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Life Guards in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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Life Guards

Want to know more about Life Guards?

There are:27722 pages and articles tagged Life Guards available in our Library

Those known to have served with

Life Guards

during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Duff Robert George Vivian. Lt. (d.16th Oct 1914)
  • Duff Robert George Vivian. Lt. (d.16th Oct 1914)
  • Marlow Percy. Capt.. 6th Battalion (d.7th July 1917)
  • Simpson Josiah. Pte. 2nd Battalion
  • Smout Alfred Edward. Tpr. (d.12th July 1916)

All names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Mar 2017

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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


Tpr. Alfred Edward Smout 2nd Life Guards (d.12th July 1916)

Trooper Alfred Edward Smout died of wounds at the Casualty Clearing Station at Puchevillers. He is buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery. He was just 18 years old.

JayAnn Knox


Capt.. Percy Marlow 6th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment (d.7th July 1917)

Percy Marlow was my great-great-uncle (brother of my maternal great-grandmother). He was killed in the Battle of Messines and is buried near Ypres in the Klein-Vierstaat Cemetery along with others killed on the same date. He is listed in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour as below

Marloe, Percy, Capt., 6th (Service) Battn. The Duke of Edinburgh's (Wiltshire Regt.), s. of Henry Marlow, of Netherton House, Alton, co. Hants, by his wife, Elizabeth; b. Alton aforesaid, 15 March, 1892; educ. Eggar's Grammar School; enlisted in the 2nd Life Guards 29 June, 1910; was at one time orderly to Queen Alexandra at Marlborough House; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from Aug. 1914; took part in several engagements; obtained a commission as 2nd Lieut. in the Wiltshire Regt. 22 Aug.1916, being promoted Captain in Feb 1917, and died at Kemmel 7 June following, of wounds received at Wytschaete, while leading his men. Buried in Klein Vierstraat Cemetery; unm.

Viv Brown


Lt. Robert George Vivian Duff 2nd Life Guards (d.16th Oct 1914)

Robert Duff was killed in action on the 16th of October 1914. He is buried at Cement House Cemetery, Langemark-Poelkapelle, Belgium.

S. Flynn


Lt. Robert George Vivian Duff Life Guards (d.16th Oct 1914)

Sir Robert George Vivian Duff, 2nd Baronet was killed in action in Oostnieuwerke, Belgium and is buried in Cement House Cemetery, Langemark-Poelkapelle, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

S. Flynn

Want to know more about Life Guards?

There are:55442 pages and articles tagged Life Guards available in our Library
  These include information on officers, regimental histories, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Great War.

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