History of the Foot Guards

Imperial Service

Image: The Camel Corps during the Sudan Campaign

At Home

For the next few years the Guards were at home and the army was reorganised. For the first time the Guards began to function as one body. On the 14th July 1856 the first Major General was appointed to command the Brigade of Guards, with headquarters set up at Horse Guards and in 1870 he became responsible for all London District troops. The Guards were not involved in any major campaigns until the Sudan 1882. They did take part in active overseas operations, being posted to Ireland on numerous occasions.  In 1861 the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and the 2ndBattalion Scots Fusilier Guards were sent to Canada to protect the frontier during the American Civil War.

Sudan 1882

For this campaign the Foot Guard formed the Guards Camel Regiment comprising elements of all three Guard Regiments. They arrived in the Sudan in 1884 and travelled up the Nile by steamer. They collected their camels and headed off to Khartoum over 150 miles away. One major change occurred, the Guards gave up their scarlet uniforms and started to take on khaki and some light blue tunics. At Abu Klea, 100 miles from Khartoum they were confronted by 15,000 Dervishes barring their way. The British formed squares and beat off the enemy. On 28th January 1885 the expedition came in sight of Khartoum, only to learn that General Gordon had been killed just two days before. The final action of the Guards was at Suakin where the 3rd Battalion Grenadier, 1st Battalion Coldstream and 3rd Battalion Scots Guards rounded up the remnants of the Madhi’s army. All three regiments were granted the Battle Honour ‘Suakin’.

A Composite Guards company was sent in 1895 to Ashanti on the west coast of Africa as part of a British expeditionary force to depose a local ruler, King Prempeh, who was participating in the slave trade and he had attacked a neighbouring British colony of the Gold Coast.