One of the most illustrious regiments ever raised by the British Army will consign its colours to history with a special service in Enniskillen this Sunday.
In a poignant ceremony at St Macartin’s Cathedral, the famous Standard of the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards will be officially ‘laid up’, ending more than three centuries of service and sacrifice around the world.
Affectionately known as the ‘Skins’, the regiment was originally formed to fight in the Williamite wars but survived to earn battle honours from the early 18th century –through the Crimean and Napoleonic campaigns – right up to the Korean War in the 1950s.
The amalgamation of the Skins with the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards in 1992 created the Royal Dragoon Guards (RDG).
Serving members of the RDG will parade to St Macartin’s along with members of the Inniskilling’s Old Comrades Association for the 11am service.
The parade is due to form up at the Enniskillen Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) in Darling Street before moving the short distance to the cathedral. A return parade will take the serving troops and veterans back to the RBL office for a reception.
The modern day Dragoon Guards is an armoured cavalry regiment recruited mainly in Yorkshire, Cumbria and on both sides of the Irish border which has been instrumental in the ongoing military operation in Afghanistan.
Throughout the centuries, a number of historical figures have served with the Dragoons, including Boy Scouts movement founder Lord Baden-Powell and Captain Oates who famously sacrificed himself in the hope of saving Captain Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition.
One of the regiment’s finest hours came at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.
On the day of the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade against Russian guns, 800 men of the 4th, 5th and 6th Dragoons, fighting together for the first time since the Battle of the Boyne as part of the Heavy Brigade, routed nearly 3,500 of the Tsar’s finest cavalry “with minimal loss” to themselves.
The two Dragoon regiments of the day were both awarded the ‘Royal’ title in the mid-1930s and switched from horses to mechanised vehicles in 1938.
Based in Catterick, north Yorkshire, the Royal Dragoon Guards has recently returned from its second operational tour of Afghanistan and is undergoing a period of recuperation and training before returning to operations next year.
Enniskillen remains the only town to have two regiments of the British Army named after it – the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoons and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.