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Last Updated 28-Jan-2011

Robin Hood Rifles Cap Badge circa 1859


The Robin Hood Rifles can trace their beginnings to the Spring of 1859 when a few friends decided to form a rifle club. An extract from an account by Captain J G Simpkins in 1876 relates that "When in the spring of 1859, the spirit of alarm or resentment, caused by the addresses of the Colonels of the French Army to the late Napoleon, spreading rapidly through the country, resulted in the formation of a volunteer corps throughout England and Scotland. I, seeing nothing officially was being done in Nottingham and having some knowledge of drill and military organisation, suggested to a few friends that we should unite and form a rifle club, so that in the event of a corps being formed we might be in a sufficient state of efficiency to form a nucleus. At a meeting of Magistrates and Deputy Lieutenants, His Grace The Duke of Newcastle, the then Lord Lieutenant with whom I had communicated, said, if such were formed the name it should bear, whether that of "Robin Hood Rifles" or "Rangers", he thought should be one of local or county association. This was the first public meeting or suggestion of the name.

The Robin Hood Rifles parading on Nottingham Castle Green c1860

Officer c1868

The first parade of the 1st Nottinghamshire Volunteer Rifle Corps was held on Nottingham Castle Green in May 1859 when the nominal roll consisted of 6 names. On 6 August 1859 there were over 400 Robin Hood Volunteers when they paraded and were inspected by the Duke of Newcastle on the Castle Green. It was at this parade that the Mayoress of Notingham bestowed the name "Robin Hood Rifles" on the Battalion.

In 1860 and 1864 the Robin Hoods paraded for Reviews in Hyde Park. In 1863 the Robin Hood Rifles represented England in a shooting contest with Australia. On 1st July 1876 when they were inspected by Queen Victoria, they were spoken of 'as the finest Regiment on parade' and the then Duke of Cambridge remarked that "he would lead the Regiment anywhere". Again in 1881 the Queen saw them when they marched past her in Review at Windsor Castle.

W H Leek in his new khaki overseas kit before going to South Africa

The Foreign Service Company, 1st Nottinghamshire (Robin Hoods) Volunteer Battalion Section 1900

Click on image to see larger picture


On 11 October 1899, War was declared against the Boers in South Africa and many Regiments were sent out to take part in the Campaign. Initially, the British Army suffered some quite humiliating reverses at the hands of the Boers and as a result it was necessary to provide a considerable number of reinforcements. On the 18 December the War Office committed the Volunteer Forces and a special order calling for volunteers from the Militia, a strong force from the Yeomanry and a contingent of carefully selected officers and other ranks of Rifle Volunteer Corps was promulgated on 2 January 1900. The contingents from the Rifle Volunteer Corps were to be formed as Service Companies, each of a strengtth of 114, including four officers and were to be attached to regular battalions at the front to make up for such of their companies that had been converted into Mounted Infantry.

In response to this order the Robin Hoods immediately had 200 men volunteer for service in South Africa. Some 30 men led by Captain Turner Lee were chosen as the contingent from the Robin Hoods and those were sent to the Depot in Derby and became part of the 1st Volunteer Service Company Sherwood Foresters.

They sailed on the "Avondale Castle" from Southampton on the 24 February 1900 and upon arrival in South Africa were sent first to a place called Norval's Pont, where they assisted in repairing a bridge which had been destroyed by the Boers. After a few days they moved to Edenburg before joining up with the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters. The contigent returned to England on the "Tagus", arriving in Southampton on 28 April 1901. As a result of the War the recruits flocked to join and the Robin Hoods soon expanded to form 2 battalions. Other contigents were then sent out to reinforce the Sherwood Foresters as the War went on.

Robin Hoods Cap Badge

In 1908, another review of the Armed Forces saw the forming of the Territorial Force and the Robin Hoods were officially linked with and became a battalion of the Sherwood Foresters. They were numbered the 7th Battalion but were given special dispensation to continue using the title 'Robin Hoods'. The official title therefore was 1/7th (Robin Hoods) Battalion The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment). Having being integrated into the Sherwood Foresters, the Robin Hoods began a long and glorious service as a Territorial Battalion and on 4 August 1914 were mobilised on the outbreak of War

THE GREAT WAR 1914 -1918

Albert Ball VC 1/7th (Robin Hoods) Bn attached to the RFC Cpl Fred Greaves VC Capt C J Vickers VC

The 1/7th Battalion landed in France on 12 May 1915 and joined 139 Brigade of 46th Division. This Division was to earn undying fame and became famous for the Breaking of the Hindenburg Line in 1918, but they had a long, hard, dirty and expensive war before that time came. At Gommecourt on 1st July 1916 in what was termed a diversionary attack to draw the enemy from the Somme, the Robin Hoods went over the top with 627 men and only 90 returned.

On 19 September 1914 a second Battalion was formed at Nottingham and given the title 2/7th (Robin Hoods) Battalion The Sherwood Foresters Regiment. They joined 178 Brigade of 59th Division. In 1915 they received the call to action, however it was not to France but to Dublin in Ireland. They saw some bitter fighting before being recalled to England in January 1917. In February the moved to France and found themselves in some of the heaviest fighting of the War. Early in 1918 it was decided to reduce the Brigades from four to three battalions as a way of obtaining reinforcements for the 1st line battalions and on 16 February 1918 the 2/7th was disbanded.

In some forgotten corner of a foreign field..........

Click Here to read an article by J McGuiggan in Remembrance of the Men of the 2/7th (Robin Hoods) Battalion The Sherwood Foresters Regiment

Royal Engineers Badge


The end of the War saw the Robin Hoods training American Troops. In 1920 the Robin Hoods were again reorganised as Territorials and continued as such until 10 December 1936 when they were re-roled and became the 42nd (Robin Hoods, Sherwood Foresters) Anti Aircraft Battalion Royal Engineers and commenced training with four Searchlight Companies, which replaced its five Infantry Companies.

On 24 August 1939 the robin Hoods were mobilised and deployed over 96 Searchlight sites in Lincolnshire as part of the Fighter Defence Belt of Great Britain.




Belgian Croix De Guerre WW2

In August 1940 they were transferred to the Royal Artillery and became the 42nd (Robin Hoods, Sherwood Foresters) Searchlight Regiment RA. The Regiment covered an area of the coast from the Humber to Skegness and 50 miles inland. The Robin Hoods in 1944 were selected by 21st Army Group to take part in the Second Front moving through France to Belgium where they were deployed in the 'Antwerp Box' with 30 AAA Group 9th Air Defence Command US Army to set up the defence against the V1 rockets. By the end of March 1945 over 5307 V1's were launched against Antwerp and only 5.4% reached an area defined by a circle drawn 5 km in radius round the centre of the target. The Robin Hoods then moved up to the Rhine to defend the river crossings at Xanten, Rees, and Emmerlich. After VE Day the Robin Hoods moved to Hamburg as part of 101 AA Brigade to be employed as a Garrison Regiment with one of its first duties being the guarding of Ribbentrop after his capture.

As a result of the excellent work carried out by the Robin Hoods in the defence of Antwerp, the King of Belgium conferred upon the Regiment the Croix De Guerre as a mark of recognition by the Belgian people of the splendid efforts the Regiment had made on their behalf. To signify this award all members of the Regiment wore a small ribbon in the colours of the Croix De Guerre on the sleeve of their uniform.


After the War the British Army again reduced in size and the Robin Hoods were no exception. They reduced to cadre strength in 1946 but in 1947 were reconstituted as 557th Searchlight (Robin Hood, Foresters) Regiment RA. The years following resulted in various changes of title and Corps whilst still retaining that 'Golden Thread' of Robin Hoods leading back to 1859.

1948 - 557th (The Robin Hoods, Sherwood Foresters) Searchlight Regiment RA TA

1949 - 557th (The Robin Hoods, Sherwood Foresters) (Mixed) Light Anti Aircraft Regiment RA TA

1955 - 350 (The Robin Hoods, Foresters) Heavy Regiment RA TA

1961 - 350 (The Robin Hoods, Foresters) Squadron RE

1967 - The Robin Hoods (Territorial) Battalion Sherwood Foresters RE

1971 - "rerolled as Infantry" D (Robin Hood, Foresters) Company 3rd (Volunteers) Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment

1999 - On disbandment of 3 WFR (V) the Robin Hood affiliation discontinued until 2001 when the title was granted to 350 (Robin Hood) Squadron (Air Support) Royal Engineers (V)

The "Golden Thread" continues to be woven.

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