2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays)

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2nd Dragoon Guards (The Queen's Bays)
Queen's Bays Cap Badge.jpg
2nd Dragoon Guards (The Queen's Bays)
Active 1685–1959
Country  Kingdom of England (1685–1707)
 Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1959)
Branch  British Army
Type Cavalry
Role Royal Armoured Corps
Size Regiment
Nickname(s) The Bays
Motto(s) Pro rege et patria (Latin "for King & Country")
March Quick – Rusty Buckles
Slow – The Queen's Bays

The 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays) was a cavalry regiment of the British Army. It was first raised in 1685 by the Earl of Peterborough. 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 amalgamated with 1st King's Dragoon Guards in 1959 to form 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards.

Early history[edit]

The Battle of Aughrim where the regiment crossed a bog under a heavy fire in July 1691

The regiment was raised by Earl of Peterborough in 1685 as the Earl of Peterborough's Regiment of Horse or the 3rd Regiment of Horse as part of the response to the Monmouth Rebellion.[1]

The regiment saw action at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 and the Battle of Aughrim in July 1691 during the Williamite War in Ireland.[1] At Aughrim the regiment crossed a bog under a heavy fire: the French general, Marquis de St Ruth, shouted "It is madness, but no matter, the more that cross the more we shall kill." A few minutes later he was decapitated.[2] The regiment took part in the fall of Limerick in October 1691 and were then employed on policing duties in the Hounslow area.[3] It next saw action in Holland in 1694 during the Nine Years' War.[3]

The regiment routed two French regiments during a charge at the Battle of Almenar in July 1710 during the War of the Spanish Succession.[1] At Almenar 16 squadrons of British and Portuguese cavalry charged 41 squadrons of French and Spanish cavalry and 9 battalions of French and Spanish infantry: "Such was the astonishing resolution of the British horsemen that .... the whole of the enemy's cavalry was soon overthrown, and with their infantry fled in disorder."[3] The regiment was less successful at the Battle of Brihuega in December 1710, when it was attacked by an enemy force ten times their number and many officers and men became prisoners of war.[3]

During the Jacobite rising of 1715 the regiment took part in the Battle of Preston in November 1715 and, in recognition of its service at that battle, was renamed the Princess of Wales's Own Regiment of Horse after Princess Caroline of Wales in December 1715.[3] It was renamed again as the Queen's Own Regiment of Horse when the Princess became Queen in 1727.[3] After seeing action in Scotland under General George Wade during the Jacobite rising of 1745, the regiment was renamed as the Queen's Regiment of Dragoon Guards in 1746[4] and renamed again as the 2nd (The Queen's) Regiment of Dragoon Guards in 1751.[5]

The regiment fought at the Battle of Corbach and the Battle of Warburg in July 1760 and then captured several French regiments at the Battle of Wilhelmsthal in June 1762 during the Seven Years' War.[1] After starting to ride on bay horses, the regiment were renamed as the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays) in 1767.[5] In an incident during the Peninsular War a single squadron of the regiment, under Major Robert Craufurd, attacked and defeated a unit of 150 French troops; the regiment was not present at the Battle of Waterloo.[4] The regiment next saw action when a squadron under Major Piercy Smith charged the rebels at the capture of Lucknow in March 1858 during the Indian Rebellion.[6] It suffered heavy losses in an action at Leeuwkop in March 1902 during the Second Boer War.[7]

First World War[edit]

Troops of the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays) on the march approaching Hardecourt Wood, 18 September 1916.

The regiment, which had been was stationed at Aldershot at the start of the war, landed in France as part of the 1st Cavalry Brigade in the 1st Cavalry Division, part of the Expeditionary Force, in August 1914 for service on the Western Front.[8] The regiment took part in the Great Retreat in August 1914, the Battle of Le Cateau in August 1914, the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914, the Battle of Messines in October 1914, the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914, the Battle of the Somme in Autumn 1916, the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917, the Battle of the Scarpe in August 1918 and in the final advance of Autumn 1918.[9]

Inter-war[edit]

The regiment was renamed the Queen's Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards) in 1921.[5] 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.[9]

Second World War[edit]

The Queen's Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards) advance through the Gabes Gap, Tunisia, 7 April 1943

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, the regiment was in England, assigned to the 2nd Light Armoured Brigade (serving alongside 9th Queen's Royal Lancers and 10th Royal Hussars) of the 1st Armoured Division. In May 1940 the Bays were sent to France and were heavily engaged on the Somme during the Battle of France. In mid June, with the collapse of French resistance, they were evacuated to England through the port of Brest.[10] The regiment was deployed to the Middle East in November 1941, equipped initially with the Crusader tank, and took part in the Battle of Gazala in May 1942 where its men were in action for 19 days, a record for an armoured regiment in the Western Desert. The regiment also took part in the First Battle of El Alamein in July 1942, the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942, the Battle of the Mareth Line in March 1943 and the Tunisia Campaign in May 1943.[10] The regiment were deployed on the Italian Front in May 1944: its men took part in the Battle of the Argenta Gap in April 1945 during the final offensive of the Italian Campaign.[10]

Post war[edit]

After the war the regiment remained in northern Italy, at Pegi on the River Isonzo, and then moved to Egypt in June 1947 before returning to Dale Barracks in Chester in October 1947.[11] The regiment moved on to Bad Fallingbostel in Germany in 1949, before returning to Tidworth Camp in September 1954 and then deploying to Aqaba in Jordan later in the year.[11] It deployed to Libya in February 1956 and then returned to Perham Down in August 1957 before transferring to Northampton Barracks in Wolfenbüttel in 1958.[11] The regiment amalgamated with 1st King's Dragoon Guards in 1959 to form 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards.[11]

Battle honours[edit]

The regiment's battle honours were as follows:[5]

  • Early Wars: Warburg, Willems, Lucknow, South Africa 1901-02
  • The Great War: Mons, Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, Messines 1914, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1914 '15, Frezenberg, Bellewaarde, Somme 1916 '18, Flers-Courcelette, Arras 1917, Scarpe 1917, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Amiens, Albert 1918, Hindenburg Line, St. Quentin Canal, Beaurevoir, Pursuit to Mons, France and Flanders 1914-18
  • The Second World War: Somme 1940, Withdrawal to Seine, North-West Europe 1940, Msus, Gazala, Bir el Aslagh, Cauldron, Knightsbridge, Via Balbia, Mersa Matruh, El Alamein, Tebaga Gap, El Hamma, El Kourzia, Djebel Kournine, Tunis, Creteville Pass, North Africa 1941-43, Coriano, Carpineta, Lamone Crossing, Defence of Lamone Bridgehead, Rimini Line, Ceriano Ridge, Cesena, Argenta Gap, Italy 1944-45

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "1685 to 1899 - A Short History of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards". Regimental Museum of the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (The Welsh Horse). Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  2. ^ Richards, p. 26
  3. ^ a b c d e f Richards, p. 27
  4. ^ a b Richards, p. 28
  5. ^ a b c d "The Queen's Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards)". Regiments.org. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  6. ^ Richards, p. 29
  7. ^ "2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays)". Anglo-Boer War. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  8. ^ "The Dragoon Guards". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "1899 to 1938 - A Short History of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards". Regimental Museum of the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (The Welsh Horse). Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c "1938 to 1959 - A Short History of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards". Regimental Museum of the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (The Welsh Horse). Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Queen's Bays". British Army units 1945 on. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]