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P.D. GRIFFIN
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS

MUSIC

The corps quick march, adopted in 1926, is an arrangement of the old folk tunes Begone Dull Care and Are You Not from Newcastle? The slow march HRH The Princess Royal was adopted in 1936 in honour of Princess Mary, Colonel-in-Chief of the RCS until her death in 1965.

The famous White Helmets motorcycle display team demonstrating the skills of Royal Signals' dispatch riders

The famous White Helmets motorcycle display team demonstrating the skills of Royal Signals' dispatch riders, developed over a century of service. (MoD)

TRADITIONS

After the formation of the corps in 1920 its private soldiers were given the rank of signaller. Their trades evolved from mounted linesmen and drivers, and motorcycle dispatch riders, to radio operators, systems/installation technicians, area systems operators, specialist electronic warfare operators and electricians. The Yeoman of Signals plans and supervises the deployed communications structure.

TA squadrons are rich in the customs of the volunteer regiments converted to signals units at various times during the twentieth century. Elements of 37 Signal Regiment adhere to their own version of the loyal toast.

THE GRENADIER GUARDS

The first companies of the regiment were formed at Bruges in 1656 from loyal supporters of Charles II in exile. When he came to the throne in 1660 Charles commissioned a new regiment for his personal protection at home and in 1664 he brought the two together in a body soon to become the 1st Regiment of Foote Guards.

Grenadier Guards, 1952

Grenadier Guards, 1952; the officer's black armband was worn for the late King. Note the regimental white plumes

In 1815 the 1st Guards were instrumental in defeating Napoleon's Guards at Waterloo, and were honoured by the Prince Regent in the same year as the 1st or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards to mark their repulse of the Grenadiers de la Garde in the battle.

A GG drummer in the role of stretcher-bearer at the Queen's Birthday Parade in 2005

A GG drummer in the role of stretcher-bearer at the Queen's Birthday Parade in 2005. Drummers of the Foot Guards still wear the elaborate royal pattern lace (white with blue fleur-de-lys) of the eighteenth century

DRESS DISTINCTIONS

The Guards' blue cap has a scarlet band and the grenade badge adopted with the Grenadier title in 1815. In the same year all members of the regiment were issued with a bearskin cap fitted with a white side plume, another sign of the Grenadier (since 1768) and the start of the bearskin custom in the Guards. The white plume is said to represent the puff of white smoke that used to come out of early grenades when primed.

The royal cypher, adopted with the Garter belt when Queen Victoria was crowned in 1838, appeared on pouches, belt plates and officers' pagris before it replaced the grenade on shoulder straps in 1920. It takes the form of the reigning monarch's initials (VR, GR or ER), reversed and interlaced. A royal cypher of this kind has appeared on the buttons of Grenadier Guards' uniforms since 1855.

MUSIC

The march, Scipio, was presented to the 1st Guards by Handel prior to its first performance in 1726, eighty years before the adoption of a second slow march, The Duke of York, who was the Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment at the time.

The quick marches, British Grenadiers and The Grenadiers' March, long played for Grenadier companies of the army, were adopted with the change of title in 1815. The regimental band was first formed in 1665.

TRADITIONS

Waterloo Day (18 June) has been celebrated every year since 1816, principally because of the battle's importance to the regiment's identity. It was a custom of the Grenadier Guards to march 'at attention' when passing the Duke of Wellington's house at Hyde Park Corner.

Inkerman Day (5 November) was commemorated in the 3rd Battalion to honour 'The Sandbags', the 100 Grenadiers who won the imagination of the army with their dogged defence of the Sandbag Battery at Inkerman in 1854.

The senior company of the regiment has the extra duty of being the sovereign's own guard, an honour instituted by Charles II. It requisitions the tallest guardsmen for the Guards of Honour at coronations, state occasions and funerals. The company commander has always been known as Captain of the Kings (or Queen's) Company irrespective of his true rank. A special standard carried in the presence of the monarch is regarded as a personal gift and is buried with the sovereign, a tradition begun in 1910.

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