Support Company will be playing a key role during the centenary year and especially during WG100. While the rifle companies will be focused on the major theatres of war from WW1 and WW2, Support Company will be dispatched to the four corners of the globe, running marathons in countries in which we have been garrisoned such as Egypt and Cyprus and places that the Welsh Guards have fought more recently such as the Falklands and Bosnia. Sadly Yemen (the Battalion was based in Aden in 1965) is currently off limits due to the security situation. Nevertheless next year we will have an amazing opportunity to reconnect with our history and walk, or rather run, in the footsteps of our forebears. It will be particularly poignant to revisit the Falklands and pay our respects to the members of Support Company, especially the Mortar Platoon, who lost their lives on the Sir Galahad.
The loss of life aboard the Sir Galahad during the Falklands Campaign is now a byword for tragic loss of life in Welsh Guards History. Nevertheless, the campaign was the scene of a great deal of bravery and stoicism. The Welsh Guards were allocated the last objective before Stanley and the remainder of the Battle Group secured Sapper Hill on 14 June 1982. Marathons will be run in tribute at the memorial at Fitzroy and in the vicinity of San Carlos.
A Welsh Guards continent formed part of the UN peacekeeping force in Angola in 1991. We will revisit the country during WG100 in order to assist with training the Angolan Army and run a marathon in Luanda.
The Welsh Guards has served twice in Egypt, in 1929 and 1950s performing internal security duties during the Suez Crisis. Support Company will run a marathon in Cairo and in the vicinity of the canal, taking the opportunity to conduct a diving expedition.
After WW2 the Welsh Guards spent a year performing internal security duties prior to the formation of the state of Israel. A team will deploy to Israel on a battlefield tour of the 6 Day War and run marathons in the former base locations of the Welsh Guards – Haifa, Tiberius and Metula.
Cyprus has numerous adventure training opportunities and the running team, as well as taking part in a marathon, will conduct mountain biking in the Troodos National Park. The Battalion was based here as part of a UN mission in 1957
Gibraltar was the home of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards at the outbreak of the war. Despite the tenuous association, there is an excellent marathon around the rock which is a real challenge as well as a small part of our history.
During the Cold War, the Welsh Guards spent a great deal of time in West Germany as part of the BAOR. Whilst uneventful, it is still part of the fabric of our history and a team will be sent to run a marathon
Marathons will be run in Kosovo and Bosnia; the Welsh Guards were involved in peacekeeping in both countries in the last decade. This deployment will form part of a short term training team, who will deploy to assist the local militaries as part of a defence engagement mission.
Again, the challenges of running a marathon in Iraq are clear, once again the Welsh Guards have turned to a former member of Support Company who is now working in Iraq in the security sector who has volunteered to run a marathon in a secure location.
The difficulties of running a marathon in Afghanistan are clear given the security situation. Fortunately a Welsh Guards officer is attached to the NATO headquarters in Kabul and has been tasked to run a marathon within the confines of his compound. A repetitive event but for a worthwhile cause.
There are numerous opportunities for the Company to learn about its past. One of the real highlights of WG100 is that the Guardsmen, as well as mountain biking in Cyprus and diving in Egypt, will delve into the rich and varied history of the Welsh Guards. Among the highlights is a marathon and battlefield tour in Israel which will educate serving Welsh Guardsmen about the history of the region and the role that the Battalion played in Palestine in 1947. A close second will be the 2 marathons we will run in Angola. Whilst there are a few veterans of the UN tour including Colonel Hugh Bodington LVO OBE and RQMS (T) Efion Griffiths, many of our young soldiers were unaware of our time spent in the country. The bottom line for us all, is that we can offer our soldiers a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit countries to which we have a tangible link.
In amongst a busy pace of life in Battalion, which has recently seen the Company supporting exercises in the Falklands and Belize and deploying on Exercise ASKARI STORM, we have found time to gradually introduce a training programme to prepare the Company for WG100. Gdsm Hibben had the dubious honour of running the first marathon in the Gower Peninsula – a feat that he achieved with no training whatsoever! Needless to say, the Company is excited about the opportunities for adventure, travel and learning that WG100 represents.