Photograph of Horse Team, 4th Bn. (Pioneers) Coldstream Guards
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|Title||Photograph of Horse Team, 4th Bn. (Pioneers) Coldstream Guards|
|Notes||Nulli Secundus (Second to None) is the motto of Coldstream Guards, and indeed they lived up to this motto over and over again in WWI, proving themselves to be loyal, hardfighting, and fearless, just as they had so many times in the past.|
On August Bank Holiday 1914, Great Britain declared war on Germany, and the Coldstream were immediately involved. The 1st Battalion, as part of 1st Guards Brigade, and the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, as part of 4th Guards Brigade, all moved to France immediately.
The Regiment suffered heavily throughout the War. On October 29,1914 at Gheluvelt, for example, the 1st Battalion suffered such causalities that it had no officers left and only 80 men. Four days later, after reinforcement, it had once more been reduced to no officers and only 120 men.
The Regiment took part in many of the War's most significant engagements, including the Retreat from Mons, the battles at Marne, Aisne and Ypres during 1914 - 15 and those at Loos, the Somme, Ginchy and the 3rd Battle of Ypres in the War''s later stages.
The men of the Guards Brigade had always been called ''Privates'' but on November 22, 1918 the King granted them the title of ''Guardsmen.¦as a mark of His Majesty's appreciation and pride of the splendid services rendered by the Brigade of Guards during the War.quot;
The soldiers in the photograph above are members of the 4th Battalion Coldstreamers, which was a Pioneer unit. Not only were Pioneers fighting men, it was also their role to provide labor. Here in this photograph, I think they might be building a road. At any rate, for some reason they appear to be moving quantities of earth.
The principle of having fighting soldiers whose chief role was to provide an army with labor goes back many thousands of years. Throughout the ancient world armies would require manpower to provide labor other than for fighting. Fortifications had to constructed, trenches dug, and roads built.
The first record of Pioneers in the British army goes back to 1346 where the pay and muster rolls of the British Garrison at Calais show Pioneers being paid between 4d and 6d a day (2 to 21/2 pence in today's money).
The 4th Battalion of the Coldstreamers was formed at Windsor on July 17, 1915 as Guards Pioneer battalion, but soon became 4th Battalion. It was shipped out to France in August of 1915 and became Pioneer Battalion to Guards Divsion. February 2, 1918 to 4th Guards Brigade, 31st Division. May 29, 1918 4th Guards Brigade was posted to GHQ Reserve. November 11, 1918 located near Mauberge, France.
During the post-war rationalization of the British Army, the 4th (Pioneer) Battalion was disbanded.
The soldier holding the team is called a driver. Instead of driving the team from behind on foot as would be done in plowing, he rides the horse on the left side of the team. This was a common practice in the army, not only for work teams such as this one, but also for artillery teams and wagon teams. A fine example of a WWI British military saddle can be seen on the horse's back in addition the the harness.
The driver is wearing the traditional British Army ankle boots, otherwise known as 'ammunition boots'; It is believed the boots get their name from the fact that they were once issued through the ordinance corps of the British Army. They were made of stiff leather and had hobnail soles. He is wearing spurs affixed by straps around his boots, and a puttee wound round the top of his left boot and up his leg. On his right leg he wears a protective leather legging to protect his leg from being banged or torn up by the tongue of vehicle. The insides of his breeches are lined with leather or some other material to save wear and tear on them from long hours in the saddle.
He is wearing the standard British Army WWI Service Dress cap. Affixed to the front of his cap is Coldstream Guards Cap Star. The Cap Star is an eight-pointed star of the Order of the Garter. In the center is the cross of St. George surrounded by the words ''Honi soit qui mal y pense,'' which translated means ''Evil be to he who evil thinks.'' By the way, Coldstreamers call this device a ''Cap Star'' and NEVER a ''Cap Badge.''
Of further interest is the trench art belt the driver is wearing. These trench art belts are sometimes called 'Hate Belts'; Soldiers from all sides (not just the British) would pick up buttons, cap badges, collar dogs, medals, bridle rosettes, etc. from the battlefield and from corpses and affix them to a belt. Perhaps some of the items were traded to the soldiers from prisoners for cigarettes and the like. These belts and other trench art items are highly collectable today.
WWI Coldstream Guards Battle Honors (5 battalions):
Mons, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, Ypres 1914 '17, Langemarck 1914, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Givenchy 1914, Neuve Chapelle, Aubers, Festubert 1915, Loos, Mount Sorrel, Somme 1916 '18, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Pilckem, Menin Road, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Arras 1918, Lys, Hazebrouck, Albert 1918, Scarpe 1918, Drocourt-QuÃ©ant, Hindenburg Line, Havrincourt, Canal du Nord, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18
|Creation place||Somewhere in France|
|Item medium||Photographic paper|
|Copyright||The Great War Archive, University of Oxford / Primary Contributor|
|Digital repository||The Great War Archive, University of Oxford|
|Contributor Name||Rebecca Libby|