The Rifles

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The Rifles
Rifles cap badge.PNG RGBWback.PNG
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
5th Battalion—Armoured Infantry
6th Battalion—Light Infantry
7th Battalion—Armoured Infantry
8th Battalion–Light Infantry
SizeSeven battalions
1st Battalion—Beachley
2nd Battalion—Lisburn
3rd Battalion—Edinburgh
5th Battalion—Bulford
6th BattalionExeter
7th BattalionReading
8th Battalion–Bishop Auckland
Motto(s)"Celer et Audax" (Latin)
"Swift and Bold"
ColoursRifle Green
MarchQuick: "Mechanised Infantry"
Double Fast: "Keel Row/Road to the Isles"
Slow: "Old Salamanca"
Colonel in ChiefThe Queen
Colonel CommandantGeneral Sir Patrick Sanders KCB, CBE, DSO, ADC Gen[1]
Tactical Recognition FlashRifles TRF.svg
Arm BadgeRuban de la Croix de guerre 1914-1918.png
Croix de Guerre
From Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry

The Rifles is an infantry regiment of the British Army. Formed in 2007, it consists of four Regular battalions 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 was created as a result of the Future Army Structure review. 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, ground holding and 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 1st battalion returned to the Nahri Sarah District of Afghanistan in April 2011, to then be relieved by the 2nd and 5th battalions 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's 4th battalion was re-subordinated to the Ranger Regiment on 1 December 2021.[8]


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


The Queen is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment, whilst each battalion has its own Royal Colonel:[18]

List of Colonels-in-Chief[edit]

Royal Colonels[edit]

Regimental bands[edit]

The Waterloo Band of The Rifles in London

The regular element of The Rifles maintains a single regular regimental band, the Band and Bugles of The Rifles. The band form one of 14 professional bands within the Royal Corps of Army Music. This was formed by renaming the Band and Bugles of the Light Division, which in itself was an amalgamation of four separate bands:[20]

  • 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)

Band and Bugles[edit]

The Band and Bugles of The Rifles is the most senior band in the regiment based in the Rifles.[21] The central Band of The Rifles are based at Sir John Moore Barracks in Winchester.[22] The band is notable in that buglers accompany the band in the front rank.[23][24] Since 2016, Major Jason Griffiths has served as the director of the band and bugles.[25]

Salamanca Band (6th Battalion)[edit]

The Salamanca Band is a 35-member band based at Exeter, being part of the 6th Reserve Battalion. The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment formed the former Band of the Rifle Volunteers.[26] It formed the backbone of the Salamanca Band. The band also has a detachment in Truro.[27] In the summer of 2017, the band went on a tour of the Caucasus, visiting Armenia,[28] Azerbaijan and Georgia, performing with the Band of the General Staff, the Band of the National Guard and the Band of the Ministry of Defence respectively for public performances. On the Georgia visit, the band performed Tbiliso, which is the unofficial anthem of the City of Tbilisi, was also performed during a concert on a bridge in the neighborhood of Metekhi.[29][30] In April 2016, the first musician to serve as an army vocalist came from The Salamanca Band.[31]

Waterloo Band (7th Battalion)[edit]

The Waterloo Band is a 35-member band based in Abingdon, being part of the 7th Reserve Battalion. The Waterloo Band has performed at events across the UK and the world such as the Basel Tattoo in 2014.[32]

The Sounding Retreat[edit]

The Sounding Retreat is a 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.[33]

Golden threads[edit]

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:[34]

  • 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[edit]

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:[35]

Regimental museum[edit]

The regiment's museum is The Rifles Museum at Peninsular Barracks in Winchester.[36]


The regiment inherited its alliances from its predecessors, and these alliances are:[37][38][39][40]

Bond of Friendship

Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by Infantry Order of Precedence Succeeded by


1880[41] 1881 Childers Reforms[41] 1921 Name changes 1957 Defence White Paper 1966 Defence White Paper 1990 Options for Change 2003 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[edit]


  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. ^ a b c d e "The Rifles forged in battle – An overview of the first three years". Care for Casualties. Archived from the original on 31 May 2014. 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. ^ "4 RIFLES first to join Army's new Ranger Regiment next week". 25 November 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Army basing announcement" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 August 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  10. ^ "1 RIFLES". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 9 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Jonathan Day (22 July 2020). "Swift And Bold: All About The Rifles". Forces Network. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Appointment of New Royal Colonels". Royal.UK. 28 February 2006. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Riflemen train for post-Afghanistan deployments". Ministry of Defence. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Transforming the British Army: An Update" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. p. 9. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Strategic Defence and Security Review – Army:Written statement – HCWS367 – UK Parliament". 4 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  16. ^ "Regiments to change bases in major Army restructure". 15 November 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  17. ^ "Information on the Army 2020 refine exercise" (PDF). 10 March 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  18. ^ "The Rifles Regimental Who's Who 2007". British Armed Forces. Retrieved 30 April 2016.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ a b "Prince Philip Hands Over Rifles Colonel-In-Chief Role in a RARE Public Appearance". Forces News. 22 July 2020. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 22 July 2020 – via YouTube.
  20. ^ "The Band and Bugles of The Rifles". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  21. ^ "Swift | Bands and Bugles". Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  22. ^ "The Band and Bugles of The Rifles". Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  23. ^ "Buxton Military Tattoo – Band and Bugles of The Rifles". Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  24. ^ "The Band and Bugles of the Rifles – Portsmouth Music Hub". Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  25. ^ "Buxton Military Tattoo – Director of Music". Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  26. ^ "The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment", Pen & Sword Books Ltd. Published 2007
  27. ^ "Trombonist Mike leads new recruits to Army Reserve Band |". 23 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  28. ^ Martikian, Naira (24 June 2017). "British and Armenian military bands perform together in Yerevan".
  29. ^ "Военные оркестры Грузии и Великобритании проведут концерт в Старом Тбилиси – Новости-Грузия". Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  30. ^ "Песня "Тбилисо" в исполнении военных оркестров Грузии и Великобритании – Рамблер/новости". Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  31. ^ "Meet The First Reservist Recruited For Her Voice". 27 April 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  32. ^ "South East RFCA > Reserves > Army Reserve > Reserve Band > Waterloo Band & Bugles of the Rifles". Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  33. ^ "The Duke of Edinburgh takes the salute at Sounding Retreat | The Royal Family". 2 June 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  34. ^ "Golden Threads". Shropshire Regimental Museum. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  35. ^ "The Rifles Dress Guidance" (PDF). Rifles Regimental Badges. The Rifles. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  36. ^ "Military might on show to mark Armed Forces Day in Winchester". Daily Echo. 20 June 2017.
  37. ^ "The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment". Archived from the original on 25 February 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  38. ^ "The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment". Archived from the original on 25 February 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  39. ^ "The Light Infantry". Archived from the original on 25 February 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  40. ^ "The Royal Green Jackets". Archived from the original on 23 February 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  41. ^ a b The London Gazette, Page 3300–3301 (1 July 1881). "Childers Reform". No. 24992. Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 27 October 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.

External links[edit]