22.04.18 Martin Payne

Coachmakers visit Royal Dragoon Guards

Pictured from left: Richard Charlesworth, Mark Leaning, the Master, Julian Leach and Martin Payne

From left: Richard Charlesworth, Mark Leaning, the Master, Julian Leach and Martin Payne

On Tuesday 13th March a small contingent of Coachmakers, comprising the Master, Richard Charlesworth, Julian Leach, Mark Leaning and myself, Martin Payne, visited the Royal Dragoon Guards’ HQ at Catterick Garrison. Following a reception to meet the officers, we repaired to the mess dining room for a light lunch before embarking on a detailed tour of the garrison when the RDG explained and demonstrated their many and varied capabilities. The Commanding Officer Lt Col James J Lane MBE gave us a valuable insight into the issues facing the company, ranging from recruitment to procurement and we appreciated all the elements, particularly those reflecting budgetary issues and how best to deploy the resources.

As well as the Scimitar, Royal Dragoon Guards use the Spartan armoured personnel carrier and the Panther protected patrol vehicle to make their way around the battlefield and carry out reconnaissance. Outside its combat role, the regiment has provided mentoring to the Iraqi police force, and carried out emergency fire and rescue cover during fire brigade strikes back home in the UK.

The Master checks out the hardware

The Master checks out the hardware

As a reconnaissance unit, the Royal Dragoon Guards is fast, flexible and fearless. It carries out reconnaissance in close proximity with enemy forces, providing accurate, timely and continuous information to commanders in all weathers and across any terrain.
• Operating armoured vehicles
• Gathering and passing on intelligence
• Target acquisition
• Making tough judgement calls
• Radio communication
• Training foreign militaries

The Royal Dragoon Guards is an armoured cavalry regiment. Highly skilled and versatile, it operates ahead of comrades using the Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicle, which provides the ability to fight enemy troops in addition to a reconnaissance role. It was formed on 1 August 1992, as a result of the amalgamation of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards. Both of these were in turn the result of earlier amalgamations in the 1920s. The Royal Dragoon Guards now carries with it the traditions and history of four of the finest regiments of the British cavalry, the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards, the 5th Dragoon Guards, the 7th Dragoon Guards and the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons. All four were raised between 1685 and 1689, during the protracted contest between James II and William of Orange for the English throne.

RDGs' armoured vehicles

RDGs’ armoured vehicles

At a reception before dinner, the Master was pleased to present a framed copy of our Grant of Arms to the Royal Dragoon Guards. The Charter, signed by Charles II, enables us to function as a livery company, making coaches and maintaining standards.

At both receptions (before lunch and before dinner), we met members of the regiment who talked about their various roles in the Company. Everyone has a unique tale to tell which would be difficult to match.

All in all, we had a great day learning more about the issues facing the Royal Dragoon Guards. The regimental dinner was very entertaining; the RDG has its own special way of enjoying leisure time. They have what is known as a ‘wager book’ where specific wagers are posted. If the wagers fail then the accompanying forfeit has to be paid – often in Champagne. Clearly, a wager had failed as throughout dinner Champagne corks were whistling the length of the dining table – some even hitting the target which, in itself, was reassuring!