1st The Royal Dragoons

This article is about the British military unit. For the US unit, see 1st Cavalry Regiment (United States).
Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons)

Royal Dragoons Cap Badge
Active 1661–1969
Country  Kingdom of England (1661–1707)
 Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1969)
Branch Army
Type Cavalry
Motto(s) Spectemur agendo (Let us be judged by our deeds)[1]
Colors Scarlet uniform with blue facings, black plume.[1]
March "The Royals"
Engagements Dettingen, Waterloo, Second Boer War, El Alamein

The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons) was a mounted infantry and later a heavy cavalry regiment of the British Army. The regiment was formed in 1661 as the Tangier Horse. It served for three centuries and was in action during the First World War and the Second World War. It was amalgamated with the Royal Horse Guards to form The Blues and Royals in 1969.


John, Lord Churchill, the first Colonel of the Regiment
Regimental guidons, 1840


The regiment was first raised as a single troop of veterans of the Parliamentary Army in 1661, shortly thereafter expanded to four troops as the Tangier Horse, taking the name from their service in Tangier.[2] For the next few years the regiment defended Tangier, which had been acquired by the English Crown through the marriage of King Charles II to Catherine of Braganza in April 1662, from Moorish cavalry.[3]

The regiment consisted of four troops, three of which were originally troops in the English Regiment of Light Horse in France attached to the French army of Louis XIV and under the command of Sir Henry Jones. They were constituted in 1672 and after Jones was killed during the siege of Maastricht in 1673, while serving with the Duke of Monmouth, command passed to the Duke. The regiment was ranked as the 1st Dragoons, the oldest cavalry regiment of the line, in 1674. The regiment was recalled to England in 1678 (it was disbanded in France and reformed in England with most of the same officers) with the expectation of fighting in a war against France. In early 1679 it was disbanded and then reformed in June of that year as Gerard's Regiment of Horse (its colonel being Charles Gerard), with most of the same officers and men, to police the Covenanters in Scotland. The regiment was disbanded in late 1679 and three of its captains, John Coy, Thomas Langston and Charles Nedby along with their troopers went out to Tangier in 1680 as reinforcements. When they returned in 1683, they joined the what became a new permanent regiment of the Royal Dragoons.[4]

Early wars

The 1st Dragoons at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815
A French Imperial Eagle similar to that captured at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815

On their return to England in 1683 the three troops were joined with three newly raised troops and titled The King's Own Royal Regiment of Dragoons, named for Charles II.[2] In 1690 the regiment was renamed as simply The Royal Regiment of Dragoons. It fought at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 and the Siege of Limerick in August 1690 during the Williamite War in Ireland.[3]

The regiment saw action at the Battle of Dettingen in June 1743 and at the Battle of Fontenoy in May 1745 during the War of the Austrian Succession, and having been formally titled as the 1st (Royal) Regiment of Dragoons in 1751,[2] it took part in the Raid on St Malo in June 1758, the Raid on Cherbourg in August 1758 and the Battle of Warburg in July 1760 during the Seven Years' War.[3]

The regiment also fought at the Battle of Beaumont in April 1794 and the Battle of Willems in May 1794 during the Flanders Campaign.[3] It served under Viscount Wellesley, as the rearguard during the retreat to the Lines of Torres Vedras in September 1810, and charged the enemy at the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro in May 1811 during the Peninsular War.[3] The regiment also took part in the charge of the Union Brigade under the command of Major-General William Ponsonby at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815 during the Hundred Days Campaign.[3] Captain Alexander Kennedy Clark, an officer in the regiment, captured the French Imperial Eagle of the 105th Line Infantry Regiment during the battle.[5]

Uniform of the 1st Dragoons, 1839
Rough Rider Robert Droash of the 1st Royal Dragoons after serving in the Crimean War in 1856

The regiment next took part in the charge of the heavy brigade at the Battle of Balaclava in October 1854 during the Crimean War, and having been re-titled the 1st (Royal) Dragoons in 1877, [2] the regiment also saw action at the Battle of Abu Klea in January 1885 during the Mahdist War.[3]

20th century wars

Civilians ride on a Daimler armoured car of the 1st Royal Dragoons as it enters the town of Haderslev in Denmark, 7 May 1945

In January 1900 the regiment was part of a force which set out to discover the western flank of the Boer lines and were able to ambush a column of about 200 Boers near Acton Homes and successfully trapped about 40 of them during the Second Boer War.[6] The regiment, which had been serving at Potchefstroom in South Africa when the First World War started, returned to the UK and than landed at Ostend as part of the 6th Cavalry Brigade in the 3rd Cavalry Division in October 1914 for service on the Western Front.[7] It took part in the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914, the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915, the Battle of Loos in September 1915 and the advance to the Hindenburg Line in 1917.[3]

The regiment retitled as the 1st The Royal Dragoons in 1921.[2] It was deployed to Egypt in 1927, to Secunderabad in India in 1929 and to Palestine in 1938.[3]

The regiment mechanised shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War and was transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps in 1940.[2] It was deployed to the Western Desert as the Reconnaissance Regiment for the 1st Armoured Division in December 1941[8] and were the first troops to enter Benghazi later that month before seeing action again at the Battle of Gazala in May 1942.[3] It became the Reconnaissance Regiment for the 10th Armoured Division in September 1942 and helped to destroy the enemy supply columns at the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942.[3] The regiment saw action during the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and then briefly took part in the Italian Campaign before returning home in December 1943 and taking part in the Normandy landings in July 1944.[3] The regiment took part in the advance to the River Elbe and, after taking 10,000 enemy prisoners, liberated Copenhagen in May 1945.[3]


The regiment moved to Eutin in Schleswig-Holstein in November 1945 and to Dale Barracks in Chester in November 1950.[9] It deployed troops to Egypt in February 1951 and then moved to Combermere Barracks in Wesendorf in May 1954 and to Harewood Barracks in Herford in August 1957.[9] It returned to the UK in September 1959 from where it deployed troops to Aden in November 1959 and to Malaya in December 1960.[9] The regiment survived the immediate post-war reduction in forces, and was re-titled as The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons) in 1961.[2] It returned home in October 1962 and then deployed troops to Cyprus in February 1964 before transferring to Hobart Barracks in Detmold in January 1965.[9] It amalgamated with the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues), to form The Blues and Royals in 1969.[2]

Battle honours

The regiments battle honours were as follows:[2]

Victoria Cross


The Colonels-in-Chief of the regiment were as follows:[2]

Colonels — with other names for the regiment

The colonels of the regiment were as follows:[2]

Tangier Horse - (1661) or 1st Dragoons - (1674).
The King's Own Royal Regiment of Dragoons - (1683)
The Royal Regiment of Dragoons - (1690)

On 1 July 1751 a royal warrant provided that in future regiments would not be known by their colonels' names, but by their "number or rank".

1st (Royal) Regiment of Dragoons - (1751)
1st (Royal) Dragoons - (1877)
1st The Royal Dragoons - (1921)

In 1969 the regiment amalgamated with Royal Horse Guards (The Blues), to form The Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons).

See also


  1. 1 2 Anonymous 1916, p. 12.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Mills, T.F. (2007), "The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons)", regiments.org, archived from the original on 3 March 2007, retrieved 5 April 2007
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 "Brief Regimental History of the 1st The Royal Dragoons". Household Cavalry. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  4. Childs 2013, p. 34.
  5. "1st The Royal Dragoons". National Army Museum. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  6. "1st The Royal Dragoons". Anglo-Boer War. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  7. "The Dragoons". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  8. "Units That Served With The 4th Armoured Brigade". Desert Rats. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  9. 1 2 3 4 "1st The Royal Dragoons". British Army units 1945 on. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Colonels of The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons)". Household Cavalry. Retrieved 27 September 2016.


Further reading

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