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Saturday, November 26th 2005

5:32 AM

New Army Unit formed

25 October 2005 [made available for publication 24th November 2005]

From: General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue KCB CBE
Colonel of The Regiment


You will be aware of the Army Board’s initial decision on 16 December 2004 to split the RGBW back into its prior parts and across two separate Infantry Divisions.  We won that argument and the Army Board agreed that the RGBW would merge with the Devonshire & Dorset Regiment (D&D) to form the 1st Bn Light Infantry.  As part of the transition, we became the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry on 22 July 2005.  I am now writing to tell you that we have decided to form a new regiment, consisting of The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry, The Light Infantry and The Royal Green Jackets.  Subject to the approval of the Army Board and Royal assent, the new regiment will be formed in 2007 and will consist of five regular and two TA battalions.  It will be called The RIFLES; it would be for Her Majesty The Queen to decide whether the regiment should be granted the title “Royal”.

RGBWLI and the DDLI will form 1st Bn The Rifles [1RIFLES] based at Chepstow, the other battalions will be based as follows:

·        2nd Bn The Rifles - Ballykinler

·        3rd Bn The Rifles - Edinburgh

·        4th Bn The Rifles - Bulford

·        5th Bn The Rifles - Paderborn

·        6th Bn The Rifles - TA battalion, with HQ in Exeter

·        7th Bn The Rifles - TA battalion, with HQ likely to be in Brock Barracks in Reading

The cap badge of The Rifles will be a Light Infantry style Bugle, and the Back Badge will be carried forward into the new regiment and worn on No 1 Dress Hats of all battalions; we will continue to argue to wear the Back Badge on all forms of dress.

Despite our preference, to be consistent with Rifle history, the Rifles will not have Colours.  Battle honours will be incorporated in a Maltese Cross, inscribed with representational honours from the four founding Regiments, to be worn on the Cross Belt (officers) or Belt Buckles (soldiers) as appropriate.

The Rifles will have a single Colonel Commandant – a senior serving officer.  He will appoint Deputy Colonels Commandant to assist him in his duties in respect of the battalions and counties.  There will be a Deputy Colonel Commandant specifically for RGBWLI and our four counties.

Regimental Headquarters of The Rifles will be at Winchester.  However, The Rifles will continue to have a number of outstations, including Gloucester and Salisbury; thus, the formation of the new regiment is likely to have little effect on our museums – the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, and the RGBW Museum at The Wardrobe in Salisbury will continue to be the homes of our heritage.

We shall continue to maintain close links with our counties, cities and towns; the ending of arms-plotting will mean that 1RIFLES will be based at Chepstow when not on operations.  However all soldiers currently serving with 1RGBWLI, if they wish, may find a place in any of the regiment’s battalions.  With regular battalions based at both Chepstow and Bulford, we will be able to provide close support to our TA battalions, affiliated ACF detachments and CCF contingents.

The Regimental Association will, in due course, be part of a much larger association.  It is hoped that branches in the same town or city will attend each other’s functions, but change will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.  We will retain our branch standards which will continue to be of great importance in carrying forward our heritage.

The future is clear; we are now set on course to merge with 1DDLI in Chepstow in 2007 to form 1RIFLES.  We have the opportunity to take with us into the new regiment, the professionalism and excellence that has made the RGBW so successful in the last few years, whether on operations or in sports.  Much work needs to be done to sort out the detail, but I am confident that our excellence will be carried forward into the 1st Bn The Rifles, and that all who serve in The RIFLES will have an even greater opportunity for a rewarding, fulfilling, and enjoyable career.

Colonel of the Regiment






Earlier this year, the Regimental Council agreed to support the Army Board’s desire for the Infantry to reorganise into large Regiments.  The Council met most recently to consider the implications of the decisions made at the meeting of the Colonels of the Light Division on Wednesday 19th October 2005.  The Council’s views were as follows:


§       Strongly supported the creation of a large regiment to be called The RIFLES.

§       Welcomed the retention of strong links with our Counties and the appointment of a Deputy Colonel Commandant for Gloucestershire, Bristol, Berkshire and Wiltshire.

§       Welcomed the recent appointment of Lt Col David Brown, RGBWLI to be the first Commanding Officer of 1RIFLES to be based in Chepstow on its formation in 2007.

§       Welcomed the decision to wear the Back Badge across the new regiment on No 1 Dress Hats but urged the Colonel of the Regiment to continue to argue for the Back Badge to be worn on all forms of dress within all battalions of The RIFLES, and affiliated Cadet detachments.

§       Argued for the Brandywine Flash to be incorporated into the uniform of The RIFLES.

§       Noted with disappointment that The RIFLES would not carry Colours; however, it was recognised that Colours would not be compatible with the new regiment which is to be founded on a Light/Rifle regiment ethos.

§       Acknowledged that the Regimental Headquarters of the new regiment would be in Winchester, but welcomed that Gloucester and Salisbury would be outstations.

§       Stressed the importance of the continued support of the Branches and members of our Regimental Association.

The Regimental Council recognised that the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Light Infantry was but one element of the new regiment.  This made it difficult for our negotiating teams to carry the day on many things that we held to be important.

Finally, the Regimental Council acknowledged that there was much still to be done.  The RGBWLI Future Working Group will be consulting and making recommendations to the Colonel of the Regiment on such matters as customs and traditions, dress and the implementation plan over the coming months.


 The RIFLES will consist of seven battalions, five regular and two TA, comprising The Devonshire & Dorset Light Infantry,  The Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Light Infantry,  and The Royal Green Jackets.



1RIFLES will be formed from The Devonshire & Dorset Light Infantry and The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Light Infantry.



This is vital as members of the TA, ACF, and CCF rarely wear any head dress other than berets.




Formation of The Rifles - Regt Council response 3 Nov 05



BY Lt Col (retd) Rob Dixon OBE 
(Gloucester Citizen 23rrd Nov 05)

The news that the Back Badge is to be retained in some form by the new regiment ‘The Rifles’ is arguably better than nothing although I have heard some old Glosters stating that they would prefer to see the old regiment put to bed completely rather than watch this slow lingering death by a thousand cuts. This reaction is understandable in view of the dismay felt at how disgracefully this government has treated its armed forces and how supine have been the senior officers in accepting this treatment.

However the war memorials around this great County are testament to the sacrifices that have been made by all our servicemen and particularly in this area by The Glosters and now sadly their successor regiment The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment . As we remember them we should have a determination to keep alive that regimental spirit that helped to sustain them in times of great hardship and danger. Those times have not disappeared. It is in fact more difficult than ever to sustain morale when the Army has to undertake operations that are seen as pointless and unnecessary by perhaps a majority of their fellow citizens. It is in these sort of operations that a closely knit regiment finds succour within itself. It may be because that regiment
wears a red beret or it may be because that regiment wears a Back Badge and recruits from a particular part of the country. All infantry regiments have, or used to have, their own particular tribal ethos that bound them together. And let no one lose sight of the fact that it is the poor bloody infantry that always bears the hardest brunt and usually wins through to deliver the ultimate victory. No other corps or arm has to put up with such discomfort, distress and danger for so long in a campaign.

That is why this latest reorganisation of the infantry is so dangerous. It is diluting that essential esprit de corps of a regiment that is very difficult to define, impossible to quantify in financial terms, but is a living breathing organism that sustains in difficult days of so called peace and is invaluable in war. It does not exist on its own, it has to be nurtured by good leaders of all ranks, but it is there to draw on when the going gets tough.

It would appear that little more can be done to change the minds of politicians who sleep peacefully at night while their cash strapped armed forces patrol the dangerous backstreets, deserts and mountains in Iraq and Afghanistan. The tiny size of our over stretched armed forces will ensure that within a few weeks of returning from one deployment they will be off on another. No amount of re-organisation can counter these hard facts.

So what is to be done. We must build on the fact that one battalion of The Rifles will have its home base at Chepstow when not on operations. The fight for at least this battalion to wear the Back Badge on the beret must continue. But perhaps more importantly than anything we must ensure that the ethos of The Back Badge lives on in the County so that the Regiment and its County remain intrinsically linked. Otherwise there is a danger that the Back Badge becomes a mere military trinket if not linked to the men of Gloucestershire who won it in the first place and sustained it since, always supported sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances by their wives, girlfriends and families. To achieve this the Regiment is considering approaching some enduring institutions in the County to see if they will support this initiative, which should be seen as a living memorial to the spirit of The Glosters that can go on to inspire young men and women from the County. The Citizen has gallantly agreed to support this initiative and views from all who value the traditions of Gloucestershire will be welcomed.

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