Regiments and Corps

1st King's Dragoon Guards

A column of the 1st King’s Dragoon Guards at Dakka, 1919

Origins

The regiment was originally raised as the 2nd Queen’s Regiment of Horse in June 1685 to fight against the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion. This made it the oldest line cavalry regiment in the British Army. It was named after King James II’s wife, Mary.

A month after its formation, it escorted Monmouth to London as a prisoner following his capture at Sedgemoor. But later, it went over to James's rival William III, fighting for him in Scotland and at the Battles of the Boyne (1690) and Aughrim (1691) in Ireland.

Other ranks' cap badge, 1st King’s Dragoon Guards, c1904

The Battle of the Boyne, 1690

18th century

During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), it fought alongside the Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708) and Malplaquet (1709).

The unit was renamed the King's Own Regiment of Horse in 1714 after Britain's new Hanoverian monarch, George I. 

During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), it fought at Dettingen (1743). It was retitled as the King’s Dragoon Guards in 1746. Then, five years later, it was designated the 1st (The King’s) Dragoon Guards. 

The Seven Years War (1756-63) saw the regiment serving in Germany at Minden (1759) and Corbach (1760), where its desperate charge helped saved the retreating allied army. Later, it fought at Warburg (1760) and Vellinghausen (1761).

The regiment remained in Britain for the following three decades. It next deployed to Flanders during the French Revolutionary War (1793-1802), fighting at Catillon, Beaumont and Tournay in 1794.

The Battle of Minden, 1759

A soldier of the 1st King's Dragoon Guards, 1812

Quiz

From the ruler of which empire did the 1st King's Dragoon Guards receive the two-headed eagle emblem on its badge?

Russian
Austrian
French
Did you know?

In 1896, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria became the regiment's colonel-in-chief, granting it the privilege of wearing the Hapsburg double-headed eagle on its headdress. The outbreak of war with Austria in 1914 saw the regiment end this association, although the eagle was restored to its cap badge in 1937.

19th century

Following further home service, the regiment returned to the continent in 1815, repeatedly charging at Waterloo (1815) with the Household Brigade. It then joined the Army of Occupation for a year.

It helped suppress an uprising by French Canadians in Lower Canada in 1838, as well as fighting at Sevastopol during the Crimean War (1854-56).

The regiment next deployed to India following the outbreak of mutiny there in 1857. It also fought in the Second China War (1857-60), helping capture the Taku Forts and Peking.

It spent most of the remainder of the 19th century garrisoning India or on home service. It deployed to the Zulu War (1879), where one of its officers, Major Richard Marter, led the patrol which captured the Zulu king Cetshwayo. And, in 1881, part of the regiment fought in the Transvaal War. 

The regiment also served in the latter stages of the Boer War (1899-1902), taking part in the anti-guerrilla operations there.

Sergeant-Major Bailey, 1st (The King's) Dragoon Guards, 1856

The capture of King Cetshawayo by Major Richard Marter, 1879

World Wars

The outbreak of the First World War (1914-18) saw it deploy from India to the Western Front, where it fought at Festuberg (1915), Ypres (1915) and the Somme (1916). In October 1917, the regiment returned to India. 

In 1919, it fought in the Third Afghan War (1919), where it made one of the last ever cavalry charges by a British unit at Dakka. It spent the rest of the inter-war period in England, Germany, Egypt and India, finally returning home to mechanise in 1938. The following year, it joined the Royal Armoured Corps.

In November 1939, it deployed to Egypt as an armoured car regiment. It fought exclusively in North Africa and Italy for the next five years, winning 17 battle honours in the former campaign and eight in the latter. In 1945, it also served in Greece, which was then sliding towards civil war.

Drum horse of the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards, c1912

Post-war

In 1948, the regiment served in the Palestine Mandate. It then spent five years as part of the occupying force in West Germany from 1951. Then, between 1956 and 1959, it was engaged in counter-insurgency duties during the Malayan Emergency (1948-60). 

Legacy

In 1959, it merged with The Queen’s Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards) to form the 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards.

Regimental museum

The National Army Museum works together with Regimental and Corps Museums across the country to help provide a network of military museums for everyone to visit and enjoy.

Explore the history and collections of the 1st King’s Dragoon Guards by visiting Firing Line: Cardiff Castle Museum of the Welsh Soldier.

Firing Line

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