Unit History: Dragoon Guards

Dragoon Guards
Dragoon Guards was the designation used to refer to certain heavy cavalry regiments in the British Army from the 18th century onwards. While the Prussian and Russian armies of the same period included dragoon regiments amongst their respective Imperial Guards, different titles were applied to these units.
The British Army first used the designation in 1746, when the King's Own Regiment of Horse, the Queen's Own Royal Regiment of Horse (prior to 1727 the Princess of Wales's Own) and the 4th Horse were redesignated as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dragoon Guards respectively. In 1788 the four remaining regiments of Horse were converted into the 4th-7th Dragoon Guards.
The exercise of converting from "Horse" (heavy cavalry) to "Dragoon" (formerly mounted infantry) was intended to save money - Dragoons were paid less than Horse - and the change was very unpopular amongst the regiments affected. To compensate for the loss of pay and prestige the impressive title of "Dragoon Guards" was adopted. The Dragoon Guards remained as cavalry of the line and did not become Household troops in any sense.
In the British Army the regiments of Horse that were converted to Dragoon guards took precedence over all other cavalry regiments of the Line, which were at the exclusively dragoons. As the senior regiments they could not take numbers sequential with those of the existing dragoon regiments, so needed a new title and numbering system. Hence they were termed Dragoon Guards, the guards appellation giving them higher status, and allowing them to be numbered in their own sequence.

Related Historic Documents

Memories of Dragoon Guards

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

4/7 Royal Dragoon Guards, in 1966

Written by Steve Bodsworth

Being part of the BEF from Sharjah to Oman in the Trucial States, (the first British forces in Oman for 200 years) at a time when public beheadings were still carried out in the town square and the castle had prisoners in the dungeons. A long hot and dusty trip with some truly magnificent scenery and crystal clear waterholes appearing out of nowhere.

Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, in 1972



4/7 Royal Dragoon Guards, in 1965

Written by Steve Bodsworth

Abu-Dubai, late ’65 when the tallest building was a two story mud brick "palace" belonging to the sheik, most of the town had little in the way of sanitation, the streets were packed dirt and the major "highway" was a large salt plain with no lanes! Oh how times have changed!

Recconnaissance Regiment, &4/7 Dragoon Guards in 1946

Written by Bert Cook (Cookie)

Csqd in the ex navel camp near Haifa,a complete change in tin huts set amid olive groves.A great change from being under canvas. If anyone was there it was a busy time but pleasant.After this it was down to Tel-Aviv area and under canvas again.

Kings Dragoon Guards, A Squadron 5th Troop in 1957

Written by William Cook

We were stationed at Mageedee Baracks over the causway from Singapor, and were attached to the Gurka regiment we were invited to one of there Annual events were the youngest member had to cut of the head of a young bullock in one go,if not it brought bad luck to the regiment,it was touch and go as most of the gurkas at the time were on the local brew and most were drunk, so what they did was practice with smaller animals, so you had bedlam,with the local farmer not well pleased to see his animals being chased all over half of malaya by drunken Gurkas, as it was the lad who had to do this was still sober enough to manage it without mishap, So all ended happily, apart from the poor Bullock

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