Author Archives: Volunteer

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”

Armed Forces Fun Day for All

This Sunday (29th June) Winchester Military Museums will be hosting a special event for Armed Forces Day. If you are in or around Winchester why not visit Peninsular Barracks and join in the  fun. All the Museums are free for the day and there are a number of activities on from 10am to 4pm including a team from The Rifles providing a paint ball gallery range where kids little and large can test their marksmanship, Gurkha Soldiers from the Sandhurst Company, Cadet association displays,  The Band of the Adjutant Generals Corps and much more. So why not come along and show your support for our armed forces.

Rifles Collection Hosts first Royal Visitor

On Monday 23rd of June – Plassey Day – His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester visited Winchester to raise the City’s Armed Forces Day Flag and launch the event in the city. As Royal Colonel of 6 RIFLES, one of our Army Reserve Battalions, he also took the opportunity to visit Regimental Headquarters The Rifles and The Rifles Museum (RGJ & Rifles) in Peninsular Barracks. After a brief tour around the RGJ collections, The Duke was introduced to The Rifles Collection Team, curators Miss Melanie Marsh, & Major (Retd) Rob Yuill, and Mr David Wiggins the collection volunteer archival assistant. He also met serving members of the Regiment; Cpl Avtar Gill (1 Rifles), LCpls Andrew Borthwick and Dan Owens (both 4 Rifles) who have been key supporters of The Rifles Exhibition giving up their time to do talks and donating items to the collection.  After a quick tour round the gallery, His Royal Highness departed to the flag raising outside County Hall where the proceedings were accompanied by music from The Rifles Band & Bugles.

Battle of Plassey – A unique battle honour.

This week saw the 257th anniversary of the Battle of Plassey, fought in West Bengal, India, 23rd June 1757. This is a unique battle honour to The Rifles and one inherited from our antecedents the 39th Dorsetshire Regiment who were the only British Army Regiment, to fight in the action, the remainder of the force Commanded by Robert Clive being comprised of East Indian Company Regiments. On the 29th January 1754 the 39th Regiment was ordered to sail to India, and became the first Crown regiment to serve there. In June 1756, Siraj-ud-daulah, the Nawab of Bengal, captured Calcutta (present day Kolkata) and incarcerated the surviving members of the garrison in the infamous ‘black hole’. Lieutenant Colonel Robert Clive was entrusted with recapturing the city for the East India Company. He took with him three companies from the 39th Foot under command. On 13th June 1757 his modest but well disciplined force of 3,000 set off to confront Siraj-ud-daulah’s enormous army of 35,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry. On 23rd June Clive attacked the Nawab’s army which was drawn up in front of its camp at Plassey. The turning point came with a dramatic rainstorm at midday, which dampened the enemy’s powder, thus silencing their guns. Clive’s gunners, better disciplined, had wisely kept their powder dry and could continue to fire. They cut down the enemy cavalry. This enabled the 39th Foot supported by the Grenadier Companies of the native Regiments, to push forward and seize what little high ground there was and capture the Nawab’s main gun batteries. The defeat of the Cavalry and loss of the guns caused the Nawab’s army to disintegrate and rout. This decisive victory, cost Clive’s force just 80 casualties but set the seal for 190 years of British rule in India. The Battle Honour was awarded retrospectively by Queen Victoria on 17 November 1853 together with the motto ‘Primus in Indus’ commemorating the first honour granted to a Crown Regiment in India. On the 23rd June 1757, the soldiers of the Dorsetshire Regiment had certainly earned the title. Primus in Indus. In an interesting foot note. A Rifles antecedent Regiment was the first British Regiment in India. A Rifles antecedent was also the last British regiment in India, the 1st Battalion The Somerset Light Infantry embarked for Britain 28th February 1948 after a ceremonial march out of The India Gate in Bombay (now Mumbai), the last Crown regiment to serve on Indian soil.

Normandy Legacy, D-DAY Remembered 70 years on. The Assault on Pegasus Bridge – Operation DEADSTICK

At approximately 00:16hrs on the 6th June 1944, Horsa Gliders containing the Officers and men of 2nd Bn The Ox & Bucks LI landed in occupied France in a daring operation to seize the crossings over The Caen Canal and Orne River. The purpose of operation DEADSTICK as it was codenamed was two fold; to hold the bridges in order to prevent German reinforcement or counter attacks against the east flank of the allied landing beaches and to secure the crossing for use in a future breakout towards Caen. The crossings were to be seized in a ‘coup de main’ operation, executed by 2 Coy groups of Glider borne infantry. The Caen Canal crossing was to be seized by 3 platoons from 2nd Ox & Bucks (52nd) LI, reinforced with Royal Engineers, R Signals and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment, all under command Major John Howard, a similar sized force landed to seize the neighbouring bridge over the river Orne. These two groups were the first formed body of allied troops to land in occupied France in 1944. Surprise was total, with the gliders landing within a few yards of the crossing points. Both bridges were taken intact in a matter of minutes. British casualties were two killed and 14 wounded. Major Howard was later awarded the DSO for his part in this action. He and his men are today remembered for the execution of one of the most daring and brilliantly executed operations of the Second World War, and one that is proudly remembered by their successors today in The Rifles.

Normandy Legacy – D-Day Remembered 70 Years On – The Rifles Heritage

50th Div_ D-Day_gold_beachDLI embarked for D-Day
Friday 6th June 2014 marks the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, the allied assault landing into Nazi occupied Europe. An operation that marked the start of the liberation of Europe and the beginning of the end for Hitler and his Nazi empire. Antecedent Regiments of The Rifles feature large in the story of D-Day in every aspect of the operation.D Coy of the 2nd Bn Oxford & Buckinghamshire LI, under command Major John Howard, famously captured the bridges over the Caen Canal and Orne River in a preliminary ‘coup de main’ operation early hours D-Day. Less well known is that they were subsequently reinforced by 7th (LI) Para Bn [formerly 10th Som. LI], who were also part of the 6th Airborne Division assault landing.pegasus_bridge

On the coast, on the beaches 1st Dorsets were taking part in their 3rd beach assault of the war (having previously landed in Sicily and Italy) 2nd Devons were landing on Gold Beach, along with 6th 8th 9th DLI (151 ‘Durham Brigade – also veterans of Sicily) 2nd Glosters, 12th Devons, 5th Royal Berks and 2nd KSLI were all also landing on the Normandy beaches that day in 1944. Beaches some of which had been marked out for landing by another antecedent of The Rifles, 1st Buckinghamshire Bn (TA) Ox & Bucks LI who were part of 6th Beach Group.


The story of each of these units and their involvement in Operation Overlord can be explored further by visiting their museums in The Keep Dorchester, The Wardrobe Salisbury, The Castle Taunton, The DLI Museum Durham, RGJ Museum Winchester, all part of The Rifles museums Network.

It was a momentous moment in world history and events that day 70 years ago, still influence the Europe of today. On this 70th anniversary we pay respect to all veterans and the fallen of this operation. We in The Rifles can be justly proud of the D-Day legacy our forebears have left us. For that reason recalling their bold deeds that day; both Pegasus Bridge & Normandy are proud battle honours borne on the appointments of every Rifleman today.


RIFLES HERITAGE – 69th Anniversary of VE Day 1945

Today marks the 69th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day 1945. One antecedent of The Rifles played a major part in this occasion. 4th Bn the KSLI were responsible for capturing and escorting Grand Admiral Doenitz and Field Marshall Jodl the de-facto head of the German State and Commander in Chief of Reich forces respectively; following the death of Adolf Hitler in Berlin. 4th KSLI escorted him to the signing of the unconditional surrender of Germany, the act that ended the fighting in Europe.

Soldiers from 4th KSLI guard Grand Admiral Doenitz and Field Marshall Jodl prior to the signing of Germany's surrender.

Soldiers from 4th KSLI guard Grand Admiral Doenitz and Field Marshall Jodl prior to the signing of Germany’s surrender. (photo Getty Images)

The Shropshire Regiments Museum in Shrewsbury, home to the KSLI collection and part of The Rifles Museums Network  has a particular memento of this occasion, Admiral Doenitz’s Marshalls Baton, captured and kept by the Regiment as a reminder of the part they played in these momentous events.

The Baton of Grand Admiral Doenitz, captured by 4th KSLI in 1945.

The Baton of Grand Admiral Doenitz, captured by 4th KSLI in 1945 on display in The Shropshire Regiments Museum, Shrewsbury.


To find out more why not visit the Museum in Shrewsbury, or use the links below.


RIFLES HERITAGE – 70th Anniversary The Battle of Kohima. 27th March – 22 June, 1944.

2014 sees the 70th Anniversary of The Battle of Kohima. 27th March – 22 June, 1944.
The Battle of Kohima, 1944 by Terence Cuneo

The Battle of Kohima, 1944 by Terence Cuneo

Kohima was a British Government Hill station in North East India. The 2nd Dorsets, 1st Royal Berkshires and 2nd Durham Light Infantry fought in the battle that was to prove the turning point of the war against Imperial Japanese forces in the Far East. A battle so fierce it is some times referred to as the Stalingrad of the Far East. The battle fell into two phases, a siege with the British and Commonwealth forces holding off the Japanese forces invading North India followed by a subsequent advance and clearance of the Japanese back across the border with Burma.
All three antecedents of The Rifles taking part were in the 2nd Division and took part especially in the heavy fighting during the clearance operations.
To find out more why not visit The Keep Military Museum in Dorchester, The Rifles Berks & Wilts Museum Salisbury or the DLI Museum Durham where displays recall these momentous events of 1944. (Picture – The Battle of Kohima, 1944 by Terence Cuneo)



25th April is ANZAC Day in Australia & New Zealand. ANZAC stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corps.  The Day itself is the Anniversary of The Australian & New Zealand Expeditionary Forces taking part, alongside British forces,  in The Gallipoli Landings in WW1, 1915. This was the first time they had deployed as national Australian & New Zealand forces. It is now a national day of remembrance in both countries  commemorating all Australians and New Zealanders that have fallen in conflicts then and since.
The RIFLES has 7 Regimental Alliances in the Australian Army of today: (The Royal New South Wales Regt, 11/28 Bn, The Royal Western Australian Regt, The Monash University Regt, Western Australian University Regt, Sydney University Regt, Melbourne University Regt, 51st Bn Far North Queensland Regt.) and 4 Regimental Alliances with the New Zealand Army: (1st Bn The Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment – (RNZIR), 2nd Bn [Cantebury, Nelson, Marlborough & West Coast] The RNZIR, 6th Bn [Hauraki] The RNZIR, 7th Bn  [Wellington’s Own & Hawkes Bay Bn] The RNZIR.

As todays Riflemen serve alongside’ the Diggers’ of The Australian Army  and ‘Kiwis’ of the  New Zealand Army in Afghanistan today as part of ISAF, our  antecedents also have a close association with the landings at Gallipoli and The ANZACs of 1915; many of them having fought there alongside them in the Dardanelles, where Gallipoli is situated on the Turkish coast.

1/1st Herefordshire Regt in action at Suvla Bay 9 Aug 1915, a sketch for a full painting by Charles Dixon, both of which are in the collection of The Herefordshire light Infantry Museum.

1/1st Herefordshire Regt in action at Suvla Bay 9 Aug 1915, a sketch for a full painting by Charles Dixon, both of which are in the collection of The Herefordshire light Infantry Museum.

5th Bn Dorsetshire Regiment, 5th Bn (Duke of Edinburgh’s) Wiltshire Regt, 7th Bn Gloucestershire Regt, and the 1/1st Bn Herefordshire Regt, (shown in the paint sketch) of the Gallipoli landings, all took part in this ill fated campaign alongside the ANZACs.

To find out more of our Gallipoli history, why not visit their Regimental Museums in Dorchester, Salisbury, Gloucester and at the TA Centre Hereford – all part of The Rifles Museum Network. 

Remembering The Glorious Glosters in Korea – April 1951

 The Battle of Imjin River, Korea 22-25 April 1951. The 1st Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment as part of 29th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade were in defence holding a key historic invasion route from the north towards Seoul, a shallow crossing on the Imjin River.
The Battalion consisted of approximately 650 all ranks.

Drum Major Buss 1st Bn The Gloucestershire Regiment, answers the Chinese Bugles with his own. Gloster Hill, Korea 1951.

Drum Major Buss 1st Bn The Gloucestershire Regiment, answers the Chinese Bugles with his own. Gloster Hill, Korea 1951.

The battle commenced on the 22nd April when the forward standing patrols engaged the advanced guard of massive assault by the Chinese Peoples Army attempting to drive towards Seoul. By the morning of the 23rd, facing some 10,000 Chinese troops, the forward Companies of the Glosters were forced to withdraw to concentrate on Hill 235 with the remainder of the Battalion, later to be known as Gloster Hill. The Glosters were to fight on for a further 2 days against insurmountable odds, often driving off massed charges at the point of the bayonet; becoming increasingly isolated as the rest of the Brigade withdrew under the weight of similar hammer blow attacks by Chinese Divisions. By the 24th April B&C Companies had merged to one, due to casualties sustained. By the morning of the 25th, Brigade Artillery support had become untenable. Brigadier Brodie left the decision whether to attempt a break out or to surrender to Lieutenant-Colonel Carne, the Glosters’ CO and with ammunition and medical supplies spent, he “gave the order to his company commanders to make for the British lines as best as they could” on the morning of the 25th. Only the remains of D company under the command of Major Mike Harvey escaped successfully from Gloster Hill and reached the safety of friendly lines after several days. The rest of the battalion was taken prisoner, including Lieutenant-Colonel Carne. 620 men from the Gloucestershire Regiment, which mustered 217 men on 27 April, were on the Brigade Casualty list. 522 soldiers became prisoners of war and of them, 180 were wounded and a further 34 died while in captivity. 59 soldiers of the Gloucestershire Regiment were killed in action.The action of The Glosters and 29th Brigade had however so worn down the combat effectiveness of the lead Divisions of the communist assault that their attack was stalled and the South Korean capital saved. For this action the Glosters received 2 VCs (one to the CO), 1 George Cross, 2 DSO and 1 MC and were awarded a US Presidential Citation. The swift decisive action and boldness in defence demonstrated by the Glosters during this battle are duly seen as part of the proud legacy The Rifles have inherited from there forming Regiments. Imjin is one of the 34 battle honours borne on the Belt Plate Badge of the Regiment. To find out more about this piece of The Rifles story visit the recently refurbished Soldiers of Gloucester Museum