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Life Guards

    Regular Battalions:

  • Battalion, , Life Guards
  • 2nd Battalion, Life Guards

    5th Aug 1914 2nd Life Guards & 4th Cavalry Brigade mobilise  2nd Life Guards are at Canterbury between the 5th and 8th of August. 4th Cavalry Brigade Mobilisation normal

    8th Aug 1914 Cavalry Arrives

    25th Aug 1914 2nd Life Guards form part of VII (Household Cavalry) Brigade  At Windsor. Order to form, remainder of 2nd Life Guards refilled mainly with Lancer Reservists into a War strength Regiment and to form part of the VII (Household Cavalry) Brigade. Also to form 1st Reserve Household Cavalry Regiment of which my Regiment supplies 1/3rd. No more black horses to leave England, so the new Regiment must be horsed with a completely new lot of horses. The Reservists came in batches from August 10th and onwards, and their training and monitoring continued at Windsor until September 1st when the Brigade assembled at Windmill Court, Ludgershall.

    1st Sept 1914 2nd Life Guards appointment of Brigadier General Kavanagh  2nd Life Guards war diary records; The Brigade assembled at Windmill Court, Ludgershall. Squadron and Regimental Training then continued.

    8th Sept 1914 2nd Life guards training continues  War Diary of the 2nd Life Guards records the appointment of Brigadier General Kavanagh as Brigadier on 8th of September. Training continued.

    13th Sept 1914 2nd Life Guards Lord Kitchener inspects Brigade  2nd Life Guards War Diary records that Lord Kitchener inspected the 4th Calvary Brigade.

    19 Sept 1914 2nd Life Guards inspection by Brigadier  2nd Life Guards - War Diary Inspection of Brigade by Brigadier.

    23 Sept 1914 2nd Life Guards inspection by His Majesty  2nd Life Guards undergo inspection by His Majesty.

    1st Oct 1914 2nd Life Guards Brigade Reconnaissance Scheme  2nd Life Guards - War Diary states: Brigade Reconnaissance Scheme and billeted.

    5th Oct 1914 Brigadier Inspects Squadrons of 2nd Life Guards.  Brigadier inspected Squadrons of 2nd Life Guards in Marching Order.

    5th Oct 1914 2nd Life Guards Brigade entrain to Southampton  2nd Life Guards entrain with Brigade for Southampton.

    6th Oct 1914 2nd Life Guards Brigade embark  2nd Life Guards - War Diary records: Brigade embarked, and great confusion was caused by the separation of [illegible] from Brigades, at Regimental Head Quarters from Regiments and Squadrons from Squadrons.

    7th Oct 1914 2nd Life Guards on board Indira  In the War Diary of the 2nd Life Guards for 6th October 1914 the CO records: "On my ship the Indira were my HQ and 1 Squadron, 1 Squadron 1st Life Guards, and the HQ and 2 Squadrons of the Royal Dragoons who belonged to a different Brigade (VIth)."

    8th Oct 1914 2nd Life Guards land at Zeebruggen  The Adjutant of the 2nd Life Guards records in the War Diary: "Landed at Zeebruggen and found myself senior officer in the place and in command of 7 Squadrons of H C and 2 of Royal Dragoons. Ordered to billet in the area Uitkerke-Lisseweghe-Zuyenkerke. This was countermanded by an order to march to Clemskerke, and again later by an order to assist outside Zeebruggen, which we did till 5 p.m. when orders came to bivouac which I did in the dark on the sea shore 1 mile west of Blankenberghe. The HQ and 2 Squadrons Royal Dragoons left us to march to Ostend.

    9th Oct 1914 2nd Life Guards march to Bruges  2nd Life Guards marched to Bruges with orders to assist the Brigade and take up a line south of that city. This order was countermanded and after a long delay the Regiment went into billets in Oostkamp, which were very good, and the Burgermaster Baron de Pens was a great help.

    10th Oct 1914 2nd Life Guards take six German prisoners  The 2nd Life Guards War Diary records: 6 German prisoners taken through en route for Bruges. Ordered to march at 12 midday to Beernem, which we did, meeting a long cohort of Belgian Infantry and Artillery, apparently in some disorder and said to be coming from Antwerp. New orders arrived with the Brigadier at Beernem and we marched to billet at Roodevoorde but on arrival found it filled with Belgian troops, so marched on to a chateau one mile north of Evezeple Ingilmunster. Find the hospitable natives are a great hindrance to discipline. The Country seems very ill suited for Country tactics, and recalls the more unhospitable parts of the English Fens. I think that with few exceptions, Reservists of more than 12 years service are useless and have frequently offered a bad example to younger men. Neither men nor young officers seem at first to understand the serious side of War and even with experience of the South African War seems rather harmful than otherwise. My Regiment consists of men of 13 different Cavalry Regiments; 180 of my own and 374 of 12 other Regiments. The rations seem excellent and up till now the transport arrangements are equally so. I would urge the wisdom of the issue of the new small ration biscuit instead of the old large one. It is more palatable, more easily carried and can be eaten by men whose teeth are faulty. I think that the transport is not sufficient for the men's clothes. They can carry practically nothing on their horses and consequently suffer from cold and want of cleanliness. Considerable trouble from severe cold and stranglers has [illegible] away the horses. This began at Ludgershall and continues here. Glorious autumn weather but very cold nights and early mornings.

    11th Oct 1914 2nd Life Guards are 1 mile N of Sweevezeele  OíNeill's B Squadron, 2nd Life Guards are out watching a line from Lichtervede through Sweevezeele to Wynghene and is in touch with VI Cav. Bde Royal Dragoons at former place. Reports of heavy firing in the direction of Houthulst and that Lichtervede, Thielt and Eeghem are held by Belgians. Transport came at 10 pm which kept most of the Regiment up till midnight and this seemed unnecessary.

    12th Oct 1914 2 Life Guards on the march  2 Life Guards marched at 8am through Iseghem to take up a line of observation south of that place. We billetted at Ouchene to defend, so they say, the 3rd Cav. Div Staff at Rumbeke. We were last in the column and so had a weary day, and were ordered to take up the line Moorslede exclusive, where the Royal Dragoons VI Bde are, Vossemblen Ė Lenderlede with 3 Squadrons. More orders at 2 am to march at 5 am with 2 squadrons as advance guard and one as left flank guard.

    13th Oct 1914 2 Life Guards march to Ypres  2 Life Guards marched via Moorslede straight to Ypres, the VI Cav Bde more or less parallel to the north Ė our left flank guard via Klofkapperie, St Pieter, Waterdamhoek, Zillebeke, Voormezeele under Captain OíNeill. He saw a few Germans and a patrol was too excited to hit them at a few yards. Suddenly ordered to Menin to clean up the situation where we arrived at 4 pm. to find Town empty and I think full of spies and German sympathisers. Suddenly 60 Germans were reported to be entering the town from the East and to have turned South. I hurried with 1 Squadron to the south side to intercept them, but could find no trace. However a patrol returning from Halluin reported later that they had had to gallop through Menin to get back and that the 60 Germans were concealed up a side street. To our [illegible] we were then ordered back to our line of last night and finally got into billets at Winkel St Eloi Rolleghem Cappelle And Boschmolens at about 9 pm. and very wet. Orders at 2 am to march at 5 am.

    14th Oct 1914 2 Life Guards meet VI Cav Bde  2 Life Guards are up at 4 and off at 5 am and marched straight off to Ypres meeting up with VI Cav Bde at or near Moorslede and forming one long column. VII Bde found up in Market Place with K Batley RHA and we also met the 3rd Cav Div Staff. A pleasant halt with much excitement at the appearance of a German aeroplane, which was brought down at the expense of about 100 rounds. Both airmen were wounded and subsequently captured, their Iron crosses being seized by the populace. My doctor was shot at, and so was our transport column, but Roxburgh of the Blues shot a German and we were unhurt except that the adjutantís horse was shot in the leg during the firing at the aeroplane in Ypres square. At 12 we marched off towards Kemmel and listened to a tremendous bombardment all the afternoon in absolute ignorance of the situation. We were all pleased to find ourselves in touch with Chetwodeís and De Lisleís brigades. We got into rough billets at Kruisstraathoek at 6 pm after 2 very long and severe days for our horses. The [illegible] ones begin to collapse and I sent 3 away today to a depot at Ypres. Trouble is rising from the breast harness which is utterly unsuitable for heavy cart horses. I hope to be allowed to requisition collars locally.

    15th Oct 1914 2 Life Guards stand to all day  2nd Life Guards were Ready to march at 6 am and stood to all day. Gun fire continues. The Warwickshires came to outpost about 300 yards in front of us, but having dug trenches they withdrew, and some Gordon Highlanders came to outpost also. The system of local requisition was started owing to the impossibility of delivery [illegible] and [illegible] at [illegible]

    15th Oct 1914 2 Life Guards in billets at Kruisstraathoek  2 Life Guards remained in billets at Kruisstraathoek with 2 squadrons in farms, one in an old moated Chateau and Headquarters in Cafe La Brasserie.

    16th Oct 1914 2 Life Guards march through Ypres  2 Life Guards marched at 7.30 am in a white fog as Advanced Guard to the Brigade through the very slippery streets of Ypres, now full of French troops and scouted round Westroosebeke Ė ultimately halting there, while ay 3 pm OíNeill and his squadron scouted towards Oostnieuwkerke. Lt. Sir P Brocklehurst and a patrol of 1st Life Guards reported a German Maxim about 2 miles out on the Westroosebeke Ė Hooglede road. About 4 pm OíNeill reported that a farm about 1/2 miles S W of Oostniewkerke was strongly held by Germans and that in approaching it Lt Sir Robin Duff had been killed. At 4 pm, I sent Belperís squadron to support OíNeill on the left and myself took Ashtonís squadron to strengthen OíNeill. I found the country quite flat but thickly dotted with cottages, farms and small woods, one being of considerable size. At 5.30 pm I worked up towards the farm whence Duff had been killed, but found it in a clearing with no cover for 500 yards all round. We came under fire from 3 directions, front left flank and rear, and as it was nearly dark I collected my squadrons and retired to Westroosebeke. There was considerable sniping from the cottages, and one cyclist was shot through the hand when catching up his squadron. Belper claims to have killed 12 Germans, and the man who shot Duff was also killed. The Regiment was left to billet in Westroosebeke, while the remainder of the Brigade went to Paschendaele, which is not a pleasant billet, and did not feel at all secure in such a big straggling village with so small a force.

    17th Oct 1914 2 Life Guards mount posts.  2nd Life Guards were ready to march at 5 am but remained in billets with many posts out all day and much firing very near. Constant Belgian and French patrols coming through. We were visited by Commander Sampson RN and his train of guns including a 3Āć gun used that day for the first time, mounted on a railway truck with a motor engine. He with 2 of my officers went and put a shell or two into the farm held yesterday by the Germans and later reported all clear in and as far as Oostnieuwkerke. They found that the Germans had lightly buried Duff and the man who killed him at the farm, but that the BurgomasterĀ's Secretary had moved Duff into the Cemetery at Oostnieukerke. German Patrols rode [illegible] into our wire barriers at night.

    18th Oct 1914 2 Life Guards march towards Oostnieuwkerke   2nd Life Guards march at 5 am towards Oostnieuwkerke with the Blues as Advanced Guard. They had some fighting with a small party of German cyclists and a few casualties, while they put 4 cyclists to the sword and 2 more were shot by 2 wounded Corporals of Horse with their revolvers. Took regiment up to support them but needlessly. The town was reported clear and we ultimately billeted in 4 scattered farms S E of the town.

    19th Oct 1914 2nd Life Guards on parol  The War Diary Records: One squadron of 2 Life Guards went out early at 5 am to cover concentration of the Brigade. We did the Advance Guard and I used Ashtonís squadron. We marched towards Hooglede. Advance Guard Squadron took a wrong turn, so I sent out Belperís and re-called Ashtonís. On arrival at the Hooglede Ė Staden Ė Roulers X-roads I was ordered to continue the advance. Lt Farquhar soon met a French Patrol with an officer who told him all was clear in front, but within 250 yards a hot fire was opened from the railway and railway level crossing. The Advanced Troop reinforced by the rest of the squadron returned the fire from a cottage enclosure to the left of the road, but it soon became evident that the enemy were a strong force of infantry and the squadron had to retire. In this retirement Captain F. Pemberton was killed. Lieutenant Anstruther tried to get him along but finally had to leave him in a ditch. In the meantime I held the village facing E with my other 2 squadrons and at 9am endeavoured to cover this retirement by rifle and maxim fire. The latter was most effective and the hostile infantry could be seen scattering. Very the soon the enemy brought up some guns and placed at first shot 2 shells on the precise spot which my 2 maxims had just left. Their fire set some houses burning and under cover of the smoke my Regiment withdrew to a line W of the village and south of the road we had come by Ė the 1st Life Guards continuing our line on the N side of the road. The Germans took time to find out our departure, but finally came into the village, at 12 pm where they were shelled by our K Battery. I was ordered to tell Ashton and his squadron to advance from farm dismounted cutting all wire, while I with my other two squadrons was to make a mounted attack on the village covered by our gun fire as long as possible. I was just starting to do this when a tremendous fire was opened from the village, and my advanced squadron which had got near enough to hear the former words of command, had to retire. My advance became impossible, and instead I took Belperís squadron up to cover Ashtonís retirement. Belper was seriously injured by his horse falling and rolling on him. The squadron was lucky to get behind a small wood on the right of our line without casualty, but Ashtonís squadron suffered considerably. He and Lt Palmer were missing and we heard a week later were prisoners. Capt Lyon was wounded and several men, notably Corporal Black, who, though shot through the stomach, rode to the Ambulance as though unhurt. We remained under heavy shell fire near this wood until 3.30 pm, when by bringing up 2 or 3 horses at a time we were able to gallop out of fire towards Moorslede. We had held up a strong force, probably the flank guard of an Army Corps from 9 am till 3.30 pm, and I was glad to give the men General Byngís message that they had done exceedingly well. The Brigade withdrew through Moorslede unmolested and billeted for the night in Zonnebeke. My Adjutant today was twice knocked over by shells, but mercifully unhurt.

    20th Oct 1914 2 Life Guards near Westroosebeke.  2nd Life Guards marched at 5 am to entrench near Westroosebeke. On arrival at our line found French Infantry partially entrenched already, but they promptly withdrew, so we defended the Westroosebeke to Paschendaele road by trenching to west of it in the order from the right 1st Life Guards, R H Guards, ourselves, Royal Dragoons, 10th Hussars, French troops on the left. My horses were concealed behind a wood but soon they had to be moved further back to avoid shells. This led later to some confusion as the squadrons did not know where their horses had gone. This was the first attempt of the Household Cavalry to dig trenches, and they were very welcome as the shell fire for about 2 hours was severe. German attempts to cross the main road with infantry were easily checked by our rifle fire, but the French on the extreme left retired without any warning to us of their intention. The VI Cavalry Brigade consequently had to go, and we on our turn had to go too in successive Regiments from the left, with my squadrons holding farms to cover the retirement. We were lucky to disengage without losses, as we had to go a long way on foot, and the led horses were in some confusion as stated above. I had orders to hold successive farms on the left of the road by which we retired, and I found myself near Poelcapelle, whence I went via St Julien to rejoin the Brigade and ordered at 2 pm to take up a line facing north to connect with the VIth Cavalry Brigade at St Julien. Here we remained unmolested in heavy rain until 6 pm when we retired to find for ourselves some filthy billets about 3 miles South East of Poelcapelle. Tired of hearing tremendous shelling and musketry all day and apparently in all directions. Arrival of General Haig at Poelcapelle is reported, and we saw outposts of Coldstream Guards going out for the night.

    21st Oct 1914 2 Life Guards march to Ehrsternst  2nd Life Guards march at 5.30 am to Ehrsternst then remaining idle till midday as rear regiment. We were ordered to support the Infantry at Zonnebeke, the Blues and 1st Life Guards being already there. There was considerable sniping from houses in the village and from outside. Brigadier Lawford pointed out our place and we were very thankful to find a roadside ditch and bank ready-made, as the shell fire was severe for 2 hours. The Staffords were in front of us, so we could not fire in spite of being constantly sniped from intervening ground. Our horses were left in the street and a shell fell among them killing four, a horrible sight, I was told. Captain V Montgomerie got a shrapnel bullet in the back and one man was killed. I sat in a puddle in the ditch and felt grateful. The arrival of some of our Infantry, Cavanís Brigade I believe, enabled us to be withdrawn about 4 pm. The following order was issued the next day "The Brigadier has much pleasure in telling the Regiments of the Brigade that before he left Zonnebeke today General Lawford command of the 22nd Infantry Brigade asked him to express to the Regiments of the Brigade his thanks for the assistance they gave him and his admiration for the way they behaved in saving what might have been a critical situation." At 4 pm we marched the weary miles to Voormezeele and after a long wait got into billets in the town, they say in orders to link up Haig's force with Gough's Cavalry Division.

    21st October 1914 The Queens under fire  The night passed without incident, but about 0800 hours the Germans commenced to shell our lines, chiefly 'B' Company and 'D' in reserve and an infantry attack developed all along the line. About 1000 hours, through some misunderstanding, 'B' Company got an order to retire and commenced withdrawing. 'A' Company, who were very strongly entrenched, hung on until about 1300 hours when their right being in the Germans aim and being enfiladed by a German machine gun which had been brought across 'B' Company's trenches, they were obliged to retire. In their retirement they came under heavy rifle & machine gun fire and lost heavily. Captain Whinfield being killed. The ridge along the Zonnebeke to Langemarck Road was then held by part of 'A' Company and a Squadron of Life Guards on the left and other portions of The Queen's on the right. At about 1600 hours a Company of Irish Guards arrived and took over the ridge and The Queens withdrew to the railway embankment where they had been ordered to take up a fresh position. Stragglers were collected here including a party of Warwicks & Royal Welch Fusiliers. Orders were then received for the Battalion to go up the Paschendale Road and get orders from Lieutenant Colonel Cadogan, Royal Welch Fusiliers. The Queens were ordered to fill in a gap between them and the Staffords but it was pitch dark & no-one knew where the Staffords were. Some empty gun pits and trenches on the East of the road were occupied in rear of the line originally held, which were now in the hands of the Germans. Here, 'C' Company, under Captain Alleyne, was found entrenched, having stuck to their original trenches when the Battalion was driven back. Heavy firing broke out to the right front where a patrol had now located the South Staffords. The Cook's Wagons arrived about 1900 hours and rations were issued, but before they could be divided out, fresh orders were received for the Battalion to rendezvous near the crossroads in Zonnebeke. About 2100 hours the Battalion started back, the men having to carry the ration boxes and tools and reached the rendezvous where no guide or anyone was to be seen. The Battalion exhausted, fell out by the roadside while Colonel Coles went himself to get orders, but he returned about 0100 hours (on 22nd October), without finding the Brigade. Major Crofts and a patrol then went out and found that the Regiment was to take up a line on the right of the Warwicks, running South East of Sonnebeke. The Battalion was taken there and the new line was found to be marked by men of the Regiment who had been collected South of Zonnebeke. It was now about 0430 hours (on 22nd October). The Casualties sustained by the Regiment on the 21st October were: Lieutenant G.S. Ingram killed by rifle fire between 'A' Company's trench and the Langemarch to Sonnebeke Road.. 2nd Lieutenant D. Ive killed by a shell on the West of the railway line between the Railway station and the level crossing South of it. Wounded - Major R.C. Whinfield; 2nd Lieutenant G.m. Cobb between the trenches & the Langemarch Road; Lieutenant R.L.G. Heath; Lieutenant & adjutant C.R. Haigh, a slight hand wound; Lieutenant S.C. Williams in 'C' Company's trenches. Totals Killed - 2 Officers & 16 Other Ranks = 18 Totals Wounded - 5 Officers & 118 Other Ranks = 123 Totals Missing - 37 Other Ranks = 37 Grand Total = 178

    22nd Oct 1914 2 Life Guards March to Hooge  The 2nd Life Guards marched at 5.30 am to Hooge on the Ypres to Menin road, to be in support. Sat in the woods of a charming chateau, safe although heard shell fire till 2 pm. We were Advance Guard Regiment. Ordered off to Kleinzillebeke to clear up the situation at Hollebeke and Zandvoorde. Remained there till 4 pm when the rest of the Brigade came, and I was ordered to break up my weak squadron making two strong ones and send every available man into the trenches for the night to reinforce the VI Cavalry Brigade. I sent OíNeill and half of D Squadron on the right and took Vandeleur (Belper sick) and half of D Squadron to General Makins for orders on the left. I and my Regt HQ were told there was no room in the trenches for us, so I bivouacked with it outside Zillebeke. Tremendous musketry fire all night.

    23rd Oct 1914 2nd Life Guards relieved by 1st Life Guards  The War Diary of the 2nd Life Guards recored: "Off at 5 am to Brigade HQ at Kleinzillebeke, and was ordered to collect my Regiment out of the trenches and be relieved by the 1st Life Guards. Set off to do this with Colonel Barnes X Hussars, Brassey (command 1st Life Guards) and his squadron leaders when a shell hit me in four places taking a piece out of my leg. I had to retire to Hospital. My lead horses were under shell fire at Zandvoorde and Surgeon Major Power and Vet Lt Walker had just been sent flying by a shell. I afterwards heard that my 2nd in Command had been attached to the Belgian Army Headquarters and that Major Hugh Dawnay came from the Staff to take command till my return."

    26th Oct 1914 Major Dawnay takes command of 2nd Life Guards  2nd Life Guards are at Zillebeke. Major Dawnay took command of the regiment, Major Prince Alexander of Teck having been ordered to report to General Headquarters for special duty. A quiet morning in bivouac and billets, received orders at 1 pm then the Brigade was ready to move from Klein Zillebeke at 2 pm when are orders issued for a dismounted attack on Kortewilde, with 2nd Life Guards in reserve. The order was cancelled at 2.30 pm owing to 7th Division, just to the north of 7th Cav Brigade being rather pressed, the regiment was then ordered to [illegible] to occupy a back position in case the 6th Cav Bde was forced to retire by the falling back of 7th Div. At 5.30 pm after beginning to dig in the back position, the regiment was ordered to return to last nightís billets and to send one squadron to relieve a squadron of the Royal Horse Guards near Zandvoorde.

    27th Oct 1914 C Squadron, 2nd Life Guards in trenches  2nd Life Guards are half a mile North West of Zandvoorde. C Squadron took over trenches to the immediate South East of Zandvoorde, this being the extreme left of the line held by the 3rd Cavalry Division. B Squadron, which had been sent forward on the previous evening to relieve a squadron of the Royal Horse Guards last night, remained up in position whilst D squadron was held in Reserve to the immediate North West of Zandvoorde.

    28th Oct 1914 C squadron 2nd Life Guards heavily shelled  2nd Life Guards are half a mile North West of Zandvoorde. The left trenches of C squadron were heavily shelled, causing three troops of C squadron to be relieved by D squadron at 6 pm, the remaining troop of C squadron also B squadron remained in their trenches.

    29th Oct 1914 D Squadron 2nd Life Guards report shelling and sniping  2 Life Guards are half a mile North West of Zandvoorde. A certain amount of shelling and sniping was reported by D squadron on this date. The only change in the situation was the relief of D by C squadron (less 1 Troop) at 11 pm.

    30th Oct 1914 B Squadron, 2nd Life Guards forced to retire  The War Diary of the 2nd Life Guards records them as being 1/2 mile North West of Zandvoorde. The line on the right of B squadron being driven back forced B squadron to retire with losses. C squadron (less 1 Troop) would appear to have been surrounded and from the account of a single survivor of the squadron it is doubtful if any have escaped. Meanwhile the Reserve Trenches had been manned by D squadron on our left of the Royal Horse Guards. Heavy shelling of these trenches ensued and we gradually fell back on to the Zillebeke Ridge where the 5th and 6th Cavalry Brigades had taken up a defensive line. Behind this the Regiment was reformed and held in readiness for action about Zwarteten. This area was heavily shelled but partly owing to the loose formation adopted, with an open column of squadrons at 100 to 15O distance between squadrons and files extended, no casualties occurred here. At about 5 pm the Regiment was ordered to reinforce the Scots Greys and again about 6 pm to move to the assistance of the Royal Horse Guards but in each case the order was rescinded, the situation having improved. The Regiment eventually moved into billets at Verbranden-Molen. Three troops of C squadron were posted on 30th Oct at Zanbe.

    ďMrs Brandram, of Clifton Road, Henlow, has received a letter from the War Office, informing her that her son, Private William Frank Brandram, 9546, 17th Lancers, 4th Company (sic) Regiment, now attached to the 2nd Life Guards of the British Expeditionary Force, had been killed in action on October 30th. The news was received with profound regret, both at Henlow and at Three Counties Asylum, at which institution Pte. Brandram had for several years been a member of the staff. His punctual and conscientious discharge of his duties there had gained him the esteem of all who knew him. Pte. Brandram was 28 years of age and had served seven years in India with the 17th Lancers prior to settling at Henlow three years ago. He was a fine all round athlete, having excelled in running, swimming, and other sports, for which he held several trophies. He was also the popular captain of the Henlow Football Club last season, for which he did splendid work. Much sympathy is felt for his widowed mother, whose main support and devoted companion he had been since his return from India.Ē Biggleswade Chronicle, 11th December 1914. 9546 Private William Flack Brandram was a reservist, and was posted to the 2nd Life Guards at Ludgershall shortly before the regiment departed for the front. Brandram was killed near Zandvoorde. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and on the war memorial at Henlow.

    Another of the missing was 3DG/5500 Private Bertie John Jones, a reservist from the 3rd (Prince of Walesís) Dragoon Guards who was attached to the 2nd Life Guards. Bertie had been reported as missing following the action during which the trenches held by 7th Cavalry Brigade near Zandvoorde were overwhelmed by a German attack on 30 October 1914. His fate was uncertain for over a year, but notification that his death had been presumed was issued by the War Office on 4 March 1916, and a report regarding this news was printed in The Herald of Wales and Monmouthshire Recorder on 18 March 1916: ďThe War Office has now intimated to the family of Trooper Bert J. Jones, of the 3rd Dragoon Guards (attached on outbreak of war to the 2nd Life Guards), of Dynevor-road, Skewen, that he is presumed to have been killed in action on 30th October, 1914. At that time he was reported as missing, but throughout the months no trace of him could be found. He was the son of Mr and Mrs Dan Jones, the father being well-known as the veteran Skewen postman, while the soldier himself was one of the Neath borough postmen. He resided at Skewen with his wife and three children.Ē Bertie had attested for the Corps of Dragoons of the Line at Cardiff on 5 November 1902. Born at Llanwit, near Neath, Bertie was aged 18 years and two months and employed as a shop assistant at the time of his enlistment. Jones was initially posted to the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers), but was drafted to the 3rd Dragoon Guards on 1 September 1904. He transferred to the Class B Army Reserve on 2 November 1905 while stationed at Ballincollig and extended his engagement on 7 July 1914. He reported to No. 6 (Scottish) Cavalry Depot on 5 August 1914 on his mobilisation and was posted to the 3rd Reserve Regiment of Cavalry on 16 August, before being sent to join the 2nd Life Guards at Ludgershall on 30 August. Bertie Jones has no known grave, his name recorded with soldiers of the 3rd Dragoon Guards on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres. His medals, memorial plaque and scroll, and the clasp for the 1914 Star were forwarded to his widow, Florence, who lived with her children at Pleasant View Villa, on Penywern Road in Neath. She had been awarded a pension of 20/6d a week with effect from 4th of October 1915, while her husband was still listed as missing.

    2782 Trooper Frederick Charles Keene, who served with the 2nd Life Guards, was also reported as missing following the fighting at Zandvoorde on 30th October 1914. His death was not finally presumed for over a year, as reported in The Essex County Chronicle on 11th of February 1916: ďMr and Mrs Keene, of 94 Faircross Avenue, Barking, have been officially informed that their son, Trooper Frederick C. Keene, of the 2nd Life Guards, whom they last heard from on October 28, 1914, must be regarded as having been killed in action on October 30, 1914. The deceased, who was only 21, was one of four brothers on active service, one being now in England with seven wounds, while the other two are in France and the Persian Gulf respectively.Ē Frederick Keene, who had been born at Surat in India, is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

    30th Oct 1914 Overrun by the Enemy

    31st Oct 1914 2 Life Guards moved into woods near Verbranden-Molen  At 6.30 am the 2nd Life Guards moved into the woods just south of Verbranden-Molen whence it moved later with the remainder of the Brigade into another position of readiness (in its role as a mobile Reserve) in the woods 1/2 mile North East of the E of Hooge. Thence the Regiment and Brigade moved to St Eloi in readiness to support the situation in this vicinity but not being required the Brigade returned to the woods about Verbranden-Molen and billeted finally in the village.

    1st Nov 1914 2nd Life Guards South of Hooge  The 2nd Life Guards first moved into the wood 1/2 mile South of Hooge being slightly shelled but no casualties. About 3 pm the Regiment was dispatched to Zwarteten where it was dismounted. D squadron and machine guns were sent forward on left of 2 sqdns of Royal Dragoons in support of the Irish Guards where line had been very severely shelled. Trenches were occupied on the south edge of the wood until about 9.30 pm when these were again taken over by the Irish Guards who had been reformed. Finally the Regiment returned to bivouac in a field to the immediate south of Hooge by 1.30 am. Casualties; 3 men killed, 2 wounded, 2 horses killed, 1 wounded

    2nd Nov 1914 2 Life Guards move into wood just south of Hooge  At 5 am on the 2nd of Novemeber the 2nd Life Guards moved into south edge of wood just south of Hooge and remained there till about 3 pm when it was hurriedly sent for to be ready in support against a strong attack on Westhoek c/on 15 Menin-Ypres road about 2 miles from Ypres. From there Regt moved to a farm halfway between Zillebeke and Hooge.

    3rd Nov 1914 2nd Life Guards endure shelling  At a farm halfway between Zillebeke and Hooge the 2nd Life Guards were heavily shelled about 1 am. Two horses were killed and two wounded. Men led the horses away to a flank on to a soft plough. At 6 am the Regt was moved again into the wood south of Hooge in a position of readiness. Nothing of incident occurred on this day. At dusk the Regiment moved into billet in a farm half a mile north west of Verbranden-Molen.

    4th Nov 1914 2nd Life Guards encounter sprint bullets  The 2nd Life Guards War Diary for the 4th & 5th of November 1914 records: The same procedure occurred on the 4th and 5th, the only point to be noticed were the casualties from Ďsprintí bullets in the wood by day from the direction of Klein-Zillebeke and in the farm above by night from the direction of a point S W of Verbranden-Molen. 1 man wounded 3 horses killed 2 wounded

    6th Nov 1914 2nd Life Guards placed in Reserve.  The 2nd Life Guards are placed in Reserve in the woods near the 4th Guards Bde HQ. At about 3.30 pm the Brigade was urgently sent for and hurried towards Zillebeke to support the French on the right of the Guards Brigade who had been driven out of their trenches by a most determined attack. The Regiment was dismounted under fire close to the above mentioned village and was ordered to establish itself on the Klein Zillebeke ridge keeping touch with the 1st Life Guards on the right who were to hold the line on the right of the Guards Brigade. Maj. the Hon. H. Dawnay ordered the ĎBí squadron to advance across the open and take the high ground in front. [Illegible] the ĎDí squadron was sent across the Zillebeke to Zwarteten road to [illegible] the right flank by moving parallel to the railway. C troop and machine guns were kept in reserve ready to support B squadron. This latter squadron succeeded in reaching the edge of the wood on the ridge after [illegible] fighting owing to the [illegible] bring in [illegible] of [illegible] horses. Almost at once the right flank of the Squadron B became exposed to an enfilade fire which caused Maj. Dawnay to order the squadron to fall back slowly by troops. This order was shortly afterwards countermanded owing to French reinforcements appearing. The squadron was then ordered to fix bayonets and charge the wood which the C troop was taken by the CO to fill the gap which had occurred in between the two squadrons. This troop attacked the village of Zwarteten using the bayonet with great effect and taking a certain number of prisoners. B Squadron meanwhile drove back the enemy several hundred yards and occupied a ditch 200 yards from their position. Owing to the trench infantry again falling back B Sqdn and the Blues were ordered by the Brigadier to move across the Zwarteten to Verbranden-Molen road and support the C troop which was occupying a single ridge South East of the hamlet. The fighting in this vicinity became very involved owing to the somewhat precipitate retreat of the French and in consequence severe casualties were incurred. Part of the ground gained including a portion of Zwarteten was lost. The situation which was becoming somewhat critical was restored by the action of 22nd Infantry Bde which took over the trenches held by the Bde. During these operations D Squadron did not fall back but retained their ground till relieved by the 60th Rifles. The confusion that occurred at one period apart from the aforementioned reason may be attributed to the very severe casualties amongst the officers, 17 in the Bde, Lord Cavan commanding 4th Guards Bde reported that the Bde had behaved in a most gallant manner, and that its prompt and vigorous action had saved what threatened to be a most critical situation.

    7th Nov 1914 2nd Life Guards near Zillebeke.   2nd Life Guards are 1 mile west by south of Zillebeke. At 6 am The Brigade moved to a Position of Readiness under cover of a wood 1/2 mile north of Zwarteten to support the attack of the 3rd and 22nd Infantry Brigades if required. At 9 am the Brigade returned to billets 1 mile west by south of Zillebeke. At 3 pm the Brigade being transferred to other billets in an area 3 miles east by north of ypres astride the Ypres to Roulers Railway. 1 horse killed, 3 horses wounded

    8th Nov 1914 Quiet day for 2nd Life Guards   2nd Life Guards remained in billets, 8 miles east by north of Ypres. A very quiet day. A Divine Service was held in the afternoon. 4 R & F returned to hospital sick

    10th Nov 1914 2 Life Guards in Mobile Reserve near Ypres  From the 10th of 16th of November, the 2 Life Guards were constantly employed as a Mobile Reserve in readiness to relieve situations occurring between the area of the Ypres Ė Hooge and Ypres Ė Kleinzillebeke roads and in trenches in the same area. Nothing of great incident occurred except that the Regiment was reinforced by the squadron of the Regiment from the Household Cavalry Composite Regiment. Strength of squadron stands at 5 officers, 186 R & F, 220 horses.

    16th Nov 1914 Quiet day for 2nd Life Guards  Another quiet day. At 5.30 pm the 2nd Life Guards supplied 150 Rifles to man Reserve Trenches on the slope of the Zillebeke Ridge. Nothing of incident occurred. 1 R & F accidentally wounded, 2 R & F returned to hospital sick.

    17th Nov 1914 2nd Life Guards Regt move to Brielen  The 2nd Life Guards moved at midday on the 17th to Brielen, 2 miles North West of Ypres, where horses of the Regiment were left and a further move was made with the Brigade to man the trenches on Zillebeke Ridge. It was our turn to hold the forward and supporting trenches which we did for 48 hours.

    18th Nov 1914 Composite Cavalry Squadron shelled  The War diary of the 2nd Life Guards records: The trenches occupied by the Composite Squadron were somewhat heavily shelled and damaged on the 18th, the casualties at this point amounting to 20 Rank & File (3 killed, 17 wounded). Horses (9 killed, 4 wounded).

    19th Nov 1914 2nd Life Guards have a quiet day.  2nd Life Guards are on Zillebeke Ridge in Dug outs half a mile from Ypres on Ypres to Roulers Railway Line. This was a comparatively quiet day, practically no shelling or any kind of attack by the enemy after 11 am. At 7 pm the Regiment on relief by the 1st Life Guards and moved into the dug outs in Reserve.

    20th Nov 1914 2nd Life Guards at Brielen  2 Life Guards spent a quiet day in Dug outs at Brielen. At 5 pm the Regiment moved to billets at Brielen.

    21st Nov 1914 2nd Life Guards move to Eecke  2nd Life Guards War Diary: "Frost had set in, and on our move to Eecke it was found necessary to lead horses nearly all the way. Billets were found at Eecke to house the men but not all the horses."

    22nd Nov 1914 Squadrons of 2nd Life Guards move into separate billets   The Squadrons of the 2nd Life Guards moved into separate billets in the vicinity of Eecke, by this means all men and horses were comfortably housed.

    23rd Nov 1914 2nd Life Guards horse and arms inspections  War Diary: For the 2nd Life Guards these days between the 23rd and 25th of November have been employed in horse and arms inspections, also short route marches. Nothing of incident to mention with the exception that from 7 pm on the 25th the Regiment is to be held in readiness to saddle up for a period of 48 hours, as being portion of the Duty Division of the Cavalry Corps, which latter is in General Reserve. 14 officers proceeded to England on 72 hours leave.

    25th Nov 1914 Funeral

    26th Nov 1914 2nd Life Guards in Billets at Eecke   From the 26th to 30th of November 1914, the usual routine in Billets at Eecke continued for the 2nd Life Guards, during this period small drafts of 21 and 17 men joined the Regt. Leave for 72 hours continued to be granted to officers and 2 COs. The Regiment was busy refitting and reorganizing.

    1st Dec 1914 2nd Life Guards refit at Eecke.   The 2nd Life Guards War Diary records: The Regiment continued to refit at Eecke.

    2nd Dec 1914 Review of troops by HM the King  A review of troops was held by H M the King in which the 2nd Life Guards took part at Eecke. His Majesty presented the DSO to Lieut. and Adjt Stewart Menzies and the DCM to Corporal Watt of the 2nd Life Guards.

    3rd Dec 1914 2nd Life Guards carry out Squadron Drills  Troop and Squadron Drills were carried out by the Squadrons of the 2nd Life Guards at Eecke.

    4th Dec 1914 2nd Life Guards Inspected by the Brigadier  An inspection of men and horses of the 2nd Life Guards was held by the Brigadier at Eecke. In the afternoon an R A Officer attended to advise on the siting of trenches and to discuss the question of Artillery Positions.

    5th Dec 1914 2 Life Guards on route march.   The 2nd Life Guards' War Diary, states they are at Eecke. A route march took place. Tactical schemes are being arranged in preparation for further active operations.

    6th Dec 1914 Divine service parade at Ecke   Divine service parade and communion were held by the Brigade Chaplain at Eecke, in which the 2nd Life Guards participated.

    7th Dec 1914 2nd Life Guards move into billets at Staple  The 2nd Life Guards moved in the afternoon into billets in and about Staple, 3 miles west of Hondeghem.

    8th Dec 1914 2nd Life Guards settle in to new billets  The 2nd Life Guards' War Diary records for the 8th of December; This day was occupied in settling the horses and men into their new billets at Staple. A draft arrived Lieut. Beamount. 20 R & File.

    9th Dec 1914 2nd Life Guards Training at Staple  From the 9th to the 12th of December 1914, the 2nd Life Guards are at Staple. The Regiment continued its training for further operations, including a Route March in Brigade on the 10th instant.

    10th Dec 1914 2nd Life Guards train with Brigade  As part of the training programme the 2nd Life Guards took part in a Route March with the Brigade.

    11th December 1914 Leicestershire Yeomanry drills  Troop/squadron drill. Surplus horses and saddlery evacuated (horses to mobile veterinary section, and 1st and 2nd Life Guards)

    14th Dec 1914 2nd Life Guards near Scherpenberg  The 2nd Life Guards moved up in Brigade in Cavalry Support into a position of readiness just west of the south of Scherpenberg. Nothing of incident occurred and the Regiment moved back into billets 3/4 of a mile East of Berthen. Divine Services were held at Staple.

    15th Dec 1914 2nd Life Guards in billets  The 2nd Life Guards remained in billets at Berthen and was occupied in making shelter for horses.

    16th Dec 1914 2nd Life Guards return to Staple  The 2nd Life Guards returned to original billets at Staple.

    17th Dec 1914 2nd Life Guards Training  The War Diary of the 2 Life Guards records: Continuation of training for active operations.

    18th Dec 1914 2 Life Guards at Staple  At Staple the 2nd Life Guards war diary records: Orders received to be ready to concentrate

    23rd Dec 1914 Training continued for 2nd Life Guards   Training for active operations were continued from the 19th of December and included a Route March in Brigade for the 2nd Life Guards on the 23rd instant. Leave is now being granted to the United Kingdom for 25% of officers, 4 NCOs and 12 men per Unit at a time.

    25th Dec 1914 Gifts from Royal family distributed  On Xmas day, Xmas cards from H M the King and Queen and also H R H Princess Maryís Gift were received and have been distributed to all Ranks.

    1st Jan 1915 2nd Life Guards on duty  The War Diary of the 2nd Life Guards records: At Staple. The Regiment as part of the 3rd Cav Division came on duty from 1st to 3rd Jan, but nothing occurred.

    4th Jan 1915 2nd Life Guards watch Demonstration of trench mortars  2 Life Guards War Diary records: A demonstration of bomb throwing and trench mortars was given to the Officers of the whole Division by 3rd Field Squadron R E.

    5th Jan 1915 Lt.Col. Ferguson resumes command of 2nd Life Guards  Lt.Col. Ferguson returned from England to resume command of the 2nd Life Guards having recovered from his wounds.

    6th Jan 1915 Training continues for 2nd Life Guards  Between the 6th and 24th of January 1915, Troop Squadron and Regimental training was continued for the 2nd Life Guards with an occasional scheme set by the Brigadier.

    13th Jan 1915 Life Under Fire

    20th Jan 1915 2nd Life Guards receive draft of men and horses  A draft of 28 horses and 10 men was received by the 2nd Life Guards. A complaint arose about the quality and the quantity of the hay issued. Any deficiency was supposed to be made up by requisitioning, but the farms are unwilling to part with their stocks of hay.

    24th Jan 1915 2nd Life Guards undergo an Inoculation of all ranks  Squadrons of the 2nd Life Guards take it in turn to bathe in a brewery near the billets every Sunday. Inoculation of all ranks not already treated is carried on with very few men objecting.

    26th Jan 1915 2nd Life Guards are to return to the trenches.  The CO of the 2nd Life Guards made a thorough inspection of D squadron horses. The Brigadier called to tell us we are to return to the trenches.

    27th Jan 1915 2nd Life Guards Ready to march  The War Diary Records: 2nd Life Guards all ready to march at 7 am, but later orders say 250 strong and without horses. Finally orders to unsaddle and we paraded on foot at 11.30 am for inspection by the FMC in C, who addressed the Regiment speaking highly of its past services, and making special mention of the great loss the army, he himself, and the Regiment had sustained by the loss of Major the Hon. Hugh Dawnay.

    28th Jan 1915 2nd Life Guards Inspected by Brigadier  Between 10 am and 12.30 The Brigadier made a close inspection of every horse in the 2nd Life Guards, and at the end expressed himself as 'pleasantly surprised'. A large barn at a billet occupied by C squadron was unfortunately burnt down in the night of 27-28 Jan. I visited the place with a French officer Lt Labouchon, and had a board on the affair, but could obtain no evidence as to the cause of the fire.

    29th Jan 1915 2 Life Guards - Capt. Ferrey promoted  2 Life Guards - War Diary, Captain Ferrey of 27th Light Cavalry was gazetted to my Regiment as a Major. I supervised a scheme for all officers set by Major Ferrey.

    30th Jan 1915 2 Life Guards - Frost and Snow  Frost and snow. Squadrons of the 2nd Life Guards continued their weekly programme of work. The machine gun detachment moved into a drier billet.

    31st Jan 1915 2nd Life Guards report Re-equipment of Regiment almost completed  The 2nd Life Guards War Diary records: Service as usual by the Chaplain, and 1 Squadron bathed. The re-equipment of the Regiment was almost completed.

    3rd Feb 1915 Into the Trenches

    4th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards in trenches  2nd Life Guards are in trenches. 1 Officer Royal Artillery and some men and 6 trench mortars arrived. All hands were busy all day and night bringing up stores at night and baling trenches and at sanitation all day. The French apparently used only loop holes for fire, so we had to make a step for use to fire over parapet in case of attack.

    5th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards stand to  2nd Life Guards stood to at 6 am and off to end of trenches at 10 am getting back at 12 midday. Up to trenches at 3pm to see suggested alternative positions for machine guns, and these were made. Much more sniping and shelling and many aeroplanes, but no damage. 10 officers of the Brigade which will relieve 8th arrived, which is rather a tax, as we have no room and no food to spare. Message at 1am saying all communication with the Blues on our left is cut off. Can I [illegible] but Adjutant to find out and he got back at 4.30 am to say nothing had occurred. Alarm apparently caused by neglect on the part of signaller.

    6th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards in trenches.  2nd Life Guards War Diary records: Off to trenches at 10 am till 12 and again at 10 pm and found a lot of sniping going on, infantry blazing at nothing as usual. Col Smith Bingham 3rd Dragoon Guards and Geoffrey Glyn Somerset Yeomanry arrived.

    The snipers took the life of 2877 Trooper Langford Wild, 2nd Life Guards, who died at a Dressing Station in Ypres at around 7.30 in the evening of the 6th of February, after having been shot in the head while in trenches at Zillebeke. His death was reported in The Surrey Mirror on 19th of February: ďA Hull accountant, Trooper Langford Wild, 2nd Life Guards, has been killed at the front. In communicating the sad news the Rev. A. H. Boyd, Chaplain to the 3rd Cavalry Division, says that Wild was buried with other British soldiers in the small burial ground made on the ramparts of Ypres.Ē

    7th Feb 1915 2 Life Guards in trenches  2nd Life Guards stood to at 6 am and relieved C Squadron with B. French Battery shelled German trenches, having first asked us to keep our heads down. Went to trenches as usual. 94 rifles in trenches and remainder fatiguing all day. 4 or 5 men have swollen feet. Big guns all day. Party of relieving officers, 40 in all, arrived Ė more or less as our guests. Kavanagh came at 10 and stayed till midnight.

    8th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards in Trenches  2nd Life Guards in trenches. Normal day till 9 pm when our relief kept dropping in. Handed over to B General Campbell. We at last got away at 1.30 am.

    9th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards billeted in Ypres  2nd Life Guards got to billets at Ypres at 4.30 am. Town is in chaos and shells passing over all day to the railway station.

    10th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards bathe in Ypres  2nd Life Guards War Diary records: The Regiment bathed at the Ecole de Bienfaisance. A few bombs by day and shells over more or less all night. Troops taken out separately under Leaders to exercise men, and to avoid congregating in the streets.

    11th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards Shelled by Howitzer fire  At 9 pm the billeting area of the 2nd Life Guards in Ypres was severely shelled by Howitzer fire said to have been brought up by rail. The regiment escaped but other troops and civilians were killed close by. My adjutant assisted to carry the remains of 3 women and 5 children, which the terrified Belgian men refused to touch, although urged by their priest. Very lucky to escape with the loss of 1 man after over 10 days.

    12th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards move to Staple  2nd Life Guards paraded at 6 pm for buses, in which 6th Brigade will arrive. They did not come till 7.30 pm and at last we got away at 9.20 pm arriving at Staple at 3 am. Much equipment ammunition etc. was handed over to the Brigade which relieved us in the trenches Ė a very great saving of labour and of risk.

    13th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards at Staple  War Diary of the 2nd Life Guards records them at Staple: Much to do, and especially with the horses, which have been looked after by the men left behind for 10 days and have suffered from want of grooming etc.

    15th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards at musketry range practice  2nd Life Guards War Diary, 15 to 18 February 1915: In billets at Staple. Nothing of note took place, and squadrons were busy at musketing and with range practice at short range for bad shots.

    19th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards engaged in Squadron work  2nd Life Guards - War Diary records: Squadron went out to work 3 separate schemes

    20th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards CO unhappy with schemes  In the War Diary of the 2nd Life Guards, their CO Records: Criticised Squadron Schemes and discussed them. Accused by Div HQ of having 5 officers over strength when as a fact I am 4 under. Replied forcibly at some length.

    22nd Feb 1915 Inspection of 2nd Life Guards machine gun teams  The 2nd Life Guards War Diary states: Major General Kavanagh came to inspect machine gun teams. Squadrons out again at schemes set by me.

    23rd Feb 1915 Detachment of the 2nd Life Guards to Meteren  3 officers and 100 men of the 2nd Life Guards went away to Meteren, 9th Lancers to assist in grooming their horses while they are in the trenches.

    24th Feb 1915 Horse inspection for 2nd Life Guards   2nd Life Guards War Diary: Every horse inspected by A D V S 3rd Cav Division and by Col Yardley (Remount Officer). They decided to change 10 horses as unsuitable or worn out.

    25th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards Dig Trenches.  2nd Life Guards War Diary: (Snow) Sent a party of 100 men to dig trenches near La Belle Hotesse. A regrettable fire took place at 3am at the B squadron billet resulting in the loss of a certain amount of equipment and of 19 of the tenant farmersí cows. Instigated a Court of Enquiry at once, but could find no reasonable explanation or cause of blame. Lt R Fenwick Palmer rejoined after wound with a draft of 12 men from Windsor.

    26th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards - More trench digging  2nd Life Guards War Diary: Party of 100 digging trenches.

    27th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards Dig trenches  2nd Life Guards War Diary: Party of 70 digging trenches.

    28th Feb 1915 2nd Life Guards dig trenches  2nd Life Guards War Diary: Party of 125 digging trenches. No leave to be granted after this date.

    31st Dec 1915 The Worst in Germany

    23rd Jan 1916 In the Trenches

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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)

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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 Jeffreyís (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 ďthe gapĒ 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

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