Infantry units

Page 6 – New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Men of New Zealand Rifle Brigade scaling the walls of Le Quesnoy

Part of the infantry of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

The New Zealand Rifle Brigade was created in April 1915 as a second New Zealand infantry brigade, to complement the brigade then serving at Gallipoli. Initially known as ‘the Trentham Regiment (Earl of Liverpool’s Own)’, its recruits were drawn from throughout the country. The 1st and 2nd Battalions arrived in Egypt in time to become the only New Zealand unit to participate in the Senussi Campaign.

In January 1916, New Zealand’s infantry was divided into three brigades. The Rifle Brigade was officially known as the 3rd New Zealand (Rifles) Brigade for the rest of the war (‘New Zealand Rifle Brigade’ also served as a regimental list or posting for its soldiers). It shifted to the Western Front in April 1916 and spent the rest of the war there.

Motto: Soyes ferme (Stand fast).

New Zealand Rifle Brigade Battalions

NameUnit attached to (dates)CampaignsFurther information
1st Battalion3rd New Zealand (Rifles) Brigade (May 1915 -Feb 1919)Senussi Campaign 1915–16
Western Front:
Somme 1916;  
Messines 1917;
Passchendaele 1917
Spring Offensive and Advance to Victory 1918
Unit diaries at Archives New Zealand
Unit diaries at Australian War Memorial
2nd Battalion3rd New Zealand (Rifles) Brigade (May 1915 -Feb 1919)Senussi Campaign 1915–16
Western Front:
Somme 1916;  
Messines 1917;
Passchendaele 1917
Spring Offensive and Advance to Victory 1918
Unit diaries at Archives New Zealand
3rd Battalion3rd New Zealand (Rifles) Brigade (Oct 1915 - Feb 1919)Western Front:
Somme 1916;  
Messines 1917;
Passchendaele 1917
Spring Offensive and Advance to Victory 1918
Unit diaries at Archives New Zealand
4th Battalion3rd New Zealand (Rifles) Brigade (Oct 1915 - Feb 1919)Western Front:
Somme 1916;  
Messines 1917;
Passchendaele 1917
Spring Offensive and Advance to Victory 1918
Unit diaries at Archives New Zealand
NZ Rifle Brigade training/reserve battalion, (1916–19)NZ Reserve Group/New Zealand Infantry (Reserve) Brigade/ New Zealand Rifle Brigade Reserve Depot - from September 1917. (1916 - 19)Training unit based at Sling/ later Brocton Camps in EnglandUnit diaries at Archives New Zealand
NZ Rifle Brigade Reserve DepotHQ NZEF UK (Sep 1917 - 1919Brocton, Staffordshire, EnglandUnit diaries at Archives NZ

Cloth patches, shoulder titles and badges

Cap and collar badges: The crest of the Earl of Liverpool – a lion rampant holding a man-of-war’s church pennant on a chapeau above the regimental motto. 

Earl of Liverpool's Own title badge

Shoulder titles worn by the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (the initials ‘ELO’ come from the unit’s earlier name, ‘Earl of Liverpool’s Own’).

NZ Rifle Brigade cloth patches

Cloth patches for the Headquaters (top) and (l to r) 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.

Unlike the other infantry regiments, the Rifle Brigade used cloth patches to distinguish battalions. They were worn on the shoulder, just under the shoulder title, a practice unique to the Rifle Brigade. These are the patches of the four Rifle Brigade battalions, all of which served on the Western Front (the first two battalions also served in the Senussi Campaign). A fifth was a reserve battalion based in England, initially at Sling Camp and later at Brocton Camp. 

Puggaree used by all infantry units. The puggaree was worn on the hat.

In this image of  of NZRB officers having a picnic in German trench - you can see patches, shoulder titles and badges.

Further reading

How to cite this page

'New Zealand Rifle Brigade', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/infantry-units/new-zealand-rifle-brigade, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 22-Mar-2017

Community contributions

No comments have been posted about New Zealand Rifle Brigade

What do you know?