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Rifle Flank companies?

Here is a little question for you from my ongoing series "Eddie asks the obvious"!

I have been reading "Bugler and Officer of the Rifles" - familiar to many of you I am sure.
Bill Green tells us that when he was appointed Bugler there were "two Buglers to each company and three to the two flank companies"

OK - I am familiar with the Line having Flank companies in terms of Grenadiers and Lights but perhaps to show my ignorance - I didn't know that Rifle battalions had designated flank companies -

Did such companies have a special status or function ?

Why did they merit 3 Buglers ?

Did Light Infantry Regiments also follow this practice?

How were such Flank companies distinguished from the other companies  -if at all?

There you go then.........
Ben Townsend

No such thing as a futile question Eddie.
 I suspect that in this case the emphasis on flank companies is a red herring, and simply refers to the coys situated on either flank when the battalion is drawn up in line. Mainly because I haven't seen any other reference  to such a specific designation. There is nothing we have come across to indicate that the Rifle regiments had flank companies with signifiers (dress, weapons, plumes, name) in the way that line battalions did. French light infantry did of course, and magnificent they were too.
As to why the extra buglers were deposited there, you could have a look at the way the Officers are placed in this situation (battalion in line), after all, they are the ones who need a bugler close to them for the transmission of orders. (Blakey will able to supply you with a diagram if you can't find one)
Just for you: imagine the discombobulation of an officer without his bugle-man.  q3

Discombobulation for chrissake??

Just a mo - off to get a dictionary ........
Bloody gennelman rankers

Couldn't even find that word in my dictionary so googled it :

" an embarrassing feeling that leaves a person confused "

Thanks Ben!

Anyway - I can appreciate that perhaps "Flank companies" in terms of the Rifles is merely a positional appellation for No. 1 (Right Flank) company and No.10  (Left Flank) company  and as such may imply no special status. It is odd however that Green should make particular mention of them if they are no different from other companies.
(The right flank is of course the position of seniority and most honour - maybe the senior Captain had that company ? Even today the Guards have Queens Company in the Grenadiers and Prince of Wales company in the Welsh which are composed of the tallest blokes and usually occupy the right flank on parade in the traditional position of the Grenadier company)

As to extra Buglers in the Flank coys.  - Green tells us there were 22 in total - which as I understand it is the standard establishment for Infantry battalions - 2 drummers per each of the 10 coys and generally 2 more as Fifers attached to the Grenadier coy. - 22. This could explain those 2 extra Buglers bringing the number up to establishment strength.
Since the Rifles have no colours they would also not have had need for young Gentlemen as Ensigns so perhaps they did put an extra Officer in the Flank companies with an extra Bugler??

Just a few thoughts
Paul Durrant

I think we can now officially designate you as the 'Horn' research monkey! Welcome to the troop!

One thought. As one of it's roles, rifle companies would have to march forward and extend across a front, the recommended use of such manoeuvre is for half to go forward and half to hold back in reserve - ie, splitting the company (or whatever the designated number is) in two. That may need an increase in horns... but why 3?


btw Eddie, you now have access to the members only research section, happy reading!

iain wrote:
btw Eddie, you now have access to the members only research section, happy reading!


Discovered that last night!! Oh the joy!

Its like that bit in "Santa Claus the movie" where a huge warehouse is stacked to the roof with shiny new toys! You Elves have certainly been busy!

Don't disturb me till next Spring. Door slams......
Ben Townsend

More like the warehouse they stow the Ark in at the end of Raiders, where it disappears into dusty neglected and decaying shelves, never to be re-located.

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