Welsh Guards

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Welsh Guards
Welsh Guards.png
Cap Badge of the Welsh Guards
Active 1915–present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Foot Guards
Role 1st Battalion – Light Infantry
Size One battalion
Part of Guards Division
Garrison/HQ RHQ – London
1st Battalion – Hounslow Barracks
Nickname The Taffs
Motto "Cymru am Byth" (Welsh)
"Wales Forever"
March Quick – Rising of the Lark
Slow – Men of Harlech
Anniversaries 1 March (St David's Day)
Commanders
Current
commander

Colonel A. J. E. Malcolm, O.B.E., Regimental Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel G.R.Harris MBE DSO, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion Second in Command

Maj Salisbury
Colonel-in-Chief HM The Queen
Colonel of
the Regiment
HRH The Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, QSO, PC, ADC(P)
Insignia
Tactical Recognition Flash GuardsTRF.svg
Plume White/Green/White
Left side of Bearskin cap
Abbreviation WG

The Welsh Guards (WG), (Welsh: Gwarchodlu Cymreig) part of the Guards Division, is one of the Foot Guards regiments of the British Army.

Creation[edit]

The Welsh Guards came into existence on 26 February 1915 by Royal Warrant of His Majesty King George V in order to include Wales in the national component to the Foot Guards, "..though the order to raise the regiment had been given by the King to Earl Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, on 6 February 1915."[1][2] They were the last of the Guards to be created, with the Irish Guards coming into being in 1900. Just three days later the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards mounted its first King's Guard at Buckingham Palace on 1 March 1915 – St David's Day.

On 17 August 1915 the 1st Battalion sailed for France to join the Guards Division to commence its participation in the First World War. Its first battle was some months after its initial arrival, at Loos on 27 September 1915. The regiment's first Victoria Cross came two years later in July 1917 awarded to Sergeant Robert Bye.

Dress[edit]

Welsh Guards by Harry Payne (1858–1927)

One way to distinguish between the regiments of Foot Guards is the spacing of buttons on the tunic. The Welsh Guards have buttons arranged in groups of five.

Inter-War[edit]

Soon after the end of the war in 1918 the 1st Welsh Guards returned home and where they would be based for much of the inter-war period, performing training and ceremonial duties, such as the Changing of the Guard and Trooping the Colour. In 1929 the 1st Welsh Guards deployed to Egypt where they joined the Cairo Brigade where they stayed for only a brief period of time, returning home in 1930. Just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War the 1st Welsh Guards were dispatched to Gibraltar where they remained upon the outbreak of war in September 1939. The 2nd Battalion, Welsh Guards was created on 18 May 1939.[3]

Second World War[edit]

Welsh Guards in action near Cagny 19 July 1944

The regiment was increased to three Battalions during the Second World War. The 1st Battalion fought valiantly in all the campaigns of the North-West European Theatre. The 2nd Battalion fought in Boulogne in 1940 whilst the 1st fought in Belgium as part of the British Expeditionary Force. In May 1940 at the Battle of Arras, the Welsh Guards gained their second Victoria Cross by Lieutenant The Hon. Christopher Furness who was killed in the action. The Welsh Guards were subsequently part of the legendary Evacuation of Dunkirk that saw over 340,000 British and French troops return to the UK against all odds.

The 3rd Battalion Welsh Guards was formed at Beavers Camp, Hounslow on 24 October 1941.[4] In 1943 the 3rd Battalion fought throughout the arduous Tunisian North African Campaign and Italian Campaigns.

While they battled on in those theatres the 1st and 2nd joined the Guards Armoured Division, with the 1st Battalion being infantry and the 2nd armoured. The two battalions worked closely, being the first troops to re-enter Brussels on 3 September 1944 after an advance of 100 miles in one day in what was described as 'an armoured lash unequalled for speed in this or any other war' led by Major-General Sir Allan Henry Adair.[5]

Postwar[edit]

HRH The Prince of Wales, Colonel of the Regiment since 1975.

Shortly after the end of the war the 3rd Battalion was disbanded while the 2nd Battalion was placed in suspended animation. In 1947 the 1st Welsh Guards were dispatched to Palestine, then under British control, while it was in a volatile and violent situation. The Welsh Guards were part of the 1st Guards Brigade and performed internal security (IS) duties while there, before leaving in 1948 during the British withdrawal and when the state of Israel was declared. The Regiment had its colour trooped for the first time in 1949.

In 1950 the regiment arrived in West Germany as part of the 4th Guards Brigade, part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). In 1952 the regiment joined the Berlin Brigade in West Berlin, an enclave in Communist East Germany during tense times between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact. The Welsh Guards returned home the following year and soon after deployed to the British-controlled Suez Canal Zone (SEZ) in Egypt. As previously in Palestine, the Welsh Guards' time in Egypt was quite turbulent. They performed internal security duties there. They remained in the SEZ until the British withdrawal in 1956. Shortly afterwards the British Army would be embroiled in the Suez War with Egypt, though the Welsh Guards were not to be involved directly.

In 1960 the regiment deployed to West Germany again, and in 1965 to Aden, another part of the declining British Empire. They were to return home the following year. In 1970 the regiment arrived again in West Germany, this time at Munster, as part of 4th Armoured Brigade.

In 1972 came deployment to Northern Ireland, then embroiled in violence later known as "The Troubles". During its tour of duty the regiment lost Sergeant Phillip Price in a terrorist attack by the Provisional Irish Republican Army on the Oxford Street Bus Depot in Belfast, one of a series of terrorist attacks in the city which became known as "Bloody Friday". The following year the Welsh Guards were dispatched to the province again and during this period lost Guardsman David Roberts in a landmine explosion.

In 1976 the Welsh Guards were part of the British contingent of the United Nations force deployed to Cyprus in the aftermath of the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.

In 1977 the regiment arrived in West Berlin again, and then in 1979 once more in the midst of the volatile situation in Northern Ireland, they lost Guardsman Paul Fryer to a booby trap bomb. On 9 July 1981, Daniel Barrett, aged 15 years, was sitting on the garden wall of his home in Havana Court, Ardoyne, North Belfast, when he was shot dead by a soldier of the Welsh Guards.

Falklands War[edit]

In 1982, the Welsh Guards (CO Lieutenant-Colonel John Rickett) formed part of the 5th Infantry Brigade of the British Task Force sent to liberate the Falkland Islands from Argentinian occupation during the Falklands War. On 7 June they were on board the ill-fated Sir Galahad, which was accompanied by Sir Tristram, waiting to be landed at Bluff Cove though they were delayed from doing so. However, attack was imminent after the landing craft were spotted by Argentinian observers. At 2:00 am, five Dagger and five A-4 Skyhawk aircraft were seen over the Falklands. Shortly afterwards, the Daggers were the first to attack. They hit the frigate HMS Plymouth with cannon fire as well as bombs.

Only a short time later, the Skyhawks reached Fitzroy, with three of the aircraft hitting the Sir Galahad two or more times with horrific consequences. Sir Tristram was also hit which killed two crewmen, both ships were ablaze. The attack on Sir Galahad culminated in high casualties, 48 dead, 32 of them Welsh Guards, 11 other Army personnel and five crewmen from Sir Galahad herself. There were many wounded, many suffering from horrendous burns caused by fire from the burning ships, the best known being Simon Weston. The burnt-out Sir Galahad was later scuttled at sea to allow her to become a war grave. Sir Tristram herself was repaired and rebuilt in 1985.

The Welsh Guards returned home soon after the war concluded. Although they did not feature in any major engagement as a unit, members of the regiment were awarded 1 Military Cross (MC) and 3 Military Medals (MM). The regiment' was awarded the theatre honour "Falkland Islands 1982".

See Casualties of the Battle of Bluff Cove

Present day[edit]

Welsh Guardsman outside the Jewel House at the Tower of London.

In 1984 the Welsh Guards arrived in Hohne, West Germany as part of the 22nd Armoured Brigade and two years later arrived in Northern Ireland for another tour-of-duty before returning to Germany. The regiment returned home in 1988 and in 1992 arrived in NI for a 2-year deployment as part of 8th Infantry Brigade.

During their tour of Northern Ireland the BBC filmed the documentary 'In the Company of Men' by Molly Dineen, which filmed the "The Prince of Wales" deployment to southern Fermanagh during the Regiment's Tour. The documentary filmed in three parts, concentrated in particular on the Prince of Wales Company Commander Crispin Black and a novice platoon commander in the same company, Bruce MacInnes. The portraiture of the documentary did not enhance the novice platoon commander's career and he left the army before achieving the rank of Major. This may or may not have been as a result of the documentary. The documentary was recorded in 1994 and aired after editing in 1995 on BBC 2 Television.

On 6 September 1997, 12 Guardsmen of the Welsh Guards led by the adjutant of the 1st Battalion "The Prince of Wales" Company, Captain Richard Williams, hero in 1993 of the Khmer Rouge incident in which he was captured defending civilians there,[6] were pulled from security patrols in South Armagh, Northern Ireland and together with members of the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery escorted the casket of Diana, Princess of Wales, from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey.

In 2002 the regiment arrived in Bosnia as part of SFOR, a NATO-led force intended to ensure peace and stability in the Balkan nation. During their deployment HM the Queen Mother died. A number of officers of the Welsh Guards stood in vigil around the Queen Mother's coffin which was lying in state in Westminster Hall, one of a number of regiments to do so. The regiment returned home from their deployment to Bosnia later in the year. They were involved in Operation Fresco, the British armed forces response to the firefighters strike; the Welsh Guards covered the Midlands area, primarily in Birmingham using the antiquated Army Green Goddess fire engines.

In 2003 the Welsh Guards experienced a unique moment in the their history when they moved from Aldershot to RAF St Athan, Wales the first time the regiment has actually been based on home soil in Wales.

In 2005 The Welsh Guards were part of Operation Telic and were based in Basra, Southern Iraq. Here they used valuable relationship-building skills, learnt from their time in Bosnia, to build a bond between the regiment and the locals.

In 2006, the regiment returned to London as a public duties battalion. It will alternate this role with the Grenadier Guards. The regiment deployed to Bosnia in October 2006, replacing the 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment. In November 2007, the regiment deployed to Belize at short notice to take part in Jungle warfare training, they returned just before Christmas.

In 2008, the Welsh Guards moved from London to Lille Barracks in Aldershot, in preparation for deployment on Operation Herrick 10 in Afghanistan in April 2009.

In April 2009 the Welsh Guards deployed on Operation Herrick 10 in Afghanistan. Six members of the battalion were killed, among them a platoon commander, a company commander and the battalion commander. It was the first time since the Korean War that a single battalion had lost officers at these three key levels of leadership. The six-month tour was chronicled in the book Dead Men Risen; the Welsh Guards and the Defining Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan by Toby Harnden,[7] which won the Orwell Prize for Books 2012.[8]

Lance Sergeant Tobie Fasfous was killed whilst taking part in a foot patrol alongside near Forward Operating Base Keenan, north east of Gereshk in Helmand.

The Welsh Guards marching in the 2010 Moscow Victory Day Parade in Moscow, Russia.

Lieutenant Mark Evison who died whilst leading a patrol which came under enemy fire. He was hit in the shoulder by a single round, and was evacuated back to the hospital in Camp Bastion but died of his wounds at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. His family were with him when he died. Major Sean Birchall, OC Number IX Company, was killed by an explosion whilst in a Jackal vehicle in Basharan, near Lashkar Gah, in Helmand on 19 June 2009. On 1 July 2009, Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thorneloe was killed along with Trooper Joshua Hammond of the Second Royal Tank Regiment, following the detonation of an IED in Afghanistan under their BvS 10 Viking during Operation Panther's Claw. Lieutenant-Colonel Thorneloe was the highest ranking British Army officer killed since Lieutenant-Colonel 'H'. Jones VC OBE, in the Falkland Islands.[9] On 5 July 2009, Lance Corporal Dane Elson, Aged 22, was killed, following the detonation of an IED in Afghanistan. His death brings the number of Welsh Guardsmen killed in Afghanistan to five. On 10 July 2009, it was announced that Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Antelme DSO, would take over command of the Welsh Guards from Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thorneloe.

On 9 May 2010, for the first time, British troops marched in Red Square to mark 65 years since the end of World War II. A detachment from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force participated in a joint parade with war time allies – Russia, US, France, Poland.

Future[edit]

The July 2013 Army plan states that 1st Battalion, The Welsh Guards will be a Foxhound-mounted Battalion under 11th Infantry Brigade under Army 2020 This will the case until 1 September 2016 when its role will rotate with the other Foot Guard regiments.[10]

Training[edit]

Recruits practicing drill on catterick parade square

Recruits to the Guards Division go through a thirty week grueling training programme at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) and is one of the hardest basic training courses in the world and produces some of the best soldiers in the world. The training is two weeks more than the training for the Regular line infantry regiments of the British Army; the extra training, carried out throughout the course, is devoted to drill and ceremonies.[11]

Traditions and Affiliations[edit]

The Welsh Guards and other Guards Regiments have a long standing connection to The Parachute Regiment. Guardsman who have Completed P company are Transferred into the Guards Parachute Platoon who are currently attached to 3 PARA still keeping the tradition of the No 1 (Guards) Independent Parachute Company who were the original Pathfinder Group of 16th Parachute Brigade now renamed 16th Air Assault Brigade.[12]

Battle honours[edit]

The Welsh Guards have been awarded the following battle honours:[13]

First World War

Loos, Somme 1916 '18, Ginchy, Flers Courcelette, Morval, Ypres 1917, Pilckem, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, Bapaume 1918, Arras 1918, Albert 1918, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Havrincourt, Canal Du Nord, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1915–18

Second World War

Defence of Arras, Boulogne 1940, St Omer-La Bassée, Bourguébus Ridge, Cagny, Mont Pincon, Brussels, Hechtel, Nederrijn, Rhineland, Lingen, North-West Europe 1940 '44–45, Fondouk, Djebel el Rhorab, Tunis, Hammam Lif, North Africa 1943, Monte Ornito, Liri Valley, Monte Piccolo, Capture of Perugia, Arezzo, Advance to Florence, Gothic Line, Battaglia, Italy 1944–45

Post Second World War

Falkland Islands 1982, Afghanistan 2009

Victoria Cross recipients[edit]

Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by
Irish Guards
Infantry Order of Precedence Succeeded by
The Royal Regiment of Scotland

Alliances[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Hein, David. "Hugh Lister (1901-1944): Priest, Labor Leader, Combatant Officer." Anglican and Episcopal History 70 (2001): 353–74.

External links[edit]