Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles

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Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles
Civil Service Rifles badge.jpg
Cap badge of the Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
TypeRifle regiment
Part ofLondon Regiment
Garrison/HQSomerset House
Motto(s)Ich Dien (I Serve)
EngagementsBoer War
World War I

The Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles was an infantry regiment of the Volunteer Force and Territorial Force of the British Army from 1798 to 1921; it saw active service in the Boer War and World War I as part of the London Regiment.


Early history[edit]

The regiment was originally formed as the Bank of England Volunteers in 1798 but was disbanded in 1814 at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.[1] The regiment was re-raised by Viscount Bury on the formation of the Volunteer Force as the 21st Middlesex Middlesex Rifle Volunteers (Civil Service Rifles) in 1860.[2] By 1880 and the re-numbering of London Rifle Volunteers the unit was titled 12th Middlesex (Civil Service) Rifle Volunteer Corps and were linked as a Volunteer Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps.[1]

On formation of the Territorial Force in 1908 the Civil Service Rifles became part of the newly formed London Regiment and was titled 15th Battalion London Regiment (Civil Service Rifles).[1]

First World War[edit]

15th Battalion, London Regiment (Civil Service Rifles), 47th Division, marching past the Lord Mayor of London, Colonel Sir Charles Wakefield, 11th June 1916. (IWM Q633)

At the start of the First World War the battalion established its headquarters at Somerset House;[3] the commanding officer, Lt Col RG Hays, refused to serve overseas, an example followed by most of the men of his battalion.[4][5] During the war the regiment eventually expanded to two battalions, with the 1st Battalion arriving in France in March 1915 forming part of the 4th London Brigade, part of the 2nd London Division.[6]


Following the war the Civil Service Rifles were amalgamated with the 16th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment in 1921.[1]

Battle honours[edit]

The regiment's battle honours were as follows:[1]

Regimental motto[edit]

Ich Dien – (German for "I serve", a contraction of ich diene), the motto of the Prince of Wales.

The Memorial of the 15th London, Somerset House, London


From 1863 until 1888 the regiment wore a dark grey uniforms with royal blue facings and a shako. In that year the home service helmet of the regular infantry was adopted as headdress. At a time when colourful uniforms were still the norm the sombre colour of this uniform was considered unattractive and blamed for a fall off in recruiting. Accordingly light grey was adopted in 1890, although royal blue was still retained for the facings in full dress uniform until 1914. Khaki drill was worn in South Africa and the standard khaki of the British Army in France during World War I.[7]

Regimental memorial[edit]

The memorial for the Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles is situated at Somerset House, London. It was designed in 1923 by Sir Edwin Lutyens OM, KCIE, PRA.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Prince of Wales's Own Civil Service Rifles". Archived from the original on 4 January 2006. Retrieved 28 April 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  2. ^ War Office Circular, 12 May 1859, published in The Times, 13 May.
  3. ^ "15th (Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles) Battalion, The London Regiment". Wartime memories. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  4. ^ Battalion Commanders in World War 1, Dr Peter Hodgkinson, The Western Front Association, 12 April 2015
  5. ^ Hodgkinson, Peter Eric (1 August 2013). "British Infantry Battalion Commanders in the First World War" (PDF). University of Birmingham. p. 48. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  6. ^ "The London Regiment". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  7. ^ Mollo, John. Military Fashion. p. 210. ISBN 0-214-65349-8.
  8. ^ "Lutyens Houses and Gardens open to the public in 2006". Lutyens Trust. Archived from the original on 31 May 2007. Retrieved 14 July 2018.


  • Beckett, Ian F.W. (1982) Riflemen Form: A study of the Rifle Volunteer Movement 1859–1908, Aldershot: Ogilby Trusts, ISBN 0 85936 271 X.
  • The History of the Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles. London : Wyman & Sons Ltd., 1921.
  • Knight, Jill. (2004) The Civil Service Rifles in the Great War: all bloody gentlemen. Barnsley : Pen & Sword Military, ISBN 1-84415-057-7
  • Merrick, Edward, Lt, (1891) A history of the Civil Service Rifle Volunteers (including the volunteers of the Bank of England), Sheppard and St John, London
  • 2/15th Battalion. County of London Regiment Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles. London: printed by The Art Reproduction Co., 1920

External links[edit]