The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

This article will provide an overview of the services of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry in the First World War and help you to research soldiers who served with it. I have also written a series of generic research guides:

The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry in the First World War

1st Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 1st Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry was stationed at Curragh, Ireland on 4 August 1914. On 15 August, the Battalion landed at Le Havre, France as part of the 14th Infantry Brigade which was itself part of the 5th Infantry Division. On 12 January 1916, the 14th Infantry Brigade was redesignated as the 95th Infantry Brigade and remained with the 5th Division. In December 1917, the Battalion was sent to Italy, returning to the Western Front in April. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded that between

2nd Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 2nd Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry was stationed at Hong Kong on 4 August 1914 and returned to Britain in November. Once back in Britain, the Battalion joined the 82nd Infantry Brigade of the 27th Division at Winchester. On 21 December 1914, the Battalion landed at Le Havre and served in France until 27 November 1915, when the unit embarked at Marseilles for Salonika. The panel below from the Doiran Memorial shows the soldiers of the 2nd and 8th Battalions who lost their lives during the Salonika Campaign and have no known graves. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded that between

2nd Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Panel Doiran Memorial

3rd (Reserve) Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 3rd Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry was stationed at Bodmin, home of the Regiment’s Depot on the outbreak of war. The Battalion was used for training and continued in this role during the war, being redesignated as the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion. Thousands of soldiers passed through the Battalion during the war, which moved to Falmouth in August 1914. There was only one further move during the war, to Freshwater on the Isle of Wight where the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion joined the Portsmouth Garrison.

1/4th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

2/4th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

3/4th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

1/5th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

2/5th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 2/5th Battalion was formed at Bodmin in May 1915 and provided drafts for the 1/5th Battalion. The Battalion subsequently moved to Tavistock, then to Hursley Park, near Winchester in the spring of 1916. On 8 April 1916, the Battalion became the 5th (Reserve) Battalion before being absorbed by the 4th (Reserve) Battalion on 1 September 1916.

6th (Service) Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 6th (Service) Battalion was raised at Bodmin in August 1914 and shortly afterwards joined the 43rd Infantry Brigade of the 14th Infantry Division. On 22 May 1915, the Battalion landed at Boulogne and remained on the Western Front until 20 February 1918 when the unit was disbanded.

7th (Service) Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 7th (Service) Battalion was raised at Bodmin in September 1914 and joined the 61st Infantry Brigade of the 20th Infantry Division. On 25 July 1915, the Battalion landed at Boulogne and remained on the Western Front for the rest of the war. Harry Patch, the last British survivor of trench warfare served with the 7th Battalion.

8th (Service) Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 8th (Service) Battalion was raised at Bodmin in September 1914 and joined the 79th Infantry Brigade of the 26th Infantry Division later in the year. The Battalion landed at Boulogne on 13 November and left France at Marseilles for Salonika, Greece on 23 November. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded that

9th (Reserve) Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 9th (Reserve) Battalion was raised at Falmouth on 29 October 1914, originally as a service battalion and joined the 103rd Infantry Brigade of the 34th Division. On 10 April 1915, the Battalion became a reserve battalion, its role being to train soldiers for other battalions of the Regiment. Following its conversion, the 9th (Reserve) Battalion joined the 10th Reserve Brigade at Wareham in May 1915. On 1 September 1916, following the reorganization of part of the British Army’s training system, the Battalion was absorbed into the newly formed training reserve battalions of the 10th Training Reserve Brigade at Wareham.

10th (Service) Battalion (Cornwall Pioneers) The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

11th (Reserve) Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 11th (Reserve) Battalion was formed from depot companies of the 10th (Service) Battalion (Cornwall Pioneers) at Launceston in November 1915. In Mach 1916, the Battalion moved to Chisledon where on 1 September 1916  the unit was redesignated as the 95th Training Reserve Battalion which was part of the 22nd Reserve Brigade.

12th (Labour) Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 12th (Labour) Battalion was formed at Plymouth in April 1916 and served in France as part of the Army Troops of the Fourth Army. In April 1917, the Battalion was disbanded with its soldiers becoming the 156th and 157th Companies of the Labour Corps.

13th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 13th Battalion was formed at Aldeburgh on 1 June 1918 and was absorbed into the 6th Battalion The Somerset Light Infantry at Cromer, Norfolk on 20 June 1918.

Researching Soldiers Who Served with The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

 

 

Researching Officers:

 

Captain Robert Harold Olivier Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

A photograph of Captain Robert Harold Olivier 1st Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry who was killed in action on 14 September 1914. This photograph was published in The Sphere on 10 October 1914. Captain Olivier is commemorated on the La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial.  Cap Badge

Researching Other Ranks:

 

 

Ancestry

 

War Diaries of The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

1st Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

  • Date: August 1914 – December 1915
  • 14th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1564
  • Notes:
  • Date: January – August 1916
  • 95th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1577/1
  • Notes:
  • Date: September – December 1916
  • 95th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1577/2
  • Notes:
  • Date: January – March 1917
  • 95th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1577/3
  • Notes:
  • Date: April – August 1917
  • 95th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1577/4
  • Notes:
  • Date: September – November 1917
  • 95th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1577/5
  • Notes:
  • Date: December 1917 – March 1918
  • 95th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/4217
  • Notes:
  • Date: April – June 1918
  • 95th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1578/1
  • Notes:
  • Date: July – September 1918
  • 95th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1578/2
  • Notes:
  • Date: 01 October – 31 December 1918
  • 95th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1578/3
  • Notes: This is a very good war diary packed full of information with a wide variety of appendices. These appendices include maps, lists of soldiers departing and joining the unit with their regimental number and the usual field returns.
  • Date: 01 January – 20 April 1919
  • 95th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1578/4
  • Notes: This is a good war diary for the post-war period with a lot of information. There are a lot of appendices including many which record the arrival and departure of other ranks with their regimental number.

2nd Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

  • Date: 19 December 1914 – 31 October 1915
  • 82nd Infantry Brigade, 27th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2266/2
  • Notes: This is a good war diary, with a lot of information in the daily entries, especially when the Battalion is in the front line. There are a small number of appendices, including two maps of an attack on 23 April 1915 and nominal rolls of officers serving with the Battalion in August and September 1915.
  • Date: November 1915 – May 1919
  • 82nd Infantry Brigade, 27th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/4895
  • Notes:

1/4th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

  • Date: 28 January 1916 – 31 January 1917
  • Aden Force
  • Reference: WO 95/5438
  • Notes: Very little occurred during the Battalion’s service at Aden so most of the war diary entries are brief with many stating “Nothing to report”. The only appendix is a list of soldiers of the Battalion attached to the 2nd Battalion Dorset Regiment who were captured at Kut al-Amara.
  • Date: February – May 1917
  • Delta and Western Force
  • Reference: WO 95/4443
  • Notes:
  • Date: June 1917 – June 1919
  • 234th Infantry Brigade, 75th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/4693
  • Notes:

5th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

  • Date: May – December 1916
  • 61st Division
  • Reference: WO 95/3050/1
  • Notes:
  • Date: May – December 1916
  • 61st Division
  • Reference: WO 95/3050/2
  • Notes:
  • Date: July – November 1917
  • 61st Division
  • Reference: WO 95/3050/3
  • Notes:
  • Date: December 1917 – April 1918
  • 61st Division
  • Reference: WO 95/3050/4
  • Notes:
  • Date: May – September 1918
  • 61st Division
  • Reference: WO 95/3050/5
  • Notes:
  • Date: October 1918 – December 1919
  • 61st Division
  • Reference: WO 95/3050/6
  • Notes:

6th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

  • Date: May 1915 – February 1918
  • 43rd Infantry Brigade. 14th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1908/2
  • Notes:

7th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

  • Date: July 1915 – May 1919
  • 61st Infantry Brigade, 20th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2126/1
  • Notes:

8th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

  • Date: 15 September – 31 October 1915
  • 79th Infantry Brigade, 26th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2253/12
  • Notes: A poor war diary with very brief daily entries. There are no appendices.
  • Date: November 1915 – April 1919
  • 79th Infantry Brigade, 26th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/4876
  • Notes:
  • Date: 9 May – 20 September 1919
  • 82nd Infantry Brigade, 27th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/4895
  • Notes: This is an average war diary for the post-war period, covering the Battalion’s service in Georgia where very little occurred. The Battalion’s strength is recorded at the end of each month. This war diary can only be viewed at the National Archives.

10th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

  • Date: June 1916 – May 1919
  • 2nd Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1335/1
  • Notes:

12th Labour Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

  • Date: 17 April 1916 – 31 March 1917
  • Fourth Army
  • Reference: WO 95/517/4
  • Notes: This is a good war diary, especially for a labour battalion which has the benefit of being typed. There are no appendices.

Further Sources for The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

Regimental History