Nicknames and Customs
Guards of the Line
This name is due to the long connection of the 29th. Regiment with the Coldstream Guards. Colonel Farrington, who raised the Regiment, and several of his successors were Guardsmen; and this resulted in the Regiment being modelled on the Guards. Their drill, uniform and equipments were similar up to 1856. The two buttons on the officers’ sleeves are a relic of this period, when all the tunic buttons of the 29th were arranged in pairs, as in the Coldstream. Both Regiments wear a valise star and have a similar badge. In 1877, when all Line regiments wore black ammunition pouches, the 29th alone wore white pouches as in the Guards.
The Ever-Sworded 29th
One night in September, 1746, the officers of the Regiment were at Mess in their station in North America, when they were treacherously attacked by Red Indians, who were supposed to be loyal. The attack was beaten off, but, to guard against similar attacks in future, the custom of wearing swords at Mess was instituted. This continued as a regimental custom after the Regiment had left America; but, in about 1850, a Colonel who had little regard for these things abolished it, with the concession that the Captain of the Week and the Subaltern of the Day continued to wear their swords at Mess. This custom is maintained by all Battalions in peace-time. The Worcestershire Regiment is the only regiment where this custom has official sanction.
The Saucy Greens
The old 36th were so called on account of their green facings, that is, the collars and cuffs of the tunics. It has been suggested that the selection of this colour is due to the Regiment having been raised in Ireland, but this is uncertain. The Saucy Greens: a 2nd Battalion nickname, alluding to the 36th' s facings and 'their admiration of the fair sex', as the Victorian cartoonist, Starr Wood, rather primly put it.
This name was given to the 29th Regiment after the “Boston Massacre” in 1770. For a long time the American colonists had been very discontented, and their growing hatred for their mother country, England, was extended to the British troops stationed in the American colony. Boston, where the 29th was stationed, was the centre of discord, and on several occasions there had been free fights between the townsfolk and members of the Regiment. On the 5th March, it being their turn for garrison duties, the 29th found a guard for the Customs House, where a certain amount of cash was kept. A mob of rioters tried to rush the offices, and the sentry called out the guard. The guard fixed bayonets and kept the crowd at bay, taking no more violent action, although they were subjected to a running fire of jeers and insults.
Words led to blows, and one of the mob leaders struck Captain Preston, commanding the guard, and knocked down a Private Montgomery. Scrambling to his feet, Montgomery heard someone shout: “Why don’t you fire?” and, thinking that this was an order to fire, he did so. Others followed him; three of the rioters were killed and several wounded. The rest of the mob then ran away. In memory of this incident, which the Bostonians called “The Boston Massacre,” the day was afterwards observed as an annual day of mourning; and the Regiment, as the first to shed the blood of the colonists, was nicknamed” The Vein-Openers.” An alternative was “Blood-suckers” (More properly attributed to the Manchester Regiment).
Two and a Hook
(Two and a Nine) - This is simply a reference to the number of the old 29th Regiment, now the 1st Battalion.
The Old and Bold
Origin unknown (The Fifth Fusiliers were also so called).
The Star of the Line
From the same association with the Coldstream. After 1877 the 29th was the only Line Regiment to wear its badge on its pouches and valise. Like those of the Guards, its pouches were white; all other Line Regiments had black.
The Europe Regiment
According to Everard the 29th was so called while in India between 1842 and 1859 because it was the only British unit from which native servants were rigidly excluded, except for cooks and washermen. (The Adjutant's chaprassi, or office messenger, of the mid-1850s was also a 'native', as his surviving badge of office proves.)
The Fighting 29th
Origin unknown, but used by WW1 veterans. This was the nickname of the 29th Division in which the 4th Battalion fought and it could have been transferred to, or taken over by, the Regiment from that.
From the Regimental motto, previously that of the 36th Regiment, 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.
The Marching 36th
This dates from the Peninsular War.
The Line Repairers
Used for some time after the 2nd Battalion's counter-attack at Gheluvelt.
The Glorious Worcesters
This was also used, especially in the press, after Gheluvelt.
The Old Firm
Seemingly self-attributed. (This was also the title of the Christmas 1917 issue of a magazine produced by A Coy, 1/8th Battalion.)
Certainly used of the Regiment, though it usually refers, or referred, to the 7th Queen's Own Hussars, the 13th Hussars, the Coldstream or the East Lancashire. (No doubt a reference to the white collar and cuff facings of the 1st Battalion's full dress).
The Brummagem Guards
The Regiment obtained large numbers of recruits from Birmingham.
The Pride of Malta
This was applied to the 2nd Battalion's Drums in the island in the late 1890s, under Drum Major J H Foley. The nickname was only in use for a short time, but the skill which earned it lives on in the Regiment today.
The Pozzy Wallahs
This dates from early in WW1 and probably before, referring not to a collective Regimental sweet tooth but to a supposed propensity for removing other units' jam (and other) rations. If not self-attributed, it at least shows a grudging admiration for those who had the ability to look after themselves! It is kinder than 'The Jam Stealers' (ASC) and very unusual in being a Hindustani nickname. (The only other Hindustani one recalled, apart from a few based on place names, is 'The Charps and Dils', which older readers may know, or be able to work out!). This particular nickname was widely used during WW1 and in Italy in June 1918, after a temporary breakthrough by the Austrians, it helped a group of 48 MG Battalion to safety. They had originally been machine-gunners in the Regiment and when trying to get back after being cut off they heard Worcestershire voices: 'Is that the Pozzies?' they called quietly, with great presence of mind — that not being a likely opening gambit from an Austrian patrol. The road block proved to be manned by the 1/7th Battalion and all was well.
The Severn Valley Pioneers
The title of the unit raised in the autumn of 1915 by Colonel Sir Henry Webb, entirely at his own expense. As the 14th (Pioneer) Battalion it was later part of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division.
The 7th Goondars
When the 7th Battalion was in Calcutta during the riots in August 1946 it was one of the units posted ready to fire on anything that moved. There seems to have been a lack of communication over the Divisional Commander's intention to visit the area and his large Packard was fired on. Thereafter, the 7th Battalion was given this name (goondars being dacoits), at least by the 'Young and Lovelies' in their Brigade. There were sympathetic overtones to the christening, as the 7th Battalion had suffered from certain personality problems which were not of its choosing.
The Tricky Twelfth
This was used of the 12th Battalion (1940-42), but why is not known.
* * * * * * * * *
The friendship between the Regiment and the Lincolnshire Regiment is an old one. It is supposed to have arisen in the Napoleonic Wars, if not earlier, at Ramillies, when the 29th and 10th. Regiments many times fought side by side. The friendship was cemented in the Sikh Wars, when the two Regiments met in the captured trenches at Sobraon in 1848, and, nearly a century later, in the Great War.
The officers and sergeants of the two regiments are permanent honorary members of each others’ Messes, and the old custom by which the Adjutants addressed each other in official correspondence as “My Dear Cousin” is still extant. This applies to both Battalions.
The Lincolnshire Regiment also plays the Royal Windsor before their own Regimental March when playing off; and the Lincolnshire Poacher is played by the Regiment before the Royal Windsor.
The Royal Norfolks
A similar friendship exists with the Royal Norfolk Regiment (the 9th Foot), although it was not definitely confirmed until 1912 by exchange of permanent membership of Messes.
The two regiments had served together in Canada, and the friendship there begun was strengthened by the help given by the 9th to the 29th at Rolica, 1808. On that occasion, both regiments lost their Commanding Officers, after fighting up the deadly heights, and driving a superior French force before them.
The Highland Light Infantry
A friendship exists between the 2nd Battalion and the 2nd Battalion The Highland Light Infantry. The friendship was formed in the early part of the Great War, 1914-1918, when the two Battalions served side by side for long periods. It is evidenced by the interchange of honorary membership of Messes and of regimental airs.