Household Battalion

This page will provide you with a brief account of the services of the Household Battalion during the First World War and help you to research those who served with the unit. I have also written other articles which will help you research soldiers who served in the war:

The Household Battalion in the First World War

The Household Battalion was formed at Knightsbridge Barracks, London on 1 September 1916 from soldiers serving with the Household Cavalry Reserve Regiments. The Household Cavalry consisted of the 1st Life Guards2nd Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards. The lower casualty rates suffered by cavalry regiments in the war compared to the infantry meant that there were thousands of trained cavalrymen in Britain waiting to be sent abroad.

The Household Battalion landed at Havre, France on 10 November 1916, joined the 10th Brigade, 4th Division on 17 November 1916 and served with this formation until it was disbanded on 10 February 1918. When the unit was disbanded, its officers and other ranks were dispersed amongst the Household Cavalry and Foot Guards. Consulting a soldier’s service record, or medal index card will allow you to follow their path on the breakup of the Battalion. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded that the Household Battalion suffered 452 dead during the war. The Reserve Household Battalion was formed in September 1916 and was stationed in Windsor until it was disbanded in early 1918.

Researching a Soldier who Served in the Household Battalion During the First World War

Start off by looking at my generic Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the British Army in the First World War. In particular my guides on finding medal records and my page on abbreviations and acronyms. I’d recommend downloading the Household Battalion’s war diary which I have discussed below for a small fee from the National Archives’ website.

Officers: Due to the aristocratic nature of the Household Cavalry, its officers are usually easy to research. There are 20 service records to officers of the Household Battalion at the National Archives. However, as the unit was broken up, there will be a lot more catalogued under the regiment the officer was sent to or rejoined. Have a look at their medal records to see if another regiment appears after Household Battalion. If you do find that they served with another regiment, look at my guide on how to research their officers on the regiment’s page: British Infantry Regiments. There may also be records held by the Household Cavalry Museum Archive. The war diary (see below) has frequent references to officers throughout.

Newspapers are another excellent resource to use, especially for officers and if you’re trying to find a photograph. The photograph of Second Lieutenant John Woodall Bird, who was killed in action on 21 December 1917 in a German raid, was published in the Illustrated London News, 16 March 1918. This is an excellent newspaper to search for officer casualties. The Household Battalion had a distinctive cap badge which helps with identifying those who served with it. Second Lieutenant John Woodall Bird Household Battalion

Other ranks: Start off by looking for a surviving service record and medal records. You’ll find a lot of service records to soldiers who served in the Household Battalion in the following places:

  • At the National Archives in the WO 400 series containing the service records of soldiers who served with the Household Cavalry between 1799-1920. These have been digitized and can be downloaded from the National Archives’ website for a small fee or viewed on FindmyPast. The catalogue reference is WO 400 and they can be searched here: Search for Household Battalion Records at the National Archives.
  • At the Household Cavalry Museum Archive, or with one of the Foot Guards archives or with the Ministry of Defence. It all depends where they ended up so look at my guides to that specific regiment.

To research soldiers who served in the Household Battalion, you’ll need to search the records on both FindmyPast and Ancestry. Clicking on the banner below will take you to FindmyPast.

War Diary of the Household Battalion

There is only one war diary for the Battalion which has been digitized by the National Archives. To download the war diary for a small fee click on the blue link below. The war diaries of the 10th Infantry Brigade Headquarters will also add more information if you’re looking to research the Household Battalion in greater detail.

  • Date: 06 November 1916 – 13 February 1918
  • 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1481/1
  • Notes: A good war diary with a lot of detailed entries. Some of the Household Battalion’s casualties are recorded along with their regimental numbers. There are a wide variety of appendices including some citations for the Military Medal.

Extracts from the War Diary of the Household Battalion

6 November 1916: London: Orders received from Headquarters London District for the Battalion to embark.

7 November: Day spent in preparations for embarkation.

8 November: Battalion paraded 8.45 am. Left Waterloo in 3 trains for Southampton. Major-General Sir Francis Lloyd was present to see departure first train. 20 officers and 658 men under Major Earl of Kilmoray embarked on Minas Queen at 9 pm. They arrived at Havre at 7 am on the 9 and marched to the rest camp where they awaited the remainder of the Battalion.

9 November: Remainder of Battalion under Lieutenant-Colonel Wyndham Portal (strength 12 officers, 302 men) and all the transport embarked on the Australind at 5 pm.

10 November: Arrived at Havre. Disembarked at 9 am marched to the rest camp and joined the remainder of the Battalion.

11 November: Preparation for proceeding up the line. Orders received from Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General Havre Base to entrain at 11.45 pm. The Battalion paraded at 9.45pm and marched to the gare des marchandises. Entrained took 5 hours owing to miscalculation of the railway officials about our numbers.

12 November: Reached our deraining station Longroy Gamaches at 3.30 pm marched 22 kilometres to Bernapré. No.1 Company and Headquarters were billeted at Bernapré, the remainder of the Battalion at Senarpont. Arrived at our billets at 9.30 pm.

13 November: Resting.

14 November: Company training. Lieutenant R. M. Oliver and party of non-commissioned officers and men marched to Tœufles to take over billets from the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Brigadier-General Wilding General Officer Commanding 10th Infantry Brigade, our Brigadier came over to see us.

15 and 16 November: Company Training.