Battle Honours and Traditions of the British Army



The Life Guards


Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil be to him who evil thinks)

Nicknames: The Bangers, The Lumpers, The Cheesemongers, The Fly-Slicers, The Picadilly Butchers, The Roast and Boiled, The Ticky Tins.

Traditions: NCO's in the Life Guards hang a brick over their mess bar at Christmas. This is a sign for unlimited drinking.

Battle Honours: Dettingen, Peninsula, Waterloo, Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt 1882, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, South Africa 1899-1900, Mons, Le Cateau, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, Messines 1914, Ypres 1914, 1915, 1917, Somme 1916, 1918, Arras 1917, 1918, Hindenburg Line, France & Flanders 1914-18, Soleuvre, Brussels, Nederrijn, North-West Europe 1944-45, Iraq 1941, Palmyra, Syria 1941, El Alamein, North africa 1942-45, Italy 1944.


The Blues and Royals


Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil be to him who evil thinks)

Nicknames: The Aldershot Guards, The Royal Dragoons, The Bird Catchers, The Blues, The Royals, The Spectamurs, The Tangier Cuirassiers, The Tasty Blues.

Traditions: Soldiers may salute even when bare-headed. This tradition is said to have originated with the Marquis of Granby's cavalry charge at Warburg in 1760. His wig blew off in the charge, originating the saying 'going at it bald-headed'.

Battle Honours: Tangier 1662-80, Dettingen, Warburg, Beaumont, Willems, Fuentes d'Onor, Peninsula, Waterloo, Balaklava, Sevastopol, Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt 1882, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Relief of Ladysmith, South Africa 1899-1902, Le Cateau, Marne 1914, Messines 1914, Ypres 1914, 1915, 1917, Gheluvelt, Frezenburg, Loos, Arras 1917, Somme 1918, Amiens, Hindenburg Line, Cambrai 1918, Sambre, Pursuit to Mons, France & Flanders 1914-18, Soleuvre, Brussels, Nederrijn, North-West Europe 1944-45, Iraq 1941, Palmyra, Syria 1941, Knightsbridge, El Alamein, Advance on Tripoli, North Africa 1941-43, Sicily 1943, Italy 1943-44.


The Royal Horse Artillery


Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil be to him who evil thinks)

Nicknames: The Galloping Gunners, The Four-Wheeled Hussars, The Right of the Line.


Battle Honours:



1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, 'The Bays'

Pro rege et patria (For King and country)



The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, 'The Bubbly Jocks'

Nemo me impune lacessit (Nobody assails me with impunity)

Officers of the Regiment are allowed to drink the Loyal Toast whilst still seated. King George III dined regularly with the Greys and it is thought that as he had difficulty standing for the toast, the Officers remained seated, as well.



The 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, 'The Ligoniers'

Quis separabit? (Who shall separate?)



The 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, 'The Old Farmers'

Vestigia nulla retrorsum (We do not retreat)



The Queens Own Hussars, 'The Moodkee Wallahs'

Mente et manu (With mind and hand)

The Queens Own Hussars parade a drum-horse on special occasions, carrying replicas of the magnificent kettle-drums captured at Dettingen in 1743.



The Queen's Royal Irish Hussars, 'The Cross-Belts'

Mente et manu (With mind and hand)



The 9th/12th Royal Lancers, 'The Delhi Spearmen'

Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil be to him who evil thinks)

The Lancers maintained the ritual of playing a medley of five hymns every evening. This is said to originate from the Regiment's Mediterranean tour in 1794. The Officers received good conduct medals from the Pope at Civitavecchia and he asked for the hymns to be played on a regular basis.



The Royal Hussars, 'The Cherrypickers'

Ich dien (I serve)

Last Post is sounded at 21.50 in the Royal Hussars. This is the time of Lord Cardigan's death.



The 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own), 'Yorkshire's Cavalry'

Pro rege, pro lege, pro patria conamur (For king, for law, for country we strive)



The 14th/20th Kings Hussars, 'The Emperors Chambermaids'

Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil be to him who evil thinks)

A silver chamber-pot (called The Emperor) taken from King Joseph's (Napoleon's brother) carriage at the Battle of Vittoria, 1813, is used in mess rituals.



15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars, 'The Fighting Fifteenth'

Merebimur (We shall be worthy)



16th/5th The Queen's Royal Lancers, 'The Brummagem Uhlans'

Aut cursu, aut cominus armis (Either in the charge, or hand to hand)

January 28th is celebrated as Aliwal Day in commemoration of the 16th's participation in that battle in 1848. The regiment flies crimped pennons on their lances to remember their fallen colleagues (the pennons had become crumpled at the end of the battle with dried blood).



The 17th/21st Lancers, 'The Death or Glory Boys'

Or Glory



The Royal Tank Regiment, 'The Tankies'

Fear Naught



The Royal Regiment of Artillery, 'The Five-Mile Snipers'

Ubique (Everywhere)



The Grenadier Guards, 'The Sandbags'

Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil be to him who evil thinks)

The Senior Company of the Regiment is the Sovereign's own company and therefore finds the guard for Coronations and State Funerals. This goes back to Charles II who decreed that the senior company of his 1st Guards would be his personal bodyguard.



The Coldstream Guards, 'The Lilywhites'

Nulli secundus (Second to none)

The Coldstream Guards carry a crimson State Colour, emblazoned with the Garter Star, Sphinx and battle honours borne at the time of the Colour's presentation by King Wlliam IV: 'Lincelles', 'Talavera', 'Barrossa', 'Peninsula' and 'Waterloo'.



The Scots Guards, 'The Jock Guards'

Nemo me impune lacessit (Nobody assails me with impunity)

The Regiment's Colonel has always been a Prince of the Blood or a distinguished soldier. This began in 1642 when Charles I commissioned Archibald, 1st Marquis of Argyll to raise the Regiment. On St. Andrew's Day the haggis is piped around the Regiment before dinner.



The Irish Guards, 'The Bog-Rats'

Quis separabit? (Who shall separate?)

Shamrocks are worn by all members of the Regiment on St. Patrick's day.



The Welsh Guards, 'The Jam Boys'

Cymru am Byth (Wales forever)

The senior company of the Regiment is The Prince of Wales' Company.



The Royal Scots, 'Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard'

Nemo me impune lacessit (Nobody assails me with impunity)

After the Loyal Toast, another toast is drunk to HRH The Princess Royal (Regimental Colonel-in-Chief). The Royal Scots are the oldest regiment in the British Army (founded on March 28th, 1633).



The Queens Regiment, 'The Buffs'

Invicta (Unconquered)

When an Officer first dines with the Regiment, the Salt Ceremony is carried out. Salt is taken from a special cellar which contains a fragment of the 31st' buff regimental Colour inside its cover. The buff cloth is revealed when salt is taken and the Officer is reminded of his responsibilities to the regiment. 


The King's Own Royal Border Regiment, 'The Lions'


The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, 'The Goat Boys'


The King's Regiment (Manchester and Liverpool), 'The Leather Hats'


The Royal Anglian Regiment, 'The Tigers'

Once a year on a special Guest Night in the Lincolnshire Regiment, a special toast was made to Charles Austin, Citizen of the U.S.A. Austin regularly dined with the Officers during the Regiment's stay in Yokohama between 1868 and  1871. When he died he left the balance of his property to the Regiment in memory of 'fifty years of glorious friendship'.



The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, 'The Janners'

Primus in Indis (First in India)

The custom of drinking a toast to the French Army after the Loyal Toast originated in the Devonshire Regiment and the Croix de Guerre bestowed by the French Government for the remarkable stand of the 2nd Battalion at Bois des Buttes.


The Light Infantry, 'The Honeysuckers'

Officers of the DLI and KSLI were absolved of the need to drink the Loyal Toast. A privilege maintained by the Light Infantry today. This privilege was bestowed upon the 85th in 1821, after members of the Regiment had saved the King from a mob at the Theatre Royal in Brighton.


The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire, 'The Snappers'

The Mess President both proposes and seconds the Loyal Toast. This is in celebration of a dinner at which the second-in-command proved to be too inebriated to perform his duties.


The Green Howards

Drums of the Russian Minsk and Vladimir regiments, captured at the Alma in 1854, are paraded on all occasions of Regimental importance.


The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 'The Fusil Jocks'


The Cheshire Regiment, 'The Lightning Conductors'



The Royal Welch Fusiliers, 'The Nanny Goats'

The Regimental day is celebrated by all ranks wearing the leek and those who have not previously eaten one, are required to do so. An Officers toast is made to 'Toby Purcell, His Spurs and St. David'. Purcell was the regiment's second-in-command at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690; his spurs were handed down to be worn by successive seconds-in-command until 1842, when they were lost in a fire in Montreal.



The Royal Regiment of Wales, 'The Swabs'

On Rorke's Drift Day (January 22nd) the soldiers are shown relics of the Zulu war of 1879. They are told the story of how one company of the South Wales Borderers held off 4,000 Zulus over two days and one night. Eleven VCs were won at Rorke's Drift.



The King's Own Scottish Borderers, 'The KOSBs'

At the Battle of Minden in 1759 the redcoats wore roses during the fighting. To commemorate their gallant stand against the French cavalry, the KOSB wear roses on Minden Day (August 1st).



The Royal Irish Rangers, 'The Aigle-Catchers'

The anniversary of the Battle of Barrossa is celebrated (March 5th, 1811). This commemorates the capture of a French Eagle by Sergeant Masterton and Ensign Keogh of the 87th. The Prince Regent wished for the 87th to be known as his Regiment in acknowledgement of this act and they carry his emblem and an Eagle on their colours.



The Gloucestershire Regiment, 'The Glorious Glosters'

The Regiment celebrates Back Badge Day on March 21st. This commemorates an incident at the Battle of Alexandria, 1801, when the 28th, 42nd and 58th Regiments beat off a French attack on two fronts by turning their rear ranks back-to-back with the front ranks. Since that day the Regiment have worn a badge on the back, as well as the front, of their caps.



The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment, 'The Rams'


A red jacket is flown from the flag pole on Badajoz Day (April 6th). This commemorates an incident during the storming of Badajoz in 1812 when Lieutenant McPherson of the 45th, succeeded in climbing an enemy tower and tearing down their flag. Without a flag of his own to run up, Lieutenant McPherson removed his jacket and ran it up the flagpole.



The Queen's Lancashire Regiment, 'The Fighting Fortieth'

After the Battle of Maida (4th July 1806), Lieutenant Colonel Kempt ate a tortoise and saved the shell. Later on, this was mounted in silver and served as a snuff box in the mess.



The Duke of Wellington's Regiment, 'The Havercake Lads'

Virtutis fortuna comes (Fortune is the companion of bravery)

The DWR is the only regiment to have the privilege of carrying four colours; two regulation and two honorary. The Honorary Colours are descended from a pair presented to the 76th by the Honourable East India Company in 1808.



The Royal Hampshire Regiment, 'The Stonewallers'


A ceremony called 'Trooping the Swede' was started by the 4th Battalion in 1920 to commemorate the 'Swedebashers' who volunteered in 1914 and died in the First World War. The swedes are tied with ribbons of yellow and black and carried round the dining table to the strains of 'The Farmers Boy'.



The Staffordshire Regiment, 'The Black Knots'

Ich dien (I serve)



The Black Watch, 'The Forty Twa'

Nemo me impune lacessit (Nobody assails me with impunity)

Two trophies of war have long been used to sound time in barracks. During the Indian Mutiny the 1st Battalion 'liberated' a brass gong from the mutineers of the Gwalior contingent at Seraghai, while the 2nd Battalion was the first unit of the Mesopatamian Expeditionary Force to enter Baghdad (on March 11th 1917), capturing a bell at Samarra railway station on April 23rd. 



The Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment, 'The Springers'

The 'Rolling In Ceremony' takes place on Guest Nights in the mess. Two drummers in full dress uniform beat the diners into the mess playing on drums captured in the Crimea and the First World War. The tune is 'Roast Beef of Old England'.



The Gordon Highlanders, 'The Cheesy Gordons'



The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 'The Thin Red Line'

Ne obliviscaris (Do not forget)



The Parachute Regiment, 'The Red Devils'

Utrinque paratus (Ready for anything)


The 2nd King Edward VII's Own Ghurka Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles)

Kaphar hunnu bhanda marnu ramro (Better to die than live a coward)


The 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Ghurka Rifles

Kaphar hunnu bhanda marnu ramro (Better to die than live a coward)


The 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Ghurka Rifles

Kaphar hunnu bhanda marnu ramro (Better to die than live a coward)


The 10th Princess Mary's Own Ghurka Rifles

Kaphar hunnu bhanda marnu ramro (Better to die than live a coward)



The Royal Green Jackets, 'The Light Bobs'



The Special Air Service Regiment, 'The SAS'

Who dares wins


These badges and other militaria are available at The Coaster Company


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