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Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons)

Norma Hampson is a long-standing volunteer at the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive and has written this blog to share details from her current project: listing visitors from the early Birthplace visitor books. In this case, we have a group of soldiers.

Norma Hampson
Royal Scots Grey 2nd Dragoons

On 28 July 1852 twenty-three soldiers from the Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons) visited Shakespeare’s Birthplace and signed the visitors’ book. They included three captains, one major, six corporals, five sergeants, and eight others who did not specify their rank. If they had been in uniform, they must have been quite a spectacle for the townsfolk. I was intrigued as to why they were in Stratford, where they had come from, and where they were going. Unfortunately, the local Stratford Herald was not published until 1861 and there is no mention of their visit in the Warwick Advertiser for that date. Having contacted the Royal Scots Guards Museum in Edinburgh, it seems little was recorded in their Almanack for 1852, but the following year the regiment were at Chobham Common, Surrey for their last proper training before setting off for the Crimea in 1854. Perhaps their visit to Stratford was en route from Edinburgh to Surrey.

Painting of Encampment
Painting of encampment at Chobham Common 1853 PX/39/18. Copyright of Surrey History Centre.

In 1854, the regiment won two Victoria Crosses charging uphill against 3,000 Russian cavalry at the battle of Balaklava - yet forty years later, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia became its Colonel-in-Chief.

During the Crimean campaign, P&O ships were commandeered as troopships. The company carried over 60,000 troops and thousands of horses as well as naval stores. The Cunard company also provided eleven ships and the Bibby Line their first two steamships the Tiber and the Arno.

royal scots grey4
Library of Congress USZC4 –Roger Fenton Crimea 1855 collection. Library of Congress. Full length portrait of Colonel George Clarke, in uniform, standing beside his horse, Sultan, wounded in the battle of Balaklava. Horse’s rump branded 2D for the 2nd Dragoons. Reins held by a servant. Encampment in background.

The regiment did not see service as a whole unit from 1857 until the Boer War in 1899, during which it camouflaged its white horses with khaki dye.

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