KBC 14: Which British Army unit was given the motto ‘Primus in Indis’ because it was the first to serve in India?
41st (Welch) Regiment of Foot
1st Coldstream Guards
5th Light Infantry
39th Regiment of Foot
Answer: 39th Regiment of Foot
In 1754, the 39th Foot became the first British Army unit to be deployed to India, earning it the motto ‘Primus in Indis’ (‘First in India‘). It fought there in the Seven Years War (1756-63), including at Plassey (1757), for which it received a battle honour – the only British Army unit to do so.
The regiment was given the number 39 in the line infantry order of precedence in 1751. A county affiliation with East Middlesex would follow in 1782.
From 1825, the 39th Foot guarded convicts en route to Australia as well as on arrival in New South Wales. A 13-year posting to India followed from 1832, including the Coorg (1834) and Gwalior (1843) campaigns.
In 1854, the regiment sailed for the Crimean War (1854-56), serving at Sevastopol. It returned to Canada in 1856, followed by a five-year posting to Bermuda from 1859.
Its final independent deployment was to India in 1869. It was still there in 1881, when it was merged with the 54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot to form The Dorsetshire Regiment.