Welsh Guards

The Welsh Guards (WG) (Welsh Gwarchodlu Cymreig) is an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Guards Division.

Creation in War

The Welsh Guards came into existence on February 26 1915 by order of His Majesty King George V in order to include Wales in the national component to the Foot Guards. They were the last of the Guards to be created, with the Irish Guards coming into being in 1900. Just two days later, the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards mounted its first King's Guard at Buckingham Palace on 1 March 1915 - St David's Day.

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.

On March 17 1915 the 1st Welsh Guards 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 September 27 1915. The regiment's first Victoria Cross came two years later in July 1917 awarded to Sergeant Robert Bye at Pilckem.


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 World War II the 1st Welsh Guards were dispatched to Gibraltar where it remained upon the outbreak of war in September 1939.

Second World War

The regiment was increased to three Battalions during WWII. 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. In 1943 the 3rd Battalion fought throughout the arduous Tunisian 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'. citation needed


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 the state of Israel was declared.

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 in Palestine the Welsh Guards time in Egypt was quite turbulent where they performed internal security duties. They remained in the SEZ until the British withdrawal in 1956, though only shortly afters the UK would be embroiled in the Suez War with Egypt though the Welsh Guards would not participate.

In 1960 the regiment deployed to West Germany again. In 1965 the regiment arrived in Aden, another part of the UK's declining Empire and would return home the following year. In 1970 the regiment arrived in Munster, West Germany as part of 4th Armoured Brigade.

In 1972 the regiment deployed to Northern Ireland (NI), them embroiled in violence that became known as "The Troubles". During their 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 NI again and during their deployment 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. In 1979 while the regiment was once more in the volatile situation in Northern Ireland, they lost Sergeant Paul Fryer to a booby trap bomb. On 9 July 1981, Daniel Barrett aged 15 years, was shot dead by a member of the Welsh Guards. He was sitting on the garden wall of his home in Havana Court, Ardoyne, north Belfast.

Falklands War

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 onboard 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 2:00pm, 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 dreadfully 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 most notably, 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. They had performed with valour and courage in their involvement in a war 8,000 miles from home, all the more astonishing with the fact they were more adjusted to the numerous ceremonial duties they performed in London. 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


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.

In October 1995 In the Company of Men, Three 1 hour documentary films by Molly Dineen about "The Prince of Wales" company of the Welsh Guards on a tour of duty in Northern Ireland was screened 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 of the Khmer Rogue incident in 1993 in which he was captured defending civilians there, 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 Princess 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 reigns supreme 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 engine.

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

In 2005 The Welsh Guards were part of Op 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 is due to deploy to Bosnia in October 2006, replacing the 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment.

Battle honours

World War I:

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

World War II:

Defence of Arras, Djebel el Rhorab, Boulogne 1940, Tunis, St Omer-La-Bassee, Hammam Lif, Bourguebus Ridge, North Africa 1943, Cagny, Monte Ornito, Mont Pincon, Liri Valley, Brussels, Monte Piccolo, Hechtel, Capture of Perugia, Nederrijn, Arezzo, Lingen, Advance to Florence, Rhineland, Gothic Line, North West Europe 1940 and 1944–1945, Battaglia, Fondouk, Italy 1944–1945


Falkland Islands 1982

Other details

The Colonel-In-Chief of the Regiment is Queen Elizabeth II.

The Colonel of the Regiment is Charles, Prince of Wales.

The buttons on their tunics are arranged in groups of 5.

The Motto of the regiment is CYMRU AM BYTH (Wales for Ever).

The capbadge is a Leek, which is the national emblem of Wales.

The Regimental Quick March is the "Rising of the Lark".

The Regimental Slow March is "Men of Harlech".

The Regiment, as with all in the Household Devision has its own band, the Welsh Guards Band.

The Welsh Guards' colours were trooped at Trooping the Colour 2006.

Although known as "the Taffs" to their sister Guards regiments, no nicknames are officially recognized.

Victoria Cross winners

Order of Precedence



External links

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