Weird War 2
The regiment was formed in 1688 from independent companies of infantry in Devon. Until 1751 it was known by the names of its various colonels, when it became the 19th Regiment of Foot. In 1782 all regiments of foot without a special designation were given a county title “to cultivate a connection with the County which might at all times be useful towards recruiting”.1 The regiment became the 19th (1st North Riding of Yorkshire) Regiment of Foot, and its main recruiting efforts continued in this area until 2006, particularly in Middlesbrough, Redcar, Northallerton and Scarborough.
The Two Howards
The regiment was known as the Green Howards from 1744. At that time, regiments were known by the name of their colonel. The 19th regiment’s colonel was Hon. Sir Charles Howard. However, at the same time the 3rd Regiment of Foot had been commanded by its Colonel Thomas Howard, since 1737. In order to tell them apart (since they both would have been known as ’Howard’s Regiment of Foot’), the colours of their uniform facings were used to distinguish them. In this way, one became ’Howard’s Buffs’ (eventually simply The Buffs), while the other became the Green Howards. Although the Green Howards were referred to unofficially as such from then on, it was not until 1921 that the regiment was officially retitled to the Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment).2 Under the Childers reforms all non-royal English infantry regiments were to wear white facings from 1881. In 1899 the regiment was able to reverse this decision with the restoration of the grass green facings formerly worn by the 19th Foot 3
Princess of Wales’s Own
In 1875 Princess Alexandra, Princess of Wales presented new colours to the 1st Battalion at Sheffield, and consented to the regiment bearing her name, thus becoming the 19th (1st Yorkshire North Riding – Princess of Wales’s Own) Regiment of Foot.4 The regiment adopted a cap badge consisting of the Princess’s cypher “A” combined with the Dannebrog or Danish cross and topped by her coronet.
The Princess became Queen Alexandra in 1901, and was the regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief from 1914 until her death in 1925.
In 1881 the infantry of the line were reorganised. The regular regiments of foot lost their numbers, instead taking on a territorial or county title, and amalgamating with the militia battalions and rifle volunteers in its designated regimental district. The regiment was renamed as the Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment), with its recruiting area continuing to be the North Riding. In 1902 the regiment was redesignated as Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment).