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P.D. GRIFFIN
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS

Recruits at the brigade depot (Malay Lines) in No. 6 warm weather dress

Recruits at the brigade depot (Malay Lines) in No. 6 warm weather dress

MUSIC

The Brigade quick march is Yo Nepali. The Rifles march to The Bravest of the Brave in quick time, The Keel Row in double time and God Bless the Prince of Wales in slow time. The slow march came from 2GR and relates to its 1876-1906 title. The RGR pipers' march is the traditional Scottish Garb of Old Gaul.

The Gurkha Band was made by merging the 2GR band, formed in 1859, with the Staff Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas, formed in 1958.

7th Gurkha Rifles sharpening kukris for the Falklands War, 1982

7th Gurkha Rifles sharpening kukris for the Falklands War, 1982

TRADITIONS

The great respect with which Gurkhas are held in the army is generated by their conduct, efficiency and bravery, qualities that are underpinned by the RGR motto Kafar hunnu bhanda marnu ramro (It is better to the than be a coward).

No colours are carried in the brigade but the Rifles march behind their Queen's Truncheon, which was ordered to 2GR by Queen Victoria when it became a rifle regiment after the Indian Mutiny. As a rifle regiment, the 2nd had to lay up its colours, one of which was an honorary colour awarded for its bravery at Delhi, where the regiment formed an undying association with the 60th Rifles. The truncheon dismantles into five pieces to facilitate it being carried into battle by five soldiers. The crown is supported by three Gurkha figures on a ring of silver inscribed MAIN PICQUET, HINDOO RAO'S HOUSE, DELHI 1857. On a lower ring the inscription is repeated in Nagri script. In 2GR the men called the truncheon Nishani Mai (the Great Mother) and swore their oath of allegiance on it when joining the regiment. On anniversaries like Delhi Day (14 September) and the crossing of the Tigris in 1917, the truncheon would be put out for saluting.

THE ROYAL GREEN JACKETS

The Royal Green Jackets (RGJ) was formed in 1966 when the three battalions of the Green Jackets Brigade were brought together as a regiment. The brigade had been formed in 1958 from the regiments first trained in light infantry tactics - the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (OBLI), the Kings Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) and the Rifle Brigade.

The royal title came from the old 60th, styled the Royal American Regiment in 1757. The regiment was raised in Pennsylvania two years earlier under a bill that allowed the King the right to grant commissions to foreign Protestants for military service in the Americas. Almost 200 years later, during the Second World War, the KRRC got special permission to train a cadre of .Americans as officers in the regiment.

The term 'Green Jackets' was first applied to the experimental rifle battalions created at the end of the eighteenth century to operate in open skirmish order with the deadly Baker rifle. The first had a high proportion of German light troops and dressed its riflemen in the green jackets worn by German hunters and woodsmen, a distinction copied by successive rifle battalions. The concept prospered and riflemen became the subject of popular legend.

Regimental headquarters are at Peninsula Barracks in Winchester, the shared depot of the KRRC and the Rifle Brigade from 1858. Peninsula recalls the war in which the four original regiments successfully employed the specialist light infantry movements taught by Sir John Moore, the pioneer of the famous Light Division.

An officer of the 95th Rifles re-enactment group with light infantry in the background in uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars

An officer of the 95th Rifles re-enactment group with light infantry in the background in uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars

DRESS DISTINCTIONS

Caps and berets are rifle green, the colour of Rifles and Light Infantry headgear since the late Victorian era. The cap badge is based on that of the Rifle Brigade, a Maltese cross inscribed with battle honours within a crowned laurel wreath and naval crown marked COPENHAGEN 2ND APRIL 1801. An inscribed Maltese cross without a wreath, which formed the badge of the KRRC, originated on officers' pouch belts in the 5th Battalion of the 60th Rifles, raised in 1797 - the first of the regiments Green Jackets. The cross is thought to have come from a German officer of the battalion (Hompesch), who was a Knight of Malta. The strung bugle horn at the centre of the cross, worn by all light infantry and rifle regiments, now appears on the front of the green side hat worn by RGJ officers.

Bugler of 1RGJ

Bugler of 1RGJ, c. 2002. (MoD)

No. 2 dress is worn with the green cap, the jacket distinguished with the Rifles' black belt and buttons, and a small, blackened bugle horn collar badge.

No. 1 dress and mess dress 'greens' have no collar badge - a regimental tradition. Officers' tunics of 'Ox and Bucks' vintage have a button and length of braid sewn onto the collar, a unique distinction of the Oxfords' officers, who wore it as a relic of the eighteenth-century gorget which used to hang from buttons on the collar. Buglers wear gold-laced shoulder wings on the tunic and the plumed busby that was peculiar to rifle regiments from 1890. The bugle major is equipped with a traditional Rifles officers' braided tunic and the black pouch belt that goes with it. The regimental nickname, 'Black Mafia', stems from this dark order of dress and the regiment's well-connected officers.

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