Origin and History
The regiment was raised in Derry in Ireland on February 1, 1693 by Colonel Henry Conyngham from the Protestant survivors of the siege of Londonderry. It was known as the "Henry Cunningham Dragoon".
During the War of the Spanish Succession, from 1707, the regiment served in Spain. On April 25, 1707, it fought in the battle of Almansa where it suffered very heavy losses (more than 50% killed or captured). On July 27, 1710, it took part in the battle of Almenara where it distinguished itself in the pursuit of a Spanish cavalry corps, recovering crossbelts of the fleeing enemy. For many years, these crossbelts became a distinctive of the regiment who was nicknamed the “Crossbelt Dragoons”. On December 8 and 9, 1710, the regiment was taken prisoners of war at the battle of Brihuega.
The regiment was disbanded on April 16, 1714, re-raised on July 22, 1715, disbanded again in February 1716 to be finally re-established on March 17, 1719.
During the Jacobite Rising of 1745, the regiment served in the North of England and Scotland where it took part in several actions.
On July 1, 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British cavalry, the regiment was designated as the "8th Regiment of Dragoons".
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:
- from 1756: J. Waldegrave
- from 1758: Major-general Yorke
- from 1760 till 1763: Severn
On December 25, 1775, the regiment was converted into a Light Dragoon Regiment known as the "8th Light Dragoons". In 1777, it was renamed "8th or King's Royal Irish Light Dragoon".
Service during the War
As of May 30, 1759, the regiment was stationed in Ireland and counted 2 squadrons for a total of 180 men. It was not involved in any campaign during the war.
|Headgear||black tricorne laced silver with a black cockade on the left side|
|Coat||double breasted red lined yellow with white buttons and very narrow white buttonholes grouped 3 by 3
|Waistcoat||yellow with white buttons and very narrow white buttonholes|
|Breeches||yellow with white knee covers|
Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols and a musket.
As per the regulation of 1751, the officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:
- a narrow silver lace at the lapels, cuffs and pockets
- a crimson silk sash worn over the left shoulder
- crimson and gold striped sword knot
- yellow housings and holster caps laced silver
Sergeants were distinguished by a narrow silver lace on the lapels, cuffs and pockets; a silver aiguillette; a yellow worsted sash about their waist.
Corporals were distinguished by a narrow silver lace on the cuffs and shoulder strap; white silk aiguillette.
Drummers rode grey horses. They wore yellow coats lined and turned up with red and laced with a white braid with a yellow stripe. Red waistcoats and breeches.
Drummers wore a mitre cap similar to the grenadier mitre cap but with a lower crown and the tassel hanging behind; yellow front decorated with a trophy of guidons and drums; little frontal red flap with the White Horse and the motto “Nec aspera terrent”; red backing, yellow headband with a drum and the rank of the regiment (VIII. D.) in the middle part behind.
The drums were of brass with a yellow forepart carrying the rank of the regiment (VIII. D.) in silver characters on a crimson ground within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk.
The guidons were made of silk, fringed in yellow and silver, and embroidered in silver. The tassels and cords were of crimson silk and gold mixed.
King's Guidon: crimson field decorated with the rose and thistle conjoined surmounted by a crown. Underneath the central decoration: the king's motto “Dieu et mon Droit”. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a compartment. In the second and third corners: the rank of the regiment (VIII. D.) in silver characters on a yellow ground.
Regimental Guidon: yellow field with its centre decorated with the rank of the regiment (VIII. D.) in silver characters on a crimson ground within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a red compartment. In the second and third corners: the Rose and Thistle conjoined upon a red ground.
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
George II: The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751
Lawson, Cecil C.P.: A History of the Uniforms of the British Army - from the Beginnings to 1760, vol. II
Mills, T.F.: Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth through the Way Back Machine
Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. Edited and published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt, 1989
Wikipedia - 8th Dragoons
Digby Smith for additional info on the regiment.