Guards, the senior Regiment in the British Army, can trace its origins
back to approximately 1651. But generally the date given is 1660, at the
Restoration of King Charles II from his exile in Europe.
They first saw action at the Battle of
Sedgemoor in 1685, but their first battle honour is The Battle of
Dettingen fought on June 16 1743.
After changes to the Army in 1788 The
1st & 2nd Life Guards Regiments were formed, from their descendants,
The Horse Grenadier Guards & four Troops of the Kings Horse Guards.
This period also saw the origins of today's Ceremonial uniform.
The Peninsula Campaign saw The Life
Guards at home until 1812, they then joined Wellingtons army against
Napoleon, as part of the Household Brigade and saw various action until
the end of the campaign in 1814.
May 1815 saw the Regiment embark for
Belgium after the threat of Napoleon once again spread across Europe.
Their first action was in the village of Genappe on 17th seeing off the
French Lancers, after they had routed the British 7th Hussars and the
23rd Light Dragoons. The following day saw the French defeated at
Waterloo. The Life Guards formed part of the Household Brigade
that charged the French Cuirassiers saving the British forces from being
After the death of George III in 1820,
the Blues also joined the 1st & 2nd Life Guards as the third
regiment of the Household Cavalry Regiment.
Not until August 1882 did The Life
Guards once more serve away from home, In Egypt. As part of the
Composite Household Cavalry Regiment, they took part in the moonlight
charge at Kassassin. On September 15 they again saw action at Tel-El-Kebir.
With the Sudan in turmoil, in 1884,
men from the 1st & 2nd Life Guards joined troops from other
cavalry regiments to form The Heavy Camel regiment.
The Boer War (1899/1902) in South
Africa again saw the Household Cavalry Composite Regiment ready for
action. The Relief of Kimberley & Paardeberg being two of the
During World War I, the Regiment saw
action at Mons, Le Château, Ypres, Loos, and Zandvoorde where two
complete squadrons were wiped out. They spent their fair share of time
along with other regiments in the trenches and also fought at Arras, The
Somme and Cambrai. 1918 saw them as specialists with Machine Guns
fighting at Bethune and The Hindenburg Line.
Disappointment for the regiment came
when in 1922 the 1st & 2nd Life Guards where amalgamated to become
The Life Guards (1st & 2nd)", then in 1928 to "The Life
The onset again in 1939 of World War,
saw the Life Guards contribute men to the 1st Household Cavalry Regiment
(1HCR), being sent to Palestine in 1940, with their horses. In 1941 the
horses were relieved and replaced by 15 cwt trucks. The Regiment saw
action in Iraq, Syria and Persia.
Back in the UK the 2nd Household
Cavalry Regiment (2HCR) had been formed and given Armoured Cars. 1HCR
would follow suit but stay in North Africa. 1HCR took part in the Battle
of El Alamein, then in the Italian campaign in 1944. 2HCR landed at
Normandy in July 1944 as an armoured car regiment and spearheaded the
Guards Armoured Brigade advance through France to liberate Brussels.
They reached the bridge at Nijmegan and Arnhem soon after.
After World War II, the Regiment saw
service in Egypt's Canal Zone, Aden, Oman, in Cyprus, Malaya, Singapore
1969 saw the amalgamation of the Royal
Horse Guards (the Blues) and the Royal Dragoons to become the Blues
& Royals. The Royals now becoming part of the Household Cavalry
Since the early seventies, the
Regiment has done several tours of Northern Ireland and a number in
Cyprus as United Nations Forces. The entire Regiment deployed to the
Gulf in 1990, finishing up on the Kuwait City - Basra highway.
During the defence review in 1991, the
Regiment was reduced to two reconnaissance Squadrons based at Windsor with
the Blues and Royals, and one Squadron at Hyde Park to cover ceremonial
duties. The Regiment has more recently had two squadrons on operational
duties in Bosnia with the United Nations.