Battle Honour 'INDIA'

Saturday, 23 October, 1819
The Theatre Honour INDIA

The distinction INDIA was the first awarded to the 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment and is emblazoned on the Regimental Colours of The Royal Irish Regiment. It can be described as a 'Theatre Honour' as it was awarded for service in India for the period 1799 to 1819.

The 86th Regiment disembarked on 23 October 1819, at Gravesend on returning from Madras, India. The Battalion's strength was 27 officers and 110 other ranks. Only two of them had embarked in June 1796, when the Regiment was bound for a two year station in the Cape of Good Hope; those two were Major D Marston and Quartermaster R Gill, the latter having embarked as a Private. The 86th had arrived at Madras in the East Indies (India) on 10 May 1799.

The Regiment had been overseas for twenty-three years and four months, mostly on active service with 'The Army of the East' in Egypt and India. During operations under Sir Arthur Wellesley (later, the Duke of Wellington), the 86th Regiment was employed in keeping in check turbulent tribes in various locations. Actions in Guzerat, Kariah, Baroda, Baroach and Burtpore in particular were recognised as worthy of the Regiment being one of the few honoured with the distinction INDIA.

When the Regiment embarked at Madras it left behind 560 non-commissioned officers and privates who had volunteered to remain by transferring to other regiments and corps. The 86th were in Armagh by 1823, when King George IV authorised the Regiment the right to carry the Battle Honour INDIA on the Colours:

'... in consideration of the distinguished conduct of the regiment during the period of its service in India, from the year 1799, to the year 1819.'