The major contents of this page are:
- Introduction to Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment Unit History
- New Zealand Infantry History
- Unit the "raison d'etre" of NZ Military Force in South East Asia
- Unit Comment - 2007
Introduction to Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment Unit History
The historical origin of the 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment as a unit traces its descent from the Divisional Cavalry Regiment [Div Cav] of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force [2 NZEF].
WWII Italian Campaign
During the Italian Campaign in 1945, the Div Cav had been converted from an Armoured Recon Regt to Infantry then later moved from Trieste to Japan with the 9th NZ Infantry Brigade which was NZ's contribution to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force.
9th NZ Infantry Brigade Redesignation
In early 1947 the 3 Battalions of the brigade were redesignated 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions the NZ Regt. The Div Cav becoming the 1st Battalion. On the withdrawal of the 9th Brigade from Japan in 1948, the three Battalions were disbanded immediately on their return to NZ.
The 22nd Battalion was the longest serving of the New Zealand infantry battalions that made up the 2NZEF from 1939 to 1947. A red diamond cloth patch was the official 22nd Battalion's insignia that was worn on the upper left sleeve of personnel's dress wear.
New Zealand Infantry Regiment Reactivation
The 1st Battalion The New Zealand Regiment was reactivated at Waiouru on 1st Aug 1957, especially for service in Malaya.
As the tour of duty of the infantry in Malaya was going to be an extended one, the 2nd Battalion was raised in 1959 to relieve the 1st Battalion in Malaya at the end of that year. The red diamond was formally instituted for the 2nd Battalion as recognition of its antecedent being 22nd Battalion. Battalion members wore the red diamond cloth patch on the upper left sleeve in the same manner as that of the 22nd Battalion members.
Short History of the 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment. July 1971
New Zealand Infantry History
The New Zealand Infantry can trace its descendancy to the early colonial days of the Militia Companies of the 1840s and 1850s and the Rifle Volunteer Corps from the 1850s until 1911.
The first regular force raised in New Zealand was the New Zealand Armed Constabulary in 1846.
This Unit's service is commemorated by the Battle Honour "New Zealand" emblazoned on the 1 RNZIR Regimental Colour. As an aside, all New Zealand Infantry Battalions have this and the "South Africa" Battle Honour.
Moving on through the years New Zealand Infantry saw various establishments for example:
|Defence Act 1911:
||16 Regiments were raised in 4 Brigades each of 4 Battalions.
|| Major reorganisation saw the Infantry Regiments reduced from 16 to 13.
||13 Infantry Regiments remained in existence however some had title changes.
| World War II:
|| Numbered Battalions were drawn from a military district basis to serve with 2 and 3 NZ Div instead of mobilising the Territorial Battalions.
||New Zealand Infantry Corps created with 15 Regiments.
Tracing Unit History and Lineage
Given the above, it is difficult to trace a clear history and lineage of the New Zealand Regular Force Battalions pre World War II [WWII ]. Notwithstanding this, the NZ Infantry Battalions each have 10 Battle Honours from WW1 and 10 Battle Honours from WWII emblazoned on their colours.
Unit the "raison d'etre" of NZ Military Force in South East Asia
In 1982 as in 1957, the Regular Infantry Battalion remained the heart and soul and the "raison d'etre" of NZ Military Force in South East Asia.
In the preceeding quarter of a century thirteen Infantry Battalions, each identified by the names of their commanders, have served in South East Asia and have fought in three campaigns, being the:
Thirty Four Officers and men were killed in action, or lated died of their wounds, while a further thirty three infantrymen have died of illness or accident.
1 RNZIR 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition Journal. 1982
- Malayan Emergency
- Malaysian Confrontation
- South Vietnam War
Formation of 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment - 1964
1 RNZIR flag embossed with monogram and the 'Original's' period in Malaysia
The red over green colours are the same as used by the 22 Battalion. The Unit adopted them in early 1940 when the battalion was formed, with the colours being those of the Onslow Rugby Club in Wellington.
The 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment was formed on May 1, 1964. The Battalion was deployed in Malaysia at that time, based in Terendak Military Camp as a unit of the 28th Commonwealth Brigade. The Brigade was a part of the 17th Gurkha Division whose command was based in Hong Kong.
The birth of the Battalion was the result of a decision to abolish the ten separate Infantry Regiments which made up the Royal New Zealand Infantry Corps and to form a single Infantry Regiment with numbered Battalions. At that time there were two active regular Infantry Battalions, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the New Zealand Regiment.
The 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment [1 RNZIR] was born from amalgamation of these two Battalions.
Inaugural Parade - 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment
Due to operational commitments on the Malaysian - Thailand border the ceremonial parade to mark the formation of the new Battalion and granting of the title "Royal" was delayed until 5 Aug 1964. On 17 August 1964, the Battalion was committed to active service on the Malay Peninsula against invading Indonesian regular forces.
Unit Red Diamond Insignia - 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment
Of significance was retention of the 2nd Battalion New Zealand Infantry Regiment unit insignia, being a cloth RED DIAMOND worn on the upper left sleeve on the dress wear of battalion members.
The RED DIAMOND was instituted for 2 Battalion as recognition of its antecedent being 22nd Battalion 2nd New Zealand Expeditonary Force [2NZEF]. The 22nd Battalion was the longest serving of the New Zealand infantry battalions that made up the 2NZEF from 1939 to 1947. The Battalion was disbanded in Japan on 7th August 1947 to become the 2nd Battalion of the NZ Army.
Source: 22 Battalion - Paul Froggatt
1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment Official Birthday
The 1st Battalion, New Zealand Regiment was officially reformed on 1st Aug 1957. Consequently the Battalion celebrated its birthday each year on this date.
On the formation of 1 RNZIR it was decided to continue to observe 1st August as the Battalion's birthday as the 1st August 1957 marked the birth of the first infantry Battalion in the New Zealand Army consisting completely of regular officers and soldiers.
Unit Comment - 2007
To consider the dates in 1964 as the Unit's birthday does not do justice to the Officers and soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the New Zealand Regiment. The 1st and 2nd Battalion of the NZ Regt were subsumed by 1 RNZIR as a result of the decision to form a single regiment with numbered Battalions.
New Zealand Infantry Battalion Service in South East Asia
A New Zealand Battalion has seen continous service in South East Asia from 1957 until 1989 and this is recorded in physical terms within 1 RNZIR through the following:
All Unit written histories begin in 1957 with the reactivation of the 1st Bn NZ Regt.
- Unit (1 RNZIR) Commanding Officers commence with Lt Col W.R.K. (Kim) Morrison
- Unit RSM's commence with WO1 I.F. (Bunny) Forsyth.
- The Unit history room begins with reactivation of 1st Bn NZ Regt.
Unit Official Birth Date - 1 August 1957
Accordingly, whilst it is acknowledged that claim of "Originals" derive from Brigadier Gurr's Battalion, 1 RNZIR has always considered, and will continue to do so, that the 1st of August 1957 is the inaugural Birthday of the unit.
Unit Official 50th Birthday
With the "Official" 50th Birthday celebrated in August of each year, the 50th will be in 2007. The unit has celebrated its birthday on this date over the last 20 or so years.
Current serving Offr/WO/SNCO clearly relate to and remember the birthday on 01 Aug. Since 1957 many changes have occurred with the Unit structure, employment and location.
2/1 RNZIR - Sister Unit
The early 80's saw the Unit sister Battalion, 2/1 RNZIR, acknowledged as a regular Battalion in its own right and not just a depot.
Contributor: Major J.C. Howe, Second In Command, 1 RNZIR. March 07, 2007
Updated 05 September 2016. Webmaster, Victor R Johnson. Contact Webmaster,