The History of the Regiments
In the time prior to the Irish Dragoons being hired by the Royal Alterian Armed Forces, their organization had been reduced to reinforced regiment size of only four battalions. Three of the battalions were made up of BattleMechs and the fourth contained armored and support vehicles. At that time there had been a flood of mercenary units roving around the Inner Sphere selling their services at a cut rate. Long establish mercenary and independents were continually being under bid for jobs for years by less qualified units. This led to an over all degradation of the reputations of all mercenary units whether they deserved it or not. This was when the Altarians were looking to expand their military. Up until then they had been well served by Bengal’s Tiger Brigade and a collection of smaller mercenary units. However, they had begun to suffer increasing pirate raids and incursions by Clan Moonraker.
When the R.A.A.F. went looking for an additional mercenary unit to add to their ranks, they were determined to be very selective. Most of the fly-by-night units that had been floating around the Inner Sphere had disbanded or fallen into disrepute for reneging on contracts or exceedingly poor performance. That’s when the Alterians turned to the Irish Dragoons. Despite the reduction of their numbers due to the hard times in their line of business, the Dragoons had never lowered their standards and had remained one of the top units available. They had lived by a very simple credo during the hard times, “Better to give up equipment than personnel, and better to disband than to be less than we have always been.”
After a lengthy investigation into the Dragoons history and performance, they decided to offer them a position, but they ran into trouble with the commander of the Tiger Brigade. He objected to hiring the Irish Dragoons. In spite of the sterling record enjoyed by the Tiger Brigade, his unit was eclipsed, at lease on paper, by that of the Dragoons. Of course the Irish Dragoons could trace their successful history and linage back to the 1700’s on Terra. He claimed that no unit could be that good unless they had padded their record. The R.A.A.F. commanders were at an impasse. They wanted to bring the Dragoons on board and station them where they could fend off the Moonrakers. But, they didn’t want bad blood between the units. Finally, the Dragoons commander suggested a contest between the Tigers and the Dragoons. He suggested that the Dragoons take on an equal number of Tiger units in a series of war games. If the Tigers won the Dragoons would withdraw from consideration. If the Tigers lost, they would withdraw their objections. When the Tiger Brigade commander initially refused, General Shawnacy said in his heaviest Irish brogue, ”Well, if you’ll be needin’ the contest to be a wee bit more even, you can bring in six or eight battalions to our four. If it would be makin’ you feel more comfortable, that is.” In the resulting war games the Dragoons handed the Tigers their tails and were brought into the Royal Alterian Armed Forces. Though there are no hard feelings between the two units, if a member of the Irish Dragoons wants to start a fight (which is often the case) he’ll walk into a bar frequented by Tigers and start calling, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”
Once the Dragoons were settled into their new assignment, the Alterians began helping them rebuild their unit back into a full division. It was decided to split off two of the existing battalions to use as core units around which to build full regiments. It was felt that this approach would be better than merely assigning new Regiments. The veterans could provide stability to the new units as well as providing over all cohesiveness to the future division through the imparting of Dragoon traditions, values, and practices. Of course, this had always been the traditional way for the Irish Dragoons to expand when they had the opportunity to add to the unit. There was no difficulty in deciding to have the Fourth Battalion become the Third Regiment since the battalion was an all vehicle unit already. At regiment strength they would not only be able to provide all the division’s support needs, but also build an armored assault force to use in offensive and defensive operations.
The trouble came when it came to picking which of the three BattleMech battalions would be split off to form the Second Regiment. The First Battalion was comprised of the men and ‘Mechs that had been with the Dragoons for the longest time, so they got first choice. The “old timers” elected to remain as the First Battalion, First Regiment, of the First Division and took on the nick name of the “Three Aces Battalion”. Since “Mech companies were to be designated with letters instead of numbers, there would not be a “Four Aces Company”. That left it between the Second and Third Battalions to select who would form the new regiment and who would stay with the First Battalion.
While it seemed like an honor to be chosen as the unit around which would be built an entire regiment, there was a great deal of hesitation on the part of both battalions to leave the honorable company of the “old timers”. Discussions as to who should go and who should stay became first animated, then heated, and in the end down right hostile. Several different methods of determining the “winning battalion” were suggested. The first was to engage in a Clan like Trial of Position, but no one could agree on who was the single best ‘Mech Warrior in each battalion. There was then a suggestion of sending a company from each battalion to meet in a field for an old fashioned donnybrook. Last man standing chose the position for his battalion. There was also the suggestion of having the same size groups meet in a pub with the battalions picking up the tab and again the last man standing got the choice. There was even a suggestion of fighting with one hand and drinking with the other.
It was at this time that the Irish Dragoon’s high command was ready to step in and make an arbitrary decision, when a captain half joking made a suggestion. He said, “Since the Third Regiment had a company of Royal Guards, why not just have the Third Battalion be the core unit for the new regiment and call it the Second Regiment of Guards? Then each company could be a core for a Guards battalion.” You could have heard the proverbial pin drop. That might just be the answer. There was a huge difference between just starting a regiment and having that regiment named in your honor, especially considering the less than honorable beginnings of the Royal Guards. The proposal was put to the Third Battalion and after a little consideration the suggestion was adopted whole heartedly. But of course there was still a minor objection to being called the Second Regiment of Guards because it was felt that everyone would wonder where the First Regiment of Guards was. It was suggested that they be called the Second Regiment, Dragoon Guards, but it was pointed out that other Mercenary units used the Dragoon Guards moniker, and the Second regiment wished to be unique. The name settled on was the Second Regiment, the Irish Guards. Once this major issue was settled, all battalions settled down to the important business of building up and training the new members of the First Division of Irish Dragoons.
Since the First and Second Battalions Were original members of the Regiment before the expansion, the command lances for both battalions still carry the gold Camaron Star where as the new Third Battalion command lance wears the standard white Camaron Star.
Second Regiment - The Irish Guards
The early history of the Irish Dragoons began in the 1600s on Old Terra. The Dragoons were part of the British army, which proves that an Irishman will do anything for a good fight. During their time as an English unit there occurred an incident which still haunts the Dragoons.
The unit was stationed at one of the royal castles in southern England preparing to ship out to their next station. Just prior to embarkation, the notorious English weather closed in and delayed all operations. Several of the bored Dragoons decided they wanted to raid the Royal wine cellar. They waylaid several of the Royal Guards and took their uniforms in the hope that the dark and drizzly weather would help them pull off the deception. It might have worked if it hadn’t been for the fact that His Royal Highness was currently vacationing in the castle. As such not only were there extra guards in place, but also all the guards knew one another since they were long term members of the H.R.H.’s guard contingent. The scheming Dragoons never got past the first door to the Royal Cellars.
His Royal Highness showed amazing reserve in dealing with the miscreants. He sentenced those who had tried to raid the cellars to clean out the Royal Stables every day until the unit embarked for their next duty stations. Also, since the culprits had worn the uniforms of the Royal Guards, it was ordered that the entire company wear purple flashings on the epaulets and be known as the Irish Dragoons Royal Guards. This truly rankled the Dragoons who hated being associated with English royalty in any way.
Of course the purple flashings were a sign of derision for many years, but Irish Dragoons were still Irish Dragoons. The company distinguished itself and received many awards for gallantry and bravery. Before long it became a matter of honor to be in the Royal Guards as opposed to a joke. As such the purple markings and title Royal Guards have remained with at least one unit within the Dragoons ever, since even if the unit was no larger than a single lance.
With the choice of the Third Battalion to serve as the core unit for Second Regiment mainly because of the Royal Guards company, the Second Regiment of the Irish Dragoons is also known as the Irish Guards Regiment. The Regiment consists of the Fourth Battalion; Brass Guards, the Fifth Battalion; Grenadier Guards, and the Sixth Battalion; Royal Guards. Each of the Battalions has a history that any member will gladly relate to anyone who will listen, preferably over a pint in the local pub. However, it is the Royal Guards Battalion complete with royal purple colors that claim to be able to trace their linage back to the original wine cellar thieves.
In spite of the fact that the original Third Battalion voluntarily split off to be the core for the new Second Regiment, there was still a little bit of animosity simmering under the surface. It eventually manifested itself in a, “Well, if they don’t want us in the First, we’ll make the Second Regiment all our own,” kind of sentiment. It was finally decided to break away from the traditional Irish Dragoons color scheme for the new Regiment. It was felt that a change in scheme was the most obvious way to demonstrate Second Regiment’s independence. That’s when the trouble started. Newer members of the regiment wanted to do a complete departure from the traditional Dragoons scheme. Milder suggestions consisted of various patterns of camouflage or bare metal. Wilder elements wanted all reds, yellows, or blues. However, the older members that had been with the Dragoons a long time wouldn’t stand for such a radical change.
Then on night in a local pub, an overworked waitress carelessly handed old master sergeant Nickolov his pint with the handle turned to the right side. As insignificant as this mistake seemed to be, it resulted in gales of laughter around the table. The old sergeant was left handed and had always bragged that he spent some much time in this pub that all the waitresses knew to serve him with the handle to the left so as not to slow down his drinking. Nickolov just sat and stared at the drink for a minute while his companions laughed. After things quieted down, he looked at the people around the table and said, “Lads, that’s the answer.” He got up, paid for both the drink and the mug, and walked out of the pub leaving all those at the table wondering what was going on.
The next morning Nickolov went to the Regimental commander with his idea, and the rest, as they say, is history. Sergeant Nickolov’s suggestion was to reverse the traditional color scheme for the Unit’s BattleMechs. For ages the accepted color layout was to have the left two thirds of the ‘Mech painted Irish Green and the right one third painted as a company or lance designator. The Second Regiment from that day forward would paint the right two thirds of their machines Irish Green. The Second also decided to not follow in the traditional rainbow of colors for lance/company designations so and the left one third of each ‘Mech is used as a battalion designator. Thus all BattleMechs in each of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Battalions would wear only one color to go with their respective battalions. And what happened to the mug that Nickolov took from the pub? It’s on permanent display in the 2nd Regiment’s headquarters and it is always displayed with the handle on the right.
One other departure from traditional Irish Dragoon organization was in the actual make up of the three battalions. In the First Regiment, all three battalions are mixed class, including ‘Mechs from all four weight classes. In the Second Regiment each Battalion is made up to two weight classes excluding the various command lances. The 4th Battalion, Brass Guards (The Colossi) is made up of Assault class with some Heavy class units. As such the 4th Battalion is used as a shock unit. The 5th Battalion, Grenadier Guards (Blackheart’s Bastards) consists of Heavy and Medium class ‘Mechs that act as a quick strike force. They also can reinforce the 4th and 6th Battalions as necessary. The 6th Battalion, Royal Guards (Harrigans 40 Thieves) is made up to the Medium and Light ‘Mechs which perform all the reconnaissance and support. They also perform the long ranging, fast harassing attacks best suited for these classes.
As with the First and Second Regiments, members of the Third Regiment will also gladly regale the most casual listener with a long and proud rendition of the history of their regiment. Many will even go so far as to claim direct linage to the teamsters who handles the baggage trains of the original Irish Dragoons. If the listener expresses disbelief at this statement, the story teller will always fall back on the statement that the roots of the Third Regiment itself can easily be traced back that far. Whatever the case might be, the Third Regiment has indeed come a long way from horse drawn carts and wagons.
As it currently is organized, the Third Regiment stands as a reinforced regiment of four battalions instead of the usual three. Each of the four battalions serves a fairly well defined mission profile. The 7th Battalion is a reinforced unit completely made up of four hover craft companies. The 3rd and 4th companies are dedicated armored personnel carriers that handle the infantry and battle armor transportation requirements. 1st and 2nd companies each consist of a heavy, medium and light lance of armed assault hover craft. The 1st and 2nd companies can provide protection for the APC’s, perform independent combat missions, and support the armor units.
The 8th Battalion represents a new function for the Dragoons. In the past the Irish Dragoons have mostly been a BattleMech unit. However, with the expansion made possible by the R.A.A.F. it was decided to add a full battalion of armor. The 5th and 6th companies consist of heavy armor and specialty weapons systems. 7th company is a lighter, armored reconnaissance force with dedicated APC support.
Finally, the 9th Battalion (which was the original 4th Battalion) is an eclectic unit. In its original roll it served as a support unit. It was made up of hospital and repair units. Now it has been expanded to handle all levels of field maintenance and recovery, engineering and transport vehicles, medical and bridging units, artillery, and air defense.
Third Regiment also decided that they wanted a new and unique color scheme for the regiment. Up to this time there had been little to no coordination in the original battalion since they were support vehicles. They were mostly done in a variety of tans and browns. But since they were now to become a full regiment, that practice would have to end. A lot of the original battalion members wanted to retain a tan component in the scheme and start using a green component like the ‘Mech battalions. They decided on painting the left two thirds of every vehicle in a dark green. After all, one didn’t want to be too closely associated with the lumbering giants of the 1st and 2nd Regiments. The right one third of the vehicles was painted a desert tan. The new scheme worked fairly well but most of the regiment felt that it just lacked something to make it standout from the ‘Mechs. The answer came from a young corporal who piloted a Savannah Master. He was hosing down his vehicle following an exercise in a particularly muddy area of the test range. He cleaned the left side first and when he went around to the tan side he found that some of the water had washed away most of the mud on that side leaving dark brown streaks. He was so amazed by the resulting appearance that he decided to try it out in paint on his hovercraft. Since the Savannah Master is such a small vehicle, he thought if the First Sergeant didn’t like the look, it wouldn’t take him long to repaint it.
Two hours later he was racing around the parade ground in his newly painted Savannah Master for all to admire. The corporal had “commandeered” some dark brown paint to apply tiger stripes down the tan side of this hover craft. The idea turned out to be such a huge success that no one in the regiment wanted anything else. That’s why the entire 3rd Regiment wears the green and tiger stripe scheme. The only exceptions are the two medical units which still sport the traditional white and the Fledermaus R.O.V.’s which are black.
The choice to adopt a unified color scheme for the entire 3rd Regiment set up an interesting progression of color schemes across the entire division. Each lance in the 1st Battalion of the 1st Regiment has a different color as a unit (i.e. lance) designator. In the 2nd Battalion a color that corresponds to a lance in Company C is used as a company identifier. In the 3rd Battalion, each company selected color that that corresponds to a lance in Company A. The Second Regiment chose to use a single color to designate an entire battalion. Finally, the 3rd Regiment uses a single scheme for the regiment.
21st Combined Air Wing
Initially the Irish Dragoons had an air contingent known as the 111th Close Assault Group which could trace its history back to the early 1900' of Old Terra. Over time the Dragoons added the 23rd Heavy Bombardment Squadron and the 52nd Airborne Transport Command. After the capture of a Clan Donair helicopter, the 109th Helicopter Assault Team was formed. This group became designated the 888th Close Support Group. However, following the arrival of the Irish Dragoons as members of the Royal Alterian Armed Forces, things slowly began to change. The 888th C.S.G. supported the ground units of the Dragoons in combat and transportation operations but didn’t have Aerospace capability. As such the 360th began to be called on more and more to provide the air umbrella for Dragoon operations. After numerous, successful operations with the Dragoons, the commanders of the 360th requested to be transferred to the Irish Dragoons Division. Being an independent, mercenary unit in and of itself, the 360th had the right to make the request. Although this initially caused a great uproar in the R.A.A.F. high command, it was eventually decided to grant the request as long as the Wing could still be called on to support Bengal's Tiger Brigade when necessary.
Because of the long history and well established reputation of the 360th Aerospace Wing, the Irish Dragoons command agreed to allow the unit to retain its unit colors and command structure. It was also decided that it would be redundant to have multiple, independent air units, so the Dragoons' 888th Close Support Group was brought into the 360th Wing’s command structure providing a unified command. The 888th decided to keep their cherished Irish Dragoons color scheme. The combined units of the 360th Wing and 888th Group were renamed the 21st Combined Air Group. Thus the 21st C.A.G. is made up of the 360th Aerospace Wing, 111st C.A.S., 23rd H.B.S., 52nd A.T.C., and 109th H.A.T. air units. The Irish Dragoons Special Air Group is nominally under the 21st's command structure also.
15th Infantry Contingent
The Irish Dragoons had an infantry unit known as the 75 Infantry Battalion. This battalion performed all the conventional functions of standard infantry. The 3rd Regiment provided all forms of transport and support. Eventually the Dragoons became interested in the advances made in Battle Armor. A program was begun to evaluate the effective ness of battle armor and whether or not it was suited to Irish Dragoons. The evaluations included interaction with ‘Mechs, armor vehicles, and stand-alone operations. The evaluations proved so successful that the 1st Mobile Infantry Company was established. It was made up of four platoons of different kinds of Battle Armor to fulfill a verity of missions. The two companies were designated the 15th Infantry Contingent.
24th Welsh Regiment
Originally the reserve battalion was known as the 13th Reserve Battalion (County Down Irregulars). The battalion was made up of a variety of units. It included 'Mechs what were no longer used in a front line capacity. Some of these machines were ones that were replaced by newer 'Mechs in the First and Second Regiments but were still battle worthy. Others were really too old or outdated for combat, but could still be used for training and occupation duties. The Irish Dragoons had an abhorrence of waste that almost approached the Clan obsession on the subject.
The battalion also served several other functions. Any new BattleMech or vehicle design was sent to the 13th for full field testing and evaluation. Since the Irish Dragoons run an extensive exchange program with other house and mercenary units, the County Down Irregulars is the initial starting point for incoming members of the exchange program. Here they receive introduction to the Dragoons' philosophy and battle tactics. From the 13th they can move into regular regiments for more advanced training. While these "exchange students" are with the Irish Dragoons, they retain their originating unit's color scheme. As a result of this riotous, multiplicity of colors, the 13th usually lacks the coordinated appearance of a regular Dragoons unit.
Finally, the battalion serves as a repository for units of great sentimental value to the Dragoons. These include the Division's first BattleMech, the notorious Mackie and the Dragoons' own experimental Oxbow OB-001x (a.k.a. the Shamrock).
However, the unit began to be plagued with a long series of mishaps and misfortunes. These ranged from numerous, pesky maintenance issues to severe accidents. The battalion began to lose an inordinate number of interdivision war games. 'MechWarriors being the suspicious lot that they are, began to suggest and then grumble about becoming a hard-luck unit due to the unit's designation. The protestations became so insistent and vocal that the Dragoon's high command began to fear a mutiny. Cooler heads prevailed in the battalion and a formally worded request to change the unit's name was forwarded through proper channels. The petition was favorably received because, in truth, no one in the high command was particularly happy with a 13th battalion anyway. The members of the battalion were instructed to form a committee to select and present a new name.
Unfortunately there were an inordinate number of Welshmen on the committee and after a relatively short term of deliberation, they decided to honor an outstanding Welsh unit with a valiant history.
They suggested the 24th Welsh Battalion.
The high command wasn't particular happy with the non-Irish suggestion, but the Welsh were Celtic and Wales had had a long history with Ireland. So the suggestion was approved. However, the unit was raised to Regiment status since as a reserve and liaison organization the unit's strength fluctuated a great deal.