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Remembered Today:

Origin of regimental names


1st_east_yorks
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Hello learned colleagues,

With regard to regimental names, would I be correct in assuming that a "Grenadier" was related to bombing duties (as in grenade) and that a fusilier was too (as in fuse)?

As for Hussars and dragoons....it is all rather confusing. Can any of the pals give me a good link that explains the origin of these names and what they relate to?

Thanks in advance,

Sean.

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I know a fusilier is named after a lightly armed soldier who carried a flintlock rifle called a "fusil", and a dragoon is derived from the French "dragon" a type of firearm. Ralph.

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I am not particularly a fan of Wikipedia but if you google 'Hussars' and 'dragoons' you will find very comprehensive explanations of the historical origins of these names.

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Grenadier comes from the use of the grenade as you say. Hussar is Hungarian in origin IIRC.

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And I believe the role of a fusilier was to protect the artillery (hence the Royal Fusiliers having regimental ties very similar to the RA).

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And a variation on the bursting bomb or shell for their badges as well.

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James, son of Charles I reorganised the Board of ordnance, a civilian body. To provide an escort for artillery trains James raised 'our Ordnance Regiment' or Royal Regiment of Fuzileers (7th foot)

Steve M

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Hello all

In the 18th century each infantry regiment normally had a company of grenadiers, who were usually the tallest men in the regiment, and were armed with grendades. THey were also used as shock troops, often being taken out of their regiments and grouped into ad-hoc battalions. They were the precursors of the storm-troopers of later periods. Incidentally those British who were hand-grenade specialists in WW1 were called Bombers.

I believe that the fusil, or fusee, was a type of musket which was less likely to throw off sparks than ordinary muskets, and was therefore safer to use when escorting the artillery.

Hussar is indeed from Hungary and was a particular type of light horseman. I believe they were raised by a proportionate levy of one man in twenty of the local population ("usz" is Hungarian for 20).

The dragon or dragoon was an early short-barrelled musket or long-barrelled pistol, comparable with the later carbine. The dragoons of the 17th century were effectively mounted infantry, i.e. they rode to battle but dismounted to fire, whereas "Horse" (ordinary cavalry) used the sword for mounted action.

By 1900 the distinctions in most armies had become mainly matters of tradition, especially in dress. Grenadier and Fusilier were still used as prestige titles for regiments. There was some distinction between heavy and light cavalry but generally most regiments in either cavalry or infantry were trained for the same basic roles.

Ron

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The unique types of infantry and mounted organizations in centuries past were considered to be significant "force structure" and tactical innovations at the time they were formed. In those days the army was not as centralized in determining how it fights as it is now and colonels of regiments had more say over the uniforms, tactics and weapons of their units. The light infantry of the 18th century had drill and tactics that were distinct from those of most regiments of foot. The King's Royal Rifle Corps and Rifle Brigade kept their old names even when other infantry units were armed with rifles after 1853. The 101st U.S. Airborne Division has not been a parachute unit for more than 30 years--they are "air assault" or helicopter infantry now-- but the division retains its World War II name because of tradition.

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