Swiss Guards turn 500.

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by IndianaDel, Jan 21, 2006.

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  1. The Swiss Guard turned 500 years old today.
    This led me to wonder about other "Ancient" organisations.
    We have the Yeoman Warders, which if I recall have tudor Uniforms, or should that be "livery" in this context.
    The Honourable Artillery Company are also unit. Do they have such a Traditional uniform?

    Anyone know of other units that have such ancient roots and Uniforms/Livery?
  2. The company of Pikemen and Musketteers of the HAC represent the "traditional /original uniform of the 16th/17th century as shown below.


    However the Pikemen are "old and bold" and are not part of the HAC TA Regiment, officially they are the Lord Mayor of the City of London's Bodyguard (The proper one in the cocked hat, not the C**k Livingston :D ).

    They are entired to wear any official medals and decorations earnt together with any qualification badges. On close inspection you might spot an old boy wielding a hefty pike whose badged up on his doublet and with a healthy chest of medals on his breast plate.

    IndianaDel, as a colonial cousin you might be interested that the oldest North American military unit is the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston Mass, founded by a member of the HAC in 1638. (It is now purely social and ceremonial and as far as I am aware produces no operational military unit.)
  3. Thanks for the Information on the HAC, much appreciated.
  4. 181st Infantry Regiment-1636
    182nd Infantry Regiment- 1636
    104th infantry regiment-1639
    101st engineer battalion

    all massachusetts national guard
  5. I stand corrected, though there does seem to be some debate over the issue.

    I notice that these regiments lineages are linked to Colonial Trained Bands modeled on the English militia system. As the HAC provided most of the officver training for the in london it is possible that other colonists (late HAC) were involved in the formation of the orginal militia companies.

    It is interesting to note the similarity between the

    HAC Beret Badge (Short Arms)


    and Mass National Guard Badge


    Though obviously the HAC arm is wielding the pike leaders staff and Massachusetts lacks the City of London Dragon Wings. :D
  6. There were 4 original regiments, in now what is Massachusetts ( the 104th infantry was not one of them, I just could not find the fourth last night) the north regiment the east regiment the south regiment and the west regiment all four have direct lineage, although their titles have changed during several reorganizations, as well as their role (in two regiments). What is very disputable, is the argument that the Florida national guards 124th infantry regiment’s lineage dates back to the 1500s…officially its like the 1880s or something.

    As for the Massachusetts state patch, several states that were former colonies feature influence from their former colonial master in their state patch or a brigade patch.

    louisiana's 256th infantry brigade
  7. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    It may interest you to know that the Swiss Guards official birthday party (three days of it IIRC) is later this sping and the HAC en masse (serving and retired) has been invited to attend, what they are contributing to the celebrations I don't know (band probably, corps of drums maybe, pike and musket chaps possibly? Active unit - nil I think). IIRC the CO of the Swiss Guard attended an HAC event in the past few years and was so impressed (don't know what the event was so don't know why) that he sought and received permission to invite the second oldest military unit in the world to attend.

    Anyone for another cocktail?
  8. Unfortunately a date in the sand pit will prevent me attending what (if the Boston Trips are anything to go by) an epic trip :(

    (Late 2 Sqn 1986-1991)

    Thank you Midwesterner, it seems the "colonial masters" were keen on you having a "well regulated militia!" :D
  9. Some very interesting Information here, thanks to you all for that.

    It occured to me that over the centuries most nations have had a forcible change of Rule, or governance. For that reason I though it would be hard for formations to match the longevity of the Swiss Guard and HAC. (Had no idea about the Mass. Militia)

    At least one Roman legion (Legio I Italica) could have claimed a longer lineage than the Swiss Guard though.
    It was raised prior to the Civil War following the first Triumverate as a "Consular" legion and had a continued, unbroken, institutional existence in the Imperial era once Augustus placed the legions on a regular footing.
    While the legion's establishment changed over the centuries, along with uniform, weapons and tactics, it was one of the formations "stolen" from the Western Emperors control, by his Eastern counterpart following the defeat at Adrionople. (Evinced to in the Notatia, that has it in the earlier Western and Later Eastern OB)
    The, Byzantine formation was able to claim a link back to the original Italica through to the sixth Century AD at least and perhaps to the 9th Century.
    As such the formation could claim an existence that ranged from six hundred to around a thousand years.
    (Funnily enough, "Italica" never claimed to be Pontius Pilot's Bodyguard as far as I am aware!)
  10. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    IIRC weren't there some very old German/Austrian Regt's until Hitler/1945 got to them? Anyone know anything about that?
  11. I suspect the Pikemen and Musketeers will be the main element of the HAC at the Swiss Guard 500 year. BTW Its difficult to get into the Pikes and Musketeers unless you have spent a long time with the active unit. Its the Regiment's old and bold.

    The HAC date back to 1537, although there is a claim to originate in an an earlier "Guild of St George" about which there is no information. That might make sense because the HAC is organised as a city livery company and carried out many of the functions of a trade guild. In this case the professional skill is soldiering and they were principlaly longbowmen and pikemen

    The HAC is founded from a city milita rather than a lords retinues or guards - e.g. life guards or Lord X regiment. The trained bands could be formidable. e.g. After St Albans in 1461 the victorious lancastrians agree to stay out of London. In 1471, in the name of the Yorkists they fight off the B'astard of Faulkenbrg's sailors. Since the trained bands of London go back well before Tudor times, it woul;d be surprising if there wasn't some formal or informal organisation for the professional soldiers.

    I dunno about the other city milita. The 1st Regiment of Foot The Royal Scots claim to be from the Scxots Regiment in Swedish service and took part in the battlesof the 30 years war - 1630s and to descend from older scots units.
  12. Well, they weren't that keen. HAC types who had emigrated had agitated, with others, for similar bodies - but the Governor & other Crown appointees stopped it for some time. The Spam off-shoot was finally allowed in 1638, they'd have loved to be a year earlier to coincide with the HAC's centenary, but had to console themselves by caliing themselves 'Ancient' & HAC.
  13. The Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) have been kicking around under various names since 1539 and have given CONTINUOUS service to the crown but I am unaware of any fancy dress outfits
  14. For various reasons, I attend a large number of events held by the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House and the Pikes and Musketeers are a real collection of old and bold. It isn't a question of "might spot", it's a fact of "will spot"! These old boys have a truly impressive collection of medals between them and a very large number of wings & commando daggers. In fact, it is much more unusual to see one of them in uniform without any gongs.

    They are proper soldiers who, as soon as there duties are fulfilled for an evening, tend to congregate by the bar and drink copious amounts of alcohol!!
  15. RMRE(M) have different capbadges from "normal" RE, and a shoulder flash (looks like the Belgian Flag, so I'm told). Both bits often "borrowed" when encountered by other Sappers.
    One gang who will never be subjected to Defence Cuts. Or WILL they?