The origins of the ‘Chosen Men’ dates back to the Experimental Corps of Riflemen which came into being during the Napoleonic era, specifically the 25th August, 1800. In 1802, the Experimental Corps later became the 95th Rifles, the regiment portrayed in recent years by the popular ‘Sharpe’ books and TV series.
In today’s Army, a Chosen Man would be the equivalent of a Lance Corporal; however in the 19th century this rank did not exist. A Chosen Man was therefore a soldier of excellence selected from the ranks to lead a sub-unit of the company (4 per company) of which only the finest men were selected for this distinction; this accredited status was denoted by the wearing of a white lace band around the top of the right arm. Chosen Men would typically go on to become Non-commissioned Officers.
The use of the term ‘Chosen Men’ and its origin varies across popular media, however its relationship with the film is particularly significant in that the film focuses primarily on soldiers serving, or who once served, in the regiments that became the amalgamation of the Napoleonic Rifle Regiments, particularly The Royal Green Jackets and The Rifles. Veterans and serving soldiers proudly reflect on the history of the Rifleman and the origins of the term ‘Chosen Men’.