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West India Regiment.
West India Regiment
My limited edition 6 foot tall soldier depicts The West India Regiment raised in 1795 by recruiting freed slaves from North America and from the purchase of slaves in the West Indies.
The regiment saw considerable service during the period of the Napoleonic Wars, including participation in the Battle of New Orleans 1815. The West India Regiment was unique amongst units serving in and recruited from the colonies, in that it was an integral part of the British regular army.
The West India Regiment in 1856 adopted the Zouave uniform which was modelled on that of the French Zouaves. The regiment saw service in West Africa in the latter years of the 19th Century, and saw limited action in the Middle East during the First World War. After the war, the 1st and 2nd battalions were amalgamated into a single 1st Battalion in 1920.
The West india Regiment had a good record for discipline and effectiveness, although there were three seperate mutinies betweek 1802 and 1837. A contributing factor was that it did not always attract a high calibre of British officer. Prevailing social attitudes meant that service with "black infantry" was not a popular option during the nineteenth century and many of the more capable officers saw their time with the WIR as simply a stepping stone to more sought after assignments.
In 1915, a second West Indies regiment was formed from Caribbean volunteers who made their way to Britain. Initially, these volunteers were drafted into a variety of units within the British Army, but in 1915 it was decided to group them together into a single regiment, named the British West Indies Regiment. The regiment recruited men from British Guiana, Trinidad and St Vincent, Grenada and Barbados and British Honduras.
In 1958, with the foundation of the Federation of the West Indies, it was decided to raise the West India Regiment once again. Initially, the 1st Battalion was formed from the nucleus of the Jamaica Regiment. The 2nd and 3rd battalions were also formed by 1960. However, the Federation was short lived, and the regiment again disbanded by 1962, with the constituent battalions becoming the infantry regiments of the two largest islands.
Wooden Soldier Regimental Histories