The History of the Royal Fusiliers, 1815 to 1914
After the Battle of Waterloo in June,1815, the Royal Fusiliers returned to the United Kingdom. The end of the war saw the
beginning of the demobilization of the British Army. During the Napoleonic Wars, the British Army had grown larger than
ever before. After Waterloo, the need for a massive field army ended as the Army returned to its normal business of aiding
the civil authorities as an armed gendarmie in Britain, Ireland and the colonies. As part of the reduction, the second
battalion of the Royal Fusiliers was disbanded on 24 December, 1815.
The Regiment soldiered on without incident through most of the next forty years. The colonial service in which the Regiment
had been sent to Canada twice during the late eighteenth century was repeated. The Royal Fusiliers served at various
colonial stations throughout the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s, and was posted to Canada for a third time in 1848 before
returning to England in 1850.
In March, 1854, France, Turkey and Britain declared war on Russia, and the theatre for the fighting was the Crimean
peninsula on the Black Sea. The Royal Fusiliers were dispatched as part of the Allied expedition and arrived to fight at the
Battle of the Alma in September of 1854 and at Inkerman in November of the same year. The Regiment endured the brutal
winter conditions of the Crimea during the siege of Sevastopol through the following winter, and were present at the end of
that siege in September, 1855.
The Regiment returned to England in 1856. Five members were awarded the newly-instituted Victoria Cross for valiant
service in the Crimea. They were Assistant Surgeon Thomas Hale Egerton, Lieutenant William Hope, Private Matthew
Hughes, Captain Henry Mitchell Jones and Private William Norman. The Regiment was granted battle honours for the
Battles of the Alma, Inkerman and Sevastopol.
The Late Victorian Period
After the Royal Fusiliers returned to England, a second battalion was raised again. The first battalion was sent to India in
1857, where it remained until transferred to Aden in 1870. It returned to England later the same year and was not posted
overseas again until 1884, when it was sent to Gibraltar. The following year, the Regiment was posted to Egypt. After three
years there, the Regiment went to India where it remained until returning to England in 1904. During this long exile, the
Royal Fusiliers lost their old numerical title of "the 7th Regiment of Foot" and became simply, the Royal Fusiliers.
The second battalion was sent to garrison Gibraltar in 1858 and proceeded from there to Malta in 1863 and to Canada for
its fourth, and final tour, in 1865. The battalion arrived in Canada in time for the Fenian Raids, which began in 1866. These
raids were launched by Irish-American veterans of the American Civil War who were labelled "Fenians". Politicized by Irish
nationalist sentiment, the Fenians hoped to conquer Canada and use it as a bargaining tool in negotiating Irish home rule.
While very well-organized and dangerously experienced in the art of modern warfare, the Fenians only launched minor
military actions against Canada, culminating in a battle at Ridgeway, Ontario on 2 June, 1866.
It does not appear that the second battalion of the Royal Fusiliers participated in any of these actions, although it was
stationed in the cities of London and Brantford in southwestern Ontario during the period and returned to England with the
rest of the British Army when Canada attained dominion status on 1 July, 1867.
The second battalion was sent to Ireland in 1872 and then to India in 1874, eventually returning to England in 1889 after
service on campaign in Afghanistan in 1880. In Afghanistan, Private Thomas Ashford was awarded a Victoria Cross for
rescuing a wounded comrade while under fire. The Regiment was granted battle honours for the Afghanistan Campaign
(1879-1880) and Kandahar (1880).
As an historical footnote, it is worth mentioning that the new Canadian militia which was established at the time of
Confederation in 1867 included many regiments affiliated with regular regiments of the British Army. London, Ontario was
the home of the new 7th Battalion (Fusiliers). This militia regiment was raised in 1886 and became the Canadian Fusiliers
(City of London Regiment) in 1924. It was amalgamated with the Oxford Rifles in 1954 to form the London and Oxford
Fusiliers. In 1958, the London and Oxford Rifles became the 3rd Battalion and, subsequently, the 4th Battalion, of the
Royal Canadian Regiment. The 7th Fusiliers' armoury remains in downtown London, Ontario, and the 4th Battalion of the
Royal Canadian Regiment continues to serve from Wolseley Barracks to this day.
The Boer War:
In 1899, the British government went to war with the Dutch-descended Boer residents of modern South Africa. As we
have seen, the first battalion of the Royal Fusiliers was in India until 1904 and accordingly did not participate in the Boer
The second battalion of the Royal Fusiliers had served in garrison on the Island of Guernsey, in Belfast and at the Curragh
outside Dublin since returning from India in 1889. It was sent to the Cape Colony in South Africa in October, 1899 as part
of the Sixth Infantry Brigade. Shortly thereafter, Captain Charles FitzClarence of the Regiment won the Victoria Cross for
valiant service against Boer irregulars near Mafeking.
The second battalion fought at Colenso on 15 December, 1899 and participated in the subsequent Relief of Ladysmith. In
January and February of 1900, the battalion fought at the Tugela Heights and spent the rest of the war in the Orange Free
State and Transvaal. The Regiment was granted battle honours for South Africa 1899-1902 and the Relief of Ladysmith.
At the end of the War in 1902, the second battalion returned to England and was stationed at Aldershot. It was sent to
India in January, 1905 and remained there until January, 1915. The first battalion returned to England in 1904 and was sent
to garrison duty in Ireland from 1909 until the beginning of the First World War.