Coldstream Guards

From Academic Kids

The Coldstream Guards is a regiment of the British Army.

It is the oldest regiment in the Army in continuous active service, originating in 1650 when Oliver Cromwell founded a regiment for then Colonel George Monck.


Traditions and Role

The grouping of buttons on the tunic is a common way to distinguish between the regiments of Foot Guards. Coldstream buttons are arranged in pairs, and "CG" is marked on their brassware. Captain Darling from the TV comedy Blackadder was a Coldstreamer; this can be recognized from his uniform.

The Regiment's formal title is Her Majesty's Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards. Their nickname is 'lilywhites'. An ordinary soldier of the regiment is called a Guardsman (a designation granted by King George VI after the First World War).

Currently the most prominent role of the 1st battalion and the No 7 Company are ceremonial duties in London and Windsor as part of the Household Division. No 7 Company serves as a parade company in London and provides escort for the Queen's Birthday Parade. They include the state opening of the parliament, Trooping the Colour when it is their turn and Remembrance Sunday parade. Number 7 company of Coldstream Guards is one of the Guards companies involved with the Changing of the Guard.

Operationally, the Coldstream Guards perform the role of mechanised infantry, primarily operating the Warrior. It is based in Aldershot as part of 12th Mechanised Brigade.

The Corps of Drums have had, in addition to their ceremonial role, a martial role as a machinegun company but now are being trained as assault pioneers. They also represent the most public side of the Coldstream Guards with their parade duties in state ceremonies where they wear the Royal Household Dress. Coldstream Guard regimental band plays in state visits. All the regiment musicians are trained as medical orderlies.


The origin of the Coldstream Guards lies in the English Civil War when Oliver Cromwell gave Colonel George Monck permission to form his own regiment as part of the New Model Army. Monck took men from the regiments of George Fenwick and Sir Arthur Hazelrigg, five companies each, and on August 23 1650 formed Monck's Regiment of Foot. It took part in the Battle of Dunbar, where the Roundheads defeated forces of Charles Stuart. Monck's regiment was left in Scotland.

After Cromwell's death, Monck turned to support the monarchy and on January 1 1660 crossed the River Tweed into England at the village of Coldstream near the border of Scotland and began a five-week march to London. He arrived in London on February 2 and helped in the restoration of the monarchy. For his help, Monck was given the Order of the Garter and his regiment was assigned to keep order in London. However, the new parliament soon ordered his regiment to be dismantled with the other old regiments of the New Model Army.

Before that could happen, Parliament was forced to rely on the help of the regiment against an army mutiny on January 6 1661. The regiment successfully defeated the rebels. On February 14 the men of the regiment symbolically laid down their arms as the part of the New Model Army and were ordered to take them up again as a royal regiment of The Lord General's Regiment of Foot Guards, a part of the Household Troops.

The regiment was placed as the second senior Regiment of Household Troops but they answered to that by adopting the motto Nulli Secundus, Second to None. When Monck died 1670, the Earl of Craven took command of the regiment and it adopted a new name, the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards.

The regiment saw active service in Flanders and in the Monmouth Rebellion, including the decisive Battle of Sedgemore in 1687. After 1688 they fought in the Battle of Walcourt on 1689, the Linden campaign and the Siege of Namur.

During the Seven Years War, Coldstream Guards saw action in Battle of Dettingen and the Battle of Fontenoy. In 1760, the 2nd Battalion was sent to Germany to campaign under Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick and fought in the Battle of Wilhelmstal and at the Castle of Arnoneberg. Three Guards companies of 307 men under the Coldstream commander Colonel Matthew fought in the American War of Independence.

Coldstream Guards saw extensive service in the wars against the French Revolution and in the Napoleonic Wars. Under command of Sir Ralph Abercrombie they defeated French troops in Egypt. In 1807 they took part in the investment of Copenhagen. In January 1809 they sailed to Portugal to join the forces under the Duke of Wellington. The 2nd Battalion joined the Walcheren Expedition. Later it served as part of the 2nd Guards Brigade in the chateau of Hougoumont on the outskirts of the battle of Waterloo. It later was part of the British occupation forces of Paris until 1816.

Missing image
Coldstream Guards by W.B. Wollen

During the Crimean War, Coldstream Guards fought in the battles of Alma, Inkerman and Sevastopol. On their return, four of the guardsmen were awarded the newly-instituted Victoria Cross.

The regiment received its current name The Coldstream Guards in 1855. In 1882 they were sent to Egypt against the rebels of Arabi Pasha and in 1885 in the Suakin Campaign. In 1897, the Coldstreamers were reinforced with the addition of the 3rd battalion. The 1st and 2nd battalions were dispatched to South Africa at the outbreak of the Boer War.

Coldstream Guards in France, . Painting by
Coldstream Guards in France, 1914. Painting by W. B. Wollen

At the outbreak of the First World War, Coldstreamers were among the first British regiments to arrive in France after Britain declared war against Germany. In the following battles, they suffered heavy losses, in two cases losing all their officers. They fought in Mons, Loos, Somme, Ginchy and in the 3rd Battle of Ypres. They also formed the 4th pioneer battalion that was disbanded after the war on 1919. The 5th Reserve battalion never left Britain before it was disbanded.

When the Second World War began, 1st and 3rd battalions of the Coldstream Guards were part of the British Expeditionary Force in France. They also formed additional 4th and 5th battalions for the duration of the war. They fought extensively in North Africa and Europe as dismounted infantry and the 1st battalion in the Guards Armoured Division. 4th battalion became first motorized battalion in 1940 and then an armoured battalion in 1943. 4th and 5th served as part of the Guards Armoured Division. 6th battalion was also formed in 1941 but was disbanded 1943 without seeing any action.

Coldstreamers gave up their tanks at the end of the war, the new battalions were disbanded and the troops distributed to 1st and 2nd Guard Training Battalions.

After the war, the 1st and 3rd battalions served in Palestine prior to the independence of Israel. The 2nd battalion served in the Malayan Emergency. The 3rd battalion was placed in suspended animation in 1959. The remaining battalions served against the Mau Mau rebellion, in Aden, Mauritius in 1965, in Cyprus Emergency in 1974 and several times in Northern Ireland after 1969.

After the Cold War, the 2nd battalion was dispatched to the first Gulf War. In 1993, due to defense cutbacks, the 2nd battalion was also discontinued and its colors transferred to its last remaining part, No 7 Company, nominally attached to 1st Battalion, Irish Guards.

For much of the early 1990s, the 1st Battalion was stationed in Germany as part of 4th Armoured Brigade. In 1993-1994 the remaining battalion served as mechanised infantry in peacekeeping duties in Bosnia as part of UNPROFOR.

The battalion was posted to Londonderry, Northern Ireland on a 2-year deployment in 2001. It deployed to Iraq in April 2005 with the rest of 12th Mechanised Brigade, based in the south of the county. The deployment has already affected the regiment; it lost one of its soldiers on 2 May near Al Amarah.


  • Sir Julian Paget - Second to none : the Coldstream Guards, 1650-2000 (2000) ISBN 0850527694

Original, even self-contradictory information from the 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica

See also

External links


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