The desire of the citizens of Gibraltar to defend their
City and to serve side by side with the rest of the Garrison dates back to 1704
when the Rock was captured by the British. In 1755 an organised body of local
men known as the 'Genoese Guard' mounted pickets at the land frontier and other
During the Great Siege (1779-1783) some 160 local residents volunteered
to assist in the Great Sortie (27th November 1781), which under the command
of General George Augustus Elliot, the then Governor and later Baron Heathfield
of Gibraltar, destroyed the enemy lines.
The forefathers of the present Regiment can be said to be the Gibraltar
Volunteer Corps. It was shortly after the outbreak of war in 1914, that a
group of Gibraltarians assembled at the Calpe Rowing Club, pledged themselves
to take up arms as citizen soldiers to fight for King and Country. During the
Great War the Corps provided a substantial reinforcement to assist in the
defence of the Rock. The Corps was disbanded in 1919 when hostilities had
Twenty years later, on the 28th April 1939, the Gibraltar Defence Force was
raised under the Governorship of General Sir Edmund Ironside. From the outbreak
of the war in September 1939, the Gibraltar Defence Force served side by side
with the regular units of the Garrison. The force consisted of anti-aircraft
and coast artillery; motor transport; signals; medical; fire-fighting and
special constabulary sub-units. It saw action against Italian and Vichy French
aircraft on numerous occasions, shooting down its first enemy aircraft in August
Following the policy in the United Kingdom conscription was retained in
after the war. In 1945 the main body that served during the war was demobilised
and a small permanent cadre was retained to train the conscripts. The young men
of Gibraltar were required to undertake six months (later reduced to four
compulsory military basic training. After their basic training, they were placed
on the reserve. Reservists were then required to undergo two weeks training on
alternate years up to the age of twenty-eight.
In 1958 the permanent cadre of the Gibraltar Defence Force and the Reserve
with a recently formed Volunteer Reserve of Officers, Warrant Officers and Non
Commissioned Officers, were formed into the Gibraltar Regiment. The Regiment,
having a dual role, was organised as an infantry battalion with four rifle
companies and a gunner troop. The latter was given the task of manning the
9.2-inch coastal guns. This organisation remained in force until 1971.
In 1971 HM The Queen approved the granting of the first ever Colours to the
Regiment. The Colours were presented on the 25th September 1971 and on that
same day the Regiment was also granted the Freedom of the City of Gibraltar.
In 1971 conscription ended and from the 7th October 1971 when the last conscript
departed to the 315t March 1991, the Regiment was manned by Volunteer Officers
and Soldiers assisted by a small permanent cadre. During most of that time
the Regiment consisted of a rifle company, an artillery battery (Thomson's
Battery) and an air defence troop.
With the withdrawal of the regular infantry battalion in April 1991, the
Regiment was reorganised into an all infantry unit and it assumed the role of
the major army unit in Gibraltar. The Regiment now consists of an headquarter
company (Thomson's Battery) and three rifle companies manned by regular and
Territorial Army soldiers. The Regiment also has a Band and a Corps of Drums.
The Regiment is allied to the Royal Regiment of Artillery, the Royal Anglian
Regiment, the Corps of Royal Engineers and the Royal Irish Regiment.