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Old Braggs

The British and the Russian Grenadier Guards

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An interesting story from an old edition of the (British) 'Guards Magazine' (Autumn 2003)

In 1917 an officer of the Imperial Russian Life Guards, Grenadier Regiment, was given the Regimental Colour and Eagle to carry away to safety. The Colour had been presented to the regiment in 1856. It was taken to Kiev and hidden there after the Bolsheviks captured the city and began to hunt down and execute White Officers. The Colour and Eagle were buried in a garden and after some time recovered by three officers who took them to Paris. There it was protected by an association of surviving Grenadier officers.

The Soviets made several attempts to get at the Colour and Eagle, and so in 1957 it was decided to take them to London and ask the British Army to take care of them. The Foreign Office agreed and it was decided that the Grenadier Guards would become the custodians. A ceremony was held at Windsor in which four Russian Grenadier officers handed the Colour and Eagle to the Colonel of the Grenadiers, while the Grenadier's Band played the March of the Russian Grenadiers.

In 2002 the Hermitage Museum requested the return of the Colour and Eagle and it was decided that the time and conditions were right to send them back to Russia. A ceremony was held on 24 June 2003, during President Putin's official visit. A representative of the Russian Officers Association, who was present, remarked that he could now die happy for his duty was done.

below are 3 pictures from the ceremony:


Edited by Old Braggs

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The Grenadier Guards, protectors of the Colour and Eagle, parade at the hand-over:

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A Grenadier Officer hands the Colour and Eagle to a Russian Military Attache at Buckingham Palace

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