The Queen's Truncheon
The regiment which later became the 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) was raised in northern India in 1815 as the Sirmoor Battalion, a local corps until 1861 when it became a regular regiment in the Bengal Army. It fought gallantly in several battles long before the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, but it was during the Mutiny that it particularly distinguished itself when, for more than three months, it held a key post on the ridge which was the main British position during the Siege of Delhi. During that Siege and the assault to capture the City it suffered 327 dead and wounded out of 490 all ranks, and formed a strong affiliation with the 60th Rifles, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps, with which it was constantly linked and intermingled throughout the battle.
Its conspicuous service was rewarded in 1858 by the Governor General-in-Council granting the rare distinction of carrying a third, honorary, Colour, to be inscribed “DELHI” in English, Hindi, and Persian. The Commander-in-Chief added to this by authorising a change of title from Sirmoor Battalion to Sirmoor Rifle Regiment, the soldiers to be called Riflemen instead of Sepoys and the privilege of wearing the scarlet facings on their uniforms as worn by the 60th.
Because Rifle Regiments did not carry Colours, the newly titled Sirmoor Rifle Regiment had to stop doing so, which meant that the privilege of carrying a third Colour was lost. To keep the distinction Her Majesty Queen Victoria authorised the replacement of the third Colour by a Truncheon. This Truncheon, made by Messrs Hunt and Roskell of London, was handed over to the Regiment by the Commander-in-Chief on a parade in Lahore in 1863 when it was received with a Royal Salute by the troops of the North-Western Army assembled for the occasion.
The Truncheon, which is about 6 feet high and made of bronze and silver, is carried on parade by the Truncheon Jemadar, whose post was added to the Establishment for the purpose, escorted by two Sergeants and two Corporals. Like a Sovereign’s Colour it is greeted with a Royal salute when it appears or is marched off parade. Since 1953, when it was presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II shortly after her Coronation, it has been known as The Queen’s Truncheon.
The Queen’s Truncheon, in the custody and guardianship of the Trustees of The Royal Gurkha Rifles Regimental Trust, is now in service with The Royal Gurkha Rifles into which the 2nd Goorkhas was absorbed in 1994.
Replica available from the Gurkha Museum Shop (+44 (1962) 842832). (Height: 280 mm less base) See Shop Page.