1st King's Dragoon Guards

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1st King's Dragoon Guards
Active 1685-1959
Country  Kingdom of England (1685–1707)
 Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1959)
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Cavalry
Role Royal Armoured Corps
Size Regiment
Nickname Bland Dragoons, The KDGs, The Trades Union, The Kings Dancing Girls
March Quick: Radetsky March
Slow: The King's Dragoon Guards
Commanders
Ceremonial chief Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria

The 1st King's Dragoon Guards was a cavalry regiment in the British Army. The regiment was formed in 1685 as The Queen's Regiment of Horse, named in honour of Queen Mary, consort of King James II. It was renamed The King's Own Regiment of Horse in 1714 in honour of George I. The regiment attained the title 1st King's Dragoon Guards in 1751. The regiment served as horse cavalry until 1937 when it was mechanised with light tanks. The regiment became part of the Royal Armoured Corps in 1939. The regiment merged with The Queen's Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards) in 1959 to form 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards.

The Habsburg connection[edit]

Franz Josef I in the uniform of a Colonel of the 1st Dragoon Guards

In March 1896 Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria became Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, which he remained until the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. At the same time the double-headed Austrian eagle became the cap-badge of the regiment (see illustration above) until it, too, was replaced, in 1915. On Dec 2, 1908 the Emperor instituted the Inhaber-Jubiläums-Medaille für Ausländer (Commander's Jubilee Medal for Foreigners) to celebrate his 60 years on the throne. Some of the 40 Golden, 635 Silver and 2000 Bronze medals were awarded to officers, NCOs and private soldiers in the regiment.[1] In 1938, the Austrian eagle returned as the regiment's cap badge, but without the scroll.

First World War (1914-18)[edit]

For more details on this topic, see First World War.

At the commencement of war in 1914 the KDGs were stationed in Lucknow, India as part of the 8th (Lucknow) Cavalry Brigade. The regiment was ordered to France and arrived at Marseilles on 7 November. The KDGs formed part of 1st Indian Cavalry Division serving on the Western Front. The regiment returned to India in 1917 and joined 1st (Peshawar) Division and during 1919 took part in the Third Afghan War.

Third Afghan War (1919)[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Third Afghan War.

The KDGs remained in garrison at Meerut until October 1918 when they exchanged stations with 21st (Empress of India's) Lancers and moved to Risalpur. On 2 May 1919 Afghan troops seized control of wells on the Indian side of the border. The Afghan Amir Amanullah was warned to withdraw, but his answer was to send more troops to reinforce those at the wells and to move other Afghan units to various points on the frontier. The KDGs were mobilised on 6 May and formed part of the British Indian Army's 1st Cavalry Brigade. The regiment served throughout the Third Afghan War and saw action at the Khyber Pass and Dakka. On 8 August a peace treaty with Afghanistan was officially signed and the KDGs returned to Risalpur on 28 August.

Second World War (1939-1945)[edit]

The Regiment fought with distinction in North Africa and Sicily and Italy, landing at Salerno against concentrated enemy opposition. They were the first Allied unit into Naples. The Welsh writer Norman Lewis, in his celebrated account of life in Naples claimed that the King's Dragoon Guards was the first British unit to reach Naples in 1943, and that many of its officers immediately went on a looting spree, cutting paintings from their frames in the prince's palace.

Post-War[edit]

The Regiment was posted to Home Duties at Omagh, Northern Ireland before moving to Germany in 1952 as part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), initially stationed in Hamburg and later Celle and Wolfenbüttel. In 1956 the KDG were sent on active service in Malaya during the Emergency and were stationed at Ipoh. During this time they took part in counter-insurgency operations in both mounted operations (armoured car) and on foot in the dense jungles. The regiment returned to BAOR in 1959. A Squadron spent 1956-59 in Jahore Bahru at Majedee Barracks. They were joined in 1958 by B Squadron in preparation for the pending amalgamation in 1959.

Battle honours[edit]

  • Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, Malplaquet, Dettingen, Warburg, Beaumont, Waterloo, Sevastopol, Taku Forts, Pekin 1860, South Africa 1879, South Africa 1901-02
  • The Great War: Somme 1916, Morval, France and Flanders 1914-17
  • Between the Wars: Afghanistan 1919
  • The Second World War: Beda Fomm, Defence of Tobruk, Tobruk 1941, Tobruk Sortie, Relief of Tobruk, Gazala, Bir Hacheim, Defence of Alamein Line, Alam el Halfa, El Agheila, Advance on Tripoli, Tebaga Gap, Point 201 (Roman Wall), El Hamma, Akarit, Tunis, North Africa 1941-43, Capture of Naples, Scafati Bridge, Monte Camino, Garigliano Crossing, Capture of Perugia, Arezzo, Gothic Line, Italy 1943-44, Athens, Greece 1944-45

Notable members of the regiment[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Österreichs Orden p. 274

External links[edit]