Somerset Army Cadets has over 650 cadets and 200 adult volunteers in 34 platoons across the length and breadth of the county.
The Silver Bugles Band, composed of two platoons, Frome and Uphill, is nationally renowned for its skills and has played at many high profile events, including the Swift & Bold Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Sounding Retreat at Horse Guards Parade, Sounding Retreat at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres and for HM The Queen.
The Battalion is affiliated to The Rifles and that cap badge is worn across the county.
Somerset Cadet Bn (The Rifles) ACF changed its title from Somerset Cadet Bn (The Light Infantry) ACF in February 2007 in line with the formation of The Rifles and the headquarters is based in Taunton. The Battalion comprises four companies, Gibraltar, Jellalabad, Normandy and Salamanca, all named after famous Light Infantry battle or campaign honours.
Gibraltar Company - 1704. The first battle honour of the Earl of Barrymore’s Regiment of Foot, for the defence of the Island of Gibraltar from the Spanish during the Eleventh Siege of Gibraltar in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession. During this period regiments were named after their Colonels, the title changing with each new Colonel, until the confusing practice was outlawed in 1751.
Thus the Earl of Barrymore’s Regiment of Foot, later to become Cotton’s Regiment of Foot and thence Pulteney’s Regiment of Foot, become the 13th Regiment of Foot in 1751 and eventually the 13th (1st Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot in 1782, formed part of the garrison of Gibraltar in order to defend it, having recently captured it from Spain. Spain laid siege to Gibraltar in order to recapture it but failed, despite a long campaign known as the Twelfth Siege of Gibraltar (1704-1705).
Gibraltar was formally ceded to Britain at the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.
Jellalabad Company - 1842. A battle honour that is unique to the Somerset LI, for the relief of the besieged Afghan town of Jelalabad, now called Jellalabad, and the subsequent defeat of the Afghan army led by Akbar Khan in the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842), also known as Auckland’s Folly. During the campaign the 13th (1st Somersetshire) Regiment (Light Infantry) were forced to retreat from Kabul to the fortified outpost of Jelalabad by a large Afghan army. The siege lasted for five months, during which the 13th withstood many attacks. Finally, when the 13th were down to their last few rounds, the garrison, led by Sir Robert Sale, broke the siege and attacked the Afghans, driving them off the field with a final bayonet charge. Although the war was essentially an English reverse, battle honours and campaign medals were awarded. The conduct of the 13th at Jelalabad was officially rewarded on 26th August 1842 when Prince Albert offered his patronage to the regiment and permitted his name to be used in the title, becoming the 13th (1st Somersetshire) (Prince Albert’s Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot. The badge of a mural crown with a scroll inscribed “Jellalabad” was granted for display on the colours and uniform of the regiment.
Normandy Company - 1944. A campaign honour, rather than a battle honour, shared by all Light Infantry regiments that fought there for the liberation of France from German occupation towards the end of World War Two (1939-1945). Many Light Infantry regiments took part in the liberation of Europe, that began with Operation Overlord (the D-Day landings) in June 1944. The Somerset units that took part were 4th Bn Somerset Light Infantry (4 SomLI), 7th Bn Somerset Light Infantry (7 SomLI) and 7th (Light Infantry) Bn Parachute Regiment (raised from 10th Bn Somerset Light Infantry) under command of the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division and 6th Airborne Division respectively. Heavy casualties were sustained during the campaign, with Somerset's losses at Hill 112 near Caen being particularly heavy. In addition two other LI battalions took part in the battle for Hill 112; 4th Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (4 KSLI) and 5th Bn Devon & Cornwall Light Infantry (5 DCLI).
The 2nd Bn Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Oxf & Bucks) also had the distinction of being the first allied unit to land on French soil on D-Day when they assaulted and captured the two bridges, Pegasus and Horsa Bridges as they became known, across the Caen Canal and the River Orne in a textbook glider-borne ‘coup de main’ action during Operation Tonga and so vividly (if slightly inaccurately) portrayed in the film ‘The Longest Day’.
Salamanca Company - 1812. A battle honour shared by most Light Infantry regiments, for the defeat of a large French army near the Spanish town of Salamanca, during the Peninsular War. The British and Portuguese armies in Spain, under the command of Lt Gen the Earl of Wellington (later Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington), inflicted a major defeat on the French, leading to the eventual defeat of all the French forces in Spain. Those units taking part with a Light Infantry affiliation were 11th Foot (Devonshire Regiment) later The Devon & Dorset Regiment, 32nd Foot (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) later The Light Infantry, the 43rd Foot (Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry) later The Royal Green Jackets, the 51st Foot (King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) later The Light Infantry, 52nd Foot (Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry) later The Royal Green Jackets, the 53rd Foot (King’s Shropshire Light Infantry) later The Light Infantry, the 60th Foot (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) later The Royal Green Jackets, 61st Foot (Gloucestershire Regiment) later The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Light Infantry, the 68th Foot (Durham Light Infantry) later The Light Infantry and the 95th Rifles (The Rifle Brigade) later The Royal Green Jackets. All were subsequently subsumed into The Rifles in 2007.