Regiments of the British West Indies and Bermuda

The British Government was forced to defend it's colonies in the West Indies from their foundation from other European Powers. In the 1790's four-fifths of British overseas investment went to the development of it's colonies in the area. For this the government received approximately £31.5 million in taxes and duties. This was further increased by revenue raised from associated trade and commercial activity.

In the late 18th century the British government calculated that a garrison of 20,000 soldiers was needed to defend it's Caribbean possessions. This raised a problem for in 1793 the entire British army totaled fewer than 40,000 men. Furthermore the West Indies was not the healthiest of places for European soldiers to be stationed. Men died of typhoid during the passage from Britain and of malaria and yellow fever, known as "Yellow Jack" while stationed in the Caribbean.

The other killer was "New" Rum. The sugar producing machinery and distilling equipment had a high lead content which contaminated the rum. The rum was also improperly distilled and was therefore more of a "moonshine", containing deadly fusel-oil alcohols which are poisonous. This situation was not helped by the soldier's belief that drinking rum prevented them circuming to yellow fever. The over-consumption resulted in many soldiers suffering from diseases associated with alcoholism - encephalities, liver cirrhosis, liver necrosis, nephritis, anemia, peripheral neuritis, and gout - though not always correctly diagnosed by the army surgeons at the time.

An example of the effect it had on British soldiers occured in 1808 when the entire Royal Marine garrison at Marie Galante was incapacitated by excessive consumption of rum. The men in question had to be replaced by captured French slaves!

During the American Revolution between October 1776 and February 1780, 12 regiments were sent from Britain to the Caribbean. The number of soldiers totalled 8,437. Of these 931 died during the passage, which gives a fatality average of 11% for each regiment. Many who did arrive were rejected as unfit and sent back to Britain, either because of their age or they were infirm. A total of 69 line regiments served in the Caribbean between 1793 and 1801 and another 24 between 1803 and 1815.

From 1793 to 1802, an estimated 1,500 officers and 43,500 other ranks died mainly from fevers while being stationed in the Caribbean. Another example of the death toll while serving "King and Country" is the year 1796 when some 41% of European soldiers died within a year of arriving.

Efforts were made to keep European soldiers out of some of the more unhealthy garrisons from 1803 to 1815. This resulted in "only" 500 officers and 19,500 other ranks perishing, approximately 14% of the total.

To overcome the manpower and health problems African slaves were purchased or recruited to serve in the British Army. This they did alongside the local Militias in the various British territories.

Further recruitment of various nationals from France, various German States, Holland and Irish Catholics took place to help overcome the shortage of manpower during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Manpower was also supplemented by the British Army recruiting condemned prisoners, deserters and prisoners of war into various units.

Within the following can be found a list of Army Regiments and Units employed to defend these colonies while under British rule and where applicable the Local Defence Forces raised at independence. This list is not complete and is subject to change.

r. = Raised. ro. = reorganised. d. = disbanded.

British Army

Unit Designation Dates

1st West India Regiment (Whyte's)

r.1795 - ro.1888

2nd West India Regiment (Myer's)

r.1795 - ro.1888

3rd West India Regiment  (Keppel's)

r.1795 - d.1825 r.1840 - d.1870

4th West India Regiment  (Nicholl's)

r.1795 - d.1819 r.1840 - d.1869

5th West India Regiment  (Howe's)

r.1795 - d.1817 r.1863 - d.1865

6th West India Regiment (Whitelock's)

r.1795 - d.1817

7th West India Regiment  (Lewe's)

r.1795 - d.1802 r.1802 - d.1816

8th West India Regiment 

r.1798 - d.1802 r.1802 - d.1816

9th West India Regiment

r.1798 - d.1802

10th West India Regiment

r.1798 - d.1802

11th West India Regiment

 

r.1798 - d.1802

12th West India Regiment

r.1798 - d.1802

Skerrett's Regiment

r.1795 - d.1796

West India Regiment

Amalgamated 1st and 2nd West India Regiment

r.1888 - d.1927

West India Regiment

Federation of the West Indies

r.1959 - d.1961

20th (Jamaica) Light Dragoons

Raised in England for service in Jamaica. 1802 returned to England

r.1791 - d.1818

60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot

Raised as the 62nd (royal American) Regiment in 1755. Designation changed to 60th (The Duke of York's Own Rifle Corps and Light Infantry) Regiment in 1824.

r.1757 - ro.1824

Black Carolina Corps

Incorporated into the 1st West India Regiment

r.1779 - d.1796

The Corps of Black Pioneers later called The Corps of Black Military Artificers and Pioneers

European Officers and NCO's. A quasi-penal unit for "Black" soldiers.

r.1793 - d.??? 

The Royal West India Rangers

Quasi-penal battalion - Europeans 

r.1806 - d.1819

1st European Garrison Company

r.1803 - d.1817

2nd European Garrison Company

r.1803 - d.1814

1st Black Garrison Company

r.1813 - d.1817

2nd Black Garrison Company

r.1815 - d.1817

British West Indies Regiment

First World War - made up of volunteer contingents from Britain's Caribbean Colonies.

r.1915 - d.1919

The 1st Caribbean Regiment

Second World War - formed from Local Defence Forces Barbados Battalion & Winward Islands Battalion merged to form the Islands Battalion Leeward Islands Battalion

r.1944 - d.1946
   

Irish Catholic Brigade

Unit Designation Dates 

Count Walsh's Regiment

Served in Martinique, Jamaica and detachments to Belize and Haiti. 

r.1794 - d.1798

[H] Dillon's Regiment

Served in Jamaica and Haiti

r.1794 - d.1798

Viscount Walsh's Regiment

Served in Jamaica

r.1794 - d.1797
   

European Units in British Pay

Unit Designation Dates

Dutch Emigrant Artilley

Raised in Germany. Served in Haiti from1796

r.1795 - d.1798

Hompesch's Hussars

Raised in Germany. High losses due to sickness in Haiti and ceased to exist in 1797

r.1794 - d.1797

Hompesch's Light Infantry or Fusiliers

Raised in Germany. Incorporated into the 2nd and 5th (Rifle) Battalion, 60th Regiment of Foot. 

r.1796 - d.1798

Independent Companies of Foreign Artillery

Formed from artillery companies attached to Lowenstein's Fusiliers and Royal Estranger Regiment (La Tour's). Incorporated into the Royal Foreign Artillery in 1803

r.1798 - d.1803

Lowenstein's Chasseurs (or Legion)

Raised in Germany. Incorporated into the 5th (Rifle) Battalion, 60th Regiment of Foot. 

r.1795 - d.1799

Mauger Regiment

Authorised to be raised in Germany but never formed

r.1795 - d.1795

Ramsey's York Rangers (York Chasseurs)

Incorporated into the 3rd Battalion, 60th Regiment of Foot and the Foreign Artillery

r.1793 - d.1797

Rohan's Hussars

Incorporated into the York Hussars. High losses due to sickness in Haiti

r.1794 - d.1797

Royal Étranger Regiment (La Tour's)

Raised in Germany. Incorporated into the 3rd Battalion, 60th Regiment of Foot and the Foreign Artillery

r.1795 - d.1798

Royal Foreign Artillery

r.1803 - d.1817

Royal York Fusiliers (Hardy's)

Raised in Germany. Incorporated into the 3rd battalion, 60th Regiment of Foot

r.1794 - d.1797

Royal York Rangers

Formed from men from the Royal African Corps

r.1808 - d.1819

Ulhans Britanniques (Bouille's)

  Composed mainly of Germans. Sent to Haiti in 1796 and incorporated into Légion Britanniques de Sainte-Domingue 

r.1793 - d.1796

Waldstein Light Infantry

Raised in Germany. Incorporated into the 4th battalion, 60th Regiment of Foot.

r.1795 - d.1798

York Chasseurs

Formed from Irish deserters

r.1813 - d.1819

York Light Infantry Volunteers

First called Barbados Volunteer Emigrants and changed in 1804. Composed of captured Dutch soldiers and later French deserters from Spain   

r.1803 - d.1817

York Hussars

Raised in Germany. Disbanded in England

r.1794 - d.1802
   

British Colonies

 
Colony and Unit Designation Dates

Anguilla (British Overseas Territory)

Anguilla Militia

 

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua Militia

 

Antigua Defence Force

 

r.1897 - d.1946

Royal Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force

 

r.1956 - present

Bahamas

Bahamas Militia

 

Royal Bahamas Defence Force

 

Barbados

Barbados Militia

 

r.1695 - d.1902

Barbados Volunteer Force

 

r.1902 - d.1942

The Barbados Regiment 

r.1948 - ro.1978

Barbados Volunteer Emigrants

Formed of Dutch and French

r.1803 - d.1804

Royal Barbados Defence Force

r.1978 - present

Bermuda (British Overseas Territory) - 1605 to the present

Bermuda Militia Artillery

First World War - Contingent served in the Royal Garrison Artillery 

r.1902 - d.1965

The Bermuda Regiment

Composed of the amalgamated Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corp and the Bermuda Militia Artillery 

r.1965 - present

Bermuda Volunteer Engineers

 

Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps

First World War - Contingent served in the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment Second World War - Contingent served in the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment

r.1895 - d.1965

British Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands Militia

 

British Guiana (Guyana)

British Guiana Militia

 

r.1891 - d.1948

British Guiana Militia Artillery

 
British Guiana Volunteer Force   r.1878 - d.1966 

Guyana Defence Force  (Official homepage)

r.1964 - present

Guyana People's Militia

 

r.1976 - present

Guyana National Service

 

Belize (British Honduras)

British Honduras Defence Force

 

British Honduras Territorial Force

r.1916 - ????

British Honduras Volunteer Guard

 

r.1814 - d.1928

Belize Defence Force

 

r.1976 - present

Belize Volunteer Guard

 

Prince Regent's Royal Honduras Militia

r.1814 - ????

British Honduras Forestry Unit

Contained volunteers from the British Honduras Defence Force  

r.1941 - d.1944
Cayman Islands
   

Dominica

Dominica Defence Force

 

r.1935 -  ???? 

Dominica Defence Reserve

 

r.1912 - d.1919

Dominica Rangers

Used to track runaway slaves and combat "Maroons"  

r.1814 - d.1834?

Loyal Dominica Regiment

 

r.1795 - d.1798 

Grenada

Grenada Militia

 

Loyal Black Rangers

r.1795 - d.1818
Grenada Volunteer Corps  

Grenada Volunteer Force

r.1974 - d.1979

Jamaica (1655-1962)

Jamaica Militia

 

r.1662 - d.1906

Jamaica Militia Artillery

 

French (Black) Chasseurs

Incorporated into the 6th West India Regiment

r.1798 - ????

The Kingston Infantry Volunteers

 

r.1906 - d.1939

The Jamaica Infantry Volunteers

 

r.1939 - d.1954

Jamaica Engineer Corps

 

Jamaica Defence Force (Official homepage)

The Jamaica Regiment  

r.1962 - present

Montserrat (British Overseas Territory) 1628 - present

Montserrat Militia

 

Montserrat Defence Force

 

Nevis (also see St Christopher)

Nevis Militia

 

St. Christopher (St. Kitts) 1627 - 1983

St. Christopher Militia (St. Kitts Militia)

 

Corp of Embodied Slaves

 

St. Christopher and Nevis Defence Force

 

r.1896 - d.1981

St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force

r.1997 - present

St. Lucia

Black Corps (O'Meara's)

 

 

St. Lucia Defence Force

 

St. Lucia Volunteer Corps

 

St. Vincent

St. Vincent Militia

 

St. Vincent Rangers (Seton)

r.1795 - r.1796 

St. Vincent Volunteer Corps

 

Trinidad and Tobago

Tobago Militia

 

r.1803 - ????

Trinidad Militia

The Royal Trinidad Regiment The Diego Martin Regiment The Loyal Trinidad Regiment The Royal Trinidad Light Dragoons Mounted Chasseurs Royal Trinidad Artillery Two Battalions of Sea Fencibles

r.1797 - ????

Trinidad Rangers

Incorporated into the 9th West India Regiment

r.1797 - d.1798

The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force

  The Trinidad and Tobago Regiment The Trinidad and Tobago Volunteer Defence Force The Trinidad and Tobago Regimental Band and Corps of Drums

r.1962 - present

Turks and Caicos Islands

Was a dependency of The Bahamas  
   

Colonies Occupied By Britain

Colony Dates

Curaçao (Dutch) - 1800 to 1802 and 1810 to 1816

Dutch Battalion (Garrison)

Dutch garrison taken into British pay

r.1800 - d.1802

Curaçao Militia

The Militia was ineffective during this period due to resistance from local settlers 

r.1810 - d.1816

Demerara (Dutch) - 1796 to 1802 and 1803 to 1831

Remained British from 1815. It was combined with Essequibo and Berbice to form British Guiana in 1831

Loyal Orange Battalion (Van Well's)

Formed from Dutch Colonial Troops

r.1796 - d.1802

Corps of Demerara Volunteers

r.1796 - d.1802

South American Rangers

Incorporated into the 11th West India Regiment

r.1796 - d.1798

Demerara Militia

 

Guadeloupe (French) - 1794 and 1810 to 1814

Guadeloupe Rangers (Druault's)

Incorporated into the 8th West India Regiment 

r.1794 - d.1797 

Guadeloupe Militia

Due to restrictions imposed by the British the Militia was virtually non-existent during this period

r.1811 - d.1814

Sainte-Domingue - now Haiti (French) - 1793 to 1798

Haiti Militia

 

r.1793 - d.1798

Chasseurs de la Cayemitte

 

r.1795 - d.1798

Chasseurs des Irois

 

r.1795 - d.1798

Chasseurs de George III 

 

r.1794 - d.1798

Dessource's Volunteer's or Legion

Ten companies of infantry, two of dragoons and one artillery. 

r.1793 - d.1798

Dillion's Regiment (Dillion's Irish)

Formerly 2nd Battalion, 87th French Line Infantry

r.1793 - d.1796

Emigrant Corp of Saint Domingue

Compagnies franches d'Emigres

r.1795 - d.1798 

Jean Kina's Corps

Entered British Pay in 1793 and reorganised as part of the Chasseurs de George III in 1794.

r.1792 - d.1794

Légion Britanniques de Sainte-Domingue (Montalembert's)

 

r.1794 - d.1798

Légion de la Grande Anse

Incorporated into the Légion Britanniques de Sainte-Domingue in 1795 

r.1793 - d.1795

Legion d'York

Dragoon Regiment with auxillary infantry and artillery.  

r.1794 - d.1798

Gendarmes Royaux Anglais

 

r.1794 - d.1798

Maréchaussée et Guides

Military Constabulary 

r.1793 - d.1798

Uhlans Britanniques de Sainte-Domingue (Charmilly's)

Incorporated into the Légion Britanniques de Sainte-Domingue in 1795  

r.1794 - d.1795

Martinque (French) - 1794 to 1802 and 1809 to 1815

Martinique Militia

Infantry & Dragoons 

r.1795 - ro.1802 ro.1809 - d.1815

Royal Island Rangers (de Soter's)

Incorporated into the 10th West India Regiment 

r.1795 - d.1798

Malcolm's Rangers

  Incorporated into the 1st West India Regiment

r.1795 - d.1796

Surinam (Dutch) 1799 to 1802 and 1804 to 1816

Royal Dutch Battalion (Coehorn's)

Dutch garrison taken into British pay

r.1799 - d.1802

Royal Dutch Artillery

Two companies taken into British pay

r.1799 - d.1802

Surinam Chasseurs

Reorganised by the Dutch into the Colonial Guides in 1818

r.1804 - d.1818