Foot Guards

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In some militaries, foot guards are senior infantry regiments.

Australia[edit]

The Federation Guard is a tri-service Australian ceremonial unit that performs similar functions to the five British and two Canadian regiments of foot guards.

British Army[edit]

Overview[edit]

Foot Guards of the Irish Guards, wearing bearskins, march to the Cenotaph on 12 June 2005 for a service of remembrance for British troops.

The Foot Guards are the Regular Infantry regiments of the Household Division of the British Army. There have been six active regiments of foot guards and one reserve regiment, five of which still exist. The Royal Guards Reserve Regiment was a reserve[1] formation of the Household Brigade in existence from 1900-1901. The Machine Gun Guards, which was formed during the First World War, was disbanded in 1920:

While these regiments have other distinguishing features, a simple method of distinguishing members of the different Guards units by their appearance is by the spacing of buttons on the tunic. The ascending number of buttons also indicates the order in which the regiments were formed, although the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards, an ancestor of the Grenadier Guards, is younger than the regiment that now takes the name of the Coldstream Guards; the oldest continuously-serving regiment in the regular British Army (there are older regiments in the Territorial Army). There are various other distinguishing features of the uniforms of the regiments, such as the colour of the plume, which side it is worn on the bearskin, the collar badge and the shoulder badge. When all five regiments parade together, they are in the order of Grenadier Guards on the right flank, then Scots Guards, Welsh Guards, Irish Guards and Coldstream Guards on the left flank. This is because although the Coldstream are ranked second in seniority, their motto is 'Nulli Secundus' ('Second to None').

The five regiments of Foot Guards, lined up as they parade

Regimental badge of the Coldstream Guards.
Regimental badge of the Scots Guards.

Units of the Foot Guards[edit]

  • Grenadier Guards (White plumes on left of bearskin; grenade badge on collar; evenly-spaced tunic buttons)
    • 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards
    • Nijmegen Company, Grenadier Guards
  • Coldstream Guards (Red plumes on right of bearskin; Garter star badge on collar; paired tunic buttons)
    • 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards
    • No 7 Company, Coldstream Guards
  • Scots Guards (No plumes; thistle badge on collar; tunic buttons in threes)
    • 1st Battalion, Scots Guards
    • F Company, Scots Guards
  • Irish Guards (Blue plumes on right of bearskin; shamrock badge on collar; tunic buttons in fours)
    • 1st Battalion, Irish Guards
  • Welsh Guards (White-green-white plumes on left of bearskin; leek badge on collar; tunic buttons in fives)
    • 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards

The first three regiments each have a separate incremental company, which keep custody of the colours and traditions of the currently dormant 2nd Battalions. These companies perform ceremonial and security duties in London.

Changing the Guard, at Buckingham Palace, London

The Foot Guards have a role as the primary garrison for the capital, for the military security of the Sovereign, and for ceremonial duties in London and occasionally elsewhere. Two battalions are appointed for public duties, with a third from a line infantry regiment since 1996 (and occasionally previous to that year). These provide the Queen's Guard, the Tower of London Guard, and sometimes also the Windsor Castle Guard. The Guards Battalions on Public Duties are located in barracks close to Buckingham Palace for them to be able to reach the Palace very quickly in an emergency. In central London, a battalion is based at Wellington Barracks, Westminster, about 300 yards from Buckingham Palace. However, as of 2010, the independent incremental companies of the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards (all on permanent public duties) have been moved from Chelsea Barracks to the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. While F Company, Scots Guards, are now permanently based at Wellington Barracks alongside the resident infantry battalion.

The Guards Battalion stationed at Windsor generally provides the Windsor Castle Guard. The Windsor battalion is at Victoria Barracks, a quarter of a mile south of the Castle.

The Guards Division received a new battalion following the restructuring of the army in 2004, when the London Regiment became the first ever Territorial Army Guards unit.

The Royal Guards Reserve Regiment was in existence during the Second Boer War from 1900 to 1901.

The Guards Machine Gun Regiment was raised for service during the First World War. Initially, each brigade of the Guards Division had a machine gun company attached. In 1917, these companies were regimented to form a battalion. Further battalions were formed by conversion of the Household Cavalry regiments, and King George V ordered that the regiment be classified as the Sixth Regiment of Foot Guards, or Machine Gun Guards. However, it was disbanded in 1920.

Before the Second World War, Guards recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 10 inches tall, they initially enlisted for seven years with the colours and a further five years with the reserve or four years and eight years. They trained at the Guards' Depot in Caterham, Surrey.[2]

In the future, the Foot Guards will serve in the ceremonial role, and the Reaction and Adaptable Forces.[3]

Lance-sergeant rank within Foot Guards[edit]

In the Foot Guards, all corporals are automatically appointed to the rank of lance-sergeant on their promotion; lance-sergeants perform the same duties as corporals in other regiments and are not acting sergeants, despite their name.

The appointment to a separate rank originated in the British Army and Royal Marines, as it could be removed by the soldier's commanding officer, unlike a full sergeant, who could only be demoted by court martial. Lance-sergeants first appeared in the nineteenth century, but [4] the practice was abolished in 1946, except in the Foot Guards and the Honourable Artillery Company. Both sergeants and lance-sergeants wear three rank chevrons, but in full dress, Foot Guards lance-sergeants are distinguished from full sergeants by their white chevrons and button loops (full sergeants wearing gold along with a red sash over the right shoulder).

Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by
Royal Corps of Signals
Order of precedence Succeeded by
Line Infantry and Rifles

Canadian Army[edit]

Members of the Canadian Grenadier Guards on parade in Ottawa, Ontario

Two foot guards regiments exist in the Canadian Army, the Governor General's Foot Guards and the Canadian Grenadier Guards. Her Majesty's Regiment of Canadian Guards was a regiment of the regular army, with four battalions, but was reduced to nil strength in 1968. Its Colours are in the safekeeping of the Governor General of Canada at Rideau Hall should it be desired to standup the Regiment again. Although the Governor General's Foot Guards has its buttons in pairs, compared to the single buttons of the Canadian Grenadier Guards, it is the more senior regiment; it is affiliated to the Coldstream Guards, and so wears a similar uniform.

Regiment Plume Plume colour Button spacing Collar badge Shoulder badge
British Army
Grenadier Guards Left White Singly Grenade Royal Cypher
Coldstream Guards Right Scarlet Pairs Garter Star Rose
Scots Guards None N/A Threes Thistle Thistle Star
Irish Guards Right Blue Fours Shamrock St Patrick Star
Welsh Guards Left White-Green-White Fives Leek Leek
Canadian Army
Governor General's Foot Guards Left Scarlet Pairs GGFG Guards Star Maple Leaf
Canadian Grenadier Guards Left White Singly Grenade Grenade
Canadian Guards (reduced to nil strength) Left Red & White Singly Crowned Maple Branch Crowned Maple Branch

Finland[edit]

The Guard Jaeger Regiment (Finnish: Kaartin Jääkärirykmentti, Swedish: Gardesjägarregementet) is a Finnish Army unit located in Santahamina, an island district of Helsinki. The regiment trains Guard jaegers for fighting in an urban environment. The Military Police Company of the Guard Jaeger Regiment provides the ceremonial Guard of Honor for the President of Finland.

German Empire[edit]

There were five regiments of Foot Guards (German: Garde-Regimenten zu Fuß) in the Royal Prussian Army until 1919.

India[edit]

The Brigade of the Guards is the Indian Army's foot guards regiment, formed through the regimentation of battalions from four of India's senior line infantry regiments.

Sri Lanka[edit]

The President's Guard is responsible for the security of the President of Sri Lanka.

United States[edit]

Connecticut[edit]

The State Defense Force of Connecticut has two companies of the Governor's Foot Guard, a part-time unit that provides ceremonial functions.

Other nations[edit]

Many other nations have regiments of foot guards in their armies, as the term 'guards' is an honorific to distinguish elite soldiers. Most monarchies have at least one regiment of guards, part of whose duties is to guard the Royal Family:

The same goes for most republics; for instance:

Other countries that have Guards Units

  • Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, as well as the former Soviet Union republics in the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Baltic (except Lithuania) have Guards units in their own respective armed forces units. A historical extension of the Russian Imperial Guard, these Guards units represent the elite troops of these nations and in the Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian units, remind everyone of these units' contribution to the Second World War and the war's Allied victory in the eastern parts of Europe and eastern Asia.
  • Bulgaria's guard formation is the National Guard Unit. It is not integrated in the structure of the Armed Forces of Bulgaria and falls under the direct authority of the Ministry of Defense. It is of the size of a reduced battalion and has its own band. The National Guard Unit's sole function is purely ceremonial and according to the Constitution of Bulgaria it is a symbol of the Bulgarian State, next to the national flag, coat of arms and the national anthem. Throughout most of the time of its existence during the monarchy the Bulgarian Guard has been a cavalry unit, which is the reason why today's infantry ceremonial unit sports a cavalry style uniform, but nowadays, like cavalry dragoons of the past, carry only rifles (the color guard included) while only the officers carry sabres.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.1914-1918.net/reserve.htm
  2. ^ War Office, His Majesty's Army, 1938
  3. ^ http://www.aff.org.uk/linkedfiles/aff/latest_news_information/cregulararmybasingannouncementgridunclas.pdf pages 5 and 6
  4. ^ The earliest mentions of the appointment in the London Gazette and The Times are actually in connection with the Royal Marines in 1840. The London Gazette: no. 19904. p. 2254. 13 October 1840.; "General Court-Martial at Woolwich", The Times, 2 June 1840.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

British and Commonwealth[edit]

Other Nations[edit]