The War of the Spanish Succession


Conflict with France was to continue for many years, despite the end of King William III’s War. It was at this time that many other forebear regiments had their beginnings. They were known by the name of their Colonels, but this Guide will refer to them by their number as a Line regiment in order to avoid confusion, even though the numbering system was not introduced until 1750. Eighteen new regiments were to be raised in the period 1701–1702, six of which were primarily for sea service.

In 1701, the 35th Foot, later The Royal Sussex Regiment, was raised in Belfast by The 3rd Earl of Donegal. The soldiers were protestant Ulster-Scots, and as a mark of favour King William granted them the unique distinction of wearing orange facings. In 1702, ‘Meredith’s’, the 37th Foot, later The Hampshire Regiment, was also raised in Ireland and in the same year, Villiers’ Marines, the 31st Foot, later The East Surrey Regiment, was raised.

The Grand Alliance of England, the Netherlands and The Holy Roman Empire (Austria) was set against France, because Louis XIV had claimed the vacant throne of Spain for his grandson Philip. King William’s successor, Queen Anne, declared war in 1702 and the 35th Foot was warned for sea service. The tradition of enjoying the privilege of drinking the loyal toast sitting down, because deck beams were too low to allow men to stand up, stems from the sea service of both the 31st and the 35th Foot. The Queen’s, The Buffs, the 31st and the 35th of Foot all took part in the abortive attack on Cadiz in 1702, whilst the 31st Foot participated in Admiral Rooke’s successful capture and defence of Gibraltar in 1704. The Queen’s, The Buffs and the 37th Foot were to join the Army of one of Britain’s greatest commanders John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, for his famous march across Europe and long campaign against the French. The Queen’s were to gain the first ‘Royal’ title of the forebear regiments at Tongres in 1703. The Regiment was quartered with a Dutch Regiment, when 40,000 French attacked in order to destroy Marlborough’s allied Dutch forces. The two allied regiments fought continuously for twenty-eight hours before being forced to surrender, gaining time for the remainder of the Dutch force to regroup and repel the French. The title ‘Royal’ was awarded, together with the mottoes ‘Pristinae Virtutis Memor’ (Mindful of Former Glory) and ‘Vel Exuviae Triumphant’ (Victorious even in Adversity).

The Buffs and the 37th Foot also fought with distinction in Marlborough’s Army, gaining the famous quartet of battle honours consisting of Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709). It was probably in 1707 that The Buffs received the Dragon as their badge in token of their Tudor origin. The War of The Spanish Succession ended with The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.