History of the Irish Guards

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Foot Guards, wearing bearskins, march to the Cenotaph on 12 June 2005 for a service of remembrance for the Combined Irish Regiments Old Comrades Association annual parade.[1] Their uniform buttons are in groups of four, identifying these soldiers as Irish Guards.

The history of the Irish Guards as an infantry regiment of Foot Guards in the British Army dates from 1900. The Irish Guards have an over one hundred year-long history. Throughout their history the Irish Guards have served with distinction in many conflicts ranging from the First World War to the War in Afghanistan.

The Irish Guards fought on the Western Front for the duration of the First World War. The regiment played a significant role in many battles such as the First Battle of Ypres, the Battle of Loos and the Battle of the Somme. By the end of the war, the regiment had experienced significant losses and won four Victoria Crosses, two of them posthumous. The Irish Guards were to experience similar fighting just twenty one years later with the commencement of the Second World War. The regiment won two further Victoria Crosses and saw action during the Norwegian Campaign, the Battle of France, the Tunisian Campaign, the Italian Campaign, Operation Overlord and Operation Market Garden. More recently, the Irish Guards were involved in the Balkans Conflicts, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.

The current Irish Guards are the second unit to bear this name. The first Irish Guards fought on the Jacobite side at the Battle of the Boyne and went to France as a Stuart regiment in 1692, and the French Army's 92e Régiment d'Infanterie traces its ancestry to this unit.


The current regiment was formed on 1 April 1900 by order of Queen Victoria to commemorate the Irish people who fought in the Second Boer War for the British Empire.[2][3] This followed an initial suggestion from the Irish-born[4] British Army officer Field Marshal Viscount Wolseley to allow soldiers in Irish Regiments to wear the shamrock in their headdress on St. Patrick's Day.[5] This developed into a suggestion that an Irish Guards regiment be created.

The Irish Guards' first honorary Colonel-of-the-Regiment was Field Marshal Lord Roberts, known to many troops as "Bobs". Because of this, the regiment gained the nickname "Bob's Own" but are now known affectionately as "The Micks" (although a generally derogatory term if used in society, this term is not seen as offensive or derogatory by the regiment.)

Roberts, as the new Commander-in-Chief in the Second Boer War, was too busy at the time to take over a new regiment, but he was appointed a Colonel of the regiment on 17 October 1900. Major Richard Joshua Cooper, of the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards, was appointed the first Commanding Officer on 2 May 1900 and 200 Irishmen from the same regiment were transferred as the nucleus of the new regiment. Selected members of the line infantry regiments were chosen to fill out the ranks of the new regiment.[6]

The regiment's first Colours were presented by King Edward VII to the 1st Battalion on 30 May 1902 at Horse Guards Parade.[7] A few Irish Guardsmen saw action as mounted infantry in the final stages of the Boer War. Otherwise, the Irish Guards were stationed in the United Kingdom for the first fourteen years of its existence, performing ceremonial duties in London during that time until the beginning of World War I.

First World War[edit]

The 1st Battalion, Irish Guards deployed to France, eight days after the United Kingdom had declared war upon the German Empire, as part of 4th (Guards) Brigade of the 2nd Division, and would remain on the Western Front for the duration of the war. The battalion took part in the Battle of Mons and the subsequent arduous and bloody Great Retreat. The Irish Guards was part of the rearguard during the retreat and took part in a small-scale action at Landrecies against the advancing Germans. The 1st Irish Guards also took part in another rearguard action at the woods near Villers-Cotterets, on 1 September, during the Battle of Le Cateau in which their CO, Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. George Morris and the Second-in-Command Major Hubert Crichton were killed. Le Cateau was a successful action that inflicted very heavy losses on the Germans and helped delay their advance towards Paris.

Irish Guards mascot Leitrim Boy, probably on recruiting duties in Waterford, 21 February 1917.

In August that year, the 2nd (Reserve) Battalion was raised at Warley Barracks. The 1st Irish Guards later in September took part in Marne and the advance towards the Aisne. The Irish Guards, having lost their CO only a few weeks after they had reached France, would take part in one of the bloodiest battles of 1914, the First Battle of Ypres, which began on 19 October. The battle caused major casualties among the old Regular Army. The 1st Battalion was involved in fighting for the duration of 'First Ypres', taking part in the major actions, at Langemarck, Gheluvelt and Nonne Bosschen.

The 1st Battalion suffered huge casualties between November 1–8 holding the line against near defeat by German forces, while defending Klein Zillebeke, with No. 3 Company being blown to pieces on November 1 and No. 1 Company being caught in the open after a French retreat on November 6 exposed their flank, ensuring that at the end of the day "the greater part of them were missing".[8]

By the end of 'First Ypres' on the 22 November, the battalion had suffered over 700 casualties. The 2nd Division, of which the 1st Irish Guards were part of, suffered 5,769 officers and men killed, wounded or missing in action.

The rest of 1914 and early 1915 was spent in the trenches with little action, although the soldiers were at risk from snipers and shells. In February 1915, Lance-Corporal Michael O'Leary performed an act of bravery at Cuinchy, where attack and counter-attack had been taking place between the British and Germans since 29 January until early February. On 1 February, O'Leary was part of a storming party which attacked an enemy barricade, during the attack the party suffered casualties and a group of the storming party then were hit by their own artillery bombardment. O'Leary rushed forward, shooting five Germans before attacking a further three in a machine-gun position at the next barricade, capturing two Germans in the process. The trench and many prisoners were taken thanks to the actions of O'Leary. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, the first VC the Irish Guards won in the war.

In May 1915, the 1st Irish Guards took part in the Battle of Festubert, though did not see much action. In July 1915, the 2nd (Reserve) Battalion was redesignated the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, and another battalion, the 2nd Battalion was formed at Warley Barracks. In August that year the 1st Irish Guards, and the rest of the 4th (Guards) Brigade was moved to the Guards Division. The brigade was redesignated the 1st Guards Brigade. In September that year, the battalion, as well as the 2nd Irish Guards, who had reached France in August, took part in the Battle of Loos, which lasted from 25 September until early October.

The 1st Battalion, Irish Guards spent much of the remainder of 1915 in the trenches, but, on 1 July 1916 the Battle of the Somme began, it was, and still is, the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. The 1st Irish Guards took part in an action at Flers–Courcelette where they suffered severe casualties in the attack in the face of withering fire from the German machine-guns. The battalion also took part in the action at Morval. They were involved in the capture of the northern part of a village, during the action and were relieved the following day by the 2nd Irish Guards. The 1st Irish Guards suffered quite heavily during the Morval engagement.

In 1917 the Irish Guards took part in the Battle of Pilckem which began on the 31 July during the Third Battle of Ypres. Further actions took place at Menin Road and Poelcapelle. During 'Third Ypres', at Broenbeek, in September, Lance-Sergeant Moyney and Private Woodcock of the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards, were part of an advance post that became surrounded by Germans. During the defence, the Lance-Sergeant attacked the advancing Germans with grenades and with his lewis gun. He, and his men, then charged the Germans, breaking through them and reaching a stream where he and Private Woodcock formed a rearguard while the rest of the party withdrew. They subsequently began to withdraw, crossing the stream, but Private Woodcock heard cries for help and he returned, retrieving the wounded man and carrying him back to British lines under machine-gun fire. They had held out for ninety-six hours.

The Irish Guards going up a communication trench. Elverdinghe, 30 July 1917.

The Irish Guards took part in the Battle of Cambrai, the first large use of the tank in battle took place during the engagement. In 1918 the regiment fought at the same area that had caused so much pain to the British Army two years before, the Somme. The regiment fought in a number of engagements during this Second Battle of the Somme, including at Arras and Albert. The regiment took part in a number of battles during the British offensives against the Hindenburg Line.

On 4 November 1918 at the Sambre-Oise Canal, Acting Lieutenant Colonel James Marshall of the Irish Guards but attached to the 16th (Service) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, organised repair parties who were trying to repair a damaged partly finished bridge. The first party soon came under fire and all were killed or wounded. Marshall, disregarding his own safety, stood on the bank, encouraging and helping the men as they worked on the bridge. Once it was repaired, he began to lead his men across the bridge but was killed. He was awarded the posthumous VC.

The Irish Guards took place in the last advances on the Western Front. On 11 November 1918 the Armistice with Germany was signed. The 1st Battalion, Irish Guards were at Maubeuge when the Armistice was signed, it was near to where the Irish Guards began their war in 1914 at Mons, there were not many survivors of that first battle by 11 November. On 11 December the regiment marched into Germany, drums beating. The sacrifice by the Irish Guards during the First World War, however, was immense. Over 2,300 officers and men had been killed and well over 5,000 wounded. The regiment was awarded 406 medals, including four VCs, during the Great War.

Among those killed serving with the Irish Guards in the First World War was Second Lieutenant John Kipling, the 18-year-old son of author Rudyard Kipling, who was listed as missing during the Battle of Loos in September 1915.[nb 1] In tribute to his son's regiment, Kipling composed the poem "The Irish Guards" and after the war wrote a two-volume history of the regiment's service in the war.


In 1919 the 2nd and 3rd Irish Guards were disbanded, and the 1st Irish Guards returned to the United Kingdom victoriously. In 1920, for St Patrick's Day, the regiment donned its full-dress for the first time since World War I. In 1922 the regiment deployed to Constantinople as part of an allied force during the troubles in that region.

The regiment was also compelled to cope with the internal tensions caused by the political situation back home in Ireland. Several men were caught apparently attempting to divert weapons and ammunition to Republican forces in Ireland. As some soldiers went to war for Irish home rule it would not have been surprising if they joined the new Irish Republican Army. For that reason and to this day, applicants to join the regiment must undergo an exceptionally thorough background check before being accepted.

The regiment's continued existence was threatened briefly when Winston Churchill (later destined to become the Prime Minister), who served as Secretary of State for War between 1919 and 1921, sought the elimination of the Irish Guards and Welsh Guards as an economy measure. This proposal, however, did not find favour in government or Army circles and was dropped.

In late 1923 the regiment deployed to the garrison at Gibraltar. They returned to the United Kingdom in 1924. They were then based in the south of England until 1936 when they deployed to Egypt. While stationed there, the regiment deployed to Palestine for a number of months on internal security duties against Arab militants. The regiment returned to the United Kingdom in 1938. The following year the 2nd Battalion of the Irish Guards was re-formed five months before World War II began.

Second World War[edit]

In the Second World War, the regiment lost over 700 men killed, 1,500 wounded and was awarded 252 medals, including two VCs.

North-West Europe[edit]

Upon the outbreak of war in September 1939, both battalions of the Irish Guards were based in the United Kingdom. In April 1940, the 1st Battalion deployed to Norway as part of the 24th (Guards) Brigade. In May the brigade HQ and the 1st Irish Guards was aboard the Polish liner/troopship Chrobry, being transported to the northern Norwegian town of Bodø from another area of Norway. Chrobry was attacked by German Heinkel He 111 bombers which killed many men, including the commanding officer (CO), the second-in-command, the adjutant and three of the five company commanders of the 1st Irish Guards, as well as all their heavy equipment. Fire engulfed the ship and, considering the amount of ammunition on board, an immense explosion seemed imminent. However, the surviving Guardsmen were rescued by escorting vessels.

Later that month the battalion fought on land in Norway, seeing action at Pothus, holding out against heavy German attacks for two days until they were finally forced to withdraw as their positions were being outflanked. The brigade HQ and battalion were withdrawn by boat, though they left many men behind, who managed to break through the German forces and reach Allied lines later that day. The battalion was finally evacuated back to the United Kingdom with the rest of the expeditionary force in June.

In May 1940, the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards deployed to the Hook of Holland to cover the evacuation of the Dutch Royal Family and Government. The battalion returned to the United Kingdom the day after the evacuation, but had only a short respite, for just a few days later they, along with the Welsh Guards, crossed over to the northern French port of Boulogne, reaching the town on 22 May. Their orders were to defend part of Boulogne during the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from the overwhelming and inexorable advance of the Germans. The Guards stoutly defended their area of responsibility from better-equipped German forces, repulsing a number of German attacks on the 22nd, but on the morning of the 23rd, superior German forces attacked the battalion and the Guards suffered very heavily. Later that day the battalion was evacuated from Boulogne, being the last to leave and having fought valiantly while awaiting evacuation.

Irish Guards wearing gasmasks advance through smoke with 'tommy guns' at the ready, Nooks Head near Woking in Surrey, 8 July 1940.

In 1941 the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards was reorganised as an armoured regiment, joining the newly formed Guards Armoured Division. The Holding Battalion was raised the same year, later becoming the 3rd Irish Guards. In 1943, the 3rd Battalion, Irish Guards joined the Guards Armoured Division as an infantry battalion.

In 1944 the 2nd and 3rd Irish Guards took part in the Normandy Campaign. The Irish Guards, as part of the Guards Armoured Division, took part in Operation Goodwood (18–20 July). The Division's objective was Cagny, Vimont and the surrounding area. During 18 July 1944, near Cagny, Lieutenant (later Sir) John Gorman of the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards was in his Sherman tank when he was confronted by a far superior German Tiger II or 'King Tiger'. Gorman's tank fired one shot at the Tiger II, but the shot bounced off its thick armour. The Sherman's gun jammed before a second shot could be fired, and Gorman then gave the order to ram the Tiger II just as it was beginning to turn its massive 88mm gun on his tank. The Sherman smashed into the Tiger II, the collision disabling both tanks. The crews of both tanks then bailed out. Lieutenant Gorman, once he had seen his crew to safety, returned to the scene in a commandeered Sherman Firefly and destroyed the King Tiger. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions, while the driver from his own crew, Lance-Corporal James Baron, won the Military Medal.

A Sherman tank and infantry of the Irish Guards advance along a road near St Martin-des-Besaces, 1 August 1944.

The Irish Guards were involved in further action that day. Cagny, devastated by heavy bombing, was finally liberated on 19 July. The Irish Guards also saw action in the Mont Pincon area. On 29 August the 3rd Irish Guards crossed the Seine and began the advance into Belgium with the rest of the Guards Armoured Division towards Brussels.

The Irish Guards were part of the ground force of Operation Market Garden, 'Market' being the airborne assault and 'Garden' the ground attack. The Irish Guards Group were commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel "JOE" Vandeleur. The Irish Guards led XXX Corps in their advance towards Arnhem, which was the objective of the British 1st Airborne Division, furthest from XXX Corps' start line.

Irish Guards Sherman tanks advance past previously destroyed ones in the initial stage of Operation Market Garden on 17 September 1944.

The Corps crossed the Belgian-Dutch border, advancing from Neerpelt on 17 September but met very heavy resistance from German forces prepared with anti-tank weapons. Most of the tanks in the initial troops were hit and destroyed. As a result, the advance was much slower than planned. The Corps then camped at Valkenswaard. Early on the 18th reconnaissance units of the Guards Armoured Division made contact with the U.S. 101st Airborne Division who had liberated Eindhoven, with the rest of the Corps reaching the city later that day. The Corps now camped outside Son while the Royal Engineers built a Bailey bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal so that the Corps could advance to Nijmegen. The bridge was completed early on the 19th.

Later that day the Guards Division, led by the Irish Guards, reached Nijmegen where the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division was located. Their advance had to be halted, for the 82nd had not taken the bridge as intended due to heavy German resistance. The bridge was finally captured on the evening of the 20th. On the 21st, the British 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem, heavily outnumbered and outgunned, had to surrender after many days fighting that saw true heroism and courage. XXX Corps had been just an hour from the bridge at Arnhem but had to wait for the arrival of the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division. Further fighting took place until the 25th.

The Irish Guards were in the Netherlands until the Allied advance into Germany, seeing heavy action during the Rhineland Campaign. On 21 April 1945, at the village of Wistedt in northern Germany, Guardsman Edward Charlton of the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards, was a co-driver of a tank during the capture of the village by a small force of the Irish Guards. The Germans soon attempted to retake the village with numerically superior forces, consisting mostly of officer cadets under the command of very experienced instructor officers as well as two or three self-propelled guns. Three of the four tanks of the Irish Guards force were knocked out, while the fourth (Charlton's) was disabled by a complete electrical failure before the action started. When the tank was disabled, Guardsman Charlton was ordered to dismount the turret 0.50 Browning machine gun and support the infantry, who were in danger of being overrun by the Germans.

Charlton took the machine gun from his disabled tank and advanced in full view of the attacking Germans, firing and inflicting heavy casualties on them, halting their lead company and allowing the rest of the Guards to reorganise and retire. Charlton, despite having one arm shattered, continued firing until he collapsed from a further wound and loss of blood. His courageous and selfless disregard for his own safety helped most of the Irish Guards to escape capture. He later died of the wounds he had received and was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, the last VC of the European theatre, and the last, so far, of the Irish Guards. Unusually, much of the citation for the award of the VC was based on German accounts of the fight as most of his later actions were not witnessed by any Guards officers or surviving non-commissioned officers.[9]

North Africa and Italy[edit]

In March 1943 the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, who had been based in the United Kingdom since their return from Norway in April 1940, landed, with the rest of the 24th Guards Brigade, in Tunisia, to fight in the final stages of the campaign in North Africa. The battalion fought in the Medjez Plain area, seeing heavy action at Djebel bou Aoukaz, or 'Bou'. Part of the area was taken on 27 April and further fighting continued for several days with the Irish Guards suffering heavy casualties.

During an action on 28 March, Lance-Corporal John Patrick Kenneally of the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards charged down the forward slope of the ridge on which his company was positioned, attacking the main body of a German company preparing to assault the ridge. He fired his Bren LMG as he advanced, causing so much surprise and confusion that the Germans broke in disorder and retreated. The lance-corporal returned to his position unharmed.

Sherman tanks of the 46th (Liverpool Welsh) Royal Tank Regiment in support of men of the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, Anzio, Italy, 25 January 1944.

On 30 April Lance-Corporal Kenneally repeated his brave actions when, accompanied by a sergeant of the Reconnaissance Corps, charged the enemy who were again forming up to assault the same ridge. Both men charged the Germans, inflicting heavy casualties on the Germans which resulted in the rout of the German force. The two men began to return to their position but as they did so, Kenneally was hit in the thigh. However, he continued to fight, refusing to relinquish his Bren gun or leave his position. Despite his wound he fought for the rest of the day and for his actions was awarded the Victoria Cross, the regiment's first of the war.

Sixty hand-picked men of the Irish Guards were part of the 14,000 strong British contingent that took part in the victory parade in the capital Tunis on 20 May 1943. In December of that year the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, together with the rest of the brigade, reached the Italian Front.

The battalion took part in the Anzio landings (codenamed Operation Shingle) on 22 January 1944 and saw action at Carroceto where they repulsed several German attacks. The battalion also took part in the attack on Campoleone, where they experienced heavy casualties. A German counterattack was launched several days later. The battalion inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans, but were surrounded the following day with little support against German armour, and were forced to fight their way through to Allied lines, suffering many casualties in the process.

A few further actions took place for the battalion's companies but, by April, the battalion was severely depleted in manpower and returned to the UK, where they would remain for the duration of the war as a training battalion.

1945-Present day[edit]

The Irish Guards' mascot

With Army demobilisation, the 3rd Irish Guards was disbanded in 1946, the 2nd doing so the following year.

In 1947 the 1st Irish Guards deployed abroad for the first time since 1944, heading for troubled Palestine to perform internal security (IS) duties there. After the British left Palestine in May 1948, the battalion moved to Tripoli, Libya and returned home in 1949. The battalion joined the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in West Germany in 1951, remaining there until 1953. After the battalion participated in ceremonial duty for the Coronation of Elizabeth II, it was posted to the Suez Canal Zone in Egypt, remaining there until the British withdrawal in 1956.

In 1958, during troubles in Cyprus when there was much tension, indeed violence, between Greek and Turkish Cypriots and against the British forces by EOKA, the regiment performed vital internal security duties. They returned to Britain in the closing months of that year. In 1961 it was back in West Germany. In 1966, the regiment moved to Aden, another colony experiencing violence. The Irish Guards returned home just before Aden gained independence from the British Empire in 1967.

In 1970 the regiment was posted to the Hong Kong garrison, remaining there for two years until its return to the UK. In 1974, the regiment re-roled as a mechanised battalion, subsequently being posted to the BAOR. In 1977 the regiment suffered their only fatal casualty of The Troubles, when Guardsman Samuel Murphy was shot by the Provisional IRA while walking with his mother near his parent's home in Andersonstown in West Belfast whilst on leave. He later died of wounds.[10][11]

Upon returning to the United Kingdom, however, "The Troubles" reached into central London when an IRA bomb blasted a bus carrying men of the regiment to Chelsea Barracks on 10 October 1981. Twenty-three soldiers and 16 others were wounded and two passers-by killed.[12][13]

The regiment returned to the BAOR in February of the following year, just missing the Falklands War. In 1986, the regiment returned home, receiving new colours two years later from HM The Queen. They returned to Belize later that year, before being posted to the British sector of West Berlin in 1989, their first and only deployment to the city. The regiment were present when the Berlin Wall fell that year. They left the newly united Berlin in 1992.

The Irish Guards and a number of other British Army regiments including the Gurkhas were long exempted from service in Northern Ireland. (Small numbers of Irish Guardsmen, however, gained experience in Ulster while attached to other Guards regiments during their service in the troubled province).[citation needed] The drawdown in the overall size of the British Army following the end of the Cold War, however, meant that this policy was no longer sustainable. The year 1992 saw the regiment finally carry out its first tour-of-duty in Northern Ireland, being based in County Fermanagh.[citation needed] The violence in NI had mostly subsided by this time and their first-ever tour west of the Irish Sea passed quietly.[citation needed] They left the following year. In 1995 their second tour of NI began, based in County Tyrone.[citation needed] The regiment headed for Germany in 1998 as part of British Forces Germany, successor to BAOR.

A Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle of the Irish Guards training with the Kings Royal Hussars in Macedonia, April 1999.

During the troubles in the Balkans in 1999, a company of the Irish Guards deployed to Macedonia while the rest deployed to Kosovo, forming the Irish Guards Battle Group.[citation needed] The Battle Group was the first British unit to enter the Kosovan capital city of Pristina on 12 June and were greeted by the local population who treated the Guards like heroes.[citation needed] After the town had been secured the battle group began to consolidate its position, moving across the surrounding countryside to secure it. The Battle Group performed professionally, attempting to prevent violence from breaking out between the Albanian and Serb Kosovans while also helping to rebuild the country. The regiment left in September, heading back to Germany.

At the funeral of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 2002, the coffin bearer-party was made up of Irish Guardsmen. This was a remarkable honour, given the fact that the late Queen Mother not only was not the regiment's colonel (she was, in fact, colonel-in-chief of the Black Watch), she had no official connection with the regiment at all, in spite of her long identification with it.[14]

In 2003, the regiment deployed to Kuwait during the build-up to the Iraq War. The Irish Guards were part of the 7th Armoured Brigade (successor of the famed 7th Armoured Division, 'The Desert Rats') and began training for the war. The battalion was split up with companies, platoons and sections being attached to various units of the Desert Rats. Upon crossing the Iraq border, the Desert Rats began the journey towards the area around Basra, gradually taking control of much of the area that surrounded Iraq's second largest city.

An Irish Guardsman provides cover for Royal Engineers during the Invasion of Iraq.

Soldiers of the Irish Guards led the British advance on Basra from late March, helping in securing objectives on the outskirts of the city. During the Battle of Basra, the Irish Guards lost two soldiers: Lance Corporal Ian Keith Malone and Piper Christopher Muzvuru. The latter was a native of Zimbabwe, and was the first black piper in the regiment's history. The regiment claim to have been the first to enter Basra on 6 April, stating they did so many hours before the Parachute Regiment.

The Irish Guards reverted from a war-role to performing many duties that would be familiar to any British soldier that has served in Northern Ireland. They performed these duties until early May when they left Iraq. (It is evidence of how seriously stretched is the modern British army that upon their return to the UK, they were almost immediately posted back to Northern Ireland for their third tour.)

In 2005, the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards became the first unit to be officially awarded battle honours for service in Iraq – this was to enable these to be displayed on the battalion's new regimental colour during the Sovereign's Birthday Parade.

As part of the reforms of the army announced in 2004, the Irish Guards will remain as a single battalion regiment but be given a fixed role. It will serve as a light infantry battalion, alternating with the Coldstream Guards on public duties in Windsor.

In 2010, 1st Battalion, Irish Guards deployed as part of the British forces in Afghanistan.[15] An Irish Guardsman was killed in November 2010.[16]


  1. ^ It was claimed that his grave was identified in 1992, though this is disputed.
  1. ^ Combined Irish Regiments Old Comrades Association
  2. ^ Bartlett, Thomas; Jeffery, Keith (1997). A Military History of Ireland. Cambridge University Press. p. 380. ISBN 0-521-62989-6. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Irish Guards Regimental website "103 Years of the Irish Guards"
  4. ^ "Garnet Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley". Enyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  5. ^ McCracken, Donal P (2003). Forgotten protest: Ireland and the Anglo-Boer War. Ulster Historical Foundation. p. 66. ISBN 1-903688-18-3. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  6. ^ R. G. Harris: The Irish Regiments, Spellmount, 1999 edition, "Irish Guards" p. 89
  7. ^ "Court Circular". The Times (36782). London. 31 May 1902. p. 8. 
  8. ^ The Irish Guards in the Great War – First Battalion – Rudyard Kipling p. 57-61
  9. ^ "Europe's Last VC – Guardsman Edward Charlton", After the Battle (magazine) No. 49, 1985. Contains additional memoirs of the surviving Irish Guards officers and men and German officers which correct the original citation.
  10. ^ CAIN Web Service (Conflict Archive on the INternet) at ulst.ac.uk
  11. ^ Lost lives: The stories of the men, women and children who died through the Northern Ireland troubles, David McKittrick
  12. ^ Hansard Debates 27 October 1981 vol 10 cc721-4
  13. ^ Time "Britain: Once More, Terror in the Streets" Nov. 09, 1981
  14. ^ CNN
  15. ^ BBC News
  16. ^ MOD website


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