5/60th History

Number 1 Coy. 5/60th Royal American (Rifles) were a British serving company within the 5th btn, 60th Regiment of Foot (Royal Americans).

The 60th itself was a regiment raised to police America only, originally being given the number 62 in the line, it changed to the 60th in 1757. The regiment was charged mainly with fighting the French, and actually won the motto ‘Celer Et Audax’  (Swift & Bold) from General James Wolfe after driving the French from Quebec. This motto is still in use today with the modern day Rifles.

Parliament passed legislation in late 1797 to add another battalion, 1,000 men strong to the Regiment. This brought the addition of a fifth battalion to the 60th, which was raised on the Isle of Wight with Lt. Col. Baron de Rottenburg as the commanding officer. The first return for the battalion was sworn in front of Newport Magistrates in March 1798, and depicts the four companies of the battalion based on the Isle of Wight drawing pay. Within 6 months those four companies had moved to Waterford, Ireland.

The battalion was wholly armed with a Prussian Rifle, and consisted of men drafted in from two foreign corps; Lowenstein’s Chasseur’s (Dutch) and Hompesch’s Mounted riflemen (German). It is from the latter that the battalion gained it’s uniform style – a pair of tight fitting pantaloons, and a green jacket with scarlet facings (unlike the other battalions of the 60th, the 5th used a green jacket with red facings instead of a red jacket with blue facings, but retained the royal status of the regiment with its royal blue pantaloons). This battalion became the first in the British Army not only to be wholly equipped & specifically trained in the use of rifles, but also to wear the now famous green jacket.

Early service in Ireland beckoned the newly raised 5th btn, and saw them successfully quash a rebellion at the Battle of Vinegar Hill under the command of Sir John Moore. The four companies of the battalion then headed for the West Indies in 1799, where on arrival the battalion was strengthened to ten companies, with recruits being drafted in from Lowenstein’s Chassuers, York Rangers and also a company of the Walloon Guards amongst others. The battalion then served in the America’s briefly, serving at Martinique, Surinam, Grenada, Trinidad and Halifax (Nova Scotia) before travelling on to Portsmouth, England.

1808 saw the opening of a marvelous and colourful chapter in not only the regiments history, but also of Britain itself. Sir Arthur Wellesley (Later Lord Wellington) landed at Mondego Bay in Portugal, thus beginning the Peninsular Wars. The 5/60th along with the 2/95th were the first men ashore and became the first British forces to encounter the French. The battalion itself was ordered to work at Company level (the typical European way of employing riflemen in the field) and was strung through the various divisions of the British army to provide elite’ sharpshooters to work with the light companies of line regiments. It’s also important to note that on the first order of the battle made during the Peninsular, 5/60th were accompanied by 2/95th Rifles in the Light Division, with 5/60th being the senior battalion.

The battalion went on to win no less than 16 battle honours in the Peninsular and France campaigns, which are still worn with pride today by the officers of the current Rifles.

The Commanding Officer of the 1st Company who we represent, was called John Galiffe. He was the most highly decorated officer of the British Army which served in the Peninsular Wars, with no less than 15 actions to his name. Galiffe went on to command the 5/60th from the beginning of 1813 until the end of hostilities in April 1814.

5/60th itself was itself present in the Peninsular from the very beginning to the last day of the war (1808-1814). Only two other battalions in the British Army achieved this feat.

The battalion was eventually disbanded in 1818 with the remaining men, battle honours & traditions amalgamated into the 2nd. Rifle Battalion, Duke of Yorks’ Rifle Corps. Their motto ‘Swoift & Bold’ also went with them, and carried on in use when they became the KRRC in 1830. In 1948 the KRRC merged with the Rifle Brigade & Ox & Bucks. LI to form the Royal Green Jackets (RGJ). Finally in 2007 the RIFLES were formed from the RGJ , Devonshire & Dorset LI; The Light Infantry & finally the Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire LI. The 60th’s battle honours, traditions and history is kept alive by 2nd Battn. The Rifles, with their original motto ‘Swift & Bold’ now used by the whole regiment, the single largest regiment in the British Army.