South African Military History Society

November 1982 NEWSLETTER

Past meeting - Johannesburg - 14 October 1982

The meeting was addressed by Col. John de Candole, M.C., British Defense and Military Attache. Col. de Candole's military carreer has been both wide ranging and distinguished. He has seen service in the Far East, Malaya, Libya, U.S.A., Germany, Aden, Saudia Arabia, and Ulster as well as in the U.K. He was twice Mentioned in Despatches, once while on active service in Malaya and again while serving in Ulster, and was awarded the Military Cross during internal security operations in Aden. It was on 12th February 1954 that he was commissioned into the regiment that served as the topic of his talk, "1st Kings Dragoon Guards".

The Kings Dragoon Guards were raised in June 1685 to help supress the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion against James II. Although they did not participate in the battle of Sedgemoor, they did provide escort for Monmouth and other prisoners on the way to London after the battle. Following the crushing of the rising, James decided to maintain an army and on 1 January 1686 the regiment was established by Royal Warrant under the title of the Queen Consort's Regiment of Horse. There were 8 troops at the time of founding, each having been raised separately by wealthy men and then formed into the regiment. The uniform at this time included thigh-length jackboots and a heavy leather cuirasse as well as an iron helmet. Weaponry consisted of a sword, two 14-inch long pistols and a carbine or short musket all to be used from horseback as they were heavy cavalry rather than dragoons.

The Regiment provided escort for King James until the arrival of William of Orange. They remained loyal to James until his flight when their allegiance was given to the new king. Under William's reign, the Regiment saw its first active service in putting down revolts in Scotland and Ireland where they took part in the Battle of the Boyne on 11 July 1690. Their first major casualties were suffered at Aughrim in 1691 when they lost 23 men. When the Irish war ended, the Queen's Regiment of Horse were sent to Belgium where they formed part of Marlborough's army and spent the next 5 years campaigning around Ghent, Brussels and Namur. They fought in only one battle, Neerwinden, but acquitted themselves well in it saving William and permitting the allies to retreat in good order. From 1697 to 1702 there was an interlude of peace. However, in 1702 the War of the Spanish Succession began and the Regiment were again serving with Marlborough in Europe. Battle honours that were gained during this period include Blenheim, Ramilies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet.

In 1714, hostilities ended and the Regiment returned to Britain where George I awarded them the title of Kings Own Regiment of Horse in recognition of their achievements. The now Kings Own Regiment was not involved in the supression of either of the Jacobite uprisings in 1715 and 1745 and so enjoyed a period of relative inactivity. They became a Dragoon regiment in 1746 and were established as the 1st or Kings Dragoon Guards. This alteration of status came about for reasons of economy as rates for dragoons were lower than those for troopers.

The first major involvement of the Kings Dragoons was during the 7 Years War at the battle of Minden where a misunderstanding on the part of Lord Sachville, the Cavalry commander, lost an opportunity for a major victory. Later, at Corbach and Warburg they were able to more than restore the reputation of British cavalry. At the end of this war the arms and uniforms of the Regiment were changed with the tall jackboots and long pistols being replaced by lighter and shorter versions. The headgear also changed from cocked hats to helmets with a long black horsehair crest.

During most of the Napoleonic period the KDG was kept at home on Defense Duties, their only involvement in combat being at the beginning and end of the era. In the opening stages of the war they suffered 76 casualties at Le Cateau and they formed the major part of 1st Heavy Cavalry Brigade at Waterloo. Their "Waterloo" battle honour cost the lives of 129 of the 520 men in the brigade including that of their commanding officer.

From 1818 to 1838 the KDG were once again on home service keeping law and order on both sides of the Irish Sea. By 1840 this role changed with the introduction of the permanent police force and the expansion of the Empire. The Regiment served in Canada from 1838 to 1848 and then returned to the UK until 1855 when they went to the Crimea and took part in the Siege of Sevastapol. In 1857 they were in India to help suppress the Mutiny. This was followed by the China War where they were engaged in the assault on the Taku Forts and the capture of Peking. After another spell at home they were posted to SA for the Zulu War but only played a minor role in the battle of Ulundi and the pursuit of Cetewayo. Most of the Regiment sailed to India in 1880 but the small detachment left behind became involved in the 1st Anglo-Boer War and formed the nucleus of an improvised mounted force. Their first VC was won at Laings Nek.

1901 saw the KDG's first major involvement in the Boer War when they became part of Bethune and Plummer's columns in pursuit of De Wet. (Col. de Candole would be grateful for any references to the KDG's activities in SA during this period.) In 1903, they bade farewell to SA to return to UK until 1908 when they went to India. The regiment formed part of the Indian Expeditionary Force to France in 1914 and fought at Hoogie Chateaux near Ypres. WWI losses were 6 officers and 82 men. Between the wars the Regiment served in Afghanistan, Mesopotamia, UK, Egypt and India before being mechanized in 1938.

At the outbreak of WWII they were part of 1 Lt. Armd. Bgde. in Britain. In 1940 they sailed to Egypt via the Cape where they became an armoured car regiment. During the conflict in the Desert they were in action at Beda Fromm, besieged in Tobruk, in the Crusader offensive, fought at Alam Halfa and spearheaded the 8th Army advance to Tunis. There were many occasions when KDC fought alongside the SA armoured car units and they established very good relations with the South Africans. After the battle of the Mareth Line came Salerno and Italy until December 44 when they were transferred to Greece.

Since the war, KDC has been in many of the world's trouble spots, Malaya, Aden, Borneo and Northern Ireland. Even in so-called peace time they remain a very busy unit and are currently scheduled to join UN forces in Cyprus.

There was a very lively question time following Col. de Candole's talk which showed the depth of interest generated by this excellent presentation. He was thanked on behalf of the Society by Mr. M. Gough-Palmer. Prior to the main speaker Dr. Machanik spoke briefly on the Indian stretcher bearers organized by Gandhi at Ladysmith and presented two photographs to the Museum.

Nooitgedacht Outing - 24 October 1982
65 people in 26 vehicles enjoyed lovely weather on the excursion to various sites in the Johannesburg area. Professor Johan Barnard gave a talk on the battle of Zilikats Nek on 11 July 1900 which was followed by a tour of the Sappers' Memorial Chapel at Sappers Rust. At Nooitgedacht Prof. Barnard gave another short talk and lunch was taken at the Jennings farmhouse. After the lunch, a more complete talk on the battle was given by Prof. Barnard supplemented by readings from the reminiscences of Gen. Smuts who had taken part in the attack. Maj. Hall provided details of the British regiments involved and the artilery activities. Following a very spirited question and answer session the Chairman thanked Prof. Barnard and Maj. Hall for their talks. In summary, it was a most successful and highly informative outing much enjoyed by all participants.

The Old Kit Bag - Various Items

The long awaited facsimile reprint of Maj. C. Tylden's "The Armed Forces of South Africa", together with addenda and corrigenda which was mentioned in the July 82 Newsletter is now available. Details can be obtained from member Ted Barbour at the Benoni Fire Dept. (Tel. 54-3333).

+ + + + + + + + + + +

Rod Murchison (726-3111(B))
(Scribe- Trying to get Jacked-Up)

* NOTE* Fast mirror and backup site      BOOKMARK FOR REFERENCE     Main site * NOTE*

South African Military History Society /