Tag Archives: Afghanistan

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

Colonel Henry Worsley MBE (RGJ-RIFLES) Commander of the first British Military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 called Op VERITAS.

Colonel Henry Worsley MBE (RGJ-RIFLES) Commander of the first British Military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 called Op VERITAS.

An empty Camp Bastion after close down. Once one of the busiest military bases in the world now concrete and canvas in the desert.

An empty Camp Bastion after close down. Once one of the busiest military bases in the world now concrete and canvas in the desert.

 

The Camp Bastion Union Flag is handed to Brigadier R J Thompson DSO MBE (late RIFLES and CO of 2 Rifles during the hard fought Op HERRICK 9 tour). (Photo - Western Morning News)

The Camp Bastion Union Flag is handed to Brigadier R J Thompson DSO MBE (late RIFLES and CO of 2 Rifles during the hard fought Op HERRICK 9 tour). (Photo – Western Morning News)

 

Th eUnion Flag is lowered for the last time at Camp Bastion 26 Oct 2014 (photo The Daily Record)

Th eUnion Flag is lowered for the last time at Camp Bastion 26 Oct 2014 (photo The Daily Record)

 

NATO Mission Flags lowered over Camp Bastion (photo - The Guardian)

NATO Mission Flags lowered over Camp Bastion (photo – The Guardian)

 

“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 October 2014.

In 2001 a Rifleman Col Henry Worsley, RGJ led the first British Forces into Southern Afghanistan on Op VERITAS, to aid the fledgling new Government in recovering the country from the ravages of Taliban Rule; our antecedent regiments the RGBW and Light Infantry served ‘in country’ in the early Op HERRICKs as the operation became known after 2002, before the forming of The Rifles in 2007. Since then the Regiment has seen all of its Regular Battalions complete at least two if not three tours each in Southern Afghanistan, supported by our Reserve Battalions with individual reinforcements and formed company groups. During these 13 years The Regiment has paid dearly for its service, loosing 54 of our Rifleman to action and well over 200 wounded.

Names like Sangin & Lash Kagar, Kabul, Kandahar and Helmand, are as familiar to a modern generation of soldiers as they were to their 19th century counter parts who fought on “The North West Frontier”, and the Battle Honour Afghanistan worn with pride on the RIfles Belt Badge is as relevant today as it is to the actions of the past.

Now it has fallen to another Rifleman, to close this chapter of British Army operations with Brigadier Rob Thompson DSO MBE (late Rifles and CO of 2 Rifles on Op Herrick 9) commanding the final troops operating from Camp Bastion and handing the base over to the Afghan National Army, with 5 RIFLES being one of the final Battle – Groups out.

As we approach Remembrance Sunday and Armistice day, on this hundredth anniversary year of the outbreak of The Great War, let us not only remember our fore fathers but also honour with pride those riflemen who have made the ultimate sacrifice for friends and comrades in more recent year.

Let us also not forget the men of 2 RIFLES still serving on Op TORAL as the Force Protection group for British Government personnel and interests in Kabul, safe home in 2015, Swift & Bold.

Looking Ahead in 2014

This week, it’s been reported in the news that most people heading back to work are suffering from “January Blues”, however for The Rifles Collection, this is far from the case. January is proving to be one of our busiest and most exciting months as we plan for the year ahead and what exhibitions, events and activities we will be running.

We were recently awarded a grant from the Army Heritage Branch to fund our exhibitions. Major Rob Yuill, our Exhibitions Curator, is designing a full programme out of this grant, with developments to the gallery in Winchester and a travelling exhibition planned. Much of this will be themed on 4 RIFLES’ recent tour of Afghanistan, so will illustrate a contemporary viewpoint of the military, which will be complemented by contemporary interpretation. (More to be revealed over the coming months!)

Patrol Base bed space

Patrol Base bed space in the gallery

There is a new events programme proposed for 2014, with a variety of events and activities running throughout the year. We are delighted to be joining in with the Museums at Night, a national campaign in May, with a themed talk, ‘Chosen Men: The Rifles in Afghanistan’ with soldiers sharing their experiences. We will also be joining in with Armed Forces Day and Heritage Open Days, as well as a few child-friendly activities such as Halloween – who could imagine a more spooky setting than Peninsula Barracks, previously a Norman fort and Medieval castle, and a key to the history of Winchester?

So 2014 promises to be a busy and innovative year for us at The Rifles Collection! Using this blog we will keep you updated on our behind-the-scenes work. Stay posted for the latest updates covering news on our exhibitions, recent acquisitions to the collection, historical articles on moments in The Rifles’ history, guest posts from our Regimental Historian, Dr. Huw Davies and others and much, much more as this exciting year continues.

A young visitor in the gallery

A young visitor in the gallery tries out the gear

Today is National Poetry Day!

As today is National Poetry Day, we thought we would share a poem from The Rifles:

 

Be A Rifleman

A flash, then a bang was the last thing I saw

My Corporal shouted “GRENADE, THROUGH THAT DOOR!”

My legs were heavy, I couldn’t catch my breath.

When I opened the door I might meet my death.

 

But I remembered my training,

What I’d learned every day.

And suddenly all of my fears blew away,

So I primed the grenade and put on a fresh ‘mag’,

Praying the soldier behind would not lag.

 

And I thought to myself, be the best man I can.

And the best I can be is a Rifleman.

 

Poem from a wall in Basra Camp, Op Telic 8

‘J.T.T’

Riflemen

Riflemen

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.