The Queen's
(Royal West Surrey) Regiment Re-enactment Society



The Surrey Rifles

 



 

 

 

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The Surrey Rifles


The rifle volunteer force was a citizen army of part-time rifle, artillery and engineer corps, created in 1859 following the increasing perceived threat of invasion by a European army. The movement continued to grow in poplarity throughout the late Victoian period, going through a series of reforms and eventually beoming the Territorial Army in 1908. This force still exists today as part of the Army Reserve.


The movement was very popular in Surrey, with 26 rifle corps being formed throughout the county.


Our society portrays the 13th Surrey Rifles - one of the corps raised in Guildford - who were based in the town centre, and trained at both the old Militia Barracks (which stood roughly where the shop 'New Look' now stands) and the Royal Grammer School. They attended a church service each Sunday at Holy Trinity in Guildford High Street.


The uniform of the 13th Surrey Rifles would have been very well recognised in the town - perhaps more so than that of the regular soldiers of the 2nd Queen's based down the road in nearby Stoughton.


In 1881, following the Childers Reforms, the county rifle volunteer corps were reorganised and amalgamated, the 13th Surrey RVC becoming part of the 4th Surrey Rifle Corps, Further re-organisation occured in 1883, when the 4th Surrey RC became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.


The rifle volunteers are a largely unknown, yet extremely important part of late Victorian military history, and we feel it is especially important to portray these civilian soldiers to give them the credit that they deserve.



The rifle volunteer movement was very popular in Surrey, but our focus here is with the 13th Surrey Rifles, who became part of the 4th Surrey Rifle Corps in 1881, which then became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment in 1883.