This cavalry regiment was raised in 1685 to strengthen King James II’s authority following the so-called Monmouth Rebellion. The Regiment was created by merging six existing troops of cavalry under the title Earl of Arran’s Regiment of Cuirassiers. Within three years of its establishment, Arran’s Cuirassiers changed sides and, in 1691, fought in the Battle of the Boyne in support of King William III. The Regiment remained in Ireland for over 100 years, fighting at Vinegar Hill during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. A year later, it returned to England as the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards. One of the Regiment’s few overseas expeditions was their participation in the charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaklava in 1854 during the Crimean War. It was also briefly posted in India from 1894 to 1908.
On the outbreak of the First World War, the 4th Dragoon Guards were deployed to France with the British Expeditionary Force as part of the 1st Cavalry Division in early August 1914. On 22 August 1914, the C squadron of the Regiment fired the first British shots of the war when they charged a German cavalry column outside Mons. The squadron leader, Captain Charles Hornby, has been credited with being the first British soldier to kill an enemy, running a German soldier through with a sword during this cavalry action. However, for much of the war the Regiment acted in the dismounted role.
For more information on the 4th Royal Irish Dragoons contact the Museum of The Royal Dragoon Guards.
4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards | Meet the Dragoons