Territorial Rifles Postcard

This week’s postcard is a pre-World War One image of a group of riflemen from a territorial unit, probably from London. The postcard is franked with a London postmark and was sent to an address in Cheswick, all suggesting that the image itself has a London connection. In 1908, after the formation of the Territorial Army, 26 Volunteer Force Battalions were amalgamated into the London Regiment, many of which were rifle units:

  • 5th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade)
  • 6th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment (City of London Rifles)
  • 7th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment
  • 8th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Post Office Rifles)
  • 10th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Paddington Rifles)
  • 11th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Finsbury Rifles)
  • 15th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles)
  • 16th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Queen’s Westminster Rifles)
  • 17th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Poplar and Stepney Rifles)
  • 18th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (London Irish Rifles)
  • 21st (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles)
  • 28th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Artists Rifles)

Here a group of NCOs and men from one of these units pose for the camera:

There are a number of points about their uniform to note. The buttons are blackened in the Rifles style, as are the brass shoulder titles. The sergeant, front left, wears the crossed rifles and five pointed star of a Musketry Marksman:

He also has the medal ribbon of what appears to be the King’s South African Medal for service in the Boer War. Most of the men are bare headed, but the chap above wears a field service cap, whilst his fellow sergeant has a large bus hat on his head (and a particularly impressive moustache):

I always enjoy these early territorial images as there is a wonderfully lax approach to dress regulations and decorum, the men reveling in their part-time amateur status. This of course is always tinged with a little sadness as all too soon they would stop being weekend warriors and be at war for real.

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