Origin and History
The unit was originally raised on September 20 1756 as a second battalion of the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers. However, this second battalion was detached from its parent regiment in April 1758 to form the “68th Regiment of Foot”.
During the Seven Years's War, the regiment was commanded by:
- from April 1758 to 1760: Lambton
Service during the War
In May 1758, the regiment was on its march from Dover to the isle of Wight. Then, from June to July, it took part to a fruitless expedition against the French Coasts. On Sunday July 23, part of the regiment embarked aboard the transport Friends Good-Will. From August to September 1758, the regiment took part to the second expedition on the French Coasts. Its grenadiers suffered heavy losses during the re-embarkment at Saint-Cast. On September 19, the regiment was disembarked at Cowes on the isle of Wight. It remained encamped near Cowes until October. At the end of October, it left the isle of Wight and took its winter quarters at Rochester where it remained till April 1759.
In April 1759, the regiment was ordered to leave its cantonments at Rochester and to march for Southampton and Gosport where it remained until June 2. On June 2, it embarked on board 3 transports for the island of Jersey to relieve the 11th Bocland's Foot. On June 21, the 68th disembarked at Jersey and fixed its camp near the town of St. Hilary. The 11th Foot had prepared for embarking. The 68th Foot was stationed on the island of Jersey.
In the beginning of February 1760, the 75th Boscawen's Foot arrived on the island of Jersey to relieve the 68th Foot. The 68th Foot was transported to Southampton. Part of the regiment remained in town while some companies were quartered in neighbouring towns (Ringwood among others). On March 3, the company of the 68th Foot quartered in Ringwood was ordered back at Southampton. The regiment received orders to embark for Guadeloupe to assume garrison duties on this island. On March 4, the 68th Foot (approx. 600 men) completed embarkment aboard 4 transport vessels at Gosport. Rear-admiral Holmes escorted the convoy with his squadron:
- Cambridge (80), flagship of rear-admiral Holmes
- Dublin (74), sir James Douglas
- Temple (70)
- Boreas (28)
- tender for the Dublin
On March 9 1760, the expedition sailed from Gosport. However, it was obliged to put into Torbay, losing 2 or 3 merchentmen to French privateers. It then halted at Plymouth before finally clearing the English Channel and sailing for the West Indies. The expedition finally reached Barbados where, since a fleet had been discovered, the militia were drawn up as a security measure. After the arrival of Holmes, the British fleet now counted more than 100 sail. The fleet sailed past Martinique, Dominique, Marie-Galante, the Saintes islands. On May 7, it anchored in the roads of Basse-Terre one of most important towns of Guadeloupe island. On May 8, the British force landed and drawn up in front of the governor's house. The 68th Foot was drafted into the 3 regiments already garrisoning the island. The 200 men destined to be drafted into the 63rd Foot immediately did so, the regiment being quartered in Fort Royal at Basse-Terre. The remaining 400 men of the 68th Foot re-embarked in the evening aboard the 4 transport vessels which were escorted by the sloop of war Antigua to join their respective regiments in other parts of the island. On May 12, to the leeward of Dominique, the small flotilla was joined by the Écho (26) which was sailing from North America. The troops were transferred from the transport vessels to the larger vessels. On May 13, the troops reached Fort George in the evening. A draft of 200 men was landed and joined the 65th Foot which was garrisoning Grande-Terre. The last contingent of the 68th Foot landed at Petitbourg, opposite Grande-Terre, and joined companies of the 4th King's Own Regiment of Foot who had lost nearly 300 men since the capitulation of the island.
After the drafting in 1760, the regiment had scarcely 50 men fit for duty. The remaining men of the regiment were marched to Leeds, then Newcastle and billeted at Tynemouth Barracks. Meanwhile, in March, recruiting parties had been sent to London, Manchester, Leicester, St. Albans, Haddington, Lynn, Bideford and Biggleswade. Recruitment allowed the regiment to re-establish nine weak companies for a total of 41 officers and 239 men. In July, the regiment was garrisoning Tynemouth Castle with recruiting parties detached around the country.
In 1761, the regiment remained at Newcastle. However, a detachment was sent to Durham. This detachment provided a draft of 95 men for the 70th Foot. By May, the regiment was based at Hexham with its headquarters at Morpeth. It then counted 42 officers and 289 men. The regiment continued in the North East - aiding the civil power where necessary.
In January 1762, the regiment counted 415 men. It received orders to march to Berwick, where it transferred to the command of Lord George Beauclerk, commanding in Scotland. It was quartered at the newly built Fort George.
On July 11 1763, the regiment was transferred to the Irish Establishment where it would remain until 1764 when it was sent to the Caribbean.
|Coat||brick red lined deep green and laced white (white braid with 2 yellow and 1 black stripes) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel
|Waistcoat||brick red laced white (same lace as above)|
|Gaiters||white with black buttons|
brown, grey or black during campaigns (black after 1759)
Troopers were armed with with a "Brown Bess" muskets, a bayonet and a sword. They also carried a dark brown haversack with a metal canteen on the left hip.
Officers had silver lace lining the cuffs and lapels, a black cockade hat, and wore a red sash slung over the right shoulder. Sergeants wore straw gloves. Partizans were carried.
The drummers of the regiment were clothed in deep green, lined, faced, and lapelled on the breast with red, and laced in such manner as the colonel shall think fit for distinction sake, the lace, however, was of the colours of that on the soldiers' coats.
The front or forepart of the drums were painted deep green, with the king's cypher and crown, and the number “LXVIII” under it. The rims were red.
King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with a rose and thistle wreath around the regiment number "LXVIII" in gold Roman numerals.
Regimental Colour: deep green field with its centre decorated with a rose and thistle wreath around the regiment number "LXVIII" in gold Roman numerals. The Union in the upper left corner.
Anonymous: Particular description of the several descents on the coast of France last war; with an entertaining account of the islands of Guadeloupe, Dominique, etc., E. & C. Dilly, London, 1770
Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899
George II: The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751
Lawson, Cecil C. P.: A History of the Uniforms of the British Army - from the Beginnings to 1760, vol. II, p. 94
Mills, T. F.: Website - Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately seems to have disappeared from the web)
Vane, W.L.: The Durham Light Infantry: The United Red and White Rose, Naval and Military Press, 1914 (reprinted 2004)
Wikipedia - 68th (Durham) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry)
N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
Thomas Whitfield for information on the service of the regiment after 1760