Coldstream Guards

History

tally ho

"Tally Ho" War Hero honoured with VC paving stone 100 years on.

On the 15th September 2016 a special momorial commemorating the VC recipient Brigadier John Campbell was unveiled by his grand-daughter, Deidre Carney, and the Lord Mayor of Westminster, one hundred years to the day after he was awarded the honour, whilst leading the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions Coldstream Guards at Ginchy during the Battle of the Somme. 

The Regiment was raised in June 1650 when Oliver Cromwell appointed George Monck to command a New Model Army Regiment.  Owing to Monck’s former Royalist service, five companies were drafted from Hazlerigg’s and Fenwick’s staunchly Parliamentary Regiments.  Monck’s Regiment saw its first action at Dunbar against the Scots (3rd September 1650), gaining the Dunbar Medal.  For three weeks in late 1659 Monck’s Regiment stayed in Coldstream, on the Scottish border. Prompted by widespread anarchy, Monck set out on 1st January 1660 to march his Regiment to London.  Monck and his Regiment played a crucial part in restoring law and order, and supporting the elections that led to the restoration of the Monarchy and the return of King Charles II.  Monck was richly rewarded by Charles II, who made him a Knight of the Garter.  The Regiment has used the Garter Star as its capbadge ever since.

The New Model Army had been almost completely disbanded when Venner led an insurrection in the City of London and Monck’s Regiment, almost the only disciplined force available, again restored order.  Monck’s Regiment was granted the privilege, on 14th February 1661, of laying down its arms as a Parliamentary Regiment and taking them up again as the Lord General’s Regiment of Foot Guards in the Service of the Crown.  The Regiment is thus the oldest Regular British Army Regiment in continuous succession.  The Regiment has retained some New Model Army distinctions to this day, notably the predominantly white (Parliamentary) colour of the drum hoops; it is likely that the white band on the Coldstream forage cap also reflects this connection.  When Monck died in 1670 the Regiment became known as the Coldstream Guards.

The Regiment has served in every major conflict (and many minor ones) since that time.  Detachments served with the Royal Navy, Monck himself achieving distinction as an Admiral in 1666: men of Monck’s Regiment were detached to form the Royal Marines in 1664.  Fifty men of the Lord General’s Regiment served under Sir Robert Holmes on his expedition to Guinea and America in 1664 (when he renamed the town he captured New York).  Holmes, a Royal Navy Captain, held a Coldstream Officer’s Commission.  Larger contingents served in Tangier (1680) and at the 1695 Siege of Namur during the War of the League of Augsburg.  The Regiment garrisoned Gibraltar after its capture in 1704 and fought in the War of the Spanish Succession at the battles of Oudenarde and Malplaquet in the Low Countries in 1708-09.  During the Austrian Succession War the Coldstream fought at Dettingen (1743).  The Regiment was again in Europe during the Seven Years War, Battalions taking part in the raids on Cherbourg and St Malo (1758).  From 1760-62 the 2nd Battalion campaigned in Germany in places Coldstreamers of the Cold War era have known well.

During the American Revolutionary War a Composite Footguards Battalion, with Coldstream Companies, was despatched across the Atlantic where they (again) captured New York and fought at Harlem (1776).  Two years later the Composite Guards Brigade was ordered to join General Cornwallis in the Carolinas, and Coldstreamers fought at the Catawba River and Guildford Court House in 1781; some of the remnants were forced to surrender at Yorktown in October 1781.

During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars Coldstreamers served in Flanders, Egypt, at Copenhagen (1807) and in the Peninsula.  Despite losses at the Battle of Quatre-Bras, the majority of the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards was deployed on 18th June 1815 to defend Hougoumont Farm, Wellington’s vital right flank at Waterloo.  Coldstream, First and Third Guards Light Companies, held the Farm throughout the day; by evening almost the whole Battalion had been committed to its defence, and suffered 348 killed with many more wounded.  Wellington later named one of the defenders - Sergeant Graham - the ‘bravest man in the Army’: his exploits are celebrated to this day by the Sergeants’ Mess.  Sergeant Graham was in fact assisted by his brother, four Coldstream Officers and four members of the Third Guards in ‘closing the Gate’ at Hougoumont at the critical moment of the Battle.

In the 19th Century Coldstreamers served in Canada, the Crimea, and in Egypt (Tel-El-Kebir 1882).  In 1885 Coldstreamers saw action with the Guards Camel Regiment in the attempt to relieve General Gordon at Khartoum.  Shortly after the formation of the 3rd Battalion in 1897, the 1st and 2nd Battalions sailed for South Africa and fought in several skirmishes and actions including the Modder River.

In August 1914 the three Coldstream Battalions deployed to France, saw action at Mons, the Marne, and the Aisne before being committed to the defence of Ypres where the 1st Battalion almost ceased to exist at the Battle of Gheluvelt.  The Regiment maintained four Battalions on active service on the Western Front during the War, fighting in many battles including Loos (1915), the Somme (1916) where the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions attacked in line together for the only time in their existence, at Passchendaele and Cambrai in 1917, at Arras in 1918 and in the great 1918 Advance.

The 1st and 2nd Battalions served in the BEF in 1939-40 while the 3rd Battalion was in Egypt.  From 1941, the Regiment maintained five Service Battalions, with the 1st (Armoured) and 5th Battalions in the Guards Armoured Division, and the 4th (Tank) Battalion in Churchill Tanks:  the three Battalions fought across Normandy, the Rhineland, the Netherlands and on to Lubeck.  The 2nd and 3rd Battalions served in North Africa and Italy.

Since 1945 the Regiment has served in Palestine, Malaya, Kenya, British Guiana, Aden, Northern Ireland, Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan.  In 1991 the 1st Battalion served in the Gulf War in 1st  (UK) Armoured Division, and in 1993-4 was in the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia; 2005 saw a six month operational tour in Iraq which was followed in 2007/8 by an operational tour in Afghanistan.  They deployed to Afghanistan again in 2009 and 2014. The 2nd Battalion was placed in suspended animation in 1993 (as the 3rd Battalion had been in 1959).

The Regiment has been awarded 113 Battle Honours.  Thirteen Coldstreamers have been awarded the Victoria Cross, and one the George Cross.  The Regiment, still predominantly recruits from North-East England, and Devon and the South-West of England.

The 1st Battalion with an establishment of 32 officers and 469 soldiers has its base in Victoria Barracks, Windsor.  Number 7 Company (5 officers and 88 soldiers), a Public Duties Incremental Company, is based in Wellington Barracks, London, along with the Coldstream Band and a small Regimental Headquarters element.

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Histories of the Coldstream Guards

All nine volumes of the Coldstream Guards official histories dating back to 1650 are freely available online and can be seen on the following links:

The early history of the Coldstream Guards Godfrey Davies 1644 - 1661 http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001589030

Origin and services of the Coldstream Guards Colonel D Mackinnon 1650 - 1830 [2 volumes]
http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001036778
http://archive.org/details/originandservic03mackgoog
http://archive.org/details/originandservic02mackgoog

A history of the Coldstream Guards,
Sir John Ross of Bladensburg  1815 - 1896
http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001048008
http://archive.org/details/historyofcoldstr00rossuoft 

The Coldstream Guards, 1885 to 1914
Sir John Hall
http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/006249067

The Coldstream guards, 1914-1918                                                                                                      Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Foster George Ross-of-Bladensburg 1848-1926          http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015027338352

The Coldstream Guards, 1914 - 1918
Sir John Ross of Bladensburg  [2 volumes & Maps]
http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000442395

The Coldstream Guards, 1920 -1946
Sir Michael Howard & John Sparrow
http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001589032

The Coldstream Guards, 1946 -1970
Richard Crichton
https://archive.org/details/TheColdStreamGuards19461970

The Coldstream Guards 1650-2000, Second to None
https://archive.org/details/TheColdstreamGuards1650-2000