Royal Guernsey Militia

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An Officer and a Private of the East (Town) Regiment, 1822

The Royal Guernsey Militia was a volunteer military force for the defense of the island.


Although the precise origins of the Milita are unclear, one of the earliest references can be found in 1203 when King John required his Seigneurs to form a body of men to defend the island from invasion by the French.

Napoleonic Wars

In 1780, the force was expanded to defend the island in anticipation of invasion by Napoleon. It was organised into field artillery regiment and four regional infantry regiments:

  • 1st East (Town) Regiment
  • 2nd North Regiment ("le Régiment Vert")
  • 3rd South Regiment ("le Régiment Bleu")
  • 4th West Regiment ("le Régiment Noir")

Since service in the militia was compulsory and unpaid, the British Government agreed in 1782 to pay for the introduction of new red uniforms. In 1831, William IV granted the use of “Royal” before Guernsey Militia.

Firing the Noon Day Gun, Castle Cornet

World War I

In 1916, the Royal Guernsey Militia was disbanded for the remainder of the war, and the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry was raised. The States of Guernsey waived the ancient right of the Militia to limit its role to the defense of the island, paving the way for the regiment to serve overseas. They fought as part of the 29th Division at Battles of Passchendale, Cambrai and Lys. After the war, the Militia was re-formed.

In 1928, the British Government withdrew funding, and the Militia was scaled back to small volunteer force.

World War II

The Militia was again disbanded in 1940, prior to the German Occupation, as part of the demilitarisation of the islands, and its members were encouraged to volunteer for the regular British army.

After the war, the States debated whether to revive the Militia, finally deciding in 1951 not to do so.


Castle Cornet houses the Royal Guernsey Militia Museum, and the firing of the noon day gun is carried out there by men dressed in Militia uniforms each day during the summer months.

The old regimental colours of the North Regiment can be seen in St Sampsons Church.


  • Groves, Lt-Col JP, The Royal Guernsey Militia: a brief sketch of its services, etc from 800 to 1895, 2vol, Guernsey (1895)
  • Coysh, Victor, Royal Guernsey, Guernsey (1977)
  • Parks, Major Edwin, The Royal Guernsey Militia. A short history and list of officers, La Société Guernesiaise (1992)
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