Category Archives: First World War Centenary

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)

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”

ANZAC DAY – The 25th APRIL – AND THE RIFLES

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. 

Key RIFLES Historic Anniversaries in 2014

The men of the DLI come ashore at Sword Beach, on the Normandy coast.

The men of the DLI come ashore at Sword Beach, on the Normandy coast.

Wellington's key victory in The Peninsula War that set the conditions for the invasion of France victory in 1814.

Wellington’s key victory in The Peninsula War that set the conditions for the invasion of France victory in 1814.

2014 will see some important anniversary events occurring across the UK and Europe and many have direct relevance to the heritage of The Rifles.

The major anniversary that will be the out-break of the Great War in August 1914. All the museums in The Rifles Museum Network will be staging events and exhibitions highlighting the part played by The Rifles’ antecedent Regiments in that war, it will be worth checking them out throughout the year.

2014 also marks the 70th Anniversary of D-Day in 1944 and the Allied landings in France to commence the liberation of Europe in World War Two. The Dorsetshire Regiment, the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry, The Durham Light Infantry 1/1 Buckinghamshire Volunteers Bn and The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry all played major parts in D-Day itself with all our antecedent Regiments contributing in the follow on campaigns throughout Normandy and subsequently across all NW Europe into 1945.

A little further back in The Rifles’ heritage, 1814 saw the defeat of Napoleon and the defeat of his forces in Spain & Portugal by the Duke of Wellington’s Army, so worth keeping an eye out for events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the end of The Peninsula War.

I’ll endeavour to keep you informed of other Regimental dates past and present throughout the year.

RIFLES Remembrance

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For November, we developed a theme of ‘RIFLES Remembrance’ with our Exhibitions Curator, Major Rob Yuill, working alongside military artist, Arabella Dorman to create this installation. The installation is based around the work of Arabella Dorman and our own small Field of Poppies, focusing on remembering our Riflemen fallen since 2007. The installation is open throughout November, normal opening times apply.

The RIFLES Remembrance Installation

The RIFLES Remembrance Installation

The Regiment also commemorated their Fallen on Remembrance Sunday, from those who marched at the Cenotaph; attended the Westminster Abbey service; and those who attended their local parades, cathedrals and churches.

Corporal Ricky Fergusson MC, who sustained life-changing injuries serving in The Rifles, marched at the Cenotaph, supporting Fallen Riflemen.  As did Sue Clack with The Rifles Regimental Association in honour of her son, Lieutenant Daniel Clack.

Cpl Ricky Fergusson MC with Lt Col Mike Smith

Cpl Ricky Fergusson MC with Lt Col Mike Smith

To find out more about The Rifles Book of Remembrance and Roll of Honour, visit our dedicated website: www.riflesremembrance.co.uk

 

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September at The Rifles Collection

Recently in September, The Rifles Collection took part in Heritage Open Day on Saturday 14 September. This year, Winchester Military Museums, as a whole, had the best figures since 2006, and there was a great atmosphere on the site. This was particularly in no small part to the re-enactors we had based on the site, as you can see in the photo below.

Re-enactors on Heritage Open Day 2013

Re-enactors on Heritage Open Day 2013

The curators have also been out and about, visiting some of the other museums connected to The Rifles and to 4 RIFLES, who have recently returned from Afghanistan. It was really good to see Somerset Military Museum’s work and see their plans for ‘Somerset Remembers’, which is a project for the World War One Centenary across the whole of Somerset. We also really liked the new plans for The Keep Military Museum, who were recently awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to renovate their displays for World War One and were keen to demonstrate a strong link to the current regiment. We would also like to thank 4 RIFLES, who are planning to contribute to our ‘Stories’ project of their recent tour, particularly at this busy time.

We are also visiting 1 RIFLES in October to record some of the battalion for the ‘Stories’ project. 1 RIFLES are also busy at the moment, having recently deployed to Mali to help train African troops, but still kindly took the time to join in the project.

This year, we have also been flexing our social media credentials in The Rifles Collection and have launched on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. For Facebook, search for The Rifles Collection and on Twitter @TheRiflesCol and we are hoping to soon hit 1000 followers on each. Social Media is a great way for us to reach our audiences, especially since our core audience is scattered across the United Kingdom and we have a battalion in Germany, so we expect some interest from there too!

Keep checking this blog for more stories of the work of The Rifles Collection.