The Royal Green Jackets (RGJ) was an infantry regiment of the British Army, one of two “large regiments” within the Light Division (the other being The Light Infantry).
The Royal Green Jackets was formed on 1 January 1966 by the amalgamation of the three separate regiments of the Green Jackets Brigade: the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd), the 2nd Green Jackets, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and the 3rd Green Jackets, the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own
There were also two Territorial Army battalions made up as follows
4th (V) Battalion, Royal Green Jackets – formed from the remnants of the Rangers (KRRC), London Rifle Brigade, Tower Hamlets Rifles, Queen’s Westminsters, Queen Victoria’s Rifles, Queen’s Royal Rifles and Civil Service Rifles.
5th (V) Battalion, Royal Green Jackets – formed from the 4th Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (TA) and the Buckinghamshire Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
During the 1980s, the battalions were deployed to various parts of Northern Ireland (Operation Banner). The 1st, 2nd and 3rd battalions were also based in West Germany, Osnabrück (1RGJ), Minden (2RGJ) and Celle (3RGJ
The regiment’s greatest loss of life came on 20 July 1982 when seven RGJ bandsmen were killed by a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb which exploded during a public concert featuring the music from Oliver! to 120 people at the bandstand in Regents ParkIn 1992 1/RGJ was disbanded and 2/RGJ and 3/RGJ renumbered 1/RGJ and 2/RGJ respectively
After the 1992 reorganisation, the unit was mostly based overseas in Dhekelia, Cyprus and Paderborn, Germany as well as in Northern Ireland and saw action in Bosnia and Kosovo during the Yugoslav Wars. Both battalions returned to the United Kingdom by 2002 and in 2003 the 1st Battalion served on Operation Telic 2 in Iraq.
On 24 November 2005 the Ministry of Defence announced that the regiment would amalgamate with The Light Infantry, the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry and the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry to form a single large regiment to be called The Rifles. The reorganisation into The Rifles took effect on 1 February 2007 with the 1st Battalion Royal Green Jackets becoming the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, the 2nd Battalion Royal Green Jackets becoming 4th Battalion, The Rifles and the surviving Territorial Army companies of 4 and 5 Royal Green Jackets, along with a company of the RGBW becoming the 7th Battalion, The Rifles. The 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets’ final operation was in Basra, in Iraq, on Operation Telic in 2006/7
Their motto was Celer et Audax (Latin: “Swift and Bold”). As they were used as shock troops and marksmen, they had to get to the front line of battle as fast as was possible; as a result the RGJ marched at 140 paces per minute (at a 30″ pace) whereas other regiments march at just 120
The regiment was classed as a ‘rifle’ regiment, having its lineage in the regiments of foot that were equipped with the first Baker rifles. Traditionally, rifle regiments wore rifle green tunics, an early form of camouflage, instead of the red jackets worn by line infantry, hence the regimental name.
The cap badge was a Maltese Cross, which was drawn from the badges of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and The Rifle Brigade, with a combination of some of their battle honours on its arms.
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