R.D.C. writes: Of the thirty Victoria Crosses shown below, twenty-nine were awarded to members of The Rifle Brigade, the highest amount awarded to any infantry regiment.

The stories and background of their awards, those of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and of The King’s Royal Rifle Corps, the three antecedent regiments of The Royal Green Jackets, plus the facts about the V.C., thirty-seven pictures and eight maps are contained in: Focus on Courage, The 59 Victoria Crosses of The Royal Green Jackets by Lieutenant-General Sir Christopher Wallace and Major Ron Cassidy
.

Published by The Royal Green Jackets Museum Trust in 2006.

To obtain a copy of this book contact The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum in Winchester.



The Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross is Britain’s highest award for gallantry in action in the presence of the enemy and can be awarded to any serviceman or woman of any rank. It was instituted by Royal Warrant of 29 January 1856, made retrospective to the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854. Prior to this conflict the Sovereign had no means of rewarding junior officers and other ranks in the army and navy for ‘signal acts of valour or devotion in the presence of the enemy’.

+ = Posthumous



RIFLEMAN F.WHEATLEY VC DCM
1st Battalion Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 12 October 1854 Place: Sebastopol, Crimea

Citation: ‘For throwing a live shell over the parapet of the trenches.’ (London Gazette, 24 February 1857)

LIEUTENANT THE HON H.H.CLIFFORD VC
Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 5 November 1854 Place: Inkerman, Crimea

Citation: ‘For conspicuous courage at the Battle of Inkerman, in leading a charge and killing one of the enemy with his sword, disabling another, and saving the life of a soldier.’ (London Gazette, 24 February 1857)

LIEUTENANT W.J.M.CUNINGHAME VC
1st Battalion Rifle Brigade - 1854
Date of Act of Gallantry: 20 November 1854 Place: Sebastopol, Crimea

Citation: ‘Highly distinguished at the capture of the Rifle Pits, 20th November 1854. His gallant conduct was recorded in the French General Orders.’ (London Gazette, 24 February 1857)

LIEUTENANT C.T. BOURCHIER VC
1st Battalion Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 20 November 1854 Place: Sebastopol, Crimea

Citation: ‘Highly distinguished at the capture of the Rifle Pits, 20th November 1854. His gallant conduct was recorded in the French General Orders.’ (London Gazette, 24 February 1857)

RIFLEMAN J. BRADSHAW VC
2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 22 April 1855 Place: Sebastopol, Crimea

Citation: ‘A Russian Rifle-Pit, situated among the rocks overhanging the Woronzoff Road, between the third parallel, Right Attack, and the Quarries (at that time in the possession of the enemy), was occupied every night by the Russians, and their Riflemen commanded a portion of the Left Attack, and impeded the work in a new battery then being erected on the extreme right front of the 2nd parallel, Left Attack. It was carried in daylight on 22nd April, 1855, by two Riflemen, one of whom was Private Bradshaw. He has since received the French War Medal. The rifle-pit was subsequently destroyed on further support being obtained.’ (London Gazette, 24 February 1857)

RIFLEMAN R. HUMPSTON VC
2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 22 April 1855 Place: Sebastopol, Crimea

Citation: ‘A Russian Rifle-Pit, situated among the rocks overhanging the Woronzoff Road, between the third parallel, Right Attack, and the Quarries (at that time in the possession of the enemy), was occupied every night by the Russians, and their Riflemen commanded a portion of the Left Attack, and impeded the work in a new battery then being erected on the extreme right front of the second parallel, Left Attack. It was carried in daylight on 22nd April, 1855, by two Riflemen, one of whom was Private Humpston. The rifle-pit was subsequently destroyed on further support being obtained.’ (London Gazette, 24 February 1857)

RIFLEMAN R. McGREGOR VC
2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 22 April 1855 Place: Sebastopol, Crimea

Citation: ‘For courageous conduct when employed as a sharpshooter in the advanced trenches in the month of July, 1855. A Rifle-Pit was occupied by two russians, who annoyed our troops by their fire. Private McGregor crossed the open space under fire, and, taking cover under a rock, dislodged them, and occupied the pit.’ (London Gazette, 24 February 1857)

LIEUTENANT J. KNOX VC
2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 18 June 1855 Place: Sebastopol, Crimea

Citation: ‘When serving as a Serjeant in the Scots Fusilier Guards, Lieutenant Knox was conspicuous for his exertions in re-forming the ranks of the Guards at the Battle of the Alma. Subsequently, when in the Rifle Brigade, he volunteered for a ladder-party in the attack on the Redan, on the 18th June, and (in the words of Captain Blackett, under whose command he was) behaved admirably, remaining on the field until twice wounded.’ (London Gazette, 24 February 1857)

CAPTAIN H. WILMOT VC
2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 11 March 1858 Place: Lucknow, India

Citation: ‘For conspicuous gallantry at Lucknow, on the 11th March, 1858. Captain Wilmot’s Company was engaged with a large body of the enemy, near the Iron Bridge. That officer found himself at the end of the street with only four of his men, opposed to a considerable body. One of the four was shot through both legs and became utterly helpless; the two men lifted him up and although Private Hawkes was severely wounded he carried him for a considerable distance, exposed to the fire of the enemy, Captain Wilmot firing with the men’s rifles and covering the retreat of the party. Despatch of Brigadier-General Walpole, C.B., dated 20th March 1858.’ (London Gazette, 24 December 1858)

CORPORAL W. NASH VC
2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 11 March 1858 Place: Lucknow, India

Citation: ‘For conspicuous gallantry at Lucknow, on 11th March, 1858. Captain Wilmot’s company was engaged with a large body of the enemy, near the Iron Bridge. That officer found himself at the end of the street with only four of his men, opposed to a considerable body. One of the four was shot through both legs and became utterly helpless: the two men lifted him up and although Private Hawkes was severely wounded, he carried him for a considerable distance, exposed to the fire of the enemy, Captain Wilmot firing with the men’s rifles, and covering the retreat of the party. Despatch of Brigadier-General Walpole, C.B., dated 20th March, 1858.’ (London Gazette, 24 December 1858)

RIFLEMAN D. HAWKES VC
2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 11 March 1858 Place: Lucknow, India

Citation: ‘For conspicuous gallantry at Lucknow, on 11th March, 1858. Captain Wilmot’s company was engaged with a large body of the enemy, near the Iron Bridge. That officer found himself at the end of a street with only four of his men, opposed to a considerable body. One of the four was shot through both legs and became utterly helpless; the two men lifted him up and although Private Hawkes was severely wounded, he carried him for a considerable distance, exposed to the fire of the enemy, Captain Wilmot firing with the men’s rifles, and covering the retreat of the party: Despatch of Brigadier-General Walpole, C.B., dated 20th March 1858.’ (London Gazette, 24 December 1858.

RIFLEMAN S. SHAW VC
3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 13 June 1858 Place: Lucknow, India

Citation: ‘For the Act of Bravery recorded in a despatch from Major-General James Hope-Grant, K. C.B., Commanding the Lucknow Field Force, to the Deputy Adjutant-General of the army, which the following is an abstract: Nowabgunge, 17 June, 1858. “I have to bring to notice the conduct of Private Same Shaw, of the 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade, who is recommended by his Commanding Officer for the Victoria. An armed rebel had been sent to enter a tope [clump] of trees. Some officers and men ran into the tope in pursuit. This man was a Ghazee. Private Shaw drew his short sword, and with that weapon rushed single-handed on the Ghazee. Shaw received a severe tulwar wound, but after a desperate struggle, he killed the man. I trust his Excellency will allow me to recommend this man for the Victoria Cross, and that he will approve of my having issued a Division Order, stating that I have done so.’ (London Gazette, 26 October 1858)

RIFLEMAN T. O’HEA VC
1st Battalion, The Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 9 June 1866 Place: Danville Station, Canada

Citation: ‘For his courageous conduct on the occasion of a Fire which occurred in a Railway Car containing ammunition, between Quebec and Montreal, on the 9th of June last. The Serjeant in charge of the Escort states that, when at Danville Station, on the Grand Trunk Railway, the alarm was given that the Car was on fire; it was immediately disconnected, and, whilst considering what was best to be done, Private O’Hea took the keys from his hand, rushed to the Car, opened it, and called out for water and a ladder. It is stated that it was due to his example that the fire was suppressed.’ (London Gazette, 1 January 1867)

CAPTAIN W.N. CONGREVE VC
The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consorts Own) (Staff)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 15 December 1899 Place: Colenso, South Africa

Citation: ‘At Colenso, on 15th December, 1899, the detachments serving the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, had all been either killed, wounded, or driven from their guns by Infantry fire at close range, and the guns were deserted. About 500 yards behind the guns was a donga in which some of the few horses and drivers left alive were sheltered. The intervening space was swept with shell and rifle fire. Captain Congreve, Rifle Brigade, who was in the donga, assisted to hook a team into a limber, went out, and assisted to limber up a gun. Being wounded, he took shelter; but seeing Lieutenant Roberts fall, badly wounded, he went again and brought him in. Captain Congreve was shot through the leg, through the toe of his boot, grazed on the elbow and the shoulder, and his horse shot in three places.’ (London Gazette, 2 February 1900)

RIFLEMAN A.E. DURRANT VC
2nd Battalion, The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 27 August 1900 Place: Bergendal, South Africa

Citation: ‘At Bergendal on August 27th, 1900, Acting Corporal Weller, having been wounded, and feeling somewhat dazed, got up from his prone position in the firing line, exposing himself still more to the enemy’s fire and commenced to run towards them. Private Durrant rose and, pulling him down, endeavoured to keep him quiet, but finding this impossible he took him up and carried him back for 200 yards under heavy fire, to shelter, returning immediately to his place in the firing line.’ (London Gazette, 18 October 1901)

BREVET MAJOR J.E. GOUGH VC
The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade) (Staff)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 22 April 1903 Place: Daratoleh, Somaliland

Citation: ‘During the action of Daratoleh, on 22nd April last, Major Gough assisted Captains Walker and Rolland in carrying back the late Captain Bruce (who had been mortally wounded), and preventing that Officer from falling into the hands of the enemy. Captains Walker and Rolland have already been awarded the Victoria Cross for their gallantry on this occasion, but Major Gough (who was in command of the column) made no mention of his own conduct, which has only recently been brought to notice.’ (London Gazette, 15 January 1904)

COMPANY SERGEANT-MAJOR H. DANIELS VC
2nd Battalion The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 12 March 1915 Place: Neuve Chapelle, France

Citation: ‘For most conspicuous bravery on the 12th March, 1915, at Neuve Chappelle. When their Battalion was impeded in the advance to the attack by wire entanglements, and subjected to a very severe machine-gun fire, CSM Daniels and Corporal Noble voluntarily rushed in front and succeeded in cutting the wires. They were both wounded at once, and Corporal Noble has since died of his wounds.’ (London Gazette, 27 April 1915)

ACTING CORPORAL C.R. NOBLE VC +
2nd Battalion The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 12 March 1915 Place: Neuve Chapelle

Citation: ‘For most conspicuous bravery on the 12th March, 1915, at Neuve Chappelle. When their Battalion was impeded in the advance to the attack by wire entanglements, and subjected to a very severe machine-gun fire, CSM Daniels and Corporal Noble voluntarily rushed in front and succeeded in cutting the wires. They were both wounded at once, and Corporal Noble has since died of his wounds.’ (London Gazette, 27 April 1915)

LANCE-SERGEANT D.W. BELCHER VC
1st/5th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment(London Rifle Brigade)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 13 May 1915 Place: Ypres Salient

Citation: ‘On the early morning of 13th May, 1915, when in charge of a portion of an advanced breastwork south of the Wieltje-St Julien Road, during a very fierce and continuous bombardment by the enemy, which frequently blew in the breastwork, Lance-Serjeant Belcher, with a mere handful of men, elected to remain and endeavour to hold his position after the troops near him had been withdrawn. By his skill and great gallantry he maintained his position during the day, opening rapid fire on the enemy, who were only 150 to 200 yards distant, whenever he saw them collecting for an attack. There is little doubt that the bold front shown by Lance-Serjeant Belcher prevented the enemy breaking through on the Wieltje road, and averted an attack on the flank of one of our divisions.’ (London Gazette, 23 June 1915)

SECOND LIEUTENANT S.C. WOODROFFE VC +
8th Battalion, The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 30 July 1915 Place: Hooge, Belgium

Citation: ‘For most conspicuous bravery on the 30th July, 1915, at Hooge, The enemy having broken through the centre of our front trenches, consequent on the use of burning liquids, this Officer’s position was heavily attacked with bombs from the flank and subsequently from the rear, but he managed to defend his post until all his bombs were exhausted, and then skilfully withdrew his remaining men. This very gallant Officer immediately led his party forward in a counter-attack under an intense rifle and machine-gun fire, and was killed while in the act of cutting the wire obstacles in the open.’ (London Gazette, 6 September 1915)

CORPORAL A.G. DRAKE VC +
8th Battalion The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 23 November 1915 Place: La Brique, Belgium

Citation: ‘For conspicuous bravery on the night of 23rd November, 1915, near La Brique, France. He was one of a patrol of four which was reconnoitring towards the German lines. The patrol was discovered when close to the enemy, who opened heavy fire with rifles and machine gun, wounding the Officer and one man. The latter was carried back by the last remaining man. Corporal Drake remained with his Officer and was last seen kneeling beside him and bandaging his wounds regardless of the enemy’s fire. Later a rescue party, crawling near the German lines, found the Officer and Corporal, the former unconscious but alive and bandaged, Corporal Drake beside him dead and riddled with bullets. He had given his own life and saved his Officer.’ (London Gazette, 22 January 1916)

BREVET MAJOR W. La T. CONGREVE VC DSO MC +
The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 7-20 July 1916 Place: Somme, France

Citation: ‘For most conspicuous bravery during a period of fourteen days preceding his death in action. This officer constantly performed acts of gallantry and showed the greatest devotion to duty; and by his personal example inspired all those around him with confidence at critical periods of the operations. During preliminary preparations for the attack he carried out personal reconnaissances of the enemy lines, taking out parties of officers and non-commissioned officers for over 1,000 yards in front of our lines, in order to acquaint them with the ground. All these preparations were made under fire. Later, by night, Major Congreve conducted a battalion to its position of employment, afterwards returning to it to ascertain the situation after the assault. He established himself in an exposed forward position from whence he successfully observed the enemy, and gave orders necessary to drive them from their position. Two days later, when Brigade Headquarters was heavily shelled and many casualties resulted, he went out and assisted the medical officer to remove the wounded to places of safety, although he was himself suffering severely from gas and other shell effects. He again on a subsequent occasion showed supreme courage in tending the wounded under heavy shell fire. He finally returned to the front line to ascertain the situation after an unsuccessful attack, and whilst in the act of writing his report was shot and killed instantly.’ (London Gazette, 26 October 1916)

SECOND LIEUTENANT G.E. CATES VC +
2nd Battalion The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 8 March 1917 Place: Bouchavesnes, France

Citation: ‘For most conspicuous gallantry and self-sacrifice. When engaged with some other men in deepening a captured trench, this officer struck with his spade a buried bomb, which immediately started to burn; 2nd Lt Cates, in order to save the lives of his comrades, placed his foot on the bomb, which immediately exploded. He showed the most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in performing the act which cost his life but saved the lives of others.’ (London Gazette, 11 May 1917)

SERGEANT W.F. BURMAN VC
16th Battalion The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 20 September 1917 Place: Bulgar Wood, near Ypres

Citation: ‘For most conspicuous bravery when the advance of his Company was held up by an enemy machine-gun firing at point blank range. He shouted to the man next to him to wait a few minutes, and, going forward to what seemed certain death, killed the enemy gunner and carried the gun to the Company’s objective, where he subsequently used it with great effect. By this exceptionally gallant act the progress of the attack was assured. About fifteen minutes later it was observed that the battalion on the right was being impeded by a party of about forty of the enemy, who were enfilading them. Sjt Burman, with two others, ran forward and got behind the enemy, killing 6 and capturing 2 officers and 29 other ranks.’ (London Gazette, 26 November 1917)

SERGEANT A.J. KNIGHT VC
2nd/8th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment
(Post Office Rifles)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 20 September 1917 Place: Hubner Farm, near Ypres

Citation: ‘For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during the operations against the enemy positions. Sjt Knight did extraordinary good work, and showed exceptional bravery and initiative when his platoon was attacking an enemy strong point, and came under very heavy fire from an enemy machine gun. He rushed through our own barrage, bayoneted the enemy gunner, and captured the position single-handed. Later, twelve of the enemy with a machine gun were encountered in a shell-hole. He again rushed forward by himself, bayoneted two and shot a third and caused the remainder to scatter. Subsequently, during the attack on a fortified farm, when entangled up to his waist in mud, and seeing a number of the enemy firing on our troops, he immediatelyopened fire on them without waiting to extricate himself from the mud, killing six of the enemy. Again, noticing the company on his right flank being held up in their attack on another farm, Sjt Knight collected some men and took up a position on the flank of this farm, from where he brought a heavy fire to bear on the farm as a result of which the farm was captured. All the platoon officers of the company had become casualties before the first objective was reached, and this gallant noncommissioned officer took command of all the men of his own platoon and of the platoons without officers. His energy in consolidating and reorganising was untiring. His several single-handed actions showed exceptional bravery, and saved a great number of casualties in the company. They were performed under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, and without regard to personal risk, and were the direct cause of the objectives being captured.’ (London Gazette, 8 November 1917)

LANCE-SERGEANT J.E. WOODALL VC
1st Battalion The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 22 April 1918 Place: La Bassee Canal, France


Citation: ‘For most conspicuous bravery and fine leadership during an attack. Sjt Woodall was in command of a platoon which, during the advance, was held up by a machine gun. On his own initiative he rushed forward and, single-handed, captured the gun and eight men. After the objective had been gained, heavy fire was encountered from a farmhouse some 200 yards in front. Sjt Woodall collected ten men, and, with great dash and gallantry, rushed the farm and took thirty prisoners. Shortly afterwards, when the officer in charge was killed, he took entire command, reorganised the two platoons, and disposed of them skilfully. Throughout the day, in spite of intense shelling and machine-gun fire, this gallant N.C.O. Was constantly on the move, encouraging the men and finding out and sending back invaluable information. The example set by Sjt Woodall was simply magnificent and had a marked effect on the troops. The success of the operation on this portion of the front is attributed almost entirely to his coolness, courage and utter disregard for his own personal safety.’ (London Gazette, 28 June 1918)

SERGEANT W. GREGG VC DCM MM
13th Battalion The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 8 May 1918 Place: Bucquoy, France


Citation: ‘For most conspicuous bravery and brilliant leadership in action. Two companies of his unit attacked the enemy’s outpost position without artillery preparation. Sergeant Gregg was with the right company, which came under heavy fire from the right flank as it advanced. All the officers of the company were hit. He at once took command of the attack. He rushed an enemy post and personally killed an entire machine-gun team and captured the gun and four men in a dug-out near by. He then rushed another post, killed two men and captured another. In spite of the heavy casualties he reached his objective and started consolidating the position. By this prompt and effective action this gallant Non-Commissioned Officer saved the situation at a critical time and ensured the success of the attack. Later Sjt Gregg’s party were driven back by an enemy counter-attack, but, reinforcements coming up, he led a charge, personally bombed a hostile machine gun, killed the crew and captured the gun. Once again he was driven back. He led another successful attack, and hung on to the position until ordered by his company commander to withdraw. Although under very heavy rifle and machine-gun fire for several hours, Sjt Gregg displayed throughout the greatest coolness and contempt of danger, walking about encouraging his men and setting a magnificent example.’ (London Gazette, 28 June 1918)

RIFLEMAN W. BEESLEY VC
13th Battalion The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)
Date of Act of Gallantry: 8 May 1918 Place: Bucquoy, France

Citation: ‘For most conspicuous bravery. The enemy’s outpost position was attacked by two companies of his unit without artillery preparation. Pte Beesley was in the leading wave of the left company which came under heavy fire as it approached the enemy’s front line. His platoon serjeant and all the section commanders were killed. This young soldier, realising the situation, at once took command and led the assault. Single handed he rushed a post and with his revolver killed two of the enemy at a machine gun. He then shot dead an officer who ran across from a dug-out to take their place at the machine gun. Three more officers appeared from the dug-out. These he called on to surrender; seeing one of them trying to get rid of a map, he shot him and obtained the map. He took four more prisoners from a dug-out and two others from a shelter close by, disarmed them and sent them back to our lines. At this moment his Lewis gun was brought up by a comrade who was acting as carrier. Rifleman Beesley at once brought it into action and used it with great effect against the enemy as they bolted towards their support line, inflicting many casualties. For four hours Pte Beesley and his comrade held on to the position under very heavy machine-gun and rifle fire. The enemy then advanced to counter-attack, and the other soldier was wounded. Pte Beesley carried on by himself and actually maintained his position until 10 p.m., long after the posts on his right and left had been practically wiped out and the survivors had fallen back. It was mainly due to his action that the enemy were prevented from rushing the position, and that the remnants of his company when compelled to withdraw were able to do so, without further loss. When darkness set in Pte Beesley made his way back to the original line from which the attack had started, bringing with him the wounded carrier and the Lewis gun. He at once mounted the Lewis gun in the trench and remained in action until things had quietened down. The indomitable pluck, skilful shooting and good judgement in economising ammunition displayed by Pte Beesley stamp the incident as one of the most brilliant actions in recent operations.’ (London Gazette, 28 June 1918)

LIEUTENANT COLONEL V.B. TURNER VC
2nd Battalion The Rifle Brigade
Date of Act of Gallantry: 27 October 1942 Place: El Alamein, North Africa


Citation: ‘For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on the 27th October, 1942, in the Western Desert. Lieutenant-Colonel Turner led a Battalion of the Rifle Brigade at night for 4,000 yards through difficult country to their objective, where 40 German prisoners were captured. He then organised the captured position for all-round defence; in this position he and his Battalion were continuously attacked from 5.30 a.m. to 7 p.m., unsupported and so isolated that replenishment of ammunition was impossible owing to the concentration and accuracy of the enemy fire. During this time the Battalion was attacked by not less than 90 German tanks which advanced in successive waves. All of these were repulsed with a loss to the enemy of 35 tanks which were in flames, and not less than 20 more which had been immobilised. Throughout the action Lieutenant-Colonel Turner never ceased to go to each part of the front as it was threatened. Wherever the fire was heaviest, there he was to be found. In one case, finding a solitary six-pounder gun in action (the others being casualties) and manned only by another officer and a Sergeant, he acted as loader and with these two destroyed 5 enemy tanks. While doing this he was wounded in the head, but he refused all aid until the last tank was destroyed. His personal gallantry and complete disregard of danger as he moved about encouraging his Battalion to resist to the last, resulted in the infliction of a severe defeat on the enemy tanks. He set an example of leadership and bravery which inspired his whole Battalion and which will remain an inspiration to the Brigade.’ (London Gazette, 20 November 1942)

TEMPORARY LIEUTENANT G.A. MALING, MB,
ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
Attached to 12th Battalion the Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)


Date of Act of Gallantry: 25 September 1915 Place: France ‘For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during the heavy fighting near Fauquissart on 25 September 1915. Lieutenant Maling worked incessantly with untiring energy from 6.25 am on the 25th until 8 am on the 26th collecting and treating in the open, under heavy shell fire, more than 300 men. At about 11 am on the 25th he was flung down and temporarily stunned by the bursting of a large high explosive shell which wounded his only assistant and killed several of his patients. A second shell soon covered him and his assistants with debris, but his high courage and zeal never failed him, and he continued his work single-handed.’ (London Gazette, 18 November 1915)

Notes
The ranks and decorations shown were those held at the time of the act of gallantry for which the VC was subsequently awarded.
Privates in the Rifle Brigade were known as Riflemen, although the rank of Rifleman was not formally approved until 1923.

From the Rifle Brigade Chronicle of 1914.

THE NEW RECREATION GROUND FOR THE RIFLE DEPOT , WINCHESTER.
In 1914 Lady Newdigate-Newdegate bought a piece of ground near Winchester, about five and a half acres in extent, and most generously presented it to the Rifle Depot to be used as a Recreation G round for the Riflemen of the Rifle Brigade and 60th Rifles, thus supplying a greatly needed want.

Owing to the outbreak of the War only a few days after Lady Newdegate's kind gift had been announced, the matter has not attracted the attention it merits, but the Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Riflemen of the Rifle Brigade are none the less grateful for the same and tender her their sincere thanks. In addition to the great benefits it will confer on all those serving at the Rifle Depot, it will keep alive among successive generations of Riflemen the name of Lieut-General Sir Edward Newdigate-Newdegate, who for many years was regarded with such affection and esteem by all who were privileged to serve with him or to know him.

R.D.C. writes: Generations of Riflemen will have used what was to become known as Airlie Road, out the back gate of the Rifle Depot down the lane beside the railway line, to do small arms training, practice field craft and to play sports. At one stage Winchester City Football Club used to play all their home games there.
The General joined the Rifle Brigade in 1842 and as a Captain served in the Crimean campaign 1854-56 being wounded at Inkerman. As a Lt-Colonel he commanded the Rifle Depot. He retired on 15 June 1892 and died on August 1st 1902 after a long and painful illness. The proceeds from the sale of Airlie Road went into The Royal Green Jackets charitable funds and subsequently into The Rifles funds.

From: A Short Account of The Rifle Brigade by Colonel Willoughby Verner 1920. The Rifleman's "Sword."
The bayonet was at first a short triangular one, but this was found to be too short and a flat-bladed sword- bayonet was introduced, much longer than the regular bayonet carried by the Guards and Line, and making the rifle with sword fixed practically the same length as the musket with fixed bayonet. From these early weapons arose the habit of Riflemen always being ordered to "Fix Swords" instead of "Bayonets." Owing to the faulty construction of the smooth-bore musket (clue to the fact that the bullet was not made to rotate by means of the grooves or "rifling" which gave the name of "rifle" to our weapon) the fire of the musket was only effective up to about 100—150 yards and it was impossible to rely upon its hitting any object aimed at, at over 50 yards, hence the expression " as random as a common musket." Baker's rifle was extremely accurate at 200 yards and even at 300 yards and had of course a far longer range.

Thus it came about that from the earliest clays of the Corps it became famous for its "sharp-shooters," as they were popularly styled. The normal fire-tactics of those days was for our Infantry, standing in three, or later, in two ranks, to deliver volleys at the dense masses of the enemy's columns as they came near and then to charge them with the bayonet; for such tactics, rifles were unnecessary. When, however, the enemy covered the advance of these columns by masses of skirmishers, the importance, first of light infantry and later of riflemen became apparent and led to their wider adoption. The rifleman further could be employed in broken, wooded or mountainous country, where it was impossible for infantry to march and fight in the rigid close formations then universally employed.

Dress, Equipment and Drill.
Uniforms in those days were most conspicuous ; bright red coats (the British National colour), with white cross-belts and often a big head-dress with plumes, were no disadvantage to men moving in mass, when the foe was equally visible, and the danger-zone of the smooth-bore musket only about 100 yards. But with the adoption of "light infantry " or " skirmishing drill," it was quickly found that the red coats betrayed the presence of the fighting men and so it was that the first British Riflemen were dressed in dark bottle-green jackets and pantaloons and given low shakos with a short green tuft in front. Their belts and accoutrements were also of black instead of pipeclayed leather. We have all seen in our clay how, under the modern development of rifled arms, it has been found necessary to adopt some colour less conspicuous than the British red, blue or green or the French or German blue.

Bugles and "Bugle-horns."
The movements of light infantry when first raised and for many years after, were controlled by bugle calls. The first bugles were made out of cows' horns and later, when made of metal, they were in the shape of a cow's horn. When the Rifle Corps was raised and later on, when bugles somewhat of the present pattern were adopted, they were still called "Bugle-horns," and all the "calls" were known as "horns." To this day in the Rifle Brigade it is the custom to talk of the "Dinner-horn" sounding. The "bugle" worn on the button of the Rifle Brigade is of the general shape of these old "bugle horns."

The Rifleman's "Quick-step."
The reason for Riflemen being trained to step quickly and to move at the "double" is clue to the nature of their employment. Troops moving in close formation must necessarily march at exactly the same pace, not only of the Company or Battalion, but of the Brigade and Division. When battles were fought by troops moving in close order, this was a vital point, so as to avoid confusion and also to ensure security against cavalry. Riflemen were however often thrown out to cover a front and to do this or to march with rapidity to some detached post, the "double" and a quick step were alike essential. Only a few years ago, to march at more than three miles an hour was looked upon as a "crime" and Riflemen have often been reproved for marching, when opportunity afforded, and it was desirable, at four miles an hour!

The Regimental March." 95."
The Rifle Brigade March "Ninety-Five," famous all the world over, was adapted in 1842 at Malta by Mr. William Miller, Bandmaster of the 1st Battalion, from an old comic song “I’m ninety-five." It was much used in the long marches during the Kaffir Wars of 1846-1847 and 1851-53 and subsequently, upon the return of the 1st Battalion from the Crimea in 1856, it was played before Queen Victoria and Mr. Miller was commanded to send H.M. a copy. The March became so popular that it was adopted by other Corps and was commonly played as a "Quick- step" on Brigade parades. This was reported to F.-M. H.R.H. George, Duke of Cambridge, then Commander-in- Chief, who wrote to say that whenever or wherever a Battalion of the Rifle Brigade was on parade, no other Corps was to play "Ninety-Five."

Regimental Traditions and Customs
During the last 25 years the stern realities of war have proved the necessity of abandoning many of the old traditions of our Infantry and gradually their training has assimilated to ours. Thus it has come about that nearly every change which Colonel Coote Manningham introduced when the First British Rifle Corps was raised in 1800 has of recent years been adopted by our Army, alike as regards armament, equipment, training and movement. It took over 50 years before rifles were generally introduced„ hence it was that the 95th Rifles and later, the Rifle Brigade, were always known as "the Rifles" up to the Crimean war.

It took another 50 years before our Riflemen's drill, ie, "extended order," became the normal fighting formation for all infantry regiments. The last few years have seen the general introduction throughout the British Army of a modernized form of the Rifleman's original weapon, a "short rifle " and of the Rifleman's "sword" in place or the time honoured triangular bayonet, also the adoption of a loose sling to the rifle, the in-creased pace when marching and a dozen other points, all at one time peculiar to the Rifle Brigade.

Colonel-in-Chiefs of the Regiment
The first Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifle Corps was the Founder, Colonel Coote Manningham. Shortly after the Regiment was styled the Rifle Brigade, the great Duke of Wellington became Colonel-in-Chief and held the post until his death in 1852. Later, Queen Victoria appointed H.R.H. The Prince Consort to be Colonel-in-Chief.

After the Prince Consort's death his late Majesty King Edward VII was Colonel-in-Chief and was succeeded by his brother the present Colonel-in-Chief, F.-M. H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, who served in the Rifle Brigade for many years and who commanded the 1st Battalion in 1877-1880. Note: R.D.C. writes that the Duke of Connaught continued as Colonel-in-Chief until his death on 16 January 1942, he was succeeded by H.R.H the Duke of Gloucester, who held the post until 1 January 1966.

“COLONEL COOTE MANNINGHAM”
A Song of The Rifle Brigade

Oh! Colonel Coote Manningham, he was the man!
For he invented a capital plan,
He formed a Corps of Rifle Men,
To fight for England's glory!
He dressed them all in jackets of green,
And placed them where they couldn't be seen,
And sent them in front—an invisible screen,
To fight for England's glory!

Chorus: Colonel Coote Manningham, he was the man!
For he invented a capital plan,
He formed a Corps of Rifle Men,
To fight for England's glory!

The century had scarce begun,
When Nelson swore he'd have some fun,
To Copenhagen he would run,
To fight for England's glory!
The Danes, they fought with courage rare,
But then you see 'twas hardly fair,
Because The Rifle Corps was there,
To fight for England's glory!

Chorus: Colonel Coote Manningham, &c.

To Spain next went The Rifle Corps,
For Boney then was bent on war;
He didn't think we'd take the floor,
And dance our way to glory!
Masséna was our vis-a-vis,
(They called him Duke of Rivoli),
But we'd a Duke as good as he,
To fight for England's glory!

Chorus: Colonel Coote Manningham, &c.

For the Chestnut Troop, so gallant and gay,
Would open the ball at the break of day,
With: "Here comes Ross with the R.H.A.
To fight for England's glory!
King Joseph then would join the dance,
Or Soult or Victor, as might chance,
But we'd soon drown their "Vive la France!"
With cheers for England's glory!

Chorus: Colonel Coote Manningham, &c.

And many a time with the Forty-third,
We were up to the call of "The Early Bird,"
When Craufurd's bugle gave the word,
To march for England's glory!
To Talavera's field we came,
And many a breach, all steel and flame,
Saw the Green Jackets uphold the fame
Of England and her glory!

Chorus: Colonel Coote Manningham, &c.

Oh! those were the days of England's pride!
With the Fifty-second at our side,
If the Light Bobs lived,
or the Light Bobs died,
'Twas all for England's glory!
(Corunna, Badajoz, Nivelle,
Barrosa, and Toulouse as well,
Are names of deathless pride that tell
Of the days of England's glory!

Chorus: Colonel Coote Manningham, &c.

Upon the plains of Waterloo,
The Ninety-fifth had work to do,
And many a gallant Frenchman slew
That day for England's glory!
When Boney's fire was getting hot,
The Duke with us threw in his lot,
He knew our square was a pretty safe spot
For England's hope and glory!

Chorus: Colonel Coote Manningham, &c.

"Now, Ninety-fifth, stand fast!" said he,
As up came Boney's cavalree;
The grand old Duke well knew that we
Would fight for England's glory!
"Don't let these Frenchmen have their way,
Just think, my lads, of what they'll say
In England! Hold your own to-day,
And fight for England's glory I"

Chorus: Colonel Coote Manningham, &c.

On Alma's heights we led the van;
We held our ground at Inkerman;
And on the plains of Hindostan
We fought for England's glory!
Where'er there's war we've found our way
In East and West we've had our say
From Ashantee to Mandalay,
We've fought for England's glory!

Chorus: Colonel Coote Manningham, &c.

Then, Riflemen all! 'tis ours to strive
The fame we've won to keep alive
As we march to the tune of "95"
Or fight for England's glory!
We're ready with Rifle, sword, and spade
To face all odds, for to fight's our trade,
Then up! and 'list in the Rifle Brigade !
And fight for England's glory!

Chorus: Colonel Coote Manningham, &c.

 


The Rifle Brigade Memorial, Grosvenor Gardens London

 

The Rifle Brigade War Memorial
By Major R.D. Cassidy MBE: from the Royal Green Jackets Chronicle of 2000

The site of The Rifle Brigade Memorial in the north east corner of Grosvenor Gardens, London, was generously given to the Regiment by the Duke of Westminster on whose property it stands.
The Duke of Connaught as Colonel in Chief of The Rifle Brigade for 62 years (1880-1942), unveiled the memorial on the 25th July 1925.
The Memorial shows two figures of an Officer and Rifleman who fought in Spain and Portugal under the Duke of Wellington and Sir John Moore nearly 200 years ago. Raised high above these is the figure of the indomitable Rifleman of 1914-1918.
The work based on the origination of an idea by Colonel Willoughby Verner, was designed and executed by Mr John Tweed.

On Remembrance Day members of The Rifle Brigade and their families have gathered in prayer to pay homage and remember those who have fallen for their country and regiment over these past 200 years. Since 1968 the Service has been for The Rifle Brigade, Royal Green Jackets and latterly The Rifles. Many past RB and RGJ attend.

It is remarkable how quiet this very busy part of London becomes at 1l am on Remembrance Day. The traffic is held by the Police at a standstill whilst the congregation observes the two minutes silence. In truth, drivers are most patient and co-operative.
After the service the congregation retires to the Rubens Hotel for sandwiches and a drink.

R.D.C. writes:
The Rifle Brigade Cadets.
The 1st Cadet Bn. the Rifle Brigade was formed in 1944 and was composed of cadets recruited from the East End of London.
The Royal Masonic School Cadet Corps 1st Cadet Bn. London Rifle Brigade was the T.A. Cadet Bn. and was affiliated to the Green Jackets T.A. Brigade.
Although in more senses than one the youngest units of the Regiment, all those who had seen the Cadet Battalions fully agreed that the traditions and honour of the Regiment were in safe hands.

The City of Winchester.
The Regiment has been associated with the City of Winchester since 1856 and in 1946 had the honour of receiving the Freedom of the City.




The Rifle Depot, home of many riflemen since 1886.



The Collect of The Rifle Brigade
O God whose servant David put off his armour the better to prevail against his enemy. Grant, we beseech Thee, that these Thy servants of The Rifle Brigade, who were chosen of old to obey with speed and to fight unburdened, may lay aside every weight and every besetting sin and run with patience the race that is set before them; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Addressed to 2Lt Vic Turner at Christmas 1918 from his new Commanding Officer Lt-Col Alan Paley.
From: Jackets of Green.

"Now that you have been gazetted to the Regiment, I should like to give you a few hints which may, I hope, be useful to you, and also to tell you something of our Regimental Customs. "The Rifle Brigade is not a `Line' regiment. In recognition of its services in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo, the 95th Rifles, by an Order in Council in 1816, was taken out of the Line and styled the Rifle Brigade. When brigaded with other regular Battalions on ceremonial parades, the Regiment stands on the left of the Line. Except in action and for special training purposes, such as musketry, arms drill, etc., we do not fix swords or slope arms. The order `Attention' is not used in the Rifle Brigade. The order `Party', `Platoon', `Company', `Battalion', or `Rifle Brigade' (if brigaded with other troops) is given, when any of the above units are to be called `To Attention'. The above orders are preceded by the caution `Stand to your front' if the troops are standing easy".

The following expressions and titles are used in the Regiment:
Rouse for Reveille.
Mess (or other) Horn for Mess (or other) Call.
Rifleman for Private.
Acting Corporal for Lance Corporal.
Acting Sergeant for Lance Sergeant.
Plain clothes for Mufti.
Swords for Bayonets.
Trousers for Slacks.

A roll is never called on parade. N.C.O.s are expected to know whether their men are present or otherwise without calling a roll.
Except on parade, the only officer who is ever addressed as `Sir' is the Commanding Officer. Never address a Field Officer in the Regiment as `Major'.
Never offer to stand a brother Rifleman a drink in a Rifle Brigade Mess.
Rings are not worn.
The Rifle Brigade does not carry colours.
Foul and indecent language is punished very severely. It always entails a regimental entry.
The band does not play returning from a funeral.
Become a subscriber to the Rifleman's Aid Society as soon as possible.
We never talk of a private soldier as a `Tommy'. We Riflemen have far too much respect for the men in the ranks to give them such a common sounding name. We talk of our own men as Riflemen. Men in other
regiments or branches of the service are spoken of as `private soldiers'. the interests of and care for his men and the very exact execution of all duties are the main considerations of an officer in the Rifle
Brigade.

The comradeship which exists between Officers, N.C.O.s and Riflemen is a very marked characteristic of the Rifle Brigade. This comradeship must be fostered. It is one of the most important factors which help to maintain discipline of the right sort, i.e. a cheerful, ready and loyal obedience. An iron or Prussian system of discipline has never existed in the Regiment; we have never required it, because the traditions ofthe 95th Rifles, who helped to save Moore's Army in the retreat to Corunna, still remain with us.

Your platoon should be to you what a pack of hounds is to its Master. The characteristics of each Rifleman in that platoon, his good qualities and his weaknesses, should be known to you. His training, his games, and his interests should be your continual care. The welfare of your men must be your aim and object. If you follow these principles, your men will love and respect you and stand by you in battle. You will also play your part in maintaining the glorious traditions of the Rifle Brigade.
I hope that you will be very happy in the Rifle Brigade. You are very fortunate indeed to be permitted by H.R.H. The Duke of Connaughtto belong to his Regiment. It is the finest Regiment in the Army, and its record is second to none."

Compiled by R.D.C. from source documents



The Rifle Brigade Family Tree

1968
3rd Bn The Royal Green Jackets

1966
3rd Bn The Royal Green Jackets (RB)

1958
3rd Green Jackets, The Rifle Brigade

1921
The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own)

1881
The Prince Consort’s Own (The Rifle Brigade)

1862
The Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade

1816
Rifle Brigade

1802
95th Regt of Foot

1800
A Corps of Riflemen

1800
Experimental Corps of Riflemen



BATTLE HONOURS OF THE RIFLE BRIGADE

Copenhagen, Monte Video, Rolica, Vimiera, Corunna, Busaco, Barrosa, Fuentes d'Onor, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula, Waterloo, South Africa, 1846—7, 1851—2—3, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol, Lucknow, Ashantee, 1873—4, Ali Masjid, Afghanistan, 1878—9, Burma, 1885—87, Khartoum, Defence of Ladysmith, Relief of Ladysmith, South Africa, 1899—1902.

The Great War— Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne, 1914, Aisne, 1914, `18, Armentieres, 1914. Neuve Chapelle, Ypres, 1915, `17, Gravenstafel, St Julien, Frezenberg, Bellewaarde, Aubers, Hooge, 1915, Somme, 1916, `18, Albert, 1916, `18, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Guillemont, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre, 1916, `18, Arras, 1917, `18, Vimy, 1917, Scarpe, 1917, `18, Arleux, Messines, 1917, Pilckem, Langemarck, 1917, Menin Road. Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai, 1917, `18, St Quentin. Rosieres, Avre, Villers Bretonneux, Lys, Hazebrouck, Bethune, Drocourt- Queant, Hindenburg Line, Havrcourt, Canal du Nord, Selle,Valenciennes, Sambre, France and Flanders, 1914— 18, Macedonia, 1915-18.

The Second World War— Calais, 1940,Villers Bocage, Odon, Bourguebus Ridge, Mont Pincon, Le Perier Ridge, Falaise, Antwerp, Hechtel, Nederrijn, Lower Maas, Roer, Leese, Aller, North-West Europe, 1940 44— 45, Egyptian Frontier, 1940, Beda Fomm, Mersa el Brega, Agedabia, Derna Aerodrome, Tobruk, 1941, Sidi Rezegh, 1941, Chores Sufan, Saunnu, Gazala, Knightsbridge, Defence of Alamein Line, Ruweisat, Alam el Halfa, El Alamein,Tebaga Gap, Medjez el Bab, Kasserinc,Thala, Fondouk, Fondouk Pass, El Kourzia, Djebel Kournine, Tunis, Hammam Lif, North Africa, 1940—43, Cardito, Cassino II, Liri Valley, Melfa Crossing, Monte Rotondo, Capture of Perugia, Monte Malbe, Arezzo, Advance to Florence, Gothic Line, Orsara,Tossignano, Argenta Gap, Fossa Cembalina, Italy, 1943—45.

The Honours in heavy type are those authorised to be carried on Regimental appointments.



Brigadier C.C. Dunphie M.C. wrote:
THE ORIGINS OF I AND R COMPANIES.
With this official Record of the Royal Green Jackets being written, it seems a good moment to record why there have been I and R Companies in the regiment.

I Company. The name of I Company originates in 1st Battalion The Rifle Brigade; it did not exist in any of the other RB battalions, once battalions had reduced to eight companies in the mid 19th century. Over the years thesuggestion has taken root that the name of I Company stems from an occasion on which an entire company was destroyed, with only one man returning, claiming that “I am the company”. This is almost certainly untrue. Nowhere in The Rifle Brigade Histories is such an event recorded nor is it likely that, if it was true, it would be something of which the regiment would be particularly proud.

[In contrast, when, in June 1944, A Company 1RB, under command of 4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) was cut off at Villers-Bocage, only very few escaped. The Company 2ic, Captain Christopher Milner, having failed in his first attempt to escape, avoided capture by lying up for the rest of the day in a blackberry bush until dark, and then spent the night making his way through a number of German positions until, at dawn, he eventually rejoined the rest of the battalion. He thought that he might be welcomed back, but a steely glare from Lt Col Victor Paley and “What the bloody hell have you done with A Company?”, sent him off with his tail between his legs. Losing a company is not a popular sport! Milner was later told to reform A Company, which he commanded for most of the rest of the war.]

However, there was an action, during the 2nd Kaffir War of 1852-3 in which I Company distinguished itself, and which is covered in detail in Cope’s History of The Rifle Brigade. At the time battalions consisted of ten companies, named ‘No1, Letter A (Capt X’s) Company, to No 10, Letter J (Capt Y’s) Company’. 1RB, which had take part in the 1st Kaffir war a couple of years earlier, was despatched to South Africa in January 1852. The force, under command of Lt Gen the Hon G Cathcart and which, incidentally, included the 43rd and the 60th Rifles, seems to have spent much of the year playing cat and mouse with bands of Kaffirs., whose greatest delight was stealing settlers’ cattle.

In late November Gen Cathcart decided ‘to demand satisfaction from, or punish, the Basuto chief, Moshesh, for his incursions and depredations on the settlers near the Orange River’. Having despatched the rest of his force a week earlier, Cathcart set off to join them. He decided to take one company of 1RB as ‘his camp bodyguard’. And so, while the remainder of 1RB was left to confront the Kaffirs and Hottentots who were being troublesome in the area of Fort Beaufort, No 9, Letter I Company, which numbered about 90 strong, set off on the morning of 18th November to join the rest of the force.

Cathcart had decreed that ‘they must camp each night with the general’, which was a bit unreasonable as he and his staff were mounted. I Company Commander, Capt Rooper, had been posted away briefly to ‘an official situation in the colony’, so Lt the Hon Leicester Curzon, aged 23, was in command. They covered the 180 miles in one week, joining the rest of the force at Burghersdorp on 27th November.

Having protected the General on his journey north, and pretty exhausted after a very rapid march, I Company was then brigaded with the 43rd, 73rd and two guns, in Col Eyre’s division. Starting on 30th November, they marched on north for a further 220 miles, which included fording the Orange and Caledon Rivers (not much need for a BFT in those days, it seems!). On 13th December the force reached the Wesleyan Missionary Station at Platberg, not far from Moshesh’s stronghold at Thaba Bosigo, which was situated on the far side of Berea, a high hill, considered impregnable by Moshesh and his followers.

On 16th November Cathcart summoned Moshesh and told him that as ‘compensation for his depredations’ he was, within three days, to deliver 10,000 head of cattle – presumably most of them stolen (numbers a bit eye-watering for a present-day farmer who considers 100 breeding cows a sufficient handful!!). However, when the cattle were delivered, on the afternoon of 19th, they numbered only 3,600, so Cathcart sent a message with the herders that unless the remainder were delivered next day, he would come and take them. He also ordered Eyre, with the cavalry and the brigade which included I Company 1RB, to move forward and set up a camp on the Caledon River as a demonstration of capability and intent, and as recipients of the cattle.

When, on the morning of 20th, no cattle had arrived, Cathcart ordered Eyre to cross the Caledon, climb Berea Hill, sweep the plateau, which was about three to four miles wide, collect the cattle, and then join him on the far side of the hill. Meanwhile he would lead the rest of the force round the base of the hill. I Company and the Light Company of 73rd were ordered to lead up the ‘steep and craggy hillside’, get to the top and take the cattle. Following a very steep ascent, they were nearing the top, when they were greeted by a volley of fire from the Basutos. Led by Lt Curzon and Lt Lindsay, I Coy charged the top. They then skirmished forward through the rocks, and took the first part of the plateau, driving off the Basutos. For some unexplained reason the rest of Eyre’s division failed to materialise, so the two companies decided to press on across the plateau together.

Finding the cattle at a small village in a hollow on the plateau, they attacked. A brief but fierce hand- to-hand battle ensued, before the Basutos were driven off and the cattle captured. Somewhat to their relief they were then joined by Col Eyre with two more companies of the 73rd and one of the 43rd. This was timely as they now found themselves confronted by ‘hordes of Basutos, well-mounted and armed with assegais and elephant guns’.

The Basutos clearly hoped that their sheer numbers and ‘demonstrations’ would terrify the force – in vain. Once again the Riflemen led the way forward, but the Basutos prudently withdrew and the force, and, it is recorded, 30,000 cattle set off to join Gen Cathcart at the foot of the hill. They had to hurry, and leave some of the cattle behind, when it emerged that Gen Cathcart, had ‘gravely compromised himself’ at the foot of the hill (Cope does not describe what Cathcart had done to ‘gravely compromise himself’ – a phrase which means something rather different nowadays!).

At 5pm they joined Cathcart’s force on the far side of the hill. I Company, after twelve hours of constant fighting in the rugged hills, now hoped for a quiet night’s rest. However, this idea was rudely interrupted by 7,000 mounted Basutos; Cathcart’s force numbered about 900. A fierce battle ensued, and they were forced to withdraw, with the General, his staff, the cavalry, guns and the cattle taking cover in a nearby kraal, their withdrawal covered by I Company and the 43rd Company, who leapfrogged one another back. As it was getting dark the Basutos charged from all sides.

I and the 43rd Companies held their fire until the enemy were just 30 yards away, when they fired a devastating volley. This, and two rounds of canister from the artillery, at almost point blank range, routed the Basutos. I Company was then ‘left to their repose – much needed and well-earned as they had been under arms for about eighteen hours, and fighting during most of them’.During the night Moshesh sent a letter of submission. Casualties in I Company had been surprisingly light – just three killed, but it is recorded that ‘Lieutenant HG Lindsay behaved with great gallantry, while Acting- Corporal Bateman and Private Riflemen Ricketts and Hayward particularly distinguished themselves’. (In The Rifle Brigade ‘Acting-Corporal’ was, until the formation of RGJ, the rank of someone with one stripe on his arm.) (The 1913 RB Chronicle includes a copy of a letter Lindsay wrote to his father after the battle.)

In his despatch following the action Colonel Eyre wrote of Lieutenants Gawler, the 73rd Company Commander, and Curzon, “These two young and promising officers led their companies in the most spirited manner up ground all but inaccessible, though opposed and immediately fired upon by the enemy above. Covering themselves as they advanced, they reached the summit with little loss and drove the enemy before them in good style.’ Lieutenant General The Hon Sir George Cathcart wrote, “The noble conduct of the company under Lieutenant The Hon L Curzon is specially mentioned”.

Curzon’s career flourished. Following his marriage to an heiress, he changed his name to Smyth. General the Hon Sir Leicester Smyth KCB, KCMG, was Governor of Gibraltar when he died in January 1891. Of the action at Berea he wrote, “Company No 9 Letter I always looked upon Berea as the day of their life; and were not a little proud of the way Sir W Eyre wrote of them. For he was a man who worked hard and exacted hard work; and soldiers had reason to exult when they received his praise”.

Cope does not record this as the origin of the letter I being retained in 1RB, but it is the one company action which is given a special and lengthy description in his history, and by the time the first Rifle Brigade Chronicle was printed in 1890 1RB had A to G and I Companies 2, 3 and 4RB had A to H. It seems not unreasonable, therefore, to conclude that this was the origin of I Company in 1RB and later 3RGJ.

I Company was a normal rifle company throughout both world wars and also in Kenya and Malaya in the 1950s. It was only when battalions reduced to three rifle companies, in the late 1950s, that I Company became Support Company.


R Company. The reason for R Company is much simpler and less dramatic. The Labour Government of the late 1960s ordered a reduction in the size of the army. Various mergers and reductions were planned, including the disbandment of 3RGJ and, among others, The Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. Following a much- publicised tour in Aden, The Argyles mounted a strong, public ‘Save the Argyles’ campaign. In mid 1970 the Conservatives won a quite unexpected General Election victory.

Among those who had signed the Argyles petition were Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Gordon Campbell. Suddenly they found themselves, as Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State for Scotland, invited to honour their pledge. From one of the earliest Cabinet Meetings of the Heath Government a minute came out saying that those regiments which had not yet completed their merger or reduction were to be saved ‘at an operationally viable level’.

Six reductions were halted; one at the eleventh hour – the Glosters and Hampshires were literally days away from completing their merger. In the end only four independent companies were formed; the other two could not man their companies which quickly folded. By early 1971 2SG Company had gone into London District to do what Guardsmen do there. The Hampshires Company went to 19 Bde in Colchester and The Argyles Company to 24 Bde in Catterick. Last to form, following an UNFICYP tour, was 3RGJ, as part of 5 Bde at Tidworth.

It was during the UNFICYP tour that 3rd Battalion The Royal Green Jackets Representative Company was planned. Lt Col Jimmy Glover and RSM Ron Cassidy were the key players in selecting, from nearly 500 volunteers, those to serve. Then arose the question of name. The Company Commander suggested I Company, but Col Glover refused this. The existence of the Representative Companies was to be reconsidered within two years, and they could well be folded up. He did not want that fate to hang over I Company, so he had already arranged that the name of I Company should go to 2RGJ, where it has lived happily ever since, including when RGJ was reduced and 2RGJ was renumbered 1RGJ. Colonel Glover suggested Calais or Snipe Company, which the Company Commander did not like – we had no tradition of ‘named’ companies. Letters were already arriving about the formation of ‘3RGJ Rep Coy’, so he suggested R, standing for both Rifle and Representative. This was agreed.

R Company was formed, symbolically only, at the 3RGJ Reorganization Parade at Tidworth on ?? July 1971. After acting as rear party, while others dispersed to their new battalions, and leave, R Company opened for business at Netheravon Camp on 2 August, and by 10 August was in Belfast. In October came the news that 3RGJ was to be reformed as a battalion, on R Company’s return. Finally, shortly before the end of the tour, in December 1971, General Sir John Mogg, phoned to say that the Colonels Commandant had decided that the name of R Company was to be perpetuated in the newly reforming 3RGJ. He pointed out that this would be the first truly-RGJ tradition. (R Company was the only one of the representative companies to be deployed operationally - quite why the Hampshire and Argyle Companies, which had formed months earlier, were not deployed to Northern Ireland is unknown.)