The First World War Discover the secrets of your ancestors’ past Brendan Mullins Genealogist Irish Family Research

This unit was formed in 1685 as the Earl of Arran’s Regiment of Curassiers and was ranked as the 6th Regiment of Horse.

In 1691 it was re-ranked as the 5th Regiment of Horse and in 1746 it was transferred to the Irish Establishment where it was ranked as the 1st Horse.

The unit returned to the British Establishment in 1788 and became the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards.  

On 22nd October 1922 it amalgamated with the 7th Dragoon Guards to become the 4/7th Dragoon Guards.


Perhaps the most notable engagement of the regiment was at the outbreak of the First World War on 22 August 1914, when a squadron of the regiment became the first members of the British Expeditionary Force to engage the German army outside Mons; four patrolling German cavalrymen of the 2nd Kuirassiers were surprised by two full troops of British cavalry, and after a brief pursuit several were killed, the Dragoons thereby firing the first United Kingdom shots of the war. They also conducted the last British cavalry charge of the war.

(Depot:  Newport, Wales) Books

Short History of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards 1685-1922,

7th (Princess Royal's) Dragoon Guards 1688-1922,

4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards 1922-1939

Published by Gale & Polden, 1943

Available in the National Library of Ireland Main Reading Room NLI Call No.  1A 973

On the declaration of war the 4th Dragoon Guards were at Tidworth, part of 2nd Cavalry Brigade under command of Brig Gen H. de B. de Lisle. The regiment crossed to France on 15th August and a week later, the day before Mons, made the first contact with the enemy, a cavalry patrol. Corporal Thomas of ‘C’ Squadron fired the first shot by the BEF and Capt Hornby led the first charge, scattering the Germans, sabring several and taking others prisoner. The regiment remained on the Western Front throughout the war.


"This volume gives a concise account of the regiment’s experiences without much of the personal reminiscence. There is a useful appendix which gives the service details of every officer with any awards and noting casualties, and another contains the Roll of Honour in which the names are listed alphabetically regardless of rank, and on a year by year basis; the total amounted to 16 officers and 175 other ranks."


Record of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards In the Great War, 1914-1918 By Rev. Harold Gibb, Lieut., R. I. Dragoon Guards, 1914-1915. Published by Naval & Military Press. Available in the National Library of Ireland Main Reading Room NLI Call No.  3A 3958

Hard back bound book of 494 pages, written for the Regiment by J. M. Brereton in 1980, and with a print run of only 3,000 copies.  The book tells the story of the Antecedent regiments of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards dating back to 1685. Now rare.

History of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, 1685-1980 By J. M. Brereton Happy Odyssey By Sir Adrian Carton De Wiart

Happy Odyssey is the autobiography of Sir Adrian Carton De Wiart who served in the 4th Royal Dragoon Guards from the South African War, through World War I to the end of WWII. With a forward by Winston S. Churchill.

Sir Adrian Carton De Wiart Some useful websites -

http://www.warbooksreview.com/challenge_of_battle/sample-chapter/

http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.ie/2009/02/4th-royal-irish-dragoon-guards-1882.html

http://www.1914-1918.net/dragoonguards.htm

http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armyunits/britishcavalry/4dg.htm

http://www.rdgmuseum.org.uk/history-and-research/