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Unit History: Rifle Brigade

Rifle Brigade
The Regiment was first raised on the 17th January 1800 as an elite and ‘Experimental Corps of Riflemen’, by Colonel Coote Manningham and Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. William Stewart.  It drew recruits from a variety of British Regiments to train them as ‘sharpshooters, scouts and skirmishers’ and were armed with the Baker rifle, which was more accurate and had a longer range than the musket, but took longer to load.
 
The idea of individual soldiers hitting specific targets seems wholly unorthodox at the time, with the conventional tactic of the mass volley being favoured.  The Regiment was trained to use natural cover (wearing green instead of the traditional red, in order to camouflage the soldiers), worked in pairs in the open and trained to think for themselves in order to harass the enemy.  On the 25th August 1800 three companies were taken on an expedition against the north coast of Spain.  The Rifle Corps managed to occupy and hold a ridge of hills against a large enemy party.  The success of this expedition has meant a Rifle Corps has existed ever since.  In January 1803 the Regiment was renamed The 95th Rifles.
 
The Regiment became an invaluable part of any campaign therefore were present at most actions of the British Empire including; The Battle of Waterloo 1815, The Crimean War 1854–1856, The Indian Mutiny 1857–1859, The American Civil War 1861–1865, Afghanistan, Burma, Ashantee, Khartoum 1878–1898 and South Africa 1899–1902.
 
In 1816 following their distinguished service in the Napoleonic Wars The 95th Rifles became The Rifle Brigade and then in 1823 they were renamed The 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment of Foot.  The Regiment was highly trained, educated and well disciplined thus enjoyed immense social prestige at this time.  So much so that in 1861 on the death of its Colonel-in-Chief, Prince Albert, The Queen bestowed the title of ‘The Prince Consort's Own Rifle Brigade’ on the Regiment.
 
In 1948 the Regiment was merged with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps to form The Green Jackets Brigade further amalgamations followed with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in1958.  In 1966 these three Regiments became the three battalions of the Royal Green Jackets and in 2007 were further merged with the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, The Light Infantry and The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry to become The Rifles.

Rifle Brigade during WW1

Since 1815 the balance of power in Europe had been maintained by a series of treaties. In 1888 Wilhelm II was crowned ‘German Emperor and King of Prussia’ and moved from a policy of maintaining the status quo to a more aggressive position. He did not renew a treaty with Russia, aligned Germany with the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire and started to build a Navy rivalling that of Britain. These actions greatly concerned Germany’s neighbours, who quickly forged new treaties and alliances in the event of war. On 28th June 1914 Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist group Young Bosnia who wanted pan-Serbian independence. Franz Joseph's the Austro-Hungarian Emperor (with the backing of Germany) responded aggressively, presenting Serbia with an intentionally unacceptable ultimatum, to provoke Serbia into war. Serbia agreed to 8 of the 10 terms and on the 28th July 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, producing a cascade effect across Europe. Russia bound by treaty to Serbia declared war with Austro-Hungary, Germany declared war with Russia and France declared war with Germany. Germany’s army crossed into neutral Belgium in order to reach Paris, forcing Britain to declare war with Germany (due to the Treaty of London (1839) whereby Britain agreed to defend Belgium in the event of invasion). By the 4th August 1914 Britain and much of Europe were pulled into a war which would last 1,566 days, cost 8,528,831 lives and 28,938,073 casualties or missing on both sides.

The Regiment formed a total of 28 battalions during the First World War, in addition to the pre-war establishment of two Regular and two Militia and two Territorial Battalions. The regiment lost 11,575 men who were killed during the course of the war and were awarded 52 battle honours including 10 Victoria Crosses.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Colchester as part of the 11th Brigade of the 4th Division.
18.08.1914 Moved to Harrow School.
23.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and the engaged in various action on the Western Front including;
During 1914
The Battle of Le Cateau, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Attack on Ploegsteert Wood.
Dec 1914 This Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914.
During 1915
The Second Battle of Ypres.
During 1916
The German gas attack at Ypres, the Battle of Le Transloy.
During 1917
The Battle of Arras, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle.
During 1918
Battle of the Somme, Battle of Lyes, German withdrawal at Hinges, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, Battles of the Hindenburg Line.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Haspres N.W. of Solesmes.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Kuldana, Pakistan.
20.09.1914 Embarked for England from Bombay arriving at Liverpool 22.10.1914 and then moved to Hursley Park, Winchester to join the 25th Brigade of the 8th Division.
06.11.1914 Mobilised for war and landed in Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, The Battle of Aubers Ridge, the Battle of Loos,
During 1916
Battle of the Somme, the attack near Le Transloy,
During 1917
Attack near Gouzeaucourt, Capture of Gonnelieu, The Battle of Pilkem, Attack on Westhoek Ridge, The Battle of Langemarck, in trenches at Passchendaele.
During 1918
Battle of the Somme near Pargny and Morchain
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Pommeroeul West of Mons.

3rd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Cork as part of the 17th Brigade of the 6th Division then moved to Cambridge and afterwards on to Newmarket.
12.09.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at St. Nazaire and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1914
The actions on the Aisne heights, Attack on Perenchies.
Dec 1914 This Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914.
14.10.1915 transferred to the 17th Brigade of the 24th Division.
During 1915
The Battle of Loos.
During 1916
Action of the Bluff, battle of Devlin Wood.
During 1917
Battles of Arras, Battle of Messines, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, attack on Passchendaele.
During 1918
Battle of the Somme at Falvy Bridge and Vrely, attack on St. Aubert.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Bavai.

4th Division
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dagshai, India and embarked for Engalnd from Bombay in October arriving at Devonport, Plymouth 18.11.1914. They then moved to Magdalen Hill, Wincghester to join the 80th Brigade of the 27th Division.
21.12.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
Action at St. Eloi (Ypres area), Battle of St. Julien, Battle of Frezenberg, Battle of Bellewaarde.
25.11.1915 The Division was ordered to moved to Salonika and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
During 1916
The capture of Karajakois, The capture of Yenikoi, The battle of Tumbitza Farm.
During 1917
The capture of Homondos, The capture of the Roche Noir Salient, The passage of the Vardar river and pursuit to the Strumica valley.
30.09.1918 Ended the War in Macedonia, Rabrovo N.W. of Lake Doiran.

5th (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Winchester at the outbreak of war and then moved to Minster, Isle of Sheppey and remained there until the end of the war.

6th (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Winchester at the outbreak of war and then moved to Sheerness, Isle of Sheppey and remained there until the end of the war.

7th (Service) Battalion
21.08.1914 Formed at Winchester as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Aldershot to join the 41st Brigade of the 14th Division.
Nov 1914 Moved to Farnham and then back to Aldershot.
20.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various action on the Western front including;
During 1915
The German gas attack at Hooge.
During 1916
The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
During 1917
Battle of Arras, Engaged at Inverness Copse.
27.04.1918 Reduced to training cadre.
17.06.1918 Returned to England with the Division stationed at Pirbright and then absorbed into the 33rd Battalion of the London Regiment.

8th (Service) Battalion
21.08.1914 Formed at Winchester as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Aldershot to join the 41st Brigade of the 14th Division.
Nov 1914 Moved to Farnham and then back to Aldershot.
20.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various action on the Western front including;
During 1915
The German gas attack at Hooge.
During 1916
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
During 1917
Battle of Arras, Engaged at Inverness Copse.
27.04.1918 Reduced to training cadre.
27.07.1918 Transferred to the 117th Brigade of the 39th Division.
03.08.1918 Disbanded in Desvres France.

9th (Service) Battalion
21.08.1914 Formed at Winchester as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Aldershot to join the 42nd Brigade of the 14th Division.
Nov 1914 Moved to Petworth and then back to Aldershot.
21.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various action on the Western front including;
During 1915
The German gas attack at Hooge, The Battle of Loos.
During 1916
The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
During 1917
Battle of Arras, Engaged at Inverness Copse.
27.04.1918 Reduced to training cadre.
27.06.1918 Transferred to the 117th Brigade of the 39th Division.
03.08.1918 Disbanded in Desvres France

10th and 11th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Both formed at Winchester as part of the Second New Army (K2) and moved to Blackdown to join the 59th Brigade of the 20th Division and then moved to Witley, and on to Hamilton Camp, Stonehenge.
21.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various action on the Western front including;
During 1916
The Battle of Guillemont.
During 1917
Attack on Steenbeek, Attack on Rue Des Vignes, The Cambrai Operations.
05.02.1918 The 10th disbanded near La Clytte and personnel transferred to the 3rd 11th 12th and 13th Battalions. The 11th continued to engage in various actions including;
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The actions at the Somme crossings, The Battle of Rosieres, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes, The Battle of the Sambre and the passage of the Grand Honelle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Jenlain west of Bavai

12th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Winchester as part of the Second New Army (K2) and moved to Blackdown to join the 60th Brigade of the 20th Division and then moved to Witley, and on to Larkhill.
21.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various action on the Western front including;
During 1916
Battle of Loos, attack near Montauban,
During 1917
The Cambrai Operations.
During 1918
Battle of the Somme and captured the village of Mezieres.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Bettignies north of Maubeuge.

13th (Service) Battalion
Oct 1914 Formed at Winchester as part of the Third New Army (K3) and moved to High Wycombe to join the 111th Brigade of the 37th Division and then moved to Andover.
31.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various action on the Western front including;
During 1916
Attack near Pozieres, Battle of Guillemont. Battle of Ancre.
During 1917
Battle of Arras, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, Capture of Achiet Le Grand and Bihucourt.
During 1918
The Battles of the Hindenburg Line, Attack near Briastre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Caudry S.E. of Cambrai

14th and 15th (Reserve) Battalions
Oct 1914 Formed at Southend as a service battalion for the Fourth New Army (K4) and to join the 92nd Brigade of the 31st Division.
10.04.1915 Became the 2nd Reserve Battalions in the 4th Reserve Brigade, moving to Purfleet.
From June to Sept 1915 moved to Belhus Park, Aveley on to Essex and the Seaford.
01.09.1916 Became the 19th and 20th Training Reserve Battalions of the 4th Training Reserve Brigade.


16th (Service) Battalion (St. Pancras)
02.04.1915 Formed in St. Pancras by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee.
19.07.1915 taken over by the War Office and moved to Hursley Park, Winchester and joined the 117th Brigade of the 39th Division.
Sept 1915 Moved to Aldershot and the Witley.
08.03.1916 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1916
Attack near Festubert,
During 1917
The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, Attack on Steenbeek, The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge.
During 1918
Attack on Wytschaete Ridge.
16.05.1918 Reduced to training cadre.
16.08.1918 Transferred to the 66th Division.
29.09.1918 Defending the Lines of Communication as part of the 197th Brigade at Haudricourt S.W. of Aumale.

17th (Service) Battalion
Oct 1915 Formed at Charrington Hall from the depot companies of the 16th Battalion as a local reserve Battalion and then joined the 26th Reserve Brigade.
Jan 1916 Moved to Banbury and then Wimbledon.
01.19.1916 Became the 112th Training Reserve Battalion of the 26th Reserve Brigade.

18th (London) 23rd (North Western) and 24th (Home Counties) Battalions Territorial Force
28.11.1915 Formed from Supernumerary Territorial Force Companies to make Territorial units under direction from the Army Council Instruction as part of Army Order 187.
These battalions were used for garrison duty of vulnerable points in India.

19th (Western) and 20th (Northern) Battalions Territorial Force
28.11.1915 Formed from Supernumerary Territorial Force Companies to make Territorial units under direction from the Army Council Instruction as part of Army Order 187.
These battalions were used for garrison duty of vulnerable points in Egypt and Palestine.

21st (Midland) Battalions Territorial Force
28.11.1915 Formed from Supernumerary Territorial Force Companies to make Territorial units under direction from the Army Council Instruction as part of Army Order 187.
These battalions were used for garrison duty of vulnerable points in Egypt and then India.

22nd (Wessex & Welsh) Battalions Territorial Force
28.11.1915 Formed from Supernumerary Territorial Force Companies to make Territorial units under direction from the Army Council Instruction as part of Army Order 187.
These battalions were used for garrison duty of vulnerable points in Egypt and then Salonika and joined the 228th Brigade under the command of the Greek Crete Division

25th (Reserve) Garrison Battalion Territorial Force
Aug 1916 Formed in Falmouth and remained there until the end of the war.

51st (Graduated) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Welbeck from the 237th Graduated Battalion (previously the 19th Training Reserve Battalion and before that the 14th Rifle Brigade) and joined the 206th Brigade of the 69th Division.
Jan 1918 Moved to Aldershot and transferred to the 201st Brigade of the 67th Division at Ipswich.
June 1918 Moved to Foxhall Heath.

52nd (Graduated) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Clipstone from the 241st Graduated Battalion (previously the 21st Training Reserve Battalion and before that the 11th East Surrey Battalion) and joined the 207th Brigade of the 69th Division.
Feb 1918 Moved to Colchester and transferred to the 202nd Brigade of the 67th Division at Ipswich.

53rd (Young Soldier) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Northampton from the 18th Young Soldier Battalion (previously the 15th King`s Royal Rifle Corps) as part of the 4th Reserve brigade.
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Active From: 1800 - 1966

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