Formed on May 24, 1854 and gazetted on January 27, 1855 as the Durban Volunteer Guard. In 1859 the title became the Durban Rifle Guard and in 1873 it became the Royal Durban Rifles. Between 1889 and 1895 the unit was amalgamated with the Maritzburg Rifles as the Natal Royal Rifles.
From 1895, the regiment was known as the Durban Light Infantry, the “Royal” being added in 1935 and deleted again in 1961 when South Africa became a republic outside the Commonwealth. During the Zulu war of 1879 the regiment performed garrison duties and during the Anglo South African War it performed line of communication duties. It served throughout the Zulu uprising of 1907-8.
During World War One it formed two battalions for service in the German South West Africa campaign. The DLI also contributed troops to putting down the 1922 Rand Revolt, carrying out a frontal attack on Brixton Ridge on March 13 and clearing Fordsburg the next day, along with the Transvaal Scottish and Wits Rifles.
During World War Two, the regiment again supplied two battalions, the 1st forming part of 3 SA Brigade in North Africa and 2nd RDLI brigaded into 4 SA Bde – to be captured with the rest of 2 SA Division at Tobruk in 1942. The RDLI also served in Italy with 6 SA Division, first as the heavy support weapon group of 12 SA Motorised Brigade and then as an infantry battalion with 13 Brigade.
Current role: Mechanised infantry.
Current base: Durban
South Africa 1879
Relief of Ladysmith
South Africa 1899-1902
South West Africa 1914-5
Motto: Primus in Africa (First in Africa).