Being the son of the Duke of Westminster, whose family traces its lineage back to 1066, Lord Hugh Grosvenor was destined to become a cavalry officer in the prestigious 1st Regiment of Life Guards. Using unpublished letters home and contemporary accounts Noble Sacrifice describes Lord Hugh’s embarkation for France and the early mounted encounters which halted the enemy onslaught against the ‘contemptible little army’. These led to the stalemate of trench warfare and found Lord Hugh and his Squadron holding out at Zandvoorde during the First Battle of Ypres 1914 and being annihilated by superior numbers of enemy forces in some of the most desperate fighting of the First World War. Due to the advances in military hardware, the war for Lord Hugh and his comrades marked a turning point in cavalry tactics. As well as being a dramatic account of Lord Hugh Grosvenor’s last stand, Noble Sacrifice is a very personal story of courage and self-sacrifice.
LAST STAND AT ZANDVOORE 1914 Lord Hugh Grosvenor’s Noble Sacrifice
Grosvenor was the commander of C Squadron, 1st Life Guards, and was killed in action, aged thirty, during the action at Zandvoorde 1914. At about 0700 hours heavy artillery opened up on the trenches in front of Zandvoorde. These were held by the 1st and 2nd Life Guards of the 7th Cavalry Brigade. Situated on the forward slopes of the hill the makeshift trenches were soon devastated and although the four hundred or so defenders hung on for an hour they were quickly overwhelmed when the Germans launched their infantry assault with over a Division of men.
Orders for retirement were given but it was too late and a squadron of each Life Guard Regiment as well as the Royal Horse Guards machine guns were cut off and killed or captured. The bodies of Lord Hugh and his men were never found – it was as if they had never existed.