94: Grenadier Guards badges

This entry was posted by Tuesday, 23 November, 2010
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Grenadier Guards badges

Grenadier Guards (GREN GDS) is an elite infantry regiment of the British Army. It is the most senior regiment of the Guards Division and, as such, is the most senior regiment of infantry. It is not, however, the most senior regiment of the Army, this position being attributed to the Life Guards. Although the Coldstream Guards was formed before the Grenadier Guards, that regiment is ranked after the Grenadiers in seniority as it was a regiment of the New Model Army.

The grouping of buttons on the tunic is a common way to distinguish between the regiments of Foot Guards. Grenadier Guards’ buttons are equally spaced and embossed with the Royal Cypher reversed and interlaced surrounded by the Royal Garter bearing Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil be to him who evil thinks ). Their “Buff Belt” brass clasped also carry the Royal Cypher, modern Grenadier Guardsmen wear a cap badge of a “grenade fired proper” with seventeen flames. This cap badge has to be cleaned twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, as it is made from brass and a tarnished grenade is frowned upon by all in the regiment.


The Grenadier Guards traces its lineage back to 1656, when Lord Wentworth’s Regiment was raised in Bruges, in the Spanish Netherlands (current-day Belgium), where it formed a part of exiled King Charles II’s bodyguard. A few years later, a similar regiment known as John Russell’s Regiment of Guards was formed. In 1665, these two regiments were combined to form the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards, consisting of 24 companies of men.  Since then the Grenadier Guards have served ten Kings and three Queens, including currently Queen Elizabeth II. Throughout the 18th century, the regiment took part in a number of campaigns including the War of Spanish Succession, the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the regiment gained the name “Grenadier” in July 1815 following a Royal Proclamation, honouring their part in defeating Grenadiers of the French Imperial Guard at the Battle of Waterloo.

During the Victorian era, the regiment took part in the Crimean War, participating in the fighting at the Alma river, Inkerman, and Sevastapol. For their involvement in the conflict, four members of the 3rd Battalion received the Victoria Cross. Following this they were involved in the fighting at Battle of Tel el-Kebir during the Anglo-Egyptian War in 1882, and then the Mahdist War in Sudan, where its main involvement came at the Battle of Omdurman. During the Second Boer War, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were deployed to South Africa where they took part in a number of battles including the Battle of Modder River and the Battle of Belmont, as well as a number of smaller actions. In 1900, 75 men from the regiment were used to raise a fourth Guards regiment, known as the Irish Guards in honour of the role that Irish regiments had played in the fighting in South Africa.

At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the regiment consisted of three battalions. With the commencement of hostilities the regiment raised a service battalion, the 4th Battalion, and a reserve battalion known as the 5th (Reserve) Battalion, which was used to carry out ceremonial duties in London and Windsor during the war. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the regiment were the first to be sent to France, and took part in the early stages of the fighting during the period known as “Race to the Sea“, during which time they were involved significantly at the First Battle of Ypres. In February 1915, a fifth Guards regiment was raised, known as the Welsh Guards. In recognition of the significant contribution Welshmen had made to the Grenadier Guards, the regiment transferred five officers and 634 other ranks to the newly formed unit. A short time later, permission was received for the formation of the Guards Division, the brainchild of Lord Kitchener, and on 18 August 1915, the division came into existence, consisting of three brigades, each with four battalions. Following this the four service battalions of the regiment fought in a number of significant battles including Loos, the Somme, Cambrai, Arras and the Hindenburg Line. Seven members of the regiment received the Victoria Cross during the war.

Following the Armistice with Germany in November 1918, the regiment returned to just three battalions which were used in a variety of roles, serving at home in the United Kingdom, as well as in France, Turkey and Egypt.

During the Second World War the regiment was expanded to six service battalions, with the re-raising of the 4th Battalion, and the establishment of the 5th and 6th Battalions. The Grenadier Guards’ first involvement in the war came in the early stages of the fighting when all three regular battalions were sent to France in late 1939 as part of the British Expeditionary Force. As the BEF was pushed back by the German blitzkrieg, these battalions played a considerable role in maintaining the British Army’s reputation during the withdrawal phase of the campaign before being themselves evacuated from Dunkirk. After this they returned to the United Kingdom where they undertook defensive duties in anticipation of a possible invasion. Later, in 1941, there was a need to increase the number of armoured and motorised units in the British Army and as a result the 2nd and 4th Battalions were re-equipped with tanks, while the 1st Battalion was motorised. They subsequently served in the Guards Armoured Division in Western Europe in 1944–45. The 3rd, 5th and 6th Battalions also served in North Africa, where they fought significant battles in the Medjez-el-Bab and along the Mareth Line, and in Italy at Salerno, Monte Camino, Anzio, and along the Gothic Line. Throughout the course of the conflict two Grenadiers received the Victoria Cross.

In June 1945, following the end of hostilities, the 2nd and 4th Battalions gave up their tanks and returned to the infantry role. The regiment returned to three battalions at this time, with the 4th and 5th Battalions being disbanded along with the 6th which had been removed from the order of battle before the end of the war. Initially, they were employed on occupation duties in Germany, however, the 3rd Battalion was deployed shortly aftwards to Palestine where they attempted to keep the peace until May 1948 when they were replaced by 1st Battalion. Further deployments came to Malaya in 1949, Tripoli in 1951 and Cyprus in 1956. In 1960, shortly after returning from Cyprus, the 3rd Battalion paraded for the last time and was subsequently placed in suspended animation. In order to maintain the battalion’s customs and traditions, one of its companies, the Inkerman Company, was incorporated into the 1st Battalion.

Since the mid 1960s, the 1st and 2nd Battalions deployed to Africa, South America and Northern Ireland where they undertook peacekeeping duties. They also undertook duties as part of the NATO force stationed in Germany during the Cold War.  In 1991, the 1st Battalion, which had been serving in Germany at the time, was deployed to the Middle East where it took part in the Persian Gulf War mounted in Warrior armoured personnel carriers, before returning for a six month tour of Northern Ireland.

In 1994, under the Options for Change reforms, the Grenadier Guards was reduced to a single battalion. The 2nd Battalion was put into ‘suspended animation’, and its colours passed for safekeeping to a newly formed independent Company, which was named “The Nijmegen Company”. As a result of this the regiment was reduced to its current composition: one full battalion, the 1st Battalion, consisting of three rifle companies, a support company and a headquarters company, based at Wellington Barracks, London, and one independent company, The Nijmegen Company.


The Grenadier Guards serves as a light infantry battalion – following the reforms of 2004, this will be fixed. The regiment will alternate with the Welsh Guards in the public duties role. In recent years the 1st Battalion has deployed as part of Operation TELIC in Iraq, and Op Herrick in Afghanistan.

Battle honours

The 1st Foot Guards have received 79 battle honours, which they gained for their involvement in the following conflicts:


Recruits to the Grenadier Guards go through a twenty-eight week training course at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC). This is two weeks more than the training for line infantry regiments of the British Army; the extra training, carried out throughout the course, is devoted to drill and ceremonies.

Following graduation from the ITC, guardsmen are assigned to Nijmegen Company for additional training and orientation before being posted to the 1st Battalion.


Sentry of the Grenadier Guards outside St James’ Palace

The Grenadier Guards’ various colonels-in-chief have generally been the British monarchs, including Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI, and currently Elizabeth II. The Colonel-in-Chief is always the reigning Sovereign. This applies to all regiments of the Household Division. Other Sovereigns have served in the regiment.


The following is a list of individuals who have served in the role of colonel of the regiment:


The Regimental Slow March is the march Scipio, from the opera of the same name by George Frideric Handel, inspired by the exploits of the Roman General Scipio Africanus. The first performance of Scipio was in 1726. Handel actually composed the eponymous slow march for the First Guards, presenting it to the regiment before he added it to the score of the opera. The Quick March is The British Grenadiers.


Both the 2nd Grenadier Guards F.C. and the 3rd Grenadier Guards F.C. enjoyed considerable success in the London League, playing against the likes of West Ham United.[citation needed]

Cadet Force

There are currently a number of cadet units that are associated with the Grenadier Guards. These include: the 78th Unit Grenadier Guards Cadet Force, which is based at Lordship Lane Cadet Centre near the Horniman Museum; the Holbrook Guards, which are based at the TA centre in Ipswich; and the 137th Unit Grenadier Guards Cadet Force, which is based at the TA Centre, at Lytton Grove, Putney.

Newport Detachment and the Band Detachment of 1 Company, Lincolnshire ACF, are also affiliated to the Grenadier Guards; both were based at Sobraon Barracks, Lincoln until Recently: When The Band Detachment relocated to North Hykeham in South Lincoln. Newport Detachment remains at Sobraon barracks and both are the only Grenadiers or members of the Household Devision left in Lincolnshire. Recent funding cuts however have threatened the existence of Both Detachments and it looks set for both to close by August 2011.

2 Responses to “94: Grenadier Guards badges”

  1. Niels B Pedersen

    I would like to, but I only show badges that are physically in my own collection

  2. Frank Clifford

    Doing some research regarding the Grenadier Guards for my local Army Cadet Force detachment and I was wondering if you would include Whittlesey Detachment of One(Hereward) Company Cambridgeshire ACF as we have been wearing the cap badge for a few decades, the exact number escapes me at this time.

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