First World War 1914-1918

The third group of battle honours concern the First World War in France and Belgian Flanders. In 1914 the Bays formed a part of the original British Expeditionary Force, nicknamed ‘The Old Contemptibles’. They were heavily engaged throughout the war and fought in all the major battles from the Retreat from Mons, Le Cateau (including a brilliant rear-guard action at Nery), the battle of the Marne, Messines, Ypres, the Somme, Cambrai, the Scarpe, and in the final Victorious advance of 1918. The KDG were in India at the outbreak of the war and came to France as a part of the Indian Expeditionary Force. They fought in the trenches at Festuburg, Ypres, on the Somme, at Morval, and in October 1917 they returned to India. When in 1919 the 3rd Afghan War broke out the KDG, then serving on the Northwest-Frontier, advanced into Afghanistan. At Dakka in May 1919 they made one of the last recorded cavalry charges of a horsed British cavalry regiment and for this they were the only British Cavalry regiment to receive the battle honour ‘Afghanistan 1919’. At this juncture it is worth mentioning that the two regiments transitioned from fighting on horses to fighting in tanks in 1939, just prior to the Second World War. Both the KDG and the Bays lost their ranking as cavalry of the line in 1939 and became the two senior regiments of the newly formed Royal Armoured Corps.

A trooper of the Queen’s Bays in the First World War