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History of the Coldstream Guards

Get to know the Coldstream Guards

The Findmypast team
7 October 2020

Military history expert, Paul Nixon explores the decorated history of the Coldstream Guards with records available on Findmypast.

With service dating back to 1650, the Coldstream Guards is the oldest continuously serving regiment in the British Army and can trace its history back to the English Civil War.

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Enter a few details to discover family heroes and their remarkable stories.

The regiment has earned 117 battle honours and reading through these is rather like looking at a who’s who (or perhaps, “where’s where”) of British battles.

Coldstream Guards battle honours

The full list of Coldstream Guard Battle of Honours is as follows:

17th to 19th centuries

  • Tangier 1680
  • Namur 1695
  • Gibraltar 1704-1705
  • Oudenarde
  • Malplaquet
  • Dettingen
  • Lincelles, Egypt
  • Talavera, Barrosa
  • Fuentes d'Onor
  • Salamanca
  • Nive
  • Peninsula
  • Waterloo
  • Alma, Inkerman
  • Sevastopol
  • Tel-el-Kebir
  • Egypt 1882
  • Suakin 1885
  • Modder River
  • South Africa 1899–1902

World War 1

Five Coldstream Guard battalions feature on the Battle of Honours list during the First World War in following engagements:

  • Mons
  • Retreat from Mons
  • Marne 1914
  • Aisne 1914
  • Ypres 1914 '17, 
  • Langemarck 1914
  • Gheluvelt
  • Nonne Bosschen
  • Givenchy 1914,
  • Neuve Chapelle
  • Aubers, Festubert 1915
  • Loos
  • Mount Sorrel
  • Somme 1916 '18
  • Flers-Courcelette 
  • Morval
  • Pilckem
  • Menin Road
  • Poelcappelle
  • Passchendaele
  • Cambrai 1917'18
  • St. Quentin
  • Bapaume 1918
  • Arras 1918
  • Lys
  • Hazebrouck
  • Albert 1918
  • Scarpe 1918
  • Drocourt-Quéant
  • Hindenburg Line
  • Havrincourt
  • Canal du Nord
  • Selle
  • Sambre
  • France and Flanders 1914–1918

World War 2

The Coldstream Guards played a prominent part in the Second World War too. Their Battle of Honours list from the conflict is as follows:

  • Dyle
  • Defence of Escaut
  • Dunkirk 1940
  • Cagny
  • Mont Pincon
  • Quarry Hill
  • Estry
  • Heppen
  • Nederrijn
  • Venraij
  • Meijel
  • Roer
  • Rhineland
  • Reichswald
  • Cleve
  • Goch
  • Moyland
  • Hochwald
  • Rhine
  • Lingen
  • Uelzen
  • North-West Europe 1940 '44–45
  • Egyptian Frontier 1940
  • Sidi Barrani
  • Halfaya 1941
  • Tobruk 1941-42
  • Msus
  • Knightsbridge
  • Defence of Alamein Line
  • Medenine
  • Mareth
  • Longstop Hill 1942
  • Sbiba
  • Steamroller Farm
  • Tunis
  • Hammam-Lif
  • North Africa 1940–1943
  • Salerno
  • Battipaglia
  • Capezzano
  • Volturno Crossing
  • Monte Camino
  • Calabritto
  • Garigliano Crossing
  • Monte Ornito
  • Monte Piccolo
  • Capture of Perugia
  • Arezzo
  • Advance to Florence
  • Monte Domini
  • Catarelto Ridge
  • Argenta Gap
  • Italy 1943–1945

The Coldstream Guards are also on the Battle of Honours list from the Gulf War in the 1990s.

Coldstream Guards records

In partnership with the Trustees of the Coldstream Guards Charitable Fund, Findmypast is home to over 89,000 Coldstream Guard military records covering the period 1800-1947.

The collection currently spans several different record series held by the Coldstream Guards. A full breakdown is given below. Many more records, including the majority of their First World War enlistments, will be added in time.

The details you can uncover in our Coldstream Guards records include:

  • Casualties 1939-1947
  • Courts Martials 1800-1815
  • Decorations and Rewards 1914-1918
  • Decorations and Rewards 1939-1948
  • Discharges 1884-1947
  • Enlistments 1884-1947
  • Missing in Action 1939-1945
  • Nominal Roll of 1st Battalion men serving in Sudan 1932-1933
  • Officers’ Record of Services 1861-1915
  • Shanghai Defence Force 1927-1928
  • South African Campaign 1899-1902
  • Succession Book of 2nd Battalion officers 1797-1926
  • Succession Book of Officers 1826-1936
  • Record of Campaigns 1854 to 1895

Of these categories, enlistment register entries form the single largest collection with close to 40,000 entries, including those men who enlisted during the Second World War and in the years immediately before.

More military records

Findmypast members will be very familiar with British Army enlistment registers. We already publish thousands of records in identical books for the Scots Guards, Royal Artillery and Tank Corps, and they are extremely useful, essentially giving a summary of service.

Ask the Military Expert with Paul Nixon

Posted by Findmypast on Thursday, May 14, 2020

Our Coldstream Guards collection contains no service records as these are held by the Ministry of Defence. However, many of the men whose details you will find here will also have service records in our other collections, typically in series WO 97 (service records to 1913), WO 363 (First World War service records) and WO 364 (First World War pension records).

With Findmypast, you can conduct a single search across all of these records in our British Army Service Records collection, which is where these Coldstream Guards records are also found.

What's in the Coldstream Guards records?

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) records that the Coldstream Guards lost 1,494 men during the Second World War. You will find the vast majority of these men in Findmypast's Coldstream Guards collection.

For example, 24-year-old Guardsman Ernest Albert McKone (Service number: 2661504) lost his life on 6 October 1944. You can find his details in three separate record series on Findmypast.

Coldstream Guards service records

An enlistment register entry dated 24 May 1940 records that Ernest, a cabinet maker from St Pancras, London was born on 14 March 1920 and was thus 20 years old when he joined up. He was five feet, nine inches tall, weighed 113 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 35 and a quarter inches. He had a clear complexion, grey eyes, dark brown hair and no distinguishing features. His religion is recorded as Church of England. These are the kind of intricate details that bring your family tree to life.

Coldstream Guards records

Ernest’s death date can also be found in a register that records;

“Transfers to other Corps or cause of becoming non-effective”

His death is referenced for a second time in a Coldstream Guards casualty register, recording that he died of wounds in North-West Europe.

For men who lost their lives during the First and Second World War, it is always worth checking the Commonwealth War Graves Debt of Honour collection, as these records often provide further information. Finally, remember to check our extensive newspaper collection for mentions in your ancestor's local press and casualty roll listings.