The Lancashire Fusiliers was a British infantry regiment that was amalgamated with other Fusilier regiments in 1968 to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Some of the Regiments most famous soldiers are Edward Cornwallis, James Wolfe, John Parr, Robert Ross and J. R. R. Tolkien.
=== Peyton’s Regiment of Foot (1688-1751) ===
The regiment was formed in 1688 in Devon under Sir Richard Peyton as Peyton’s Regiment of Foot. (The regiment’s name changed according to the name of the colonel commanding until 1751.) The regiment served in the Glorious Revolution under King William III and at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 and Aughrim in 1691. During the War of Spanish Succession (1701–1714), it aided in the capture of Spanish galleons at Battle of Vigo Bay in 1702. The regiment distinguished itself at the Battle of Dettingen in June 1743, and at Fontenoy in May 1745, and served in the Battle of Culloden in April 1746.
=== 20th Regiment of Foot (1751-1782) ===
In 1751, the regiment became the 20th Regiment of Foot, often written in Roman numerals ‘XX Foot’, (hence the nickname The Two Tens). During the Seven Years’ War the regiment earned honour at the Battle of Minden on 1 August 1759, when, as an infantry formation, they stood up to and broke a French cavalry charge. During the American Revolution the regiment was sent to Quebec in April 1776 and assisted in the relief of Quebec in May 1776. Serving under General John Burgoyne for the remainder of the Canadian campaign, they later surrendered along with General Burgoyne at Saratoga.
=== East Devonshire Regiment (1782-1881) ===
The 20th Regiment of Foot was designated the East Devonshire Regiment in 1782. The 2nd Bn was raised in 1858. During the Napoleonic Wars the 20th Foot fought in several early campaigns before serving with distinction in the Peninsular War, their performance was particularly noted at the Battle of Vittoria where they formed part of the “backbone” of the Duke of Wellington’s forces. During the Crimean War, in 1854, they took part in the two major battles of Alma and Inkerman.
===Lancashire Fusiliers (1881-1968)===
The regiment became the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1881. Under the 1881 Childers Reforms each county regiment had two Militia battalions attached to it: these were found by the 7th Royal Lancashire Militia, raised in 1855 and recruited from Bury, Manchester and Salford. This formed the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers. In addition, Rifle Volunteer Corps were attached to their local regiments. In 1883 the 8th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (raised at Bury on 22 August 1859) became the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, and the 12th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (originally the 24th, raised at Rochdale in February 1860) became the 2nd VB. In 1886 the 56th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (raised at Salford on 5 March 1860) was transferred from the Manchester Regiment to become the 3rd VB.
In common with other regiments recruited from populous urban areas, the Lancashire Fusiliers raised two further regular battalions, the 3rd in 1898, and the 4th in 1900. This necessitated adjustments to the numbers of the Militia battalions. However, the 3rd and 4th Regular battalions were disbanded in 1906.
In 1885 the regiment fought in the Siege of Khartoum in the first Anglo-Sudanese campaign.
During the Second Boer War, in 1899, the 2nd Battalion saw action at the Battle of Spion Kop and also the Fusiliers took part in the Relief of Ladysmith.
Under the Haldane Reforms of 1908, the Militia were redesignated Special Reserve, with the dual wartime role of Home Defence and providing drafts for the Regular Battalions. The Lancashire Fusiliers’ militia became 3rd (Reserve) Bn and 4th (Extra Reserve) Bn, both based at Bury. The volunteers now became the Territorial Force (TF), with battalions numbered in sequence after the militia. Thus the 1st VB at Bury became 5th Bn, 2nd VB at Rochdale became the 6th Bn, and the 3rd VB formed the 7th and 8th Bns both based in Salford. These four battalions formed the Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade in the East Lancashire Division of the TF on the eve of World War I.
==World War I==
The Lancashire Fusiliers raised thirty battalions for World War I and was represented in every campaign of the war.
At the initial landings of the Gallipoli Campaign at Cape Helles on 25 April 1915, six Victoria Crosses were awarded to 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers – ‘the six VCs before breakfast’. The landing spot was later known as ‘Lancashire Landing’.
Shortly afterwards, the four Territorial battalions from the regiment in 125th (Lancashire Fusiliers) Brigade landed at Helles and took part in the Second Battle of Krithia (6–8 May) under command of the 29th Division. The brigade later rejoined the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division for the Third Battle of Krithia and Battle of Krithia Vineyard.
A subsequent landing further north at Suvla Bay took place on the night of 6/7 August. The Kitchener volunteers of 9th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, part of 34th Brigade of 11th (Northern) Division, waded ashore in deep water and darkness and were pinned down on the beach losing their CO and a number of officers.
A service of commemoration has been held in the regimental town, Bury, every Gallipoli Sunday, the nearest Sunday to 25 April, since 1916. It has recently been decided that this commemoration will continue despite the death of the last survivor of the Lancashire Fusiliers who was present at Gallipoli.
The regiment, like most British regiments in the war, sent the majority of its battalions to the Western Front. During the Battle of the Somme there were eleven battalions of the regiment that saw action in the campaign including three Pals battalions (The Salford Pals) and three Bantam battalions.The famous fantasy author J. R. R. Tolkien served in this regiment from 1915 until contracting “trench fever” during the Battle of the Somme in October 1916.
==World War II==
The Lancashire Fusiliers raised seventeen battalions for service in the Second World War.
After recovering its numbers from the First World War the battalion spent the interwar years based in various garrisons around the British Empire. In 1939 the battalion was based in India. During the Burma Campaign the 1st Battalion fought with various units until 1943 when it became a Chindit formation with the 77th Indian Brigade under Brig. Orde Wingate. The battalion was involved in both major Chindit operations suffering many casualties before the war ended.
In 1941 this Territorial Army (TA) Battalion was converted to armour as 108th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps (Lancashire Fusiliers). Units converted in this way continued to wear their infantry cap badge on the black beret of the RAC.
In 1941 this TA Battalion was converted to armour as 109th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps.
This TA battalion began the war in 125th Brigade, but while in France with the British Expeditionary Force it exchanged into the Regular 2nd Infantry Division. During Battle of France, the 1/8th Lancashire Fusiliers, along with battalions of the Royal Norfolks and the Royal Scots, were overrun on 26–27 May 1940 around the village of Locon, 2 kilometres north of Bethune by advancing German troops. Several massacres of Allied prisoners took place shortly thereafter, primarily by the German SS Totenkopf Division. Later the battalion served in the Burma Campaign.
This Second-Line TA Battalion was part of the 197th Brigade, once again the Second-Line duplicate of 125th (Lancashire Fusilier) Brigade. It served in 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division (also known as the Pit-head Division) which was formed in 1939. They first saw action in early July 1944 at Malon on North West outskirts of Caen as part of Operation Charnwood. They also took part in Operation Pomegranate and the battles on the Orne River. Of all the Companies in this Battalion B Company stood out for the most Officers killed (in just two months B Company lost three Commanding Officers, and ALL Officers on a company attack just outside of Vendes). However, by the 26th of August 1944, the 59th division was disbanded in order to provide replacements for other Regiments, and the Companies of the Battalion were dispatched to different Divisions in France.
This Second-Line TA Battalion was part of 197th Brigade in 59th (Staffordshire) Division until 1942.
This Second-Line TA Battalion began the war in 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division and later transferred to 55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division. It did not eave the UK.
In 1936 this TA battalion was converted into 39th (The Lancashire Fusiliers) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Engineers, based in Salford. In the summer of 1940, while serving in 53 Anti-Aircraft Brigade, covering the North Midlands, it was transferred to the Royal Artillery. In May 1943 it converted back to infantry as 7th Lancashire Fusiliers
This battalion was raised in 1940 and in 1941 was converted to armour as 143rd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps.
This battalion was raised in 1940 and served for a year in 208th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home). In 1942 it was shipped to India and fought in the Arakan Campaign 1942-1943 as part of 7th Indian Infantry Division.
This battalion was raised in 1940 and served in the garrison of Malta during the Siege. In August 1944 it transferred to 1st Division in Italy, where it took part in the fighting on the Gothic Line. Early in 1945 it was transferred to Palestine.