The British infantry regiments of 1914-1918

This section of the Long, Long Trail will be helpful for anyone wishing to find out about the history of the battalions of the British infantry.

The “Poor Bloody Infantry” had the deadliest role of all and also shouldered the burden of much carrying and labouring work. The history and affiliations of every battalion of every British infantry regiment can be found on these pages. All you need to do is find the regiment and click the link.

The basis of the detail shown in the pages linked below is the excellent work in Brigadier E. A. James “British regiments 1914-1918” (Samson Books, 1978) but with many corrections and additions by Chris Baker. These are mainly derived from battalion war diaries and published regimental histories.

Troops of the 7th Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry Regiment, returning from the trenches; near Toutencourt, 18th May 1917. Imperial War Museum image Q2160
Troops of the 7th Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry Regiment, returning from the trenches; near Toutencourt, 18th May 1917. Imperial War Museum image Q2160

The Guards Regiments

Considered by many to be the elite of the infantry of the regular army, the Guards had no battalions of the Territorial Force and raised none for Lord Kitchener’s New Armies. In common with all other infantry regiments regiments they eventually took in both “duration only” volunteers and conscripts but the Guards took care to maintain their pre-war standards of efficiency and were amongst the infantry most feared by the enemy.

Regiments by alphabetRegiments by army precedence
Coldstream GuardsGrenadier Guards
Grenadier GuardsColdstream Guards
Irish GuardsScots Guards
Scots GuardsIrish Guards
Welsh GuardsWelsh Guards
The Guards also raised a Machine Gun Regiment

The Line Regiments

The majority of the infantry was made up of regiments with county or other regional affiliations. Most had two battalions of the regular army in 1914: one was usually overseas and the other trained recruits in the United Kingdom. Most regiments, except those in Ireland, also had two or more battalions of the Territorial Force. All raised battalions for Lord Kitchener’s New Armies and some also raised miscellaneous training and labouring units during the war.

Regiments by alphabetRegiments by army precedence
Argyll & Sutherland HighlandersRoyal Scots
BedfordshireQueen’s (Royal West Surrey)
Black WatchBuffs (East Kent)
BorderKing’s Own (Royal Lancaster)
Buffs (East Kent)Northumberland Fusiliers
Cameron HighlandersRoyal Warwickshire
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
CheshireKing’s (Liverpool)
Connaught RangersNorfolk
DevonshireLincolnshire
DorsetshireDevonshire
Duke of Cornwalls Light InfantrySuffolk
Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding)Somerset Light Infantry
Durham Light InfantryWest Yorkshire
East LancashireEast Yorkshire
East SurreyBedfordshire
East YorkshireLeicestershire
EssexRoyal Irish Regiment
GloucestershireYorkshire
Gordon HighlandersLancashire Fusiliers
HampshireRoyal Scots Fusiliers
Highland Light InfantryCheshire
King’s (Liverpool)Royal Welsh Fusiliers
King’s Own (Royal Lancaster)South Wales Borderers
King’s Own Scottish BorderersKing’s Own Scottish Borderers
King’s Own Yorkshire Light InfantryCameronians (Scottish Rifles)
King’s Shropshire Light InfantryRoyal Inniskilling Fusiliers
King’s Royal Rifle CorpsGloucestershire
Lancashire FusiliersWorcestershire
LeicestershireEast Lancashire
Leinster (Royal Canadians)East Surrey
LincolnshireDuke of Cornwalls Light Infantry
Loyal North LancashireDuke of Wellington’s (West Riding)
ManchesterBorder
MiddlesexRoyal Sussex
NorfolkHampshire
NorthamptonshireSouth Staffordshire
North StaffordshireDorsetshire
Northumberland FusiliersSouth Lancashire
Ox & Bucks Light InfantryWelsh
Queen’s (Royal West Surrey)Black Watch
Rifle BrigadeOx & Bucks Light Infantry
Royal BerkshireEssex
Royal Dublin FusiliersSherwood Foresters
Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)Loyal North Lancashire
Royal Inniskilling FusiliersNorthamptonshire
Royal Irish FusiliersRoyal Berkshire
Royal Irish RegimentRoyal West Kent
Royal Irish RiflesKing’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Royal Munster FusiliersKing’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Royal ScotsMiddlesex
Royal Scots FusiliersKing’s Royal Rifle Corps
Royal SussexWiltshire
Royal WarwickshireManchester
Royal Welsh FusiliersNorth Staffordshire
Royal West KentYork & Lancaster
Seaforth HighlandersDurham Light Infantry
Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derbys)Highland Light Infantry
Somerset Light InfantrySeaforth Highlanders
South LancashireGordon Highlanders
South StaffordshireCameron Highlanders
South Wales BorderersRoyal Irish Rifles
SuffolkRoyal Irish Fusiliers
WelshConnaught Rangers
West YorkshireArgyll & Sutherland Highlanders
WiltshireLeinster (Royal Canadians)
WorcestershireRoyal Munster Fusiliers
York & LancasterRoyal Dublin Fusiliers
YorkshireRifle Brigade

The Territorial-only Regiments

Some infantry regiments were exclusively composed of part-time volunteer soldiers of the Territorial Force and had no Regular or New Army battalions.

Regiments by alphabetRegiments by army precedence
CambridgeshireHonourable Artillery Company
HerefordshireMonmouthshire
HertfordshireCambridgeshire
Highland Cyclist BattalionLondon Regiment
Honourable Artillery CompanyHertfordshire
Huntingdonshire Cyclist BattalionHerefordshire
Kent Cyclist BattalionNorthern Cyclist Battalion
London RegimentHighland Cyclist Battalion
MonmouthshireKent Cyclist Battalion
Northern Cyclist BattalionHuntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion

Miscellaneous Regiments

Some infantry regiments just do not not fit into any of the classifications above.

The Household Battalion
Channel Islands Militia – Royal Militia of Jersey and Royal Guernsey Light Infantry
The British West Indies Regiment
Royal Newfoundland Regiment

Books

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Please note that the information shown on the Long, Long Trail includes many amendments and additions to that given in Brig. E. A. James’ book linked above.