THE FUTURE OF RGBW
|From:General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue KCB CBE|
Colonel of the Regiment
The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment
Custom House 31 Commercial Road Gloucester GL1 2HE
Tel: 01452 – 522682 & Fax:01452 – 311116 Mil: (9)4249 – 8400
Regimental Association Branches and Officers’ Club Members
25th May 2005
THE FUTURE OF THE ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE, BERKSHIRE AND WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
The Regimental Council met on Mon 9 May to discuss implementation of the Secretary of State’s announcement of 9 Mar and the Chief of the General Staff’s subsequent direction. Before I outline the details of the above discussion, I would like to recap on the changes of structure we will undergo during the coming months:
The RGBW has already moved administratively from the Prince of Wales’s Division to join the Light Division, alongside the D and D, the LI and the RGJ.
We are currently seeking approval for the RGBW to formally join the LI under the transitional title of The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry (RGBWLI). We hope to action the change from RGBW to RGBWLI on the anniversary of the Battle of Salamanca (a Battle Honour shared by the RGBW, the D and D, the LI and the RGJ) this year.
In the autumn of 2006, 1 RGBWLI will merge with the 1st Battalion The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry (1 DDLI) to become the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry (1 LI). The LI will then consist of 3 battalions.
It is intended that the RGBWLI will wear the rifle green beret of the Light Division as a clear symbol of the direction in which we are heading. This change of headdress will also demonstrate our willingness to embrace the ‘light/rifle’ ethos espoused by the Light Division which will, in turn, embrace and henceforth carry forward the proud history of the RGBW, just as the RGBW celebrates the heritage of the GLOSTERS and the DERR.
Throughout these changes, our lineage will be clear and the RGBW (then RGBWLI, then LI) will continue to support our wider regimental family, including the TA, the 4 ACF Battalions and our 12 CCF Contingents, just as we will continue to be the county infantry Regiment of Bristol, Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire. We will ensure that the TA, ACF and CCF will continue their affiliation to the Regiment and will also adopt the rifle green beret of the Light Division.
Although no decisions have been taken on future plans for the Regimental Association, it is likely that there will be little change. The LI Regimental Association continues to have branches in all their counties – RGBW branches will be no different and would be welcomed into the LI.
A review is to be undertaken this year on the future role of RHQs. No decision is likely before December at the earliest, but it is likely that we will retain a presence in Gloucester and Salisbury following our merger.
As for the future of the Light Division, it is likely that the LI and the RGJ will choose at some point to merge the whole Division to form a regiment of 5 battalions. The LI and RGJ are discussing this possibility at present and are aware of our strong preference that to minimise disruption any such merger should be coincident with the formation of the new 1 LI in autumn 2006. The RGBWLI would then move straight into the new ‘light/rifle’ regiment without taking the step from RGBWLI to LI en route.
Of course, the eventual future of the Light Division has a bearing on how we might seek to take forward the RGBW’s ‘Golden Thread’ and the Future Working Group (FWG) is mindful in its consideration that it must plan for all possible scenarios. It is important that we bear in mind that the ‘Golden Thread’ comprises the totality of our heritage and celebration of key Battle Honours (particularly Ferozeshah); our counties and affiliations; our Association; our soldiers; and the iconography that represents all this. The FWG is considering carefully our iconography and has provided an early idea of what they believe may turn out to be our priorities to be taken forward into our future regiment including the Back Badge, the Brandywine Flash and the US Presentational Citation. Whatever we take forward will, of course, symbolise the RGBW and therefore all of our antecedent Regiments.
I know that there are those amongst our Regiment’s retired members who feel that the RGBW should be spared further amalgamation so soon after our last. This unfortunately is not possible, given the large regimental structure that the Infantry has decided to adopt to best equip it to meet future operational commitments. That the Infantry should reduce in size while reorganising is a decision over which we have no influence, and I am certain that, given the circumstances, we have reached the best deal we could have hoped for. Indeed, the Regimental Council is clear that the RGBW will be much better placed for its future in the post-Arms Plot Infantry within the Light Division, whether as part of a 3-battalion Light Infantry or a 5-battalion large regiment. The LI (and RGJ) will ensure that the RGBW is able to demonstrably carry forward its ‘Golden Thread’ into the Light Division and the Light Division’s future roles and locations will guarantee broader career opportunity and greater operational diversity than will be available to many Infanteers in other Divisions.
 The anniversary of the Battle of Salamanca is 22 Jul. Should this date be selected for the change from RGBW to RGBWLI, RHQ will promulgate details of associated public events as part of a media campaign to inform our counties.
 The LI currently consists of 2 battalions.