Rifle Volunteers

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The Rifle Volunteers
Active 1999 – 2007
Disbanded February 2007
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Line Infantry
Role Light Role Infantry — Army Reserve
Size 1 Battalion
Part of 43 (Wessex) Brigade

The Rifle Volunteers was a regiment of the British Territorial Army.


The Rifle Volunteers were formed in 1999 by the amalgamation of the 6th Battalion, The Light Infantry, 4th Battalion, The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment (The 1st Rifle Volunteers) and elements of the 2nd (V) Battalion, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment in consequence of the reforms implemented due to the Strategic Defence Review. The HQ was in Exeter, and the battalion comprised five rifle companies and a headquarters company:[1]

  • A (Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire) Company - Gloucester and Bristol - back badge worn on helmet and beret.
  • B (Light Infantry) Company - Taunton, Yeovil and Bath
  • C (Devonshire and Dorset Regiment) Company - Dorchester and Poole.
  • D (Light Infantry) Company - Truro and Bodmin.
  • E (Devonshire and Dorset Regiment) Company - Exeter and Plymouth.
  • Bn HQ and HQ Company - Exeter

The battalion was well represented in a range of sporting and musical endeavours. The Volunteer Band of the 4th Battalion, The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment formed the band of the Rifle Volunteers. The band was held in high regard across the British Army and performed not only across the UK, but around the World.[2] It formed the backbone of the Salamanca Band on formation of 6th Battalion The Rifles. The battalion regularly entered the Nordic & Biathlon Championships known as "Exercise Spartan Hike",[3] held in Serre Chevalier, France each year. They were Territorial Army and 5th Division Champions for three years running between 2003 and 2005.[4]


A soldier from the Rifle Volunteers in Iraq, 2004.

In 1999 a number of individuals were mobilised from The Rifle Volunteers to join 2nd Battalion The Royal Green Jackets on their Kosovo tour returning in early 2000.[5]

The first major deployment from The Rifle Volunteers was in November 2003 when 55 soldiers were deployed to the Kabul, Afghanistan.[6] Attached to C 'Tavolato' Company of 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles. On 28 January 2004 Private Jonathan Kitulagoda was killed by a suicide bomber whilst on a routine patrol.[7]

In April 2004 a composite company of the regiment (Salamanca Company) was dispatched to Basra, Iraq. The company was attached to the 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment, as part of 1 Mechanised Brigade, within the Multi-National Division (South East). Salamanca Company distinguished itself; Sergeant Peter 'Stooley' Poole-Reeves was awarded a Mention in Dispatches for his actions during a contact in which he was shot in the chest plate of his body armour. Additionally Sergeant Kevin Pinnell and Private Matthew Gavin were awarded Joint Commander's Commendations.[8] The company returned home at the end of October. The battalion was part of 43 (Wessex) Brigade.[9]

Amalgamation into The Rifles

On 24 November 2005, it was announced by the Ministry of Defence that the battalion would be amalgamated with other units into a new large regiment to be called The Rifles. To that effect on 1 February 2007, the regiment became 6th Battalion, The Rifles. The merger reunited this multi-regimental battalion with the other territorial and regular units of The Light Infantry, the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, and the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment.[10]


  1. ^ "The 1st Rifle Volunteers". Devon Heritage. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  2. ^ "The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment", Pen & Sword Books Ltd. Published 2007
  3. ^ "Spatan Hike". Army Winter Sports Association. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  4. ^ "The Regimental Journal". The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment and The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry. Vol 1 No 7. 2005
  5. ^ "The Regimental Journal" The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. Vol 1 No 2. 2000
  6. ^ "The Regimental Journal" The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. Vol 1 No 6. 2004
  7. ^ "UK forces: operations in Afghanistan: Death of Private Jonathan Kitulagoda". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2018.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ "The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. Pen & Sword Books Ltd. Published 2007
  9. ^ Ripley, Tim. "Operation Telic 4 (May to Nov 2004) (8,900 troops)" (PDF). Operation Telic. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  10. ^ "History of the Light Infantry". Retrieved 26 April 2014.

External links

  • Regimental website (Ministry of Defence)

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