The 1st Guards Brigade was an infantry brigade of the British Army, formed in the First World War. It was formed in August 1915 by the redesignation of the 4th (Guards) Brigade on its transfer from the 2nd Division to the Guards Division. It served with the Guards Division on the Western Front for the rest of the war.
The 4th Brigade was an infantry brigade of the British Army with a history that stretched back to the Napoleonic Wars. At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the 4th Brigade was a regular army formation stationed in London District and assigned to the 2nd Division. It was designated as 4th (Guards) Brigade as it commanded four battalions of Foot Guards.
The brigade was among the first British formations to be sent overseas as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), crossing to France between 11 and 16 August 1914. It served on the Western Front in 1914 and 1915 taking part in the Battle of Mons (23 and 24 August 1914), the First Battle of the Marne (6 – 9 September), the First Battle of the Aisne (13 – 20 September), the First Battle of Ypres (19 October – 30 November), and the Battle of Festubert (15 – 20 May 1915).
On 19 August 1915, the brigade was transferred complete to the newly formed Guards Division and redesignated as 1st Guards Brigade the next day. It remained with the division for the rest of the war, serving exclusively on the Western Front.
In September 1915, the brigade took part in the Battle of Loos (26 September – 8 October) and Hohenzollern Redoubt (18 – 19 October). In 1916, it fought in the later stages of the Battle of the Somme, in particular the Battle of Flers–Courcelette (15 – 16 and 20 – 22 September), the Battle of Morval (25 – 28 September), and the Capture of Lesboeufs (25 September). In 1917, it saw action in the Battle of Passchendaele including the Battle of Pilckem Ridge (31 July – 2 August), the Battle of Poelcappelle (9 October), and the First Battle of Passchendaele (12 October). It then took part in the Battle of Cambrai (24 November – 3 December).
In February 1918, British divisions on the Western Front were reduced from a 12-battalion to a 9-battalion basis (brigades from four to three battalions). As a result, the 4th Guards Brigade was formed on 8 February 1918 by taking a battalion from each of the brigades of the Guards Division and the 1st Guards Brigade lost the 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards.
1918 saw the return of the war of movement. It had to withstand the German Army's Spring Offensive in the First Battles of the Somme (1 – 25 March) then switched over to counter-attack in the Second Battles of the Somme (21 – 23 August), the Second Battle of Arras (26 August – 3 September), the Battles of the Hindenburg Line (12 September – 12 October), and in the Final Advance in Picardy including the battles of the Selle and of the Sambre. Its final action was the Capture of Maubeuge on 9 November.
After the signing of the Armistice of 11 November 1918, the brigade was at Assevent, north-east of Maubeuge, and on 17 November it regained 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards from the disbanding 4th Guards Brigade. The next day it began the march on Germany and crossed the frontier on 11 December. By 19 December it had reached the Cologne area. Battalions started returning to England on 20 February 1919 and the last units had completed the move by 29 April.
The following units served in the brigade:2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards
2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards
3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards (joined the 4th Guards Brigade on 8 February 1918, returned on 17 November 1918)
1st Battalion, Irish Guards
1st Guards Brigade Machine Gun Company (formed 1–19 September 1915; joined the 4th Battalion, Machine Gun Guards on 1 March 1918)
1st Guards Trench Mortar Battery (formed 2–18 May 1916)
The brigade had the following commanders: