2nd Battalion Irish Guards

The history of the Irish Guards as an infantry regiment of Foot Guards in the British Army dates from 1900. The current Irish Guards are the second unit to bear this name. The first Irish Guards fought on the Jacobite side at the Battle of the Boyne and went to France as a Stuart regiment in 1692, and the French Army's 92e Régiment d'Infanterie traces its ancestry to this unit.

 

 

In May 1940, the 2nd Irish Guards deployed to the Hook of Holland to cover the evacuation of the Dutch Royal Family and Government. The battalion returned to the UK the day after the evacuation, but had only a short respite, for just a few days later they, along with the Welsh Guards, crossed over to the northern French port of Boulogne, reaching the town on 22 May. Their orders were to defend part of Boulogne during the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from the overwhelming and inexorable advance of the Germans. The Guards stoutly defended their area of responsibility from better-equipped German forces, repulsing a number of German attacks on the 22nd, but on the morning of the 23rd, superior German forces attacked the battalion and the Guards suffered very heavily. Later that day the battalion was evacuated from Boulogne, being the last to leave and having fought valiantly while awaiting evacuation.

 

In 1941 the 2nd Irish Guards was reorganised as an armoured regiment, joining the newly formed Guards Armoured Division. The Holding Battalion was raised the same year, later becoming the 3rd Irish Guards. In 1943, the 3rd Irish Guards joined the Guards Armoured Division as an infantry battalion.

 

In 1944 the 2nd and 3rd Irish Guards took part in the Normandy Campaign. The Irish Guards, as part of the Guards Armoured Division, took part in Operation Goodwood (18–20 July). The Division's objective was Cagny, Vimont and the surrounding area. During 18 July 1944, near Cagny, Lieutenant (later Sir) John Gorman of the 2nd Irish Guards was in his Sherman tank when he was confronted by a far superior German Tiger II or 'King Tiger'. Gorman's tank fired one shot at the Tiger II, but the shot bounced off its thick armour. The Sherman's gun jammed before a second shot could be fired, and Gorman then gave the order to ram the Tiger II just as it was beginning to turn its massive 88mm gun on his tank. The Sherman smashed into the Tiger II, the collision disabling both tanks. The crews of both tanks then bailed out. Lieutenant Gorman, once he had seen his crew to safety, returned to the scene in a commandeered Sherman Firefly and destroyed the King Tiger. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions, while the driver from his own crew, Lance-Corporal James Baron, won the Military Medal.

 

The Irish Guards were involved in further action that day. Cagny, devastated by heavy bombing, was finally liberated on 19 July. The Irish Guards also saw action in the Mont Pincon area. On 29 August the 3rd Irish Guards crossed the Seine and began the advance into Belgium with the rest of the Guards Division towards Brussels.

 

The Corps crossed the Belgian-Dutch border, advancing from Neerpelt on 17 September but met very heavy resistance from German forces prepared with anti-tank weapons. Most of the tanks in the initial troops were hit and destroyed. As a result, the advance was much slower than planned. The Corps then camped at Valkenswaard. Early on the 18th reconnaissance units of the Guards Division made contact with the U.S. 101st Airborne Division who had liberated Eindhoven, with the rest of the Corps reaching the city later that day. The Corps now camped outside Son while the Royal Engineers built a Bailey bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal so that the Corps could advance to Nijmegen. The bridge was completed early on the 19th.

 

Later that day the Guards Division, led by the Irish Guards, reached Nijmegen where the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division was located. Their advance had to be halted, for the 82nd had not taken the bridge as intended due to heavy German resistance. The bridge was finally captured on the evening of the 20th. On the 21st, the British 1st Airborne Divisionat Arnhem, heavily outnumbered and outgunned, had to surrender after many days fighting that saw true heroism and courage. XXX Corps had been just an hour from the bridge at Arnhem but had to wait for the arrival of the 43rd Infantry Division. Further fighting took place until the 25th.

 

The Irish Guards were in the Netherlands until the Allied advance into Germany, seeing heavy action during the Rhineland Campaign. On 21 April 1945, at the village of Wistedt in northern Germany, Guardsman Charlton, 2nd Irish Guards, was a co-driver of a tank during the capture of the village by a small force of the Irish Guards. The Germans soon attempted to retake the village with numerically superior forces, consisting mostly of officer cadets under the command of very experienced instructor officers as well as two or three self-propelled guns. Three of the four tanks of the Irish Guards force were knocked out, while the fourth (Charlton's) was disabled by a complete electrical failure before the action started. When the tank was disabled, Guardsman Charlton was ordered to dismount the turret 0.50 Browning machine gun and support the infantry, who were in danger of being overrun by the Germans.

 

Charlton took the machine gun from his disabled tank and advanced in full view of the attacking Germans, firing and inflicting heavy casualties on them, halting their lead company and allowing the rest of the Guards to reorganise and retire. Charlton, despite having one arm shattered, continued firing until he collapsed from a further wound and loss of blood. His courageous and selfless disregard for his own safety helped most of the Irish Guards to escape capture. He later died of the wounds he had received and was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, the last VC of the European theatre, and the last, so far, of the Irish Guards. Unusually, much of the citation for the award of the VC was based on German accounts of the fight as most of his later actions were not witnessed by any Guards officers or surviving non-commissioned officers.

 

The Irish Guards were part of the ground force of Operation Market Garden, 'Market' being the airborne assault and 'Garden' the ground attack. The Irish Guards Group were commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel "JOE" Vandeleur. The Irish Guards led XXX Corps in their advance towards Arnhem, which was the objective of the British 1st Airborne Division, furthest from XXX Corps' start line.

Name: Cashon, Edward

Rank: Lance-Sergeant

Age: 24

No. 2720079

Unit: 3rd Squadron

Missing since: 17-09-1944

Next of Kin: Husband of Alice Casdon, of Gipton,Leeds.

Son of John William and Mary Ellen Cashon.

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information: Tank commander, killed when his tank was knocked out at Luikerseweg N69 between Hoeve and Achtersebrug .



Name: McGovern, Thomas James

Rank: Guardsman

Age: 28

No. 2718054

Unit: 3rd Squadron

Missing since: 17-09-1944

Next of Kin: Husband of Kathleen McGovern, of Farnworth, Lancashire.

Son of John and Bridget McGovern.

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at Groot Barrier at the beginning of Operation Market Garden.

At Valkenswaard Cemetery Row B.2 holds the bodies of a number of men of the Irish Guards found in this area.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Name: Wildman, Ernest Calvert

Rank: Lance-Sergeant

Age: 27

No. 2720300

Unit: 3rd Squadron

Missing since: 17-09-1944

Next of Kin: Son of Herbert and Maria Wildman, of Foulridge, Lancashire.

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at Groot Barrier at the beginning of Operation Market Garden.

At Valkenswaard Cemetery Row B.2 holds the bodies of a number of men of the Irish Guards found in this area


Name: Fanning, Michael

Rank: Guardsman

Age: 27

No. 2720300

Unit: 3rd Squadron

Missing since: 21-09-1944

Next of Kin: Son of Herbert and Maria Wildman, of Foulridge, Lancashire.

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at Lent, near Nijmegen.

 

 



Name: Boston, Cyril

Rank: Guardsman

Age: 24

No. 2723282

Unit: 

Missing since: 25-09-1944

Next of Kin: Husband of Joan M. Boston, of Lindfield, Sussex.

Son of Walter and Nell Boston.

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information: No specific information is known about his death.

Name: Clarke, Thomas George

Rank: Guardsman

Age: 26

No. 2719127

Unit: 3rd Squadron

Missing since: 17-09-1944

Next of Kin: Son of James and Jane C Clarke, of Corkley, Almamachin, Northerth Ireland.

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information:killed when his tank was knocked out at Luikerseweg N69 between Hoeve and Achtersebrug .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Name: Nay, Donald

Rank: Lance-Corporal

Age: 23

No. 2721140

Unit: 3rd Squadron

Missing since: 17-09-1944

Next of Kin: Husband of Hilda Nay, of Wirthworth, Lancashire.

Son of Richard Haworth and Eliza Nay.

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information: No specific information is known about his death.

 

 

 

 


Name: Wood, James

Rank: Guardsman

Age: 23

No. 2723582

Unit: 3rd Squadron

Missing since: 17-09-1944

Next of Kin:

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information: No specific information is known about his death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Name: Thomas, Thomas James

Rank: Guardsman

Age: 22

No. 2723252

Unit:3rd Squadron 

Missing since: 21-09-1944

Next of Kin:Son of J and Eva Thomas, of West Derby, Liverpool.

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at Lent, near Nijmegen.

 


Name: Deehan, Thomas John

Rank: Guardsman

Age: 23

No. 2722792

Unit: 3rd Squadron

Missing since: 17-09-1944

Next of Kin: Son of Patrick and Bridget Deehan, of Birr, Offaly County, Irish Republic.

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information:killed when his tank was knocked out at Luikerseweg N69 between Hoeve and Achtersebrug .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Name: Robinson, Robert

Rank: Guardsman

Age: 19

No. 2723635

Unit: 3rd Squadron

Missing since: 17-09-1944

Next of Kin:

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information: No specific information is known about his death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Name: Young, William

Rank: Guardsman

Age: 21

No. 2723212

Unit: 3rd Squadron

Missing since: 17-09-1944

Next of Kin:

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information: No specific information is known about his death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Name: Waterhouse, Richard

Rank: Guardsman

Age: 32

No. 2721799

Unit: 3rd Squadron

Missing since: 21-09-1944

Next of Kin:Son of  Richard and Ada Louisia Waterhouse, of Newtown, Derbyshire.

Groesbeek Panel: 3

KIA Information: Known to have been killed at Lent, near Nijmegen.