This guide for the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays) will provide you with an overview of the Regiment’s activities during the First World War. In addition, the guide will explain how to research soldiers who served in the Regiment.
The 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays) in the First World War
The 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays) was stationed at Aldershot, Hampshire when the Regiment was mobilized in August 1914. The Queen’s Bays was part of the 1st Cavalry Brigade, Cavalry Division which was renamed as the 1st Cavalry Division on 16 September 1914. The Regiment served with this Brigade and Division for the duration of the war. Two good sources of information for the 2nd Dragoon Guards’ service during this period are the regimental history and war diary, both of which are discussed below.
The 2nd Dragoon Guards landed at Le Havre, France on 17 August 1914 and within a week was already be in action. The Regiment was frequently engaged during its first month on the Western Front including at the Action at Nery on 1 September 1914. After three weeks service abroad, the 2nd Dragoon Guards had suffered over 100 casualties. The Regiment fought at the Battle of the Aisne (12 – 15 September 1914) before taking part in the First Battle of Ypres (19 October – 22 November 1914). After the fighting of 1914, there were long periods where very little of interest occurred, as the Regiment was usually billeted behind the lines. While the 2nd Dragoon Guards was often away from the front, it was frequently used dismounted in the trenches and suffered a continual stream of casualties from snipers and shelling. The war diary will provide you with more information.
The 2nd Dragoon Guards took part in the Battle of Arras in April 1917 and Cambrai in November of the same year. When the German Spring Offensive began on 21 March 1918, the Regiment was heavily engaged and suffered over 140 casualties in two weeks of hard fighting. The 2nd Dragoon Guards took part in the Hundred Days Offensive which began in August 1918 and when the Armistice with Germany came into effect on 11 November, the Regiment was near Herchies in Belgium.
Researching a Soldier who Served in the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays) during the First World War
Start by looking at my guides to researching soldiers who served in the British Army during the First World War. The most useful guides will be those on service and medal records and the list of acronyms and abbreviations. You will want to download the relevant war diaries I have discussed below and see if you can view a copy of the regimental history.
Officers: See if there is a service record is held at the National Archives. If an officer served past April 1922 then their service record will still be held by the Ministry of Defence. Have a look at my article on my other website: Ordering a Service Record from the MOD. You will also need to look through the war diaries of the Regiment which I have discussed below and also look at my articles on the London Gazette and Hart’s Army List. The regimental history A History of the Queen’s Bays (The 2nd Dragoon Guards), 1685-1929 by Frederic Whyte and A. Hilliard Atteridge frequently records officers. In general, you can usually find out a lot of information on British cavalry officers.
Lieutenant Claude Norman Champion de Crespigny who was killed in action on 1 September 1914. This photograph was taken from the Illustrated London News and newspapers are an excellent source of information for both officers and men: Using Newspapers to Research Soldiers. There is a file for the officer at the National Archives. Champion de Crespigny’s body was one of the few brought back to England before the practice was banned and he is buried in Hatfield Peverel (St. Andrew) Churchyard.
Other Ranks: A service record is once again key and if a soldier served past January 1921 then it will be with the Ministry of Defence. Have a look at my article: Ordering a Service Record from the MOD. If no service file survives then it could be that only Medal Records. have. You should be able to work out an approximate enlistment date from a soldier’s service number.
Whether you’re researching an officer or other rank you’ll need to check the resources on both FindmyPast and Ancestry as they both have different sets. Fortunately, they offer free trials and clicking on the banner below will take you to FindmyPast.
War Diaries of the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays)
There are two war diaries for the 2nd Dragoon Guards but only the first diary covering the Regiment’s service on the Western Front has been digitized. To download this war diary for a small fee click on the first blue link below.
- Date: 14 August 1914 – 28 February 1919
- 1st Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
- Reference: WO95/1109/1
- Notes: An average war diary for a British cavalry regiment during the First World War. The war diary between 1 and 22 April 1915 is missing.
- Date: 24 June – 30 September 1919
- 14th Cavalry Brigade, 5th Cavalry Division
- Reference: WO 95/4519
- Notes: The war diary starts with a brief summary of the Regiment’s activities since the outbreak of war and records the officers who left York for Egypt on 24 June 1919. The war diary is typed and only five pages in length. Very little of interest happened during this period but the war diary does provide a good account.
Further Sources for the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays)
The Imperial War Museum holds a photocopy of a short memorial written by W. Clarke covering his service with the Regiment between 1914 and 1918: Documents.1377. The collection of private papers of Miss N. Noble on microfilm contains”11 letter from Captain E S Chance… on the Western Front, August 1915 – December 1916″: Documents.854.
There is a regimental history: A History of the Queen’s Bays (The 2nd Dragoon Guards), 1685-1929 by Frederic Whyte and A. Hilliard Atteridge from Material Collected by Major H. W. Hall. However, this book has not been reprinted since it was first published in 1930 and is difficult to find. I looked at a copy at the British Library.
Extracts from the War Diary of the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays)
March-April 1918, 1st Cavalry Brigade, WO 95/1109/1
21 March 1918: The German Bombardment commenced at 4.30 am. The General Attack was delivered later in the morning. Dense for prevailed until 3 pm. At 1 pm the Regiment left their Camp at Montecourt and support the 24th Division at Vendelles. The “Bays” party under Capt. R. T. Baynard MC remained in position just East of Vendelles during the afternoon and night 21st/22nd March. Throughout this period the party was under heavy shell fire. The led horses of the Regiment moved back at 7 pm and bivouacked the night near Bernes.
22 March 1918: The dismounted Party became engaged in the hostile attack, and eventually withdrawn from the battle at 12 noon. Meanwhile the lead horses had moved back to Estree-en-Chaussee when the dismounted Party joined them at 6 pm. The Regiment then marched to Athies, and prepared to bivouac for the night, but at 11 pm were ordered to move out and hold a line of outposts along the Athies-Preusle Road, and to cover the crossing of the River Somme between Brie and St Christ. Bitterly cold night.
23 March 1918: This line of outposts was held until 6.30 am when the Regiment was withdrawn and marched to St Christ, from St Christ the Regiment proceeded mounted to Potte in support of the Third Corps. The Regiment moved up at 4.30 pm in support of the 9th Cavalry Brigade who were covering the crossing of the Somme at Pargny. At 7 pm the Regiment was withdrawn and marched into bivouac at Curchy. During the night the horse lines were bombed by hostile aircraft.
24 March 1918: At 6 am the Regiment left their bivouac and marched via Chaulnes to Cappy. At 3 pm the Regiment left Cappy and marched via Eclusier to Divisional rendezvous near Vaux thence to the Carnoy Valley where the Regiment bivouacked for the night. The Brigade was now in support of the Seventh Corps.
25 March 1918: At 7 am the led horses were sent back to Ville-sous-Corbie. At 9.30 am the 1st Dismounted Brigade with the “Bays” party commanded by Lieutenant A. J. K. Todd moved up to Montauban to support the 2nd and 9th Cavalry Brigades. At 10 am Major Rome, 11th Hussars took over the Command of the 1st Dismounted Brigade from Colonel Lawson “Queen’s Bays”, Colonel Lawson assuming command of the 1st Dismounted Division. Throughout the day the 1st Dismounted Division were heavily attacked, and were subjected to intense artillery and machine gun fire. The Division repulsed with heavy loss to the enemy all attacks that were launched against it. At 10 pm orders received that Montauban was to be evacuated at 12 midnight, and that the 1st Dismounted Division would commence the evacuation at 12 midnight, and that the 1st Dismounted Brigade under Major Rome would act as rearguard with orders to withdraw at 2 am on the 26 instant.
26 March 1918: The withdrawal commenced at 12 Midnight and was carried out without incident, the last party leaving Montauban at 3 am. The Regiment then marched via Fricourt to Ville-sur-Ancre a distance of 7 miles; At 11 am the Regiment had joined their led horses and proceeded mounted to Bussy-les-Daours, remaining in bivouac there until 9 pm when orders were received to move to a Brigade rendezvous South of La Houssoye. Bitterly cold night.
27 March 1918: At 2 am the Regiment marched to Heilly thence to Mericourt into support of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade at 3 pm the Regiment marched to Sailly-le-Seq and at 6 pm crossed the Somme discounted and took up a position, filling a gap between our infantry to the south and the Somme at Bouzencourt. The Regiment remained in the line during the night.
28 March 1918: The Regiment remained in the line, taking over command and organising various elements of Carey’s Force. Hostile Artillery active during the morning. Enemy Snipers active.
29 March 1918: The Regiment remained in the line. Captain Sutherland’s Squadron moved to a position South, to the East of Hamel Village. Regimental Headquarters moved to Hamel at 10 pm, Colonel Lawson assuming command of the 1st Dismounted Brigade.
30 March 1918: At 10.30 am the enemy commenced a very heavy bombardment on the whole of the Brigade front, with a barrage on Hamel Village. At 12.30 pm the Infantry Assault commenced. The enemy attacked in thick waves, but was repulsed with heavy loss all along the Brigade front. In front of Capt. Single’s Squadron alone, 67 dead were counted. A German prisoner capture during the attack stated they had attacked from the Somme to Le Hamel with 1st Division, with ordered to take Hamel at all costs. At 4 pm the Battle ended.
31 March 1918: The Regiment remained in their positions. Quiet day. Snipers active.
1 April 1918: Colonel Lawson’s Force of the three Dismounted Regiments of the 1st Cavalry Brigade and 300 oddments of Carey’s Force remained in the line. The frontage now held by this force has its Northern boundary at P.II.a.0.4., its Southern boundary at P.I6.b.7.0.
Slight hostile shelling of Hamel during afternoon, otherwise very quiet day. Enemy snipers very active. Lieut. D. F. Barclay “Queen’s Bays” was killed by a sniper during the afternoon. A reconnoitring patrol from “C” Squadron “Queen’s Bays” was killed by a sniper during the afternoon. A reconnoitring patrol from “C” Squadron “Queen’s Bays” commanded by Captain F. Sutherland, surprised and rushed a small post of the enemy during the night, killing the garrison and bringing in a wounded prisoner of the 228th Infantry Division and three light Machine Guns.
2 April 1918: Quiet day. Enemy aircraft very active. Slight shelling of our front line during morning. The 300 oddments of Carey’s Force were withdrawn during the night, their positions in the front line being taken over by the 18th and 19th Hussars, these two Regiments stopping under the command of Colonel Lawson. Hamel heavily shelled during night.
3 April 1918: Quiet day. Enemy artillery activity increased during afternoon. Small enterprise carried out at dusk by a party of 2 officers and 20 other ranks of the “Queen’s Bays”, with the object of rushing a hostile Machine Gun Post. Our patrol encountered one of their listening posts who gave the Alarm, and owing to heavy machine gun fire, our patrol had to withdrawn.
The 14th Infantry Divisions relieved Colonel Lawson’s Force during the night. Relief carried out without incident and completed at 12 Midnight. The Regiments then marched to Fouilloy, where they joined the lead horses, returning mounted into billets at Bussy-Les-Daours.
4 April 1918: The Regiment remained at Bussy-Les-Daours until 4.30 pm and then marched into billets in the Northern outskirts of Amiens. Distance of march 6 miles. Total casualties during period 21st March to 4th April: 3 Officers killed, 20 other ranks killed. 6 officers wounded, 105 other ranks wounded.
A memorial to Lieutenant Raymond Hooker Yeatherd, 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays) who was killed in action on the Somme on 15 September 1916 aged 26. I came across this memorial in St Mary’s Churchyard, Hertingfordbury a small village close to me. Raymond’s father died of wounds during the relief of Ladysmith in the Second Boer War and his brother Captain Montagu Locke Yeatherd was killed in action at Arras on 11 April 1917 while serving with the 12th (Prince of Wales’s Royal) Lancers.