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Mars, he was the God of War
And he didn't stop at trifles.
Minerva was a bloody whore
So hence The Artist Rifles.

So goes an off-color verse about the founding of the Artist Rifles. Originally established as the 38th Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps in 1860 and made up of artists, actors, sculptors, and architects. It became the 20th in 1880. The rhyme refers to the two classical gods Mars, the Roman god of war, and Minerva, the goddess of the arts who adorn the Corps' helmet plate.  The unit survives today as the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (SAS).

These two photographs are excellent portraits of an unfortunately unidentified rifleman of the Artist Rifles. Sporting a monocle, hardly an item worn by a rifleman in any other rifle battalion. This man was in all likelihood a member of a professional arts and letters trade if not an actual artist.  In the image above he wears the gray cloth home service pattern helmet. In the image below this same part-time soldier wears the Rifle's forage cap.


He wears one good conduct stripe on his right cuff along with two volunteer service stars.

It is interesting that in both poses the man chose to have his monocle placed firmly in his eye.

Cabinet Photographs
Samuel A. Walker - Photographer
230 Regent Street, W. London, England
c. 1880's

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