History of the Regiment
The Welsh Guards was raised on 26 February 1915 by order of King George V, in order to complete the national complement of regiments of Foot Guards identified with the countries of the United Kingdom.
On inception the Regiment took its place alongside the English Grenadier Guards and Coldstream Guards, the Scots Guards and the Irish Guards. Two days later, the Battalion 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 and formed part of the Guards Division. Its first battle was fought at Loos on 27 September 1915 and the Regiment's first Victoria Cross was won by Sergeant Robert Bye at Pilckem in July 1917.
Between the wars the 1st Battalion was stationed in Cologne, Egypt and Gibraltar, where it was at the outbreak of war in 1939.
The Regiment was expanded to three Battalions during World War II. The 1st Battalion fought in all the campaigns of North West Europe. The 2nd Battalion was formed in 1939 and fought in Boulogne in 1940, whilst the 1st Battalion was in Belgium as part of the British Expeditionary Force.
In May 1940, at the Battle of Arras, the Regiment's second Victoria Cross was won by Lieutenant the Hon Christopher Furness, who was killed in action. In 1941, a 3rd Battalion was raised and fought throughout the Tunisian and Italian Campaigns.
Meanwhile, the 1st and 2nd Battalion formed part of the Guards Armoured Division - the 1st Battalion as infantry and the 2nd Battalion as an Armoured Battalion. The two Battalions working together were 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 dash unequalled for speed in this or any other war".
Shortly after the war, the 3rd Battalion was disbanded and the 2nd Battalion was placed in suspended animation. In the second half of the last century the 1st Battalion served in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Egypt, Germany, Aden, Cyprus and Belize, as well as forming part of the task force that fought in the Falklands campaign in 1982. The Battle Honour for which is now borne on the colours.
Exercises have been conducted all around the world, including in the USA, Canada, Greece, Belize, Norway, Kenya, Morocco, Gibraltar, Macedonia, Poland and France.
In the last ten years the 1st Battalion has deployed on Operations on two tours of Bosnia and tours of Northern Ireland, Iraq, Kosovo as well as two operational tours in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2012.
Lieutenant Furness advanced with three carriers, supported by the light tanks. At once the enemy opened up with very heavy fire from small arms and anti-tank guns. The light tanks were put out of action, but Lieutenant Furness continued to advance. He reached the enemy position and circled it several times at close range, inflicting heavy losses. All three carriers were hit and most of their crews killed or wounded. His own carrier was disabled and the driver and Bren Gunner killed.
He then engaged the enemy in personal hand-to-hand combat until he was killed. His magnificent act of self-sacrifice against hopeless odds, and when already wounded, made the enemy withdraw for the time being and enabled the large column of vehicles to get clear unmolested and covered the evacuation of some of the wounded of his own Carrier Platoon and the light tanks.
The current Colours were presented to the Regiment on 30th April 2015 in the Quadrangle, Windsor Castle by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Welsh Guards have been awarded a total of forty-seven Battle Honours with twenty-one being borne on the Colours.