Duke Of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
The two battalions forming this regiment both had West Country
county titles before the amalgamation of 1881, previous to which date they
had been simply “linked.” The
1st battalion (the 32nd) was styled the “Cornwall Light
Infantry” (receiving its county title in 1782, and the Light Infantry
designation in1858), the 2nd, the 46th (the South
Devonshire), was raised in 1702 as Colonel George Villiers’ Regiment of
Marines. The 32nd
was commanded in turn by Fox and Borr, and served afloat until 1713, when
it was disbanded, but speedily reappeared as a regular Line regiment on
the Irish establishment. During
its marine service it had served in the Cadiz expedition, and at Vigo Bay;
in the defence of Gibralter in 1704, and in Spain afterwards under
Peterborough and Galway.
It is reported to have fought at Dettingen and Fontenoy, returning
to England to take part in the suppression of the Jacobite Rebellion of
1748’ but it soon returned to the Continent, to be under fire again at
Val and other battles of the campaign.
From 1796 to 1798 it was at St. Domingo, where the loss in the
first year to the regiment was 32 officers and nearly 1,000 men.
Its next war services were at Copenhagen in 1807, and Cadiz; then
in the Peninsula at Roleia and Vimiera,and later on at Corruna;
transferred to Walcheren, the 32nd suffered loss like other
regiments, but returning to the Peninsula, did good service at Badajoz, at
Salamanca and the Arapeles, at Burgos, Pampeluna, the Pyrenees, Nivelle,
the Nive, and Orthes. Nine of
these names and “Peninsula” form the first on the regimental roll of
fame; with “Dominica,” which came from the 46th.
Returning home at the peace, the regiment formed part of Picton’s
Division in the campaign of 1815, and was present at Quatre Bras, Waterloo
(when Kempt fell), and the occupation of Paris.
No further active service was undergone until between 1830-41,
against the insurgents in Canada, when Lieutenant Weir was treacherously
murdered; but in 1846 and 32nd embarked for India, and shared
in the glories and dangers of Mooltan, Sorajkhoond, and Goojerat.
But the most glorious record of the 1st battalion of the
Duke of Cornwell’s Light Infantry is that of the Mutiny.
Armed but with the “Brown Bess,” it held the Residency at
Lucknow until relieved by Havelock, while a detachment of seventy men at
Cawnpore, under Captain Moore, died the death of brave men, when
treacherously betrayed into Nana Sahib’s hands.
Under Maxwell it fought at Calpee, Lucknow and Cawnpore (again),
and in Oude and the Trans-Gorgra operations. Victoria Crosses were won at
this time by Lieutenant S. H.
Lawrence, Captain H. G. Browne, Coporal W. Oxenham, and Private W.
Dowling. The 2nd
battalion of the regiment existed from 1756 to 1763 (when it became the 71st),
another was formed about 1796 and disbanded about 1802 and another existed
from 1804 to 1814. The
present 2nd battalion (the 46th) arose thus:-With
the increase to the Army and the Navy in 1741, appear regiments numbered
from the 54th to the 60th.
One of these, the 57th, was present at the battle of
Gladsmuir, near Prestonpans, and Falkirk; and on the general reduction of
the army in 1748, when one Line and ten marine regiments were disbanded,
it became the 46th, and wore yellow facings.
In 1757 it sailed for America, and suffered severely in the
abortive attempt on Fort Ticonderoga, the siege of Fort Niagara, and the
attack on Fort Leir during the conquest of Canada.
Thence it sailed to form part of the expedition against Martinique,
Grenada, St. Lucia, and Havannah. Returning
to Great Britain, after a short stay it left again for America, where it
landed in 1776, and took part in the battles of Long Island, White Plains,
Fort Washington, Pecks Hill, Brandywine, Germanstown, and Monmouth Court
After a night attack made by the Light company (then forming with
other such units a “light battalion”), shortly after Brandywine, in
which some three hundred Americans were bayoneted, the enemy declared it
would give no quarter to their assailants, whereupon the survivors of the
attacking party dyed their feathers red to prevent others suffering in
their stead. The right for the Light company of the 46th to
wear the red feather was confirmed in 1833, and, on the abolition of
“light companies,” the whole battalion wore a red ball on the shako.
In 1778 the 46th embarked for St. Lucia; there it again
distinguished itself, and was permitted in consequence to wear a white
plume instead of the red and white tuft usually worn; but the light
company still wore the white feather.
It took part in suppressing the Carib Insurrection of 1795, which,
insignificant as it was, led to thirteen engagements and a loss of
four-fifths of the regimental strength.
Its next active service was at Dominica in 1805.
There, attacked by a much more stronger body of French from Roseau,
the 46th defended the town with the greatest bravery until
obliged to abandon it and march across the island to Fort Prince Rupert.
For this gallant conduct against great odds the 46th was
authorised to wear “Dominica” on the colours.
Detachments also served in a small naval engagement in 1806, and
two years later took part in the capture of Martinique and Guadaloupe.
The regiment was in New South Wales and India from 1813 to 1832,
seeing much trying service against bushrangers, etc., on the one station,
and Mahratta insurgents on the other.
Present in the Crimean War, “Sevastopol” was added to the list
of honours; and finally the regiment took an active part in the Egyptian
campaign of 1882, where it fought at the two battles of Kassasin and
Tel-el-Kebir. And shared in the Nile campaign of 1884-85.
When the regiments were numbered in 1751, the 32nd wore
white facings and green linings to the coats.
The 46th wore yellow facings in 1881; now both wear
white. The buttons bear the bugle and Duke of Cornwall’s coronet;
the collar the county badge, also coroneted, with the motto, “One and
All.” The helmet-plate has
across the bugle-strap two red feathers (from the 46th), with
below the turreted arch (in commemoration of the defence of Lucknow, in
which the 32nd took so distinguished a part).
The Sphinx and “Egypt” appeared formerly on the appointments of
the 46th. The
“United Red and White Rose” is the territorial badge.
The Militia battalion is the Royal Cornwall Rangers (1760), which
was the first to volunteer for service in Ireland, when the men seem to
have worn red, with blue facings. In
1875 they were titled the “The Duke of Cornwall’s Own,” and were
equipped as rifles, in green with black facings; in 1881 they ceased to be
rifles. The Volunteer
battalions are the 1st Cornwall, Falmouth (grey and scarlet),
the 2nd Cornwall, Bodmin (scarlet and white).
The 32nd seem to have had no pet name; but the 46th
have been called “Murray’s Bucks,” after their colonel; the “Surprisers,”
after the attack on Wayne’s brigade in 1777, when the red tuft was won;
and the “Lacedemonians,” from their then colonel having once, when
under fire, made a lengthy speech about the discipline of those people.
The depot is at Bodmin.