Royal Guernsey Light Infantry
The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry was an infantry regiment of the British Army that was formed from the Royal Guernsey Militia in 1916 to serve in World War I. They fought as part of the British 29th Division. Of the 2,280 men, most of whom came from Guernsey, who fought on the Western Front with the RGLI, 327 were killed and 667 were wounded.
|Royal Guernsey Light Infantry|
Badge of the RGLI
|Size||1,300 soldiers (1918)|
|Part of||29th Division 1917–1918|
|Garrison/HQ||Fort George, Guernsey|
|Motto(s)||Diex Aïx (God Help Us)|
|Engagements||Battle of Passchendaele|
Battle of Cambrai 1917
Battle of the Lys 1918
|Battle honours||Awarded to the 1st Battalion |
Royal Guernsey Militia
France and Flanders 1917-18.
Many Guernsey men had already volunteered for regiments in the British Army before the RGLI was formed. The RGLI was created because there was no Guernsey-named regiment to underline the island's devotion to the Crown.
The regiment was disbanded in 1919 but the regimental tradition lives on in the Guernsey Army Cadet Force (Det.) Light Infantry, who, although they do not wear the RGLI cap badge, still keep alive the history of the Regiment within the detachment.
- Royal Guernsey Light Infantry established. (Royal Guernsey Militia suspended for the duration of the war)
- Most men from the Militia volunteered to join the RGLI, others including a few civilians, were conscripted.
- To England – Bourne Park Camp near Canterbury for advanced infantry training. Forming part of 202nd Brigade, 67th Division.
- 2nd (Reserve) Battalion formed to receive recruits and train them as replacements for casualties in the 1st Battalion RGLI.
- Soldiers sent on a final leave
- The RGLI 1st Service Battalion (44 Officers and 964 other ranks) boarded trains to Southampton and onwards to France.
- 2 Officers and 53 other ranks returned to Guernsey to join the 2nd Battalion, too young, too old or unfit for France.:15
- Battle of Poelcappelle (Part of Third Battle of Ypres, or ‘Passchendaele’). After this, rest and training for Cambrai.
- Training for planned Battle of Cambrai with Tanks.:15
20 November – 3 December
- Battle of Cambrai, where the RGLI's role was to go through the Hindenburg Line after the first wave and take 'Nine Wood' to the north of Marcoing. This went according to plan, with few casualties and they then moved into Marcoing and on to the front line at Masnières. The Guernseymen found themselves defending the small town of Les Rues Vertes against a huge and determined German counter-attacks on 30 November, pushed back they retook the village twice in heavy hand to hand fighting that lasted two days. They suffered heavy casualties, with nearly 40% of the regiment either killed, injured or missing during the battle, but only withdrew when ordered to by the high command.
- A number of the wounded found themselves returned to Guernsey, to be cared for at the Victoria Military Hospital in Amherst or the Convalescent Hospital at Les Touillets, Castel.
- After this, rest, refitting, training and a search for replacements. The shortage of men available from Guernsey resulted in the RGLI entering 1918 with 50% of the men being non-Guernsey born.:20
- RGLI went back into the front line at Sint-Jan (north east of Ypres). After this, work parties, training.
- In battle zone, taking turns in the front line at Poelcappelle.
- In front line, Passchendaele sector. When out of the line, employed in trenching and draining.
- Pulled out of the front line, the 503 officers and men were hurried by lorry to Vieux-Berquin in the Lys area where a German offensive had broken through.
- Battle of the Lys, east of Hazebrouck. German 6th Army under Von Quast smashes 5 miles through allied lines. The RGLI is bussed south to help stem the German advance. Hopelessly outnumbered, but holding the Germans in a fighting retreat from Le Doulieu to near Merris, the Battalion suffer an appalling 80% casualties rate. The RGLI is relieved by the Australian 1st Division. Field Marshall Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig wrote in his despatches, which was published in the London Gazette on 21 October 1918: "After very heavy fighting, in the course of which the 1st Battalion Royal Guernsey Light Infantry, 29th Division, Major-General D.E. Cayley C.M.G. commanding the division, did gallant service....."
- The fighting strength was now less than 110 officers and men.:24
- The RGLI, withdrawn from the 29th Division and 86th Brigade, become GHQ troops well to the rear in Ecuires where they became guard troops for General Haig's H.Q. at Montreuil, Pas-de-Calais for the rest of the war and beyond. The Army headquarters was an enormous administrative body, divided into five departments staffed with a wide variety of personnel. Haig lived at a small Chateau 'Beaurepaire', 2 miles (3.2 km) SE of the town on the D138.
- King George V, accompanied by Haig, made a triumphant passage through Montreuil on his way to Paris.
- Haig leaves Montreuil and the headquarters ceases to operate as such.
- Many of the remaining members of the RGLI sailed back to Guernsey on the "SS Lydia". They left behind 327 graves bearing their cap badge.:24
Honours and awards
Orders and medals
- T, Hutchesson, Captain (T/Major)
- F. de M. Laine, Lieutenant
- H. A. Le Bas, Lieutenat (T/Captain)
- E. J. Stone, 2nd Lieutenant
- H. E. K. Stranger, 2nd Lieutenant
- 1249 Pte E Le Moigne, RGLI survived the war, and returned on the SS Lydia in May 1919. He had been awarded a 29th Divisional Parchment for Gallant Conduct and Devotion to Duty.
- T. R. Robin, 841 Private
- C. H. Yeaghers, 610 Private
- J. Sealley, 843 Corporal
- W. Gannicott, 335 Corporal
- W. T. Gregg, 87 Private
- G, Ruaux, 458 Private
- T. L. de Havilland, Lieutenant Colonel
- E. A. Dorey, Lieutenant
- C.W. Hockey, 438 Lance Corporal
- H. Jones, Lieutenant
- C. C. Machon, 226 Lance Corporal
- W. T. Robinson, 1131 Lance Corporal
In General Orders, 1928, "Honours awarded to Militia Corps for services previous to the Great War shall pass to the reconstituted Militia Regiment and shall be emblazoned on all Regimental Standards, Guidons or Colours"
- Ypres 1917 (for militia men serving with Royal Irish regiments)
- Cambrai 1917
- France and Flanders 1917-1918.
The Colours of the RGLI are hung in the Town Church, Guernsey
- (From Blicq, A Stanley, Norman Ten Hundred, Guernsey Press, 1920)
The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Charitable Trust was formed in 2016 to commemorate the regiment. Its joint patrons are Lt Governor Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder and the Bailiff of Guernsey, Sir Richard Collas. The Trust intends to place memorials at Les Rues Vertes, France and St Peter Port, Guernsey on the centenary of key RGLI events in 2017.[needs update]
- L'Art de vérifier les dates des faits historiques, des chartes, des chroniques et autres anciens monumens depuis la naissance de Notre-Seigneur, par le moyen d'une table chronologique ... Alexandre Jombert Jeune. 1784. p. 830.
- "Guernsey's Army Cadet Force Has Been Re-Badged". Island FM. 4 June 2015.
- "The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry The 1914 – 18 war and the death of a regiment". museums.gov.gg.
- James, Brigadier E. A. British Regiments 1914-1918. Andrews UK Limited, 2012. ISBN 9781781501535.
- Parks, Edwin. Diex Aïx:God Help Us. ISBN 978-1871560855.
- "Masnières and Marcoing".
- Gliddon, Gerald. VCs of the First World War: Cambrai 1917. ISBN 9780752483771.
- Horsfall, Jack. Cambrai: The Right Hook. ISBN 9780850526325.
- "The Thrust towards Hazebrouck".
- "MONTREUIL-SUR-MER: BRITISH GHQ ON THE WESTERN FRONT". remembrancetrails.
- "Appointments to CGM". The Edinburgh Gazette (13453). 5 June 1919. p. 1827.
- "Appointments to RVO". The Edinburgh Gazette (13313). 30 August 1918. p. 3002.
- "Award of MC". Supplement to the London Gazette (30450). 1 January 1918. p. 39.
- "Award of MC". Supplement to the London Gazette (31092). 1 January 1919. p. 27.
- "Award of MC". Supplement to the London Gazette (30801). 18 July 1918. p. 8465.
- "Award of MC". Supplement to the London Gazette (30780). 5 July 1918. p. 7925.
- "Award of DCM". Supplement to the London Gazette (30664). 1 May 1918. p. 5293.
- "Award of DCM". The Edinburgh Gazette (13340). 23 October 1918. p. 4020.
- "Award of DCM". Supplement to the London Gazette (30664). 1 May 1918. p. 5302.
- "Award of MM". Supplement to the London Gazette (30606). 2 April 1918. p. 5302.
- "Award of MM". Supplement to the London Gazette (30606). 2 April 1918. p. 4022.
- "Award of MM". Supplement to the London Gazette (30606). 2 April 1918. p. 4021.
- "Award of MM". Supplement to the London Gazette (30873). 29 August 1918. p. 10121.
- "Award of MM". Supplement to the London Gazette (30873). 29 August 1918. p. 10122.
- "Award of MM". Supplement to the London Gazette (31227). 13 March 1919. p. 3443.
- "Award of Médaille militaire". Supplement to the Edinburgh Gazette (13306). 19 August 1918. p. 2904.
- "Mentioned". Supplement to the London Gazette (31439). 4 July 1919. p. 8589.
- "Mentioned". Supplement to the London Gazette (30704). 25 May 1918. p. 6178.
- "Mentioned". Supplement to the London Gazette (31088). 30 December 1918. p. 15216.
- HMSO. Battle Honours Awarded for the Great War. Andrews UK Limited, 2012. ISBN 9781781501870.
- "CONDITIONS OF AWARD OF BATTLE HONOURS FOR THE GREAT WAR 1914-1919".
- Battle Honours Awarded for the Great War. HMSO. ISBN 9781781501870.
- Roman name for Guernsey
- "Guernsey Light Infantry". www.governmenthouse.gg. Guernsey Government House.
- "Special film is made for RGLI". guernseypress.com. Guernsey Press. 2017-03-05.
- Blicq, A Stanley, Norman Ten Hundred, Guernsey Press, 1920
- Parks, Major Edwin, Diex Aix: God Help Us – The Guernseymen who marched away 1914–1918, States of Guernsey, 1992