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2nd Battalion, The Grenadier Guards

The 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards was based in Chelsea with 4th (Guards) Brigade, 2nd Division when war broke out in August 1914. On the 15th of August 1914 they proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre. The were in action in The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, the First Battle of Ypres and the Winter Operations of 1914-15. In 1915 they were in action during The Battle of Aubers and then on the 20th of August 1915 they transferred to the newly formed 1st Guards Brigade, Guards Division. The saw action in The Battle of Loos. In 1916 they fought on The Somme in The Battle of Flers-Courcelette and The Battle of Morval, capturing Lesboeufs. In 1917 they were in action in The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the Third Battle of Ypres and The Battle of Cambrai. In 1918 they fought on The Somme, during the Battles of the Hindenburg Line, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle and The Battle of the Sambre. At the Armistice they were near Maubeuge and were then ordered to the Rhine, crossing the German frontier on the 11th of December. Battalions began to return to England on the 20th of February 1919 and had all returned home by the 29th of April 1919.

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Those known to have served with 2nd Battalion, The Grenadier Guards during the Great War 1914-1918.

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Gdsm. Walter Henry Moulson 2nd Btn. Grenadier Guards (d.16th Sep 1914)

Walter Henry Moulson was my great uncle. I believe that he joined the Grenadier Guards in 1911 enlisting at Chester. He was born in Worthenbury in Ceshire in 1883 and whilst a young child his family moved to Sareshill near Wolverhampton. Walter was the eldest child of seven. His father, a groom, died at the young age of 41 years in 1899 when Walter was just 16. His mother remarried in 1901 but this happiness was short lived as she died in childbirth aged 36 years in 1902 leaving Walter to be the head of the family. He was a tile carrier for several years until his siblings grew up and when they were all settled he joined the army.

His service number was 12390 and when World War One began he travelled from Chelsea to Le Havre between 4-15th August 1914 where, as a member of the British Expeditionary Force he was one of the first soldiers to go to France serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. It is believed that he fought at the Battle of Mons and then the Battle of the Marne. He was killed in action on 16th September 1914 believed during the 1st Battle of the Aisne. I have no further information of the incidents leading up to his death or how he died but i suspect that as it was the early part of trench warfare he may have been shot whilst digging a trench or hit by a morter shell. Unfortunately, I have no photograph of my great Uncle Walter who was my paternal grandmother's brother. He is remembered with honour by myself and at the ancient church of St Marys in Shareshill village where there is an inscription to the fallen residents of the village during the great war.

John Scott


Gdsm. Percey Horace Drayton 2nd Btn. Grenadier Guards (d.21st Dec 1915)

Percey Horace Drayton a horse keeper from Smith End, Barley, he enlisted at Walthamstow on the 16th of December 1902 as a gunner with the Household Cavalry and Royal Artillery. Occasionally reprimanded for being out after curfew in Canada (8 days confined to barracks) and for causing a disturbance in a girl's school at night in Allahabad (14 days detention), admonished for drunkenness twice in 1903 and hospitalised for diphtheria and Malaria 1907 and 08. After completing his colour service he transferred to the Reserve before reenlisting as a Guardsman in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards. He went briefly AWOL 14th Sept 1914 after being wounded on the Western Front. He died of his wounds, 21st December 1915 having been transferred back to England two weeks earlier.

Chris Allan


Capt William Amherst Cecil MC. 2nd Bn. Grenadier Guards (d.16th Sep 1914)

Capt William Cecil was 28 years old and died apparently after being shot by a German sniper during the First Battle of the Aisne, one of the opening clashes of the conflict. Capt Cecil, of the 2nd Bn Grenadier Guards, a career soldier, had been sent to France just eight days after the outbreak of war and was part of the army that found itself in pursuit of retreating German forces near the Aisne river, in north-eastern France. When the Germans turned to face them, the two sides engaged in a bloody confrontation. With neither side able to dislodge the other, both began to dig themselves into defensive positions, beginning the strategic stalemate that was to endure for four years. Capt Cecil, who would have become Baron Cecil of Hackney if he had lived, was killed on the 16th of Sept 1914, two days after the first order to entrench was made.

Posthumously, his courage was recognised, he was decorated with the Military Cross, the third-highest honour available to officers, and was promoted from lieutenant to captain. One memoir notes that he was among the first aristocratic casualties of the war.

S. Flynn


Pte Frank Moore 1st Bn Grenadier Guards (d.25th Sep 1916)

Only found out that I had a member of my family in the Great War when my grandad died. In his brief case was a cut out from a newspaper saying that Pte Frank Moore had been killed in action in France in 1916. Also found postcards sent to and from him that my great nan kept.


Grdsm. John Bradon 2nd Btn. Grenadier Guards (d.12th Oct 1917 )

John Bradon was born in Dublin and enlisted in Manchester. He served with the Gtrenadier Guards 2nd Battalion and was killed in action in October 1917.

s flynn


Pte. George Crundwell 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards (d.25th Sep 1916)

My great uncle George Crundwell fought and died on the day the village of Lesbeoufs was taken by the Guards divisions. He is buried at Guards Cemetery outside Lesbeouf. His elder brother, Fred, also in the 2nd Battalion fell in 1918



L/Cpl. Richard Stockley 2nd Btn. Grenadier Guards (d.25th Sep 1916)

L/Cpl Richard Stockley was my grandmother's younger brother. He served in the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards in 1st and 4th Guards Brigade. He died at the age of 20 years on 25th September 1916 in the battle to capture Les Boeufs. He is commemorated in the Guards Cemetery of the same name. I followed in his footsteps many years later joining the Welsh Guards and also served in 4th Guards Armoured Brigade

Leslie Ellson


Pte. Frederick William Henry Appleton 2nd Btn. Grenadier Guards

Frederick Appleton served with the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards.

Colin Appleton


Pte. William Edgar Holmes VC. 2nd Btn. Grenadier Guards (d.9th Oct 1918)

William Holmes was killed in action on the 9th of October 1918, aged 23 and is buried in Carnieres Communal Cemetery in France. He was the son of Mrs. E. E. Holmes, of Didbrook, Winchcombe, Glos.

An extract from The London Gazette, No. 31082, dated 24th Dec., 1918, records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty at Cattenieres on the 9th Oct., 1918. Pte. Holmes carried in two men under the most intense fire, and, while he was attending to a third case, he was severely wounded. In spite of this, he continued to carry wounded, and was shortly afterwards again wounded, with fatal results. By his self-sacrifice and disregard of danger he was the means of saving the lives of several of his comrades."

s flynn


Pte. Thomas Cunliffe 2nd Btn. Grenadier Guards (d.23rd Oct 1915)

Thomas Cunliffe was my great uncle. He enlisted in the Grenadier Guards in June 1914 and then went to Caterham to undergo training. He joined with his best friend William Calderbank and sailed for France in January 1915 blissfully unaware that neither of them would see their home town again. They fought side by side at some notable and well documented engagements such as Hill 70 and the Battle of Loos and must have thought their luck would see them through. However this was not to be as after 9 months William was killed by a sniper and Thomas had the unenviable task of writing to William’s parents back in Wigan.

Dear Friends, I am sorry to inform you that your son got killed on the 7th. Poor lad he got hit in the head and his death was instantaneous. He has been in my mind ever since his death. A fellow came up the trenches and said “your mate has gone under”. I could hardly believe who it was at first and then he said “Bill Calderbank”. Well I felt as if I’d been hit. I went to see him, poor fellow. He had a decent burial. The Catholic priest was there and read over his dead body. He had only just put his head up over the trench and he got hit by a sniper. Accept my deepest sympathy. All his chums hope you will accept their deepest sympathy”.

The pathetic feature of this story is that the very next day after William was killed Thomas was wounded. A bomb exploded in the trench near him, blowing off one of his legs and damaging the other so severely that it later had to be amputated. He wrote to his parents, Joseph and Mary Cunliffe in Wigan, “Hope this finds you quite well as I am alive but hardly kicking” His letter goes on to describe the events that led up to his injury and his hopes and expectations to be back in Wigan for Christmas.

Unfortunately the story does not have a happy ending as on 23rd October Thomas died from his wounds. The lady superintendent at the hospital in Wimereux wrote to his parents telling them, “Your poor son got weaker and weaker in spite of all we tried to do for him. He will be buried here in the cemetery in Wimereux. It is a pretty place on a hillside and there are many flowers there in spring and summer. My assistant matron takes great interest in it and sees that it is nicely kept in order” Thomas will be remembered with pride and affection by our family.

Graham Parkinson


Pte. Josiah Simpson 2nd Battalion Grenadiers Guards

Josiah Simpson married my Grandmother in the mid 1950's after the death of my Natural Grandfather. Jo as he was always known to the family (except by me as a 6 year old boy, I called him Uncle Jo), had been a professional soldier who joined the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards in 1909. Jo passed away soon after marrying my maternal Grandmother and whenever I visited with my Mother I would try and draw Uncle Jo out about his Great War experiences, as this was endlessly fascinating to a young boy as you can imagine! Like many old soldiers Jo was very reticent about his experiences and I was not old enough to understand how to ask the right questions, and now of course it is far too late. I actually learnt more about Jo's war experiences from my Grandmother who told me amongst other things of the nightmares he still suffered from. She also told me that he had been wounded in action three times (discharged with a severe head injury involving delicate surgery and the fitting of a stainless steel plate in his skull). She also said that Jo had been mentioned in despatches and had received a letter of thanks from the King of which he was immense proud.

I have been able to glean quite a bit of his history, but have now reached a blank, and in the hope that anyone might be able to help me I will tell you what I know: Jo was born in sometime in 1888 and enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards 25th February 1909 (aged 21) his army Service Number was 14275. At that time the Guards' regiments recruited men for three years with the colours and nine years on the reserve to be recalled at the outbreak of a general war. So I imagine that Jo would have transferred to the reserve around early 1912. In August 1914 he would presumably have been recalled to the colours at the age of 24 and there is a well known photograph taken outside Wellington Barracks in 1914 showing a queuing line of Grenadier Guard reservists reporting for duty with the colours.

I believe that I can recognise Uncle Jo in that photograph about halfway along the line of queuing Grenadier reservists. Jo was very tall and stood out in any group of which he was part. Even in later life he never lost his soldierly bearing, you would instantly recognise the old soldier from his bearing and dignity. So much for the facts as I know them, what follows now is pure conjecture on my part. Consulting the excellent book 'Fifteen Rounds A Minute' edited from the diaries of Major M A Jeffreys and others by J.M. Craster, I learned that Major Jeffrey’s (acting C/O 2nd Battalion GG) diary entry for Sunday 19th September 1914 records a draft arriving from England comprising the new C/O Colonel Wilfred Smith and several other officers and men during the First Battle of Aisne. This fits rather well with Jo's medal sheet qualifying date of 17th September 1914, allowing for a couple of days to travel from Havre. I also read from the same source that the 2nd Battalion's MG Officer (in command of the battalion's two MGs) Captain William Amherst Cecil M.C. M.I.D had been killed in action 16 September 1914 and other casualties in the MG section had occurred on the same date. I now believe that Jo on arrival in the draft led by his C/O was assigned to one of the two M/G sections to make up the complement and therefore his Company Commander was 'Stag' Cecil's replacement who was 2nd Lieut. Carleton Wyndham Tufnell who had taken over command of the two guns on the death of Cecil.

Now Jo told me a tale in which his Company Commander was shot in the head and through the eye of the binoculars he was using to reconnoitre the German positions from a forward position, and in the same moment Jo himself was wounded for the first time. Believing the officer to be still alive and whilst under fire Jo dragged his body back to their own positions where he discovered that the officer had been instantly killed. If this officer was Tufnell then this must have been on November 6th 1914 as this is the date he was KIA. I have read that Lieut. Tufnell was shot during a reconnaissance looking for a good position for the M/Gs. I would have expected this officer would have carried and used binoculars whilst so engaged.

Referring again to 'Fifteen Rounds a Minute' I find the following "Wilfred sent Congleton and his platoon of No 3 and Tufnell with his machine-gun section with orders to act against the flank of the Germans pushing through the gap. Congleton and his platoon went forward with the cavalry, but poor Tufnell was shot through the throat and died soon afterwards. He was a first rate officer and is a great loss. At the first alarm I had posted Tufnell with one machine gun on the Brown Road to guard a ride through the wood, across which the Germans would have had to come to get behind my line of trenches. I also sent Congleton with one platoon to stop the Germans getting through “the gap” on my right rear. For some reason, that I have never been able to get an explanation of, Tufnell took his machine-gun with Congleton's platoon. I believe the machine-gun had one good target, but Tufnell was unfortunately hit at this time and I never did find out exactly what did occur." Note that the account has poor Tufnell shot through the throat and not as Jo describes through the eye, so maybe my conjecture falls down at this point - maybe.

It does seem clear that Jo served for nearly 3 years from 17th September 1914 when he arrives in France until 6th July 1917 when he was discharged and awarded the silver war badge, which incidentally he wore in his jacket lapel every day until he died in the mid 1950's. I imagine that when the the 1st Gds Bde MG Coy was formed between 1st September and 19th September, 1915, Jo would have transferred to it and served consequently in actions that the 2nd Battalion were engaged in from September 1914 (Battle of the Aisne) until some time after the battle of Messines now with the 4th Battalion Guards Machine Gun Company. If you have borne with this long winded story, for which I apologise, I now come to the mystery....

01) Did Josiah Simpson get a Mention in Despatches? My Grandmother certainly told me had, together with a letter from the King. Why is this not on his medal sheet if he was in fact awarded a MID. I should have thought nearly 3 years in the front line, wounded in action three times (the latter seriously), recovering an officer's body under fire whilst wounded himself should have merited a bit more that the the three 'gongs' that everyone else received.

02) What has happened to Jo's medals (he had a daughter Edna and a Grandson Gerald, both long deceased) maybe they were passed down, but do you think we could still trace them? Anything you can help with I will be most grateful.

David Eades

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