A Brief History of the Regiment
The Royal Highland Fusiliers were formed in 1959 by the amalgamation of the Royal Scots Fusiliers (21st) and the Highland Light Infantry (71st, 73rd and 74th).
Royal Scots Fusiliers
The Royal Scots Fusiliers, the 21st Foot, were raised in 1678 by the 5th Earl if Mar in response to internal instability in Scotland. Mar’s Regiment quickly gained the distinction of becoming a Fusilier Regiment and by 1695 was officially known as the Scots Fusiliers. The distinction of Fusilier deriving from those elite troops armed with the new flintlock musket known as a ‘Fusil’. The Regiment achieved Royal status in 1712. Among the Regiment’s nicknames, the most treasured was that of ‘Marlborough’s Own’ gained following 10 years of distinguished service under the great Duke of Marlborough (1702 - 1712 ). During this time the Regiment fought in the great battles of Blenheim and Ramilles amongst others. At the Cardwell reforms of 1881 the Regiment became officially the County Regiment of Ayrshire in South West Scotland. Unlike the Highland Light Infantry this reform did not lead to amalgamation as the 21st already possessed two battalions.
The Highland Light Infantry
The 73rd Highlanders were raised by John MacKenzie, Lord Macleod, as the first clan Regiment in 1777 in response to the outbreak of the American War of Independence. In 1786 the Regiment was renumbered as the 71st Highlanders and wore the MacKenzie tartan kilt. In 1787 war in India necessitated the raising of more Regiments for foreign service and the 74th Highlanders were formed in that year in the City of Glasgow. At the Cardwell reforms of 1881 the 71st and the 74th were linked as the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Highland Light Infantry (as the 71st had been known since 1809). In 1923 the Regiment officially became known as the ‘City of Glasgow Regiment’.
The Royal Highland Fusiliers
The next major reform of the infantry post-1881 came in 1957 when thirty Regiments amalgamated into fifteen pairs. The RSF and HLI were selected for amalgamation and this officially took place in Edinburgh on 20th January 1959. The new Regiment was titled The Royal Highland Fusiliers ( Princess Margaret’s Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment ).
In honour of both Regiments, the RHF still wears the HLI’s Mackenzie tartan trews (trousers) and retains the Flaming Grenade cap badge from the RSF.
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