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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.

Remnants of 2 Company, 3rd Battalion Welsh Guards at Arce 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.

13 Troop 2 Welsh Guards, Enchade Holland 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.


Sergeant Robert Bye VC

Sergeant Robert Bye VCOn the 31st July 1917, Sergeant Robert Bye displayed the utmost courage and devotion to duty during an attack on the enemy's position.

Seeing that the leading waves were being troubled by two enemy block-houses, he, on his own initiative, rushed at one of them and put the Garrison out of action.

He then rejoined his Company, and went forward to the assault of the second objective.

When the troops had gone forward to the attack on the third objective, a party was detailed to clear up a line of block-houses, which had been passed.

Sergeant Robert Bye volunteered to take charge of this party, accomplished his objective, and took many prisoners, thus rendering invaluable assistance to the assaulting Companies.

Lt The Honorable Christopher Furness VC

Lt The Honorable Christopher Furness VCLieutenant the Honorable C Furness was in command of the Carrier Platoon, Welsh Guards, during the period 17th - 24th May 1940, when his Battalion formed part of the garrison of Arras.

During this time his Platoon was constantly patrolling in advance of or between the widely dispersed parts of the perimeter, and fought many local actions with the enemy. Lieutenant Furness displayed the highest qualities of leadership and dash on all these occasions and imbued his command with a magnificent offensive spirit.

During the evening of 23rd May 1940, Lieutenant Furness was wounded when on patrol but he refused to be evacuated. By this time the enemy, considerably reinforced, had encircled the town on three sides and withdrawal to Douai was ordered during the night of 23rd - 24th May. Lieutenant Furness's Platoon, together with a small force of light tanks, were ordered to cover the withdrawal of the transport consisting of over 40 vehicles.

About 0230 hours 24th May, the enemy attacked on both sides of the town. At one point the enemy advanced to the road along which the transport columns were withdrawing, bringing them under very heavy small arms and anti-tank gunfire. Thus the whole column was blocked and placed in serious jeopardy. Immediately Lieutenant Furness, appreciating the seriousness of the situation, and in spite of his wounds, decided to attack the enemy, who were located in a strongly entrenched position behind wire.
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 Leek – the Welsh Guards Regimental Cap Badge

Welsh Guards capbadge

A Regimental cap badge is probably one of the most important, if not the most important, aspects of Regimental Insignia. During the formation of the Regiment in 1915 possible options were the daffodil and the Red Dragon but it was the leek that was authorised as the Regimental Cap Badge by King George V.

The choice of the leek reflected its traditional position as the main national emblem for Wales and its strong association with the military. During the Hundred Years War, Welsh archers wore green and white colours and it is also cited in William Shakespeare’s Henry V. Even before this and according to legend, on the eve of the battle against the Saxons, Saint David advised that leeks should be worn in caps to easily distinguish friend from foe.

The leek is proudly worn by the Welsh people on St David’s Day and the Regiment always celebrate the daywith a parade where leeks are presented to both serving and former members of the Regiment, including the families and the Regimental Band.

The Colours

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.

welsh guards colours

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