Prince of Wales’s Company
2014 was a busy year for 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, and the Prince of Wales’s Company was no exception. In addition to a busy year of ceremonial duties, the Company detached 2 Platoon to support Number 2 Company as the Falkland Islands Roulement Infantry Company (FIRIC), detached 1 Platoon to support Number 3 Company on exercise in Belize, and deployed along with the rest of the Battalion on Exercise ASKARI STORM in Kenya.
2015 will be another busy and exciting year for the Company. During the WG 100 event the Prince of Wales’s Company has the privilege of tracing the Regiment’s first steps, from its formation in 1915 through to the end of the First World War. The Prince of Wales’s Company’s leg of the WG 100 event will start in White City, where the royal warrant for the formation of the Welsh regiment of Foot Guards was signed on 26 Feb 1915, moving to Wellington Barracks, where the Regiment mounted its first King’s Guard on 1 Mar 1915. The next phase will see elements of the Company sailing across the English Channel and then cycling to the battlefields of northern France and Belgium, where, of course, the Company gained its nickname – The Jamboys – that has endured ever since.
The first POW’s Coy marathon starts at White City (where the Royal Warrant forming the Battalion was signed) and finished at Wellington Barracks, where there will be a reception.
The next stage will be an 80 mile cycle to Southampton which, one hundred years ago, was the embarkation point for the Welsh Guards bound for Northern France and the trenches.
A team will sail to Le Havre on Gladeye, the Household Division yacht. Major Aldridge has pledged to windsurf a stretch of the Chanel. Safety boats will be out in force!
Another cycling leg from Le Havre to Loos, via the staging posts of Haillicourt and Arques, will replicate the Battalion’s journey to the front line of WW1 and finish at our first Battle Honour – Loos.
In addition to running a series of marathons around the killing fields of Ypres, Poelcappelle and Passchendaele, the Guardsmen will have an opportunity to tour those battlefields and visit the Menin Gate. We will also pay our respects at the Pilckem Ridge Memorial to Welsh soldiers. Our first VC was won by Sgt Robert Bye at Pilckem Ridge.
The final stretch of the POW’s Coy leg will centre on the Battle Honours around Arras, Cambrai and Albert finishing in Sambre, the last battle of WW1 in which the Welsh Guards took part. By the end of the First World War, only 13 men remained in France out of those that initially deployed in 1915.
The Jamboys leg will take place in July, and will last for three weeks. During this time members of the Company will undertake twenty marathons; the majority will be run or cycled, but some stages will feature more exotic modes of transport, such as sailing across the Channel for the Southampton-Le Havre leg. While the physical aspect of the event will draw much of the attention, at least as much effort will go into the moral and conceptual aspects, in the form of reflection and study of the Regiment’s early history. The route taken will pass through the sites of all our First World War battle honours, and participants will discuss historical events and visit key landmarks.
In addition to participating in the WG 100 event as described above, the Jamboys will continue to contribute to the Battalion’s delivery of ceremonial duties; most significantly the Company will provide the Escort for the Colour on the Queen’s Birthday Parade. The Company is also programmed to provide the FIRIC for two months in the autumn; this quasi-operational deployment will allow opportunities both to exercise as a company, maintaining and developing the skills learned in Kenya last year, and to explore some of the Regiment’s more recent history by studying the Falklands War.