In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

The Raising of the Regiment 20 June 1685
On the death of King Charles II the succession was disputed. Charles's brother James succeeded him as King James II, but Charles's illegitimate son James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth, raised an army in June 1685, to challenge the succession. King James II was an experienced soldier who had served under Marshal Turenne for four campaigns, and with the Spanish for two more. Parliament was reluctant to sanction a standing army that pledged allegiance to the monarch after the Civil War and the Commonwealth, but the Monmouth Rebellion gave James the excuse to raise his regiments.

The existing cavalry consisted of 3 Troops of Horse Guards in England and one in Scotland, with Horse Grenadiers attached to each Troop. Monmouth had actually been Colonel of the 1st Troop of Horse Guards from 1668 to 1679. There was only one Regiment of line cavalry, the Earl of Oxford's, which was designated 1st Horse in 1685 when James raised several more Regiments. Within two years Oxford's Horse, the Blues, had been promoted to join the Horse Guards. This meant that the other cavalry regiments moved up in ranking. These other regiments were raised for the current emergency but because of disbandments not all of them lasted as long as the Queen's Bays.

Of the Regiments of Horse raised in 1685 the two most senior were the Queens, 2nd Regiment of Horse (KDG) raised on 6 June 1685, and the 3rd Regiment of Horse (Queen's Bays), known at that time as the Earl of Peterborough's, raised on 20 June 1685 the date of the Earl's commission. These two regiments remained as such for almost 300 years, until 1959 when they were amalgamated with each other as one unit known as the 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards.

The regiment was formed from four independent Troops of Horse raised by the end of June 1685:

1st Sir Michael Winkworth's Troop - Wakefield and Pontefract
2nd Sir John Talbot's Troop - Hounslow
3rd John Lloyd's Troop - Edgware
4th Lord Ailesbury's Troop - London

The last three Troops, based around London were sent to the West Country to confront Monmouth's supporters. They were commanded by Colonel Henry Morduant, Earl of Peterborough, and Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Talbot who had held a commission in the Foot Guards in 1661.

The Monmouth Rebellion July 1685
2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Duke of Monmouth
Both the newly raised Regiments of Horse arrived in the West Country too late for the Battle of Sedgemoor near Bridgewater, on 6 July 1685. Peterborough's men were camped at Devizes and given the task of guarding the prisoners at Winchester and patrolling the roads to find any rebels that had got away from the battlefield. On 16 July they were brought back to London and reduced in size by 10 men per Troop of 50 men.
Ireland 1691-93
2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan

Battle of the Boyne, 1 July 1690

After the Glorious Revolution of 1688 the Catholic officers that had been appointed by King James faced an uncertain future. The Earl of Peterborough was removed from the command of the regiment and replaced by the Protestant Hon Edward Villiers of Waterford. The regiment was camped at Dundalk when William arrived in Ireland in June 1690. His army of 36,000 met the Jacobite army of 20,000 on the River Boyne near Drogheda on 1 July. Villier's Horse, as the Bays were called at that time, numbered 248. Their first action was when they were sent towards Slane to find a way to cross the river. They fought against O'Neill's Dragoons at Rossnare, to force their way over a ford at that point of the river. The main attack by William was with infantry which slowly forced the Jabobites back. Then William himself led the cavalry charge but the two armies made several charges and counter-charges, with James's Irish cavalry proving themselves time and again. But William's Protestants won the day and Villier's Horse was singled out for praise by the King.

Sarsfield's Raid, 11 July 1691

Two Troops of Villier's Horse were stationed in Dublin while the other four marched to Limerick with the Queen's Horse (KDG). The Dublin Troops under the command of Lieutenant Ball were ordered to escort the siege guns and ammunition to Limerick. They stopped for the night at Ballyneety, near Pallasgreen, on 11 July and made camp. The Jacobite officer, Patrick Sarsfield had been tipped off about the guns by a sympathiser named Hogan, and took a force of cavalry to capture them. William heard about Sarsfield's pending attack and sent the Queen's Horse to intercept the Jacobites. But they were too late. After a desperate fight, Ball and his men had been killed along with Irish peasants who had brought food and supplies to the soldiers. Sarsfield's capture of the guns was a welcome victory for the Jacobites in Limerick and a severe setback for King William.

Cappoquin, 15 Mar 1691

The Irish supporters of King James were expert at capturing horses from William's soldiers, but on one occasion at least, they were thwarted. Lieutenant Spicer and Cornet Collins led a successful mission to prevent a raiding party of 100 Jacobites from stealing a supply of newly arrived horses from England. The two officers had only a dozen troopers when they sighted the enemy at Cappoquin in County Waterford on 15 March. They charged into the enemy with great spirit and drove them into a wood. They were then joined by another 18 troopers who came to their assistance. They dismounted and entered the wood where they managed to kill 40 of the enemy without losing any of their own men. They also captured a Jacobite captain and 7 men.

Athlone, 16-30 June 1691

At the siege of Athlone the troopers were dismounted and fought in the trenches. There, they lost a popular officer, Lieut-Colonel James Kirk, who was killed by a cannon ball. He had led a successful raid in April, on Macroom, co Cork, which killed 20 Jacobites and captured horses and cattle. On 30 June they were part of the attack in which they waded breast high through the Shannon to capture the town within half an hour. A thousand Jacobite Irish were killed and their General Maxfield captured. King William rewarded his general, De Ginkel, with the Earldom of Athlone.

Battle of Aughrim, 12 July 1691

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
The Battle of Aughrim
General St Ruth was sent out from France to command the Jacobite army of French and Irish troops. He chose to give battle against William at the castle of Aughrim. The enemy were positioned on a ridge with their left flank at Aughrim and their right at Kilcommodon. In front of his position was the River Meldham with boggy ground in between the river and the ridge. There were only two ways for William's men to cross the river, by a bridge at Tristaun on William's left, or the causeway to the castle on the right. Edward Villiers commanded the cavalry brigade on the left, with his regiment, and a concerted attack was made at Tristaun Bridge. Villiers' men fought hard to drive the enemy back and both sides brought reinforcements to that side of the battle. But William's commander, de Ginkel sent in the infantry to attack St Ruth's centre, by crossing the river and the bog.

Another infantry attack was sent in at the Aughrim flank which braved a storm of musket fire to force the defenders back, but Irish cavalry charged them and sent them back down the hill. De Ginkel's cavalry, led by the Blues came up the causeway and charged the Jacobite left wing. Another brigade of cavalry also charged against the enemy right wing and the Jacobites were now in a difficult situation. To make matters worse they lost their commander St Ruth who was decapitated by a cannon ball. They lost heart at this point and began to withdraw. A lack of ammunition prevented the Jacobites from going on with the battle. Both sides had fought with great bravery and many men had been killed. The troops inside Aughrim Castle surrendered and the others fled towards Galway. The cavalry pursued them and slaughtered many more French and Irish soldiers. Four thousand were killed altogether, and 1,000 captured.

War of the Spanish Succession

Battle of Almanza, 25 April 1707

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Almanza 1707
The 25th April 1707 was a black day for the regiment. On that day the allied army of British, Dutch and Portuguese fought and lost against the French-Spanish army at Almanza, in the historic region of La Mancha, south-east Spain. The battle is remembered well for the fact that the British alliance was led by a Frenchman and the French alliance was led by an Englishman. The English, Dutch and Portuguese were commanded by Henri de Massue, Earl of Galway, son of the Huguenot Marquis de Ruvigny, from Paris. He had fought under Turenne but distinguished himself at Aughrim fighting for William and been rewarded with the title Earl of Galway. The French commander was the Duke of Berwick aka James the illigitimate son of James II who had been living in exile in France, until his death in 1701.

Galway was heavily outnumbered, 15,000 to 25,000, and had the disadvantage of a high proportion of Portuguese troops who, for the most part, ran away. Some of the Portuguese fought bravely but the sheer weight of numbers prevailed. The 3rd Horse who at this time were called Harvey's Horse, were led by Lt-Col Edward Roper. He led a frantic charge against some infantry that had come too far forward. The enemy begged for quarter as they were beyond help, but Harvey's Horse became dispersed and were in turn attacked by French cavalry. Col Roper was killed along with other officers and a large number of the men. Many more were wounded or taken prisoner. The remainder of the regiment still had some fight left in them and went to the aid of John Hill's Regiment (11th Devons). The rest of the army were forced to surrender or managed to retreat. Galway extricated 1,000 cavalry and 1,500 infantry together with six British guns and took them 20 miles away to Alcira. The battle had lasted 2 hours and the army had lost 4,000 killed or wounded, and 3,000 taken prisoner.

Almenar, 27 July 1710

In 1709 there was a siege at Balaguer which was soon captured and the army under Lt-General James Stanhope moved on to capture Ager. The following year the 3rd Horse fought well at Belcayre and defeated several French and Bourbon Spanish squadrons under the command of King Philip V. On 27 July the enemy were positioned on a plateau overlooking Almenar, just inside Catalonia, north-east Spain. King Philip had a line of 22 squadrons with their right flank guarded by infantry. A second line of 20 squadrons was behind them, together with nine battalions of infantry. The British, Austrian and Dutch army under Guido Starhemberg and James Stanhope had only 22 squadrons but more infantry. The 3rd Horse were on the right, led by Stanhope himself. In the evening they advanced to charge the enemy, while the Bourbons also moved forward. The two opposing masses of cavalry clashed together in a fierce battle. Stanhope engaged in personal combat with General Amenzega and killed him. The 3rd Horse were mostly pitted against the Spanish Royal Life Guards. They defeated them and charged on to the second line of cavalry. The enemy, now in disarray, broke ranks and fled. The Spanish Life Guards lost their standard and kettledrums. The British cavalry would have pursued the fleeing enemy but it was now dark and the mountainous terrain made it too difficult. The French/Spanish casualty figures for this cavalry battle ran into thousands while the British lost 73 men killed and 113 wounded, including the 3rd Horse commanding officer Lt-Col John Bland.

Saragossa, 19 Aug 1710

King Philip's army took up a strong position in front of Saragossa after crossing the River Ebro. The British and their allies attacked them at noon and a melee ensued for two hours while the 3rd Horse stood by, in reserve. The Wolloon regiments, fighting for Spain were on the point of withdrawing so the 3rd Horse were finally let loose and shattered them. They rallied and repeated the charge several times so that the Spanish, although numerically much stronger, gave way and retreated. More than 5,000 prisoners were taken and 4,000 killed, according to one account. Many guns and stores were captured, and the 3rd Horse pursued the fleeing enemy to kill even more.

The Siege of Brihuega, 8-9 Dec 1710

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
General James Stanhope
The French and Spanish were put under the command of the duc de Vendome who brought with him a large number of reinforcements. Meanwhile, the British and their Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and German allies entered Madrid on 1 Sep 1710. But when the Portuguese learned of the strengthened enemy forces they withdrew into their country leaving the depleted allies to their fate. To keep their troops supplied they moved out along the river Tarjuna towards Catalonia. Stanhope's cavalry consisted of the 3rd Horse and 3 other regiments. The infantry consisted of a battalion of Foot Guards and the remnants of 7 other regiments. Guido Starhemberg, who commanded the whole army, ordered the British to make a stand inside Brihuega. The journey there was fraught with difficulty because the local Spanish peasants had been badly treated by the Portuguese, and they took every opportunity to attack stragglers and steal whatever they could. It was now winter and the cold weather caused them further suffering.

The town of Brihuega was quite large and had narrow streets, overlooked by surrounding hills on which the enemy placed artillery. The French and Spanish had 20,000 laying siege to Stanhope's much smaller British force. He refused to surrender, in the hope that Starhemberg would come to his relief. The enemy made two breaches in the walls and dug a mine to create another breach. The defenders managed to repulse an attack through one of these, with the 3rd Horse fighting on foot like the rest of the cavalry, and firing on the attackers when they came in a second time. However the weight of numbers forced them to retreat back into the town. They burned houses and threw rocks at the enemy to save ammunition. After four hours of fierce fighting Stanhope ordered the men to surrender, having lost 600 killed or wounded. This was at 7 o'clock. Starhemberg arrived the next morning to find that 2,228 British soldiers had been taken prisoner. A further battle took place on 10 Dec at Villaviciosa between Vendome's and Starhemgerg's armies. The men of the 3rd Horse were in captivity at this time and remained prisoners for a year until they were exchanged in October 1711.

The 1715 Jacobite Rebellion

Preston, 12-14 Nov 1715

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Map of Preston 1715
The 3rd Horse re-established themselves after their release from captivity in Spain. By 1712 they were in Ireland but when the Jacobite Rebellion broke out in 1715 they were recalled to England. The Jacobites originated from different parts of Scotland and England. A group of 2,300, under General Fraser, came from Scotland through the Lothians and found little opposition in Penrith and Kendal. They met up with 1,200 Lancashire Jacobites and marched down the Ribble Valley to Preston. There they fortified themselves with barricades and prepared to meet the King's men who were approaching from Cheshire under the command of Major-General Charles Wills. His force of 2,000 included one experienced cavalry regiment, the 3rd (Pitt's) Horse , and 5 newly raised dragoon regiments (9th 11th 13th and 14th). The infantry was mostly the 26th Foot (Cameronians).

They surrounded the town on 12 Nov and while the 3rd Horse remained mounted on the Manchester Road, the dismounted dragoons and the 26th attacked from either side. Although they captured the barricades they were unable to progress because the rebels were well hidden, firing through loopholes in the walls of the houses. Most of the army's casualties were sustained at this stage of the battle. However, Wills was reinforced by General Carpenter and 1,000 more men on the 13th, and changed his tactics. He set fire to the houses and had his men fire on them as they advanced. Many rebels were burned to death and some escaped but were cut down by the 3rd Horse who were guarding the roads out of the town, especially the crossings over the Ribble. The Jacobites surrendered on the 14th Nov so that 1,468 prisoners were taken. Out of these 463 were English. There were many people of distinction, like the Earls of Derwentwater and Winton. The casualty figures for the army were 3 officers and 53 men killed and 13 officers and 81 men wounded. The 3rd Horse came off lightly with one trooper and 2 horses wounded. They were thanked by George I and granted the title The Princess of Wales's Own Regiment of Horse.

The 1745 Jacobite Rebellion

The Skirmish at Clifton Moor, 19 Dec 1745

The regiment spent the next 30 years in different parts of the Midlands and the south of England. When King George I died in 1727 Caroline the Princess of Wales became Queen Caroline. This meant a change of title and they were now The Queen's Own Royal Regiment of Horse. In 1745, while much of the army was campaigning on the continent, the Queen's Own were ordered to the north of England to help counter the threat of another Jacobite rebellion. Field Marshal Wade commanded the English army sent to crush the rebellion caused by the landing of the Young Pretender in Scotland. New regiments were raised, even the Duke of Montagu, not content with being the Colonel of the Queen's Own Horse, raised another unit called Montagu's Carbineers, as well as a battalion of Foot called the Ordnance Regiment. The Queen's Own travelled via Derby to Doncaster, from where they were sent the other side of the Pennines on 10 Dec. The Jacobites had entered England via the north west, reaching as far as Derby and then retreating north again. The Queen's Own, along with other cavalry under General Oglethorpe, made a three day forced march of 100 miles through snow, sleet and mud, to arrive at Preston on 13 Dec. They had captured a number of rebels on the way and linked up with the Duke of Cumberland's cavalry. The Jacobites gave up the idea of giving battle at Lancaster when they heard of Oglethorpe's arrival at Preston, so they continued north. The Jacobite rearguard was engaged on 19 Dec near Penrith at Clifton Moor and caused the fugitives to be 'roughly handled'. The main fight at Clifton Moor was fought on foot in the dark and the Highlanders with their claymores had some success. But the Jacobite Highlanders continued their retreat, leaving a garrison at Carlisle Castle. The regiment joined the siege but Carlisle soon surrendered, and they went back to York where they stayed for the next year. They were not part of Cumberland's army that fought and defeated the Jacobites at Culloden in April 1946.

Dragoon Guards 1746

As an economy measure the Government decided to convert three regiments of Horse into Dragoons. This was announced on 14 Dec 1746 to take effect from 25 Dec. The Blues were taken out of the regiments of the line, although not formally made part of the Household Cavalry until 1820. This left seven regiments of Horse, three on the English establishment and four on the Irish establishment. The three English regiments of Horse were the King's Own Regiment, the Queen's Own Regiment and Wade's Horse (soon to be the Prince of Wales's). These had been the 2nd 3rd and 4th Horse. The 5th 6th 7th and 8th Regiments of Horse now became the 1st 2nd 3rd and 4th (Irish) Horse. On 9 Jan 1747 the concession was made, in a Warrant for His Majesty, that the new Dragoon regiments shall be called Dragoon Guards. 'Nevertheless, Our further will and pleasure is, that the said three regiments of DRAGOON GUARDS shall roll and do duty in Our army, or upon detachments with Our other forces, as Dragoons, in the same manner as if the word GUARDS was not inserted in their respective titles.' This last sentence was a blow to regimental pride, and made them determined not to submit to dismounted roles in battle.

The Seven Years War (1756-63)

Corbach, 10 July 1760

The Queen's Dragoon Guards had spent the four years between 1754 and 58 in Scotland. After a spell in Yorkshire they marched south to prepare for foreign service. They left England and landed at Bremen on 17 May 1760, marching to join the army of Ferdinand Duke of Brunswick at Friztlar. Here they were brigaded with the other two regiments of Dragoon Guards (KGD and 3DG), numbering 300, under Brigadier-General Webb. The Dragoon Guards provided advance guards and pickets and were involved in many skirmishes as the armies manoeuvred, with the allies on the defensive. On 10 July Webb's Brigade were ordered, with other British and German units under the the Duke's nephew, Erbprinz (Hereditary Prince) Ferdinand, to occupy a defile through which half the French, under St Germain, were expected to pass. But they were too late and found 10,000 of the French drawn up on the heights of Corbach. Prince Ferdinand ordered an immediate attack but this was repulsed as the French were being reinforced by the duc de Brolie's army. They had to retreat with the enemy on their heels. As the situation became desperate the Erbprinz put himself at the head of the King's Dragoon Guards and led the brigade in a brilliant charge against their pursuers. The honours went mostly to the KDG who lost 47 men killed, and the 3rd DG, while the 2ndDG were in support. These regiments continued to cover the retreat, but their charge had allowed the army to withdraw in relative safety.

Warburg, 31 July 1760

The defeat at Corbach was a setback but the French had in turn, been defeated at Emsdorf on 16 July, mostly by the 15th Light Dragoons. So morale had improved when the British/German force met the French at Warburg on 31 July 1760. A wing of the French army, 20,000 men, was sent to cut off the allies from reaching Westphalia. Their commander Chevalier de May placed his army near Warburg, in a strong position along a ridge running north of the river Diemel. One part of the allied army under the Erbprinz was to attack the French left wing at Ochsendorf while the main army, under the Duke of Brunswick, with most of the British cavalry were to cross the river at Liebenau to launch a simultaneous attack on the enemy front. The attack on the French left wing was well under way but Brunswick's infantry had trouble making progress through marshy ground and in hot weather, so the Marquess of Granby forged ahead with the heavy cavalry and horse artillery. They had 5 miles to cover, but they were spurred on by the thought of redeeming the disgrace wrought upon them by Lord Sackville's obstinacy at Minden. Granby especially was eager to show Sackville how cavalry should be led and charged ahead 'bald-headed' when his hat blew off. The two brigades in the front line were, from right to left; the 1st KDG, 3rd DG, 2nd QDG, then in the next brigade, the Blues, the 4th Horse (7th DG) and 3rd Horse (6th DG). The second line had the Greys, 10th Dragoons, 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, and 11th Dragoons. The Blues and the KDG had 3 squadrons each while all the other regiments had two.

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Cavalry Charge at Warburg
The two lines of heavies were galloping hard while the Horse Artillery kept close behind, despite the rough ground. They were heading for the French cavalry on the right of the enemy line. As they came nearer most of the enemy turned and fled, leaving 6 squadrons of Bourbon Cavalry led by the Marquis de Lugeac to face them. On seeing the cavalry leaving a gaping hole in the French line, Granby altered course and led them to the right, into the exposed flank of the French infantry. The infantry was caught unawares and started to break up. But the cavalry didn't have an easy ride because the Bourbon Brigade charged at the KDGs who were on the left of the line, and killed 7 men and 17 horses. The Queen's Dragoon Guards lost more men killed; 3 NCOs and 9 men, with 8 missing. Three officers, one NCO and 10 were wounded. The casualties would have been higher but 2 squadrons of the Blues were sent to their aid and the Bourbons were forced back. After 4 hours the French army was in full retreat and had to cross the river the best way they could. The British Horse Artillery unlimbered and set up their guns at the edge of the river to play havoc with the retreating army so that they were unable to re-group. And just to make sure, the KDG and QDG were sent on to pursue the enemy for four miles to Wilda. In letters written later, The Marquess of Granby said: '...nothing could exceed their gallant behaviour on this occasion. Finer troops I believe never were, and at the head of them I should be happy to receive a visit from the enemy.'

Capelnhagen and Furwohle, Nov 1761

In 1761 the Queen's DG, with their brigade were on operations near the river Lippe and had little to do at the battle of Vellinghausen on 15 July and the continuation the following day. On 5 Nov the Queen's DG forced out a French regiment from its position at Capelnhagen, and then marched to Eimbeck near Hanover, where with the KDG they were involved in a skirmish with the French. On the night of 7 Nov the brigade march through heavy snow to Furwohle in Hanover. On arrival the tired troopers were erecting their tents when the trumpets sounded 'To horse!' They quickly saddled up and charged at the advancing French, driving them off and inflicting considerable losses. On 9 Nov the QDG and KDG took up positions on the heights between Lithorst and Mackensen. Detached parties continued with sporadic skirmishing at a heavy cost in sickness to the men. They and their horses had been suffering from fatigue and poor rations in severe weather. They finally moved into winter quarters in early December in East Friesland.

Wilhelmsthal, 24 June 1762

The battle of Wilhelmsthal was a complete victory for the allies and paved the way for a conclusion to the Seven Years War. Both armies had remained in their winter quarters until there was enough forage for the horses in June. The French were camped near Wilhelmsthal and Ferdinand decided to attack them there on 24 June. The Dragoon Guards were part of the centre column which crossed the Diemel river at Liebenau once more, at 4am. After a march of 9 miles they and two further allied columns converged on the French camp from different directions. It seems incredible that there were no outlying picquets to warn the camp of the impending allied advance, but they were caught by surprise and retreated towards their headquarters in Wilhelmsthal. Some regiments under Stainville covered the retreat and were surrounded by the cavalry, including the British Dragoon Guards. Many Frenchmen were killed and some regiments surrendered wholesale. Three thousand prisoners were taken but 1,500 were killed. The QDG were part of the pursuit that killed and captured many more. They later marched to Hoff and forded the river Eder. Another encounter took place at Homberg on 24 July where they drove a strong French force from the heights. They were on further operations around Melsungen, and finally Cassel was taken in November, thus bringing about peace negotiations in Paris.

The Queen's Bays 1767
The regiment spent the next 30 years on duties in various stations all over England and Scotland. It is not known for how many years they had been riding bay horses. David Morier's paintings of the British cavalry in 1751 show the regiments mostly using dark or black horses. The most noticable exceptions are the 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys) and the 2nd Queen's Dragoon Guards, the latter having a lighter brown horse with black mane and tail. They may well have been referred to as the Bays at around the mid 18th century. There was an order in 1764 that ended the use of horses with docked tails. Long-tailed horses were stipulated, although no mention was made of the colour of the horses. In the 19th century it was customary for some regiments to mount the various squadrons on a certain colour horse for uniformity, so that A Squadron would be on blacks and B Squadron would be on bays etc. But the black horse was in high demand for the 18th century regiments making it easier for the Queen's Dragoon Guards to acquire bays. According to various histories of the regiment the name The Queen's Bays came into use in 1767 although not officially sanctioned until 1872.
Aid to the Civil Power 1768-9
The Queen's Bays were ordered to Scotland in Feb 1768 having spent the last three years in the south of England. They halted in Yorkshire for a month and several Troops were detached for duty in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The seamen were demanding higher wages and in various ports they conducted a reign of terror, blackmailing citizens to contribute to their cause. They roamed the streets in gangs and committed many 'outrages'. The men of the Bays were able to police the area and bring the sailors to order. When things had quietened down they proceeded to Scotland. However they were in action again the following year, this time in Manchester, Blackburn and Warrington where there was trouble in the coalfields. Their police work, in conjunction with other units was not completed for several months.
French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793-1809

Attack on the French Camp, 30 May 1793

In 1793 King Louis XVI of France was guillotined in Paris and the French Revolutionaries declared war on all the monarchies of Europe. They invaded the Austrian Netherlands and war was declared against Britain. In May the QDG went to Blackwell where they embarked for Ostend. After attending at the siege of Valenciennes one squadron of the Bays under the command of Le Marchant accompanied a Prussian and Austrian column to attack the French at Cassel. The night before they set off Le Marchant visited his squadron and found the men lying face down. When asked the reason he was told that they had all dressed their queues with the usual paste of flour and fat, and they wanted to avoid having to do it again the next morning.

The attack took place on 30 May and the French were taken by surprise in their camp and fled. However as they retreated they came to a field of corn where they decided to make a stand. The Bays and the Austrian cavalry charged and broke them so that they took flight once more. Sixty Frenchmen were dead and they pursued the rest. Le Marchant wrote about the brutality of their allies to his wife. He was appalled at the way the Austrians showed no mercy to men begging on their knees, and saw one group of Frenchmen that had been captured by the Bays slaughtered by the Austrians while the British troopers were busy elsewhere.

Dunkirk, Sept 1793

After the fall of Valenciennes two squadrons of the Bays were placed in the division commanded by the Hanoverian General Freytag. Eight other British squadrons were supplied by the 3rd DG, the Inniskillings and the Royals. They were at Hondschoote when the French attacked on 6 Sep. They were driven back by the enemy and one trooper of the Bays was killed. They fought dismounted because of the marshy nature of the ground near the river Yser. The siege of Dunkirk was lifted on 8 Sep and they retreated to Furnes.

Lezennes, 24 Oct 1793

The Duke of York, who was in command of the British army in Flanders at this time, moved 9,000 men towards Tournai to reinforce the allies watching Lille. There was an action on 24 Oct involving a squadron of the Bays under the command of Captain James Hay who was later wounded at Waterloo and became the CO in 1830. A force of 150 French troops and 6 officers was retreating from Sainghin-en-Melantois to Lezennes. Major Crauford, who was ADC to the Duke of York, took charge of the 56-strong squadron and led them towards the enemy and charged. Capt Hay had his horse shot from under him and he continued on his farrier's grey horse. The squadron lost 3 men killed in the charge. The French lost 46 men killed, the rest were captured with the help of another Bays squadron, 2 squadrons of the Royals and some Austrian light dragoons. Former Bays officer Charles Crauford, although on the Duke's staff, managed to spend time with his regiment and gave them excellent training which brought them great respect in Ghent and Tournai where they were in barracks.

Vaux, April 1794

The Queen's Bays were brigaded with the Scots Greys and the Inniskillings under General Laurie. They were reviewed near Cateau by the Emperor of Austria on 16 April and soon after were part of the Duke of York's column that attacked the French advanced post at Vaux. The Star redoubt guarded by the French Republican Horse was assaulted by their brigade and captured with no casualties apart from Captain Hay's horse which was again shot from under him. Two British soldiers were hanged on the spot for looting but probably not men from the Bays.

Willems, 10 May 1794

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
French Victory at Fleurus
The Bays and their brigade were not involved in the battle of Beaumont on 26 April, but they were sent to operate towards St Armand and saw the surrender of Landrecies on 30 April. They then headed towards Tournai and built a defensive site between Hertain and Lamain. The French, under Pichegru successfully attacked the British position in very heavy rain, but a gap in their line was exposed and exploited by 16 squadrons, including the Bays. The French formed squares and beat them off. However, the French were now in retreat and headed northwest to Willems. Here the cavalry caught up with them and routed their cavalry. The infantry squares proved more difficult until an officer of the Greys galloped headlong into one square creating a gap for his men. The other French infantry became demoralised when they saw this, and were more easily defeated. The cavalry were able to hack their way through the panicking enemy causing more than a thousand casualties. Many surrendered and over 400 prisoners were taken. The Bays lost two men killed and two missing. Three horses were killed, two wounded and to missing. The battle honour WILLEMS was granted, but not until January 1910.

Retreat to Bremen 1795

A further failed attack on the British camp was made on 22 May but the Bays were in reserve. By June 1794 the allies were in retreat. Belgium was abandoned, and then Holland, so that the British headed back to Germany. They crossed the Meuse at Grave and the Rhine was crossed on 13 Nov 1794. The retreat was a terrible ordeal for the army, although the cavalry suffered less than the infantry. The regiment went into winter quarters near the river Ems, from Rhein to Emden. There are no figures for the loss of life due to sickness and starvation for the Queen's Bays, but the KDG lost 59 men who died of sickness and 3 died of wounds. The horses also suffered, 247 died of sickness in the KDG alone. The regiments were shipped back to England from Bremen in March 1795. The Bays then made their way to Ipswich.

Walcheren 1809

The British sent a disastrous expedition, under the command of the Earl of Chatham, to destroy the French-held port of Antwerp in 1809. The Queen's Bays provided 6 Troops which embarked at Ramsgate on 23 July 1809 as part of a force of 40,000 sailing on an armada of ships to the mouth of the Scheldt. They landed on the island of Walcheren to capture the fort of Flushing. The siege lasted until 16 Aug, giving time for the French to send strong reinforcements. There was little that the cavalry could do and the army was suffering from sickness. The terrible sanitation and bad water caused malaria which killed ten per cent of the force and weakened the survivors. By 6 Sep the regiment was back in Ramsgate.

France 1815-17
The Queen's Bays missed out on the Battle of Waterloo which took place on 18 June 1815, being stationed in Scotland. But they were brought up to strength in anticipation of a lengthy resumption of the Napoleonic Wars. Six Troops were sent to reinforce the army that had been depleted in the conflict. Three divisions were sent over, landing at Ostend in early August. In Paris they were quartered with the King's Dragoon Guards who had fought in the battle. Both regiments remained in France when most of the army returned home in the autumn. They were at St Omer in the following year and in Oct 1816 were reviewed in front of the Duke of Wellington. A mock battle was performed for the Duke on 22 Oct. During 1817 the regiment was in the area of Calais, then Cambrai. During their time in France they were brigaded with the 3rd Dragoons, their overall commander being Major-General Lord Edward Somerset, son of the Duke of Beaufort and elder brother of the future Lord Raglan. He had commanded the Household Cavalry Brigade at Waterloo. The Bays were finally sent home in November 1818.
Chartist Disturbances 1842
The Regiment spent much of 1842 keeping the peace against the Chartists in Cheshire and Staffordshire. In the Potteries the rioting was particularly severe, and the Queen's Bays were constantly called upon, together with the Staffordshire and Cheshire Yeomanry, to charge with drawn swords. The disturbances continued from July until the middle of September and entailed much patrolling, especially at night, and the provision of mounted escorts for prisoners during the day. In June 1843 they were sent to Ireland for 5 years. This was to be the fourth of five long tours in Ireland between 1818 and 1857.
The Indian Mutiny 1857-59

Passage to India 1857

The Bays were in Dublin when the Mutiny broke out in India. They were ordered to Liverpool, then on to Canterbury where one Troop was left behind. They embarked 9 Troops under the command of Lt-Col Hylton Brisco, with a strength of 28 officers 47 sergeants and 635 other ranks. They sailed on 25 July on two transports, the Blenheim and the Monarch. The voyage was a long and arduous one for the officers and men on the overcrowded transports. The only land they sighted before reaching India, was Madeira, where they lay becalmed for 28 days. This increased their journey to 141 days. During that time they were daily rationed to 1 lb of very hard biscuit, 12 oz of salt meat, a small quantity of tea and sugar, and 5 pints of water. Washing had to be done in sea water. After 3 months at sea they were told that they were only half way there and rations had to be halved. One of the Bays described the lack of appetising food: 'On Sundays, boulle soup was given for a change, but it wasn't generally approved of, as one mess found a dead mouse in theirs, and another mess found a man's finger with a rag wrapped round it.' They reached Calcutta to find that the KDG had arrived a fortnight before, having set off a month later than them. All of them suffered sickness for 4 or 5 days after disembarkation.

Nusrutpore, 23 Jan 1858

The regiment had a difficult overland journey to Allahabad with new horses that had been purchased locally. The men suffered from cholera, and the sick men had to be carried. On 23 Jan two squadrons of the Bays, and a Troop of Horse Artillery were sent out and met up with the 97th regiment and some companies of Gurkhas. They encountered a body of mutineers at Nusrutpore in jungle country. One squadron under Captain Powell made a brilliant charge, and the fighting caused the enemy to lose 1,800 men and some of their guns. Five men of the Bays were wounded, along with 7 horses killed or wounded. These casualties were light considering the heavy fire they came under from the rebels.

Relief of Lucknow

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Charge at Lucknow
After the recapture of Delhi the focus of the conflict was on Lucknow, 150 miles northeast of Allahabad. Sir Colin Campbell had already rescued the beleaguered garrison there but had not prevented the rebels from capturing the city and holding it with 130,000 men. Campbell now had a force of 20,000 to march on Lucknow. The rebels made several sorties out of the town to engage with them. On 6 March two squadrons of the Bays made a charge under the command of Major Percy Smith. This got out of control over broken ground and three men were killed, including Major Smith. They were unable to retrieve his body. One corporal was unhorsed and unable to remount, so was cut to pieces. Six other men were wounded and many of the horses suffered terrible wounds from the mutineers' swords and bayonets. Lucknow was recaptured by 16 Mar 1858, but 20,000 rebels escaped. The cavalry units were already scattered around the countryside chasing small parties of rebels so were not in position to block the mass exodus on 16 Mar.

Nawabganj, 13 June 1858

In a battle at Nawabganj, east of Lucknow, 2 squadrons under Major Seymour were part of the cavalry element of Hope Grant's 3,500-strong column that attacked a force of 15,000 mutineers entrenched at a river crossing. They made a 12 mile night march to surprise the rebels. There was a three hour battle during which the British were surrounded but they turned the tables and drove the enemy off, having killed 600 and captured 9 guns. The British lost 67 killed or wounded in action, but 33 died of sunstroke and 250 ended up in hospital. All members of the regiment had suffered from fever or sunstroke, both proving fatal in many cases. The CO, William Campbell died on 6 July 1858, after being promoted to brigadier. The second lieutenant-colonel, Hylton Brisco had suffered with fever and retired in September. Because of the fatalities and sickness, officers were gaining promotion without purchase. Captain William Henry Seymour, whose letters home provide valuable information on the Bays in India, attained his majority and lieutenant-colonelcy so that within 8 months he had gone from captain to CO of the regiment.

Jamo, 8 Oct 1858

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Chasing Rebels
The regiment were transferred to another column led by Brigadier Sir George Barker in Oct 1858. On 8 Oct they were in action against 30 or 40 mutineers from the 42nd Bengal Native Infantry, concealed in a jungle of sugar cane at Jamo near Sundeela in Oudh. They opened fire on the Bays from a distance of a few yards. Lt-Col Seymour fought desperately with pistol and sword, but was cut down. Trumpeter Thomas Monaghan and Private Charles Anderson rushed to his rescue and fought them off so that Col Seymour was able to get up and carry on fighting. Monaghan and Anderson were awarded the VC for this action. While this was happening, boy Trumpeter John Smith engaged a sepoy in single combat and killed him.

Jowah Pass, April 1859

Colonel Seymour was in action again in the spring of 1859. There were two actions near Bungdon in Oudh, which were among the last battles fought by the Bays after their 20 consecutive months in the field. In another action mutineers had taken refuge in the mountains of Nepal and the Nepalise King asked the British to hunt them down. Two squadrons of the Bays under Major Hutchinson chased the rebels to the Jowah Pass where they charged and defeated them. They had one casualty, Cornet Torrens who was wounded. Following this they went into cantonments near Lucknow. The Queen's Bays remained in India until 1869, eleven years in all.

Regimental Strength 1860-72
From 1862 the regiment was stationed at Benares, from Jan 1865 they were in Muttra, and from November 1868 they were at Mhow. One of their peacetime duties in 1865 was to escort the new governor of India, now called Viceroy, Sir John Lawrence. They attended him at the first durbar at Agra. Their strength was reduced so that they numbered 21 sergeants and 378 rank and file. But during this period the following appointments were added to the strength:

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
NCOs in India 1865
Paymaster Sergeant
Armourer Sergeant
Bandmaster Sergeant
Saddler Sergeant
Farrier Major
Hospital Sergeant
Sergeant-instructor of Fencing
Sergeant Cook
Trumpet Major
Orderly Room Clerk

When the order came to send the Queen's Bays home to England in 1869 nearly one hundred men elected to stay in India. They were split up and posted to seven different British cavalry regiments that were there already. The remainder gave up their horses and embarked on the 'Malabar' on 31 Dec 1869. They landed at Suez, travelled by train from Cairo to Alexandra and arrived at Portsmouth on 31 Jan 1870.

From 1870 the regiment were stationed in Colchester where their new depot was established. Their strength was now 483 all ranks; additional to the above list were:

1 Colonel
1 Lieutenant-Colonel
1 Major
7 Captains
7 Lieutenants
3 Cornets
1 Paymaster
1 Adjutant
1 Riding Master
1 Quartermaster
1 Veterinary Officer
1 Regimental Sergeant Major
1 Bandmaster
1 Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant
7 Troop Sergeant Majors
7 Trumpeters
21 Sergeants
21 Corporals
9 Showing Smiths
2 Saddlers
1 Saddle-tree Maker
374 Troopers

They has 300 horses which had to be taken from other cavalry regiments on their return from India. The Queen's Regulations stated that horses were not to be allotted to Troops according to colour, but the Queen's Bays always ignored this. They managed to find only bay horses from the other cavalry regiments, except for the trumpeters who had greys, and drum-horse which varied. This side-stepping of the regulations also applied to the household cavalry who had black horses, but the distinction of the 2nd Dragoon Guards was that they were officially recognised and re-titled The Queen's Bays in 1872.

Ireland 1875-80
From 1871 the Queen's Bays were stationed in Aldershot, in the East Cavalry Barracks, and in 1875 were shipped over to Ireland. During 1879 and 1880 there were widespread civil disturbances throughout Ireland over the issue of land, made worse by the failure of crops in Western Ireland. In 1880 the Bays were employed in aid of the police and civil magistrates. There were 7,000 troops and police under arms in County Mayo alone. At the end of 1880 the regiment was moved back to Lancashire where they were stationed in Manchester and Liverpool until 1884.
The Heavy Camel Corps 1884-5
The plan to rescue General Gordon from the Mahdi's dervishes in Khartoum involved a boat trip up the Nile and the deployment of camel mounted troops to cross the Bayuda desert. There were 3 regiments, the Heavy Camel Regiment, the Guards Camel Regiment, and the Mounted Infantry Camel Regiment. The Heavy Camel Regiment was made up of the following:

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Camel Corps
No.1 Coy. The Blues and the Queen's Bays
No.2 Coy. 1st and 2nd Life Guards
No.3 Coy. 4th and 5th Dragoon Guards
No.4 Coy. Royal Dragoons and Scots Greys
No.5 Coy. 5th and 16th Lancers

When the first troops went to Egypt in 1882 there had been calls for drafts posted to regiments that fought at Te-el-Kebir and Kasassin. Twenty-eight men had been sent to the 4th DG so some of them may have been part of the Heavy Camel Regiment as well as the 43 men and two officers who were in no.1 Company. The two officers were Captain Gould and Lieutenant Hibbert. The Camel Corps sailed from Portsmouth on 26 Sep 1884. The Duke of Cambridge wrote, 'It is most distasteful to Regiments and officers and men, especially the commanding officers are disgusted at seeing their best men taken from them, and themselves being disbarred from sharing in the honours and glories..'

Abu Klea, 17 Jan 1885

The men were unfamiliar with camel riding so the journey over the desert was hard enough. But the added complication was the formation that had to be maintained. They were ordered to travel as a square with the artillery in the middle of the front face and the Heavies forming the rear face. The men were also armed with unfamiliar Martini Henry rifles which tended to jam, and bayonets and swords which very often bent and broke in action. The rear face often lagged behind because they were held up by the baggage and wounded who were carried in the middle of the square. On 17th Jan, news of the enemy near Abu Klea caused the Camel Corps commander, Sir Herbert Stewart, to leave most of the camels and the wounded in a defensive zariba, under guard, and for the men to be dismounted and proceed in the square formation towards the wells. As they neared the wells of Abu Klea they were attacked by a large force of dervishes. The skirmishers had to race back to the square and the Royal Dragoons and Greys were led out by Colonel Burnaby of the Blues to give them covering fire.

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
The Square at Abu Klea
This made a gap in the lower left corner which was exploited by thousands of dervishes who rushed towards the breach. The Naval Brigade manhandled a five-barrelled Garner gun outside the corner to deter the oncoming force but the gun jammed and most of the sailors were killed. Burnaby's Dragoons were unable to get back to their places in time and the Arabs rushed into the square. The Queen's Bays were amongst those most involved in the melee. Desperate hand-to-hand fighting took place in a mass of men so packed together that some were lifted off their feet. There were many baggage camels in the middle of the square which prevented the scrimmage from spilling too far. The rear ranks of the other sides of the square turned about and poured a heavy fire into the enemy, thus causing them to falter and retreat. There was another charge made by Arab cavalry but the Bays and the Household Cavalry fired at them and drove them off. The whole action lasted 10 minutes. Over all the British losses were 9 officers and 66 men killed, 9 officers and 72 men wounded. The dervishes left 1,100 dead behind them. Colonel Burnaby of the Blues had been speared in the throat and his wounded and dying body cared for by a crying young Bays private.

Abu Kru, 19 Jan 1885

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Mahdist Warriors 1885
There was much to do in the way of dealing with the dead and wounded before they marched on to the wells. They stayed the night there and moved on in the morning. On 19 Jan they came in sight of Metemmeh and the Nile but the enemy lined a ridge by the village of Abu Kru. Lt Hibbert described the action that day: 'Our Squadron Leader was wounded at the commencement and my Captain was in the laager disabled by gout, so I was the senior officer in the squadron. At last the enemy charged the left and front faces of the square, but not one of them got within 150 yards. We then marched down to the river and drank it nearly dry out of our helmets. Under arms all night in the bitter cold and nothing to eat. Next morning half the force went to bring up the camels, and the rest of us fortified the village.'

The Boer War 1899-1902

Colonel Lawley's Column

The Queen's Bays arrived late for the Boer War and so their service in South Africa was short, but it was bloody, resulting in the death of almost 100 of them. They arrived at Capetown on 6 December 1901 with an effective strength of 24 officers and 513 men under the command of Colonel Dewar who very soon had to be invalided home. The regiment was then commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hew Dalrymple Fanshawe. The men were issued with rifles and bayonets instead of the carbines they had been used to, and handed in their swords, so it wasn't until January 1902 that they began their campaigning. They were tasked with chasing General Christiaan de Wet, and joined a column together with the 7th Hussars, under the command of Colonel the Hon Richard Lawley (later Lord Wenlock) of the 7th Hussars. They were involved in several skirmishes which resulted in the capture of hundreds of prisoners, thousands of cattle and quantities of stores. On 28 Feb 1902 Private Roberts distinguished himself when he rescued Lieutenant G H A Ing who had been wounded and thrown from his horse.

Battle of Leeuwkop, 1 April 1902

At the end of March 1902 the column was operating against Piet Viljoen's commando which, it was thought, had joined up with the Heidelburg commando under General H A Albrechts. Major Vaughan of the 7th Hussars, the intelligence officer, had gained the information needed to make an attack. On the night of 31 Mar/1 April the Bays, numbering 284 men marched to Enkeldebosch, while the 7th Hussars went to attack Steenkoolspruit. Col Fanshawe ordered a surprise attack, led by Major Vaughan, on the Boers in a laager at Holspruit which was successful, but another laager proved to be more heavily defended. The Bays retreated up a slope some 400 yards away but this was an unsatisfactory position. C Squadron was sent off to establish a better defence on a kopje a mile away with the others joining them as the opportunity arose. However the new position was little better, and to add to the difficulties of working in the dark it was also raining. Their thin line of defence came under attack from mounted Boers firing from the saddle.

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Crossing a Drift
At dawn the position was almost surrounded and Fanshawe ordered them to withdraw to a new position at Leeuwkop (Lion's Head), three miles away. B Squadron moved to a ridge where they could cover the withdrawal. A Squadron moved first while C Squadron under Lieut Allfrey acted as rearguard. The Boers were outflanking them and a small party of 5 men were firing from a range of 50 yards after their squadron had left. The Boers called on them to surrender but they carried on until only Corporal F Webb was left. He became badly wounded and the position was overrun. He was captured but later freed and awarded the DCM. Two officers and 23 casualties had to be left behind. Another small party under Captain Maskelyne Smith VC became isolated and held out for another 20 minutes. They refused to surrender and Smith was the only one who managed to get away.

Leeuwkop was found to be occupied by Boers, so positions were taken up on hills near Boshof's Farm to the west. They formed a long front to prevent the large enemy force from outflanking them. B Squadron under Major John Walker and A Squadron under Captain Robert Herron made a dash for Boschmanskop but both these officers were killed. Fanshawe was with A Squadron further to the left. Relief came in the form of a charge made by the 7th Hussars who still had their swords, and guns at Boschmanskop opened up a barrage on the enemy. It was 7am when the Boers retreated towards Leeuwkop taking captured men from the Bays with them. These would only have been a hindrance to their captors and were returned the next day having been stripped of their weapons and clothes.

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Searching a Farm
The regiment's losses were two officers and 13 men killed, 3 officers and 59 wounded. Eight of the wounded died later. They lost 120 horses in the action. The Boers were a combination of 10 Commandos numbering up to 1,200 men. They suffered between 35 and 75 killed, and 40 wounded. Commandant Prinsloo was among the dead.

The Drive across the Veldt 1902

Between 18 and 20 April The Queen's Bays took part in their last operation of the War, a drive across the veldt, which proved to be abortive except for some Boers captured at Palmiefontein on 6 May. By now peace negotiations were in hand. Between 8 April and 10 May the regiment had marched 900 miles, arriving on 20 May at Heidelburg. Peace was signed on 31 May 1902. The Bays were ordered to Middleburg in June and were present at the surrender of Louis Botha's Commando at Kraal Station on 5 June. They then went to Pretoria in August. The casualties for the war were: Two officers and 78 other ranks killed, 14 died of disease. Four officers and 51 other ranks were wounded. They had arrived in South Africa with 775 horse and lost nearly all of them, 748 throughout the campaign. The Bays remained in South Africa until January 1908 when they arrived back un the UK and were stationed at Hounslow. The Commander-in-Chief praised their service; 'The conduct of the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays) has been irreproachable in action, on trek and in camp.'

World War One 1914-18
2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Troopers in 1914

Mobilisation, 3 Aug 1914

When mobilisation was ordered in August 1914 the Queen's Bays were at the forefront of the British Army. Aldershot Command sent out the order on 3 August two days ahead of the rest of the country. A week earlier, all leave had been stopped and reservists called in. Many of them were old NCOs who had fought in the Boer War. Mobilisation was completed by 19 Aug and on the 11th the regiment was inspected by King George V and Queen Mary. Captain Hall went off to France to organise billeting, and the regiment, under the command of Lt-Col Wilberforce marched to Farnborough station to entrain for Southampton on 14th. They sailed on the 16th and arrived at Le Havre that evening in pouring rain and entrained on box wagons to Maubeuge via Rouen where they stopped for feeding and watering.

Retreat From Mons Begins, 23 Aug 1914

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Officers in 1914
On 21st Aug they were sent forward as advance guard to the 1st Brigade crossing the Aisne and Mons-Charleroi canal. On 23rd they were at Audregnies when they heard that the French were retreating in the face of an unexpectedly large German advance. This was the start of the BEF's retreat from Mons. The Bays were ordered to hold a stretch of railway from Mons to Valenciennes but that lasted only a few hours before they were on the move again without contact with the enemy. They came to a field near St Waast for the night and then bivouacked at Le Cateau in time to witness the battle ongoing there. They experienced shellfire for the first time at Le Cateau and retired once more on a dark wet night, regrouping on the 27th Aug. On 28th they suffered casualties; three troopers and 6 horses, from German shellfire near Guiscard. They carried on, across the Aisne and the Oise and halted at Venitte but Brigadier Briggs ordered the Brigade to concentrate on the village of Nery on the evening of 31st Aug.

Battle of Nery, 1 Sep 1914

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Nery 1914
The Queen's Bays and L Battery RHA were the last to arrive at Nery. The 11th Hussars and 5th Dragoon Guards were already there. The men of C Squadron spent the night in the open while A and B were billeted in houses in Nery main street. All the horses were in lines out in the open. During the night the 4th German Cavalry Division approached Nery and made contact with a patrol of the 11th Hussars in the early hours of 1st Sep. In a thick mist the enemy artillery opened fire on the Bays horse lines killing many and causing the rest to stampede. The men of the Bays improvised a firing line while L Battery brought its guns into action under Captain Bradbury. The machine-gun section of the Bays, commanded by Lieutenant Algernon Lamb, provided valuable covering fire to enable the gunners to position their three 13-pounders to fire on the German batteries. Meanwhile the 5th DG moved out of the north end of the village but came face to face with German cavalry, causing the 5th to fall back. The 1st Cavalry Brigade were heavily outnumbered but because of the mist the Germans were unaware of the size of the British force.

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Casualties at Nery
Lamb's machine-guns maintained a steady fire on the artillery 800 yards away while the horse gunners of L Battery fought a heroic and famous action that wiped them out and brought them 3 awards of the VC to the men who manned the last remaining gun. A small party of Bays under Lieutenants Champion de Crespigny and V H Misa with 15 men were at a sugar factory and made an attack on the enemy who had taken over buildings nearby. They drove the Germans out but at the cost of Lieut De Crespigny and several others. The situation was saved by the arrival of the 4th Cavalry Brigade and their artillery who were able to silence the German guns. Lamb's machine-guns, although dangerously over-heated prevented the enemy teams from retrieving their guns and 8 of them were captured by the Bays under the command of Major George Ing. These were the first guns to be captured by the British in World War One. By 9.45am the Germans had withdrawn and the battle was over.

The Bays resumed their progress towards Paris later that morning. They had 17 officers and 423 rank and file. The bombardment at Nery had reduced them to 304 riding horses out of 527 and 48 draught horses out of 74. Lieutenant Lamb was awarded the DSO for his command of the machine-guns section, and DCMs were awarded to Troopers Ellicock and Goodchild.

Braisne, 12 Sep 1914

On 12 Sep the Bays were ordered to clear the village of Braisne on the Vesle, a tributary of the Aisne, and then seize the heights which overlook the Aisne. C Squadron under Captain Pickering advanced on the village and found the bridge barricaded. The Germans opened fire causing casualties, and Lieut Milne's horse was killed. The remainder of the regiment dismounted and went into action, supported by Z Battery RHA who prevented German reinforcements entering the village. The Bays advanced through Braisne engaging in house-to-house fighting, but a German sniper killed Captain George Springfield and wounded Captain Pickering. By 3pm the battle was over and they had captured 200 prisoners. One of the bridges was still intact and they handed Braisne over to an infantry brigade before securing the heights at Dhuizel.

Sep-Oct 1914

The regiment crossed the Aisne on the 13th, and on the 16th the British army began to engage in trench warfare. The Bays spent a few days in a wood at Chavonne experiencing heavy shell fire, but on 20 Sep they moved into trenches vacated by the 11th Hussars. Their location was changed on 3 Oct and they marched to Bethune which they reached on 11 Oct. They were reinforced with new horses and replacements for the officers and men who had been killed and wounded.

Messines, 31 Oct 1914

They spent some days in the area of Ploegsteert which they had reached by means of a horrendous night march on 15 Oct. On 21 Oct Colonel Wilberforce was invalided with muscular rheumatism and the regiment were under the command of Major J A Browning. But it was his misfortune to be killed 10 days later when they were ordered to hold some trenches just north of Messines. C Squadron was in front and A and B Squadrons were behind, on the Ypres-Messines road, during the evening of 30 Oct when they came under attack. This was fought off but at 5.45am the next morning the left flank of C Squadron was heavily engaged and had to withdraw by stages, sustaining 30 wounded in the process. Lieut Paul and 3 Troop sergeants were killed and Lieut Milne was wounded. The regiment were ordered to retire 100 yards to the rear of the road where there was a hedge. Major Browning stood out in the open organising the men into a firing line when he was hit and killed. Command devolved on Major Matthew Lannowe who led them back to the road under shellfire. They held the line all day.

Zillebeke, Feb 1915

After spending the winter in billets at Fletres the Bays were bussed to Ypres where they took over trenches from the 16th Lancers. They suffered shelling and sniping most of the time and conducted bombing raids on the enemy. On 28 Feb they were relieved by the 18th Hussars but B Squadron remained behind to carry out a combined operation with French troops. They were to detonate simultaneous mines under a crater occupied by Germans but the French failed to set theirs off and Captain Sloane was left unsupported by the French. When the squadron stormed the crater they found a steep 8 foot bank, the other side of which was occupied. Sloane assumed the French were there and hoisted his interpreter over the bank. Luckily the Germans on the other side were stunned by the explosion and unable to react quickly. The interpreter scrambled back and they realised that the French had not detonated their mine. Eight men were wounded in this failed venture.

Potijze, 13 May 1915

The regiment was provided with a new CO as from 1 May when Lieutenant-Colonel Lawson arrived from the Scots Greys. On 9 May they were sent into the front line again, south of Potijze, taking over from the 19th Hussars. The trenches were in a bad condition and they spent the night trying to improve them. The digging alerted enemy snipers who killed RSM Turner. B Squadron suffered badly from a heavy bombardment on 13 May. This killed many men including 2nd Lieutenant Herron. The bombardment was followed by an infantry attack. On the right of the Bays a gap had formed after a British unit had retreated. Major Ing dashed out to rally as many of the fleeing men as he could to defend the gap. Captain Kingstone was sent for reinforcements and returned with the 10th Hussars so that the line could be held. The following day the Bays were relieved by the Oxfordshire Yeomanry. The regimental strength was only 175 so the casualty figures were high for this battle: 2 officers killed and one wounded, 28 other ranks killed and 32 wounded. Major Ing was awarded the DSO and Corporal Clarke given the DCM.


In May 1915 the Bays were active in the line south of Belwarde Lake, taking some casualties. But the summer was spent at Hardifort near Cassel waiting for the call to provide cavalry for a breakthrough. In September they were concentrated near Mametz for the battle of Loos but the 'gap' never materialised so they were billeted for the winter at Neuville. Although 1915 was a quiet year they still ended up with 95 casualties: one officer killed, one wounded, 31 other ranks killed, 4 died of wounds, 57 wounded, and 2 missing.

Patrols on The Somme, Sep 1916

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
The Bays on The Somme
In preparation for the Somme offensive the Bays endured a 4 day march in June 1916 to arrive at Querrieu where there was a Divisional concentration. But they were not needed on the big day, 1 July, and stayed in the area until 9 Aug when they were withdrawn north west of Amiens. A month later they advanced to the Carnoy Valley and met with tanks for the first time. On 15 Sep A Squadron under Major Pinching advanced into the valley and two dismounted patrols were organised. One of these patrols under 2nd Lieut Yeatherd came under heavy fire so that every man was wounded. Yeatherd himself went missing and his body found a week later. Major Pinching was also injured. The Bays remained in this area until withdrawn into billets near Daours on the 17th, and a few days later to Blangy sur Turnoise. Two more moves in October were made at a miserable time when the weather was very wet. They spent the winter at Montcavrel, until April 1917. The casualty figures for 1916 were: 2 officers killed, 2 wounded, 17 other ranks killed, 35 wounded and 3 missing.

Pioneer Battalion 1917

In Jan 1917 Major Pinching was given the command of a Pioneer Battalion formed from the 1st Cavalry Brigade. The Bays contributed a company of 225 other ranks and 6 officers which was commanded by Captain Kingstone. They worked on the improvement of the railway line from St Pol to Arras. It was while working there that they captured a German observer who had jumped out of an aeroplane that landed to read a signpost. In February Major Pinching returned to the regiment to take over command until 7 April while Lt-Col Lawson was sick.

Fampoux, 11 April 1917

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Fampoux 11 April 1917
In the battle of Arras the Bays were moved to Fampoux on 10 April 1917, in wintery weather, to be ready to exploit the success of an Infantry attack. They spent a terrible night in a snowy field with no cover or protection. On 11 April they were ordered to seize Greenland Hill beyond the village and then extend north-eastwards. They moved through Fampoux but the leading Troop was subjected to shell fire which wounded Lieut Grant and several men. A wall had been knocked down trapping the men and they had to be dug out. The leading squadron was commanded by Capt Kingstone, now returned from the Pioneers, and he ordered his men to take cover while a patrol of 6 men under 2nd Lieut Quested probed forward to find out if indeed the infantry had been successful. Quested's patrol was gunned down and the survivors returned on foot under cover of a snow storm. This abortive action cost the Bays the lives of 4 men and 14 horses. Four officers and 18 men were wounded.

Cambrai, Nov 1917

The cavalry were brought forward on 11 Nov 1917 to take part in the battle of Cambrai. They were at Bois des Neuf as the tanks attacked. They took 100 prisoners at Cantaigne but the fighting was fierce, lasting until 22 Nov. They had 3 officers and 20 men wounded, one killed. Lieut Barnard won the Military Cross and 5 men won the Military Medal. They were billeted at Metz after that but were required to supply men for a company in a Cavalry Brigade infantry battalion. Their service in cold wet weather brought about 13 more wounded men. Their worst day that winter, however, was on 23rd Dec, at Buire where they were bombed by German aircraft. Eleven horses were killed and 22 men wounded. 1917 ended with these casualty figures: Four men killed and 58 wounded, one missing. Eight officers wounded and Major Pinching had died in April after an operation in London.

Eleven Trees, March 1918

In January 1918 the Bays were in the trenches in front of Vadencourt until 26th but did not suffer casualties. The infantry company returned there in Feb while the others stayed back in Buire. In March the regiment was at Vendelles to prepare for a raid on an enemy post called Eleven Trees, to catch prisoners. There were 3 raiding parties, each made up of men from the 5th DG, 11th Hussars and the Bays. Eighty men were picked from each regiment. The first party under Lieut Miles of the 5DG attacked the German post. This was successful and there were no casualties apart from 8 Germans killed. Another party used Bangalore torpedoes to try to break through the enemy wire but without success. They could not proceed and threw bombs, but they spent more than ten minutes exposed to machine-gun fire before withdrawing. Four Bays troopers were killed and 17 wounded.

The German Offensive, 21-22 March 1918

The great German offensive began on 21 Mar 1918 in thick fog. It is hard to believe that the cavalry were still using horses at this stage of the war but The Bays were maintained in a state of mounted readiness at Bernes on the afternoon of the 21st. A dismounted party was, however, sent to assist the 24th Division east of Vendelles. This resulted in the deaths of Lieutenant Waddell and 4 other ranks, two officers and 30 men were wounded. The main part of the regiment covered the crossings over the Somme between Brie and St Christ. They were withdrawn over the next two days and on the night of the 24th the horse lines were bombed by enemy planes killing one man and wounding six. The CO, Lieut-Col Lawson had been promoted to command the 1st Dismounted Brigade but then temporarily commanded the 1st Dismounted Division. This reorganisation of formerly mounted troops gives an idea of how the cavalry had adapted to the changing nature of warfare. The Division was under great pressure; the Bays alone had 6 men killed, one officer and 24 wounded on the 25th March.

Hamel, 30 Mar 1918

The Bays were shelled while filling a gap in at the line at Mericourt on the Ancre on 27 Mar but were then moved to Bouzencourt on the Somme. There they combined with Carey's Force, a cobbled together brigade formed to protect Amiens against the German advance. The position was held against artillery and snipers all day on the 29th but on the 30th the bombardments intensified in the area of Hamel where their brigade was based. German infantry attacked in wave after wave. Captain Fred Single, commanding B Squadron saw that men of Carey's Force were wavering so he jumped onto the parapet to order them to stand fast and to inspire them with courage. He was struck down, and after further exhorting the men to hold the enemy attack he was taken away. He was brought to a casualty station but died in the night. The following days were relatively quiet and there was a chance to carry out one successful raid and another that failed. They were withdrawn on the night of 3 April and marched 8 miles to a bivouac at Bussy les Daours. They had been under attack for 14 days, losing 2 officers and 20 other ranks killed, 6 officers and 111 other ranks wounded. This, together with 3 missing men, represented 25 per cent of their strength.

The Battle of Amiens, August 1918

In the days leading up to the planned big Allied Offensive on 8 Aug 1918, the regiment took its place in some woods to the west of Villers Brettonneux. They had to follow up an advance made by Canadian and Australian infantry. Mounted patrols from both A and B Squadrons advanced along the Amiens-St Quentin road. Near Harbonnieres, A Squadron made a charge against a German position, killing 20 and capturing 22 prisoners, and 2 machine-guns. Soon after they came upon another smaller enemy group with similar success. Lieutenant Solaini who commanded a Troop of A Squadron was wounded but won the Military Cross with his actions on 8th Aug. C Squadron was in support and they succeeded in capturing German supplies. The two squadrons dismounted for a combined defence of Harbonnieres with the Canadians and Australians.

B Squadron's patrol, under Lieut Cockrill met a confused situation in Bayonvillers where they were fired on by a British armoured car. Cockrill won the MC after etricating his men. When the squadron came under fire from an enemy machine-gun, another officer, Lieut Carabine won the MC when he dashed out to rescue a wounded man under fire. Lieut Cockrill's patrol seized a supply train but were again the target of British armoured cars in Framerville. The following day, 9 Aug, the Bays were subjected to aerial bombing and again the next day when nine men and some horses were wounded. There was another offensive on 21 Aug in which the Bays were in reserve. As well as the awards of the MC to the three mentioned officers, and to Captain Magnay, the DCM was given to Sergeants Spain and Ford, and Corporal Bordman. Sergeant Elliott and 15 others won the Military Medal.

11 November 1918

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
On the day of the Armistice there were two encounters with German cavalry. The regiment was advancing through allied infantry northwest of Herchies. Shortly after 10am a patrol from C Squadron came in contact with an Uhlan patrol two miles east of Montigny le Lens. At the same time a patrol from B Squadron encountered more Uhlans at Masnuy St Pierre. Twelve prisoners were taken in this skirmish and fortunately the Bays suffered no casualties. The Great War ended at 11am on that day and the firing ceased.

The Levant 1919-20

The Bays remained at Elsdorf on the Rhine until March 1919 when they returned to Southampton. Only 60 men returned but after a few months in York they recruited to bring them up to 500 men and 19 officers. To their great surprise they were ordered to embark for overseas service on 24 June 1919, bound for Palestine. They picked up horses at El Kantara in Egypt and sailed to Beirut, from where they went to their camp at Aleppo which they reached on 3 Aug. Three months later they were ordered to make their way to Palestine and set off on a 500 mile march to Sarona near Jaffa. The end of this month-long trek wasn't as rewarding as expected. They arrived on 13 Dec to find a marquee set up on a slope, and it was pouring with rain. Whilst there they were reunited with their wives and children who were brought out to stay in Sarona. This was a dubious privilege as there were howling jackals, and in the summer of 1920 the families suffered 'sleepless nights', presumably because of heat and insects. On 7 Nov 1920 they entrained for Suez and from there sailed to India.

Malabar 1921

In April 1921 the Bays were at Bangalore with a strength of 29 officers an 562 other ranks. Whilst stationed there they were involved in the suppression of the Moplah revolt on the Malabar coast. The Moplahs were of Arab descent and had a reputation for causing trouble. They had been formed into two regiments of the British Indian Army, the 77th and 78th Moplah Rifles but only lasted from 1902 to 1907 when they were disbanded. The troubles between the Muslim Moplahs and their Hindu neighbours turned into riots and guerrilla warfare. A British police officer was killed at Calicut and the town was in danger until the Leinster Regiment stepped in. A movable column was formed with the 2nd Dorsets and the Queen's Bays, the latter being commanded by Major Stone. They travelled by train from Bangalore to Shoranur where they split up and patrolled the railway line. The cavalry were called upon when things were getting difficult but as soon as they turned up at a trouble spot the Moplahs disappeared. The region was mostly jungle which was unsuitable for mounted troops. In September 1921 the Bays returned to Bangalore but three NCOs remained to help with pack mules and convoys. One of them was Corporal Archdale who was mentioned in despatches for rallying native drivers who panicked when fired on by rebels.

Mechanisation 1936-37

2nd Queen's Bays Dragoon Guards
Mounted Manoeuvres 1935
The regiment returned to England in early 1927 and were stationed at Colchester for a year followed by short spells in Tidworth, Shorncliffe and then Aldershot. In the autumn of 1935 they went on brigade training followed by army manoeuvres for the last time as a horsed regiment. The Inspector-General of Cavalry had told the regimental colonels that there was no longer any future for horsed cavalry and that they should convert to armoured vehicles. The process of conversion to light tanks began in Oct 1936. By March the next year they were down to 40 chargers and 53 Troop horses. They had at that time 10 light tanks, 20 tractors, 6 motorcycles and 15 trucks (15cwt Morris). The men had to retrain from being horsemen to drivers, mechanics and gunners. In May 1937 they provided an escort at the coronation of King George VI, 110 men and 7 officers, including a horse mounted Troop under 2nd Lt Weld. In October that year the regiment moved back to Tidworth and was part of 2nd Light Armoured Brigade with the 9th Lancers and 10th Hussars.

The Bays
Rusty Buckles
Pro Rege et Patria
For King and Country
Regimental Marches
Rusty Buckles (Quick)
The Queen's Bays (Slow)
Regimental Anniversary
Gazala Day
1685 - 1959
Commanding Officers
1685 - 1959
1685 - 1959
1685 - 1959
Musicians and Drumhorses
1685 - 1959
1685 - 1959
1685 - 1959
Standards and Guidons
1685 - 1959
1685 - 1959
Principal Campaigns and Battles
Seven Years War (1756-63)

French Revolutionary Wars

Indian Mutiny (1857-58)

South African War (1899-1902)

World War One (1914-18)


MARNE 1914
YPRES 1914 1915
SOMME 1916 1918
CAMBRAI 1917 1918


AISNE 1914
ARRAS 1917

World War Two (1939-45)


SOMME 1940


ITALY 1944-5

1685 The Earl of Peterborough's Regiment of Horse
1688 The 3rd Regiment of Horse
1715 The Princess of Wales's Own Regiment of Horse
1727 The Queen's Own Royal Regiment of Horse
1746 2nd or Queen's, Dragoon Guards
1872 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays)
1920 The Queen's Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards)
1959 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (amalgamated with the 1st King's Dragoon Guards)
Suggested Reading
A History of the Queen's Bays, 1685 - 1929
by Whyte, F. and Atteridge, A. (Cape: 1930)

A History of the Queen's Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards) 1929 - 1945
by Beddington W. R. (Warren: 1954)

The Regimental History of 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards
by Mann, Michael (Michael Russell 1993)

Historical Record of 2nd, or Queen's Regiment of Dragoon Guards, 1685 to 1837
(London: Clowes: 1837)

Regimental Museum
Cardiff Castle,
South Glamorgan

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