The regiment’s history was a short but eventful one. It was formed in India in 1853 by the East India Company, using volunteers from the 1st Bombay Fusiliers and the 2nd Bombay Light Infantry as well as new recruits just sent to India from the Company’s depot at Warley in Essex.
Its first title was the 3rd Bombay (European) Regiment, reflecting the fact that all its personnel were non-Indians. During the Indian Mutiny (1857-58) it served as part of the Central India Field Force in various actions including the siege and storm of Jhansi. Private Whirlpool of the regiment won the Victoria Cross during this campaign in respect of conduct at Jhansi and Lohari.
After the Mutiny all Company units were transferred to British government control. Two years later the regiment absorbed 500 men from the British German Legion’s Jäger [or Jaeger] Corps – the Legion had been a unit of German volunteers recruited to assist Britain in the Crimean War (1854-56).
In 1862 the regiment was formally entered onto the British Army order of precedence with the numeral 109, although it was not seen as the successor to the two other regiments with that numeral raised and disbanded between 1761 and 1795. From 1864 to 1866 the regiment was based in Aden, participating in the two expeditions sent against Sultan Abdallah and fighting at Bir Said. The regiment then returned to India until 1877, when it embarked for its first tour in the United Kingdom. It was thus serving at Aldershot in 1881 when it was amalgamated with the 100th Foot to form The Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians).
- The Poona Pets (the regiment was first raised in Poona)
- The Steel Heads (as a result of its ability to cope with the hot sun and high temperatures in central India)
- The Brass Heads
- The Crusaders
- The Wild Indians
- The German Mob (from its incorporating the men of the Jäger [or Jaeger] Corps)
- The Lilywhites (after its white uniform facings)
Titles to date:
- 3rd Bombay (European) Regiment
- 3rd Bombay Regiment
- 109th Regiment of Foot (Bombay Infantry)
- 2nd Battalion, The Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians)