2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays)




Religious uncertainty and intolerance were a legacy of the English Civil Wars (1642-51), and when the Protestant King Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 he needed loyal soldiers to protect him. Amongst a number of new units raised (in 1682) was the 3rd Regiment of Horse or Peterborough's Regiment of Horse under (honorary) command of 64 year old Henry Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough. When Charles II died in 1685, the Regiment's allegiance passed to his brother, James II - a Roman Catholic.
Peterborough's Horse was raised in the London area and the Regiment is described in 1687 as wearing scarlet jackets with buff (beige) facings and buff breeches, with long jack-boots. The troopers wore buff gauntlets, broad white crossbelts, and broad-brimmed black hats, turned up at one side and worn with a white feather. Steel helmets, or "pots", were worn underneath the hats when in action, and the men were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols and , later, a carbine.

When English Protestants invited William of Orange to usurp the throne in 1688, James II fled without a fight and the Earl of Peterborough, a Roman Catholic, attempted to flee with him. Command of the 3rd Regiment of Horse passed to Col. (later Gen.) Edward Villiers. Subsequently the Regiment shipped to Ireland (losing 104 horses in a rough crossing) to support the Protestant King William at the Battle of the Boyne (1690), and at the Battle of Aughrim (1691), fighting against James's Roman Catholic supporters. The Regiment subsequently fought in Europe under Marlborough, earning honous in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14).

George I ascended to the throne of what was now the United Kingdom in 1714, and the title of the Regiment was changed to The Princess of Wales’ Own Royal Regiment of Horse, and in 1727 on the coronation of George II the Regiment’s title changed to The Queen’s Own Royal Regiment of Horse.

A re-organisation of the army in 1747 saw the Regiment renamed 2nd, or Queen’s Regiment of Dragoon Guards. The Regiment fought in Europe during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). In1767, the Regiment was re-mounted exclusively on bay horses and renamed 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays).

The Regiment fought in Spain under Wellington in the Peninsular War (1807-1814), at which time a new helmet, the "Waterloo helmet", was issued. When George IV ascended to the throne in 1820, all military uniforms were revised and modernised. Helmets with the bear skin crest were introduced. In 1847, all heavy cavalry regiments were issued with the "Albert helmet", sporting a central spike with horse-tail decoration - in action, the horse-tail decoration was removed and the metal helmet protected with either a "puggaree" or cotton quilt cover, sometimes incorporating a neck flap.

When Indian soldiers of the Honourable East India Company mutinied, the Regiment was ordered to India, disembarking at Calcutta in November 1857. They fought with distinction at the Relief of Lucknow (1857).

Returning home, the Regiment served in Ireland between 1875 and 1885 to help maintain order prior to the introduction of the First Irish Home Rule Bill (1886). They returned to India between 1885 and 1894 and then shipped to Egypt in 1895-97. The Bays fought in South Africa (1899-1902), arriving in 1901, and capturing Commandant Pretorius.