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Rangerman

My Grandfather and Great Uncle both served with The Rangers (12th London) and went to France with them on 24th December 1914.   Since I inherited my Grandfather's medals I have taken a particular interest in the Battalion over a number of years. However one question has always remained unanswered.

How did it came to be called "The Rangers"? Does anyone out there know? 

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Moonraker

Welcome, Rangerman.

 

Well, there I was thinking that a quick Google would provide the answer!  Not so, and after looking at eight websites I haven't spotted one.

 

This history

 

tells us that

 

"The enthusiasm for the Volunteer movement following an invasion scare in 1859 saw the creation of many Rifle Volunteer Corps composed of part-time soldiers eager to supplement the Regular British Army in time of need.[1] One such unit was the Central London Rifle Rangers formed in 1859 at Gray's Inn, London, from members of the legal profession. It officially came into existence on 30 April 1860 and was numbered as the 40th Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps."

 

All I can think of was that "Rangers" was a fanciful title dreamt up by the founders.  But there are others more expert than I who can better advise.

 

BTW my Googling did lead to a number of threads here on the GWF that give more information about the unit.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Rangerman

Thanks for the response. However, unless I missed it, I still couldn't see why they incorporated the word "Rangers"!

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Moonraker

In the absence of better-informed suggestions, I can only repeat "All I can think of was that "Rangers" was a fanciful title dreamt up by the founders".

 

I've come across a few references to Volunteer units adopting flamboyant uniforms, not least headgear, which did not always go down well with Regulars. So opting for a fancy/fanciful title would not be unusual. Victorian cycling clubs did the same (and what about Victorian football clubs, not that I know anything of them). "Rangers" would have had a nice ring to it, suggesting soldiers operating independently and in terrain and environments that were inaccessible to regular forces (as with the celebrated Rogers' Rangers, the American force attached to the British Army during the Seven Years War). As I say, fanciful, given that the 12th was based in central London!

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FROGSMILE

To say that it makes me wince to copy the following extract from the MOD website is an understatement of the highest order, but in the context of this thread and Moonraker’s comments I hope that it might be useful (the subtext is - we left Iraq with our tails between our legs, but don’t worry US, from now on we’re going to speak your language, and hang on to your shirttails). It relates to the imminent recreation of British Army Ranger units in their original context for the first time since the Anglo/US war of 1812: 

 

“The Rangers draw their name from an elite unit that fought in the British Army in the 18th Century in North America, using irregular tactics. The British Army shares this heritage with US Special Operations Forces, whose 75th Ranger Regiment traces its lineage back to the same grouping. In addition, our Ranger Regiment draws on the proud tradition of British Army units and formations honed for unconventional operations such as the Special Service Brigades, the Raiding Support Regiment, V-Force, the Chindits and T-Force during World War Two.

 

Ranger units emerged from North American colonial Scout companies. They first saw action during the French and Indian War (1754-63) with the most famous being Rogers’ Rangers. It was this unit’s founder, Robert Rogers, who wrote the original 28 Rules of Ranging. Ranger units were theatre-level assets that specialised in unconventional warfare (such as ranging the forests).

 

They were able to operate independently and in terrain and environments that were inaccessible to regular forces. They could be used as skirmishers on the battlefield but were better employed in a deep reconnaissance role and to secure routes.

Ranger units were used by both sides during the American War of Independence (1775-83) with Rogers’ Rangers evolving into the Queen’s Rangers, which then became a British Army regiment. After the loss of the North American colonies, the British Army lacked a forested frontier where it could usefully employ a ranger unit and the capability ceased to exist in its pure form.

 

Not long after, in 1800, the Experimental Rifle Corps was created at Shorncliffe Barracks to systemise into doctrine the light infantry experience gained in North America. This was not ranging in the pure sense, rather a narrower derivative of their battlefield role. One of the first rifle units was a battalion of the Royal American Regiment and it is quite possible that amongst its recruits were men who had previously served as a Ranger.

 

As time moved on there were four further British Army regiments that incorporated the term ‘ranger’ into their titles: Central London Rangers; The Connaught Rangers; The Royal Irish Rangers; and The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry. ‘Ranger’ is still used to describe a soldier of the Royal Irish Regiment. The use of the term ranger did not mean they had a specialist ranger role, or that they used unconventional tactics.

 

In the United States ranger units continued to be employed by the military during the nineteenth century. By the early twentieth century ranger units no longer existed in the US Army. In 1942 ranger battalions were raised and specifically modelled upon the British Army’s Commando units. The current 75th Ranger Regiment is a direct descendent of these World War Two units. It references Rogers’ original 28 Rules of Ranging.

 

While the new Rangers might not have to abide by the original 28 Rules of Ranging – including turning up to evening parade with a ‘firelock, sixty rounds of powder and ball, and a hatchet,’ they will be self-sufficient and highly resourceful, just like the Rangers of the past.”

 

NB.  Weep all you regiments of the line and Foot Guards, your generals do not deserve you.  You are being treated shamefully, bypassed on the altar of expediency and faux ‘modernity’.  It is akin to creating a premier league, as in football, and we all know what that resulted in...

 

 

 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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  • 2 weeks later...
mikebriggs

The 17th (Service) Battalion Sherwood Foresters, Notts and Derb Regiment were known as the Welbeck Rangers. I can't find any reference as to why other than it was the 'desire' of the recruiting committee that they were referred to as that, but then again the 16th were known as the Chatsworth Rifles, which was probably down to the influence of the Duke of Devonshire.

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FROGSMILE
3 hours ago, mikebriggs said:

The 17th (Service) Battalion Sherwood Foresters, Notts and Derb Regiment were known as the Welbeck Rangers. I can't find any reference as to why other than it was the 'desire' of the recruiting committee that they were referred to as that, but then again the 16th were known as the Chatsworth Rifles, which was probably down to the influence of the Duke of Devonshire.

Yes I believe the term Rangers was used by more auxiliary units than regulars (the Connaught’s being the only example of the latter) and I think that reflects the short lived popularity of the designation in the 18th Century.  For a brief period it seemed likely to be added to the Grenadiers, Fusiliers and Light Infantry as yet another category of infantry.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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