P.D. GRIFFIN
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS

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Warrant officers and serjeants of the LI are authorised by custom to two items of dress that commemorate battles in which sergeants had to take on the responsibilities of their officers. The red sash of rank is worn over the left shoulder, which is opposite to the regulation side for sergeants and warrant officers of the British Army. This distinction of the Somerset Light Infantry was adopted by sergeants of the 13th Regiment who had stood in for officers felled in battle and who wore their sashes like officers at that time, from the left shoulder with the knot on the right hip. The Inkerman chain, which is worn suspended from the sash, was inherited from the Durham Light Infantry. It attaches to a whistle used by light infantry officers and sergeants in the nineteenth century to marshal their companies about the battlefield. At the Battle of Inkerman in 1854 officers and sergeants of the 68th manoeuvred their men out of danger of a strong Russian flanking movement. Inkerman Day (5 November) was observed in the regiment up to the 1968 amalgamation.

The hand of the Light Infantry, 1989

The hand of the Light Infantry, 1989

Officers wear the whistle chain from a black leather cross-belt today, while other ranks wear a black leather waist belt, both accessories of rifle regiments now used throughout the Light Division.

Buglers are issued with light infantry No. 1 dress (green tunic with bright buttons and blue trousers with a green stripe) and a rifles busby that conforms to the type worn in the Royal Green Jackets, another concession to uniformity in the Light Division. Drummers of the Devon and Dorset Regiment wear traditional infantry scarlet but with white marine helmets to mark the regiment's close links to the sea and its history of marine duty: the 39th at Cape Passaro in 1718, the 54th at Gibraltar in 1756-65 and the 11th at Cape St Vincent in 1797.

The Shropshire and Herefordshire Battalion (TA) wear a Croix de Guerre cockade in No. 1 dress to honour the ribbon awarded to the 4th Battalion KSLI in recognition of their gallantry at La Montague de Bligny on 6 June 1918. A Croix de Guerre ribbon granted to the Devonshire Regiment by the French government for bravery in battle at Bois des Buttes in 1918 is worn as a sleeve badge in the D&D, a custom begun in 1939. The blue rectangle worn by Gloucesters at the top of the sleeve represents a US Presidential Citation made to the regiment for its outstanding courage at the Battle of Imjin River in 1951.

LI officers and seijeants wear a lanyard of rifle green in barrack and service dress. Grass- green lanyards of the D&D reflect the facing colour of the regiment reauthorised to the Dorsets in 1904 and to the Devons in the following year. The colour had inspired nicknames like 'The Green Linnets' for the 39th and Popinjays' for the 54th in the eighteenth century. Stable belts are of corresponding greens, those of the D&D enlivened with a central stripe of tawny orange.

Light Infantry at the double with rifles at the trail

Light Infantry at the double with rifles at the trail, c. 1980

MUSIC

The regimental quick march, Light Infantry, is a modern composition but the double past, The Keel Row, comes from an old Tyneside love song used by the Durham Light Infantry. Double marching is a fast- paced progression peculiar to light infantry and rifle regiments that simulates their historic role in running across the battlefield ahead of the main army.

Marches played on suitable occasions are Prince Albert and Palace Guard (SLI), One and All and Prelawney (DCLI), Minden March and With a Jockey to the Fair (KOYLI), Old Towler and Daughter of the Regiment (KSLI), and The Light Barque and The Old 68th (The Prince Regent) of the DLI.

The regimental quick march of the Devon and Dorsets is a composition of Widecombe Fair, We've Lived and Loved Together and The Maid of Glenconnel. The latter, a favourite of the wife of the founder of the 54th Regiment, was played in both quick and slow time for the Dorset Regiment. The D&D slow march brings together The Rose of Devon and The Maid of Glenconnel.

The RGBW chose Army of The Nile for its quick march and Scipio as its slow march. Army of The Nile, in previous form, was a secondary march of the Gloucesters that was played to honour their sphinx tradition.

In 1959, the new Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment adopted The Farmer's Boy as its quick march because it had associations with both the Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments. The DERR slow march, Auld Robin Grey, came from the Wiltshires and, before 1881, the 99th Regiment. The Wiltshires was based on the old county fable which told of the Moonrakers who fooled excise officers by pretending to be simple yokels and sang 'The Vly be on the turmat but there bain't no vlies on we'. The regimental march of the Royal Berkshires was The Dashing White Sergeant.

Gloucestershire Regiment marches are headed by The Kynegad Slashers (based on a Leinster jig and an old nickname of the 28th), The Silver-tailed Dandies (an old nickname of the 61st), The Royal Canadian (played from 1925 as a tribute to this allied regiment in the Canadian army) and Salamanca Day (written for the Corps of Drums).

TRADITIONS

The regimental day (22 July) is the anniversary of the Battle of Salamanca in 1812, Wellington's first large-scale battle and his masterpiece victory over the French in Spain. Four antecedents of the LI took part: the 51st (York, West Riding), the 68th (Durham), 32nd (Cornwall) and the 53rd (Shropshire), the last named both taking heavy casualties in the fighting. The Devonshire Regiment kept the day in memory of 'The Bloody Eleventh', who came up against a deadly resistance in the closing moments of the battle. In the Gloucestershire Regiment two privates replaced colour sergeants in the escort to the colour on Salamanca Day to honour Privates Crawford and Coulson of the 61st, who rescued their battalion colours in the battle.

The Wiltshire Regiment custom was to give its sergeants custody of the colours on Ferozeshah Day (21 December), the anniversary of a Sikh wars battle. In this case the 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment was cut up to the extent that its colours, carried into battle by ensigns, had to be brought out by sergeants.

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