One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The soldiers positioned at the rear of a body of troops, especially those protecting an army when it is in retreat.
- ‘Roland becomes the commander of the rearguard, appointed to the post at the instance of the traitor Ganelon, who is in league with the Saracen king Marsile.’
- ‘At the pass of Rencesvals, the twenty thousand Christians of the rearguard are ambushed by a vastly superior force, numbering in the hundreds of thousands.’
- ‘From his Taipei retreat, Chiang Kai-shek continued his rearguard fight in that civil war, leading China to perpetuate the hostilities which continue to this day.’
- ‘The battalion later acted as rearguard to their brigade as it gradually withdrew from Norway.’
- ‘The commander finally withdrew his rearguard and moved the last few soldiers across the abandoned camp.’
- ‘Too few troops on the ground going in left the heartland unconquered and rearguard supply troops vulnerable to attack.’
- ‘Our line of defence straddled a major road from which the bulk of our unit was withdrawn the night before the British attack and my platoon was left behind as the rearguard with the instruction to fight to the last bullet.’
- ‘However, on August 26th, a British rearguard guarding the retreat of the bulk of the BEF did sustain 8,000 casualties at the Battle of Le Chateau.’
- ‘The Communist troops were already moving out when their rearguard was attacked by Guomindang troops and defeated with heavy casualties.’
- ‘The guardsman hit hard and lay still, and shouts of alarm and terror mixed with fresh cries of pain as arrows pelted his straggling rearguard.’
- ‘It is commonly used by troops intending to hold a position against an advancing enemy, by rearguards covering a retreat, or by advanced parties while they wait to be reinforced.’
- ‘Okulicki and Pelczynski thought the plan for Warsaw's underground fighters to wait until the Wehrmacht evacuated the city, and then harass its rearguard, was too passive.’
- ‘The East was bringing the battle to the South, leaving only a few soldiers as a rearguard at the palace.’
- ‘Hastily formed forces like the U. S. Army's Task Force Smith resisted valiantly, but the infantry was overrun in desperate rearguard battles.’
- ‘When the army advances on the enemy, these men by custom form the vanguard and on their return the rearguard.’
- ‘Mercifully, he had played no role in the shooting, serving as the rearguard of the second unit.’
- ‘The drama-documentary series tells the story of the Army's rearguard who valiantly held a last line of defence, allowing hundreds of thousands of others time to escape.’
- ‘The success of the long retreat and the rearguard engagements in 1944 and 1945 came despite, rather than because of, Hitler.’
- ‘Right at the back were lines of rearguard infantrymen.’
- 1.1 A defensive or conservative element in an organization or community.
- ‘He is ready to give offense to both the vanguard and the rearguard of the modem Roman Church-and to many in the middle.’
- ‘As the inquiry went on, the Metropolitan Police fought a rearguard attempt to stop ‘institutionalised racism’ from being put into the report.’
- ‘It retreated and maintained a hold over rearguard elements.’
- ‘Rambling and canoeing organisations have now launched a fierce rearguard fight against British Waterways, which they say is guilty of scaremongering, and are arguing the case for a Scottish Waterways organisation to be set up.’
- ‘There's been an ongoing rearguard action from that group, " he said.’
- ‘I hope to convince readers that this is not simply a nostalgic reactionary's rearguard defence of a bygone era but a highly desirable way of meeting the needs of many patients today.’
- ‘So now a rearguard battle is being fought to avoid this particular tide of history.’
- ‘Smith's struggle against secularism can be viewed as a lifetime of rearguard actions.’
- ‘Hickey played down the attacks, dismissing those involved as being ‘a handful of rearguards attempting to maintain a degree of political relevance.’’
Late Middle English (denoting the rear part of an army): from Old French rereguarde.
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