Thursday, 6 August 2009
York - Royal Dragoon Guards Museum
It has been a while since I was last in a regimental museum, so I was delighted to find that there was one in York. The museum is home to two regiments' collections: the Royal Dragoon Guards and The Prince of Wales' Own Regiment of Yorkshire (now the 1st battalion of The Yorkshire Regiment). I thought I would post on each regiment separately, as readers might be interested in some of the exhibits. Like all regimental museums, the items on display ranged from the truly historic to the bizarre.
The Royal Dragoon Guards was formed on 1 August 1992, as a result of the amalgamation of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards (itself an amalgamation of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards and the 7th (Princess Royal's) Dragoon Guards) and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards (an amalgamation of the 5th Dragoon Guards and the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons). All four of these constituent regiments were raised between 1685 and 1689 and have the pedigree you'd expect from such old units. They variously fought at the Boyne, with Marlborough, at Dettingen and Fontenoy, in the Peninsular, the Crimea, Tel El Kebir in 1882 and the Boer War (which saw the 5th Dragoon Guards besieged in Ladysmith with their colonel, Baden-Powell). The 6th Inniskilling Dragoons charged with the Union Brigade at Waterloo. It was also the regiment of Captain Oates, who died on Scott's expedition to the Antartic in 1912. Corporal Thomas of the 4th Dragoon Guards fired the first British shot of WW1 whilst the 7th made the last cavalry charge of the war at Lessines on 11 November 1918. The two amalgamated regiments were the first armoured units to be deployed with the BEF at the start of WW2. I gather the Royal Dragoon Guards are to be posted to Afghanistan next year.
On the left below is one side of the Dettingen Standard, the British Army's oldest surviving flag. This was carried at the 1743 battle by Ligonier's Regiment of Horse, also known as the "Black Horse" due to the facing colour of the troopers' coats, which was an ancestor of the 7th Dragoon Guards. ). The standard-bearer was Cornet Henry Richardson, who apparently suffered 37 sabre cuts and bullet wounds during the course of the battle. On the right is one of a pair of French kettle-drums that were captured at Dettingen.
Two Napoleonic tunics:
On the left are two helmets from the Crimean War. On the right is the helmet worn by General Sir James Scarlett at Balaklava; the Commander of the Heavy Brigade and an officer of the 5th Dragoon Guards.
On the left is Captain Oates' mess tunic and other items. On the right is a smaller-than-life horse with Victorian furniture:
Finally, a flag of Arabi Pasha captured in Cairo in 1882. I failed to write down the inscription, but it's something like "in Allah I trust" etc. To its right is a menu of the 4th Dragoon Guards - I wonder how many regimental messes have things like this any more...