The origins of the Officer’s Whistle

Detail of whistle from Napoleonic cross belt
Detail of whistle from a Royal Irish Rifles cross belt

The whistle was first used by the Light Infantry or Rifles regiments of the British Army from the 19th century. The whistle was used to communicate to soldiers in the noise and heat of battle and there were different whistle calls for different orders in the same way that the infantry used different bugle calls, such as Reveille and Last Post.

The cross belt with whistle attached has been retained as a part of the uniform of today's Royal Irish Regiment, linking the Regiment of today to its antecedent Rifles regiment.