Royal Regiment of Scotland Soldiers Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Defence Imagery ID 45166147
Royal Regiment of Scotland soldiers supporting the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in 2018 (Picture: Crown Copyright).
Stories

Are these the best regimental mottos ever?

From 'Death or Glory' to 'Better To Die Than Live A Coward', these phrases are incredibly inspirational.

Royal Regiment of Scotland Soldiers Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Defence Imagery ID 45166147
Royal Regiment of Scotland soldiers supporting the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in 2018 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Civilians around the world might only know one of the most famous regimental mottos thanks to the hit British sitcom Only Fools And Horses – but here we take a look at Who Dares Wins and some of the other inspiring military maxims across our services.

Wheeler-dealer Del Boy, played by David Jason in the BBC sitcom, might make light comedy of the British Special Air Service’s motto but its origins are no laughing matter – rather the stuff of true heroics for which the British Armed Forces are renowned around the world.

The service earns its motto from the daring nature of its missions behind enemy lines and was coined by the regiment’s founder Colonel Sir Archibald David Stirling DSO OBE who came up with the idea of a highly trained special force that could wreak havoc on enemy supply lines, bases and morale and hit key targets right at the heart of enemy-held territory.

Other regimental mottos are no less inspiring, or pride instilling, with a selection of some that stand out examined here.

  • The Royal Gurkha Rifles: कांथर हुनु भन्दा मर्नु राम्रो which translates roughly into “Better To Die Than Live A Coward”.

Brave, honourable and utterly fearless, are just a few of the words often used to describe the Gurkhas. The bravery of Gurkhas is well documented but where does their motto come from? Well, consider this…

Lance Corporal Tuljung Gurung was shot, stunned by a grenade, and ambushed by two Taliban attackers.

Despite all this and armed with nothing but his Kukri in the close confines of his guard tower, he successfully fought off two Taliban insurgents almost twice his size. LCpl Gurung said: "When I saw them I thought, I don’t want to die, I want to live.

"If I am alive I can save my colleagues. I have to do something.

"So, like a madman, I did everything."

C Company 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Helmand Province Afghanistan DNI
C Company 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles in Helmand Province, Afghanistan (Picture: Crown Copyright).
  • The Rifles: “Celer et audax” which is Latin for "Swift And Bold".

A letter written in 1824 to the regiment’s commanding officers from the Deputy Adjutant General at Horse Guards states: "His Majesty has been pleased to permit the 60th Regiment, 'The Duke of York’s Own Rifle Corps', to resume the motto 'Celer et Audax', which was formerly worn by the Regiment in commemoration of its distinguished bravery whilst employed with the British Army in North America, under Major-General Wolfe, in the year 1759."

The translation Swift And Bold officially became the motto of The Royal Green Jackets in 1966 and in 2007 was taken by The Rifles who were formed in the same year.

Soldiers 5 RIFLES 5th Battalion The Rifles Helmand Province Afghanistan DNI
Soldiers of 5th Battalion The Rifles on patrol in Afghanistan in 2014 (Picture: Crown Copyright).
  • Parachute Regiment: "Utrinque paratus" which is Latin for "Ready For Anything".

The motto means what it says in times of war. Formed in 1940, the Parachute Regiment are known for their courage, fortitude and ability to fight even when hungry, exhausted and hopelessly outnumbered.

In a forward written for the book ‘The PARAs: From The Falklands to Afghanistan In Their Own Words’, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales commented on just how ready the PARAs are, saying: "The officers and soldiers of The Parachute Regiment have always been at the forefront of the action, or at the point where the toughest decisions have to be made."

The Parachute Regiment 3 PARA Exercise Iberian Eagle DNI Sun
Paratroopers with 3 PARA during a training exercise in Spain in 2012 (Picture: Crown Copyright).
  • The Gloucestershire Regiment: (The Glorious Glosters): “By Our Deeds We Are Known”.

Gloucestershire Regiment veteran Sam Mercer spoke to BFBS the Forces Station broadcaster Hal Stewart in 2017 about his memories of the Korean War. In the heat of the battle, Mr Mercer was defending a strategic route to Seoul. He said: "I think the Chinese had expected to just simply carve a way straight through us.

"They hadn't expected us to resist... as long as we did. Yes, we upset their timetable."

The Korean War lasted three years and it was intense and bloody. Hal asked Mr Mercer about his reflections on the conflict. Mr Mercer said: "My feelings are it was a job that had to be done.

"Alright we upset the Russians, we probably upset the Chinese too but we had a job to do and we did it.

"And I think personally that we did it rather well."

1951 Capt M Harvey MC leads ashore men of the 'Glorious Glosters' who survived the Chinese Spring offensive in Korea G5C927 Picture PA Images Alamy Stock Photo
Capt M Harvey MC leads ashore men of the 'Glorious Glosters' who survived the Chinese Spring offensive in Korea, 1951 (Picture: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo).
  • The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeths’ Own): "Death Or Glory"

The skull and crossed bones above 'or glory' on one of the most recognisable cap-badges in Britain's armed forces, is responsible for the Regimental Motto, 'Death or Glory'.

The Royal Lancers were honoured by Her Majesty The Queen in April 2017 by renaming them The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeths' Own) for their "loyalty and devotion to duty".

  • Special Boat Service (SBS): "By Strength And Guile"

The SBS' original motto, Not By Strength, By Guile, was shortened to just By Strength and Guile to compete with the SAS motto Who Dares Wins.

The Special Boat Service was created during the Second World War in 1940 and was initially named the Folboat Troop, after the type of folding canoe employed in raiding operations.

The primary role of the SBS is to carry out daring surprise raids with small, highly-trained teams.

John Laverick SBS preparing a meal on Crete during Operation Albumen Photograph taken by Colonel David Sutherland of SBS and SAS G3AJNN Picture Chronicle Alamy Stock Photo
John Laverick of the SBS, preparing a meal on Crete during Operation Albumen. Photograph taken by Colonel David Sutherland of SBS and SAS (Picture: Chronicle / Alamy Stock Photo).