Timeline period - 1995
1995 - The RGBW "Beds In".
After amalgamation the Regiment underwent a period of intensive training at Catterick in preparation for the busy life of a modern Infantry Regiment. By 1995 they were in Bosnia, then moving to Cyprus where they became the resident Battalion with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force. During this time they posted a Company to the Falkland Islands as part of the Garrison there.
In 1997 they moved to Colchester to act as the Air Mobile Battalion, but life, of course, was not static. During this time, they had a short tour in South Armagh and also posted a Company to Kosovo. This was followed with a two year tour in Northern Ireland at Ballykinler as one of the permanent Battalions in Northern Ireland.
Picture: Inspection by H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel-in-Chief, and Lieutenant Colonel Davidson-Houston.
2006 - Afghanistan
The last overseas action of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry saw it carry out a six-month tour in Afghanistan.
The Battalion were warned for an operational tour to Bosnia in January 2005. However, in April this was changed to Afghanistan. Despite the new operational focus, the Battalion continued to perform Public Duties in London until relieved in June 2005.
An intense training period followed during the summer as they completed a rapid move to Chester. The Battalion conducted a considerable amount of advanced training for the tour, with every soldier being capable of calling in aircraft on Close Air Support (CAS). In preparation for the planned tour of Afghanistan, many received language training to speak in Dari, Farsi or even Pashtun. They were also intensively trained in modern first aid techniques.
The Battalion also had a most successful sporting year, the 'Blue Ribbon' event being in Rugby Football when they won the Army Cup by defeating the Royal Scots.
The RGBWLI was deployed to Afghanistan from mid- September as the UK Afghanistan Roulement Infantry Battalion, itself part of the 10,000 strong International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF). RGBWLI rapidly began to assert themselves on all operational fronts: patrolling where no one else could or would, engaging robustly with the warlords; and actively seeking the enemy insurgents.
Sadly one of the special 6-man patrols was ambushed resulting in the death of Lance-Corporal Steven Sherwood and the serious wounding of Captain Cay and Corporal Dickens. The quick thinking and bravery of the patrol second-in-command and the remainder of the patrol in getting their comrades to the Battalion Aid Post, despite being wounded themselves, ultimately saved life that day. Also during the tour, Lance-Corporal Peter Craddock was killed in a road traffic accident.
In Kabul the Battalion's soldiers were again in the front line, most notably in dealing with a double suicide bombing which saw their professionalism and training come to the fore. The Battalion's actions that day allowed command and control to be brought to a chaotic situation; this won much admiration from their multi-national partners and the local Afghan community.
Picture: RGBW patrol.
2007 - Formation of The Rifles
After the return of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry to Chester in April 2006 from their successful operational tour in Northern Afghanistan, their main task was to prepare for the formation of the new Regiment, The Rifles, on 1st February 2007. A number of soldiers transferred to the other regiments that make up The Rifles, and the balance moved to Catterick to merge with The Devon and Dorset Light Infantry (1 DDLI) to form 1st Battalion, The Rifles.
As part of this journey to become The Rifles, the RGBWLI exercised their Freedom rights in October through the cities and towns in the regimental area, which had bestowed these Freedoms. An element of sadness was mixed with pride, judging by the reception that the local community gave to serving and retired members of the Regiment, together with members of the Territorial Army and Army Cadets. These marches culminated in a splendid march through Windsor, followed by a service in St George's Chapel, and a Reception for 700 in Windsor Castle. The Regiment was honoured by the presence of both the Colonel-in-Chief and Deputy Colonel-in-Chief.
On the formation of The Rifles on 1st February, 2007 our county regiment became part of the largest Infantry Regiment in the British Army.
The locations and roles of the five regular Battalions are: Chepstow as a commando battalion; Bulford as a mechanised battalion; Edinburgh in the light role with mountain warfare focus; Ballykinler in the light role; and Paderborn as armoured infantry.
Picture: The cap badge of The Rifles.