Band of the Life Guards

The Band of the Life Guards

The Band of the Life Guards

The Life Guards, the senior Regiment in the British Army, were formed at the Restoration in 1660 from a group of 80 Royalists who had gone into exile with King Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester (1652). They first saw action at the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685 (the Monmouth rebellion) and subsequently in both of the Jacobite wars and during the War of Austrian Succession (1742-1746). They were re-designated the 1st and 2nd Life Guards in 1788, a period from which the majority of today’s state dress originates. They formed the front charging line of the Household Cavalry Brigade at the battle of Waterloo (1815), staging the famous charge against the French Cuirassiers that saved the British centre from being overrun.

During the 19th century, the Life Guards served in Egypt, as part of the Household Cavalry Regiment, taking part in the moonlight charge at Kassassin, and also in the Sudan and South Africa. During World War I, the Regiment saw action at Mons, Le Cateau, Ypres, Loos, and most notably at Zandvoorde where two complete squadrons were lost. In World War II, the Life Guards contributed men to both Household Cavalry Regiments, the second of which was described by General Sir Brian Horrocks as the ‘finest armoured car regiment (he had) ever seen’. They landed at Normandy in July 1944 and spearheaded the Guards Armoured Brigade advance through France to liberate Brussels and became the only force to make contact with the Polish Free Forces during the advance to the bridge at Arnhem.

History post-1945

After the war, the Regiment saw service in the Canal Zone, Aden and Oman against the dissident tribesmen, and in Cyprus, Malaya, Singapore and Borneo. Since the early seventies, the Regiment has undertaken seven tours of Northern Ireland and a number in support of the United Nations Forces in Cyprus. The entire Regiment deployed to the Gulf in 1990, finishing up astride the Kuwait City/Basra highway and two squadrons served with the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia in 1994/95. As part of the Options for Change defence review in 1991, the Regiment was reduced to two recce squadrons based at Windsor with the Blues and Royals, and one squadron committed to mounted ceremonial duties in London. The Regiment has recently had two squadrons on operational deployment with the UN in Bosnia

Today the Band has 34 musicians and within its ranks there are many fine soloists. Most of the members play two instruments and have a very varied repertoire from Bach through to the latest top West End shows. The band can also supply Woodwind and Brass Quintets in addition to a very spectacular fanfare team and are constantly in demand at home and abroad.

Content Copyright SRC, Design Copyright 2008 Michael Enstone