The Great War: 2nd Life Guards
[-] Tilbury, 31 March 1917

Do you recognise this signature?

Are you able to help with identification and history?


The Origin of the Signature

An email from Steve

"I have been doing research into my grandfather Tom IRELAND who was in the 2nd Life Guards based at Windsor in 1917/18 and died in WW1.

A few years ago I came into possession of my grandmother's sister's autograph book from when she was a teenager, she had obviously got soldiers based at Windsor to do drawings and write poems or messages into the book. It contains poems from my grandfather.

Most of the soldiers signed their drawings and I have been attempting to find out who lived through the war and who died, just as a matter of interest. I cannot find any mention of R. TILBURY* having died. However I did notice your site and thought maybe someone would be related to this soldier and might be interested.

It is a simple one-colour drawing of a ship tied up at a gangway with some hills in the background and is signed [R.] Tilbury 2nd Life Guards 31/3/17. He would have been a friend of my G.father who died in September 1918.

If someone is related to this person I would be happy to scan and send to you; if really important to someone I would cut it out and give to them.

Any information on this TILBURY would be interesting (but it is not my main line of research)."
SteveF, July 2010

* See below for possible identification.

Do you recognise the place - a real or imagined scene?

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Who might this Tilbury Life Guard have been?

The National Archives, Medal Cards, list two possibles:

Harry TILBURY, Life Guards, 3641, Trooper, WO 372/20

B. A. TILBURY, Life Guards, 3286, Trooper, WO 372/20
Hertram A. TILBURY, Life Guards, 3286, Trooper, WO 372/20

Suggestions to date for the given-name initial are: R, A, H. Further research is required to discover whether either Harry or Bertram above served in the 2nd Life Guards. (B. A. and Hertram A. have the same service number, and were probably Bertram Arthur TILBURY, Chr. 3 September 1893 Bishops Waltham; son of Herbert T & Emily Jane [CHATFIELD], grandson of William T & Eliza.)

There were several Harry TILBURYs of an age to have enlisted in WW1. While it is most probably a "red herring", a book of letters written during that war by Canadian women volunteers, mentions a Harry TILBURY:

"I passed through Aldershot, Borden, Farnham (Harry Tilbury) - it looks lovely around there with gentle hills and wooded lands - to Alton." (War Letters from the C.W.A.C. [Canadian Women's Army Corp] by Kathleen Robson Roe, 1975)

William & Lucy TILBURY of Frensham/Farnham had a [grand]son Harry b. c.1890-93.

Where to Search

"If you are searching for the army service record of a man who served with the Life Guards, you are likely to succeed. They escaped the 1940 fire that destroyed many such records and are still held separately ... in the original form at the National Archives, in document series WO400."

The National Archives

Archived under dates of enlistment: 2nd Life Guards, Series 2, 1856-1919
WO 400/157: THORNBER, John Ormerod - TRUMAN, Sam; 1 January 1856 - 31 December 1919
The above series 157 should contain Life Guard TILBURYs' records, which may only be consulted at The National Archives, Kew, UK, since they have not been digitalised (as at August 2010).

Sub-series of WO 400

"The Life Guards were formed at the restoration in 1660 from a group of eighty Royalists who had gone into exile with King Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester (1652). They first saw action at the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1665 ... both the Jacobite Wars ... the war of Austrian Succession (1742-46). They were redesignated the 1st and 2nd Life Guards in 1788 ... and formed the front charging line of the Household Cavalry Brigade at the Battle of Waterloo (1815), staging the famous charge against the French Cuirassiers that saved the British centre from being overrun."

Soldiers' Documents: The Household Cavalry - History

Seen on several Web pages

"In late 1918 after much service in the First World War the two regiments [of Life Guards] gave up their horses and were re-roled as machine gun battalions, becoming the 1st and 2nd Battalions, Guards Machine Gun Regiment. They reverted to their previous names and roles after the end of the war."

A research Forum, 2nd Life Guards, 1914-18

"... the unit War Diary,which is at Kew under WO95/1155 and runs from Aug 1914 to Mar 1918."

"... this photograph ... shows the 2nd Life Guards departing from Windsor on the 15th August 1914."


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