Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Remembering a Veteran:
Lt. HRH Prince Maurice of Battenberg,
King's Royal Rifle Corps

From Regimental Badge Collector Jim Patton

The Soldier
The Soldier Lt. HRH Prince Maurice of Battenberg (1891-1914), the youngest grandchild of Queen Victoria and a first cousin to George V, died at Ypres on 27 October 1914. He was also a first cousin (twice removed) of the present Duke of Edinburgh. He served in the British Expeditionary Force in the 2nd Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps (cap badge shown above).

At the First Battle of Ypres in 1914, the first battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps crossed from Zonnebeke to Broodseinde to stop the German infantry on the Keiberg. Prince Maurice was a lieutenant commanding the second division [?] of the battalion. As soon as all the troops had crossed, the enemy opened fire from their position on the Keiberg. The prince was mortally wounded by shrapnel and died on the field before his men could take him to safety. At Princess Beatrice's request, he was buried among his men in the Ypres Town Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery. A monument dedicated to his memory was erected at the Royal Burial Grounds at Frogmore in 1917.

His Outfit Originally raised in 1756 in the North American colonies to address the need for soldiers who understood forest warfare, this regiment went on to serve with distinction on the Peninsula, in India, and in South Africa. During the Great War 22 battalions were raised, quite a few considering that the regiment had no specific recruiting area and no Territorial battalions. Seven members of the KRRC won VCs during the war. After several combinations and amalgamations the heritage today is with The Rifles, which incorporates both rifles and light infantry.

The badge has the light infantry bugle in the center and displays battle honors, as was customary for rifle formations, which had no colors due to their use as small, mobile units. The motto shown on the badge, "celer et audax" ("swift and bold") was a reference to the regiment's unconventional style of fighting. The Maltese Cross appears on most (but not all) British rifle formation badges. I don't know why. There are also a few examples of non-rifle units with the Maltese Cross. As we know, the U.S. Army and Marines use the Maltese Cross on their marksmanship awards.

Sources consulted include Find a Grave


  1. There is a lovely painting of an angel standing over a dying soldier in the Battenberg chapel at St. Mildred's Church, Whippingham, Isle of Wight. The painting, called "Duty" was purchased by Queen Mary, and given to Princess Beatrice, Maurice's mother. She in turn gave it to the church where she and her husband were married and are buried.

  2. My Grandfather served in 1st Btn KRRC and recorded Prince Maurice's death in his diary written in a POW camp

    1. My Great grandfather Thomas Waud was also in 1st Btn KRRC and was in a POW camp in Belgium. Would love to know if you have any information about their time there?