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Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Badge of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Active 1 July 1881 – 5 October 1959
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Army
Type Line infantry
Role Light infantry

1–2 Regular battalions
1 militia and special reserve battalion
1–2 Territorial and volunteer battalions

Up to 10 hostilities-only battalions
Garrison/HQ Victoria Barracks, Bodmin[1]
Colors White facings
March Quick: One and All

First DCLI Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, The Bluff in Belgium

The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (DCLI) was a light infantry regiment of the British Army in existence from 1881 to 1959.

The regiment was created on 1 July 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms, by the merger of the 32nd (Cornwall Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot and the 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of Foot. The DCLI also incorporated the militia and rifle volunteers of Cornwall.

In 1959 the regiment merged with the Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's) to form the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry. However, this was amalgamated with the Durham Light Infantry, the King's Shropshire Light Infantry and the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry to form The Light Infantry which was also merged, in 2007, with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and the Royal Green Jackets to form The Rifles, which continues the lineage of the DCLI.

History[edit | edit source]

The regiment was created on 1 July 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms, by the merger of the 32nd (Cornwall Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot and the 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of Foot.[2] The DCLI also incorporated the militia and rifle volunteers of Cornwall.[3][4][5]

1881–1899[edit | edit source]

Under the Childers system, one regular battalion of each regiment was to be at a "home" station, while the other was abroad. Every few years, there was to be an exchange of battalions. In the period from the regiment's formation to the outbreak of the Second Boer War the two regular battalions were stationed as follows:

Location of 1st Battalion (ex 32nd Foot)[6] Years Location of 2nd Battalion (ex 46th Foot)[7] Years
England and Ireland 1881–1885 Gibraltar 1881–1882
Egypt 1882–1885
Malta 1885–1888 Sudan 1885–1886
India and Burma (fought in Tirah Campaign of 1897) 1888–1900 England and Ireland 1886–1900

1899–1914[edit | edit source]

In October 1899 war broke out between the United Kingdom and the Boer Republics. The 2nd Battalion arrived in South Africa in the following month, where it took part in minor actions on the western border of the Cape Colony. In February 1900 it became part of the 19th Brigade. It saw action against the Boers at Paardeberg, and in March 1900 entered Bloemfontein. It continued to take part in a series of skirmishes until the end of the war.[8] The 1st Battalion took no part on the war, moving from India to Ceylon in December 1900[9] where its soldiers guarded South African prisoners of war.[6]

Following the war in South Africa, the system of rotating battalions between home and foreign stations resumed as follows:

Location of 1st Battalion (ex 32nd Foot)[6] Years Location of 2nd Battalion (ex 46th Foot)[7] Years
South Africa 1902–1906 England 1902–1905
England 1906–1913 Gibraltar 1905–1907
Bermuda 1907–1910
South Africa 1910–1913
Ireland (The Curragh) 1913–1914 Hong Kong 1913–1914

Reserve battalions 1881–1914[edit | edit source]

The 1881 reorganisation also redesignated the militia and rifle volunteers of Cornwall as battalions of the regiment as follows:[10]

  • 3rd (Militia) Battalion (formerly the "Royal Cornwall Rangers, Duke of Cornwall's Own Rifles", raised 1760)
  • 1st Volunteer Battalion (formerly 1st Cornwall Rifle Volunteer Corps, raised 1860)
  • 2nd Volunteer Battalion (formerly 2nd Cornwall Rifle Volunteer Corps, raised 1860)

Neither militia nor volunteer battalions were liable for service outside the United Kingdom. However, in the Second Boer War, both volunteer battalions contributed "Active Service Companies" that reinforced the regular battalions, and were awarded the battle honour "South Africa 1900–1901".[11]

In 1908 reserve forces were reorganised by the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (the Haldane Reforms). The militia was renamed the "Special Reserve", with the duty of providing trained recruits in time of war. The volunteer battalions became part of the new Territorial Force, which was organised into 14 infantry divisions which were called upon to serve abroad.[12] On 1 April 1908 the three reserve battalions were accordingly redesignated as the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion at the regimental depot, the 4th (Territorial Force) Battalion at New Bridge Street in Truro and the 5th (Territorial Force) Battalion at Honey Street in Bodmin.[13]

First World War[edit | edit source]

The war saw a large expansion of the regiment. This was done in two ways: by the formation of duplicate units to the existing territorial battalions, and by the raising of wartime "new army" or "service" battalions. The following battalions of the DCLI saw active service in the conflict:[14]

Battalion Service
1st Battalion Western Front 1914–1917; Italian Front 1917–1918; Western Front 1918
2nd Battalion Western Front 1914–1915; Macedonian Front 1915–1918
1/4th Battalion India 1914–1916; Aden 1916–1917; Egypt 1917–1918
2/4th Battalion (Formed September 1914) India 1914–1918
1/5th Battalion Remained in UK until 1916. Western Front 1916–1918
6th (Service) Battalion (Formed August 1914) Western Front 1915–1918 (disbanded February 1918)
7th (Service) Battalion (Formed September 1914) Western Front 1915–1918
8th (Service) Battalion (Formed September 1914) Western Front 1915; Mesopotamian Front 1915–1918
10th (Service) Battalion (Cornwall Pioneers) (Formed March 1915) Western Front 1916–1918

Inter-war period[edit | edit source]

Years 1st Battalion[6] Years 2nd Battalion[7]
1919–1922 Ireland 1919–1920 India
1922–1939 India
1920–1921 Iraq
1921–1922 Ireland
1922–1924 Germany (Army of occupation)
1924–1927 Guernsey
1927–1932 England
1932–1935 Gibraltar
1935–1939 England

Members of the 5th Battalion during the Liberation of the Netherlands, September 1944

Second World War[edit | edit source]

During the war the regiment was increased to seven battalions. However, only the 1st, 2nd and 5th served overseas.[15]

The 2nd Battalion, DCLI was serving in 10th Infantry Brigade, which also included the 2nd Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment and 1st Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, part of the 4th Infantry Division, and was sent overseas to France shortly after the outbreak of war, where they arrived on 1 October 1939 as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). The battalion remained in France for many months until May 1940 when the German Army invaded Holland, Belgium and France, where they, along with the rest of the BEF, were forced into a retreat to the Dunkirk perimeter where they were subsequently evacuated to England.[16]

In July 1944, during the Battle of Hill 112 (Operation Jupiter), during the Battle for Caen, part of the larger Battle of Normandy, the hill acquired the name "Cornwall Hill" after Cornish soldiers of 5th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, under Lieutenant Colonel John Pole, suffered 320 casualties there. The battalion was part of the 214th Infantry Brigade attached to the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division.[17]

Post-war[edit | edit source]

The regiment reverted to two battalions following the war.

Between 1946 and 1954, the 1st Battalion served in Palestine, Cyprus, Somaliland, England, and the Federal Republic of Germany. The 2nd Battalion, between 1946 and 1948, served in Greece (including Eastern Macedonia). In 1948, it was reduced to a skeleton "representative cadre", before being amalgamated into the 1st Battalion in 1950.[15]

In 1954, the 1st Battalion was posted to Jamaica, the last battalion to be posted to the West Indies for a full, three-year term.[18] A Company detached on transit, posted to Prospect Camp, in the Atlantic archipelago of Bermuda. The Bermuda Garrison no longer received a full regular army infantry battalion, as the part-time Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps (BVRC) and Bermuda Militia Artillery (BMA) had long-since taken on most of the responsibility for local defence. A Company was the last regular unit posted on garrison to Bermuda, with its departure constituting the withdrawal of the garrison from the one-time Fortress Bermuda. The officer commanding A Company, Major J. Anthony Marsh, DSO, a Second World War veteran of the Special Air Service, took permanent residence in Bermuda after leaving the regular army, retiring from military service in 1970 as a lieutenant-colonel, commanding the Bermuda Regiment (a 1965 amalgam of the BVRC and BMA).[19] E Company also detached, being posted to British Honduras.[20] In 1957, A and E companies reunited with the rest of the battalion in England, before being posted to Osnabrück in Germany, where it remained until 1959.[15]

On the 6 October 1959, the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry merged with the Somerset Light Infantry to form the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry.[4][15]

Cornwall's Regimental Museum[edit | edit source]

DCLI Regimental Museum

Victoria Barracks, Bodmin houses the regimental museum, founded in 1925. It includes the history of the regiment from 1702, plus a military library.[21] St Petroc's Church, Bodmin was the regimental place of worship where there are memorials to some of the servicemen and regimental colours from the past.[22]

Literature[edit | edit source]

Surfing Tommies is a 2009 play by the Cornish author Alan M. Kent which follows the lives of three members of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry on a journey from the mines of Cornwall to the fields of Flanders, where they learned to surf with South African troops.[23]

Notable members[edit | edit source]


Sergeant Thomas Edward Rendle, VC

Recipients of the Victoria Cross[edit | edit source]

Eight soldiers of the DCLI were awarded the VC including:

Others[edit | edit source]

Battle honours[edit | edit source]

Battle honours of the regiment:[27]

  • From 32nd Regiment of Foot: Roliça, Vimiero, Corunna, Salamanca, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Peninsula, Waterloo, Goojerat, Mooltan, Punjaub, Lucknow
  • From 46th Regiment of Foot: Dominica, Sevastopol, Gibraltar 1704-05, Dettingen, St. Lucia 1778,
  • Early wars: Tel el Kebir, Egypt 1882, Nile 1884-85, Paardeberg, South Africa 1899-1902,
  • The Great War (15 battalions): Mons, Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, La Bassée 1914, Armenti8ères 1914, Ypres 1915 '17, Gravenstafel, St. Julien, Frezenberg, Bellewaarde, Hooge 1915, Mount Sorrel, Somme 1916 '18, Delville Wood, Guillemont, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Le Transloy, Ancre 1916, Bapaume 1917 '18, Arras 1917, Vimy 1917, Scarpe 1917, Arleux, Langemarck 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Rosières, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Albert 1918, Hindenburg Line, Havrincourt, Canal du Nord, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Italy 1917-18, Struma, Doiran 1917 '18, Macedonia 1915-18, Gaza, Nebi Samwil, Jerusalem, Tell 'Asur, Megiddo, Sharon, Palestine 1917-18, Aden
  • The Second World War: Defence of Escaut, Cheux, Hill 112, Mont Pincon, Noireau Crossing, Nederrijn, Opheusden, Geilenkirchen, Rhineland, Goch, Rhine, North-West Europe 1940 '44-45, Gazala, Medjez Plain, Si Abdallah, North Africa 1942-43, Cassino II, Trasimene Line, Advance to Florence, Incontro, Rimini Line, Italy 1944-45

List of Colonels of the Regiment[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry". British Light Infantry Regiments. 25 September 2008. http://www.lightinfantry.org.uk/regiments/dcli/duke_index.htm. Retrieved 4 April 2010. [dead link]
  2. You must specify issue=, startpage=, and date= when using {{London Gazette}}. Available parameters:

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  3. Farmer, John S (1901). The Regimental Records of the British Army : a historical résumé chronologically arranged of titles, campaigns, honours, uniforms, facings, badges, nicknames, etc.. London: Grant Richards. [page needed]
  4. 4.0 4.1 Swinson, Arthur (1972). A Register of the Regiments and Corps of the British Army. London: The Archive Press. ISBN 0-85591-000-3. [page needed]
  5. Wickes, HL (1974). Regiments of Foot: A History of the Foot Regiments of the British Army. Reading, Berks.: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 0-85045-220-1. [page needed]
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Mills, T F (3 April 2005). "1st Bn, The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry". Land Forces of Britain, The Empire and the Commonwealth. Archived from the original on 21 December 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20071221053831/http://www.regiments.org/deploy/uk/reg-inf/032-1.htm. Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Mills, T F (11 September 2005). "2nd Bn, The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry". Land Forces of Britain, The Empire and the Commonwealth. Archived from the original on 21 December 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20071221233605/http://www.regiments.org/deploy/uk/reg-inf/046-1.htm. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  8. Biggins, David. "Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry". Anglo Boer War. Archived from the original on 8 May 2009. https://web.archive.org/web/20090508143035/http://angloboerwar.com/units%20imperial/dcli.htm. Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  9. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 29 Dec 1901. 
  10. "The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry". British Light Infantry Regiments. 2 December 2007. http://www.lightinfantry.org.uk/regiments/dcli/duke_timeline.htm. Retrieved 9 April 2010. [dead link]
  11. "The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry". British Light Infantry Regiments. 2 December 2007. http://www.lightinfantry.org.uk/regiments/dcli/duke_tabattalions.htm. Retrieved 9 April 2010. [dead link]
  12. Dunlop, John K (1938). The development of the British Army 1899–1914. London: Methuen. pp. 280–285. 
  13. Order in Council dated 19 March 1908

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  14. Chris Baker. "The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry". The Long, Long Trail. http://www.1914-1918.net/dcli.htm. Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 "The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry". British Light Infantry Regiments. British Armed Forces.org. 2 December 2007. http://www.britisharmedforces.org/li_pages/regiments/dcli/duke_timeline.htm. 
  16. "Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry". National Army Museum. http://www.nam.ac.uk/research/famous-units/duke-cornwalls-light-infantry. Retrieved 27 December 2015. 
  17. "The 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division's 214 Brigade crosses the Seine at Vernon". Imperial War Museum. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060024009. Retrieved 27 December 2015. 
  18. "Prospect Garrison, Devonshire Bermuda: 1954 - 1957". A Company, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. 21 October 2008. https://sites.google.com/site/djkl157/home. 
  19. "Outstanding Special Air Service WWII Distinguished Service Order group to Lieutenant Colonel John Anthony Marsh". Warwick & Warwick. Archived from the original on 2014-05-02. https://web.archive.org/web/20140502005106/http://www.warwickandwarwick.com/pages/library/medals/sasww2.htm. 
  20. "E Company 1 DCLI: Belize". Light Infantry Most Wanted. WordPress. 2011. http://limostwanted.wordpress.com/e-company-1dcli-54-57-belize/. 
  21. "Cornwall's Regimental Museum". Ogilby Trust. http://www.armymuseums.org.uk/museums/0000000026-Cornwall-s-Regimental-Museum.htm. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  22. "Regimental chapels of the DCLI". http://www.lightinfantry.org.uk/regiments/dcli/duke_chapels.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-26. [dead link]
  23. "Hanging 10 in the trenches". Local World. 29 April 2009. http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/whatson/Hanging-10-trenches/article-947675-detail/article.html. 
  24. "Capt. QM Harold Royffe". Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry. http://www.scli.co.uk/pages/harold_royffe.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  25. "Viewspaper". 4 May 2010. p. 9. 
  26. "Fowey, Cornwall: The Poet Who Raised a Battalion". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01s2sml. Retrieved 3 May 2016. 
  27. Chan, Christopher (2014). "The Handbook of British Regiments". Routledge Revivals. p. 143. ISBN 978-0415710794. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ieeOAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA144&lpg=PA144&dq=%22Duke+of+Cornwall%27s+Light+Infantry%22+%22Battle+Honours%22&source=bl&ots=CN3mm5PX7d&sig=9OtivBSeuwNYSTMMnZvGE550pkY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi9kMGbrf7JAhVFRhQKHX4xBwc4ChDoAQg0MAQ#v=onepage&q=%22Duke%20of%20Cornwall's%20Light%20Infantry%22%20%22Battle%20Honours%22&f=false. 

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