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Green Howards: A Regiment's Valor Rooted in Limerick's Storied Past | Limerick Gazette Archives

Green Howards: A Regiment’s Valor Rooted in Limerick’s Storied Past

The Green Howards’ connection to Limerick dates back to the late 17th century during a period of great upheaval in the British Isles. Having demonstrated their valour in the Battle of the Boyne and the Battle of Aughrim, the regiment took part in the siege of Limerick, a historic and fiercely contested event in the Williamite War in Ireland. The siege, which lasted from August to September 1691, ultimately led to the capitulation of the city and a significant victory for King William III’s forces. The participation of the Green Howards in the siege of Limerick played a crucial role in shaping their future endeavours, infusing the spirit of resilience and bravery that would become emblematic of this esteemed regiment.

As already announced in the Telegraph, the 1st Battalion Alexandra Princess of Wales’ Own Yorkshire Regiment, on arrival home from the Cape, will take over quarters at Hillsborough Barracks. The regiment, which is familiarly known as the “Green Howards,” is an old and distinguished one with more than 150 years of association with Yorkshire.

The regiment was formed during the stirring times of the Revolution of 1688 from corps of musketeers and pikemen recruited in Devonshire and the South of England. It was not regimented until the following year when it was formally embodied by Colonel Francis Luttrell under a commission dated the 26th February 1689 at Portsmouth. In those days, a regiment was a curious assembly of armed men, usually consisting of twelve companies. Four of these were armed with muskets, hence called musketeers, and the remainder wielded formidable pikes. The first service of the regiment was under King William III at the famous Battle of the Boyne, in which it played a prominent part, as it did a year later at the Battle of Aughrim.

The regiment then assisted in the siege of Limerick and returned to England after the capitulation of that place. After some service afloat as marines, the regiment was sent to William’s camp in Flanders in 1692. It was at the Battle of Steenkirk which ended in a defeat for William. The Green Howards then took part in the siege of Namur and were sent to Ireland after the cessation of hostilities.

The next service was in the capture and destruction of Spanish galleons in Vigo Bay in 1702, following the death of William. After successfully achieving its objective, the regiment was sent to the West Indies. By the time the regiment returned to the Low Countries, Marlborough had already made a name for himself and the Green Howards participated in his last great battle at Malplaquet, which is commemorated on the regimental colours.

By the end of this era, the regiment became associated with Yorkshire and was given the time-honoured name of “Howard’s Greens” or the “Green Howards.” Distinctive green facings were eventually added to the regiment’s uniform.

The regiment went on to be involved in numerous other campaigns throughout history, including the American War of Independence, the Crimean War, the suppression of the Indian Mutiny, the campaign against the Hazara and Black Mountain tribes, the Egyptian campaign and, most recently, the Boer War.

Throughout its history, the Green Howards have earned many honours for their service, including “Malplaquet,” “Alma,” “Inkerman,” “Sevastopol.” In 1875, Queen Alexandra presented the regiment with colours, and the regiment was designated the “Princess of Wales’s Own,” with her cipher and coronet and the Danish Cross added to the badges.

With the territorial changes of 1881, the regiment was named the “Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment,” and its facings were changed to white. Later, however, the green facings were restored, and the King recently ordered the regiment to take its present title, “Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment.”

The current demobilisation of the 1st Battalion has been completed, and the regiment now prepares to take up its new quarters at Hillsborough Barracks, Sheffield. This marks another chapter in the long and storied history of the Green Howards.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Monday 06 October 1902