Welch Fusiliers

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The Welch Fusiliers shown in regimental military prints. The history of the Welch Fusiliers during the Battle of Alma, Crimean War and military uniforms.

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers  Few regiments have a longer or more glorious history than the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, formed as it was in 1689, and sharing in most of our campaigns with such gallantry and distinction as to have the following battle-roll: “Blenheim,” “Ramillies,” “Oudenarde,” “Malplaquet,” “Dettingen,” “Minden,” “Corunna,” “Martinique,” “Albuhera,” “Badajoz,” “Salamanca,” “Vittoria,” “Pyrenees,” “Nivelle,” “Orthes,” “Toulouse,” “Peninsula,” “Waterloo,” “Alma,” “Inkerman,” “Sevastopol,” “Lucknow,” and “Ashantee.”           This was one of the twelve regiments raised for the campaign in Ireland against James 2nd., and as “Herbert’s Regiment” first got under fire at the Boyne and return to England until 1691, and three years later it sailed for Flanders, under the command of Colonel Ingoldsby.  It saw hard fighting at Fort Knocque and Namur, where it lost heavily, and returned to Ireland in1697, to return to the Netherlands in the army led by Marlbourough four years later.  It was present at Venloo, Liege, and Schellenberg, where 16 officers and 228 men were killed and wounded; at Blenheim, where it shared in the final attack on the village (when twenty-four battalions and twelve squadrons of the enemy surrendered), Helixem, Neer Hepson, Ramillies, Ostend, Aeth, and Oudenarde; at the siege of Lille, where the loss between the 14th of August and the 22nd of October, 1708, amounted to 15 officers and 364 men killed and wounded; at Tournay, Malplaquet, and the sieges of Mons, Douay, and Bouchain, besides being present, more or less, as a covering force at numerous other affairs, returning to England after the Treaty of Utrecht, when it received the title of the “Prince of Wales’ Own Royal Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers.”  The 23rd returned to England to put down both of the Jacobite risings in 1715and 1745; in the former case arriving at Preston, where Derwentwater surrendered, and in the latter remaining on the South coast till after the defeat of the Young Pretender at Culloden.  Meanwhile, from 1742 to 1745, it had served in Flanders, sharing in the battle of Dettingen, where its then colonel was mortally wounded, and at Fontenoy, where the loss in killed, wounded, and missing was 22 officers and 300 men; while, after a short visit to England in 1745, it re-appeared at the seat of war in 1747, and was engaged at the battle of Val.   About this time the men were dressed like the rest of the army, with red coats and royal-blue facings, heavy buff cross-belts and white gaiters.  One of the colours bore in the centre the Prince of Wales plume, and the other the badge of the Black Prince (the rising sun), the red dragon, and the three feathers in the coronet.  The grenadier caps also bore the plume, crowned with “Ich Dien,” and below in white horse of Hanover, with “Nec aspera terrent.”   In 1756 the regiment assisted at the stubborn defence of Minorca, when Admiral Byng’s effort to force the French fleet to raise the siege failed, and the garrison had to surrender; but the Duc de Richelieu, in consideration of the bravery shown, granted the garrison “all the honours of war, to wit with firelocks on their shoulders, drums beating, with colours flying, twenty cartridges for each man, also lighted matches.”  After some minor operations on the French coast in 1758 it shared in the victory of Minden, which was mainly due to the bravery of the foot regiments, and took part in the battles of Warburg, Campen, Kirch-Denkern, and Groebenstein.       The regiment witnessed the first outbreak of hostilities in America in 1775, at Concord, and in the retreat on Boston shared in the Battle of Bunker’s or Breed’s Hill, where the Fusiliers first experienced the deadlines of the fire of the colonial sharp-shooters, and after which they had scarcely enough men left to “saddle the goat.”  Since the war began the regiment has been weakened by more than half its strength, and the grenadier company, going into action with forty-nine strong, left forty-four on the field.  The affairs of White Plains, Fort Washington, Ridgfield, Brandywine, Germanstown, and Monmouth Court House followed in succession’ and during the hostilities the Royal Welsh did duty on board the fleet as marines, and were complimented by Admiral Lord Howe.    Finally, after sharing in all the minor operations, as well as at Charlestown, Canada, Cowpens, Guildford Court House (where, as in most of the actions in the war, the bayonet was found more efficacious than the bullet), the regiment surrendered at York Town with the garrison; but the colours were saved by Captain Peters and another officer, who wrapped them round their bodies.  Whether this was strictly right may be questioned.   In 1794 it assisted at the taking of Port au Prince, but suffered severely from the climate. In 1799 it was in Holland, at the battles of Zype Dyke and Egmontop-Zee; in 1800 at Ferrol and Vigo, and the next year landed at Aboulir Bay to take part in the fight there, and at Alexandria.  For this the Fusiliers earned the badge of “Egypt,” with the sphinx, and each officer received a gold medal from the Sultan.           Increased to two battalions in 1804, the 1st served at Copenhagen, and then went to Canada, to be employed at Martinique later on, after which the grenadier company, out of their prize-money, reared a monument at Halifax to their comrades who had fallen.  The 2nd (which was disbanded in 1814) was at Corunna, where it was the last battalion to quit the shore; and in 1810 the 1st battalion went to the Peninsula to gain honourable mention for continuous service intil 1814, and adding Albuhera, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, Toulouse, and Peninsula to its already long list of honours.    It is impossible to do other than name the actions in which it gloriously shared.  The 23rd was at Waterloo in reserve, and at Cambray; and in 1842 it was formed into two battalions, named the “1st” and “Reserve” respectively.  It equally distinguished itself in the Crimea, at the Alma-where Anstruther planted the colours on the great redoubt, and died holding them-at Inkerman, and at Sevastopol.  It shared in the hard fighting at Lucknow and Cawnpore, on the Goomtee, in Oude, and in the Trans-Gogra operations in1857-59.   Lastly the 2nd battalion formed part of the Ashantee expedition, taking part in the actions at Amoaful, Ordahsu, and Coomassie; and the 1st added the last title to the roll-“Burma,1885-87”-for its share in that campaign.      One event in its history may be recorded here to emphasise the value attached to the colours regiment.  When H.R.H. Prince Albert presented them in 1849, he said, “Receive these colours; one emphatically called the Queen’s-let it be a pledge of your loyalty to your sovereign, and of obedience to the laws of your country.  The other, more especially the regimental one, let that be a pledge of your determination to maintain the honour of you regiment.  In looking at the one you will think of your sovereign; in looking at the other you will think of those who have fought, bled, and conquered before you.”    The authorised regimental pet of the “Royal Welsh” is a goat.  How it became at first a custom, and later “a privileged honour,” for the regiment to march past with a goat “having gilded horns, and adorned with ringlets of flowers,” is somewhat obscure, but it dates back to the early days of the regimental history.  On St. David’s Day, when the health of the Prince of Wales is first drunk after dinner, the goat is marched thrice round the mess-table with the drums, led by the drum major, to the tune of “The Noble Race Of Shenkin,” while the national emblem, the leek, is being distributed.  Usually the animal behaves with sufficient decorum; but on one occasion, in 1776, at Boston, he literally “bucked” his rider, a small drummer-boy, into the middle of the mess-table, and escaped to barracks.  One account has it that the boy was killed, and that from that date the mounting the goat was abandoned.  The same goat accompanied the regiment into action at Bunker’s Hill.    Until quite recently the goat has, since 1844, been presented by Her Majesty when a vacancy occurred, from a flock given her by the Shah of Persia.  In these cases “Billy” wore a silver shield surmounted by the Prince of Wales’ plume and motto, on which is “The gift of H.M. Queen Victoria to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.  In the regiment’s recent march through Wales only last year (1892) the tired goat was taken on a wagon, but unfortunately lost its balance, and was killed.      The only peculiarity in the uniform of the regiment is that of both officers and non-commissioned officers wearing the “flash,” a bow of black silk ribbon, with long ends, fastened to the back of the collar of the tunic.  It is a relic of the days of pigtails and powder, and in 1786 it is stated that “the officers of this regiment wear the hair turned up behind,” when the locks were tied into a queue with ribbon, a form of dressing the hair which was supposed to be the “Grenadier fashion” of so arranging it.  It is also a regimental custom to wear the leek on St. David’s Day.  The prince of Wales’ plume, with the regimental title, is worn both on the button and waist-plate, the grenade on the tunic collar, fusiliers cap, and forage-cap, the latter with the red dragon.     The Militia battalions are the Royal Denbigh and Merioneth, which wore a red dragon on the Glengarry; and the Royal Carnarvon, which had a bugle on the collar and Glengarry.  The other badges are the “Rising Sun,” the white horse with “Nec aspera terrent,” and the sphinx with “Egypt,” and with the Prince of Wales’ plume the motto “Ich Dien.”           The volunteer battalions are the late 1st Denbigh (Wrexham) and the 1st Flintshire and Carnarvonshire (Rhyl); both wear the national scarlet with the rpyal blue facings. The nicknames are “Nanny Goats” and the Royal Goats”, both referring to the regimental pet. The depot  was at Wrexham


Charge of the 2nd Carabiniers against the Square of the 23rd (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) at the Battle of Waterloo by Brian Palmer.


Charge of the 2nd Carabiniers against the Square of the 23rd (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) at the Battle of Waterloo by Brian Palmer.

Item Code : DHM1130Charge of the 2nd Carabiniers against the Square of the 23rd (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) at the Battle of Waterloo by Brian Palmer. - Editions Available
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Sergeant Luke OConner Winning the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Alma by L.W. Desanges.
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Royal Welch Fusiliers Band by Richard Simkin.
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Royal Welch Fusiliers Band by Richard Simkin.


Royal Welch Fusiliers Band by Richard Simkin.

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Sergeant Luke OConner Winning the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Alma by L.W. Desanges.


Sergeant Luke OConner Winning the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Alma by L.W. Desanges.

Although shot in the breast, bravely carries forward one of the colours at the Battle of Alma, 20th September 1854.
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The Royal Welsh Fusiliers by Harry Payne.


The Royal Welsh Fusiliers by Harry Payne.

Item Code : UN0040The Royal Welsh Fusiliers by Harry Payne. - Editions Available
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The Welch Fusiliers by Richard Simkin


The Welch Fusiliers by Richard Simkin

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Original chromolithograph published c.1888.
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Battalion Infantry, 6th or Warwickshire Regiment, 23rd or Royal Welsh Fusiliers


Battalion Infantry, 6th or Warwickshire Regiment, 23rd or Royal Welsh Fusiliers

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Coloured lithograph vignettes by J C Stadler after Charles Hamilton Smith from Charles Hamilton Smiths Costumes of the Army of the British Empire, according to the last regulations 1812, published by Colnaghi & Co. 1812-1815.
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Officer, 23rd Foot 1790 by P H Smitherman


Officer, 23rd Foot 1790 by P H Smitherman

Contemporary pictures and existing items of clothing have provided the basis for this image, which shows further development of the fusiliers uniform. fusilier caps were to be like the grenadier caps only smaller. The plate with the royal arms in front of the cap has gone, and has been replaced by a badge, and there is an arrangement of gold cords at the back, invisible in the picture, ending in two large tassels. The collar of the coat has now been turned up again and has begun to assume the form which it has since retained. The elaboration of the gold lace on the cuffs and lapels is in sharp contrast with the simplicity noted in the previous image. Being a fusilier, and armed on service with a fusil, he wears a shoulder belt with a pouch as well as a sword belt. Black gaiters have replaced white spatterdashes, except in the Foot guards. The white ones were first replaced by brown - a more suitable colour, obviously, for service - but they were not considered very smart, and s.........


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Item Code : PHS0020Officer, 23rd Foot 1790 by P H Smitherman - Editions Available
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The 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers by Frank Feller (P)


The 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers by Frank Feller (P)

Item Code : UN0487The 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers by Frank Feller (P) - Editions Available
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Corporal J. Davies And Eight Men Routing With The Bayonet A Party Of Germans Who Had Previously Surrounded Them.


Corporal J. Davies And Eight Men Routing With The Bayonet A Party Of Germans Who Had Previously Surrounded Them.

Prior to an attack on the enemy in a wood Corporal Joseph Davies, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, became separated with eight men from his company. When the enemy delivered their second counter attack his party was completely surrounded, but he got them into a shell hole, and, by throwing bombs and opening rapid fire, succeeded in routing them. Not content with this, he followed them up in their retreat and bayoneted several of them. For this act of most conspicuous gallantry he was awarded the V.C.
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PRINT First World War antique black and white book plate published c.1916-18 of glorious acts of heroism during the Great War. This plate may also have text on the reverse side which does not affect the framed side. Title and text describing the event beneath image as shown.
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Private Lavin Grappling With A Turkish Bomber In A British Sap At Suvla Bay, Gallipoli.


Private Lavin Grappling With A Turkish Bomber In A British Sap At Suvla Bay, Gallipoli.

While on patrol duty in front of the British lines at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli on the night of November 9th 1915. Private James Lavin of the 15th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers saw a Turkish bomber creep into a British sap. Lavin at once crawled from the tree behind which he was taking cover to the sap. As he entered he heard the Turk loading his rifle, and while advancing, Lavin accidentally kicked over an empty tin. The Turk instantly turned and fired point blank at him, but fortunately missed the mark. Throwing down his rifle, Lavin grappled with his enemy, and having wrenched the rifle out of his hands, he drove the Turks at the point of the bayonet towards the British lines. His cool and courageous conduct was rewarded with the D.C.M.
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Regimental Records of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Vol I by Cary and McCance.


Regimental Records of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Vol I by Cary and McCance.

Item Code : NMP8509Regimental Records of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Vol I by Cary and McCance. - Editions Available
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Regimental Records of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Vol II by Cary and McCance.


Regimental Records of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Vol II by Cary and McCance.

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Regimental Records of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Vol III by Cary and McCance.


Regimental Records of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Vol III by Cary and McCance.

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Regimental Records of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Vol IV by Cary and McCance.


Regimental Records of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Vol IV by Cary and McCance.

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Few regiments have a longer or more glorious history than the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, formed as it was in 1689, and sharing in most of our campaigns with such gallantry and distinction as to have the following battle-roll: "Blenheim", "Ramillies", "Oudenarde", "Malplaquet", " Dettingen", "Minden", "Corunna", "Martinique", " Albuhera", "Badajoz", "Salamanca", "Vittoria", "Pyrenees", "Nivelle", " Orthes", "Toulouse", "Peninsula", "Waterloo", "Alma", "Inkerman", "Sevastopol", "Lucknow", and "Ashantee".

This was one of the twelve regiments raised for the campaign in Ireland against James II, and as "Herbert's Regiment" first got under at the Boyne and Aughrim, where its colonel was taken prisoner and foully murdered.  It did not return to England until 1691, and three years later it sailed for Flanders, under the command of Colonel Ingoldsby.  It saw hard fighting at Fort Knocque and Namur, where it lost heavily, and returned to Ireland in 1697, to return to the Netherlands in the army led by Marlborough four years later.  It was present at Venloo, Liege, and Schellenberg, where 16 officers and 228 men were killed and wounded; at Blenheim, where it shared in the final attack on the village (when twenty four battalions  and twelve squadrons of the enemy surrendered), Helixem, Neer Hespen, Ramillies, Ostend, Aeth, and Oudenarde; at the siege of Lille, where the loss between the 14th August and 22nd October, 1708, amounted to 15 officers and 363 men killed and wounded; at Tournay, Malplaquet, and the sieges of Mons, Douay, and Bouchain, besides being present, more or less, as a covering force at numerous other affairs, returning to England after the Treaty of Utrecht, when it received the title of the "Prince of Wales' Own Royal Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers".

The 23rd returned to England to put down both of the Jacobite risings in 1715 and 1745; in the former case arriving at Preston, where Derwentwater surrendered, and in the latter remaining on the South Coast till after the defeat of the Young Pretender at Culloden.  Meanwhile, from 1742 to 1745, it had served in Flanders , sharing in the battle of Dettingen, where its then colonel was mortally wounded, and at Fontenoy, where the loss in killed, wounded and missing was 22 officers and 300 men; while, after a short visit to England in 1745, it re-appeared at the seat of war in 1747, and was engaged at the battle of Val.

About this time the men were dressed like the rest of the army, with red coats and royal-blue facings, heavy buff cross-belts and white gaiters.  One of the colours bore in the centre the Prince of Wales' plume, and the other the badge of the Black Prince (the rising sun), the red dragon, and the three feathers in the coronet.  The grenadier caps also bore the plume, crowned with "Ich Dien", and below it the white horse of Hanover, with "Nec aspera terrent".

In 1756 the regiment assisted at the stubborn defence of Minorea, when Admiral Byng's effort to force the French fleet to raise the siege failed, and the garrison had to surrender; but the Duc de Richelieu, in consideration of the bravery shown, granted to the garrison "all the honours of war, to wit with firelocks on their shoulders, drums beating, with colours flying, twenty cartridges for each man, also lighted matches."  After some minor operations on the French coast in 1758 it shared in the victory of Minden, which was mainly due to the bravery of the foot regiments, and took part in the battles of Warburg, Campen, Kirch-Denkern, and Groebenstein.

The regiment witnessed the first outbreak of hostilities in America in 1775, at Concord, and in the retreat on Boston shared in the Battle of Bunker's or Breed's Hill, where the Fusiliers first experienced the deadliness of the fire of the colonial sharp-shooters, and after which they had scarcely enough men left to "saddle the goat".  Since the war began the regiment had been weakened by more than half its strength, and the grenadier company, going into action with forty-nine strong, left forty-four on the field.  The affairs of White Plains, Fort Washington, Ridgfield, Brandywine, Germanstown, and Monmouth Court House followed in succession; and during the hostilities the Royal Welsh did duty on board the fleet as marines, and were complimented by Admiral Lord Howe.

Finally, after sharing in all the minor operations, as well as at Charlestown, Canada, Cowpens, Guildford Court House (where, as in most of the actions in the war, the bayonet was found more efficacious than the bullet), the regiment surrendered at York Town with the garrison; but the colours were saved by Captain Peters and another officer, who wrapped them round their bodies.  Whether this was strictly right may be questioned.  In 1794 it assisted at the taking of Port an Prince, but suffered severely from the climate.  In 1799 it was in Holland, at the battles of Zype Dyke and Egmont-op-Zee; in 1800 at Ferrol and Vigo, and the next year landed at Aboukir Bay to take part in the fight there, and at Alexandria.  For this the Fusiliers earned the badge of "Egypt" with the Sphinx, and each officer received a gold medal from the Sultan.  

Increased to two battalions in 1804, the 1st served at Copenhagen, and then went to Canada, to be employed at Martinique later on, after which the grenadier company, out of their prize money, reared a monument at Halifax to their comrades who had fallen.  The 2nd (which was disbanded in 1814) was at Corunna, where it was the last battalion to quit the shore; and in 1810 the 1st battalion went to the Peninsula, to gain honourable mention for continuous service until 1814, and adding Albuhera, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, Toulouse, and Peninsula to its already long list of honours.

It is impossible to do other than name the actions in which it gloriously shared.  The 23rd was at Waterloo in reserve, and at Cambray; and in 1842 it was formed into two battalions, named the "1st" and "Reserve" respectively.  It equally distinguished itself in the Crimea, at the Alma - where Anstruther planted the colours on the great redoubt, and died holding them - at Inkerman, and at Sevastopol.  It shared in the hard fighting at Lucknow and Cawnpore, on the Goomtee, in Oude, and in the Trans-Gogra operations in 1857-59.

Lastly, the 2nd battalion formed part of the Ashantee expedition, taking part in the actions at Amoaful, Ordahsu, and Coomassie; and the 1st added the last title to the roll - "Burma, 1885 -87" - for its share in that campaign.

One event in its history may be recorded here to emphasise the value attached to the colours of a regiment.  When H.R.H. Prince Albert presented them in 1849, he said, "Receive these colours; one emphatically called the Queen's - let it be a pledge of your loyalty to your sovereign, and of obedience to the laws of your country.  The other, more especially the regimental one, let that be a pledge of your determination to maintain the honour of your regiment.  In looking at the one you will think of your sovereign; in looking at the other you will think of those who have fought, bled, and conquered before you". 

The authorised regimental pet of the "Royal Welsh" is a goat.  How it became at first a custom, and later, " a privileged honour", for the regiment to march past with a goat "having gilded horns, and adorned with ringlets of flowers", is somewhat obscure, but it dates back to the early days of the regimental history.  On St David's Day, when the health of the Prince of Wales is first drunk after dinner, the goat is marched thrice round the mess-table with the drums, led by the drum-major, to the tune of "The Noble Race of Shenkin", while the national emblem, the leek, is being distributed.  Usually the animal behaves with sufficient decorum; but on one occasion, in 1776, at Boston, he literally "bucked" his rider, a small drummer-boy, into the middle of the mess-table, and escaped to barracks.  One account has it that the boy was killed, and that from that date the mounting the goat was abandoned.  The same goat accompanied the regiment into action at Bunker's Hill.

Until quite recently the goat has, since 1844, been presented by Her Majesty when a vacancy occured, from a flock given her by the Shah of Persia.  In these cases "Billy" wore a silver shield surmounted by the Prince of Wales' plume and motto, on which is "The gift of H.M. Queen Victoria to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.  A.D. . . . . Duw. A. Cadwo. Y. Frenhines."  In the regiment's recent march through Wales in 1892 the tired goat was taken on a wagon, but unfortunately lost its balance, and was killed. 

The only peculiarity in the uniform of the regiment is that of both officers and non-commissioned officers wearing the "flash", a bow of black silk ribbon, with long ends, fastened to the back of the collar of the tunic.  It is a relic of the days of pigtails and powder, and in 1786 it is stated that "the officers of this regiment wear the hair turned up behind", when the locks were turned into a queue with ribbon, a form of dressing the hair which was supposed to be the "Grenadier fashion" of so arranging it.  It is also a regimental custom to wear the leek on St David's Day.  The Prince of Wales' plume, with the regimental title, is worn both on the button and waist-plate, the grenade on the tunic collar, fusilier cap, and forage-cap, the latter with a red dragon.

The Militia battalions are the Royal Denbigh and Merioneth, which wore a red dragon on the Glengarry; and the Royal Carnarvon, which had a bugle on the colllar and Glengarry.  The other badges are the "Rising Sun", the white horse with "Nec aspera terrent", and the Sphinx with "Egypt", and with the Prince of Wales' plume the motto "Ich Dien",  The Volunteer battalions are the late 1st Denbigh (Wrexham) and the 1st Flintshire and Carnarvonshire (Rhyl); both wear the national scarlet with royal blue facings.  The nicknames are the "Nanny Goats" and the "Royal Goats", both referring to the regimental pet.  The depot is at Wrexham.

 

 

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