P.D. GRIFFIN
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS

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The back badge on the cap and cross-belt of Drum Maj Scaife (2nd Gloucesters), 1935. (Gloucester Regiment Museum)

As a result of army restructuring announced in 2004, two infantry regiments from the Wessex region were converted into the Light Division - the Devonshire and Dorset (D&D) and the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire (RGBW). In 2007 all battalions of the Light Division - Light Infantry, Green Jackets and Rifle Volunteers (TA) - will unite as one regiment under a title resurrected from Green Jackets' history: The Rifles.

The Light Infantry

Prince Alfred of Edinburgh in a rifles officer uniform of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion the Devonshire Regiment in 1895

Prince Alfred of Edinburgh in a rifles officer uniform of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion the Devonshire Regiment in 1895

DRESS DISTINCTIONS

The Rifles' green peaked caps (officers) and berets (other ranks) follow a light infantry tradition that began in the years of the shako (1800-78), when light companies were distinguished by plumes or pom-poms of green.

The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry

The Victorian universal helmet, normally covered in blue cloth, was covered in dark green for regiments of light infantry.

The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry

The silver-strung bugle horn, which is worn on cap, beret, collar and buttons, is the same as that adopted by the light companies in the 1780s and maintained by the 'Light Bobs' ever since, in one form or another, with regimental embellishment. It emulates the old bugle horn used by hunters in the chase and by light infantry to sound communications in barracks, on the march and in the field. Known as 'half a cap badge' because of its semicircular form, the bugle is worn with a red ground between the horn and its strings, a distinction borrowed from the badge of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, who used it to symbolise a privilege of its 2nd Battalion, the old 46th Regiment. Drummers and light company men of the 46th were permitted a red pom-pom on their shakos to celebrate an audacious night attack by the light company of the 46th Regiment on an American camp by the Brandywine river during the American War of Independence. The victims swore vengeance on their 'surprisers' and the cocky lads who went to make up the light companies of the 46th and 49th Regiments duly obliged by wearing conspicuous red feathers in their caps to attract any unfinished business.

The RGBW badge, which is basically the Wiltshires' cross mounted with the Gloucesters' sphinx, is also worn on a red backing to echo the red feathers sported in North America, in this instance by the light company of the 49th. On the beret this takes the form of a long red triangle - the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment's (DERR) Brandywine flash.

A small sphinx badge, uniquely worn (within a laurel wreath) at the back of cap and beret, originated with the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment, whose soldiers fitted a plate pressed with the sphinx on the back of their shakos to commemorate their back-to-back stand against a two-pronged attack in the Batde of Alexandria in 1801. The larger version of the back badge, struck during the First World War to mark a similar manoeuvre at Festubert, proved unpopular and a reversion to the small badge was made in 1935.

The D&rD badge is made up of the Devons' Exeter castle and motto superimposed with the Dorsets' sphinx and motto. The sphinx, on a tablet marked EGYPT, was awarded to all the regiments involved in the 1801 campaign to rid Egypt of Napoleon. The sphinx displayed by the Dorset Regiment was different in that its tablet inscription was altered in 1841 to MARABOUT, a battle honour given to the 54th Regiment when its prized trophy, a gun taken at Fort Marabout (near Alexandria), was finally handed in, forty years after the battle. The Marabout Gun now resides in the Dorset Military Museum in Dorchester.

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