The British infantry of 1914-1918

This section of the Long, Long Trail will be helpful for anyone wishing to find out about the history of the battalions of the British infantry.

The "Poor Bloody Infantry" had the deadliest role of all and also shouldered the burden of much carrying and labouring work. The history and affiliations of every battalion of every British infantry regiment can be found on these pages. All you need to do is find the regiment and click the link.

The basis of the detail shown in the pages linked below is the excellent work in Brigadier E. A. James "British regiments 1914-1918" (Samson Books, 1978) with corrections and additions by Chris Baker. These are mainly derived from battalion war diaries and published regimental histories.

The Guards Regiments

Considered by many to be the elite of the infantry of the regular army, the Guards had no battalions of the Territorial Force and raised none for Lord Kitchener's New Armies. In common with all other infantry regiments regiments they eventually took in both "duration only" volunteers and conscripts but the Guards took care to maintain their pre-war standards of efficiency and were amongst the infantry most feared by the enemy.

Regiments by alphabet Regiments by army precedence
Coldstream Guards Grenadier Guards
Grenadier Guards Coldstream Guards
Irish Guards Scots Guards
Scots Guards Irish Guards
Welsh Guards Welsh Guards
The Guards also raised a Machine Gun Regiment

The Line Regiments

The majority of the infantry was made up of regiments with county or other regional affiliations. Most had two battalions of the regular army in 1914: one was usually overseas and the other trained recruits in the United Kingdom. Most regiments, except those in Ireland, also had two or more battalions of the Territorial Force. All raised battalions for Lord Kitchener's New Armies and some also raised miscellaneous training and labouring units during the war.

Regiments by alphabet Regiments by army precedence
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Royal Scots
Bedfordshire Queen's (Royal West Surrey)
Black Watch Buffs (East Kent)
Border King's Own (Royal Lancaster)
Buffs (East Kent) Northumberland Fusiliers
Cameron Highlanders Royal Warwickshire
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) Royal Fusiliers
Cheshire King's (Liverpool)
Connaught Rangers Norfolk
Devonshire Lincolnshire
Dorsetshire Devonshire
Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry Suffolk
Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Somerset Light Infantry
Durham Light Infantry West Yorkshire
East Lancashire East Yorkshire
East Surrey Bedfordshire
East Yorkshire Leicestershire
Essex Royal Irish Regiment
Gloucestershire Yorkshire
Gordon Highlanders Lancashire Fusiliers
Hampshire Royal Scots Fusiliers
Highland Light Infantry Cheshire
King's (Liverpool) Royal Welsh Fusiliers
King's Own (Royal Lancaster) South Wales Borderers
King's Own Scottish Borderers King's Own Scottish Borderers
King's (Shropshire Light Infantry) Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry) Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
King's Royal Rifle Corps Gloucestershire
Lancashire Fusiliers Worcestershire
Leicestershire East Lancashire
Lincolnshire East Surrey
Loyal North Lancashire Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry
Leinster Duke of Wellington's (West Riding)
Manchester Border
Middlesex Royal Sussex
Norfolk Hampshire
Northamptonshire South Staffordshire
North Staffordshire Dorsetshire
Northumberland Fusiliers South Lancashire
Ox & Bucks Light Infantry Welsh
Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Black Watch
Rifle Brigade Ox & Bucks Light Infantry
Royal Berkshire Essex
Royal Dublin Fusiliers Sherwood Foresters
Royal Fusiliers Loyal North Lancashire
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Northamptonshire
Royal Irish Fusiliers Royal Berkshire
Royal Irish Regiment Royal West Kent
Royal Irish Rifles King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry)
Royal Munster Fusiliers King's (Shropshire Light Infantry)
Royal Scots Middlesex
Royal Scots Fusiliers King's Royal Rifle Corps
Royal Sussex Wiltshire
Royal Warwickshire Manchester
Royal Welsh Fusiliers North Staffordshire
Royal West Kent York and Lancaster
Seaforth Highlanders Durham Light Infantry
Sherwood Foresters (Notts &Derbys) Highland Light Infantry
Somerset Light Infantry Seaforth Highlanders
South Lancashire Gordon Highlanders
South Staffordshire Cameron Highlanders
South Wales Borderers Royal Irish Rifles
Suffolk Royal Irish Fusiliers
Welsh Connaught Rangers
West Yorkshire Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
Wiltshire Leinster
Worcestershire Royal Munster Fusiliers
York and Lancaster Royal Dublin Fusiliers
Yorkshire Rifle Brigade

The Territorial-only Regiments

Some infantry regiments were exclusively composed of part-time volunteer soldiers of the Territorial Force and had no Regular or New Army battalions.

Regiments by alphabet Regiments by army precedence
Cambridgeshire Honourable Artillery Company
Herefordshire Monmouthshire
Hertfordshire Cambridgeshire
Highland Cyclist Battalion London Regiment
Honourable Artillery Company Hertfordshire
Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion Herefordshire
Kent Cyclist Battalion Northern Cyclist Battalion
London Regiment Highland Cyclist Battalion
Monmouthshire Kent Cyclist Battalion
Northern Cyclist Battalion Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion

Miscellaneous Regiments

Some infantry regiments just do not not fit into any of the classifications above.

The Household Battalion
Royal Militia of Jersey
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry
The British West Indies Regiment
Royal Newfoundland Regiment

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Related information

Officers and men from the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) on a route march in England before departing for France. Author's collection.


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