Regimental Crest

The "Skins" are born

Sunset Salute

Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers...

The Birth of the Regiment

Tiffin’s Inniskilling Regiment” was founded in 1689 the year after King James II, England’s last Roman Catholic monarch, was overthrown and replaced on the throne by Dutch William III and his wife Mary, protestant daughter of the deposed James II.

William III, as Prince of Orange, was already at war with France, and since Louis XIV gave succour and assistance to the exiled James Stuart there began that long series of major wars, with France always the prime enemy, which were to end on the field of Waterloo 126 years later. The fighting, which at the outset was somewhat localised in Ireland ( the regiment fought at the Boyne in 1690 after which the defeated King James II fled to France) and the Netherlands, eventually became almost world-wide, and the Inniskilling Regiment took an increasingly active and distinguished part, particularly in the West Indies where their first battle honours were won, and where yellow fever killed more soldiers than did enemy shot.

Until 1805, the 27th was a 2 battalion regiment, but during the last part of that year a third battalion, nicknamed "the Young Inniskillings" was formed in Scotland. It was this newest battalion which was to have the most active part in the Peninsula campaign. The Battalion reached Corunna in October 1808 and was sent south to join forces with the army of Lieutenant General Craddock which was protecting Lisbon against threatened French attack . The attack failed to materialise but after news reached Craddock of the British defeat at Corunna 10/01/1809), the 3rd Battalion, the Inniskillings was sent as part of a strong brigade under Mackenzie to Cadiz to help the Spanish to defend the city against the French. Contrary to the friendly reception that he expected, the city refused e ntry  to the troops and after a month of fruitless negotiations, the waiting troops were recalled to Lisbon and in February 1810 the 3rd/27th was incorporated into Anson's brigade which formed part of the famous 4th division commanded by Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole. The regiment took part in the battle of Busaco 27/09/1810, but were hardly engaged and lost only two men. The rest of the year was spent in Portugal behind the fortified lines of Torres Vedras with the bulk of Wellington's army. In March 1811, the French army under Messena, plagued by lack of supplies, decided to withdraw into Spain. The 4th division took part in the first phase of the pursuit but was then ordered by Beresford who was investing the frontier fortress of Badajoz.

The division reached the fortress in early May just in time to take part in preparations for the siege. The forces available were not enough for such a task and although the 3rd/27th fought with distinction, suffering 10 dead and 170 men wounded, the siege was raised on 12th because of the imminent approach of the French General Soult from the south. After the raising of the siege the 3rd/27th was left to protect the commissariat which was removing stores and so missed the battle of Albuera by one day. The battalion was involved in the last stage of the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (January 1812) but was hardly involved in any serious fighting and suffered no casualties. In March 1812 the 4th division, together with the 3rd and light divisions took part in the third siege of Badajoz, this time under the command of Wellington himself. At last the walls in the south-eastern corner of the city were breached and on 6th April a general assault was launched. The 4th division was directed to a breach in the La Trinidad fort and although the assault started well the troops lost their bearings in the noise and confusion and attacked the unbreached part of the wall. They found themselves separated from the correct attacking point by a deep chasm with defenders pouring down musket fire upon them. To make things worse, troops from the light division had also made the same mistake and elements of the two divisions found themselves hopelessly mixed up. After two hours of confusion the attack faltered, but refusing to retreat, the remnants of the attackers remained in the ditch under heavy fire, until finally ordered to do so by Wellington himself. The survivors were formed into a second assault group, whose next attempt met with success. A diversionary attack was mounted on the San Vincente bastion in the French rear, which caused the French commander to remove some of the defenders from those points under attack from the second assault group. When the renewed attack occurred the 3rd/27th were in the thickest of the fighting, losing 5 officers and 37 men dead, and 11 officers and 132 men wounded. After the fighting, in which Badajoz was finally taken, it was discovered that only 10 officers and 414 men were fit for duty (out of an original total of 920).


After Badajoz the Battalion was rested until June when the 4th division was on the march once, this time directed towards Salamanca. After a week of marching and counter-marching by both French and British, Wellington managed to smash marshal Marmont's army in a two hour engagement. Anson's brigade was involved in all the important phases of the battle, but the 3rd/27th suffered little during the combat losing only 1 officer and 7 men wounded. After Salamanca 3rd/27th marched with the rest of Wellington's army to Madrid and entered the City on the 12th August 1812. After some rest and recuperation, the battalion took part in an unsuccessful campaign against Marshal Soult and rejoined the rest of the army only after a near disastrous retreat from Burgos. In the spring of the next year, 1813, the 3rd/27th, together with the rest of Wellington's army advanced once more into Spain from its winter quarters, and engaged and defeated the army of Joseph Bonaparte at Vitoria, a battle which signalled the end of the Napoleonic presence in Spain. The main French forces were driven over the Pyrenees leaving only the troops of marshal Soult on Spanish soil, on the eastern coast. Soult attempted to counter-attack the British in the Pyrenees but failed opening the way for Wellington and his army to finally cross the French border on the 7th October.

At Waterloo, where so many regiments performed prodigies of valour and endurance, none exceeded and few equalled the deeds of the Inniskillings. Ordered to hold an important crossroads, they were decimated by heavy cannon fire which carved bloody gaps in their squares, but the survivors stood firm, repelling determined cavalry charges. At the end of a terrible day, most of the companies were commanded by sergeants, and few could muster as many as 20 unwounded men. Close by the crossroads 450 of the 700 Inniskillings who had marched into battle lay dead in their squares where they had fallen. The Duke of Wellington was always sparing with his praise, but he said of the Inniskillings, “They saved the centre of my line at Waterloo.”
The practice of designating regiments by their Colonels names had been discontinued in 1751, and a numerical system was introduced in its place. “Tiffin’s” became the 27th or Inniskilling Regiment of Foot. It is interesting to note that the Royal Warrant which authorised this change granted certain privileges to the ‘Six Old Corps’ and to the ‘Royal Regiments.’ The 27th were one of the ‘Six Old Corps,’ from which it can be inferred that they had already gained an enviable reputation.

The 27th bore that number until 1881, when they were united with the 108th Regiment, originally an Irish regiment in the service of the Honourable East India Company, to become the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
The exploits of the Irish regiments in the 1914-18 War will never be forgotten. Three Irish divisions were formed. The 10th, which included the 5th and 6th Inniskillings, was the first-ever all Irish division, serving with great distinction at Gallipoli (where the 1st Battalion also fought splendidly with the gallant 29th Division), and later in Macedonia. The 16th (Irish) Division, which included the 7th and 8th Inniskillings, and the 36th (Ulster) Division, including the 9th, 10th and 11th Inniskillings, served in France and Flanders, fighting with great gallantry, and suffering terrible casualties, in many campaigns from the Somme in 1916 until the end of the war.

The foundation of the Irish Free State (as Eire was then called) in 1922 led inevitably to the disbandment of the five splendid regiments which had recruited in the Southern provinces. The Royal Irish Fusiliers, although based in Ulster, had also recruited throughout the country, and were listed for disbandment. They were saved by a truly magnificent gesture by the Inniskillings, who offered to forfeit their 2nd Battalion if the Royal Irish Fusiliers could remain at single battalion strength. This generous and neighbourly act was quite without precedent. The two regiments acted in most respects as one until 1937, when virtue was rewarded and both were authorised to raise 2nd Battalions again.


The 1st Inniskillings were then serving in Singapore, but shortly moved to the popular Hill Station of Wellington in Southern India, where they were located at the outbreak of World War II. When Japan entered the war, the Inniskillings formed part of the weak and ill-equipped force committed to defend Burma. Heavily involved in the dreadful retreat of 1942, they eventually reached Assam after months of fighting and marching, an exhausted remnant of a once fine battalion. It says much for their spirit that within months they had absorbed drafts of replacements, re-trained and re-equipped, and were ready and willing to play a leading part in the Arian with 14th Indian Div. Months of hard fighting, in which the Inniskillings demonstrated their traditional offensive spirit, ended when a Japanese counter-attack left them completely isolated and with no recourse but to split up into small groups and to fight their way north through the jungle. For the second time, a much depleted battalion re-assembled in India. They took no further part in active operations in Burma, remaining in India on internal security duties until 1947, when they were one of the last British units to depart. 

The 2nd Battalion went to France in 1939 with 5 Div., and later accompanied that much-travelled formation to Madagascar, India, Syria and Egypt, in quick succession. They fought with distinction in Sicily and in Italy, where, at Isernia, they reached the town, an American objective, ahead of our allies. The Americans were puzzled, upon entering Isernia, to find representations of the Castle of Inniskilling stencilled on many prominent walls.

The 6th Battalion was part of 38th (Irish) Brigade and landed at Algiers with 1st Army in 1942. Transferring to 8th Army, the Brigade was involved in severe fighting in Sicily and Italy where, following heavy losses in both battalions, the 2nd and 6th were amalgamated to form a new 2nd Battalion which replaced the 6th in the Irish Brigade. They fought through the last winter of the war, and had reached the River Po when the Germans capitulated. All the line infantry regiments lost their 2nd Battalions soon after the war; the first step in the swingeing reduction of infantry which has been imposed. However, the Inniskillings were one of eight regiments which were required to raise 2nd Battalions again during the 1950’s, when worldwide commitments were unexpectedly heavy. Since 1947, they had been ‘brigaded’ with the Royal Ulster Rifles and the Royal Irish Fusiliers, each regiment retaining its separate identity, but moving officers and men freely within the ‘North Irish Brigade’ according to need. This arrangement was concluded in 1968, when the Brigade was abolished and the regiments amalgamated to form the Royal Irish Rangers. So the Inniskillings paraded for the last time to bring to a sad end 279 years of honourable and distinguished service: 62 as Tiffin’s Regiment, 130 as the 27th, and 87 as Fusiliers, but always “Inniskillings.”

Finally in 1968  The Royal lnniskilling Fusiliers amalgamated with The Royal Ulster Rifles and The Royal Irish Fusiliers to form The Royal Irish Rangers.