The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) was an infantry regiment of the British Army until 1968 when it was amalgamated with other regiments to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
It was known as the 7th Regiment of Foot until 1881. The Royal London Fusiliers Monument, a memorial dedicated to the Royal Fusiliers who died during World War I, stands on Holborn in the City of London.
It was formed as a fusilier regiment in 1685 by Lord Dartmouth, George Legge, from two companies of the Tower of London guard, and was originally called the Ordnance Regiment. Most regiments were equipped with matchlock muskets at the time, but the Ordnance Regiment were armed with flintlock fusils. This was because their task was to be an escort for the artillery, for which matchlocks would have carried the risk of igniting the open-topped barrels of gunpowder.
The regiment became the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers) in 1751, although a variety of spellings of the word “fusilier” persisted until the 1780s, when the modern spelling was formalised. In 1881, under the Childers Reforms when regimental numbers were abolished the regiment became The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment).
The Royal Fusiliers were sent to Canada in 1773. The regiment was broken up into detachments which served at Montreal, Quebec, Fort Chambly and Fort St Johns (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu). In the face of the American invasion of Canada in 1775/76, most of the regiment was forced to surrender. The 80 man garrison of Ft Chambly attempted to resist a 400 man Rebel force but ultimately had to surrender. This is where the regiment lost its first set of colors. Captain Owen’s company of the 7th, along with a handful of recruits assisted with the gallant defense of Quebec.
The men taken prisoner during the defense of Canada were exhanged to British held New York City in late 1776. Here the regiment was rebuilt and garrisoned New York and New Jersey. In October 1777, the 7th participated in the successful assaults on Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery. In December 1777, the regiment reinforced the garrison of Philadelphia. During the British evacuation back to New York City, the regiment participated in the June 1778 Battle of Monmouth. The following year, the 7th participated in Tryon’s raid.
Late in 1779, the Royal Fusiliers were brigaded with the 23rd Regiment of Foot for the capture of Charleston. Once Charleston fell, the regiment helped garrison the city. A detachment of 80 men was sent to Camden, SC where they supervised the building of fortifications there.
In January of 1781, four companies of the Royal Fusiliers were detached from General Cornwallis’s army. The men were initially intended to reinforce the British fort at Ninety Six but was eventually attached to a Light Infantry force under the command of Banastre Tarleton. Tarleton was defeated at the Battle of Cowpens on the 17th of January. The 7th lost 171 officers and men, along with their second set of regimental colors (which were stored in the army’s baggage wagons). Tarleton tried to blame his defeat partially on the 7th by claiming they were almost entirely recruits. However, the regiment’s rolls show that only 38 of the men killed or captured at the Cowpens were recruits. The rest of the regiment were seasoned veterans. In fact, according Larry Babits’ book, “A Devil of a Whipping”, the greatest casualties inflicted on Daniel Morgan’s army were suffered by the troops who opposed the 7th.
While the men on Tarleton’s command were marching towards defeat, another 18 men of the regiment remained with Cornwallis’s army. These men fought through North Carolina, participating in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and eventually ended up in Virginia where they joined with the Light Infantry company of the Royal Fusiliers. These unfortunate men eventually were forced to surrender with the rest of the British Army at Yorktown in October of 1781.
There was another detachment which remained in the South, under the command of Lt Col. Alured Clarke. These men remained in garrison in Charleston, until they were transferred to Savannah, GA in December of 1781. This detachment successfully helped defend coastal Georgia from Rebel attacks until the garrison was evacuated to New York City in 1782. The shattered remains of the 7th Regiment of Foot were some of the last British soldiers to leave the New York after the Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution in 1783.
===French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars===
The Royal Fusiliers formed part of the famed Fusilier Brigade in Wellington’s Peninsular Army along with the 23rd Regiment of Foot (The Royal Welch Fusiliers) at the Battle of Albuhera on 16 May 1811.
===First World War===
The Royal Fusiliers served with distinction in the First World War, raising 76 battalions who wore the regimental cap badge. They served on the Western Front, in Africa, the Middle East and Macedonia. Members of the Royal Fusiliers won the first two Victoria Crosses of the war near Mons in August 1914 (Lieutenant Maurice Dease and Private Sidney Godley), and the last two in North Russia.
The Stock Exchange Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers was formed in 1914 when 1,600 members of the Exchange joined up: 400 were killed during the war. The 23rd and 24th (Service) Battalion, better known as the Sportsman’s Battalions, were among the Pals battalions. The 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers served in East Africa. The 38th through 42nd Battalions of the regiment served as the Jewish Legion in Palestine; many of its members went on to be part of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.
The Royal London Fusiliers Monument, a war memorial, stands on High Holborn, near Chancery Lane tube station, surmounted by the lifesize statue of a World War I soldier, and its regimental chapel is at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate.
===Second World War===
The Royal Fusiliers were involved in many notable battles of the war, including Operation Shingle, or as it is now known, the Battle of Anzio. On 18 February 1944 Company Z was ordered to hold the bridgehead against a Tiger I tank assault. There were many casualties.
In August of 1952 the regiment entered the Korean War. On 23 April 1968 the regiment was amalgamated with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (5th Ft), The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers (6th Ft) and the Lancashire Fusiliers (20th Ft) to form 3rd Bn. The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
The Fusilier Museum is located in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Headquarters at HM Tower of London. Displays include uniforms, flags, silver, insignia, medals, photographs, personal artifact and war souvenirs. Admission is included with entry to the Tower of London.
The Royal Fusiliers Company “Z” was also mentioned in Pink Floyd’s movie The Wall. It was the company that the character Pink’s father died in, as well as the writer and producer Roger Waters’ father, Eric Fletcher Waters, to whom the Pink Floyd album The Final Cut was dedicated.
The Royal Fusiliers is also mentioned in Jeffrey Archer’s bestseller novel, As The Crow Flies. The protagonist of the book, Charlie Trumper, is part of the regiment which fights in the first world war.