The Irish Guards (IG), part of the Guards Division, is one of the Foot Guards regiments of the British Army and, together with the Royal Irish Regiment, it is one of the two Irish infantry regiments in the British Army. The regiment has participated in campaigns in the First World War, the Second World War, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan as well as numerous other conflicts throughout their history. The Irish Guards claims six Victoria Cross recipients, four from the First World War and two from the Second World War.
|The Irish Guards|
Regimental badge of the Irish Guards
|Active||1900 - Present|
|Country|| United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1900–1922)|
United Kingdom (1922 to date)
|Role||1st Battalion – Light Mechanized Infantry|
|Part of||11th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters South East|
|Garrison/HQ||RHQ — London|
1st Battalion — Cavalry Barracks, Hounslow
|Motto(s)||"Quis Separabit" (Latin)|
"Who Shall Separate Us?"
|March||Quick – St Patrick's Day|
Slow – Let Erin Remember
|Mascot(s)||Irish Wolfhound named Domhnall|
|Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Palmer MBE|
|Colonel in Chief||Elizabeth II|
|Prince William, Duke of Cambridge KG KT|
|Tactical Recognition Flash|
|Plume||St. Patrick's blue|
Right side of Bearskin cap
The Irish Guards recruit in Northern Ireland and the Irish neighbourhoods of major British cities. Although restrictions in Ireland's Defence Act make it illegal to induce, procure or persuade enlistment of any citizen of Ireland into the military of another state, people from the Republic do enlist in the regiment.
One way to distinguish between the five regiments of Foot Guards is the spacing of the buttons on their tunics. The Irish Guards have buttons arranged in groups of four as they were the fourth Foot Guards regiment to be founded. They also have a prominent St. Patrick's blue plume on the right side of their bearskins.
First World WarEdit
Following the outbreak of the First World War, 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards was deployed to France almost immediately, and they remained on the Western Front for the duration of the war. During the early part of the war, the battalion took part in the Battle of Mons and formed the Allied rearguard during the Great Retreat. The battalion then took part in one of the bloodiest battles of 1914, the First Battle of Ypres, which began on 19 October, which left major casualties among the old Regular Army.
The 1st Battalion was involved in fighting for the duration of 'First Ypres', at Langemarck, Gheluvelt and Nonne Bosschen. The 1st Battalion suffered huge casualties between 1–8 November holding the line against near defeat by German forces, while defending Klein Zillebeke.
In May 1915, the 1st Irish Guards took part in the Battle of Festubert, though did not see much action. Two further battalions were formed for the regiment in July. In September that year, the battalion, as well as the 2nd Irish Guards, who had reached France in August, took part in the Battle of Loos, which lasted from 25 September until early October. Both battalions spent the rest of 1915 in the trenches and did not fight in any major engagements.
This relative quiet period for the regiment was broken on 1 July 1916 when the Battle of the Somme began. The 1st Irish Guards took part in an action at Flers–Courcelette where they suffered severe casualties in the attack in the face of withering fire from the German machine-guns. The battalion also took part in the action at Morval before they were relieved by the 2nd Irish Guards.
In 1917 the Irish Guards took part in the Battle of Pilckem which began on 31 July during the Third Battle of Ypres. The Irish Guards also took part in the Battle of Cambrai in that year, the first large use of the tank in battle took place during the engagement. In 1918 the regiment fought in a number of engagements during the Second Battle of the Somme, including at Arras and Albert. The regiment then went on to take part in a number of battles during the British offensives against the Hindenburg Line. On 11 November 1918 the Armistice with Germany was signed. The 1st Battalion, Irish Guards were at Maubeuge when the Armistice was signed.
The regiment's continued existence was threatened briefly when Winston Churchill, who served as Secretary of State for War between 1919 and 1921, sought the elimination of the Irish Guards and Welsh Guards as an economy measure. This proposal, however, did not find favour in government or army circles and was dropped. Between the wars, the regiment was deployed at various times to Turkey, Gibraltar, Egypt and Palestine.
Second World WarEdit
During the Second World War, battalions of the regiment fought in Norway, France, North Africa and Italy and following D-Day in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. The regiment first saw combat during the Norwegian Campaign. Following a challenging sea voyage to Norway, the 1st Irish Guards arrived in May 1940 and fought for two days at the town of Pothus before they were forced to retreat. The Irish Guards conducted a fighting withdrawal and served as the Allied rearguard.
The battalion were evacuated along with the rest of the expeditionary force in June. While the 1st Irish Guards were fighting in Norway, the 2nd Battalion was deployed to the Hook of Holland to cover the evacuation of the Dutch Royal Family and Government in May 1940. 2nd Battalion were then deployed to France and ordered to defend the port of Boulogne. The guardsmen held out against overwhelming odds for three days, buying valuable time for the Dunkirk Evacuation, before they were evacuated themselves. In November 1942, during the Second World War, Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg joined the British Army as a volunteer in the Irish Guards.
All three battalions of the regiment remained based in the United Kingdom until March 1943 when the 1st Battalion landed, with the rest of the 24th Guards Brigade, in Tunisia, to fight in the final stages of the campaign in North Africa. The battalion saw extensive action while fighting through Tunisia and were subsequently deployed to the Italian Front in December of that year. The battalion took part in the Anzio landings on 22 January 1944. The 1st Battalion participated in the fierce fighting around the Allied beachhead and suffered severe casualties fighting off a German counterattack at Campoleone after which the depleted battalion was returned to the UK in April.
The Irish Guards returned to France in June 1944 when the 2nd and 3rd Irish Guards took part in the Normandy Campaign. Both battalions served as part of the Guards Armoured Division and took part in the attempt to capture Caen as part of Operation Goodwood. They also saw action in the Mont Pincon area. On 29 August, the 3rd Irish Guards crossed the Seine and began the advance into Belgium with the rest of the Guards Armoured Division towards Brussels.
The Irish Guards were part of the ground force of Operation Market Garden, 'Market' being the airborne assault and 'Garden' the ground attack. The Irish Guards led the vanguard of XXX Corps in their advance towards Arnhem, which was the objective of the British 1st Airborne Division, furthest from XXX Corps' start line. The Corps crossed the Belgian-Dutch border, advancing from Neerpelt on 17 September but the Irish Guards encountered heavy resistance which slowed the advance. Following the conclusion of Market Garden, the Irish Guards remained in the Netherlands until taking part in the Allied advance into Germany and seeing heavy action during the Rhineland Campaign with Guardsman Edward Charlton winning the final Victoria Cross to be awarded in the European theatre.
After the war, the regiment was reduced to a single battalion. In 1947, the 1st Irish Guards deployed to Palestine to perform internal security (IS) duties there. It was then posted to the Suez Canal Zone in Egypt, remaining there until the British withdrawal in 1956. The regiment continued to serve in troubled regions such as Cyprus and Aden throughout the 1950s and 1960s. During this time they were also part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in Germany on a number of occasions. They also served as the garrison of Hong Kong from 1970 to 1972.
The Irish Guards were one of the few regiments in the British Army exempt from service in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. However, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb blasted a bus carrying members of the regiment to Chelsea Barracks in October 1981. 39 people (23 soldiers and 16 others) were wounded and two civilians were killed. 1992 saw the regiment finally carry out its first tour-of-duty in Northern Ireland, based in County Fermanagh.
More recently, The Irish Guards were involved in the Balkans Conflicts when they were deployed to Macedonia and Kosovo in 1999 and were the first British unit to enter the Kosovan capital city of Pristina on 12 June. The regiment played a significant role in the initial stages of the Iraq War as part of the 7th Armoured Brigade and they led the British advance into Basra in March 2003. In 2010, the Guards' 1st Battalion deployed on their first tour of duty during the War in Afghanistan. The regiment completed its second and final tour of Afghanistan in 2013.
Following the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, 1st Battalion, Irish Guards were deployed in London to guard key locations, including the Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall, as part of Operation Temperer.
Current role and organisationEdit
The 1st Battalion Irish Guards is broken down into five separate Companies; three rifle companies, No.1, No.2, and No.4 Companies, along with No.3 (Support) Company, and the Headquarters Company. The Support Company has a Recon, Anti-Tank, Sniper and Mortar Platoons. In common with the other Guards regiments, the regimental organization also includes the Band of the Irish Guards and the Corps of Drums (a fife and drum band). At a battalion level, there are also the Drum and Pipes.
The Irish Guards and other Guards regiments have a long-standing connection to The Parachute Regiment. Irish Guardsmen who have completed P Company are transferred into the Guards Parachute Platoon, which is currently attached to the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. The Guards Parachute Platoon maintains the tradition established by No 1 (Guards) Independent Parachute Company that was part of the original Pathfinder Group of 16th Parachute Brigade, which has since been designated as the 16th Air Assault Brigade.
Under Army 2020 Refine, the Irish Guards are in the process of relocating from Cavalry Barracks, Hounslow to Aldershot and are serving as a light mechanized infantry battalion operating the Foxhound as part of 11th Infantry Brigade.
Like the other Guards regiments, the "Home Service Dress" of The Irish Guards is a scarlet tunic and bearskin. Buttons are worn in two rows of four, reflecting the regiment's position as the fourth most senior Guards regiment, and the collar is adorned with a shamrock on either side. They also sport a St. Patrick's blue plume on the right side of the bearskin.
A plume of St Patrick's blue was selected because blue is the colour of the mantle and sash of the Order of St Patrick, a chivalric order. founded by George III of the United Kingdom for the Kingdom of Ireland in February 1783 from which the regiment also draws its cap star and motto.
In "Walking-out Dress", the Irish Guards can be identified by the green band on their forage caps. Officers and senior non-commissioned officers also traditionally carry a blackthorn walking stick.
Like the other Guards regiments, they wear a khaki beret with the blue/red/blue Household Division backing patch on it. On the beret ranks from Guardsman to Lance Sergeant wear a brass or staybrite cap badge, Sergeants and Colour Sergeants wear a bi-metal cap badge, Warrant Officers wear a silver plate gilt and enamel cap badge and commissioned officers of the regiment wear an embroidered cap badge.
The Irish Guards pipers' uniform is a kilt and tunic, like The Scots Guards, yet is also very different. Bagpipers wear saffron kilts rather than tartan, green hose with saffron flashes and heavy black shoes known as brogues with no spats, a rifle green doublet with buttons in fours and a floppy hat known as a caubeen rather than a feather bonnet.
The regimental cap star is worn over the piper's right eye and is topped by a blue hackle. A green cloak with four silver buttons is worn over the shoulders and is secured by two green straps that cross over the chest.
The Irish Guards are known affectionately throughout the British Army as "the Micks" or "Fighting Micks." An earlier nickname, "Bob's Own", after Field Marshal Lord Roberts has fallen into disuse. The term "Micks", while derogatory if used in civilian life, is embraced if used within the British Army.
Recruits to the Guards Division go through a thirty-week training programme at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC). The training is two weeks more than the training for the Regular line infantry regiments of the British Army; the extra training, carried out throughout the course, is devoted to drill and ceremonies.
Since 1902, an Irish Wolfhound has been presented as a mascot to the regiment by the members of the Irish Wolfhound Club, who hoped the publicity would increase the breed's popularity with the public. The first mascot was called Brian Boru.
In 1961, the wolfhound was admitted to the select club of "official" Army mascots, entitling him to the services of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, as well as quartering and food at public expense. Originally, the mascot was in the care of a drummer boy, but is now looked after by one of the regiment's drummers and his family. The Irish Guards are the only Guards regiment permitted to have their mascot lead them on parade. During Trooping the Colour, however, the mascot marches only from Wellington Barracks as far as Horse Guards Parade. He then falls out of the formation and does not participate in the trooping itself. The regiment's current wolfhound is named Domhnall. His predecessor, Conmael, made his debut at Trooping the Colour on 13 June 2009.
At the end of 2012 Conmael retired and was replaced with the new wolfhound- Domhnall.
Traditions and affiliationsEdit
St. Patrick's Day is the traditional regimental celebration. It is customary for the regiment to begin the day's celebrations with the Guardsmen being woken by their officers and served gunfire. Fresh shamrock is then presented to the members of the regiment, no matter where it is stationed.
Except in wartime, the presentation of shamrock is traditionally made by a member of the Royal Family. This task was first performed in 1901 by Queen Alexandra and later by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. After the latter's death, the presentation was made by The Princess Royal. Starting in 2012, the presentation has been made by the Duchess of Cambridge. Her decision to skip the ceremony in 2016 to spend time with her children sparked some public controversy. Her husband the Duke of Cambridge, who is Colonel of the Irish Guards, replaced her in making the presentation.
In 1950 King George VI marked the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the Irish guards by presenting the Shamrocks on St Patrick´s Day. This honour was mirrored by King George's surviving wife, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, fifty years later when she presented shamrocks to the regiment on St. Patrick's Day in their centenary year of 2000.
The regiment's battle honours are as follows:
- First World War: Mons, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, Ypres 1914 and 17, Langemarck 1914, Battle of Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Festubert 1915, Loos, Somme 1916 and 1918, Flers–Courcelette, Morval, Pilckem, Poelcapelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 and 1918, St. Quentin, Lys, Hazebrouck, Albert 1918, Bapaume 1918, Arras 1918, Scarpe 1918, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Canal du Nord, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914–18
- Second World War:
- Al Basrah 2003, Iraq 2003
Victoria Cross recipientsEdit
- Guardsman Edward Colquhoun Charlton, 2nd Battalion, The Irish Guards
- LCpl John Kenneally, 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards
- ALt Col James Marshall, Irish Guards (attached to the 16th Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers)
- LSgt John Moyney, 2nd Battalion, The Irish Guards
- LCpl Michael O'Leary, 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards
- Pte Thomas Woodcock, 2nd Battalion, The Irish Guards
- Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis
- Alastair Boyd, 7th Baron Kilmarnock
- Rev. Francis Browne, SJ, MC and Bar
- James Chichester-Clark DL
- Arthur Dooley
- Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg
- Arthur Charles Evans CBE
- Sir John Gorman
- Lt John Kipling (only son of Rudyard Kipling)
- Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor DSO OBE
- Josef Locke
- Hugh Lofting
- Lt Col George Henry Morris
- Liam O'Flaherty
- The Lord O'Neill of the Maine PC
- Brig JOE Vandeleur DSO and Bar
- Lt Col Giles Vandeleur DSO
- Terence Young
British Army regiments typically have an honorary "colonel", often a member of the Royal Family or a prominent retired military officer with connections to the regiment, who functions as a kind of patron or guardian of the regiment's interests in high government circles. Queen Elizabeth II is colonel-in-chief of all Guards regiments.
The Irish Guards colonels have been:
- Field Marshal The Earl Roberts VC KG KP PC GCB OM GCSI GCIE – appointed 17 October 1900.
- Field Marshal The Earl Kitchener KG KP PC GCB OM GCSI GCIE – appointed 15 November 1914.
- Field Marshal The Earl of Ypres KP PC GCB OM GCVO KCMG ADC – appointed 6 June 1916.
- Field Marshal The Earl of Cavan KP GCB GCMG GCVO GBE DL – appointed 23 May 1925.
- Field Marshal The Earl Alexander of Tunis KG PC GCB OM GCMG CSI DSO MC – appointed 28 August 1946.
- General Sir Basil Eugster KCB KCVO CBE DSO MC – appointed 17 June 1969.
- General Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg KG – appointed 21 August 1984.
- Lieutenant The Duke of Abercorn KG – appointed 1 November 2000.
- Major General Sir Sebastian Roberts KCVO OBE – appointed 17 March 2008.
- Major The Duke of Cambridge KG KT – appointed 10 February 2011.
Order of precedenceEdit
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- "Lure of combat draws Irish men and women to British army". The Irish Times. 6 September 2008.
Subscription required to view
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- Irish Guards Regimental website Archived 8 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine
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- Kipling, Rudyard. "1915: La Bassée to Laventie". Retrieved 26 February 2017.
- Kipling, Rudyard. "1916: The Salient to the Somme". Retrieved 26 February 2017.
- Kipling, Rudyard. "1917: The Somme to Gouzeaucourt". Retrieved 26 February 2017.
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- "Irish Guards 1918-1939". Irish Guards. Archived from the original on 29 July 2003. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- Wilkinson and Astley, p. 66
- Ellis 2004, p. 157.
- "Biography of Grand Duke Jean". Luxembourg government. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- "The Anzio Landing 22–29 January". American Forces in action. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
- D'Este, p. 200.
- "Units of the Guards Armoured Division race along the highway to Brussels and liberate the city". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
- Randel 2006, p. 32.
- Ryan 1999, p. 183.
- Whiting, p. 87
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- "Bomb Incidents (London)". Retrieved 26 December 2015.
- "Britain: Once More, Terror in the Streets". TIME.com. 9 November 1981. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
- Taylor, Matthew (13 September 2008). "Beginners luck". The Guardian. London, UK.
- "Irish Guards on tour of duty in Afghanistan". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "The Irish Guards". British Army. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
- "First Troops Deployed in Operation Temperer". Warfare.Today. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
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- Army Secretariat (10 March 2017). "Response to FOI2017/02130 - Request for information related to Army 2020 Refine" (PDF). publishing.service.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
- Taylor, Bryn (2006). "A brief history of the regiment". Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2009.
- Penny cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, Volumes 13. C. Knight. 1839. p. 246.
- Statutes and ordinances of the most illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, Dublin 1831, pp. 6–13.
- "The Irish Guards - A Brief History of The Regiment". Archived from the original on 8 November 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
- "Ireland's Blackthorn Stick". Tintean. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- "Irish Guards officer's embroidered cap badge". Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- "Story of the Caubeen". London Irish Rifles Association. Archived from the original on 21 May 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- "Identify the Guardsmen by their Buttons!". Royal Windsor. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- "Everything you need to know about the Changing of the Guard at Windsor". Windsor Express. 10 March 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- "Royal wedding: Prince William marries in Irish Guards red". Telegraph.co.uk. 29 April 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- "Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society - Orders of Chivalry". cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
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- Ministry of Defence (3 January 2013). "Playful pup newest recruit to Irish Guards – Announcements". GOV.UK. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
- "The Irish Guards - St Patrick's Day". Archived from the original on 8 November 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
- "Prince William fills in for Kate as he presents Irish Guards with St Patrick's Day shamrock". Daily Telegraph. London, UK.
- "Kate's Irish charm: An emerald Duchess presents St Patrick's Day shamrocks to guardsmen (and she's a knockout for one soldier)". Daily Mail. London, UK.
- "'She probably needs a rest!': Kate Middleton faces online backlash after breaking 115-year tradition by pulling out of presenting St Patrick's Day shamrocks to Irish Guards to spend time at home with her children". Daily Mail. London, UK.
- Palmer, Richard. (17 March 2016). Prince William Handed Out Shamrocks at the St Patricks Day Parade as Kate Broke with Tradition.Sunday Express Retrieved 8 January 2019
- The Duke of Cambridge Joins the Irish Guards at the St Patrick´s Day Parade. (17 March 2016) Royal.uk. Retrieved 8 January 2019
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- Johnstone, Thomas (1992). Orange and Green and Khaki: The Story of the Irish Regiments in the Great War, 1914–18. Dublin: Gill and MacMillen. ISBN 978-0-7171-1994-3.
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- Kipling, Rudyard (1923). The Irish Guards in the Great War. London.
- Wilkinson, Peter; Astley, Joan Bright (2010). Gubbins and SOE. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military. ISBN 978-1-84884-421-6.
- Ellis, Major L. F. (2004) [1st. pub. HMSO 1954]. Butler, J. R. M. (ed.). The War in France and Flanders 1939–1940. History of the Second World War United Kingdom Military Series. Naval & Military Press. ISBN 978-1-84574-056-6. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
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- d'Este, Carlo (1991). Fatal Decision: Anzio and the Battle for Rome. New York: Harper. ISBN 0-06-015890-5.
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