Of the many regimental histories published in the wake of the Great War, this has to be the most unique, written as it was by Rudyard Kipling, one of our greatest literary geniuses, about the Regiment in which his only son John briefly served before his tragic disappearance and death in the battle of Loos.
Kipling hailed it as his masterpiece : ‘This will be my great work…It is done with agony and bloody sweat’ – a verdict echoed by universal and unanimous critical acclaim. Kipling spent five years in laborious research while writing this book – simultaneously searching in vain for John’s final resting place.
During the First World War, the Irish Guards were deployed to France and they remained on the Western Front for the duration of the war. During 1914 and early 1915, they took part in numerous battles, including Mons, Marne and Ypres. Additional battalions were raised in 1915 and the 2nd Battalion fought at Loos. During 1916, the Irish Guards were involved in the Battle of the Somme where they received severe casualties. In 1917 they participated in the Third Battle of Ypres and Cambrai. They fought up to the final days of the war including attacking the Hindenburg Line. During the entire war, the Irish Guards lost over 2,300 officers and men