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.