'Herts Guards'

The 1st Battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment left for war on 5th November 1914, sailing from Southampton on the SS City of Chester, arriving at Le Havre in the early hours of the morning on 6th November 1914. Their first spell in the trenches came in the Observatory Ridge Sector, near Zillebeke in the Ypres Salient. They remained on the Western Front for the entire war and took part in every major engagement throughout the conflict including the battles of Ypres, Loos, The Somme, Passchendaele and the German Spring Offensive of March 1918. The following map has been compiled using contemporary records; diaries, newspapers, postcards, military records and photographs to plot the exact location of the Hertfordshire Regiment, every day for the entire war.

Perhaps the most important date for the 1st Battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment in the Great War was their attack on the small Belgian village of St Julien on the morning of 31st July 1917.


On that day 20 Officers and around 600 men launched an attack on the strongly defended German 'Langemarck Line', the 118th Brigade's 3rd and final objective of that morning. The devastation that followed this attack was on par with the very worst losses that had been incurred the previous summer in the infamous Somme attack of 1st July 1916.

Local musician Mr Ray Owen contacted us with a song he wrote in 2012 entitled 'The Hertfordshire Guards' which tells the story of the attack that morning. Both enjoyable and historically accurate, we hope that it sparks an interest in the county's darkest day, a subject that we cover in greater below. Click on the image below to hear Ray's excellent song; 'The Hertfordshire Guards'.

St Julien Casualties

Although the 1st Herts attack at St Julien was well documented at the time, no accurate casualty statistics were produced that name the killed, wounded, captured or survivors of that day. The following Spreadsheet has been compiled using all available records relating to the Herts on 31st July 1917 and to date offers the most complete casualty roll available. Although still incomplete, it attempts to identify those involved and also detail the fate (where known) of these officers and men.

Can you help add detail to this record or amend the details offered here? As always, please contribute.

The Colour Key is as follows: RED: KIA or Died of Wounds, LIGHT BLUE: Wounded in Action, GREEN: Prisoner of War, Yellow: Gallantry Award, WHITE: Survivor, DARK BLUE: Missing in Action - Fate Unknown.

Those Officers who served at St Julien are easier to trace due to mentions in various diaries and contemporary accounts. The following Image shows (where known) the location that each of the 20 Officers with the Herts was either Killed, Wounded or Captured that day. Each Company is identified by colour; Battalion Headquarters = Black, No. 1 Coy = Red, No. 2 Coy = Blue, No. 3 Coy = Yellow, No. 4 Coy Green.

Officer Casualties at St Julien.jpg

 If you would like further information or can offer amendments please contact us.