THE REGIMENT

The Grenadier Guards is an infantry regiment of the British Army that can trace its lineage back to 1656 when Lord Wentworth’s Regiment was raised in Bruges to protect the exiled Charles II.

They are one of the oldest and most iconic regiments in the British Army.

Whether they are fighting on the front line or guarding a Royal Palace, members of the Regiment are renowned for their determination, loyalty, courage and grit.

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The life of our Regiment began in Flanders. At many times in the last three hundred years, the towns and villages of the Low Countries have been familiar to men of the 1st Guards. They fought in 1658, and again in 1940, against great odds on the road between Furnes and Dunkirk. Under the great Duke of Marlborough, they bore their part in the victories of Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet. At Waterloo in 1815, they won their name, a name to which great honour was added a century later in the mud and suffering of the Western Front. In 1944 they entered Brussels at the head of a victorious British Army. They have returned gloriously many times to Flanders, and in Flanders they were first formed.

In 1656 King Charles II was in exile, and England lay under the military dictatorship of Cromwell, the Lord Protector. In May of that year, the King formed his Royal Regiment of Guards at Bruges under the Colonelcy of Lord Wentworth. The Regiment was first recruited from the loyal men who had followed their King into exile rather than live under tyranny, and their reward came in 1660 when the King was restored to his throne. After the Restoration, a second Royal Regiment of Guards was formed in England under the Colonelcy of Colonel John Russell. In 1665, following Lord Wentworth’s death, both Regiments were incorporated into a single Regiment with twenty-four Companies, whose royal badges or devices, given by King Charles II, are still emblazoned on its Colours.

The Regiment, later termed “The First Regiment of Foot Guards”, and now called “The First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards”, has fought in almost every major campaign of the British Army from that time until our own. Under the last two Stuart Kings, it fought against the Moors at Tangiers, and in America, and even took part as Marines in the naval wars against the Dutch.

In the Wars of the Spanish Succession, the 1st Guards served under a commander who had joined the King’s Company of the Regiment as an Ensign in 1667. His name was John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, who was Colonel of the Regiment and who, with his brilliant victories of Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709), established his reputation as one of the greatest soldiers of all time. The 1st Guards took part in his famous march from the Low Countries to the Danube in 1704, and when the British stormed the fortified heights of the Schellenberg before Blenheim, the Regiment led the assault.

In the long series of wars against France – then the chief military power of Europe – that covered 56 of the 126 years between 1689 and 1815, the 1st Guards played their part. They fought at Dettingen and Fontenoy, where the superb steadiness of their advance under a murderous cannonade won the admiration of both armies. Rigid attention to detail, flawless perfection of uniform and equipment and a discipline of steel were the hard school in which the tempered metal of the Regiment was made for the service of the State. Yet running through that tradition of discipline, of harsh punishments, of undeviating rule, ran a vein of poetry, of humour, of loyalty to a comrade, of sense of belonging to something greater than any individual, something undying and profound, and the letters and diaries of men of the Regiment of those days bear witness to it.

During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the 1st Guards, crossing to Holland in 1793, were among the first British troops to land in Europe. Driven from the Continent two years later, they returned in 1799 when another British Army attempted, though in vain, to liberate Holland. In the autumn and winter of 1808, they took part in Sir John Moore’s classic march and counter-march against Napoleon in Northern Spain and when, under the terrible hardships encountered on the retreat across the wild Galician mountains, the tattered, footsore troops, tested almost beyond endurance, showed signs of collapse, the 1st Foot Guards, with their splendid marching discipline, lost fewer men by sickness and desertion than any other unit in the Army. Subsequently, they took part in the battle of Corunna and when Sir John Moore fell mortally wounded in the hour of victory, it was men of the 1st Foot Guards who bore him, dying, from the field. Next year, they fought again in Spain under one of the great Captains of history, an officer also destined to become Colonel of the Regiment, Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington. Under Wellesley, they took part in the desperate engagements of the Peninsular War.

When, after the victorious peace that followed, Napoleon escaped from Elba and re-entered Paris, the Regiment returned to the Low Countries. In the middle of June 1815, the Emperor struck at the British and Prussian forces north of the Meuse, seeking to separate them and destroy them severely. After a fierce encounter at Quatre Bras on June 16th, 1815, in which the 3rd Battalion suffered heavy casualties, Wellington’s Army withdrew to Waterloo, and on Sunday 18th June fought the battle in which the Regiment gained its present title and undying fame. During the morning the light companies of the Guards defended the farm of Hougoumont, the light companies of the 1st Guards being withdrawn later to join their battalions – the 2nd and 3rd Battalions. At evening these two battalions, together forming the 1st Brigade, were in position behind the ridge which gave shelter to the Army. At this point, Napoleon directed his final assault with fresh troops – the Imperial Guard, which had hitherto been maintained in reserve. That assault was utterly defeated, and, in honour of their defeat of the Grenadiers of the French Imperial Guard, the 1st Guards were made a Regiment of Grenadiers and given the title of “First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards” which they bear to this day.

During the Crimean War, the 3rd Battalion formed part of Lord Raglan’s Army, which stormed the heights above the River Alma and besieged the Russian fortress of Sebastopol. During the early part of that grim siege was fought, in November 1854, the battle of Inkerman. The defence of the Sandbag Battery in the fog against overwhelming odds is one of the epics of British military history. On that day the Brigade of Guards, of which the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards formed part, lost half its officers and men, but not a single prisoner or an inch of ground.

The Grenadier Guards fought at Tel-el-Kebir and in the Boer War, proving the worth of discipline and esprit de corps in the era of khaki, machine guns and open order as they had done under the old dispensation of muskets and scarlet and gold.

In the first Great War of 1914-18, they fought in nearly all the principal battles of the Western front. All but 4 officers and 200 men of the 1st Battalion and 4 officers and 140 men of the 2nd fell in action at First Ypres.

During this war, a 4th Battalion was formed for the first time and covered itself with glory in the critical fighting in the spring of 1918. The Marne, the Aisne, Ypres, Loos, the Somme, Cambrai, Arras, Hazebrouck and the Hindenburg Line are inscribed on the Colours of the Regiment, commemorating its part in the bloodiest war of our history. Before the final victory was won and the German Imperial Army was broken by Britain’s new Armies, 12,000 casualties had been suffered by the Regiment.

In 1939 the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions again returned to the Continent, forming part of the British Expeditionary Force under Lord Gort, himself a Grenadier. During the retreat of 1940, the traditional discipline of the Regiment stood the test as it had done at First Ypres, Corunna and Waterloo. Two of its Battalions fought in the Division then commanded by Major General, later Field Marshal, Montgomery and another in that commanded by Major General, later Field Marshal, Alexander. At Dunkirk, which the Regiment had garrisoned under Charles II, it took part in the defences of the perimeter, under cover of which the embarkation of the Army was made. In the course of that year, the 4th Battalion was re-formed, and in 1941 two further Battalions, the 5th and 6th were raised.

The Regiment was represented in the Eighth Army’s famous advance to Tunisia, taking part in the battle of Mareth, where the 6th Battalion, the first to meet the enemy after the evacuation of Dunkirk, suffered heavy casualties but won the respect of friend and foe alike. The 3rd and 5th Battalions shared in the invasion of North Africa; all three Battalions were engaged in the invasion of Italy and the Italian campaign, the 5th Battalion forming part of the force that landed at Anzio.

Meanwhile, in England, the 2nd and 4th Battalions had been converted to armour, and the 2nd Battalion, with the 1st Battalion, which had become a Motor Battalion, served in the Guards Armoured Division under the command of Major General Allan Adair, another Grenadier, and later to become Colonel of the Regiment. The 4th Battalion formed part of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade. These three Battalions fought in the battles of Normandy and across France and Germany. In September 1944 the 1st and 2nd Battalions entered Brussels. On September 20th tanks of the 2nd Battalion and troops of the 1st Battalion crossed the Nijmegen Bridge. In 1945 the Army entered Germany.

The British public most frequently sees the Grenadier at his ceremonial duties in time of peace. But behind this ceremony lies a tradition tested on the battlefields of British history, a tradition as valid today as ever, a tradition of discipline, comradeship, loyalty and fidelity to one another, to the Country, and the Crown. It was expressed by the then Colonel of the Regiment, the Prince Consort, speaking on the 200th anniversary of our formation in words that remain as true over a century later.

“That same discipline which has made this Regiment ever ready and terrible in war has enabled it to pass long periods of peace in the midst of all temptations of a luxurious metropolis without the loss of vigour and energy; to live in harmony and good-fellowship with its fellow citizens, and to point to the remarkable fact that the Household Troops have for over 200 years formed the permanent garrison of London; have always been at the command of the civil power to support law and order, but have never themselves disturbed that order, or given cause of complaint, either by insolence or licentiousness. Let us hope that for centuries to come, these noble qualities may still shine forth and that the Almighty will continue to shield and favour this little band of devoted soldiers”.

Since 1945 the Regiment has served in virtually every one of the “small campaigns” and crises which have marked the last few decades and has continued its traditional and privileged task of mounting guard over the person of the Sovereign.

In the Gulf War of 1991, the 1st Battalion went from the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) – Germany – to fight in their Warrior armoured personnel carriers.
They then returned to London to Troop their Colour on the Queen’s Birthday Parade in 1992, before going to South Armagh for a six-month operational tour in Northern Ireland.

They have since carried out operational tours in the Falkland Isles, operational tours in Northern Ireland and in April 2000 were part of 12 Mechanised Brigade, ready to embark on operations worldwide.

In 2001, the deployment of troops to Heathrow airport held no surprise to see the Grenadiers, along with the Household Cavalry, deployed in an anti-terrorist role. Even though the year was just 5 weeks old, the Regiment had been on Public Duties, covered for the Firemen strike and had undertaken anti-terrorist duties.

In 2002, the Trooping the Colour Parade was somewhat of a unique occasion as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards were represented on parade by:

  • Escort – The Queen’s Company;
  • No 2 Guard – Nijmegan Company; and
  • No 3 Guard – The Inkerman Company

During its 2007 operational tour in Afghanistan (OP HERRICK 6), the third operational tour in as many years, the 1st Battalion was engaged in some of the fiercest and most prolonged infantry fighting the British Army had experienced in recent times.

In April 2010, the 1st Battalion returned from operations in Afghanistan (OP HERRICK 11).

On Tuesday 11 May 2010, Her Majesty The Queen presented new Colours to the 1st Battalion. The 1st Battalion subsequently Trooped their new Queen’s Colour on the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Parade. The old Colours were laid up in Lincoln Cathedral on Thursday 21 October 2010.

In April 2012, the 1st Battalion deployed on operations in Afghanistan (OP HERRICK 16) and returned to the UK in October 2012.

Her Majesty presented new Colours to Nijmegen Company on Wednesday 26 June 2013.

Since 2013 the Regiment has been on several operational tours and conducted lots of training and Public Duties.

The Covid-19 pandemic that broke in March 2020 has impacted the Regiment. The Battalion is under LONDIST command, but with no State Ceremonial and Public Duties (SCPD) in the present programme, they are doing as much ‘green training’ as possible – focussing on the basics of infanteering; Shoot, Move and
Communicate. They are however maintaining their attention to detail on the drill. With an operationally focussed outlook, there is much to be
done before resubordination to 11 Brigade in February 2022.

Over the early part of 2020, the Battalion has focussed on the delivery of Mobile Testing Units (MTUs), which saw Guardsman deployed across London in ‘pop-
up’ Covid-19 testing sites. The Battalion then took a much-deserved period of summer leave before returning to work.

The Queen’s Company were busy preparing for their four-month tour to the Falkland Islands. As part of their preparation, they assisted another unit on Ex BLUE MAKTIA as their OPFOR. As of late October, they formally took on the responsibility of the Falkland Islands Roulemont Infantry Company (FIRIC) from the Inkerman Company.

Number Two Company completed a three-week exercise in Brecon. The purpose was to build low-level skills and become reacquainted with living in austere conditions for extended periods. The exercise culminated in a Company attack.

At the end of October, The Inkerman Company returned back in the UK from their four-month FIRIC commitment. They then took leave and in November 2020 conducted Autumn drills to be ready to fill the SCPD plot as required.

Support Company focused on building up numbers and internal cadre training, supported another Regiment on a six-week-long Battalion-level test exercise (with the provision of a reconnaissance section, an anti-tank detachment and a mortar line) and finally Battalion-level innovation activities and conceptual training.

Headquarter Company maintained its place as the glue that holds the Battalion together. With so many of the fighting components of the Battalion committed,
keeping the soldiers paid, equipped, fed and watered is challenging!

Battalion Headquarters were busy too. Commanding Officers conducted their handover, a new Adjutant and a new Operations Officer came into post. The Commanding Officer and associated personnel joined Number Two Company in Brecon for their final week of exercise and commanded the final attack. More Battalion-level exercises are in the pipeline for 2022!

Nijmegan Company continues to be the best-manned of the Incremental Companies and during 2020 conducted two (small) Guards of Honour (socially distanced) in one week. They too were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and had no ceremonial element to Public Duties. Guard duties were extended to 7 days in length. Men from the Company conducted their annual battle camp in Brecon, deployed nine Gdsm on FIRIC (Falkland Islands), raised money for Stamford Hall (Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre) by running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours while on Tower Guard, returned to Brecon to focus on fieldcraft and tactics. Nijmegen Company will be on Queen’s Guard and Windsor Guard over Christmas 2020 and deploy on exercise with the 1st Battalion in early 2021 as part of their preparation for Kenya later that year.

The 1st Battalion is presently stationed in Lille Barracks, Aldershot.

Nijmegen Company is stationed in Wellington Barracks, London.

‘Honorary Distinctions’ is the correct description of the Honour awarded in commemoration of Service. Of the many wars and battles it has fought in, the Regiment has been awarded seventy-seven Honorary Distinctions, up to the present day.

Forty-five of these Honorary Distinctions are borne on the Colours of the Regiment, and these are shown below in emboldened text:

Campaign Dates War/Battle/Battle Honour
Tangier 1662-1680 1680 Tangier 1680
War of the League of Augsburg 3 Aug1692 Steenkirk
2 Jul 1693 Landen
3-15 Jul 1695 Namur 1695
August 1689-1697 Flanders 1689-1697
War of the Spanish Succession 1704-1705 Gibraltar 1704-1705
2 July 1704 Schellenberg
13 Aug 1704 Blenheim
18 Jul 1705 Elixheim
Sep-Oct 1705 Barcelona 1705
3 Apr 1706 Barcelona 1706
23 May 1706 Ramillies
25 Apr 1707 Almanza
11 Jul1708 Oudenarde
Aug-Sep 1708 Siege of Lille
11 May 1709 Malplaquet
Jul-Sep 1709 The Siege of Tournay
Aug-Sep 1711 Bouchain
1702-1713 Flanders 1702-13
1702-1713 Peninsula 1702-13
War with Spain 21 Sep 1719 Vigo 1719
22 Feb – 23 Jun 1727 Gibraltar 1727
War of the Austrian Succession 17 Jun 1743 Dettingen
11 May 1745 Fontenay
2 Jul1747 Lauffeld
1742-1748 Flanders 1742-48
Seven Years War 8 Aug- 11 Sep 1758 Cherbourg -St. Cast
15-16 Jul 1761 Vellinghausen (Kirsh Denkern)
24 Jun1762 Wilhelmsthal
1758-1763 Westphalia 1758-1763
American War of Independence 27 Aug 1776 Brooklyn
28 Oct 1776 White Plains
16 Nov 1776 Fort Washington
12 Apr-9 May 1780 Charleston
28 Sep-19 Oct 1781 Yorktown
19 Apr 1775-1782 North America 1775-82
Napoleonic Wars 23 May 1793 Famars
18 Aug 1793 Lincelles
24 Aug 1793 Rosendahl
17-18 May 1794 Turcoing
27 Aug 1799 Landing at the Helder
19 Sep 1799 Schoorl-Oudkarspel
2 Oct 1799 Egmont-op-Zee
2 Oct 1799 Bergen
6 Oct 1799 Akersloot
27 Aug-6 Oct 1799 North Holland/Helder
May 1793-Oct 1799 Flanders 1793-99
16 Jan 1809 Corunna
30 Jul-16 Aug 1809 Walcheren
14-Dec-04 Cadiz 1820
5 Mar 1811 Barossa
25 Jul 31 Aug 1813 San Sebastian
7 Oct 1813 Bidassoa
9-13 Dec 1813 Nive
13 Dec 1813 St. Pierre
Feb 1814 St. Etienne(I)
8-9 Mar 1814 Bergen-op-Zoom
14 Apr 1814 St Etienne(II)
17 Aug 1808-14 Apr 1814 Peninsula
16 Jun 1814 Quatre Bras
18 Jun 1815 Waterloo
Crimean War 20 Sep 1854 Alma
5 Nov 1854 Inkerman
16 Jun-8 Sep 1855 The Redan
19 Jun 1854-8 Sep 1855 Sevastopol
Egypt 1882 13 Sep 1882 Tel-el-Kebir
11 Jul-23 Sep 1882 Egypt 1882
1st Sudan War 17-18 Jan 1885 Abu Klea
1 Mar-14 May 1885 Suakin 1885
20 Mar 1885 Hasheen
2nd Sudan War 5 Sep 1898 Khartoum
2nd Boer War 23 Nov 1899 Belmont
28 Nov 1899 Modder River
11 Dec 1899 Magersfontein
29-May-00 Biddulphsberg
31-May-00 Johannesberg
11-12 Jun1900 Diamond Hill
26-Aug-00 Belfast
12 Oct 1899-31 May 1902 South Africa 1899-1902
1st World War 23-24 Aug 1914 Mons
24 Aug-5 Sep 1914 Retreat from Mons
7-10 Sep 1914 Marne 1914
12-15 Sep 1914 Aisne 1914
19 Oct-22 Nov 1914 Ypres 1914
21-24 Oct 1914 Gheluvelt
11-Nov-14 Nonne Boschen
10-13 Mar 1915 Neuve Chapelle
09-May-15 Aubers
15-25 May 1915 Fesubert 1915
25 Sep-8 Oct 1915 Loos
1 July-18 Nov 1916 Somme 1916 1918
09-Sep-16 Ginchy
15-22 Sep 1916 Flers-Courcelette
25-28 Sep 1916 Morval
31 Jul-10 Nov 1917 Ypres 1917
31 Jul – 2 Aug 1917 Pilckem
20-26 Sep 1917 Menin Road
09-Oct-17 Poelcapelle
12 Oct -10 Nov 1917 Passchendale
20 Nov-3 Dec 1917 Cambrai 1917 1918
20-21 Nov 1917 Gouzeacourt
21-23 Mar 1918 Somme 1918
21-23 Mar 1918 St Quentin
24 Mar-3 Sep 1918 Bapaume 1918
28 Mar-3 Sep 1918 Arras 1918
9-29 Apr 1918 Lys
12-15 Apr 1918 Hazebrouck
21-23 Aug 1918 Albert 1918
26-30 Aug 1918 Scarpe 1918
12 Sep-19 Oct 1918 Hindenburg Line
12-Sep-18 Havrin Court
27 Sep-1 Oct 1918 Canal du Nord
8-9 Oct 1918 Cambrai 1918
17-25 Oct 1918 Selle
04-Nov-18 Sambre
4 Aug 1914-Nov 1918 France & Flanders 1914-1918
2nd World War 10-16 May 1940 The Dyle
26 May-3 Jun 1940 Dunkirk 1940
19 May 1940-19 Aug 1942 North West Europe 1940-42
16-23 Mar 1943 Mareth
23-30 Apr 1943 Medjez Plain
12 Jun 1940-12 May 1943 North Africa 1940-43
9-18 Sep 1943 Salerno
12-25 Oct 1943 Volturno Crossing
5 Nov-9 Dec 1943 Monte Camino
22 Jan-22 May 1944 Anzio
18-19 Jul 1944 Cagny
30 Jul-9 Aug 1944 Mont Pincon
25 Aug-22 Sep 1944 Gothic Line
10-20 Sep 1944 Nijmegen
2-12 Oct 1944 Battaglia
8-13 Sep 1945 The Reichswald
25 Mar-1 Apr 1945 The Rhine
3 Sep 1943-22 Apr 1945 Italy 1943-45
6 Jun 1944-5 May 1945 North West Europe 1944-45
Palestine Sep 1945-Jun 1948 Palestine 1945-48
Malaya Jun 1948-Jul 1960 Malaya 1948-60
Cyprus Apr 1955-Apr 1959 Cyprus
Suez Oct-Dec 1956 Suez
Gulf War 28-Sep-91 Wadi-al-Batin
Gulf

The Colours are decked with laurel wreaths on the following dates:

Date Anniversary
16-Jan CORUNNA
22-Jan ANZIO
05-Mar BARROSA
16-Mar MARETH
24-Mar SOMME (Bapaume)
28-Mar ARRAS
30-Mar RHINE
12-Apr HAZEBROUCK
23-Apr MEDJEZ PLAIN
23-May RAMILLIES
03-Jun DUNKIRK 1940
16-Jun DETTINGEN
18-Jun WATERLOO
11-Jul OUDENARDE
30-Jul MONT PINCON
31-Jul YPRES (Pilckem)
04-Aug FRANCE AND FLANDERS 1914-1918 (Declaration of War)
13-Aug BLENHEIM
18-Aug LINCELLES
21-Aug SOMME (Albert)
25-Aug GOTHIC LINE
27-Aug ARRAS (Scarpe)
02-Sep KHARTOUM
08-Sep MARNE
09-Sep SEVASTOPOL
10-Sep SALERNO
11-Sep MALPLAQUET
12-Sep HINDENBURGH LINE (Havrincourt)
13-Sep TEL-EL-KEBIR
14-Sep AISNE
15-Sep SOMME (Flers-Courcelette)
19-Sep NIJMEGEN
20-Sep ALMA
25-Sep SOMME (Morval)
27-Sep LOOS
27-Sep HINDENBURGH LINE (Canal du No)
02-Oct EGMONT-OP-ZEE
08-Oct CAMBRAI
09-Oct YPRES (Poelcapelle)
29-Oct YPRES (Gheluvelt)
05-Nov INKERMAN
06-Nov MONTE CAMINO
11-Nov YPRES (Nonne Bosschen)
11-Nov FRANCE AND FLANDERS 1914-1918 (Armistice Day)
27-Nov CAMBRAI (Fontaine Notre Dame)
28-Nov MODDER RIVER
30-Nov CAMBRAI (Gouzeau-Court)
13-Dec NIVE

Many customs are associated with the Regiment. Here are but a few of them:

City of Lincoln

All battalions of the Regiment have the right to march through the City of Lincoln with Colours flying, drums beating and bayonets fixed. Battalions invariably exercise this right when marching through the City boundaries, but are required to inform the Mayor of Lincoln of their intention to do so. The Honorary Freedom was granted to the Regiment on 7 March 2008.

City of London

All battalions of the Regiment have the right to march through the City of London with Colours flying, drums beating and bayonets fixed. Battalions invariably exercise this right when marching through the City boundaries, but are required to inform the Lord Mayor of their intention to do so. The right formerly possessed by the 3rd Battalion only was extended to the remaining Battalions of the Regiment in October 1915.

City of Manchester

All battalions of the Regiment have the right to march through the City of London with Colours flying, drums beating and bayonets fixed. Battalions invariably exercise this right when marching through the City boundaries, but are required to inform the Lord Mayor of their intention to do so. The right formerly possessed by the 3rd Battalion only was extended to the remaining Battalions of the Regiment in October 1915.

3rd Battalion – Corps of Drums

In the 17th Century, the 3rd Battalion of the Regiment served as Marines in His Majesty’s ships in the wars against the Dutch. In consequence, the Drums of the Battalion continued the custom handed down from that time of playing ‘Rule Britannia’ before the National Anthem at Tattoo.

The Inkerman Company

When the 3rd Battalion of the Regiment was placed in suspended animation on 31st March 1961, Her Majesty The Queen directed that a composite company should be formed from all ranks of the 3rd Battalion and should become the Left Flank Company of the 2nd Battalion to keep alive the traditions of the 3rd Battalion.

Her Majesty directed that this new Company should be known as The Inkerman Company. In 1997 the 2nd Battalion was also placed in suspended animation and so the Inkerman Company became the Left Flank Company of the 1st Battalion. The Company call of The Inkerman Company is the former 3rd Battalion Call.

Nijmegan Company

Nijmegan Company was formed in 1994, from the Second Battalion Grenadier Guards and is based, at present, in London. It is ready for deployment anywhere in the world and engages in an overseas exercise once or twice a year. Previous deployments have included Canada, America, Cyprus, Belize, Holland and Italy and in 2000 they completed Arctic warfare training. After a period of sustained public duties, the Company conducted a period of “green” training that culminated in a large exercise in Sennybridge in December 2004.

Hyde Park

It is a custom of the Regiment to march at attention across Hyde Park Corner. This custom dates from the days when the First Duke of Wellington lived at Apsley House and the troops of the Brigade were invariably called to attention when passing his residence. Ever since his death, the custom has been kept up by the Regiment.

The General Reveille is always played by the Corps of Drums on the morning of a change of quarters.

Privileges of The Queen’s Company

Apart from the privileges set out in Her Majesty’s Regulations for the Household Division, the Grenadier Guards have the following privileges:

  • The Sovereign’s Company has the privilege of being on duty in Westminster Abbey on the occasion of the Coronation of the Sovereign.
  • The Sovereign’s Company performs the duty of watching over the dead body of a Sovereign before any public lying-in-state, and the Company Colour of the Sovereign’s Company is buried with the Sovereign at the committal. The Sovereign’s Company provides the Bearer Party at the Sovereign’s Funeral.

Dress

There are certain customs and traditions concerning dress:

  • The bearskin cap with white plume was, in the past, the distinctive headdress of the Grenadier and, as such, was worn by all the Grenadier Companies of the Army. On the First Guards becoming a Regiment of Grenadiers in 1815, they were granted the bearskin cap hitherto only worn by the Grenadier Companies of the Army. King William IV, to secure uniformity in the Brigade of Guards, granted the bearskin to the Coldstream Guards and the Scots Guards who adopted it with a red plume and no plume respectively, in 1832.
  • At the funeral of Charles II, the Arms of England and of France were incorporated on the mourning band. It is to commemorate this that the Fleur-de-Lys is worked in a braid on the tunics of Drummers of the Regiment. The practise has been adopted for all Drummers of Regiments of the Guards Division.

The Regiment has many different Regimental Terms in use. Here are but a few of them:

Acknowledging Orders

When a Grenadier acknowledges an order he does so with the word ‘Sir‘.

Regimental Motto

The motto of the Grenadier Guards is Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil be to he who evil thinks) (French)

Insignia and Recognition

  • Cap Badge – Modern Grenadier Guardsmen wear a cap badge of a “grenade fired proper” with seventeen flames (Note: the number of points to the flames has differed over the years)
  • Plume – White – Worn on the LEFT side of the Bearskin cap
  • Identification Symbol – The Tactical Recognition Flash (TRF) of the Regiments of the Household Division
  • Buttons – The grouping of buttons on the tunic is a common way to distinguish between the regiments of Foot Guards. Grenadier Guards’ buttons are equally spaced and embossed with the Royal Cypher reversed and interlaced surrounded by the Royal Garter bearing the words of the Regimental motto.

Abbreviation

Until the late 1970s, the abbreviation of the Grenadier Guards was GGG. Three G’s were used, instead of GG, to more easily differentiate against the abbreviation of CG that was used for the Coldstream Guards. From the late 1970s, the abbreviation for the Grenadier Guards was changed to GREN GDS.

Appointments and Ranks

It is customary for Grenadiers holding certain ranks to be referred to in a manner different from that which is laid down in Queen’s Regulations. The appointments and ranks concerned and how they are referred to are given below:

The Colonel of the Regiment ‘The Colonel’
The Lieutenant Colonel Commanding the Regiment ‘The Lieutenant Colonel’
The Officer Commanding a Battalion ‘The Commanding Officer’
The Second in Command of a Battalion ‘The Senior Major’
The Officer Commanding The Queen’s Company ‘The Captain’
The Second in Command of The Queen’s Company ‘The Second Captain’
Officers under the rank of Captain (collectively) ‘Subaltern Officers’
Subaltern Officers (individually) ‘Mr …………………………. ‘
Subaltern Officers (in private correspondence) ‘ ………………………… Esq’
2nd Lieutenants of the Regiment (collectively) ‘Ensigns’
A Major or Captain in a Battalion who is on duty for the week ‘The Captain of the Week’
Subaltern officers on duty for a day ‘The Piquet Officer’
The Superintending Clerk at Regimental Headquarters ‘The Superintending Clerk’
A Regimental Sergeant Major ‘The Sergeant Major’
A Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant ‘The Quartermaster Sergeant’
A Company Quartermaster Sergeant ‘Pay Sergeant’
A Full Sergeant ‘Gold Sergeant’
A Full Corporal ‘Lance Sergeant’
The Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of the Tailors Shop ‘The Master Tailor’
The Warrant Officer or Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of the Soldiers Cookhouse ‘The Master Cook’
The Bass Drummer of the Regimental Band and Corps of Drums ‘The Time Beater’
The Soldiers of the Regimental Band ‘Musicians’
A Soldier of the Corps of Drums ‘Drummer’

Offices

Certain places used by the Regiment in which discipline is administered (which is referred to as Memoranda) are known by particular names:

  • ‘The Orderly Room’ – The Office in which the Commanding Officer and Adjutant of a Battalion conduct their Memoranda
  • ‘The Company Bunk’ – The Office in which a Company Commander conducts his Memoranda

Communication

When a Grenadier wishes to speak to an officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer or guardsman, and there is two or more present and one of them is senior to himself, he is to ask the senior officer, warrant officer or non-commissioned officer present for ‘Leave to speak to’ the person he wishes to address. Officers, however, will only observe this custom in the Orderly Room, Company Bunk or when on parade. When ‘Leave to fall out’, has been obtained a Grenadier will turn in the direction he intends to go.

Nicknames

By long tradition the Regiment has had the following nicknames:

  • The Regiment – The Bill Browns
  • 1st Battalion – The Dandies
  • 2nd Battalion – The Models
  • 3rd Battalion – The Ribs

Battalion Colours

Each Battalion has two Colours, the Queen’s Colour and the Regimental Colour:

The Queen’s Colours. These Colours (except for the fourth Battalion), are made of Crimson Silk. Each of the Battalion’s Colours differs as follows:

  • First Battalion. Gules, in the centre the Imperial Crown below this a grenade. The Regiment’s Battle Honours are also inscribed.
  • Second Battalion. Gules, in the centre the Royal Cypher proper and reversed interlaced or, ensigned with the Imperial Crown: in the dexter canton the Union Flag of the United Kingdom. A grenade and the Regiment’s Battle Honours are also inscribed
  • Third Battalion. Gules, in the centre the Royal Cypher proper and reversed interlaced or, ensigned with the Imperial Crown: in the dexter canton the Union and issuing therefrom in hand dexter a pile wavy of the second. A grenade and the Regiment’s Battle Honours are also inscribed.
  • Fourth Battalion. The Battalion’s Colour was presented in 1919. In its original form, this Colour was a plain Union Flag. This colour is worthy of special note because:
    1. it is unusual within the Household Division for a Union Flag to be issued as a King’s Colour which is contrary to normal practice
    2. it had no companion colour
    3. it is rare for an additional Battalion, raised in War, to be presented with a Colour
    4. the 4th Battalion Colour is now laid up in the Chapel of the Army Training Regiment, Pirbright

Regimental Colours

The Regimental Colours are a Union with a company badge in the centre, surrounded by the Imperial Crown and with below the Company numeral and the grenade fired proper, with the battle honours inscribed and the number of the Battalion in Roman Numerals in the dexter canton. An arrangement that the Company Colours should be borne in rotation on Regimental Colours, was confirmed by a Regimental Order in 1855.

View the old Regimental Colours of 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards

The Queen’s Company Colour

The Full Title is ‘The Queen’s Company Colour, the Royal Standard of the Regiment’.

  • the Colour will be carried only when the Regiment is employed on Ceremonial duties when Her Majesty The Queen is present, and on no other occasion
  • if on such occasions the 1st Battalion is detailed to find a Guard of Honour, the Queen’s Company will furnish the Guard and will carry the Colour
  • if the Regiment is not detailed to furnish the Guard of Honour, and the Queen’s Company is not present, the Colour will not be carried
  • the Colour will be lowered only to Her Majesty The Queen, HRH The Colonel and Her Majesty The Queen Mother
  • by an order from Buckingham Palace, dated 26th October 1937, the Colour is to be lowered on every occasion when The Queen is present, even if the Guard is mounted in honour of some other personage

When not carried by a Guard of Honour

When a Guard of Honour is furnished by the Queen’s Guard, the Queen’s Company Colour will not be carried. The original orders dated 27th October 1902, signed by His Majesty King Edward VII, are preserved at Regimental Headquarters.

Company Badges

Under Royal Warrant of King Charles II, 24 colours were issued to the Regiment for use as Company Colours: on each was a Royal badge.

In 1854, Queen Victoria’s sanction was obtained for an additional series of 6 badges and since that time 30 Company Badges have remained in use in the Regiment and are the basis of our Colours today.

Company Colours ceased to be re-issued after 1838 except for those issued in rotation as Regimental Colours to Battalions. After 1859 these were issued as and under the title of, Regimental rather than Company Colours.

The Company Badges are now borne in rotation on the Regimental Colours of Battalions and the 30 Company marking flags, properly known as Camp Flags or Camp Colours.

View the Company Colours

14th Company

All Grenadiers serving at the Infantry Training Centre are known collectively as 14th Company, Grenadier Guards, and have their own 14th Company Colour.

15th Company

15th Company comprises the Regimental Band and all staff at Regimental Headquarters. The Regimental Adjutant is the Company Commander of 15th Company.

The Band of the Grenadier Guards is one of the world’s premier military bands and has a long and distinguished history. It is one of the oldest and most famous military bands in the world with a vast and illustrious history dating back over 300 years.

It was formed under the rule of King Charles II on his return to power from exile. King Charles II restored not only the Monarchy to England but also the patronage of the arts, not least by laying the foundations of the Band of the Grenadier Guards. The first mention of music in the Regiment is a Royal Warrant issued by King Charles II in 1685, the year of the birth of Bach and Handel, authorising the maintenance of twelve Hautbois in the King’s Regiment of Foot Guards in London.

The death of King Charles II in 1685 was so significant for the band that until the Second World War, the Bass Drummer (known officially as The Regimental Timebeater), wore a black armband in mourning of the king’s death

The Regiment’s music was then gradually expanded by the addition of other instrumentalists; three more Hautbois were added in 1699 and two French Horns in 1725, according to the St James’s Evening Post, Bugle Horns costing £27 were added in 1772.

By 1783 the Band had attained the perfect balance of two Oboes, two Clarinets, two Horns and two Bassoons – a mere eight players. But the strength of the Band increased rapidly in the latter part of the 18th Century so that in 1794 it is recorded as comprising one Flute, six Clarinets, three Bassoons, three Horns, one Trumpet, two Serpents and ‘Turkish Music’. (This being Negro time-beaters who played the Bass Drum, Cymbals and Tambourine).

In the 19th Century, many notable changes took place as new instruments and techniques were invented; in 1848 the Band listed two Flutes, one Piccolo, three Eb Clarinets, eight Bb Clarinets, three Bassoons, four French Horns, a family of Trumpets, one Althorn, three Tambourines, two Ophicleides and Drums. Still later were added Cornets, Bass, Euphonium, Flugel Horn and Saxophones and by 1858 the Band must have sounded much as it does today.

The Band of the Grenadier Guards has been filling the streets of London with pomp and ceremony for over three centuries and is a truly historic sight and sound. The Band has served 15 monarchs over 326 years with dedication and pride and it has been present at all the major royal occasions: births, coronations, weddings and funerals. The Band has been a witness to all London’s key historic events, both tragic and joyful; it raised morale during the darkest hours of the Second World War and its uplifting music ushered in a new beginning at the coronation of the present queen.

The “British Grenadiers March” is one of the most recognisable and memorable tunes in the world and is part of Britain’s musical heritage. One of the band’s admirers during the 18th century was George Frideric Handel – so much so that he presented the march from Scipio to the regiment before including it in his opera of that name when it was first performed in 1726. George II gave Handel the task of re-scoring the Music for the Royal Fireworks, most commonly performed with strings, for the king’s own musicians, who were wind players from his foot guards. Handel would have undoubtedly come into contact with musicians from the Grenadier Guards during the first performance at Vauxhall Gardens in 1749.

During its long history, the Band has made many tours abroad including USA and Canada, France, Italy and North Africa, Gibraltar, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Germany, Switzerland and many short visits to France and Belgium.

The Band is permanently based at Wellington Barracks, London, from where it can provide musical support to the British Army primarily through participation in State and Ceremonial occasions including The Queen’s Birthday Parade, the daily Guard Mounting Ceremony in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, at Investitures, State Banquets, State Visits and many of Her Majesty’s engagements at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and elsewhere. The band also performs at other non-military events such as Henley Regatta, Royal Ascot, the FA Cup Final and international rugby matches and opened the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. The Band of the Grenadier Guards also visits schools to take part in musical concerts and workshops.

The Band shares these duties with the Bands of the other Foot Guards Regiments – and together these form the ‘Massed Bands’ for The Queen’s Birthday Parade and other ceremonial occasions on Horse Guards Parade in London.

The Band is formed with male and female musicians who could also provide other ensembles such as a concert band, a marching band, an orchestra, a dance band, or a fanfare of trumpets.

Although the Band is permitted to tour abroad, to broadcast, to make records and to undertake private engagements its main function is that of a Regimental Band.

In the event of war, the whole Band provides essential war-time reinforcements as medical orderlies.

Whilst, until “Options for Change” defence reviews in the 1990s, it was previously an integral part of the Regiment, the band is now one of just 14 remaining military bands that form The Royal Corps of Army Music (CAMUS), now the newest and most junior Corps of the British Army dedicated to the provision and promotion of military music.

The Regimental Marches consist of the following:

Slow Marches

  • “The March from Sciplo”
  • “The Duke of York’s March”

Quick Marches

  • “The British Grenadiers”
  • “The Grenadier’s March” (in certain cases also used as a slow march)

Facts

  • “The March from Scipio” was composed for the First Guards by Handel, and was presented by him to the Regiment before its inclusion in the opera which was first performed in 1726.
  • “The British Grenadiers” and “The Grenadiers March” were the marching tunes of the Grenadier Companies of the whole Army. They were adopted by the First Guards on becoming a Regiment of Grenadiers in 1815. The Grenadier Companies were the right flank Companies of Infantry Battalions. Their association with these two marches is perpetuated in the ceremony of Trooping the Colour when, whatever the regiment, The Escort for The Colour (the right flank company on parade) marches out to receive the Colour to the tune of “The British Grenadiers”, and troops it along the line in slow time to the tune of “The Grenadiers’ March”.
  • The Regiment marches past in quick time to “The British Grenadiers”, and into Camp or Barracks to “The Grenadiers’ March”, on which occasions the latter may be referred to as “The Grenadiers Return”.

The Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

It was founded by Royal Warrant on 29 January 1856 and was originally intended to be awarded to members of the Royal Navy and British Army who, serving in the presence of the enemy, should have performed some signal act of valour or devotion to their country.

As Queen Victoria pointed out, it was not an Order, such as the Garter of the Bath. It offered no knighthood, bore no religious significance and contained no ranks within itself. It was intended solely as a decoration “to be highly prized and eagerly sought after by the officers and men of Our naval and military services”.

Pensions were granted to all holders of the Victoria Cross below commissioned rank, and an expulsion clause allowed for a recipient’s name to be erased from the official register in certain wholly discreditable circumstances, and his pension cancelled. King George V felt so strongly that the decoration should never be forfeited. In a letter to his Private Secretary, Lord Stamfordham, on 26 July 1920, his views are forcibly expressed: “The King feels so strongly that, no matter the crime committed by anyone on whom the VC has been conferred, the decoration should not be forfeited. Even where a VC to be sentenced to be hanged for murder, he should be allowed to wear his VC on the gallows”.

Since the original 1856 warrant, others have been issued modifying or limiting the VC’s provisions. In 1858 Queen Victoria decreed that the VC could be won by those who “may perform acts of conspicuous courage and bravery … in circumstances of extreme danger, such as the occurrence of a fire on board ship, or of the foundering of a vessel at sea, or under any other circumstances in which … life or public property may be saved”. This warrant was only used twice.

In 1881, a new VC warrant was signed which stated “Our Will and Pleasure is that the qualification (for the award of the Victoria Cross) shall be “Conspicuous bravery or devotion to the country in the presence of the enemy”. It was this last stipulation that necessitated the introduction of the George Cross in 1940.

In 1902 King Edward VII approved the extremely important principle of awarding the VC posthumously. In 1911 King George V admitted native officers and men of the Indian Army to eligibility, and in 1920, it was extended to include the Royal Air Force, and “matrons, sisters, nurses … serving regularly or temporarily under the orders, direction or supervision” of the military authorities. It was against emphasised that the VC “… shall only be awarded for most conspicuous bravery or some daring pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.”

Queen Victoria chose the design for the new decoration. It is in the form of a Maltese Cross ensigned with the Royal Crest and a scroll inscribed simply “For Valour”. It is connected by a V-shaped link to a bar engraved on the face with the recipient’s name. The date of the deed for which the honour is bestowed is engraved on the back of the Cross itself. It is worn on the left breast, before all other medals and awards, suspended from a 1½-inch wide red ribbon. Originally the VC ribbon was blue for the Navy, and dark red for the Army. Since 1918, all VC awards use the crimson shade. The medal itself was, and still is, made of bronze melted down from the Russian cannons captured at Sevastopol in the Crimean War.

Fourteen Grenadiers have been awarded the Victoria Cross. The recipients were:

Crimea

World War 1

World War 2

Afghanistan

GUARDING THE QUEEN – EPISODE 1 (2008)

The very first-time cameras were allowed behind the scenes at the Royal Palaces to see the historic and hidden world of the Grenadier Guards and the training undertaken by the men who will be Guarding the Queen.

Queen Elizabeth II invites guard members to a party at Windsor Castle; and a guard recruit nears the end of his training.

ShowGuarding the Queen
Air date: 1 April 2008

Video length 46 minutes 32 seconds
(All credit to the All3Media and YouTube)

GUARDING THE QUEEN – EPISODE 2 (2008)

In this second episode of “Guarding The Queen”, Major Thorold Youngman Sullivan and Company Sergeant Major Steve Munro have their work cut out to maintain the impeccable Grenadier standards while many of their most experienced men are sent to Afghanistan.

A Grenadier faces retirement; a new recruit longs to join fighting forces in Afghanistan; and the palace prepares for a visit from Ghana president John Agyekum Kufuor.

ShowGuarding the Queen
Air date8 April 2008

Video length 46 minutes 32 seconds
(All credit to the All3Media and YouTube)

GUARDING THE QUEEN – EPISODE 3 (2008)

In this final episode, the Guards on ceremonial duty are in London practicing for Trooping the Colour alongside their regimental rivals, the Coldstream Guards.

The series concludes as the Grenadiers perform color-guard exercises in London; and they attend private ceremonies for their fellow troops who were killed in action in Afghanistan.

ShowGuarding the Queen
Air date: 15 April 2008

Video length 46 minutes 32 seconds
(All credit to the All3Media and YouTube)

FOR QUEEN AND COUNTRY (2010)

A documentary following the Grenadier Guards as they prepared to lead the 2010 Trooping the Colour. However, these men had precious little time to prepare; as fighting soldiers, they had just spent six months on the front line in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.

This is the story of how one and a half thousand men and women join together to create one of the greatest military ceremonies on earth.

It is a ceremony with just one standard: Excellence.”

ShowFor Queen and Country
Air date: 7 June 2010

Video length 58 minutes 52 seconds
(All credit to the BBC, IMDbPro and YouTube)

GRENADIER GUARDS (CEREMONIAL) – ARMY REGIMENTS – ARMY JOBS (2014)

Lance Corporal Iain Maynard from the Grenadier Guards gives some insight into what it’s like serving in the British Army as part of this historic regiment.

ShowArmy Jobs
Air date: 5 February 2014

Video length 1 minutes 51 seconds
(All credit to Army Jobs)

GRENADIER GUARDS (INFANTRY) – ARMY REGIMENTS – ARMY JOBS (2014)

The Grenadier Guards has one of the finest, and best reputations as a tough fighting force. A regiment that has a proud history of service to the sovereign in times of war and peace. Physically and mentally tough, you will live by a professional code of excellence and self-discipline. And you’ll have a steady and safe wage coming in every month.

ShowArmy Jobs
Air date: 16 May 2014

Video length 2 minutes 47 seconds
(All credit to Army Jobs)