Whiteshields are young reinforcements to an existing Imperial Guard Regiment. They fight in actual combat as part of their latter training, until they have proven themselves ready to join the regiment as full Guardsmen.
Officially designated as probitors, they are more commonly called whiteshields, as well as cadets, probationers or gun babies. Whiteshields are the sons fathered by Guardsmen during their posting and raised within the regiment. In the case of Cadian regiments, Whiteshields are instead members of their Cadia's Youth Armies. As they are not yet considered true Guardsmen, Whiteshields do not wear unit insignia - the only markings they are allowed to wear are blank white badges as well the white helmet stripe that distinguish them. Imperial Guard Regiments are generally posted to combat zones far from their homeworlds, and it is rarely practical to recruit from the homeworlds to replace casualties. Regiments that are left to garrison a world they have conquered instead gain recruits by drafting the sons of the regiment's Guardsmen when they come of age. Children fathered by Guardsmen are usually brought up within the regiment. They perform menial and support duties which would otherwise eat into the regiment's fighting strength.[Needs Citation]
Promotion from Whiteshield to Guardsman is seen as a changing point in a recruit's life. They are afterwards considered adults and given the right to wear the regimental symbols on their uniform, and often receive ritual scars and tattoos.
- 1: Warhammer 40,000 Compendium (1989), Rough Riders and Whiteshields, pgs. 41, 44
- 2: Codex: Eye of Terror, [Needs Citation]