Rifles regiment march Union Jack
Army

Swift And Bold: All About The Rifles

The British Army's largest infantry regiment is made up of eight battalions, holding a record number of battle honours.

Rifles regiment march Union Jack

The Duke of Edinburgh is being succeeded as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles during a transfer ceremony this afternoon.

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall will become the new Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, during a ceremony carried out in two locations.

It is the British Army's largest infantry regiment, comprising five regular battalions and three reserve battalions.

Formed in 2007, it holds a record 913 battle honours, including 117 Victoria Crosses, and has played crucial roles on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The regiment was created from four 'Forming Regiments': 'The Devonshire & Dorset Light Infantry', 'The Light Infantry', 'The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Light Infantry' and 'The Royal Green Jackets'.

These four founding regiments also contribute to the Rifles' 'Golden Threads' - distinctive honours awarded to the founders, now worn by the present-day regiment during ceremonial duties.

The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry provide the Croix de Guerre - a French military honour, while the silver bugle is worn on the belts of serjeants and warrant officers and garnered from the Light Infantry.

1 RIFLES standing to attention for inspection

Meanwhile, from the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry and Royal Green Jackets respectively, the Back Badge and Black Buttons are worn across the regiment.

With a regimental motto of 'swift and bold', its Colonel Commandant is General Sir Nick Carter.

The regiment's name, 'RIFLES', stands for: Respect (R), Independence (I), Friends for Life (F), Learning, (L), Excitement (E) and Success (S).

The Rifles spell sergeant with a 'j' in place of the 'g' - this is a throw back to their involvement in the Napoleonic wars in the early 19th century.

The Regimental Day is celebrated on 22 July - the same date as the Battle of Salamanca in 1812.

All four Forming Regiments participated in the battle, which saw a victory for the Duke of Wellington.

1 RIFLES on exercise in Sennybridge
1 RIFLES is made up 550 personnel and are paired with 6 RIFLES (Picture: Crown Copyright).

With five regular and three reserve battalions, there is a lot of history and meaning behind each one that makes up the RIFLES regiment.

Regular battalions

1 RIFLES

Based at Beachley Barracks, Gloucestershire, it is made up of around 550 troops, all ready to be deployed around the world at a moment's notice.

1 RIFLES is part of 1st (UK) Division - which heads up the British Army's Light Role Adaptable Force.

The battalion has taken part in three tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to other operations, and was formally part of 3 Commando Brigade.

It is paired with reserve regiment, 6 RIFLES, and is scheduled to move to a new home at St Athan, southern Wales, in 2027.

Find out more about 1 RIFLES.

2 RIFLES

The 2nd Battalion the Rifles, along with 3 and 4 RIFLES, was deployed to Basra, Iraq, during some of the most intense fighting in the Iraq war.

In total, 2 RIFLES has deployed on four tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Based at Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn, in Northern Ireland, it is again made up of around 550 Riflemen, all ready to deploy worldwide, while their paired reserve battalion is 8 RIFLES.

Each Rifleman who serves with the regiment in Northern Ireland is entitled to allowances, including higher pay, and 12 free warrants to fly to mainland Britain every year.

Find out more about 2 RIFLES.

2 RIFLES and 4 SCOTS at Mission Training and Mobilisation Centre 270220 CREDIT BFBS

3 RIFLES

Based at Edinburgh's Dreghorn Barracks, 3 RIFLES will be a part of the British Army's new strike brigades within 3rd (UK) Division from 2021, when it will move to its new home at Catterick, North Yorkshire.

The battalion contains around 650 troops and has deployed on five tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.

It currently uses the Foxhound protected patrol vehicle, but will convert to the Mastiff, and then the new Mechanised Infantry Vehicle in the future.

Find out more about 3 RIFLES.

A soldier from 4 RIFLES mentoring the Iraqi Border Guard in conducting vehicle and personnel searches.
A soldier from 4 RIFLES mentoring the Iraqi Border Guard in conducting vehicle and personnel searches.

4 RIFLES

One of two infantry units to pilot the new Specialised Infantry Battalion (SpIB), an expert force to train, advise and mentor overseas forces.

4 RIFLES' expertise in the SpIB will be for the Middle East and North Africa.

The battalion contains around 250 soldiers, all of whom are selected from across the regiment, meaning every rifleman has the chance to earn a place in the battalion.

Find out more about 4 RIFLES.

5 RIFLES

Based at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire, the around-600-strong battalion is part of 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade - NATO's lead for the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). 

5 RIFLES provided the lead element in Estonia for the British contribution to the Enhanced Forward Presence - the NATO initiative to protect the alliance's eastern flank. It is scheduled to return there for a second tour in a couple of years time.

It has also deployed on four tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.

D (RIFLES) Coy is a reserve infantry company within 5 RRF.

Durham (The Rifles) Company, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers contains soldiers who are all Riflemen.

They are part of the British Army's Adaptive Force.

Paired with 3 RIFLES, they are commanded by 38 (Irish) Brigade, and have centuries-old links to the Durham Light Infantry and King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Find out more about 5 RIFLES.

Reserve battalions

6 RIFLES

The reserve battalion is paired with 1 RIFLES, and is made up of around 500 part-time troops across seven different bases.

6 RIFLES, like the all RIFLES reserve battalions, has three rifle companies and a headquarter company, each containing around 100 soldiers.

There is also a marching band - The Salamanca Band and Bugles, comprised of 30 troops, covering ceremonial events.

Find out more about 6 RIFLES.

7 RIFLES

Made up of 500 part-time soldiers, 7 RIFLES is known for its Waterloo Band and Bugles, that covers social engagements.

Similar to the other reserve Rifle battalions, it trains troops to be ready for front line operations with their regular colleagues.

It is based across five bases in London and the South East of England.

Find out more about 7 RIFLES.

8 RIFLES

Officially formed in 2017, the battalion is paired with 2 RIFLES and made up of 500 reservists.

8 RIFLES has bases across the north east, south, Yorkshire and the West Midlands.

There is also a battalion which exists called F (RIFLES) Company.

While it is made up of Rifles reservists, it is actually one of four infantry reserve companies of the London Regiment.

The Waterloo Band and Bugles of the Rifles

The military band is made up of members of the Corps of Army Music, with traditions dating back several centuries including march style, use of the silver bugle, and the trademark facial hair for the bugle majors.

Buglers are selected from across the regular battalions of the Rifles and fast march at speeds of 140 paces per minute - quicker than the Army standard of 120 paces per minute.

WATCH: Army buglers face the music.

Cadets

The regiment has cap-badged detachments from the UK Army Cadet Force Association (ACF) and Combined Cadet Forces (CCF).

Around a quarter of all cadets from the ACF wears a RIFLES cap badge, with 48 affiliated CCFs.