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THE RAJPUTANA RIFLES: THE OLDEST RIFLES REGIMENT COMPLETES 200 YEARS OF SERVICE WITH INDIAN ARMY

Discussion in 'Military History' started by NS52, Oct 26, 2018.

  1. NS52

    NS52 MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    THE RAJPUTANA RIFLES: THE OLDEST RIFLES REGIMENT COMPLETES 200 YEARS OF SERVICE WITH INDIAN ARMY

    By

    Col Dr Narendar Singh,

    The first five Battalions of The Rajputana Rifles Completes year of Service with Indian Army. Ist Battalion Rajputana Rifles is present day 3 GUARDS while the other 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Battlion the Rajputana Rifles are completing 200 yrears.

    The regiment's origins lie in the 18th century when the East India Company recruited Rajputs to protect its operations. The impressive performance of French local units which were composed of local recruits mixed with French officers, helped the East India Comapny to decide that it needed to do something similar. In January 1775, it raised its first local infantry units which included the 5th Battalion, Bombay Sepoys, which is the oldest rifle regiment of the Indian Army. The 5th Battalion was successively redesignated as 9th Battalion Bombay Sepoys in 1778; 2nd Battalion, 2nd Regiment of Bombay Native Infantry in 1796; 4th Regiment of Bombay Native Infantry in 1824, and then 4th Regiment Native Infantry (Rifle Corps) in 1881.It thus became the first rifle regiment of the British Indian Army. In 1899 the battalion was once more renamed as 4th Regiment (1st Battalion Rifle Corps) Bombay Infantry and again in 1901 as 4th Bombay Rifles.

    In Kitcheners 1903 reorganisation of the Indian Army, 4th Bombay Rifles became 104th Wellesley’s Rifles, to commemorate the fact that the regiment had been commanded in 1800 by Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington). In the further re-organisation in 1921, six regiments were brought together to form six battalions of the 6th Rajputana Rifles Regiment:

    · 1st Battalion – 104th Wellesley’s Rifles

    · 2nd Battalion – 120 Rajputana Infantry

    · 3rd Battalion – 122 Rajputana Infantry

    · 4th Battalion – 123 Outram’s Rifles

    · 5th Battalion – 125 Napier’s Rifles

    · 10th (Training) Battalion – 13th Rajputs (The Shekhawati Regiment).

    In 1945 the regiments of the British Indian Army dropped the numeral in their titles and so the Rajputana Rifles assumed its current name. In 1947 after the partition of India the regiment was allocated to the newly formed Indian Army. In 1949, the 1st battalion was transferred to the newly raised Brigade of The Guards, becoming the 3rd battalion, Brigade of the Guards.

    Regimental War Memorial

    A memorial to the Rajputana Rifles in the form of a marble Chhatri (canopy) was constructed in 1925 at Nasirabad after formation of Sixth Rajputana Rifle Group in 1921/22. This was to commemorate 2,058 of all ranks of the regiment who had been killed during World War I. The 20-foot high memorial is a Makrana marble dome supported by six pillars. Each pillar represented a battalion of the Rajputana Rifle Group and was engraved with the crest of the battalion. A complete roll of honour was buried beneath a central plaque on which was engraved 23 battle honours earned by the regiment during the war. The memorial was unveiled at Nasirabad on 28 January 1927 by Lieutenant General Sir John Shea, KCB, KCNG, DSO, the then Adjutant General of India.

    The memorial wassubsequentyly shifted to Delhi Cantt and is presently located at Rajputana Rifle Regimental Centre.

    Dress of The Regiment

    The dress of the regiment had emerged from the concept of the Rifle Battalions. The Rifle Battalions originally wore rifle green and red or dark green facings according to whether they adopted the dress and customs of King's Royal Rifle Corps (K.R.R.) or the Rifles Brigade. The Bombay Rifle Regiments wore rifle green with the red facings as worn by the King's Royal Rifle Corps and the 2nd and 5th Gurkha Rifles adopted the same. However, the other Gurkha Rifles wore dark green facings. In the olden days, the colours of an infantry battalion were necessary for rallying the soldiers, but the rifle Battalions did not fight shoulder to shoulder and had greater marching speed of 140 paces a minute and hence did not need such rallying point. The Rifleman like the ‘Light Infantryman’ was trained to skirmish and to carry out these rapid lightning movements, which, otherwise in cavalry only Hussar's did. For this reason, the neophyte Rifle Battalion's dress was based on that of Hussar's which was red. However, the red dress was given up in favour of dark green dress. The wearing of black buttons and badges on the dark green dress was a great honour bestowed on the Rifle Regiment

    Maltese Cross
    Since the advent of Christianity, the Cross has been one of the principals consigns of the military order and was embroidered knight's mantlets, banners and, in certain cases, Coats of Arms. One with cleft arms resulted in an eight-pointed cross of the Knight of The Order of St John when the Turks attacked Jerusalem. These knights fought against them but could not persist against them and so had to flee to Malta. During time they came to be known as the Knights of Malta. The eight-pointed cross was thus called the Maltese Cross. The Knights of Malta adopted the Maltese Cross and put it on their Coat of Arms.

    In 1829, during the days of King George IV, the Royal Hussars had a change of dress. The Royal Hussars adopted the Maltese Cross in their Uniform. The Royal Hussars were also honoured by the presentation of the Prussian Eagle to be embroidered upon their uniform. This Eagle was placed in the centre of the Maltese Cross. The Prussian Eagle was replaced in 1832 by the Royal Insignia of a lion with a crown. As already mentioned earlier, the King's Royal Rifles Corps adopted a uniform based on the Hussars. So, the Maltese Cross was inherited by the Rifle Regiments which adopted the Cross as a part of the Regimental Dress.

    In 1841, the 4th Bombay Native Infantry (Wellesley’s) had the distinction of being the first battalion to be converted into a Rifle Regiment. In the centre of the Maltese Cross, IV was inscribed. In 1889 it was replaced by B.R.R. (Bombay Rifle Regiment). In 1905 the lettering was replaced by bugle, cord, knot and crown. However, after independence the word Rajputana Rifles was engraved on the bugle and the crown was replaced by the crossed Rajput Kattars (daggers).

    Cap badge
    In 1889 some selected battalions from the Presidency Armies were designated as the Rifle Regiments. From this period, the Cap Badge of the Rajputana Rifles evolved.

    The first badge was black in colour with a bugle and a crown and had RR (for Rifle Regiment) written on it. In 1903 a major reorganization took place in the Indian Army. The cap badge design was retained by the regiment, however, the words RR, standing for Rifle Regiment, were replaced by the respective battalion numbers. In the 1921/22 period, the 6th Group of the Rajputana Rifles was formed. It was decided that the same cap badge should be adopted for the new group and only the numbers of the battalions were to be replaced by the abbreviations RR standing for the Rajputana Rifles which was the result of the combination of the Rajputana Infantry and the Rifle Regiment.

    The present-day Regimental Crest has a Maltese Cross in between the wreathe and the crossed Katar forming the border of the Regimental Crest. The Maltese Cross is also presented in all the pouch belts and the belt worn with ceremonial and working dress. It has been a matter of pride that the olive-green dress of the Regiment was adopted in the 1980s as the dress of the Indian Army.

    Buttons
    In the Regiment, black "Horn" buttons were permitted to be worn by Havildars and above. These buttons were replacements for the shining brass buttons worn by the line infantry. As the rifleman fought in a line and as a skirmish, the brass buttons were replaced to enhance the concealment and camouflage. Also, the loss of the buttons and the subsequent loss of ammunition crippled the fighting capabilities of the Rifleman.

    The need to have a button that could be changed in case of loss led to usage of black buttons. The consideration of an undone button as an offence arose from this, as an undone button could lead to loss of ammunition and also give away the soldier's location to the enemy. However, this historical point of view underwent changes due to the association of the Regiment with the Hussars. Besides the flat horn buttons worn on the working dress, the regiment adopted the "Globular Ball" buttons on the Service and the Mess dresses where five such buttons are in the front, the epaulettes and the pockets being secured by the normal flat horn buttons. The second button from the top in the front was a flat horn button.

    There are some other buttons of the Regiment also. The miniature horn buttons are worn on either side of the Kat Service Dress to hold chin strap in Place, two are worn in front of the "Cap line’ below the cherry and one each on the gorget patches worn by the officers of the rank of colonel and above. All the Regimental buttons have a crossed Katar and the bugle present on them. The custom of usage is that the buttons are always black and should only be stitched by the usage of black thread.

    Lanyard
    A lanyard is a short cord attached to something to enable it to be handled or secured. In the case of the Regimental Lanyard it is the whistle which must be secured. Therefore, the wearing of a lanyard without a whistle is considered as improper. The Regimental Lanyard is 24 inches long including the hook. It is made of black cotton-cum-woollen material and has three black knots. The first knot is fitted one inch below the loop holding the hook, the other being the runners showing from under the armpit and the other in between the two.

    The lanyard is worn on the left shoulder to form a loop which should encircle the sleeves where it joins the shoulder, being drawn tight in a slip knot under the armpits. The whistle end is tucked into the left breast pocket at the extreme end allowing it to form a circular loop. This loop does not hang lower than the seam of the breast pocket and the hook is not to be visible when worn.

    The lanyard is supposed to be worn on all forms of uniform except summer and winter mess dresses and when jersey pullover is worn. In the mess dress, a lanyard was felt as being redundant as a whistle with a pouch belt was already being worn. As regimental buttons, the lanyards are permitted in our regiment to be worn only down to Havildars, as the platoon Havildar was considered the lowest rank to exercise effective command which needed a whistle.

    The officers of the Regimental Rifles Regimental Centre have been accorded the distinction of wearing a red knot with two zigzag golden stripes on it closest to the whistle of their black lanyard. This distinction was conferred upon the Regiment by General (Later Field Marshal) K.M. Cariappa, OBE, Commander-in-Chief who was attending the memorable dinner given to Field Marshal Sir William Slim, Chief of Imperial General Staff in the Officers Mess on 19 October 1947 just before his departure to London. Just before the conclusion of the party General Cariappa said:

    "As this is a unique occasion in the history of the Indian Army when the Chief of Imperial General Staff who belonged to the Indian Army, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, myself, the Army Commanders, four Principal Staff Officers and many other high ranking officers have dined together in your Regimental Mess, I authorize you as a token of distinction to wear red and gold on the knot closest to the whistle of your lanyards to remind you of the honour of this occasion".

    The Regimental Cane
    The original Regimental Cane is 30 inches long and made of black ebony, or cane covered with black leather, with a silver knot bearing the Regimental Crest. The cane has got a three (3) inch long ferrule. Other ranks Canes have a white metal instead of silver.

    The cane carried by officers and Junior Commissioned Officers has undergone changes. The cane is thin and cylindrical in shape. It is two feet long and is ½ inch in diameter. At one end two inches long and having the Regimental Crest while at the rear end, it is covered by the plate one inch long. The silver knob is two inches.

    Badges of Rank
    Chevrons worn by the Non-Commissioned Officers are black with scarlet backing. The badges worn on the wrist of Company and Battalion Havildar Majors and Battalion Quarter Master Havildar are in black with scarlet facings. The wrist bands are in black letter. The Rajputana Rifles NCO only wears the Chevrons on the sleeves of the right arm.

    Originally, the Rajputana Rifles had black facings for black badges of ranks. However, after the First Sikh War ended in 1847 the Wellesley's Own moved to Karachi and it was at Karachi that the Regiment had the opportunity to train along with the 60th Rifles. The Scarlet facings worn by the Rifles fancied Major Honner, the Commanding Officer of Wellesley's, so he asked for the sanction for allowing Wellesley's to wear scarlet facings. He said, "The black facings of the 4th Native Infantry of Rifle Corps, affording little or no contrast to Rifle Green Jacket give the man the most unfavourable and heavy look." As the clothing department had no objection, the sanction was granted in 1848.

    On field service, when slips on sleeves of badges of ranks are worn by officers and Junior Commissioned Officers, these are embroidered in black. The red backing is not used.

    In peace stations, black metal badges of ranks are worn on scarlet backings and are worn by both the officers and the Junior Commissioned Officers. The shoulder titles in black metal with scarlet backing are also worn. These shoulder titles "RAJ RIF" are being replaced with Hindi version.

    On Mess Dresses, the miniature badges of rank have been replaced by the normal badges.

    Collar badges
    These are emblems worn on the collar to indicate the wearer's regiment or corps, and originated from the time when shoulder titles as commonly understood at present were not worn. Thus on the mess and service dresses collar badges are worn consisting of the Regimental Badges of a small size in silver, with the mouth piece of the bugle turned inwards.

    Cross Belt or the Pouch Belt
    Wellesley's took to the Cross Belt on conversion to Rifles in 1841 and Out ram's and Napier's followed on their conversion in 1890. For then up to 1927, the belt underwent three different designs. The first had a whistle attached to the lion's face and the Battle Honours were worn on leather on the Pouch Belt. The second was introduced in 1905. It had the whistle chain attached to the bugle and the Battle Honours of 104th, 123rd and 125th Rifles were placed on the breast ornaments. The third was adopted in 1927 which included all the Battle Honours of the Regiment on the breast ornament.

    The present-day design was adopted in 1950. The Pouch Belt's finish of fine smoothness was changed to coarse leather. This was due to lack of seal skins in India. And also to revive the original material worn by the Napier's who had followed the original belt presented to their Commanding Officer at the Battle of Meeanee by the Scinde Horse. The four principal Battle Honours in Kirkee, Meeanee, Alewal and Bushire were engraved upon it and only the Bugle without crossed swords was present.

    The belt is worn only by officers wearing mess or service dress on ceremonial occasions, or when service dress is worn in lieu of mess dress. A modified and simplified pattern of Cross Belt is authorized to be worn by the battalion havildar major, the band master and stick orderlies.

    The Sam Browne Belt
    The Regimental pattern of this belt differs to the extent from that worn by others. The belt is in black leather with white metal fittings. The width of the belt is two inches, with a two pronged white metal buckle 2 2⁄3 inches by 1¾ inches wide with a rectangular white metals buckle of the same size.

    The belt is worn by officers and Junior Commissioned Officers as laid down in orders from time to time. The custom of wearing only the lower portion has been abolished. This custom had, at one time, only been permitted in the Wellesley's, Outram's, and RAJ RIF Machine Gun Battalions. When entering the Officers Mess, the shoulder strap of the belt is removed. The Sam Browne belt has been phased out of service and is no more in use.

    Working Dress Belt
    The working dress belt was introduced in September 1969. It is of black leather with RAJ RIF Crest on a white metal plate of 7 cm by 6 cm in front having hooks underneath for attachment. The belt has four loops and two hooks for adjustments of increase and decrease in length. Two loops are secured on either side of the front plate while the other two secure the hooks on the side.

    Some Customs of Rifle Regiments
    During the eighteenth century the advent of the rifle, with its greater accuracy and longer range, suggested the necessity of a change in the tactics and training of the Infantry. Continental armies had not been slow to recognize this and had trained a special light corp. The British Army hesitated to recommend adequate action in this respect, and Governments were content, when the field was to be taken, to hire Hanoverian or Hessian mercenaries to carry out the duties of Skirmishers

    It was the custom, when sending a force on field service, to collect the "Flank Companies" (i.e. Grenadier or Light Companies) from several Battalions to form "Flank Battalions", which provided fine bodies of troops, but without special training in Light Infantry Duties. Furthermore, the procedure, though favoured by the Generals, was very unpopular with the battalion commanders whose units were thereby reduced, not only in strength, but also in efficiency.

    It needed the experience of the American War of Independence to drive home the necessity for specially trained light troops. The Americans were quick to realize that irregular and open formations were the best tactics for fighting over a wild and sparsely populated country, much of which was wooded. A large proportion of their men were marksmen armed with rifles which enabled them to pick off officers and sergeants. To counter the American tactics, light companies, many of them armed with rifles, were specially trained in all battalions on service there.

    It was gradually realized that firepower was of major importance; and one of the first orders issued after the return of the troops from the American War was to speed up the "Manual Exercise". To provide for the increased expenditure of ammunition entailed by this, orders were issued for men armed with the rifle to wear a belt over the left shoulder to provide a second pouch for cartridges. Thus, originated the "pouch belt" now worn by officers in review order.

    Training in irregular tactics met with fierce opposition, particularly from the senior officers and from those who had not served in the American War; and it was not until 1797 that the 5th Battalion 60th Royal American Regiment (not the 60th Rifles) was organized as the first rifle corps in the British Army. One of the staunchest advocates of the new training was General Sir John Moore, who had served in America as a colonel. In 1803 at Shorncliffe Camp he trained the battalions which won such fame in the Peninsular War as the "Light Division".

    The riflemen, like the light infantryman, were trained to skirmish; and also to carry out those rapid movements which, in the cavalry, would have been the role of the Hussars. For this reason, officers of the rifle corps were, in the early days, dressed in a uniform modelled on that of the Hussars. It still retained the "Cap Lines", the globular buttons, the Straight Spurs in Mess Dress and the Charger's "Throat Plume". For the same reason rifle regiments march in faster than the infantry of the line 140 steps per minute.

    To render the men inconspicuous when taking advantage of cover, the red coat was discarded in favour of a green one, green being the recognized uniform of foresters throughout Europe in those days.

    As orders could not be given verbally to men in extended order, the forester's bugle horn was adopted to control movements.

    A puggri badge lay on the pouch of the pouch–belt. The reason for the introduction on the pouch-belt of the Maltese Cross; it is probably of Hanoverian origin

    To enable the sergeants to control their divisions, they wore a whistle and chain, which at one time was the only mark to distinguish them from the rank and file. This is commemorated by the silver whistle and chain worn in Review Order by the Havaldars.

    To enable the sergeants to control their divisions, they wore a whistle and chain, which at one time was the only mark to distinguish them from the rank and file. This is commemorated by the silver whistle and chain worn in Review Order by the Havaldars.

    The green coat remained the field service dress till about the middle of the nineteenth century. It was in green that riflemen fought at the Siege of Multan in 1949. Later when green was superseded by Khaki for field service, and the shako by the puggri, green gaiters, or puttees, and green puggris were worn as a distinguishing mark, but were worn only in review Order. The distinctive green colour was replaced by the adoption of green hosetops in Drill and Field Service Order.

    In the early days, the rifleman, besides his rifle, carried a sword which, like a bayonet, could be fixed to the rifle.

    In the days of close-order fighting, the flanks, being the danger-points, were guarded by picked troops and were regarded as the posts of honour. So, in the battalions, the grenadier and light companies, composed of picked men, fell in on the flanks of the battalion and were known as the "flank companies". It is for this reason that rifle regiments on review parades are accorded the honour of falling in on the extreme left of the line.

    When fighting in extended order the Regimental Colour became exposed and were therefore discarded, the Rifleman being taught that his rifle took the place of Colours to be guarded with his life. Therefore recruits, when taking the oath on attestation, lay their hand on and salute piled rifles.

    Throughout his training the Rifleman was taught to live up to the Rifle motto "Celer et Audax" and always to be on the alert. For this reason, the order "Attention" was deemed superfluous.
     

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