Help support TMP

"Any Guards in action on the NW Frontier? " Topic

14 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Early 20th Century Discussion Message Board

Back to the Victorian Colonial Board Message Board

Back to the 19th Century Discussion Message Board

634 hits since 17 Jan 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

GreenLeader17 Jan 2017 9:50 a.m. PST

Bit of a strange question, but did any of the British Guards Regiments (Grenadiers, Coldstreams or Scots – the Welsh and Irish only forming later) see active service on the NW Frontier prior to the Boer War?

My Googling / Wiki'ing suggests not, as none of them have a battle honour for service there, but I want to make 100% sure. I am investigating the link between how well units which had fought on the Frontier (eg. The Gordons and Devons) did in South Africa compared to those which had not.

Can any of the Great Minds of TMP confirm that the Guards saw no service on the Frontier in the late 19th Century?

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2017 9:54 a.m. PST

Never…there may have been a staff officer, but never any Guards.

Perish the thought, indeed!

Geoffrey Sponge17 Jan 2017 10:12 a.m. PST

I believe The Brigade of Guards were proud of the fact they " … never served East of Suez." Roughing it in India was for the hoi polloi of "County" Regiments.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2017 10:50 a.m. PST

Gracious no! That's not gentlemanly soldiering

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2017 10:54 a.m. PST

I know you're focusing on the Foot Guards, but, for the record, the 2nd and 6th Dragoon Guards saw action during the 1857 Mutiny. I think that's as close as they got to the frontier.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2017 3:03 p.m. PST

It's also the reason why the Guards' messes have no massive silver centrepieces on the dining/serving tables.

Jamesonsafari Inactive Member17 Jan 2017 3:20 p.m. PST

Afaik the Guards didn't go overseas until the Sudan Campaign of '98.

GreenLeader17 Jan 2017 8:24 p.m. PST


From what I can tell, after service in the Napoleonic Wars, the Guards also saw action in the Crimea, Egypt and then the Sudan Campaign of 1884/5.

Chouan Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 2:14 a.m. PST

Dragoon Guards, however, weren't "Guards" as such, and were never part of the Guards brigade, or household cavalry. It was just a name to differentiate the former regiments of "Horse" from the Dragoons.

Justin Credible Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 6:01 a.m. PST

What a jolly interesting thread. I'd never even considered this question.

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2017 12:14 p.m. PST

Obviously, the GUARDS never considered it either! wink!

GreenLeader18 Jan 2017 10:18 p.m. PST

One is left to ponder if the Guards had any say in the matter it is difficult (though by no means impossible) to imagine them being able to turn down such deployments, so as not to have to leave London's society whirlwind?

The thoughts of General Colvile (who commanded the Guards Brigade in the opening phases of the Boer War) are interesting. He spoke of the men being 'stupid' about taking cover and being over-reliant on volley fire. He also commented that NCOs were primarily promoted due to 'smartness' rather than actual ability.

There can be absolutely no doubting the sheer courage and iron discipline shown by the Guards at (eg) Belmont and Modder River (both of which ended in British victory nonetheless), but in comparison to those units which had fought on the Frontier, I think it would be fair to say they did not (initially) employ the correct tactics.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2017 6:15 a.m. PST

The Boer War was a "wake up" call for the British Army as a whole – I think you would find that pretty much any unit that had not seen action for 50 years (and even some with more recent experience against less well-armed foes) might have drawn the same criticisms.

GreenLeader19 Jan 2017 7:03 a.m. PST

Supercilius Maximus

Undoubtedly true but also interesting to note how well the Devons and Gordons (for example) did straight off the bat, under the leadership of Ian Hamilton all of whom had seen recent service on the Frontier.

Makes one wonder how well Gurkha and Sikh regiments would have done in South Africa.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.