This photograph of the Signal Section of 4th Battalion, The Rifle Brigade (4 RB), was taken while the Battalion was stationed in Portobello Barracks, Dublin, in 1901.
Close examination of the photograph’s mount provides the names of all those in the photograph. From left to right they are: Privates (Riflemen) Dean, Sharples (front), Birley (behind), Golden, Sjt Kenyon, Privates (Riflemen) Reid (front), Kemp (behind), Reynolds, Jeffries.
The picture is most revealing.
First, Serjeant Kenyon is the only NCO in the photograph and probably the only NCO in the Signal Section.
Secondly, the members of the section have with them a number of items of signalling equipment, including signalling lamps and flags.
Thirdly, the members of the section have up to three different badges on their left arm: the crossed flags of qualified signallers, the crossed rifles of marksmen, and good conduct badges (stripes). Private (Rifleman) Dean on the extreme left of the photograph is wearing all three, the crossed flags above crossed rifles above a good conduct badge (stripe).
During 1901, 1st and 2nd Battalion, The Rifle Brigade, were serving in South Africa and the 3rd Battalion in India. 4 RB, stationed in Dublin, was the ‘home battalion’ responsible for providing reinforcement drafts to the battalions in South Africa. (The South African War was still in progress.)
On 1 December 1901 Lieutenant-Colonel A. R. Pemberton handed over command of 4 RB to Lieutenant-Colonel G. F. Leslie. On 16 December the Battalion sailed from Queenstown (now known as Cobh) in Co. Cork to South Africa.
4 RB’s role as the ‘home battalion’ was assumed by the XVth Provisional Battalion of The Rifle Brigade which formed at Portobello Barracks, Dublin, to act as a depot battalion with responsibility for despatching reinforcements to the four battalions of the Regiment, all of which were now abroad. (A similar arrangement applied to The King’s Royal Rifle Corps which, during this period, formed the XIVth Provisional Battalion.)
Before 4 RB departed for South Africa, the Battalion was inspected in Portobello Barracks by HRH The Duke of Connaught, Commander-in-Chief in Ireland and Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment. The Duchess of Connaught and their daughters, Princess Victoria and Princess Patricia, were present. An account of the parade and the Duke’s farewell speech to the Battalion may be found in the 1901 Rifle Brigade Chronicle, pp 48-49.