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Compiled and Copyright © Martin Edwards 2003

The memorial is made from Portland stone and is a form of cenotaph design. It was erected in 1926 dedicated to the five Foot Guards Regiments of the Great War. The bronze figures were cast from the guns taken from the Germans during the Great War (World War I). The Guardsmen depicted are Sergeant R. Bradshaw, M.M., Grenadier Guards, Lance Corporal J. S. Richardson Coldstream Guards, Guardsman J. McDonald Scots Guards, Simon McCarthy (although the legs are Lance Sergeant W. J. Kidd as Simon was extremely impatient and whilst this statue was being made he walked off and the moulders had to get someone else in the finish off the statue), Irish Guards and Guardsman A. Comley, Welsh Guards. The memorial was unveiled on 16 October 1926 by the Duke of Connaught.

Photographs Copyright © Martin Edwards 2003

To the Glory of God. And in the memory of the Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Guardsmen of His Majesty's Regiments of Foot Guards who gave their lives for their King and Country during the Great War 1914-1918 and of the Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers , Men of the Household Cavalry, Royal Regiment of Artillery Corps, Royal Army Medical Corps and other Units while serving the Guard's Division in France and Belgium 1915-1918, fell with them in the fight for the World's Freedom.

This Memorial also Commemorates All Those Members of the Household Division who died in the Second World War and in the Service of their Country since 1918.

The Duke of Connaught
Daily Mirror -
Saturday 16 October 1926,
page 1

From an old postcard, the caption reads "The largest assembly and military reunion ever known at a war memorial dedication. Stirring scenes at the unveiling of the famous Guards Division War Memorial on Horse Guards Parade, London, October 16th, by HRH The Duke of Connaught, before thousands of spectators, including the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, and other members of royalty. An impressive scene was the march past, at the salute, of 15,000 Guardsmen, past and present members, mobilised once again from every corner of the British Isles, to pay homage to their dead warriors. Our picture shows HRH the Prince of Wales leading the Welsh Guards, (of which Regiment he is Colonel-in-Chief) in the march past after the unveiling ceremony".

Extract from Illustrated London News - Saturday 23 October 1926, page 4:





The Guards Division Memorial on the Horse Guards Parade was unveiled on Saturday, October 16, by Field-Marshal the Duke of Connaught, as senior Colonel of the Regiments of Guards. The ceremony, which was witnessed by large crowds of people, was a brilliant and impressive military spectacle worthy of the magnificent regiments, the flower of the British Army, whose war services were thus commemorated. In front of the monument was a great open square lined on three sides by the present Brigade of Guards. On the north, near the Admiralty buildings (partly seen on the right in the large photograph) were three battalions of the Grenadier Guards ; on the east, two battalions of the Scots, and one each of the Irish and Welsh ; on the south (left in the photograph) three battalions of the Coldstream Guards. On the west side of the square, to the right and left of the Memorial, were Guardsmen in khaki, detachments from all the battalions in training at the Guards Depot. Behind the Memorial was drawn up a miniature representation of the Guards Division, composed of members of all units as it was constituted during the War, wearing khaki with steel helmets. Within the square was a mass of men and women formed of two separate groups divided by a broad. aisle--one consisting of ex-Guardsmen who served in the war and are now in civil life, and the other of relatives of the 652 officers and 14,108 Guardsmen who fell in the war. Before the unveiling the Duke of Connaught, accompanied by the Prince of Wales and other officers, walked up and down this aisle, greeting the old soldiers and the bereaved. He then proceeded to the platform at the base of the Memorial, on either side of which were grouped Yeomen of the Guard (all old Guardsmen) in their picturesque Elizabethan costume. In the course of his address, the Duke said : "The great traditions of the Guards, handed down to us for over two and a half centuries, have been cherished by all those who have served. and by those who are still serving, and they have been an example to us all. . . . Whether in attack or in defence, no other troops were more distinguished in bravery, in endurance, and in discipline." At the conclusion of his address, the Duke invited General Sir George Higginson, the " Father of the Guards," who is over a hundred years old, to assist him in unveiling the Memorial, and took the General's hand in his own to pull the rope which let fall the great Union Jack that covered it. The Memorial was dedicated by the Rev. H. J. Fleming, senior chaplain of the Division when it was first formed in France; and the Benediction was pronounced by the Chaplain-General of the Forces, the Rev. A. C. E. Jarvis. Then followed one of the most moving episodes, the playing of the Scottish lament, " The Flowers of the Forest," by the massed pipers marching slowly up and down the aisle between the ex-Guardsmen and the bereaved relatives. Finally, the Duke laid the King's wreath on the Memorial, and other wreaths were deposited by the Colonels of the five Regiments of the Guards.

Extract from Buckinghamshire Examiner - Friday 1 October 1926, page 9:


A special feature of the parade in London for the Royal unveiling of the Guards Division Memorial will be the attendance of serving and past members of the Artillery units, Engineers, and others which were the divisional troops attached to complete the Guards war formation. There will be represented 18 batteries, four field engineer companies, a signal unit, a Household Cavalry Squadron and Cyclist Company, the Divisional Train, the Mechanical Transport Company, three Field Ambulances, an Ordnance unit, and a mobile Veterinary Section. The battalions will number twelve, including a depot unit and the machine gunners. The serving Guards will be at half strength, but the ex-soldiers will add thousands more.

The Northern and Western counties in the main will contribute Coldstream, Welsh and Scots ex-soldiers ; the Midland counties will be strong in Grenadiers ; andthe South in Coldstreamers and Grenadiers. Some of the cities sending large contingents are Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol, Plymouth, Derby, Portsmouth, Cardiff and Swansea. No general "calling up" of ex-members of the Guards Division is to be made, and rejoining the battalions for the day is a voluntary tribute to the dead. Former members of the Guards are invited to attend and form up on parade with the Battalions of their regiments and individuals attending defray the cost of their travelling, which will be reduced for them to single fare and a third for the return journey. On the date of the ceremony, the battalions, together with former members, will form up in barracks and thence march to the Horse Guards' Parade for the ceremony. After the unveiling a meal will be provided in Barracks. All applications of ex-soldiers and relatives of the fallen wishing to attend should be sent to Regimental Headquarters of the particular regiment, Birdcage Walk, S.W.I.

Extract from Derby Daily Telegraph - Saturday 16 October 1926, page 8:


Since the unveiling of the cenotaph in Whitehall, there has been no more impressive ceremony in connection with the Great War than the unveiling of the memorial to the Guards Division on the Horse Guards' Parade this morning, by the Duke of Connaught, Senior Colonel of the Brigade of Guards. The weather was dull but fine and the function took place before 15,000 guardsmen and ex-guardsmen and multitude of sightseers.

The Prince of Wales was among the colonels in his capacity as colonel of the Welsh Guards, and among those present was General Sir George Higginson, the centenarian Grenadier Guardsman and the oldest guardsman living.

After being asked by Lord Methuen, colonel of the Scots Guards, to unveil the memorial, the Duke of Connaught said the great tradition of the guards handed down for over two and half centuries had been cherished by all those who had served and those still serving. In the Great War, whether in attack or in defence, no other troops were more distinguished in bravery, in endurance and in discipline.

Amidst an impressive silence, the veiling flags were removed, the Duke saying meantime, "To the glory of God and in honoured memory of officers and men of His Majesty's regiments of foot guards and of the guards division, who gave their lives in the Great War, I unveil this memorial."

A royal salute and the National Anthem followed, after which Rev. Dr. Fleming dedicated the memorial. Prayers were recited and the whole of the troops made their salute to the unveiled monument.

Extract from Sunday Post - Sunday 17 October 1926, page 20:

The Memorial to the Guards was unveiled yesterday by the Duke of Connaght for the Prince of Wales. The memorial is the work of Mr Gilbert ledward (shown here) and Mr. H.C. Bradshaw.

Extract from Staffordshire Sentinel - Monday 11 October 1926, page 5:

Work of North Staffordshire Sculptor.
Mr. Gilbert Ledward.
(From a Special Correspondent.)

There is now nearing completion in Loudon a monument which will place its creator in the first rank of present-day sculptors, and bring additional honour to him—a North Staffordshire man whose family has been known here for many years past.

I saw Mr. Gilbert Ledward in his studio in London, and together we discussed his masterpiece—the Guards' Divisional Memorial —which is to be unveiled on the Horse Guards' Parade next Saturday. As we talked, he told me a little of his career, and of his associations with Staffordshire.

His father, the late Mr. R. A. Ledward, was a native of Wolstanton, and for a number of years worked as a modeller at the Burstein works of Messrs. Doulton and Co., Ltd., being also associated with the Burslem Art School., Later, he proceeded to London, and worked there as a sculptor until his death.

Mr. Gilbert Ledward's achievement at the age of 38, around which will be enacted one of the most stirring and historic pageants seen in London for some time, marks the zenith of his career.

He commenced his education in London, and later studied at Karlsruhe, in Germany. Heredity, no doubt played a great part in his taking up sculpture, and after returning to this country, where he worked at the Royal College of Art and at the Royal Academy School, success was not long in coming his way, for in 1913 he won the first scholarship offered by the British School at Rome.

This (he said) was a scholarship tenable in Rome for three years, with a maintenance of £250 per annum. In the same fear I also gained the Royal Academy Gold Medal, and a travelling studentship of £200. The War which came along about that time rather inter-with my career, and it was not until I returned—in 1918—that I was able to make a fresh start.

Mr. Ledward served as a Lieutenant with a Battery of Howitzers, and his knowledge of guns thus gained helped him considerably in the modelling of one of the panels of the memorial, which represents the Guards Divisional Artillery in action. The success which attended his career prior to the outbreak of War had been recognised by the Faculty of the British School of Rome, who awarded him a membership. Moreover, he has just recently been appointed a Professor at the School of Sculpture, Royal College of Art.

Mr. Ledward, who in his extreme modesty was loth to discuss his own record, was more anxious to tell me about the Guards' Memorial.

The design (he said) was done in collaboration with Mr. H. C. Bradshaw, A.R.I.B.A., who was the London Scholar of Architecture in 1913. Together we started in 1922, and I have worked at it practically continuously since.

A Work of Stern Simplicity

The memorial represents men of the five regiments of the Guards standing at ease, and with fixed bayonets, a field gun in action, and, in front, a field telephonist receiving a message from an observation post. Stern simplicity governs the conception of the work, and its spirit is well expressed in the Roman reticence of the inscription which has been written by Mr. Rudyard Kipling whose only son was killed while on service with the Guards.

It has a total height of approximately 40ft. (Mr. Ledward remarked), and it has a width across the granite step at the best of 46ft. The bronze figures of Guardsmen are 7ft. in height, and each weighs about 17 to 18 cwt., so you can imagine a little of the immensity of the task. The panel at the back of the memorial, which represents the Guards' Divi¬sional Artillery, covers an area of over 50 square feet.

In passing (Mr. Ledward said) I should Ike it to be known that I have received invaluable assistance from outside, and the Executive Committee, under the presidency of H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, with Vice-Marshal Lord Methuen as Chairman, and General Sir A. E.. Codrington as Vice-Chairman, have been most helpful. Everything has been minutely organised, even to the extent of my being able to rail upon men from the Brigade of Guards as models.

There will be present at the unveiling of the memorial next Saturday some thousands of Guards' survivors and relatives of the dead. The old division will mobilise once more from every corner of the British Isles, and Staffordshire will not be lacking in representatives. After the unveiling, the Division will march past the memorial at the salute. It is expected that as many as 50,000 spectators will witness the ceremony. Among those present will be the Earl of Cavan, and other War Commanders of the Division, and all the regimental Colonels of the Brigade. Field Marshal the Duke of Connaught, as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, will unveil the memorial.

It will he a great day in the life of Mr. Ledward, and his greatest achievement, although he has many other important examples of sculpture to his credit. A marble group which constitutes the Stockport War Memorial is a work of his, and also a bronze frieze in the Hall of Memory, Blackpool. He has, moreover, been responsible for two other War Memorials—at Harrogate and Stonyhurst College. Among other of his works are a group at Grahamstown (South Africa), a bronze figure of a soldier at Abergavenny. and sculp¬tured panels of war subjects at the Imperial War Museum, South Kensington.

Extract from Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Saturday 16 October 1926, page 3:

The Guards Memorial.

Regarding the Guards AlemorLal in St. James's Park, Whitehall, which is being unveiled to-day (Saturday), it interesting to note that the whole of the Whitbed Portland stone used for the memorial was supplied from the Bath and Portland Firm's quarries at Portland.

Last updated 12 October, 2021

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