Tag Archives: coldstream guards

Pompey’s WW1 Guardsmen – A to C

Between 1914 and 1918 four men from Portsmouth with surnames from A to C were killed serving with the Foot Guards Regiments.

The Guards Regiments were considered to be elite of the British Army’s infantry. The Guards had no territorial battalions and no ‘Kitchener Battalions’ of the New Army. They did eventually expand and raise new battalions of their own, taking in duration-only volunteers and conscripts. These were however very much proper Guards Battalions, and maintained the pre-war standards of efficiency.

Englishmen normally joined either the Grenadier Guards, or the Coldstream Guards if they happened to come from a county on the route that the forefathers of that regiment marched fromn Coldstream to London. Although in wartime these conventions were less strictly enforced, most Portsmouth Guardsmen seem to have been Grenadiers.

The Guards Division fought in the first battle of Passchendaele. Lance Corporal G.A. Bignell, from Copnor, was killed on 9 October 1917. He was serving with the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards, who at the time were part of the Guards Division. He is buried in Artillery Wood Cemetery, Belgium.

The Guards suffered heavily during the Battle of Cambrai. Private Harry Bower, 31 and from Hertford Street, Portsmouth, was killed on 27 November 1917. He was serving with the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. They were also part of the Guards Division. He has no known grave, and is remembered on the Cambrai Memorial, France. Private James Chant, of the 4th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards, was killed on 1 December 1917. They were part of the Guards Division. He is also remembered on the Cambrai Memorial.

Private Robert Arnold, 20 and from Newcome Road, Fratton, was serving with the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards when he was killed on 27 August 1918. They were also part of the Guards Division. He is buried in Mory Abbey Cemetery, France. Tragically this was during the last battle of the Somme, just months before the end of the war.

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Pompey’s WW2 Guardsmen

Guards

Seven men from Portsmouth died whilst serving with the Foot Guards Regiments between 1939 and 1947. They were all serving with the two English Guards Regiments – the Grenadier Guards or the Coldstream Guards.

Guardsmen have always have a vaunted place in British Army culture, regarded as steadfast and well known for their public duties in London as bodyguards to the Sovereign. Prior to the Second World War Guards recruits had to be at least 5 foot 10 inches tall, and initially enlisted for at least seven years.

Guardsman David Lyons, 32 and from North End, was serving with the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. He died on 13 October 1940 and is buried in Enghien, Belgium. That he is buried in Belgium and died later in 1940 would suggest that he was probably taken prisoner during the battles in Belgium and France in the summer of 1940. Perhaps he had been too seriously wounded to be moved to a camp in Germany.

Guardsman Gilbert Gregory, from North End, died on 2 April 1941 and is buried in Kingston Cemetery. He was serving with the Grenadier Guards. Lance Corporal George Hawkins, 30 and from Southsea, was serving with the 6th Battalion of the Coldstream Guards when he died on 2 November 1941. He is buried in Kingston Cemetery.

Guardsman Harry Davies, 32, was serving with the 5th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards when he was killed in Tunisia on 27 April 1943, during the closing stages of the war in North Africa. He is buried in Massicault War Cemetery, Tunisia.

A Guards Armoured Division took part in the libration of Europe from D-Day onwards, and saw heavy fighting in France, Belgium, Holland and finally Germany. Guardsman Clarence Bull, 24 and from Fratton, was serving with the 5th Battalion of the Coldstream Guards, a motorized infantry unit, when he was killed on 21 July 1944. This was the day after Operation Goodwood had been halted. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Bayeux Memorial. Guardsman Henry Davis, 20 and from Stamshaw, was killed on 11 August 1944. He is buried in St Charles de Percy War Cemetery, and had been serving with the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards – another motorized infantry unit.

A Sherman of the Grenadier Guards crossing Nijmegen Bridge

A Sherman of the Grenadier Guards crossing Nijmegen Bridge

The Guards Armoured Division provided the spearhead for Operation Market Garden. Sergeant Robert Wakeford, 31, was killed on 20 September 1944 and is buried in Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Holland. He was a member of the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, an armoured unit that was at that point fighting hard around Nijmegen.

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Heroes – The Band of the Coldstream Guards

My good friend Adrian has put together a review of ‘Heroes’, the latest release by the Band of the Coldstream Guards.

Regular readers will know that I have a soft-spot for military music, or ‘music to make you feel ten feet tall’ as I have heard it called. I’ve been listening to this one at work and in the car recently.

Rather than review it myself, why not have a look at Adrian’s review on his own blog:

Album Review: Band of the Coldstream Guards – Heroes

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