Unit History: Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards
The 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards was a cavalry regiment of the British Army in existence from 1922 to 1992, when it was amalgmated into the Royal Dragoon Guards.
The Regiment was formed in 1922 at Cairo, Egypt as the 5th/6th Dragoons by the amalgamation of the 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s) and The Inniskillings (6th Dragoons).
In 1923 the Regiment was deployed to Risalpur, India. In 1927 the Regiment discarded the "6th" and inserted Inniskilling into its title, to become the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards. The following year the Regiment returned to the UK for the first time, as the 5th Dragoon Guards. In 1935 it gained the Royal accolade to become the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.
In 1938, as part of the preparation for the Second World War, the Regiment was mechanised and the following year, the Regiment joined the newly-formed Royal Armoured Corps (RAC).
On 3 September 1939, two days after Germany had invaded Poland, the UK, France and their Allies declared war on Germany.
The Regiment acted as the reconnaissance regiment of the British 4th Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) that was deployed to the continent shortly after war broke out. On 10 May 1940 the Germans launched their invasion of the Low Countries, thus ending what was known as the Phony War. The German invasion was swift and successful, the Allied forces in Belgium having to retreat to the Escaut River which the Regiment was part of. Fierce fighting continued, the BEF continuing to withdraw further until the order was given for them to withdraw to Dunkirk in northern France. What followed from 27 May to 6 June), known as Operation Dynamo, was the remarkable evacuation of more than 330,000 British and Allied troops back to the UK; the Regiment was successfully evacuated, with the exception of their equipment.
In December 1940 a cadre from the Regiment and the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards were used to form a new regiment, the 22nd Dragoons; it was disbanded in December 1945.
The 5th Dragoon Guards remained in the UK until 1944 when it landed in Normandy a month after the D-Day landings, where it joined the 22nd Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division (the famed ’Desert Rats’). Heavy fighting was still raging in Normandy and the Regiment took part in actions in Mont Pincon in early August and, subsequently, at St Pierre La Vielle. The Regiment saw further service in Northern France, including helping in the capture of Lisieux on 23 August, and later crossing the Risle, advancing rapidly to the Seine. Paris had been liberated on 25 August.
The Inniskillings began their advance on Belgium on 31 August -- the 7th Armoured Division’s objective was the city of Ghent -- and crossed the Somme, where the Regiment’s predecessor regiments had fought during World War I, and Authie rivers. The Division had made a remarkable advance on the Franco-Belgian border but, however, the division could not maintain its advance, having consumed enormous amounts of fuel, and so a smaller force, which the Innsikilling’s were part of, was, instead, employed in the effort to capture Ghent; the Inniskillings and the 11th Hussars entered the city on 5 September. The 7th Armoured Division remained in Belgium to take part in operations against the remnants of the German forces and, thus, did not take part in Operation Market Garden. The Regiment subsequently took part in heavy fighting around the Maas river that began in late October.
The Regiment saw action during Operation Blackcock to clear the west bank of the Roer of Germans, that commenced on 16 January 1945. The 5th DG subsequently took part in the crossing of the Rhine, which began on 25 March, with the objective of heading eastward, straight for the city of Hamburg. The Regiment was now firmly inside German territory, encountering fierce resistance from the Germans. The Regiment took part in the capture of a number of towns during the rapid advance into Germany. In April the Regiment took part in the efforts to capture Ibbenburen, seeing heavy fighting against the fierce defenders. The Regiment saw further heavy fighting elsewhere before it, with the rest of its brigade, headed south for Bremen, where they helped capture Wildehausen. Later, the Inniskillings took part in the successful attack on Soltau advance before the advance on Harburg, a suburb of Hamburg, resumed. Nearing the end of April, the Germans were negotiating the surrender of Hamburg -- a city devastated by the Allied bombing campaigns -- and 7th Armoured Division entered the city on 3 May.
Germany surrendered to the Allies, after almost 6 years of war, on 7 May and VE Day took place on 8 May. The Regiment moved with the rest of the division to Berlin, taking part in the Victory Parade there in July. The 5th Inniskillings remained in Germany as part of the Occupation forces, known as the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), for a number of years. When Battle and Theatre Honours were awarded to the British Army during the late 1950s, the Regiment gained ten Battle Honours and two Theatre Honours.