The Rifles

The Rifles is an infantry regiment of the British Army. Formed in 2007, it consists of five Regular and three Reserve battalions, plus a number of companies in other Army Reserve battalions. Each battalion of The Rifles was formerly an individual battalion of one of the two large regiments of the Light Division (with the exception of the 1st Battalion, which is an amalgamation of two individual regiments). Since formation the regiment has been involved in combat operations, first in the later stages of the Iraq War and in the War in Afghanistan.

The Rifles
Cap and Back badges of The Rifles
Active2007 – present
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Role1st BattalionLight Infantry
2nd Battalion—Light Infantry
3rd Battalion—Light Protected Mobility Infantry
4th Battalion—Specialised Infantry Battalion
5th Battalion—Armoured Infantry
6th Battalion—Army Reserve
7th Battalion—Armoured Infantry Reserve
8th Battalion - Army Reserve
SizeEight battalions
1st Battalion—Beachley
2nd Battalion—Lisburn
3rd Battalion—Edinburgh
4th Battalion—Aldershot
5th Battalion—Bulford
6th Battalion—Exeter
7th Battalion—Reading
8th Battalion---Bishop Auckland
Motto(s)"Celer et Audax" (Latin)
"Swift and Bold"
ColoursRifle Green
MarchQuick: Mechanised Infantry
Double Past: Keel Row/Road to the Isles
Slow: Old Salamanca
Colonel CommandantGeneral Sir Nick Carter CBE[1]
Tactical Recognition Flash
Arm BadgeCroix de Guerre
From Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry


The Rifles was created as a result of the Future Army Structure. Under the original announcement, the Light Division would have remained essentially unchanged, with the exception of the Light Infantry gaining a new battalion through the amalgamation of two other regiments, and both gaining a reserve battalion from within the Territorial Army (TA) as it was then called. However, on 24 November 2005, the Ministry of Defence announced that the four regiments would amalgamate into a single five-battalion regiment. The regular battalions of The Rifles was formed on 1 February 2007 by the amalgamation of the four Light Infantry and Rifle Regiments of the Light Division as follows:[2]

The Rifles was formed to serve as the county regiment of the following counties:[3][4]

The 2nd Battalion, the 3rd Battalion and the 4th Battalion were all deployed in Basra in Iraq during some of the worst fighting of the Iraq War including the withdrawal from Basra Palace in September 2007.[5]

The 1st Battalion undertook a tour in Afghanistan between October 2008 and April 2009 mentoring the Afghan National Army in Helmand Province.[5] The 5th Battalion was one of the last British Army units to leave Iraq in May 2009.[5] The 4th Battalion provided reinforcement cover for the elections in Afghanistan and took part in Operation Panther's Claw in the Summer of 2009.[5] At the same time the 2nd Battalion was deployed to Sangin and was relieved in due course by the 3rd Battalion.[5] The 2nd and 5th battalions of the Rifles returned for a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan serving in the Nahri Saraj District in October 2011.[6] In March 2018 the 2nd Battalion returned home after a six-month operational deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Shader.[7]


The regiment has five regular and three reserve battalions, each configured for a specific infantry role:


HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (ex-Colonel-in-Chief, RGBWLI) is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment, whilst each battalion has its own Royal Colonel:[17]

1st Battalion, The RiflesHRH The Duke of Kent (ex-Colonel-in-Chief, DDLI)
2nd Battalion, The RiflesHRH The Earl of Wessex
3rd Battalion, The RiflesHRH Princess Alexandra, The Hon Lady Ogilvy (ex-Colonel-in-Chief, LI)
4th Battalion, The RiflesHRH The Duchess of Cornwall
5th Battalion, The RiflesHRH The Countess of Wessex
6th Battalion, The RiflesHRH The Duke of Gloucester
7th Battalion, The RiflesHRH The Duchess of Gloucester
8th Battalion, The Rifles To be announced

The Band and Bugles

The regular element of The Rifles maintains a single regular regimental band, the Band and Bugles of The Rifles. This was formed by renaming the Band and Bugles of the Light Division, which in itself was an amalgamation of four separate bands:[18]

  • The Corunna Band of the Light Infantry
  • The Salamanca Band of the Light Infantry
  • The Peninsula Band of the Royal Green Jackets
  • The Normandy Band of the Royal Green Jackets

In addition, the two Army Reserve Battalions maintain their own bands:

  • The Salamanca Band of the Rifles - 6th Battalion (formerly the Band of the Rifle Volunteers)
  • The Waterloo Band of the Rifles - 7th Battalion (formerly the Band of the Royal Rifle Volunteers)

The Sounding Retreat

The Sounding Retreat is form of the Beating Retreat ceremony of the Household Division. The main difference between this ceremony and the regular Beating Retreat is that this is performed by the bugle bands of The Rifles, as well as the former of the bands of the Britain's Light Division. This traditional ceremony (which represents the sounding of Sunset or Retreat in the British Army) has been done on 31 May and 1 June on Horse Guards Parade as recently as 1993 and 2016. Besides the Bugle Band of the Rifles, the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas also takes part in the ceremony.[19]

Golden threads

As a rifle regiment, a private soldier in The Rifles is known as a Rifleman and Serjeant is spelt in the archaic fashion; the regiment wears a Rifle green beret. A number of golden threads i.e. distinctive honours have been brought into the new regiment from each of its founder regiments:[20]

  • Croix de Guerre - the French Croix de Guerre ribbon awarded to the Devonshire Regiment in the First World War, and subsequently worn by the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, and also awarded to the King's Shropshire Light Infantry in 1918, is worn on both sleeves of No. 1 and No. 2 dress.
  • Back Badge - the badge worn on the back of headdress reads Egypt. This was awarded as an honour to the 28th Foot and subsequently worn by the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry. It is worn on the forage cap and side hat; and on the shako of the regimental band and bugles.
  • Bugle Horn - the bugle horn badge of the Light Infantry, now surmounted by St. Edward's Crown, is the regiment's cap badge.
  • Maltese Cross - the Maltese Cross of the Royal Green Jackets is worn as a buckle on the cross belt, and will contain the regiment's representative battle honours; currently one space is kept free for future honours. In accordance with the tradition of rifle regiments, the regiment does not carry colours.
  • Black Buttons - the traditional black buttons of a rifle regiment are worn on all forms of dress with the exception of combat dress.
  • Double past - the march played when the regiment moves at double time is an amalgam of Keel Row, the double past of the Light Infantry, and The Road to the Isles, the double past of the Royal Green Jackets.

Battle honours

The following battle honours are a representation of the total honours awarded to the regiments which formed The Rifles. These are inscribed on the regiment's belt badge:[21]

Order of precedence

Preceded by
Royal Gurkha Rifles
Infantry Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Special Air Service


1880[22]1881 Childers Reforms[22]1921 Name changes1957 Defence White Paper1966 Defence White Paper1990 Options for Change2003 Delivering Security in a Changing World
11th (North Devon) Regiment of Foot The Devonshire Regiment The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment The Rifles
39th (Dorsetshire) Regiment of Foot The Dorsetshire Regiment
54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot
13th (1st Somersetshire) (Prince Albert's Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot Prince Albert's Light Infantry (Somersetshire Regiment) The Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's) The Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry The Light Infantry
32nd (Cornwall Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of Foot
51st (2nd Yorkshire, West Riding, King's Own Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot The King's Own Light Infantry (South Yorkshire Regiment) King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
105th (Madras Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot
53rd (Shropshire) Regiment of Foot The King's Light Infantry (Shropshire Regiment) The King's Shropshire Light Infantry
85th (Bucks Volunteers) (King's Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot
68th (Durham) (Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot The Durham Light Infantry
106th (Bombay Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot
28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot The Gloucestershire Regiment The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment
61st (South Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot
49th (Hertfordshire) (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) Regiment of Foot Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Berkshire Regiment) The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) The Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire)
66th (Berkshire) Regiment of Foot
62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot The Duke of Edinburgh's (Wiltshire Regiment) The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh's)
99th (Duke of Edinburgh's) Regiment of Foot
43rd (Monmouthshire Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot The Oxfordshire Light Infantry
renamed in 1908:
The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) The Royal Green Jackets
52nd (Oxfordshire) (Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot
60th (King's Royal Rifle Corps) Regiment of Foot The King's Royal Rifle Corps 2nd Green Jackets, The King's Royal Rifle Corps
Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own) The Prince Consort's Own (Rifle Brigade) 3rd Green Jackets, The Rifle Brigade

See also


  1. "NEW COLONEL COMMANDANT FOR THE RIFLES". The Regimental Association of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  2. "History of the Light Infantry". Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  3. "6 RIFLES". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  4. "7 RIFLES". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  5. "The Rifles forged in battle - An overview of the first three years". Care for Casualties. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  6. "20th Armoured Brigade takes command of Task Force Helmand". Ministry of Defence. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  7. "Photos: Royal Reception as 2 Rifles Battalion return home from Iraq". Belfast Telegraph. 9 March 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  8. "Army basing announcement" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 August 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  9. "1 RIFLES". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 9 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  10. "Transforming the British Army: An Update" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. p. 9. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  11. "Appointment of New Royal Colonels". Royal.UK. 28 February 2006. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  12. "Transforming the British Army: An Update" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. p. 7. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  13. "Strategic Defence and Security Review - Army:Written statement - HCWS367 - UK Parliament". 4 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  14. "Riflemen train for post-Afghanistan deployments". Ministry of Defence. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  15. "Regiments to change bases in major Army restructure". 15 November 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  16. "Information on the Army 2020 refine exercise" (PDF). 10 March 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  17. "The Rifles Regimental Who's Who 2007". British Armed Forces. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  18. "The Band and Bugles of The Rifles". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  19. "The Duke of Edinburgh takes the salute at Sounding Retreat | The Royal Family". Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  20. "Golden Threads". Shropshire Regimental Museum. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  21. "The Rifles Dress Guidance" (PDF). Rifles Regimental Badges. The Rifles. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  22. The London Gazette, Page 3300-3301 (1 July 1881). "Childers Reform" (24992). Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 27 October 2016.

Further reading

  • Ben Barry A Cold War: Front-line Operations in Bosnia 1995 - 1996 ISBN 1-86227-449-5. An account of the end of the Bosnian Civil War by the CO of the 2nd Battalion the Light Infantry
  • Les Howard Winter Warriors - Across Bosnia with the PBI ISBN 1-84624-077-8. A TA Royal Green Jacket on operations with the 2nd Bn the Light Infantry
  • Swift and Bold: A Portrait of the Royal Green Jackets 1966-2007 ISBN 1-903942-69-1.
  • Steven McLaughlin Squaddie: A Soldier's Story ISBN 1-84596-242-7. A Royal Green Jacket's account of modern-day basic training, battalion life & culture, and operational tours in Iraq and Northern Ireland.

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.