22 January 2009

Welsh Guards 1915-1919

The Welsh Guards were formed on 26th February 1915 and in three days had recruited around 600 men, many of these coming from other Guards regiments. Although some of these latter transfers were "old hands", many were not and there are a number of ex Grenadier Guardsmen for instance, who had only joined their regiment the previous month. Nevertheless, the Welsh Guards sailed for France on 17th March 1915 whilst recruiting continued apace in Britain.

The photograph above appeared in the Illustrated War News issue of 23rd June 1915.

Here are some sample army service numbers and corresponding joining dates from my Welsh Guards database.

135 joined on 27th February 1915
691 joined on 6th March 1915
913 joined on 3rd April 1915
1440 joined on 11th May 1915
1613 joined on 8th June 1915
1792 joined on 9th July 1915
1885 joined on 4th August 1915
1997 joined on 25th September 1915
2003 joined on 1st October 1915
2204 joined on 19th November 1915
2332 joined on 22nd December 1915
2413 joined on 11th January 1916
2573 joined on 12th February 1916
2658 joined on 14th March 1916
2724 joined on 6th April 1916
2752 joined on 20th May 1916
2842 joined on 29th June 1916
2881 joined on 5th July 1916
2971 joined on 8th August 1916
3101 joined on 27th September 1916
3141 joined on 4th October 1916
3339 joined on 1st November 1916
3528 joined on 6th December 1916
3639 joined on 12th January 1917
3675 joined on 8th February 1917
3746 joined on 12th March 1917
3849 joined on 13th April 1917
3899 joined on 4th May 1917
4049 joined 6th June 1917
4105 joined on 26th July 1917
4132 joined on 27th August 1917
4155 joined on 8th September 1917
4208 joined on 3rd October 1917
4237 joined on 3rd November 1917
4310 joined on 25th January 1918
4739 joined on 22nd April 1918
5046 joined on 6th May 1918
5626 joined on 4th June 1918
5761 joined on 14th July 1918

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

Further research

Find Welsh Guards service and pension records on Ancestry.co.uk



The Naval & Military Press has this to say:

"The creation of a Welsh Regiment of Foot Guards was authorised by Royal Warrant on 26th February 1915, though the order to raise the regiment had been given by the King to Earl Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, on 6th February. In the first instance officers and men came from the other Guards regiments and from the recruits at Caterham. The new regiment mounted guard at Buckingham Palace on St David’s Day, three days after the publication of the Royal Warrant. All this is described in the opening chapter which lists the first officers to join and the regiments from which they transferred."

"On 17th August 1915 the 1st Battalion sailed for France where it was allocated to 3rd Guards Brigade in the newly formed Guards Division. The author is one of the most prolific writers of Great War histories - 53rd, 56th and 74th Divisions as well as the monumental (nearly 950 pages) history of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, and with this history of the Welsh Guards he has maintained his high standards. The story takes us through all the battles in which the battalion fought, describing in detail many individual actions, ending with its return to the UK from the Army of Occupation in March 1919.

"Appendices provide the nominal roll of all WOs NCOs and Men who served overseas with the 1st Battalion, indicating casualties (over 800 dead) and awards and the records of service of officers; examples of operation orders; a record of every move of the battalion from arrival in France on 18 August 1915 to arrival in Cologne on 20 December 1918; list of enemy divisions engaged; the story of the regimental choir, a most important element of the regiment - in short, this is an outstanding history."


"This is the story of the three battalions of Welsh Guards that served during WWII. After a very brief account of previous service (the regiment was raised in February 1915) the first part of the book gives a general survey of the regiment’s part in the war, the second part consists of detailed accounts of the principal actions in which the regiment was engaged - with the BEF in 1940, in Tunisia in 1943, in Italy 1944-45 and in NW Europe 1944-45. There is the Roll of Honour and the list of Honours and Awards. There are numerous drawings of arms and equipment by one of the NCOs, Sgt Murrell, and at the end is a separate section consisting of b/w photos depicting the regiment in action and places where they were, accompanied by explanatory notes."


"The Guards Division was formed in France in August 1915, the creation of Kitchener (then Secretary of State for War), who, after first obtaining the permission of the King, proceeded to form the division without consulting either the War Office or the C in C of the BEF, Field Marshal French. The first the latter knew about it was in a letter from Kitchener a month before the division came into being. It was formed by concentrating the eight Guards battalions already in France and bringing out from the UK four more, including the recently raised Welsh Guards, plus a pioneer battalion (4th Coldstream). The artillery (less the howitzer brigade), two of the three engineer companies and the signal company came from the 16th (Irish) Division, then still in Ireland; the howitzer brigade came from the 11th (Northern) Division, left behind in England when that division went to Gallipoli. The remaining divisional troops came from the UK or from divisions already in France.

"The first GOC was the Earl of Cavan, a Grenadier, who was later to command British troops in Italy and, in 1922, become Chief of the Imperial General Staff. A month after its formation the division was in action at Loos, suffering just over 2,100 casualties. Thereafter it was seldom out of the fighting - Somme, Passchendaele, Cambrai, the German March 1918 offensive, Hindenburg Line and the final advance to victory. It lived up to its name, earning the reputation of one of the finest fighting formations of the war, an elite. Fifteen VCs were won, and in addition a further seven recipients were awarded theirs while serving with Guards battalions during the year before the division was formed. In all it suffered 44,333 casualties of whom 13,981 were dead."

"In August 1914 the strength of the Foot Guards was 276 officers, 7,036 other ranks; in November 1918 it stood at 1,598 officers and 43,928 other ranks. This is a clear, factual and detailed history, an exceptionally good account, described by the author as “a strictly military record, based on the divisional, brigade and battalion War Diaries and supplemented, where necessary, by other official records, private diaries, personal narratives and various published works.” Plain facts, “no purple passages.” It opens with a brief account of the activities of the Guards with the BEF before the formation of the division: 4th (Guards) Brigade/2nd Division, 1st (Guards) Brigade/1st Division and 20th Brigade/7th Division. It also describes the work of the 4th Guards Brigade after it was reformed in Feb 1918 with the reorganization of the BEF from four to three-battalion brigades, and allotted to 31st Division, winning another VC. Appendices provide order of battle details, succession of officers, staffs and commands, operation orders for major attacks, VC citations, notes on the origin and history of the Guards MG Regiment, on the Entrenching Battalion, on dress and equipment and more besides. The maps are good, clear and uncluttered and there is a comprehensive (22-page) index. This is a very competent piece of work, one of the best of the divisional histories."

Read my other posts on numbering in the Foot Guards regiments:

Grenadier Guards
Coldstream Guards
Scots Guards
Irish Guards

Identify a Foot Guards soldier by his uniform: Identifying the Guards - Army Ancestry


Andrew P said...

Great blog! Have you looked at the Welsh Regiment numbering at all? I'm researching a soldier with number 73736 and would be grateful for any information which you may be able to provide from the number.

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Andrew

I have information on all British regiments but it gets thinner as the years progress. I don't have an awful lot in that range for the Welsh Regt, the closest I come to being 74009 on the 15th April 1918.


Andrew P said...

OK - thanks for looking - Andrew

Pauline B said...

I'm trying to find my grandad service records. Have tried Ancestry no joy. Can you give me a stear please. Vote 571 Robert H Pierce Welsh Guards

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Pauline

My advice in this ionstance would be to contact the welsh Guards direct although you may find that the records they did have are in the process of being accessioned by the MoD. Certainly though, there should be a record for this man with the Welsh Guards as GFuards records do, in the main, survive. The limk on the main Guards' page gives an MoD adress these days for Welsh, Irish and Grenadier Guards: http://www.theguardsmuseum.com/Family-Research

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