Timeline of the British Army

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This timeline covers the main wars, battles and engagements and related issues for the Scottish, English and British Army, from 1537 to the present.[1][2][3][4][5][6] See also Timeline of British diplomatic history.


  • 1537 – The Overseers of the Fraternity or Guild of St George received a royal charter from Henry VIII on 25 August, when letters patent were received authorising them to establish a perpetual corporation for the defence of the realm to be known as the Fraternity or Guild of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handgonnes. This body was known by a variety of names since, but today is called the Honourable Artillery Company, and is the oldest regiment in continuous service in the British Army.
  • 1539 – The Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineer Regiment is first mustered before becoming a militia force for the county of Monmouth. When the new Police was formed in the 19th century, the regiment switched to the Royal Engineers Reserve, becoming the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers Militia the senior regiment of the Reserve Army.
  • 1572 – The Buffs were formed from London's urban militia to support the Protestants in Holland, where they remained until the outbreak of the Anglo-Dutch war in 1665, at which point they were disbanded for refusing the oath of loyalty to the Dutch States General. They fled to England and reformed as 'The Holland Regiment' in the British Army. The unit is now part of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.


  • 1633 – The Royal Regiment of Foot (later the Royal Scots) is placed on the Scottish Establishment, later becoming the oldest infantry regiment in the British Army.
  • 1642 – Marquis of Argyll's Royal Regiment was raised by Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll for service in Ireland, renamed in 1650 Lyfe Guard of Foot and reformed as the Scottish Regiment of Foot Guards in 1661 (later the Scots Guards).
  • 1650 – George Monck's Regiment is formed (later the Coldstream Guards), becoming the oldest infantry regiment in continuous service in the British Army but not under the monarch.
  • 1656 – Lord Wentworth's Regiment is formed (later the Grenadier Guards), later becoming the most senior infantry regiment in the British Army because of the long serving loyalty to the monarch during the English Civil War.
  • 26 January 1661 – King Charles II issues warrant, becoming the acknowledged beginning of the British Army. This concerned an assemblage of English regiments and Scottish regiments brought south with Charles II. The British Army would not formally exist, however, for another 46 years, as Scotland and England remained two independent states, each with its own Army.
  • 1 October 1661 – The Tangier Regiment is formed, later The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, the most senior English line infantry regiment in the British Army.
  • 1684 – The English withdraw from the Colony of Tangier.
  • 1688 – The War of the Grand Alliance begins.




Second Boer War[edit]

First World War[edit]


Interwar Period[edit]

  • January 1919 – Anglo-Irish War begins; British forces combat guerilla operations by the Irish Republican Army.
  • 1919 – British Army takes part in Allied intervention during Russian Civil War.
  • 28 June 1920 – Winston Churchill as the Secretary of State for War signed the royal warrant which gave the sovereigns approval for the formation of a 'Corps of Signals'. Six weeks later in August, King George V conferred the title 'Royal Corps of Signals'.[20]
  • 31 July 1922 – Six Irish regiments (5 infantry and one cavalry) are disbanded due to the establishment of the Irish Free State.
  • 1929 – The British Army of the Rhine in Germany is withdrawn.
  • 1935 – Abyssinian Crisis takes place; Army deploys substantial reinforcements to Africa and the Middle East.
  • 1936 – uprising in Palestine begins.
  • 4 April 1939 – The Royal Armoured Corps is formed.

Second World War[edit]




  1. ^ See John William Fortescue, History of the British Army (13 vol, 1899-1930), which tells the story to 1870.
  2. ^ David G. Chandler and Ian Frederick William Beckett, eds. The Oxford illustrated history of the British army (Oxford UP, 1994)
  3. ^ David G. Chandler, The Oxford history of the British army. (Oxford UP, 2003).
  4. ^ Eric William Sheppard, A short history of the British army. (Constable, 1950).
  5. ^ Robert Money Barnes, A history of the regiments & uniforms of the British Army (London: Seeley Service, 1950).
  6. ^ Peter Young and James Philip Lawford, History of the British Army (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1970).
  7. ^ Basil Williams and C.H. Stuart, The Whig Supremacy 1714-1760 (1965) pp 231-70
  8. ^ Oliver Warner, With Wolfe to Quebec: the path to glory (1972).
  9. ^ See Jeremy Black, "Could the British Have Won the American War of Independence?." Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research. (Fall 1996), Vol. 74 Issue 299, pp 145-154. online 90-minute video lecture given at Ohio State in 2006; requires Real Player
  10. ^ Richard M. Ketchum, Decisive Day: The Battle for Bunker Hill (1999).
  11. ^ Barnet Schecter, The battle for New York: The city at the heart of the American Revolution (2003).
  12. ^ Bruce Mowday, September 11, 1777: Washington's Defeat at Brandywine Dooms Philadelphia (White Mane Pub, 2002).
  13. ^ Michael O. Logusz, With Musket and Tomahawk: The Saratoga Campaign and the Wilderness War of 1777 (Casemate Publishers, 2010).
  14. ^ Jerome A. Greene, The Guns of Independence: The Siege of Yorktown, 1781 (Casemate Publishers, 2009).
  15. ^ Nikolas Gardner, Trial by fire: Command and the British Expeditionary Force in 1914 (2003).
  16. ^ Ian Beckett, Ypres: The First Battle 1914 (Routledge, 2013).
  17. ^ Basil Henry Liddell Hart, The Tanks: The History of the Royal Tank Regiment and Its Predecessors, Heavy Branch, Machine-Gun Corps, Tank Corps, and Royal Tank Corps, 1914-1945 (1959).
  18. ^ Robert Woollcombe, The First Tank Battle: Cambrai 1917 (Arthur Barker, 1967).
  19. ^ Abigail Jacobson, From Empire to Empire: Jerusalem between Ottoman and British Rule (2011).
  20. ^ "The Corps of Royal Signals celebrates its centenary in Salisbury Cathedral".
  21. ^ "Our Story". Army Air Corps. Retrieved 3 November 2023.
  22. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Beyond Today - Deadliest Day: How one patrol in Afghanistan still haunts British soldiers ten years on". BBC. Retrieved 3 November 2023.