Last week soldiers from A Coy, 5th Battalion The Rifles (5 Rifles) passed a meticulous Fit For Role Inspection at Wellington Barracks, Central London. This was to establish whether they had reached the required standard of turnout and drill to conduct Public Duties in London and Windsor.
The Riflemen, who are normally based in Bulford, Wiltshire have been learning and rehearsing the series of complex routines and drill movements since returning from summer leave last month and this enabled them to deliver a confident disciplined parade demonstrating to the inspecting party that they were indeed fit for the role of undertaking ceremonial duties.
Something that Warrant Officer 1st Class Andrew Stokes the Garrison Sergeant Major for London District, part of the inspecting party was quick to acknowledge:
“Today we inspected 5 Rifles, who are coming into London to do public duties at what is a very busy time, and put them through their paces to make sure they were up to standard. I am pleased to say they were absolutely fantastic, they have clearly put a lot of hard work into their preparations."
Congratulations to the Battalion, it was a really good effort and we all look forward to seeing them mounting guard over the next few weeks WO1 (GSM) Andrew Stokes
It is a rare honour for a non-Household Division unit to perform this function and this is only the second time a Battalion from the RIFLES have had the privilege of carrying out these prestigious duties.
Speaking after the inspection Captain Daniel Smith, 2nd in Command, A Coy said: “It is a massive honour for the Battalion to undertake these duties as it not something that we usually get to do. It's significant both in terms of what the task is and the fact it has taken a lot of training to get to this point, where we are considered ready for the task. The soldiers are really looking forward to the duties and to receive the praise we did this morning will make a big difference to their confidence."
When asked whether the Battalion will bring some of the Rifles traditions with them while on ceremonial duty Daniel said that they would: “The Rifles are slightly unusual in that the Battalions do not carry colours as Guards Regiments would, instead battle honours are entrusted to each Riflemen who wears a representative selection of battle honours from all the forming regiments on the cross belt or belt badge.
Also the Bugle is central to Rifles tradition and as such it is a special honour for the Bugler to sound the Royal Salute - Rifles ‘sound’ rather than ‘play’ or ‘beat’ the various calls reflecting their history as light troops.“
The Riflemen will be carrying out duties at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, the Tower of London and Windsor Castle over the period 7 October to the 15 November and will also be involved in the state opening of parliament, a first for the Rifles.