria Crosses, but at the cost of over 16,000 dead. The battalions mostly saw action on the Western Front, but also in Macedonia, Gallipoli, Egypt and Italy.
On the occasion of His Majesty's Birthday and in commemoration of the completion of the twenty-fifth year of his reign, the King has been graciously pleased... to approve that the following regiments shall in future enjoy the distinction "Royal" and shall henceforth be designated:--
In 1936, the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers was one of four line infantry regiments selected for conversion to specialised Divisional (Machine Gun) or Divisional (Support) Battalions. The other regiments selected were the Cheshire Regiment, the Manchester Regiment and the Middlesex Regiment.
The regiment expanded to ten battalions during the Second World War. Although most of them served as divisional machine gun[b] or support[c] battalions, some of them formed motorcycle, searchlight, tank, reconnaissance, ordinary infantry and even deception units. They saw action with the BEF in North-West Europe in 1940 and the 21st Army Group in 1944-45, North Africa 1940-43, Italy 1943-45, the fall of Singapore and the defence of the United Kingdom.
The 5th Regiment of Foot was one of the 'Six Old Corps' entitled to use their 'ancient badge' (St George killing the Dragon) on Regimental Colours, drums and other devices rather than the typical GR cipher as used by normal Regiments of the Line, a distinction first officially recorded in 1747.
In the centre of their colours was an image of St. George killing the dragon, this being their ancient badge, and in the three corners of their second colour, the rose and crown.
The regiment wore a distinctively-coloured hackle or plume on the fusilier cap and later on the beret. The hackle was red over white, and was authorised in June 1829. This replaced the white feather plume the regiment had adopted following the Battle of St Lucia in 1778, supposedly taken from the headgear of fallen French troops. The 5th Foot was the only line regiment, since the introduction of the shako in 1800, to wear the white plume (other regiments having white over red) although the right to wear it was only officially granted in 1824. In 1829 a new model of shako was introduced and all infantry regiments were to wear a white plume, with the 5th Foot given a unique plume of red over white. This became a red over white 'ball tuft' in 1835 and later became a hackle in the same colours.
The following members of the regiment were recipients of the Victoria Cross.
On 23 April 1968, following the publication of the following notice in the London Gazette:
By virtue of the provisions of the Royal Warrant dated 5th April, 1968 (published in Army Order 18 of 1968) all officers of the Land Forces belonging to The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (5th), The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers (6th), The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) (7th), and The Lancashire Fusiliers (20th) are transferred to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers with effect from 23rd April, 1968.
The regiment was amalgamated into the new Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
|Honour||Date of action or campaign||Date of grant|
Second Boer War
The regiment received two battle honours for the conflict: "Modder River" and "South Africa, 1899-1902".
Those shown in bold print were selected to be borne on the king's colours.
Second World War
They were awarded twenty-nine battle honours:
Those shown in bold print were selected to be borne on the king's colours.
In August 1958, the Regiment was awarded the following battle honours:
Those shown in bold print were selected to be borne on the regimental colours.
Colonels have included:
English regiment of the Dutch Anglo-Scots Brigade
Dr. John Watson, the friend and biographer of Sherlock Holmes in a number of stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is stated to have served with the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers in Afghanistan at the beginning of A Study in Scarlet. This aspect of the character's biography was also referenced in the BBC's contemporary adaptation Sherlock, in the episodes "A Study in Pink ", "A Scandal in Belgravia", "The Hounds of Baskerville" and "The Sign of Three".