A Rifleman is an infantry soldier armed with a long, rifled firearm. It is a military rank equivalent to Private. Although the rifleman role had its origin with 16th century hand cannoneers and 17th century musketeers, the term originated in the 18th century with the introduction of the rifled musket. By the mid-19th century, entire regiments of riflemen were formed and became the mainstay of all standard infantry. Rifleman became a term for any common infantryman. From their inception British Rifle Regiments were distinguished by a dark green dress with blackened buttons, black leather equipment, and sombre facing colours designed for concealment. This has been retained to the present day for those British units that still carry on the traditions of the riflemen. Their most famous weapon was the Baker rifle (officially known as the Pattern 1800 Infantry Rifle), which in the hands of the elite 95th Regiment and the light companies of the 60th Regiment and the Kings German Legion gained fame in the Peninsular War against Napoleonic France.
- 60th rifles/King's Royal Rifle Corps
- 95th Rifles/The Rifle Brigade
- Royal Ulster Rifles
- Royal Green Jackets
- The Rifles
- Royal Gurkha Rifles
- Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
During the Siege of Delhi the 8th (Sirmoor) Local Battalion along with the 60th Rifles defended Hindu Rao's House during which a strong bond developed. After the rebellion, the 60th Rifles pressed for the Sirmoor Battalion to become a rifle regiment. This honour was granted to them the following year (1858) when the Battalion was renamed the Sirmoor Rifle Regiment. Later all British Army Gurkha regiments were designated rifle regiments a nomenclature maintained to this day with the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
The rank of Rifleman instead of Private was officially introduced in 1923.
References / notes
- Rifleman. Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. Accessed 21 April, 2017.
Glossary of words and phrases
The above term is listed in our glossary of words and phrases of the Armed Forces of Great Britain during the Great War. Included are trench slang, service terms, expressions in everyday use, nicknames, the titles and origins of British and Commonwealth Regiments, and warfare in general. These words and phrases are contemporary to the war, which is reflected in the language used. They have been transcribed from three primary sources (see Contents). Feel free to expand upon and improve this content.
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