The Volunteer Corps was formed in 1859 in response to patriotic fervour generated by the threat of invasion from Napoleon III of France. The Artists Rifles was formed in 1860, the idea for a special corps for artists, coming from Edward Sterling, an art student.

This ‘Corps of Artists’ consisted of painters, sculptors, engravers, musician, architects and actors. As the years went by the composition of the regiment was broadened to include lawyers, doctors and civil engineers.

The Artists’ Rifles mobilised on 4th Aug 1914 and became part of London Division Army Troops in the St Albans area.

A stream of officers provided by the Artists grew to reach a total of over 10,000 before the war was over.