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Joint Memorial Day Announced

Updated: Nov 27, 2022

The RGLI Trust invite all islanders to join in this short act of remembrance to specifically commemorate Guernsey’s own regiment and the men and families of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry.

Noon on Sunday 4th December 2022

The short service will be held at both the Sunken Garden, St Peter Port and simultaneously at the Memorial in Les Rues Vertes, Masnieres.

The order of service for Guernsey can be found here:

The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry 2022
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This year marks the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Les Rues Vertes when the RGLI defended the British Line against overwhelming enemy odds against a Bavarian Division attack.

The event will be led by the Dean of Guernsey in a short service in Guernsey and will see wreathes laid by His Excellency General Richard Cripwell and the Bailiff Richard McMahon, joint patrons of the RGLI Trust.

Also in attendance will be representatives from the States of Guernsey, France, St Peter Port Parish, Veterans Associations, and standard bearers, together the RGLI Trust. There will be a two-minute silence following the sounding of the last post by members of the Boy’s Brigade Band.

In France, at the sister memorial in Les Rue Vertes, Masnieres at the same time wreathes will be laid on behalf of the town and the people of France, the French veterans association and for the first time representatives from the RGLI Trust will be present to also lay wreathes on behalf of Guernsey.

Background to the Battle of Les Rues Vertes

The War Illustrated News, 5th January 1918

The German Bavarian army launched a counter offensive on 30th November, ten days after the original Allied offensive with over 400 newly deployed tanks. Their objective was to regain the lost ground, it was during this that they came across the RGLI positions south of Masnieres in a small suburb called Les Rues Vertes (The Green Lanes), beside the destroyed main road bridge and located amongst two small residential roads, defending the river and canal.

The Battle is well recorded in both the regiments war day and several contemporary histories of the day, detailing the heavy and constant shelling together with the terrifying hand to hand combat which took place over three days. It was the RGLI who, despite these horrifying conditions, who were the only British regiment to hold the line, whilst other Allied troops around them were forced to withdraw. The RGLI were fundamental in preventing the German counter offensive from being successful.

However their losses were so large – with over three hundred twenty men from the regiments total strength of one thousand killed, missing or lost - that, following their own strategic withdrawal, still under fire, on 2nd December 1917 they were unable to provide sufficient reinforcements from Guernsey, meaning that the RGLI would never just be made up of just Guernsey men again.

The War Illustrated News, 5th January 1918

Those losses were immediately felt in Guernsey with telegrams arriving just before Christmas 1917 informing families of the fate of their loved ones.

The impacts of this and further battles during 1918 would leave so very many families at home without their main 'bread winners' and without a protective social security environment at the time - many women and children, who could trace their family histories back to Norman times, would leave the island forever, just to survive.

Today across the world as far away as Australia, Canada and USA clusters of local names are brought back together by the internet in search of their family connections back to the island of their origin, a final legacy of those difficult times.

The exploits of Les Rue Vertes and the RGLI were recorded in the media of the day, The War Illustrated News, which was published across the UK and the Commonwealth (or known as Empire at that time) detailing the brave actions of the small Guernsey regiment.

Captain Robert Gee VC, MC

This includes the action where Captain Robert Gee where he won his Victoria Cross. An officer of 2nd Battalion Royal Fusilier's Gee helped take charge of sections of the RGLI in the hand to hand fighting and lead men to defend Les Rues Vertes.

Despite being wounded several times, running out of ammunition in his pistols and armed only with his broken swagger stick he continued to set an example and lead from the front, until he had to be evacuated.

Robert Gee's story can be found here:

The War Illustrated News, 5th January 1918

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