you are currently viewing: Discussion Forum


The Rorke's Drift VC Discussion Forum
(View Discussion Rules)


PLEASE NOTE: This forum is now inactive and is provided for reference purposes only. The live forum is available at

(Back To Topic List)

DateOriginal Topic
17th March 2002King's Royal Rifle Corps (60th Regt.)
By Dan Rudary
Hi Everyone,

Latley, I have been studying the history of British rifle units. The King's Royal Rifle Corps, which served in Zululand in 1879, was formerly the 60th Regiment of Foot. The histroy of this unit puzzles me. I know when it was raised, and I also know that it became an all British unit in 1824. What I don't know is: What made up the 60th between 1755-1823. Was it an all-foreign unit, or some foreign troops and some British troops? And where did they get the title "Royal American"? If anyone can tell me more about the makeup and history of this regiment, I would be very grateful. Thanks!

17th March 2002Martin Everett
Dear Dan,
I suggest you go to Look up the Green Jackets Museum in Winchester. This site also has a biography section which will tell you what books you can read.
18th March 2002John Young

'The Royal Americans' were formed in American in 1755 when numbered as The 62nd (Royal American) Regiment of Foot. In 1757 the Regiment was re-numbered as The 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot.

The principal reason for rasing the unit was to campaign in French/Indian Wars; its Battle Honours reflect its duties 1757-60 - 'Canada'; 1758 'Ticonderoga' 'Louisberg'; 1759 'Quebec'.

Originally the unit fought in scarlet, with blue facings from 1755-1814, when it changed to its Rifle green uniform with scarlet facings.
Which the Regiment's 5th Battalion had been wearing since 1797.

It would appear the make-up of the Regiment would have been British, and Britons born in the American Colonies, as well as a substantial German element. The 5th Battalion Commanding officer was a Bavarian.

The title 'Royal Americans' should not be confused with that of 'The 1st American Regiment', which started life in 1755 in New Hampshire as a company of scouts raised and commanded by a certain Captain Robert Rogers. That unit expanded to eleven companies and they were termed 'Rogers's Corps of Rangers'. The deeds of that unit in 1759 at St. Francis were made famous in the book 'Northwest Passage', and the subsequent film of the same name.

Their light infantry and skirmishing tactics, as well as their long-range patrols and sabotage would make them the fore-runner not only of the Rifle regiments, but other modern elite forces.

In 1779 the title of the unit changed after the events of the War of Independence to the 'The Queen's Rangers, the 1st American Regiment'.

Hope this is of some help.

John Young,
Anglo-Zulu War Research Society.
18th March 2002John Young

Sorry the first line should read in America, rather than 'American'.

4th April 2002Richard Doherty
After Braddock's disaster, this regiment was raised at New York and Philadelphia, under an order dated 24 December 1755, by the commander of the forces in British North America, the Earl of Loudoun. It was both a colonial corps and a Foreign Legion intended to fight in the eastern area of British North America. A special act of parliament (29 Geo II, c.5) had to be passed to authorise the commissioning of foreigners in it, to serve only in America. Its first title was the 62nd, or Royal American Regiment of Foot but in February 1757 it was renamed the 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot, which title it retained until 1824. There were four battalions, each with a grenadier company but, initially, there seems to have been only one light company in the entire regiment; this was organised in 1759. As noted the four battalions played a prominent part in the campaigns of 1756 - 1763, especially the 2nd and 3rd Battalions. However, while the battle honours Louisburg and Quebec were awarded to the regiment, it did not receive battle honours for Canada or Ticonderoga. Presumably by Canada, the honour North America 1763-1764 - awarded to the regiment in 1914 - is meant. There is no battle honour Ticonderoga. At Quebec the regiment also earned its motto Celer et Audax - Swift and Bold.
In 1797 a further act of parliament (38 Geo III, c.13) authorised the raising of a 5th Battalion to serve in America only, and to consist of foreigners. This became the first green-coated rifle battalion in the Army, although the green was bottle-green and not rifle-green (anyone familiar with the uniform of the RUC will recognise bottle-green; before 1974 the RUC wore rifle-green, which appeared black in most light conditions), with scarlet facings, blue pantaloons, black leather helmets and black belts. The battalion was organised under command of Baron de Rottenburg of Hompesch's Corps and included 17 officers and 300 men from Hompesch's Chasseurs. After service in Ireland in 1798 the battalion went to the West Indies and there received a draft of 33 officers and 600 men from Loewenstein's Chasseurs. In 1804 an act was passed authorising foreign troops to serve in England and the 5th Battalion came to England and thence to the Peninsula.
In 1799 two further battalions, 6th and 7th, were raised under authority of yet another act (39 Geo III, c. 104). The soldiers were Germans and the battalions wore green jackets. They were part rifles and part light infantry.
After 1815 all but the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were disbanded and in 1818 the green, with scarlet facings, of the disbanded rifle battalion was adopted as the regimental uniform.
The title Royal American Regiment was discontinued in 1824, foreigners were drafted out and a new title was created: the 60th (Duke of York's Rifle Corps and Light Infantry) with one battalion equipped as rifles and the other as light infantry.
There was a subsequent change of title to 60th (Duke of York's Own Rifle Corps) which was changed to 60th (King's Royal Rifle Corps) in 1830.
Even during the Second World War the regiment was still referring to itself as the 60th Rifles.
At some stage the bottle green was changed to the much darker rifle green. Perhaps someone could supply the exact date.

5th April 2002John Young

My apologies, rather than the expression 'Battle Honours' I should have used the expression 'Principal Campaigns, Battles &c.' as used in John Farmer's 'The Regimental Records of the British Army', published 1901. Which I was used as my reference in the above reply.

John Young,
Anglo-Zulu War Research Society.