Royal Welch Fusiliers 
 (23d Regiment of Foot) 

The Unit's Formation

   On the 16th March 1689, King William III authorized the 4th Baron Herbert of Chirbury to each raise a regiment of infantry, designated at the time to be the 23d Regiment of Foot. In 1696, the 23d Regiment began to be known as the Royal Welch Fusiliers. From their first engagement at The Battle of the Boyne in 1690, The Royal Welch Fusiliers have served their sovereign and their country with honour, pride and a dedication to duty unequalled in the history of the British Army.

The "C" in Welch

   In 1702, the spelling "Welch" was common usage, but was swept away during the 18th Century by "Welsh". The Regiment, however, stuck resolutely to the old spelling, although it was not until 1920 that they persuaded the War Office to agree with them. For the purpose of consistency, "Welch" has been used throughout this presentation.

The Flash

   In the days where soldiers wore pigtails, they were powdered and greased. In order to protect their jackets, the pigtails were enclosed in a "queue bag". In 1808, hair was ordered to be cut close to the neck and the queue was abolished. The officers decided to retain the ribbons with which the queue was tied, and using an old slang word for a wig, they were known as the "Flash".
   Of all British soldiers none can be more readily identified than a Royal Welch Fusilier. The five black ribbons which he wears on his collar make him unmistakable. Until 1900 the Flash was worn only by Officers, Warrant Officers and Staff Sergeants, but in that year the Queen was 'graciously pleased to approve of all ranks of the line (regular) Battalions...wearing on the full dress a "Flash" somewhat similar to that now worn by the Officers of the Regiment'.
   In November 1923, the King's Private Secretary wrote to the War Office to say that 'The wearing of the tunic...having been abolished, his Majesty considers that the distinction of the Flash should be worn on all Ceremonial and Church parades and when walking out.' It is most highly valued by the Regiment.

The Loyal Toast

   The Loyal Toast is never proposed in the Officers Mess of the Royal Welch Fusiliers except on Saint David's Day. Furthermore, the Officers and their guests do not stand when the band plays The Nation Anthem at the conclusion of its programme.  This custom has no written origin, but has been handed down from generation to generation.  At the time of the Mutiny at the Nore in 1797, the Warrant Officers,  NCOs and men of The Royal Welch Fusiliers were asked to join the mutineers.  Their response was to submit an address to their Commanding Officer for forwarding to the King, expressing their unswerving loyalty to the Crown.  A copy of their address is in the Regimental Museum, and an endorsement by the Commanding Officer verifies that it was signed 'by the whole Corps unanimously'.  His Majesty King George, as Prince of Wales, as Prince Regent, and also as Monarch would from time to time dine with the regiment.  On one of these occasions, no doubt mindful of the Regiment's declaration of loyalty during the mutiny, he is said to have expressed the wish that the Loyal Toast should be dispensed with as 'The loyalty of the Royal Welch is never in doubt'.

Saint David's Day

   Probably nowhere is the Patron Saint of Wales so ceremoniously and so regularly honoured as on the first of March wherever the Royal Welch Fusiliers happen to be.  In peace or war, at home or abroad, leeks are worn, and the day is observed, whenever possible, as a holiday. It is safe to assume that Saint David's Day has been celebrated in the Regiment since the time of its foundation, for on the traditional toast list is 'Toby Percell, His spurs and St David '.  Toby Percell was the Regiment's second-in-command who distinguished himself at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, and his spurs were worn by successive seconds-in-command until they were unfortunately lost in fire at Montreal in 1842.  It has long been the custom in the Regiment to refer to the Second-in-command as the 'Senior Major'. The Regimental ceremonial eating of the leek in the Officers Mess has remained almost unchanged over the years.

The Regimental  Collect

   Eternal God, whose strength raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, uphold, we pray, the ancient valour of The Royal Welch Fusiliers, that we may endeavour hardness after His example and may rise with Him to shine as the sun in Thy Kingdom, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  

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