80 years on: ex-Grenadier visits old WW2 guard post at Windsor Castle

26 January 2022

A 96-year-old ex-Grenadier Guard, and SSAFA Hampshire volunteer, visited Windsor Castle for the first time in nearly 80 years after he was part of the garrison guarding it during WW2.

Former Lance Sergeant Bernard ‘Barney’ Cresswell and his family were met and shown around by the Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant of the Grenadier Guards, Warrant Officer Class Two David Roper.

RQMS Roper said: “We had been planning this as a surprise for Barney and his reaction didn’t disappoint, he is an inspiration to us all, it was an honour to meet him. He is a very modest man who you can tell just got on with his job and did it extremely well; I know I can speak for the whole regiment when I say thank you to Barney and all those who served alongside him during those dark days.”

Barney joined the Grenadier Guards in 1943 and found himself patrolling the corridors of Windsor Castle soon after.

Barney said: “I was in Victoria barracks at Windsor, we'd finished three months of field training. And then were posted to Castle garrison. We lived in the stables, we didn’t do static guard duty, which was a separate unit, we used to patrol around the corridors."

Barney didn’t think of the importance of the role he and his fellow Guardsmen were playing at the time: “I've learned since that there was a big scare on at the time that German paratroops might land on the castle and hold the Royal family. I suppose being a young squaddie, it didn't enter my head, you're just doing what they said to do, you’re just given your orders and you get on with it.”

Nearly 80 years later, Barney reflects on his role: “You're part of history, aren't you? And of course, she [The Queen] became Colonel of the regiment. I've always been proud and I'm a royalist anyway, I'm quite proud of that."

After guarding Windsor Castle, Barney was sent to France, landing in Normandy 12 days after D-Day. (for which he was awarded a Legion d'honneur). His unit walked most of the way through Europe, serving in Berlin during the aftermath of the war, and he was de-mobbed in 1947. Barney then served as a police officer for 30 years, and volunteered for SSAFA at the Hampshire branch, Havant division for 29 years after that, retiring last year.

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