‘19240: Shrouds of the Somme’: 6 RIFLES Mark the Battle of the Somme 100 Years On

1st July 2016 marks the centennial anniversary of the Battle of the Somme; the bloodiest day in the British Army’s history. There have been many events across the country that have marked various anniversaries from the First World War, and in particular, the Battle of the Somme.

In April 2016, HQ Company 6 RIFLES were tasked with providing seven soldiers to unveil a national art project at the Exeter Guildhall, Devon. Each soldier took up position around a union flag which was laid in the Guildhall. As part of the ceremony, the union flag was raised by the soldiers of 6 RIFLES to reveal 100, 12inch shrouded figures, arranged neatly into rows. These 100 figures represent just 0.52% of the 19,240 figures that were to be displayed in Northern Hay Gardens on 1st July 2016 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. The artist, Rob Heard, wanted a strong military involvement.

WO2 Elliot Drake, 6 RIFLES, states that the artist, Rob Heard, and the battalion formed a special bond throughout this experience, which continued into the following year. The Battalion was invited to black tie dinners with the Exeter Chiefs Rugby Club, where they were privileged to meet both Exeter Chiefs and England international rugby players. The Battalion also visited many schools in the Devon area to spread the word about the battle and the art project ‘19240: Shrouds of the Somme’.

6 RIFLES continued to assist with the art project into 2016 by picking up the installation from the artist’s home in Somerset, to the Northern Hay Gardens in Exeter in time to mark the historic anniversary. The Riflemen, along with local veterans, the local community and the local fire service, spent 11 hours laying out the figures.

At 07.28am on 1st July 2016, the time at which the whistles were blown in 1916, sending thousands of soldiers ‘over the top’, many of which would not return. WO2 Elliot Drake walked out to the centre of the installation and laid the last of the 19,240 figures, each representing one soldier who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Following the Last Post, 30 whistles were blown for three seconds to mark the ‘going over the top’ and the opening of Rob Heard’s art installation.

During the 7 seven days of the opening of the ‘Shrouds of the Somme’, it was visited by 50,000 people and had approximately 1 million hits globally on social media.

The Rifles antecendent and founding regiments lost the following men on the first day:

33 Queen Victoria’s Own Light Infantry     –    1

Devonshire Regiment                                     –    394

Dorset Regiment                                              –    70

Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry                –    2

Durham Light Infantry                                   –    209

King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry           –    771

King’s Royal Rifle Corps                                  –    60

King’s Shropshire Light Infantry                   –    7

Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry                   –    6

Rifle Brigade                                                       –   198

Somerset Light Infantry                                   –   282

Wiltshire Regiment                                           –   7

shrouds-1    shrouds-2   shrouds-3   A ceremony in Northerhay Gardens remembering the first day of the Battle of the Somme. 19,240 men were killed on the first day. Artist Rob Herd spent 3 years making 19,240 shrouds one for each life lost to commemorate 100 years since the battle Richard Austin Pic: Richard Austin Tel: 07831 566005

For more information on the 19240 art project, please visit www.thesomme19240.co.uk

Getting the Museum ‘Squared Away’

After the rush of the school holidays, we are taking a moment to catch our breath and giving the collections some much needed TLC. Whilst the fingerprints on our cases are a testament to the enjoyment of our younger visitors have found amongst the displays, they can be disruptive for our other museum visitors.

So volunteers Rachel and David joined museum staff, Melanie and Evie, to clean the display cases inside and out. The objects inside the cases were cleaned inside and out. The objects inside the cases were cleaned, as well as our mannequins wearing the uniforms of Riflemen past and present.

Although not the most glamorous of tasks, this type of housekeeping gives us a really good opportunity to get up close and personal with our artefacts, and you really start to notice some interesting details. For example, Melanie observed that the previous owner of our Taliban motorbike had attempted some repairs to the handlebars. Evie also polished the bugle, our Regimental symbol, keeping it up to standard.

We have also taken the opportunity to put out some fresh pest traps in some of our cases. It is an unpleasant fact of museum life that there might be something trying to eat your collection, so we place little sticky traps to keep tabs on what is around so we know if we have a problem – the only creepy crawlies we want in our museum are the ones we are planning as part of our Halloween craft activities on 28th October 2016!

This is an on-going task, so watch out for members of the team cleaning the cases or checking up on the pest traps throughout the year. There is always plenty to do, so if you are interested in helping out, feel free to contact us at museum@the-rifles.co.uk to find out more…

 

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Rachel cleaning our modern Rifleman uniform mannequin and David cleaning our ‘Rifles in Iraq’ case.

An interesting Regimental Photo. Men of 3rd Battalion KRRC, Egypt 1882-84

Soldiers from the Kings Royal Rifle Corps , Egypt 1882. Probably 3rd Battalion KRRC.

Soldiers from the Kings Royal Rifle Corps , Egypt 1882. Probably 3rd Battalion KRRC.

A photo of3rd Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps possibly prior to embarking for Egypt in 1882.

This photo was taken during the Anglo Egyptian War and River Nile Expedition that took place from 1882-1885.

The 2nd DCLI, 1st Royal Berkshire, 1st KSLI, 3rd KRRC and 8th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) all served in this campaign. The Anglo Egyptian War was fought between Great Britain and Egyptian and Sudanese forces under Ahmed Orabi, who had led a coup against Tewfik Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt and the Sudan. Success enabled British troops to occupy Egypt until the Anglo Egyptian treaties of 1922 and 1936 which gave back gradual control to Egypt. The volunteer force unit, The Post Office Rifles, whose battle honours have passed to the Rifles and who 7 Rifles have direct lineage to, provided a detachment of 2 Officers and 102 men to undertake postal and telegraph duties for the Force Commander General Wolseley.

3rd Battalion KRRC who acted as mounted infantry during the campaign. Rifleman Frederick Corbett of this Battalion was awarded the VC for his efforts to save his officers life during this campaign, only to have it stripped from him in 1884 for embezzlement. Lt Percival Scrope Marling of 3rd KRRC was also awarded a VC in this campaign and the Battalion received honours for Egypt 1882, Tel El Kebir, and Egypt 1884 for a short expedition against the Mahdists in Suakin.

To find out more about the service of our antecedents in Egypt why not visit the Museums in Bodmin, Salisbury, Shrewsbury and Winchester, all part of The Rifles Museums network the locations of which are on the interactive map under Rifles Museums.

Image of a Light Infantry Company Soldier c.1771

Image of a Light Infantry Company soldier of the 46th Regiment of Foot c. 1771. The 46th would later become the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.

Image of a Light Infantry Company soldier of the 46th Regiment of Foot c. 1771. The 46th would later become the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.

This image depicts a soldier in the Light Infantry Company (note the LI lettering to the front of his cut down cap) of the 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of foot c. 1771, as they would have appeared just prior to the American Revolutionary War. The 46th would later become the 2nd battalion of The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. After Light Infantry evolved in the 7 years war, particularly in the campaigns in North America, each British Regiment of foot had a designated company of skirmishers on their establishment, known as The Light Infantry or Light company. Their clothing and equipment was altered to be less cumbersome in close country and to allow free movement. This included having headdress that fitted closer to the head and would catch less on trees and undergrowth than the wider tricorn hat. After the American Revolutionary war, building on the experience of using combined battalions of light Infantry companies and German rifle armed Jager regiments; in the early 19th Century formed battalions of Light Infantry and then Rifle Corps were formed to meet the threat from Revolutionary France. Many of the men to form these new regiments were chosen from the Light Companies of existing Regiments, selected for their agility, skill at arms, self confidence and marksmanship. They became ‘the chosen men’ to form these new skirmishing corps. It is through this skirmishing tradition all the way back to 1757 that the skirmishing ethos of the Light Infantry and the Rifleman in British service has evolved. An ethos firmly held by the Riflemen of todays Regiment, with the qualities of those first chosen men still encapsulated in our motto Swift & Bold.

To find out more about the service of our antecedents in The American Revolution or the evolution of The Rifles why not visit any of the Museums in The Rifles Museums network the locations of which are on the interactive map under Rifles Museums. for the 46th in particular visit Cornwall’s regimental Museum, The Keep, Bodmin.

Key moment in History of The Rifles. After 13 years committed to operations in Afghanistan, Op HERRICK comes to an end.

Gallery

This gallery contains 5 photos.

        “First in The Field & Last out of it” (to para phrase the toast of the old 95th Rifles), seems appropriate for their successors; todays RIFLES as Op HERRICK came to an end on Saturday 26th … Continue reading

Rifles Museums Network News – Change at The Royal Green Jackets Museum – New “Road to Waterloo Exhibition” under way.

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Mannequins are lie piled as the gallery is emptied to allow the re-development to take place.

Mannequins are lie piled as the gallery is emptied to allow the re-development to take place.

The cases are empty and the artefacts are packed ready to go to storage or conservation and cleaning.

The cases are empty and the artefacts are packed ready to go to storage or conservation and cleaning.

The Waterloo diorama being dismantled section by section, 16 parts in all, and removed for renovation.

The Waterloo diorama being dismantled section by section, 16 parts in all, and removed for renovation.

 

 

 

 

 

LCpl Biggin from 100 Fd Sqn (Militia), Royal Monmouthshire, Royal Engineers (Militia) assisting with the RGJM re-display pre works.

LCpl Biggin from 100 Fd Sqn (Militia), Royal Monmouthshire, Royal Engineers (Militia) assisting with the RGJM re-display pre works.

 

The RGJM at Winchester has begun a major re-development of the upstairs gallery that will see a new exhibition layout telling the story of the campaigns leading up to Waterloo, a major redisplay and restoration of the Waterloo Diorama and the creation of a new multi use (education, function and temporary exhibition) space.

The majority of the upstairs gallery is now shut from 21 September to facilitate development of the gallery space. It will be closed off until the new exhibition is launched on 25th March 2015 in time for the 200th anniversary of The Battle of Waterloo next year.

Pre works to close of the Gallery were conducted with support from The Army Reserves with LCpl Paul Biggin of 100 Field Squadron (Militia) Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) constructing stud walls and doors to close of the development area.

Since then Museum staff and a team of volunteers have been cataloguing and packing items to empty the galleries. The redisplayed Waterloo diorama will be stunning after undergoing restoration and will be the highlight of the new exhibition. ‬

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RIFLES History Today – 70th Anniversary Operation GARDEN, Holland September 1944.

Operation MARKET GARDEN was a major allied assault into German occupied Holland, 17-25 Sep 1944. This week marks the 70th anniversary of the concluding phases of this operation. It was a combined ground and airborne forces operation designed to seize vital river crossings across rivers in Holland with the main prize of Arnhem Bridge, the crossing over the Rhine at the end of it. ‘Market’ were the Airborne forces and ‘Garden’ were the ground forces, provided by 30th Corps of the British Army.

The operation was ambitious; with 30th Corps expected to reach Arnhem in four days to relieve the Airborne Forces, the airborne troops expected to hold on with light equipment for that period and then to support 30 Corps in a break out, to bounce over the rhine into German.

The plan became unhinged quickly with 30th Corps facing stiffer opposition on the advance than estimated and the Airborne forces finding themselves engaged with 1st line troops from an SS Panzer Division which was on rest and maintenance in the area, rather than the 3rd line auxiliaries and reserves which the opposition had been expected to be.

The American Airborne troops at Eindhoven (82nd Airborne Division) and Nijmegen (101st Airborne Division) achieved their objectives with heavy casualties and were relieved by 30th Corps but behind the original planners schedule. The British 1st Airborne Division was forced to hold on for 8 days, with intense fighting around the bridges in Arnheim and in the town suburbs. Eventually after heavy losses and lacking vital combat supplies they were forced to withdraw from Arnhem as the troops of 30th Corps couldn’t get through in the face of ferocious resistance from German forces.

RIFLES antecedents took part in the hard fought ground forces battle which is often overlooked by the Airborne forces battle.

4th & 7th Somerset LI, 4th &5th Bns Wiltshire Regiment, 1st 4th & 5th Dorset Regiment, 2nd Devons, 5th DCLI and 6th 8th & 9th Bns The Durham Light Infantry were all to endure heavy losses in 30 Corps hard fought advance.

The accompanying picture shows troops of 4th Wiltshires in the town of Valkenswaard during Operation Market Garden.

4th Wiltshires in the town of Valkenswaard during Operation Market Garden.

4th Wiltshires in the town of Valkenswaard during Operation Market Garden.

The Rifles Great War Legacy, Great War 100 – Outbreak of the War and BEF deploys.

British Infantry recently arrived in France, possibly somewhere outside Boulogne, preparing to move off towards the Belgian border.

British Infantry recently arrived in France, possibly somewhere outside Boulogne, preparing to move off towards the Belgian border.

British Infantry 'somewhere in France' rest on the move towards Mons.

British Infantry ‘somewhere in France’ rest on the move towards Mons.

 

4th of August 1914, 11pm the British Government having not received suitable assurances from the German Government regarding preservation of Belgian neutrality, declares war on Germany and thus begins British involvement in the conflict that would become know as The Great War or First World War.

5th August 1914, the order is issued for The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to mobilise and deploy to France and Belgium. The BEF was a unique force for its time – a modern and wholly professional and very experienced field force from the higher command down, when most European Armies were conscripted. Within its make up, were a number of the antecedents of today’s Rifles, with all of the forming Regiment’s represented in these opening moves of the war. The first units began deploying from Southampton to France on the 8th/9th August with further moves on the 22nd/23rd Aug and 8/9th Sep 1914. They would all variously find themselves engaged in the momentous opening battles of the western front campaign, Mons, Loos,Marne & 1st Ypres. Those former Regiments in the order of battle, and the formations to which they belonged are as follows:

1st Corps BEF
– 1st Division: 2nd (Inf) Bde – 2nd Bn KRRC; 3rd (Inf) Bde – 1st Bn Gloucestershire Regt.
– 2nd Div: 5th (Inf) Bde – 2nd Bn Oxford & Buckinghamshire LI; 6th (Inf) Bde – 1st Bn Royal Berkshire Regt & 1st Bn KRRC.

2nd Corps BEF
– 3rd Div: 7th (Inf) Bde – 1st Bn Duke of Edinburgh’s Wiltshire Regt.
– 5th Div: 13th (Inf) Bde – 2nd Bn KOYLI; 14th (Inf) Bde 1st Bn DCLI; 15th (Inf) Bde – 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regt.

3rd Corps BEF (Landing in France 22nd/23rd Aug, formed in France 31st Aug)
– 4th Div: 11th (Inf) Bde – 1st Bn Prince Albert’s Som LI, 1st Bn The Rifle Brigade.
-6th Div (Landing in France 8th/9th September: 16th (Inf) Bde 1st KSLI; 17th (Inf) Bde – 3rd Bn The Rifle Brigade; 18th (Inf) Bde 2nd Bn The Durham Light Infantry.

The opening moves were begun, in what many hoped would be a short war; “It’ll all be over by Christmas”; but in reality would evolve into four years of war the likes of which Europe had never experienced – total and industrialised – effecting the home front as well as those at the battle front.

100 years on we will endevour to commemorate the major events of 1914 – 1918 and the parts played by our antecedents as The Rifles Great War Legacy, a legacy in which The Rifles can be justly proud.

(For a complete Order of Battle for the BEF in 1914, a good summary can be found at the following link: – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Expeditionary_Force_order_of_battle_(1914)

The Battle of Salamanca – Regimental Day of The Rifles

The Battle of Salamanca, 22 July 1812, Wellington directs the attack, from a contemporary print.

The Battle of Salamanca, 22 July 1812, Wellington directs the attack, from a contemporary print.

RIFLES HISTORY  – The Battle of Salamanca 22 July 1812 –  Annually The Regimental Day of The Rifles.22 July 1812 saw Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, execute one of his most stunning victories over the French forces during the Peninsular War in Spain & Portugal. It showed his brilliance as an offensive general as he beat 40,000 Frenchmen in 40 minutes.

All forming Regiments of The Rifles had antecedent who fought in this action; 1/11th (Devonshire) nicknamed ‘The Bloody 11th’ for the heavy casualties taken this day, the 32nd (Cornwall), 43rd (Monmouthshire) LI, 51st (Yorkshire) LI, 52nd (Oxfordshire) LI, 53rd (Shropshire), 5/60th (Kings American Rifles),1/61st (South Gloucestershire) who after having had 6 reliefs of officers shot away in the colour party finished the day with Privates Nicholas Coulson and William Crawford carrying them in the final assault , 68th (Durham) LI engaged from early morning and throughout the day, and 1/2/3rd Bns 95th Rifles, who with the rest of the Light Division were instrumental in defeating the French rear-guard. For this reason it is chosen as the Regimental Day of The Rifles.

Our ancestors of 1812 set high standards of discipline, courage, initiative and decisive action, and the British attacks can be aptly described as Swift & Bold, providing a fine example of soldiering for today’s Rifles to follow.

Salamanca Day is a Day all Riflemen and former Janners, Glosters, Lightbobs and Jackets can celebrate and recall with pride. The actions of the Regiments  ancestors this day are written large in the tales of The Peninsular War.

RIFLES HISTORY TODAY – 1st of July 1916

At 7:28 am on 1st July 1916, The Battle of The Somme commenced. A huge mine was exploded under the German Lines at Hawthorn Redoubt and the British forces moved forward, over the top, from their forward ‘ jump off’ trenches.

British Mine explodes under the German Lines at Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt at 07:28 1st July 1916, and the Batlle of the Somme commences.

British Mine explodes under the German Lines at Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt at 07:28 1st July 1916, and the Batlle of the Somme commences.

SOMME is a representative Battle honour for the Rifles borne with pride on our Regimental Belt badge. It recalls the major battle on the western front fought between 1st July and 18 November 1916 in which 97 Battalions of The Rifles antecedent Regiments took part.

The Battle was to become the crucible for Kitchener’s New Army. The battle was costly for the British Army, and one of the costliest of the Great War. 419,654 British (60,000 alone on the first day, the 1st of July) and 202,567 French casualties, against 465,181 German for a gain of 6 miles advanced on a 16 mile wide front by the time the battle slid to a halt in the winter rain and sleet of November. The Rifles remember with pride the courage, fortitude and sacrifice given by our forebears during this battle, we remember the Officers and men and the families of…

Wiltshire Regiment moving up the line near Acheux, Somme 28th June 1916

Wiltshire Regiment moving up the line near Acheux, Somme 28th June 1916

Soldiers of The Wiltshire Regiment crossing no mans land in the fighting around Thiepval, the Somme, July - Aug 1916.

Soldiers of The Wiltshire Regiment crossing no mans land in the fighting around Thiepval, the Somme, July – Aug 1916.

The Devonshire Regiment: 1st, 2nd, 8th & 9th Battalions.
The Somerset Light Infantry: 1st, 6th, 7th & 8th Battalions.
The Gloucestershire Regiment:1st, 1/4th, 1/5th/ 1/6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 13th & 14th Battalions.
The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry: 1st, 1/5th,6th, 7th and 10th Battalions.
The Dorset Regiment: 1st Battalion
The Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry: 1/4th, 1/1st(Bucks), 2/1st(Bucks), 8th, 5th, and 6th Battalions.
The Royal Berkshire Regiment: 1st, 2, 1/4th,2/4th, 5th, 6th & 8th Battalions.
The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry: 2nd,1/4th, 1/5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th,, 10th and 12th Battalions.
The Kings Shropshire Light Infantry: 1st, 5th and 7th Battalions.
The King’s Royal Rifle Corps1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th and 21st Battalions.
The Wiltshire Regiment: 1st, 2nd and 6th Battalions.
The Durham Light Infantry: 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 22nd Battalions .
The Rifle Brigade: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th, 13th and 16th Battalions .
The London Regiment: 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 12th, 15th, 16th and 17th (Rifles) Battalions.

Memorial to the men of 8th & 9th Battalions The Devonshire Regiment at Devonshire Trench Cemetery near Mametz on the Somme Battlefield.

Memorial to the men of 8th & 9th Battalions The Devonshire Regiment at Devonshire Trench Cemetery near Mametz on the Somme Battlefield.

“Swift & Bold”