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P.D. GRIFFIN
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS

DRESS DISTINCTIONS

The blue peaked cap and star badge are 4/7RDG in origin. The Star of the Order of St Patrick was authorised to the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards in 1838 when they were in London for the coronation of Queen Victoria. From 1904 their star badge bore the Roman numerals MDCCLXXXIII, being the year in which the order was instituted (1783), and the motto Quis separabit (Who shall separate us?). The 4th/7th used this star for their cap badge, but with its centre shamrock design substituted by the cross from the Order of the Garter superimposed with the coronet of the Princess Royal from the insignia of the 7th Dragoon Guards.

the RQMS at left with the Salamanca Staff

RDG, 1998, the RQMS at left with the Salamanca Staff. (Grenadier Publishing)

In adopting this badge the RDG changed its inscription to ROYAL DRAGOON GUARDS MCMXCII, being their date of formation (1992), and replaced the central coronet with the castle of Enniskillen with St George's flag flying (the badge of the Inniskillings and collar badge of the 5RIDG).

Senior NCOs wear a Horse of Hanover badge with their ranking, a custom of the 5th Dragoon Guards who gained the emblem in 1804 with their Princess Charlotte of Wales's title and the motto Vestigia nulla retrorsum (No going backward).

Service dress is noticeable for its use of green trousers (the modern mark of Irish ancestry) and the D-Day sleeve flash. This diamond shape flash was issued in 1944 and retained by the 4th/7th to commemorate their 'First and Last' reputation, acquired after the Daily Telegraph reported the regiment's tanks were First onto and last off the Normandy beaches. This echoes the First World War, when the 4th Dragoon Guards reputedly made the first kill of the war (at Casteau on 22 August 1914) and the 7th Dragoon Guards the last (at Lessines on 11 November 1918). No. 1 dress 'blues' are worn with green trousers or green overalls fashioned with a primrose-yellow stripe, a distinction of the 5RIDG, green being the facing colour of the 5th and yellow the facing colour of the Inniskillings.

Full dress and mess jackets are scarlet with blue facings.

MUSIC

The regimental quick march Fare Ye Well Inniskilling was adopted by 5RIDG in 1952 to replace The Skins' Sprig o'Shillelagh and the 5th Dragoon Guards' Soldiers Chorus. It was written by Bandmaster Adams, based on the old ballad The Inniskilling Dragoon.

The regimental slow march is the same as that arranged for the 4th/7th: the opening refrain of The Blue Horse March, named after the eighteenth-century nickname of the 4th Dragoon Guards from their blue facings, leading into The Black Hone March of the 7th, similarly named after their facing colour. The eighteenth century was a colourful time for the 7th, who were also called 'The Virgin Mary's Bodyguard' after a remark attributed to men of the Royal Horse Guards, contemptuous of the high number of Catholics in the Black Horse at the time of the War of the Austrian Succession.

Before taking the loyal toast in the officers' mess the Belgian national anthem would be played to honour King Leopold III, who had succeeded his father as Colonel-in-Chief of the 5RIDG in 1937. This ritual had come down from the 5th Dragoon Guards, who used to play the anthem for King Albert I, Colonel-in-Chief of the 5th from 1915.

TRADITIONS

St Patrick's Day (17 March) is observed as a regimental holiday, when breakfast is served by the officers and NCOs, with 'gunfire' tea and shamrock. Irish stew is the norm for lunch, with a sports afternoon for dessert. On the Sunday closest to 17 March the regiment remembers the bravery of Capt Oates of the Inniskilling Dragoons, who sacrificed himself on Scott's 1912 Antarctic expedition in order to give his comrades a better chance of survival. Oates Sunday was observed by the 5RIDG.

Another custom of the regiment, revived by Maj Gen Evans in 1930, is the French drum major's mace. It is paraded by a warrant officer on Salamanca Day (22 July) with its inscription, 'This trophy was taken in the charge by the 5th Dragoon Guards at the Battle of Salamanca, 22nd July, 1812, in which, among others, the 66th French Regiment was annihilated. Major General Ponsonby begs leave to present it to the 5th Dragoon Guards to be carried by the Trumpet Major on all occasions of review as a memory of That Glorious Day.'

The Dettingen Day celebrations of the 4th/7th are perpetuated on a weekend near to 27 June with a regimental revue and families' day. At the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, Ligonier's Regiment of Horse (later the 7th Dragoon Guards) got cut off from the main body and had to plough their way back through the enemy to their own lines. Cornet Richardson suffered thirty-seven sword cuts and bullet wounds in his defence of Ligonier's standard. Earl Ligonier developed his regiment to a high level of efficiency between 1720 and 1749, and in 1899 his crest and motto were adopted by the 7th as their badge.

Greetings are sent to regiments that participated with the 4th, 5th and 6th in the Charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaklava in 1854.

Queen's Own Hussars on a freedom march in Birmingham on the tercentenary of the regiment in 1985

Queen's Own Hussars on a freedom march in Birmingham on the tercentenary of the regiment in 1985

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