Jul 29, 2010

Guards Memorial, Horse Guards Parade

Whilst up in London earlier this week attending the private view of the Armed Forces Art Society exhibition at the Mall Galleries I took the opportunity to have a quick look around Horse Guards Parade.

Having moved from London in 2003 it had been some time since I had been in that part of the capital. The most recent visit to the area was in January 2009 to hear the most uninspiring Franky Bostyn lecture on tunnelling in the Great War at the Guards Chapel on Birdcage Walk. This was organised by the Guild of Battlefield Guides and the chapel had the usual feeling of an officers mess. I well recall the most exciting aspect of the evening being when the acknowledged underground expert Johan Vandewalle (who had come over from Belgium) challenged Bostyn on his use of Johan’s written and visual material for his lecture without first obtaining Johan’s permission. That ruckus certainly woke up some of the old boys. Surely the highlight of a most dreary hour and a half?!  Johan’s letter to the Belgian Ambassador can be read here. Sadly he never received  a response from the Ambasador or the Guild.

So, as I recalled this event I strolled over to Horse Guards Parade, killing time before I went to the exhibition.

I walked past the National Police Memorial which I recall reading about when it was unveiled. Next, set on the very edge of St James’s Park is the wonderfully aesthetic Guards Memorial. Having travelled regularly to the battlefields over the past few years with an ex-Scots Guardsman I have been immersed in many deeds of that fine bunch of men. This highly impressive memorial is constructed from Portland stone and was unveiled on 16 October 1926 by the Duke of Connaught. It is dedicated to the five Foot Guards Regiments of the Great War – Grenadier, Scots, Welsh, Irish and Coldstream. There are five beautifully sculpted bronze figures denoting Guardsmen from the five regiments.

Guards Memorial

The Inscription on the memorial above the bronze figures reads:

To the Glory of God. And in the memory of the Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Guardsmen of His Majesty’s Regiments of Foot Guards who gave their lives for their King and Country during the Great War 1914-1918 and of the Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, Men of the Household Cavalry, Royal Regiment of Artillery Corps, Royal Army Medical Corps and other Units while serving the Guard’s Division in France and Belgium 1915-1918, fell with them in the fight for the World’s Freedom.

This Memorial also commemorates all those members of the Household Division who died in the Second World War and in the service of their country since 1918.

The two sides of the memorial list the units in the Guards Division – each battalion on one side – but also the Divisional Troops including Artillery, RAMC and RE Field Companies (good to see 76 Field Company RE named – we used extracts from the diary an officer who served with that company, Lieutenant Harold Ridsdale, in the Passchendaele panorama volume) as well as 46th Mobile Veterinary Section of the RAVC (Royal Army Veterinary Corps).

The final side had the numerous Battle Honours listed. They are:

Mons, Retreat from Mons, Landrecies, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914,  Ypres 1914, Langemarck 1914, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Givenchy 1914, Cuinchy, Neuve Chapelle, Aubers, Festubert 1915, Loos, Mount Sorrel, Somme 1916, Ginchy, Lesboeufs, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Ypres 1917, Pilckem, Menin Road, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917, Bourlon Wood, Gouzeaucourt, Somme 1918, St Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Arras 1918, Lys, Hazebrouck, Albert 1918, Scarpe 1918, Drocourt-Queant, Hindenburg Line, Havrincourt, Canal Du Nord, Cambrai 1918, Selle, Sambre, Mauberge, France & Flanders 1914-1918.

The rear of the Guards Memorial listing their numerous Battle Honours

It really is a most impressive memorial and I would certainly suggest a visit if in the area. It is worth spending a few minutes remembering this fine body of men serve with such distinction on the Western Front throughout the war. Further details can be found at The Guards Museum which is a few minutes walk away on Birdcage Walk.


One Response to “Guards Memorial, Horse Guards Parade”

  1. Mark says:

    Always one to court a bit of controversy! Good on you

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