The Artists Rifles was formed in 1859 as part of the great Volunteer Corps. It comprised various professional painters, sculptors, engravers, musicians, architects and actors raised to defend the British Isles from a French invasion. The regiment became part of the Corps of the Rifle Brigade which was subsequently transformed into the famous 21 Special Air Service Regiment S.A.S (Artists Reserve).
In the 20th century the Artists Rifles was a popular unit with volunteers and attracted recruits from public schools and universities. Over fifteen thousand men passed through the battalion during the war, more than ten thousand of them becoming officers and served in almost every unit of the British Army. The battalion fought in France in the Great War, its battle honours include Passchendaele, the Somme 1918, Cambrai 1918, Pursuit to Mons, and suffered higher casualties than those of any other battalion. Members of the Regiment won eight Victoria Crosses, fifty-six Distinguished Service Orders and over a thousand other awards for gallantry and honour.
The Artist Rifles Roll of Honour provides the name of the Artist, rank, regiment, date and where they died. A list of honours, decorations and commissions are among the records provided.
Prominent members of the unit included Noel Coward, and Sir Barnes Wallis, CBE, FRS and the war poets Siegfried Loraine Sassoon and Wilfred Edward Owen who was killed in action on 4 November 1918, only one week before the end of the war.
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