The Regimental Flag and Sovereigns Colours
The Henri Martini Rifle
In the game of chess the bishop is often depicted as a religious piece. Here the weapons and regalia of the fighting man have been chosen. These are the symbols of his country and regiment, to which the soldier attached almost religious significance.
The figure for the bishop is an assembly of the Union flag, the regimental flag of the 1st/24th foot and two Martini-Henry rifles.
Alexander Henry, a Scottish gunsmith, was responsible for the production of the successful Martini-Henry rifle. It was a single shot breech loading rifle with a falling block action. The guns simple, but powerful mechanism, enabled the user to fire and reload a cartridge with great efficiency.
The British Army considered that the Martini-Henry rifle’s most effective firing range to be 300-450 yards but it actually had a range of just under a mile.
Each battalion of the line proudly carried two gold fringed silken standards, which flew from poles each topped with a brass gilt lion. One flag was the Queen’s colour, consisting of the Union Flag with the crown and regimental title. The other was the regimental colour, bearing the regiments crest, and battle honours. The loss of a colour was seen as a disgrace which was felt so keenly that officers and men would risk their live’s to save them.