12 February 2009

4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards - 1882 enlistments

For no other reason than that I find recruitment patterns in regiments endlessly fascinating, I thought I'd turn my attention today to the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards, the regiment that holds the distinction of having fired the first shot (by the British Expeditionary Force) in the First World War. For the subject of this post however, I'd like to look at enlistments in 1882.

The previous year, 1881, recruitment had taken place at a snail's pace. This was not at all uncommon in either cavalry or infantry regiments but as far as the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards was concerned, number 2437 joined on 13th January 1881 and by 17th November that year, the regiment had reached 2474: precisely 38 recruits in 11 months.

1882 was a different story altogether and a massive recruitment drive appears to have taken place. I'd like to see official documents or hear from a 4th Dragoon Guards expert on the subject but the surge is remarkable. What follows is a list of recruitments - and these are all first-time enlistments into the regiment - that pretty much covers the entire year. Service records for ALL of the army service numbers listed below, survive in the WO 363 series held at the National Archives in Kew. I have indicated in brackets, where the individual was born but there appears to be no specific regional stronghold.

2480 enlisted 2nd January [b. Grantham, Lincs]
2485 enlisted 24th January [b. Arva, Govan]
2487 enlisted 26th January [b. Maidstone, Kent]
2491 enlisted 11th January [b. Ellon, Aberdeen] SEE BELOW
2493 enlisted 7th February [b. Bermondsey, London]
2494 enlisted 9th February [b. Camberwell, London]
2495 enlisted 10th February [b. Kingston, Surrey]
2499 enlisted 22nd February [b. Killin, Perth]
2500 enlisted 23rd February [b. Gorbals, Lanarkshire]
2504 enlisted 4th March [b. Antrim, Ireland]
2508 enlisted 15th March [b. Barnwood, Glos]
2514 enlisted 17th March [b. Enfield, Middlesex]
2515 enlisted 18th March [b. Stratford, London]
2519 enlisted 22nd April [b. Gravesend, Kent]
2527 enlisted 27th May [b. Sherbrook, Derbys]
2531 enlisted 14th June [b. St Pancras, London]
2532 enlisted 15th June [b. Hawick, Scotland]
2534 enlisted 16th June [b. Yateley, Hants]
2538 enlisted 3rd July [b. UNCLEAR]
2679 enlisted 9th August [b. Tweedmouth, Sco]
2694 enlisted 13th August [b. Ryde, IoW]
2782 enlisted 12th September [b. Malta]
2783 enlisted 14th September [b. Queen's County, Ireland]
2784 enlisted 18th September [b.Hove, Sussex]
2785 enlisted 25th September [b. Glasgow]
2789 enlisted 24th October [b. Lewes, Sussex]
2790 enlisted 9th November [b. Bedford, Beds]
2825 enlisted 8th December [b. Chester, Cheshire]
2830 enlisted 28th December [b. Harrow, Middlesex]

I find this sequence interesting because there appears to be a clear recruitment drive extending roughly from the beginning of the year until around mid September when things slow down again.

Number 2491, highlighted above, is interesting in that his number alone does not appear to fit the general sequence. This man joined on 11th January and then served precisely 14 days before deciding that the army wasn't his cup of tea. He paid ten pounds to buy his discharge, something which a recruit could do within three months of his attestation.

As regards where the men listed above joined their regiment in 1882, 2480 through to 2679 joined at Aldershot, 2694 through to 2785 joined at York, and 2789 onwards joined at Brighton.

Recruitment into this regiment slowed down again dramatically in 1883 (2831 joined on 2nd January and 2867 joined on 6th December) but by 1884 the pattern had reversed again, close to 350 men enlisting that year.
 

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Numerous records for 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards servicemen survive at the National Archives. Read them on-line with a FREE 14 day trial to Ancestry.co.uk - Click here!

Also see my other Corps of Dragoons posts:

1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards
2nd Dragoon Guards (The Queen's Bays)
3rd (Prince of Wales's) Dragoon Guards
4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards
5th Dragoon Guards
6th Dragoon Guards (Carabineiers)
7th (Princess Royal's) Dragoon Guards

1st (Royal) Dragoons
2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys)
6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons.

RECORD OF THE 4TH ROYAL IRISH DRAGOON GUARDS IN THE GREAT WAR, 1914-1918



This from the Naval & Military Press:

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."




8 comments:

Jerry Cooley said...

With respect to your information on Fourth Dragoon Guards and their participation in the first actions of WW1, may I respectfully point out that it should read, in my opinion, 'Capt Hornby led the first charge, followed by Corporal Thomas firing the first shot' in that order. Also the German opposition in question was not 'sabered' they were put to the sword, British Cavalry as I am sure you are aware, did not carry sabres, they carried the 1908 pattern sword. Sharply pointed but no cutting edge. whereas a sabre is a totally different weapon. Small points you may thing but important nonetheless, or so my Grandfather told me. He was there.

Paul Nixon said...

I'm happy to record that, Jerry but please note that excerpt is from the Naval and Military Press blurb rather than my own reconstruction of events.

Paul

Nim said...

Thank you for a very interesting blog page.
I'm been looking at the medal roll for the 1st Royal Dragoons at the battle of Abu Klea. Now 8 men on that roll also qualified for the Tel-El-Kebir 1882 medal but the 1st RD didn't go to Egypt in 1882. So where did they come from? I've been searching for them on other cavalry rolls and I've discovered that they were all transfered from the 4th DG about 1883!
So this is why I'm commenting on your site - because you say there was another slow down in recruitment in 1883. Do you think there is any link between men transfering out of the 4th DG and the slow down in recruitment at the same time?

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks for commenting, Nim. Yes, could well be. It's unlikely that the regiment over-recruited, once they reached establishment, recruiting was supposed to stop. I'd be interested to know how many other 4th DG men transferred to other regiments in the Corps of Dragoons, or indeed other regiments.

Paul

Mark Bolam said...

The Regiment was not a 'big' regiment. My great-grandfather was the QM (as a WO) when 4DG went to France in early Aug 1914. He later became the first QM of the 4/7DG in 1922.

Tabnabs said...

Hi
Just discovered an ancestor of mine Frederick William Dowden, joined the 4th on the 14/04/1882 in Aldershot (re. no. 2518, previously he'd been in the Isle of Wight Artillary Militia, he was IoW born and bred.

AlanD6333 said...

I've just found a great uncle (Charles Gilbert Meaden) who joined the 4th Dragoons in 1885 regimental number 3100. He was 14 yo at the time so would be interested to find out what role he took. Maybe a drummer boy?
Can anyone help.

Paul Nixon said...

Probably in the band, yes. Write to the Irish Guards at Wellington Barracks as they probably have a file on him still.

Paul