HL Deb 31 July 1957 vol 205 cc401-2

2.49 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware that the Third Battalion Grenadier Guards is the oldest battalion of the British Crown, and whether that is the reason for its selection to be placed in suspended animation.]


My Lords, I believe that the Third Battalion the Grenadier Guards, although older, is junior to the First and Second Battalions of my noble and gallant friend's Regiment. The companies from which the Third Battalion was derived were raised in Holland during the exile of King Charles II and did not serve in this country until after the formation of the original companies of the First and Second Battalions. It was, unfortunately, a necessary part of the reorganisation to reduce the Brigade of Guards by two battalions. The battalions selected, after consideration of recruiting figures and the number of officers available, were the junior battalions of the Grenadier Guards and Coldstream Guards. These are at present the only Regiments in the Brigade with three battalions each.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the battalion which has the oldest continuous history as a battalion of the Crown is the Third Battalion of the Grenadier Guards? It was raised by King Charles II, as he said, in Flanders in 1656. When it was brought home at the Restoration, it was joined to what are now the First and Second Battalions of the Regiment but was given the lower number of companies: the First and Second Battalions were from 1 to 12, and the Third Battalion was from 13 to 24. I do not think my noble friend can deny that that makes the Third Battalion, as I said in my Question, the oldest Battalion of the Crown still existing with a continuous existence.


My Lords, while my respect for my noble and gallant friend's Regiment is unlimited, I am sorry to say that my knowledge of the finer points of its history is not. However, I should remind him that the Major-General commanding the Household Brigade gave full agreement to the decision which obviously causes the noble Lord so much unhappiness.