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1st Hertfordshire Rifle Volunteers

Formed in Hertford in 1859, initially to defend the County from the threat of a French invasion, many of the 1 st Hertfordshire Rifle Volunteers found themselves 8000 miles away, fighting the war in South Africa.

From the Spring of 1858 to the winter of 1859, the threat of a French invasion loomed large, following an attempted assassination of the French Emperor Napolean III, by a group of revolutionaries which included British citizens. This threat inspired the formation of Rifle Volunteer Corps around the country. 

At a meeting of the Hertford Rifle Club, in October 1859, members agreed to offer their services to Her Majesty and formal acceptance of the Corps, to be designated 1st Hertfordshire Rifle Volunteers, and consisting of one company, was signified the following month. By September of the following year, twelve corps had been raised in other towns and villages and the 1st Hertfordshire had increased to two companies. This second company was formed largely of working people, attending evening drill parades, whilst the first company consisted of people who could attend afternoon parades without detriment to their careers or businesses.

Two administrative battalions were formed to manage the growing number of corps, with the 1st Administrative Battalion handling the corps in the west of the county and the 2nd for the six in the east. Over the next few years more corps were raised whilst others disbanded. In 1873 both administrative battalions were linked to the 33rd Sub-District Brigade Depot at Bedford. 

Uniforms and badges varied between the two administrative battalions; whilst they all wore grey, style, cut and braid colour varied. The colour of the facings, the lining of the uniform, was distinct, with green for the 1st Administrative Battalion, and scarlet for the 2nd.

In 1880 the administrative battalions were consolidated when each became a corps, with the 2nd Administrative Battalion becoming the 1st Hertfordshire Rifle Volunteer Corps, and the 1st Administrative Battalion the 2nd (as the more senior outfit the 2nd AB took precedence).

In 1887, both the 1st and 2nd Hertfordshire Rifle Volunteer Corps were formally attached, under General Order 181, to the 16th Regimental District, as the 33rd Sub-District Brigade had become in 1881, and were designated volunteer battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment. They were retitled as the 1st and 2nd (Hertfordshire) Volunteer Battalions.

There was no compulsion to change uniform, however the 1st did opt to adopt the scarlet uniform with white facings of the Bedfordshire Regiment, whilst the 2nd merely changed their facings from green to grey.  

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