The Rifles, the British Army’s newest and largest Infantry Regiment, formed in 2007 from The Devon & Dorset Light Infantry, The Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Light Infantry and The Royal Green Jackets. We have a rich heritage dating back to 1685. Over 300 years’ service to the crown includes 913 battle honours, an unmatched legacy of courage with 117 Victoria Crosses awarded to antecedents and 21 Military Cross awards, amongst many other gallantry awards, to today’s Riflemen, and a unique ethos, inherited from the first Rifle Corps of the 18th and 19th Centuries which has been further enhanced by our recent operational record in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ours is a history unmatched, and one to be proud of.
The Rifleman is at the centre of The Rifles philosophy. The first Riflemen took their place in the British Army in 1797. They were elite amongst the infantry: expected to be quick-thinking, intelligent, fit and tough sharpshooters capable of fighting using their own initiative. In today’s Regiment, from the most senior general to the newest recruit, these characteristics are maintained in our ethos. This sets us apart from other Regiments and makes it a point of pride for all ranks to be able to say, “I am a Rifleman”.
Regimental Battle Honours
The Rifles do not carry Colours. Instead our battle honours are entrusted to every Rifleman, who wears them on his belt badge. This includes a blank scroll which will always remain empty, symbolising tomorrow’s honours yet to be won.
The Rifles motto “Swift and Bold” encapsulates the characteristics of a Rifleman. It was first used at the Battle of Quebec by General Wolf when he referred to the actions of the 60th Regiment. It serves to inspire present and future Riflemen.
Being forward looking is core to being a Rifleman, as are the attributes of professionalism, confidence and humour, so that we follow on from those “proper saucy fellows” that Captain Harry Smith of the 95th Rifles, described in the 1800s.
The words of our founding father Sir John Moore were to: “Do everything that is necessary and nothing that is not” These words continue to guide The Rifles and ensure that we are a regiment of excellence, inspired by our past, to shape the present and inform the future.