Regiments That Served With The 7th Armoured Division
During its history the 7th Armoured Division many different Armoured Regiments served with the Division and its Brigades. I have tried to include as many as possible with as much information on each as possible, but I apologise is I have omitted any.
This page will provide more details of the history of the various the Armoured Regiments that served with the Division.
For the following units, please read the information provided against each parent regiment. Each section will provide as much information as possible including regimental badges, associations, war diaries, museums, web sites and information available from the Army today.
The Regiments listed are:
Armoured Car and Reconnaissance Regiments
|11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars||4th South African Armoured Car Regiment (Later 4th/6th SA ACR)||Kings Dragoon Guards|
|2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry||Household Cavalry Regiment||44th Reconnaissance Regiment|
|Royal Dragoons (On 4th Armoured Brigade website).||No. 2 Armoured Car Company, Royal Air Force|
The Brigades listed are:
2nd Royal Tank Regiment
3rd Royal Tank Regiment
4th Royal Tank Regiment
5th Royal Tank Regiment
|6th Royal Tank Regiment|
7th Royal Tank Regiment
The Royal Tank Regiment Museum
Tel: 01929 403 463
1st RTR: When war was declared on 3rd September 1939, 1st RTR was one of the original units that formed what was then called The Heavy Brigade which was then to become 4th Armoured Brigade in December 1939. It took part in the British offensive in late 1940, which re-captured Sidi Barrani from the Italians, moving to 7th Armoured Brigade in November 1940. When Rommel counter-attacked in April 1941 it was part of 3rd Armoured Brigade and along with 5th and 6th RTR it fell back on Tobruk. 1st RTR was hastily moved to the forward areas with 'B' and 'C' Squadrons, together with 'A' Squadron 7th RTR arriving in Tobruk just before the Germans encircled the town in their advance towards the Egyptian border. Meanwhile A Squadron 1st RTR joined with 7th RTR and fought with them. As soon as the German offensive was halted, the two Battalions 'A' Squadrons were exchanged, by a destroyer making the return trip in one night. The regiment now formed part of the Tobruk garrison initially as part of 3rd Armoured Brigade and then as part of 32nd Army Tank Brigade, when the formers Brigade HQ, and regiments, were evacuated. It broke out of Tobruk with the rest of 32nd Army Tank Brigade and 70th Infantry Division, in November 1941 during the 'Operation Crusader' battles.
In mid February 1942 1st RTR joined 1st Armoured Brigade and was re-equipped with Honey and Grant Tanks ready for the Gazala battles of than year, at one time being amalgamated with 6th RTR due to losses. It fought near the 'Knightsbridge Box' before withdrawing with the rest of the 8th Army to El Alamein, briefly serving under the command of 4th Armoured Brigade in June 1942. Then as part of the re-organisation of the 8th Army prior to the coming offensive, it was re-equipped, (A Squadron with Crusaders and B and C Squadrons with Grants and Shermans) and then joined 22nd Armoured Brigade, with which was to served for the rest of the war. The Brigade then joined 7th Armoured Division in October 1942.
2nd RTR: 3rd September 1939 found 2nd RTR stationed at Farnborough, Hampshire as part of 1st Heavy Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division. It fought as part of the BEF during the Fall of France in May 1940 serving with 3rd and 5th RTR in 1st Heavy Armoured Brigade. After being evacuated at Dunkirk it was re-equipped and sailed to the Middle East and joined 4th Armoured Brigade in November 1940, taking part in the British offensive in late 1940 which re-captured Sidi Barrani from the Italians in late 1940. Along with the rest of 7th Armoured Division it was re-equipping in the Nile Delta when Rommel attached in April 1941 and in November 1941 it was part of 7th Armoured Brigade ready for 'Operation Crusader' battles.
When 7th Armoured Brigade left the desert to serve in India 2nd RTR was part of it serving along with 7th Queen's Own Hussars, arriving in Burma on 21st February 1942. It took part in the retreat from Burma and then returned to Iraq in 1943 with 7th Armoured Brigade, before moving to Italy in May 1944 where it finished the war.
3rd RTR: When war was declared on 3rd September 1939, 3rd RTR was stationed at Warminster, Wiltshire as part of 1st Heavy Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, along with 2nd and 5th RTR. After landing at Calais on 21st/22nd May 1940, it fought in the ten day defence of the vital town and port, witch delayed the Germans final assaults on Dunkirk. Many of the unit were evacuated while other fought a significant engagement at Gravelines in defence of Calais. A detach from the Regiment, also made it toe Cherbourg in time to be evacuated from there, too. Before being evacuated 3rd RTR destroyed all its tanks to prevent them falling readily into German hands. After being evacuated at the Regiment was reinforced from survivors from other units and re-equipped with A9 and A10 tanks, serving briefly in 22nd Armoured Brigade before joining 2nd Armoured Brigade. In October 1940 it joined 3rd Armoured Brigade, along with 5th RTR, then sailed to the Middle East, arriving in Suez on 24th December 1940. In March 1941 it joined 1st Armoured Brigade. It then saw service in Greece as part of this unit under the command of 6th Australian Division, before being evacuated back to Egypt. During the Greek campaign 3rd RTR lost more tanks to mechanical problems, due to the rough terrain and lack of spares, than to enemy fire. As tank loses grew the crews mounted BESA machine guns of the backs of lorries, before later forming an anti Paratroop unit under command of the 2nd New Zealand Division.
At the end of April 1941, the surviving 12 officers and 180 Other Racks were evacuated firstly to Crete and by end of May 1941 back to Egypt. There it was attached to 4th Light Armoured Brigade, along with 8th Hussars and 5th RTR. It served in 4th Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division during the 'Operation Crusader' battles of November 1941 and again during the Gazala battles of May and June 1942. After withdrawing to El Alamein it joined 8th Armoured Brigade as part of 10th Armoured Division, on 10th September 1942, with which it fought during the battle. When 10th Armoured Division was disbanded 3rd RTR the crews of the 3rd RTR were home in Britain for Christmas 1943. Then after a period of leave they moved to Bridlington to help form the 11th Armoured Division as part of 29th Armoured Brigade, along with 23rd Hussars and 2nd Fife and Forfarshire Yeomanry, being the only unit in the Brigade with any real combat experience. After Bridlington they were moved to Aldershot in readiness for the Allied invasion of Europe joined.
The 3 RTR landed in Normandy D+5, i.e. five days after the main landings moving towards Caen. It was in the narrow roads near Villers-Bocage, hemmed in by high hedges and banks, that the 3 RTR saw some of its fiercest fighting. Accustomed to swift open warfare in the desert, the crews of the tank regiments were now being shot at close range. Having survived the ferocity of the claustrophobic fighting of the Bocage, the 3rd RTR now prepared for Operation Epsom, the first attempt to attack the German stronghold of Caen which threatened to hold back the Allied movement out into France and the countries beyond. Operation Epsom was a failure and despite suffering heavy casualties, Caen was not seized. The town was eventually taken from the Germans between the 7th and 9th July 1944 and the Allied tanks were at last free to cross the Orne river and start fighting eastward.
The 3rd RTR took part in the next part of the breakout from Normandy was Operation Goodwood. Between the 18th and 21st July 1944, the Allied forces attempted to thrust out of Caen. Despite initial successes in clearing the German forces out of the surrounding villages, Goodwood finally ground to a halt. The operation had gained seven miles at most at a cost of some 6,000 casualties and nearly 400 tanks.
The main breakthrough happened soon after when the German forces, increasingly stretched, headed south allowing the Allied forces to circle round them and trap them at Falaise. Some 50,000 German soldiers were captured when the Allies finally slammed shut the Falaise Gap, another 10,000 dead.
The 3rd RTR then headed at high speed through France and towards the Belgian border. Encountering resistance virtually all the way, the regiment fought its way into Belgium and continued as far as Antwerp, an important port heavily protected by the Germans. Its importance for supplying equipment to the Allies made its capture a key priority in this phase of the invasion. British forces, including the 3rd RTR finally liberated Antwerp on the 4th September 1944.
With winter approaching, the 11th Armoured Division was sent back behind the lines for rest and a refit of vehicles, with the men of 3rd RTR billeted in the small town of Aarschot near Leuven.
At the end of 1944 the 3rd RTR were rushed to the Ardennes region of south-east Belgium following the German breakthrough of the Allied defences there - the Von Runstedt offensive. The heavy fighting that broke out here came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. The wintry weather and the difficult hilly terrain made tank warfare in this area especially dangerous. 3rd RTR along with elements of the American 82nd Reconnaissance Battalion were engaged in attacking the leading battlegroup of the German 2nd Panzer Division near the town of Dinant. After protracted fighting the German forces were overwhelmed and 147 German soldiers and their commanding officer were captured.
The 3rd RTR fought into Germany and had reached Flensburg near the German-Danish border when the Germans finally surrendered.
4th RTR: 3rd September 1939 found 4th RTR stationed at Farnborough, Hampshire as part of 1st Army Tank Brigade. It served with this independent unit during the Fall of France in May 1940, taking part in the action a Arras, 21st May 1940, when as part of 'Frankforce' (along with 7th RTR, 6th and 8th Battalions, Durham Light Infantry) they attacked a certain General Erwin Rommel's 7th Panzer Division, nearly killing Rommel himself. Here they suffered heavy causalities and were at one time being amalgamated with 7th RTR due to heavy losses. After evacuation at Dunkirk the Battalion was re-formed in September 1940. B Squadron was sent to Eritrea, with sixteen Matilda tanks, in October 1940 to support the campaign against the Italians, taking part in the battle for Keren in March 1941. The rest of 4th RTR arrived in North Africa in December 1940 and it later served as part of 4th Armoured Brigade in May and June 1941, during Operations Brevity and Battleaxe. After Operation Crusader it helped in the lifting of the siege of Tobruk and 4th RTR joined 32nd Army Tank Brigade as part of the Tobruk Garrison, but in June 1942 it was lost when Tobruk fell to the Germans. It was placed in suspended animation on 31st March 1943 and was not reformed until on 1st March 1945, by the re-designation of 144th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps. As part of 79th Armoured Division, equipped with Buffalo amphibious carriers for the Rhine Crossing, it carried the men of 153rd Infantry Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division, into Germany. In their Buffalo's 4th RTR then supported the crossings of the rivers Weser and Ijssell and later the Elbe.
5th RTR: When war was declared on 3rd September 1939, 5th RTR was stationed at Perham Down, Wiltshire as part of 1st Heavy Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division. It fought as part of the BEF during the Fall of France in May 1940 serving with 2nd and 3rd RTR in 1st Heavy Armoured Brigade. After being evacuated at Dunkirk it was re-equipped and then sailed to the Middle East as part of 1st Armoured Division, in 3rd Armoured Brigade. When Rommel counter-attacked in April 1941 it was part of 3rd Armoured Brigade and along with 3rd Hussars and 6th RTR it fell back on Tobruk. There it formed part of the Tobruk garrison until it embarking on 14th April 1941 for Egypt.
After a re-fit it then joined 4th Armoured Brigade with which it served during the Battleaxe battles of November 1941 and the Gazala battles of May and June 1942, withdrawing with the rest of the 8th Army to El Alamein. Then as part of the re-organisation of the 8th Army prior to the coming offensive, it joined 22nd Armoured Brigade, with which was to serve for the rest of the war. The Brigade then joined 7th Armoured Division in October 1942.
6th RTR: When the Mobile Division was formed in 1938 6th RTR was one of the original units that formed what was then called The Heavy Brigade which was then to become 4th Armoured Brigade in December 1939. It took part in the British offensive in late 1940 which re-captured Sidi Barrani from the Italians, and then patrolled the Tobruk - Bardia area during most of January, before being taken out of the line on 18th January 1940, handing over its vehicles to 1st and 2nd RTR. It then spent a month in Cairo before returning to Tobruk in mid February 1941. It then took over a large number of Italian M13 tanks captured at Beda Fomm in late February, spending most of March in the Beda Fomm area learning to handle these captured tanks. At this time it came under the command of 3rd Armoured Brigade and was involved in a fighting withdrawal when Rommel first attacked in April 1941. During this withdrawal which many of the captured Italian M13 tanks had to be destroyed as they were in poor shape and unlikely to make the journey back to Tobruk, let alone Egypt. The regiment fell back on Tobruk with the last of it embarking on 14th April 1941, returning to Alexandria two days later. Here it re-equipped returning to the desert in June of that year under the command of 4th Armoured Brigade. It then served in 7th Armoured Brigade, during the 'Operation Battleaxe' and later during Operation Crusader. During the battles at Sidi Rezegh they were virtually wiped out by German 88mm anti-tank guns on 21st November 1941, but the survivors continued to fight on under 'Jock' Campbell's command.
In mid February 1942 6th RTR joined 1st Armoured Brigade and was re-equipped with Honey and Grant Tanks ready for the Gazala battles of than year at one time being amalgamated with 1st RTR due to losses. It fought near the 'Knightsbridge Box' before withdrawing with the rest of the 8th Army to El Alamein. It was still re-equipping during the Battle of El Alamein, and in December 1942 to moved to Jordan and then Iraq, where it served for all of 1943, with brief periods in Syria and Palestine, joining 7th Armoured Brigade upon its return from Burma, in September 1943.
As part of 7th Armoured Brigade, 6th RTR arrived in Italy landing at Taranto on 4th May 1944. It then took over from 40th RTR in supporting 10th Indian Division. It then served as a 10 Corps unit with both 4th and 10th Indian Divisions, serving alongside the 2nd and 8th RTR, in 7th Armoured Brigade, for the rest of the war. It continued to fight its way through Italy, find itself near Padua when the German forces in Italy surrendered in May 1945. It then moved onto Austria as the rounding up of the surrendering German Army continued. This was the end of 6th RTR's war. There is one final epitaph to the work 6th RTR did with 10th Indian Division, because on 21st May 1945, 6th RTR received a letter from Major General D. W. Reid CBE DSO MC, Commander 10th Indian Division.
“Will you please excuse the grave delay in writing to you. I think this is now the third time you have worked with 10th Indian Division. I think you know what our chaps, British and Indian troops alike, think of you and your very fine fellows in the 6th Royal Tank Regiment.
It has always been a case of smiles on all faces when it has been known that it was the 6th Royal Tank Regiment who were going to play with us.
Many, many thanks to you all for all you did for us last winter and again in this last recent and final affair. Will you please tell your officers and men how grateful we all are in 10th Indian Division.
In the meanwhile, all good fortune to you all and the very best of luck”.
7th RTR: 3rd September 1939 found 7th RTR stationed at Catterick Camp, North Yorkshire. It joined 1st Army Tank Brigade as part of the BEF serving with this independent unit during the Fall of France in May 1940, taking part in the action a Arras, 21st May 1940, when as part of 'Frankforce' (along with 4th RTR, 6th and 8th Battalions, Durham Light Infantry) they attacked a certain General Erwin Rommel's 7th Panzer Division, nearly killing Rommel himself. Here they suffered heavy causalities and were at one time being amalgamated with 4th RTR due to heavy losses. After evacuation at Dunkirk on 28th May 1940, the Battalion was re-formed and it arrived in North Africa in September 1940 taking part in Operation Compass in December that year, supporting the Indians and later the Australians in taking the fortified ports in their heavy armoured Matilda tanks. It then served as part of 4th Armoured Brigade in May and June 1941, during Operation Battleaxe, with one Squadron being assigned to Airfield defence on Crete in May 1941, too. After Operation Crusader it helped in the lifting of the siege of Tobruk joining 32nd Army Tank Brigade as part of the Tobruk Garrison, but in June 1942 the regiment was lost when Tobruk fell to the Germans.
It was then reconstituted by re-designation of 10th Royal Tank Regiment in February 1943, in the UK, as part of 31st Army Tank Brigade. The Battalion then served in 31st Army Tank Brigade, being equipped with Crocodile Flame Thrower Tanks in September 1944, when it joined 79th Armoured Division. 7th RTR finished the war in North Germany, having supported both 4th Armoured Brigade and 7th Armoured Division many times on the way. In February 1945 31st Army Tank Brigade become 31st Armoured Brigade.
The Invention Of The Tank
On the 13th June 1900 Major General Sir Ernest Swinton was serving with the British Forces in the Boer War. On that precise date, he visualised the requirement for an armoured fighting vehicle to defeat the destructive power of the machine gun. The tank, a revolutionary new weapon system, born of General Swinton's vision, was to break the stalemate of trench warfare and the dominance of the machine gun of the battlefields of Flanders sixteen years later.
The story of The Royal Tank Regiment is one of struggle, triumph and achievement. Its origins are a mere three-quarters of a century old, but those years have seen the stalemate of trench warfare overcome, the restoration of mobility and the establishment of the tank and mechanised forces, as a dominant factor in battle. The tank reaffirmed its position as the decisive weapon on the battlefield during the Gulf War.
The present Royal Tank Regiment, composed of two regular regiments, is the direct heir to the original armoured car pioneers of 1914, the Naval Brigade and the RNAS squadron which augmented the British Expeditionary Forces for the defence of Antwerp in August of that year.
The First World War
When the first tanks were produced in 1916, they were manned by members of the Machine Gun Corps, formed into six companies which were collectively known as the Heavy Branch.
The very first battle involving tanks took place on the Somme. About thirty British Mark 1 tanks attacked German positions between the villages of Flers and Courcelette, on Friday 15 September 1916. The arrival of the tanks on the battlefield signalled the end of trench warfare, which had suffocated both sides in the 1914-18 conflict.
During this action the Press seized on a report from an aircraft crew, which said that "a tank is walking down the main street of Flers with the British Army cheering behind it." This was "D" Company, later the 4th Royal Tank Regiment. These companies were expanded to form battalions and were renamed the Tank Corps in 1917.
The first battle between two opposing tanks took place near the village of Cachy on 24 April 1918. The German A7V tank Nixe (Lt Biltz), engaged three British Mark IV tanks, and damaged two, but was knocked out by the third, commanded by 2nd Lt Frank Mitchell.
By December 1918 there were 26 battalions, and as well as serving in France, a detachment from the Corps had served under Allenby at Gaza, Palestine in 1917. The Corps saw almost continuous action, winning four VC's.
In France at dawn on November 20th, 1917, some 300 British Mark IV tanks of the Tank Corps, led by Brigadier Hugh Elles, created a major break in the German Hindenburg Line and nearly reached Cambrai itself. This was the Battle of Cambrai, and so successful was this action, that the church bells were rung throughout Great Britain. Each year this great battle is commemorated as "Cambrai Day".
Between The Wars
At the end of World War 1 with the status of the Tank Corps in the greatest doubt, three small tank detachments were despatched to Russia, to support the White Russians against the Bolsheviks. One British manned tank achieved the capture of Tsaritsin, later called Stalingrad, now known as Volgograd.
By 1920 the Tank Corps was reduced to a Depot and four battalions, becoming established in its own right in 1923 when it was granted the prefix "Royal" by King George V, its Colonel-in-Chief since 1918. At this time it also officially adopted the black beret as its distinctive headgear, with the silver badge and 'Fear Naught' motto.
Thereafter Royal Tank Regiment armoured car and light tank units helped maintain the peace throughout the Empire in Iraq, Persia, Palestine, India and Egypt until 1939 when war clouds once more gathered over Europe.
The Second World War
The Corps changed to its present title in 1939, with the formation of the Royal Tank Regiment. The RTC had, up until 1928, been entirely responsible for all "armour" in the British Army. Its schools began the mechanisation and training of the cavalry, and the RTR itself expanded between 1935 and 1938 into eight regular battalions.
From the outset of World War II, both Sir Winston Churchill and Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, made it clear that they wished to be associated with the Royal Tank Regiment - the value of the tank as a decisive battlefield weapon was being recognised.
By the end of the Second World War, the tank had once again proved itself a major battle winner, and having fought in most of the major engagements in Europe, North Africa, the Middle and Far East, the Regiment had battalions spread all over the globe. Two more VC's had been awarded, together with countless other decorations, to men who, "...cheerfully went to war in tin cans, closely surrounded by a lethal mixture of petrol and ammunition.
Both 4th and 7th RTR fought in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. At Arras, on 21 May 1940 they smashed into the rear of Rommel's 7th Panzer Division with good effect. However, both regiments suffered heavily in the end and the survivors escaped via Dunkirk. Three other RTR regiments fought in Western France as part of the British First Armoured Division.
Throughout the desert war, elements of the RTR saw almost continuous action. In particular the great victory over the Italian at Beda Fomm. The RTR was heavily committed at El Alamein in October 1942, not only in conventional tanks but also in mine-sweeping flail tanks called Scorpions. While Montgomery's Eighth Army pursued retreating Axis forces across Libya, a new Army under General Eisenhower landed in Tunisia. It was here RTR crews in Churchill tanks met and defeated the mighty German Tigers.
Major General Sir Percy Hobart, an RTR officer since 1923, is best known as commander of the famous 79th Armoured Division. Equipped with special purpose tanks known as Funnies this division spearheaded the British attack on D-Day, 6 June 1944 and continued to support Allied forces in Europe until the end of the war. Once again the RTR played a vital part, notably in such events as the attack on Le Havre, the fantastic six-day dash from Normandy to Belgium and the crossing of the river Rhine in March 1945.
By the end of World War II there were 24 regiments of the RTR and they had seen service in France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Sicily, Malta, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Greece, Crete, Algeria, Abyssinia, Sudan, Palestine, Iraq, Persia, Jordan, India and Burma.
Reduced once more to eight regular regiments after the war, the tank has still continued to demonstrate its importance on the modern battlefield, with The Royal Tank Regiment seeing action in Aden, Borneo, Malaya, Egypt, Cyprus, Korea and the Gulf. The Regiment has also had units stationed in Germany, Libya, Hong Kong, England and Northern Ireland.
However, as the recent Gulf War yet again illustrated most clearly, it is the quality, bravery and high degree of expertise of the tank crews which was, and still is, the real battle winner. Throughout the tank's history the most important element has been the crewmen, who together make up this close knit team of professionals.
|History of 4th and 7th RTR|
|4th RTR Website|
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3rd, (King's Own Hussars) Museum , 7th, (Queen's Own Hussars) Museum,
Lord Leycester Hospital,
Tel: 01926 492 035
Service History: At outbreak of the Second World War 3rd Hussars were part of 1st Light Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, stationed at Tidworth, Hampshire. They then served in May 1940 in the BEF, with 1st Light Armoured Brigade during the Fall of France, being evacuated at Dunkirk. After being re-equipped and re-trained 3rd Hussar joined 7th Armoured Brigade in time for the offensive in November and December 1940 which re-captured Sidi Barrani and Bardia from the Italians, with one Squadron also serving in 4th Armoured Brigade at the same time to strengthen it.
In 1941 the Regiment had been split up, with two squadrons moving to Crete and Cyprus before they fell. "B" Squadron was sent to Java where they were all captured by the Japanese, in March 1942. Meanwhile, a detachment from the Regiment also served as in the Tobruk Garrison as part of 5th RTR during the siege that was lifted as part of 'Operation Crusader', in November 1941. The squadron on Crete in May 1941 served with 14th (British) Infantry and 16th Australian Infantry Brigades equipped with Light Tanks. When Crete fall the remains of the units there were evacuated to Egypt and once the siege of Tobruk had been lifted the Regiment was re-equipped and it was the detachment serving with 5th RTR that became the reconstituted 'B' Squadron.
In March 1942 the Regiment then became part of 9th Armoured Brigade, with which it fought at El Alamein, supporting 2nd New Zealand Division. With the rest of 9th Armoured Brigade it took part in 'Operation Supercharge' where the Brigade suffered heavy causalities while effectively charging enemy anti-tank gun positions. At one time in the battle 'A' Squadron had suffered such losses that it had to be replaced by the re-formed 'B' Squadron. By the end of the battle the whole of 9th Armoured Brigade only had 19 serviceable tanks left (having lost 103 tanks in total), which then continued to serve under command of 1st Armoured Division. The cost to 3rd Hussars was appalling, with 47 out of 51 tanks being destroyed and 21 officers and 98 other ranks casualties. However such was the esteem in which they were held, that the 3rd Hussars were awarded the honour of wearing the Fern Leaf, the New Zealander's Divisional Badge. This privilege continues today, carried by all vehicles of the regiment and those it has been amalgamated with since the end of the war.
In January 1943, the Regiment moved to Aleppo in Syria, in August to Haifa and then to the Lebanon but it was not until April of 1944 that 3rd Hussars next saw action in Italy. Here the order came that all personnel who had served overseas for four and a half years were to be sent to England. The 3rd Hussars then moved to Syria first and this is where they were for the capitulation of the Axis powers on 6 may 1945. When Japan surrendered in August the survivors of the ill fated "B" Squadron started to return to the Regiment. The inhuman Japanese Prisoner of War camps had Killed 54 of the Squadron.
The 3rd Hussars were raised at the very beginning of the first standing Army in 1685, as three independent troops of Dragoons led by three Captains of the Royal Dragoons and were forced to oppose Monmouth's Rebellion. Afterwards they were given another troop by the Royal Dragoons, two newly raised troops banded together and given their first title "The Queen Consort's Regiment of Dragoons".
Within four years the title of the Regiment had been modified, due in part to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in which half of the Regiment, including Leveson's Troop had changed over to William of Orange's side. For his shrewd decision, Leveson was made Colonel of The Queens Consort's Regiment of Dragoons by the new King. With all regiments popularly known by their Colonels name, it was therefore Leveson's Dragoons who went to Ireland to see their first action in 1689 the following year.
The War in Ireland was a sour and ill-provisioned conflict with disease and starvation taking almost half the Army as casualties. Leveson's Dragoons however had made themselves "Celebrated in the Army" because of their spirited conduct. This augured well for the future.
The Regiment returned to England in 1692 for two years home service before being sent to the Netherlands to campaign against the French, re-titled as The Queen's Dragoons, the name they were to hold until 1714. As part of the garrison of Dixmude the Regiment was surrendered to the besieging French by a Danish General which, enraged the Dragoons who broke all of their weaponry, rather than hand it over. After the treaty of Ryswick the Regiment returned home for five years, then in 1702 took part in two minor scuffles at Cadiz and at Vigo, where at the latter they helped to destroy over 40 Spanish ships before returning home.
Five more years in England during Marlborough's great campaign against the French could not have pleased the Queen's Dragoons until they were sent to Spain and fought against the French themselves at the Battle of Almanza, with the forerunners of the 4th and 8th Hussars, in 1707. Despite the Dragoon's repeated charges, Almanza was a heavy defeat with over half the Regiment being killed. Little had been gained by the time the Regiment returned home the following year, and little was to happen for the next four years while the Regiment was in Scotland.
In 1714 the first Hanovarian, George I, Became King and as he had no Queens Consort the Regiment's Title changed once more to the King's Own Regiment of Dragoons. A year later they fought at Sheriffmuir alongside the forebears of the 7th Hussars, thus joining Battle with all their future partners within 30 years of their formation. From 1715 until 1742, The Kings Own Regiment of Dragoons soldiered at home, engaging in nothing more exciting than anti-smuggling duty. The uneasy peace in Europe was broken when the Emperor of Austria died and "The War of the Austrian Succession" broke out with Britain and Austria once again fighting France. This time there was one major Battle and one clear result. King George II led his Army into Battle on 27 June 1743, near the village of Dettingen where the King's Own endured three hellish hours exposed to French Artillery then Charged three times through nine squadrons of the French Household Cavalry and routed them. Private Thomas Brown rescued one of the Regimental standards in Glorious Fashion. "He had two horses killed from under him; two fingers of ye bridal hand chopped off; and after retaking the standard from ye Gen D'Arms, whom he killed, he made his way through a lane of the enemy, exposed to fire and sword, in the execution of which he received 8 cuts in ye face, head and neck; 2 balls lodged in his back, 3 went thro his hat; and in this hack'd condition he rejoined his regiment who gave him three huzzas on his arrival"
For his bravery Thomas Brown, along with George Daraugh of the 4th Hussars, was made a Knight Banneret on the battlefield by King George II, the last time a British Monarch led his soldiers into battle. The King's Own also captured a pair of silver Kettle Drums from the French after the Battle, and although these were destroyed in 1847, a pair of silver replicas are still highly cherished by the Regiment today. At Dettingen all the Officers save two were wounded among the 148 Killed or wounded. When George II inspected the Regiment before it returned to England, he sharply asked whose Regiment it was because of its thin ranks, forcing General Bland to answer,
"Please your Majesty, it is my Regiment and I believe the remainder of it is at Dettingen".
With a shortage of troops in England the second Jacobite Rebellion in 1745 called some regiments home, including the King's Own, who were sent north to fight at Culloden in 1746. This preceded a long period of inactivity for the Regiment until 1808, excepting their participation in a limited raid on France in 1758 and in the Gordon Riots in London during 1780. It is the association with the Hanoverian Kings that 'The White Horse of Hannover' became the regimental badge.
To appease political pressure yet another ill-fated expedition was sent to the |Low Countries in 1809 to destroy French shipping on the Scheldt. Known as the Walcheren expedition the plan failed and disease took many casualties. Napoleon was in the ascendant throughout Europe and a year earlier had installed his brother on the throne of Spain, the country Britain had decided to make the focal point of its struggle against French imperialism.
In 1811 the King's Own joined Wellington's Army in the Peninsula, talking part in the campaign of the following year including many unremarkable skirmishes until the major Battle of Salamanca. Wellington's perfect timing of his attack routed 40,000 Frenchmen in 40 minutes, with the cavalry being the chief instrument of destruction. The King's Own had earned their second Battle Honour. After wintering in Portugal, the British again had Wellington's Tactical mind to thank for pushing the French Army out of Spain with only one major decisive battle at Vittoria, at which both sides lost the same number of casualties but the French had been outflanked. The King's Own chased the fugitive French Army, which had been beaten by the infantry. In 1814 Napoleon had actually abdicated when Wellington fought and won the bloody encounter of Toulouse, the King's Own's final battle in addition to that of the whole campaign "Peninsula". Throughout the war the 3rd had fought in the same Brigade as the 4th, their future partners. In all 210 men had been killed, and it must have been with relief that they reached home in July 1814.
Between 1815 and 1837 the King's Own were stationed in England and Ireland performing the duty more of a gendarmerie than an Army during years of considerable social unrest. In 1818 the Regiment's name was changed once more to "3rd The King's Own Light Dragoons". In 1837 they set sail for India, bought up to the strength of 420 men, of whom only 47 would return to England in 1853. For four years the 3rd had no enemy except the intense heat; then in January 1842 they set out to avenge the complete slaughter of the British Garrison in Kabul, butchered on their attempt to return to India. Having recaptured Kabul it was decided by the Governor-general to abandon Afghanistan; thus the 3rd moved back to India. It was the turn of the Sikh Army to suffer in 1845 as they crossed into India, with 60.000 men on December 11th. Within sixty-two days the Sikh Army had been utterly defeated in four major Battles. The first of these was Moodkee, at which the 3rd and the second Brigade of Cavalry were present.
"With praiseworthy gallantry...turned the left of the Sikh Army, and sweeping along the whole rear of its infantry and guns, silenced for a time the latter, and put their numerous cavalry to flight...Their (the enemy's) whole forces were driven from position to position with great slaughter"
From the Regiment there were 61 killed and 35 wounded, but they could only rest for three days before being put into battle again, charging the Sikh guns at Ferozeshah on the 21st December, then repulsing a second Sikh Army from the very positions they had just taken on the 22nd, with the loss of another 55 killed and 100 wounded. Sir John Fortescue, the Military Historian, wrote of the 3rd as "heroes", Saying
"Few Regiments of horse in the world can show a finer record of hardihood and endurance".
The final battle in which the Regiment fought in this first Sikh War was on February 10th, 1846, at Sobraon which, because of the tremendous slaughter of the enemy and their ejection from India, became known as the "Waterloo of India". The 3rd Hussars suffered only minor casualties.
Three years later the Sikh's Mutinied again, and as before the 3rd were included in the force sent against them for the second Sikh war. Battle was first joined by the rival Armies at Chillianwallah which was really a defeat for the British but for the 3rd, Captain Unett's Squadron cut a path half a mile deep in the enemy, losing half of his brave squadron in the process. It was only a month before the final battle in the war, which routed the Sikh's at Goojerat, in which the 3rd pursued and cut down the fleeing enemy.
This was the final battle in India for the regiment who returned to England showered with praise by the Indian hierarchy, in 1853. In 1854 they were ordered to recruit men and buy horses for the 4th Light Dragoons in the Crimea providing 253 and 300 respectively. In 1861 the title of the Regiment changed once more to "The 3rd King's Own Hussars", during the fourth year of the six year tour in Ireland. In 1868 they sailed again for India spending eleven peaceful years there before another nineteen in England and Ireland, equally without incident. The 3rd provided its share for the socially elite Camel Corps in 1884, three years it was once again sent for service in India. Disease disabled the Regiment as normal in India before finally it was sent to see active service in South Africa in November 1901. The hard fighting had already finished and the 3rd found themselves engaged in "driving", rounding up the Boars out on the veldt with the only serious casualties being the horses who worked very hard. Within six months the war was over and the Regiment was sent back to India until 1907 where it spent four years policing the now peaceful South Africa, returning home to England in 1911.
Within the context of the 1914 - 1918 Great War the part played by any one unit among hundreds must be obscured by the grand strategy. The 3rd Hussars fought only in Northern France and Flanders, yet they gained twenty seven Battle Honours, double the amount they had won in the previous two centuries. None were on the scale of Moodkee or Dettingen, but the squalor and deprivation which epitomised the trench warfare, all were thoroughly earned.
The Regiment arrived in Rouen on 17th August 1914 and by the 21st was in action opposing the German Cavalry at Mons. For a fortnight the so-called Great Retreat saw the Regiment pushed back through Le Cateau over 200 miles until on the 5th September the British and French Armies turned, inflicting defeats on the Germans at the Marne and the Aisne. The struggle for Flanders began in October in Ypres with the Cavalry fighting as infantry holding the lines at Messines under intense pressure. On one day the Regiment lost fifty percent in Casualties. The War now developed into trench warfare with the 3rd employed around Ypres, St Julien and Bellewaarde Lake until put into reserve in June 1915. Meanwhile they provided large squadrons for a Cavalry dismounted division fighting as infantry in the trenches. September 1916 and the battle of the Somme saw the regiment still providing labour behind the front, as well as their dismounted commitment, before wintering in Villeroy.
For the battle of Arras in April 1917, the 3rd were once again ready for "the gap" but it did not materialise. Another spell as a dismounted regiment followed until Cambrai in November when, ready to push through the right flank they were again let down, but fought on foot in the latter stages. In March 1918 the Germans put together their final assault in which the 3rd on 1st April were ordered to take rifle wood, the vital ground the Commander-in-Chief had chosen. An exposed assault led once again fifty percent casualties. In July the Cavalry began to pursue the German withdrawal, acting as reconnaissance for the slower infantry. The 3rd ended the war where they had begun it in 1914, at Hautmont, having lost 107 killed and 385 wounded in the intervening four years.
In 1921 the title of the regiment changed for the final time to "3rd The King's Own Hussars" a few years before it embarked for two years in Turkey as part of the allied army of occupation. From there it proceeded to Egypt until 1927 when it moved to India. Lucknow was a quiet tour and in 1932 the 3rd hussars returned home to York.
On transferring to Tidworth in 1935 the regiment had been selected, and had itself approved the decision, to undergo the first experiments in Mechanisation. Emotional the loss of the horse was, the British higher command had left the decision as late as they possibly could. The regiment cheerfully practised with laughably unsuitable vehicles until the Second World War drew them once more against their foes of the last conflict, the Germans.
Initially during the "Phoney War" the Regiment was brigaded to the 1st Armoured Brigade alongside their old friends the 4th Hussars. After France had fallen the 3rd were sent to Cairo to join the 7th Armoured Brigade of the 7th Armoured Division, "The Desert Rats". General Wavell opened his offensive against the Italians in December 1940, and the 3rd saw their first action during the closing stages of the Sidi Barrani at Buq-Buq where they sustained 25 casualties, but helped to capture with the allied units so many Italian prisoners that "there were about five acres of Officers and two hundred acres of other ranks". This success carried on to Beda Fomm when the Italians were driven out of Cyrenaica.
In April 1941 the Afrika Corps under Rommel attacked and pushed the Allies all the way back to the El Alamein Line in twelve months. Meanwhile the Regiment had been split up into two squadrons moving to Crete and Cyprus before they fell. "B" Squadron was sent to Java where they were all captured by the Japanese and put into the infamous prisoner of war camps. The remaining and reconstituted 3rd Hussars were re-equipped with Crusader, Sherman and Grant Tanks ready for the Battle ahead. In the first phase of El Alamein the regiment helped break through Rommel's Defences but in the second phase it was given the crucial task of forcing a gap through the remaining defences to enable the armoured reserves to break through. The "Moodkee Wallahs" succeeded and Alamein was won, at a cost of 21 Officer casualties and 98 other rank casualties whilst of their 51 Tanks, 47 were destroyed in the battle. So decimated was the Regiment that it was unable to join the pursuit. General Freyburgh granted the 3rd Hussars the Honour of wearing the "Fern Leaf" on their vehicles because of their participation with the New Zealand Division during the Battle.
In January 1943, the Regiment moved to Aleppo in Syria, in August to Haifa and then to the Lebanon but it was not until April of 1944 that they were put back into action pushing the Germans out of Italy. In June and July the 3rd led the advance of the 78th Division up Italy reaching Citta Del Piave and fighting then at Ripa, Montone, Citta del Castello and Pistrino in the Tiber valley. The Regiment had led 130 miles of successful pursuit when an order came that all personnel who had served overseas for four and a half years were to be sent to England. This was disappointing as the Regiment had always suffered the brunt of the battles but rarely enjoyed the easier work of the pursuits. The 3rd Moved to Syria first and this is where they were for the capitulation of the Axis powers on 6 may 1945. When Japan surrendered in August "B" Squadron started to return to the Regiment. The inhuman Japanese Prisoner of War camps had Killed 54 of the Squadron.
In December 1945 the 3rd Hussars were selected to be the Reconnaissance Regiment for the only Airborne Division being retained in the Post War Army and thus moved to Sarafond in Palestine to join their Division. Three years of internal peacekeeping duties followed until the 3rd were evacuated to Germany via Durham in 1948. For the next Decade they moved around Germany providing the First Armoured Squadron in Berlin and enjoying the peaceful life until they came home to amalgamate, with 7th Queen's Own Hussars, in 1958 after 18 years of unbroken foreign service to form The Queen's Own Hussars.
In turn this regiment was amalgamated with The Queen's Royal Irish Hussars (4th and 8th Hussars) in 1993 to form a new regiment The Queen's Royal Hussars (Queen's Own and Royal Irish) which is one of the two Hussar Regiments in the British Army today.
|Queens Own Hussars Museum|
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4th (Queen's Own) Hussars Museum & 8th (King's Royal Irish) Hussars Museum
Tel: 01323 410 300
Service History: When war was declared in September 1939 4th Hussars were part of 1st Light Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division stationed at Tidworth, Hampshire. They then served in May 1940 in the BEF, with 1st Light Armoured Brigade during the Fall of France, being evacuated at Dunkirk. After being re-equipped and re-trained 4th Hussars arrived in the Middle East in January 1941 serving as part of 1st Armoured Brigade in Greece in support of 6th Australian Infantry Division, in March 1941. During this campaign the largest engagement was at the Corinth Canal Bridge where the 4th Hussars fought a rearguard action with the advancing enemy allowing the rest of the allied forces to retreat to the Peloponnese Peninsula. As part of this action all the senior officers and over 400 men of the 4th Hussars were taken prisoner.
In June 1941 the regiment was to re-constituted in Cairo and in April 1942 they were issued with Grant and Stuart tanks and then re-joined the 1st Armoured Brigade. As armour was scarce "B" Squadron found itself detailed to the London Yeomanry, but in an Action on the 12th June, during the Gazala battles, it was so badly ambushed that almost the whole squadron was lost. Along with the rest of 8th Army it withdrew to El Alamein, where they were temporary amalgamated with one Squadron from 8th Hussars as the 4th/8th Hussars, and faced the massive enemy onslaught at Alam Haifa. During the battle of El Alamein, the combined regiment forced their way through the German minefields and later captured the strategically important Halfaya Pass. In November 1942 the 4th/8th Hussars were split up, with 4th Hussars moving to Cyprus for a rest then further training. In June 1943 they moved back to Egypt and then later onto Italy as part of 1st Armoured Division fighting the first for the Gothic Line at Coriano. Here in Italy they were re-equipped with 'Kangaroo' Armoured Personnel Carriers which they utilised well in clearing a pocket from the east bank of the Senio river.
There was another lull in the conflict until April 1945 before the final battles up to the river Po and at the Argenta Gap came just before the axis collapsed on 2nd May 1945. The Second World War had ended but the 4th Hussars did not go home for two and half years after the enemy had surrendered, serving first in Austria helping to root out EX-SS members now on the run. It joined 56th (London) Division in October 1945, replacing 44th Reconnaissance Regiment in that role. Then in July 1946 the regiment moved to Northern Austria and into Syria in the British area of occupation. In March 1947 they moved up to Lubeck on the Baltic coast for nine months until they finally returned to England to Colchester.
The 4th Queen's Own Hussars were raised in 1685 when they were known by their Colonel's name - Berkeley's Dragoons or as Princess Anne of Denmark's Regiment of Dragoons. They served with distinction throughout the 18th Century, against Jacobite rebels and in the Wars of the Spanish and Austrian Successions. Its first Battle Honour was at Dettingen (27th June 1742). It was in this battle that Irishman George Daraugh (a dyer of Capel Street, Dublin) serving with Rich's Dragoons, as the Regiment was then known, attacked a French Officer who had carried off one of Rich's standards. He cut the Frenchman and returned to the British lines with the Standard. This was the last battle at which a British King (George II) was present as Commander; he Commissioned Daraugh and presented him with a purse of guineas.
During the Napoleonic Wars the 4th (or Queen's Own Dragoons) served with distinction under Wellington in the Spanish Peninsular. It arrived at Lisbon on April 25th 1809 with a strength of 29 Officers, 37 Sergeants and 674 Other Ranks. Its first action was at Talavera (July 27/28th 1809). Present at a number of actions including Busaco, the Lines of Torres Vedras, Albuhera, Usagre and Ciudad Rodrigo. On July 22nd 1812 at Salamanca, led by their Colonel Lord Edward Somerset, the 4th charged as part of Le Marchant's Brigade helping Wellington his greatest victory in Spain. After action at Vittoria (June 21st 1813), the Regiment entered France itself, being present at the last battle of the War at Toulouse (April 20th 1814). It marched north to Calais, arriving in England on July 20th 1814.
In 1821, the Regiment - by then known as the 4th (Queen's Own) Light Dragoons set sail for India where it would pass the next 20 years. In 1839 it was present at the capture of the citadel of Ghuznee in Afghanistan (on the Guidon it is always spelt with "ff" to avoid confusion with the 1879-80 Battle Honour. Sailing for the Crimea under its Colonel, Lord George Paget, the 4th landed at Constantinople in May 1854, and witnessed the Battles of Alma and Inkerman as well as the Siege of Sevastopol. It was as part of the famous Charge of the Light Brigade that the Regiment won lasting fame and, for one of its members, the Victoria Cross.
The Regiment served both at home and in India until the outbreak of the First World War. In India in 1896 the newly commissioned Winston Churchill wrote of the style in which the Regiment's Officers lived that "princes could live better than we". In fact the expense of life as a Cavalry Officer meant that Churchill's father wanted his son to serve in an Infantry Regiment rather than the Cavalry.
During the Great War the 4th served in France. In 1915 they renewed their association with the 8th Hussars when, at Curragh Camp in County Kildare the Depot Squadrons of both Regiments amalgamated to form the 10th Reserve Cavalry Regiment.
In the Second World War the 4th and 8th served together again when they fought in the Battle of Alam el Halfa in the Western Desert. In 1941, it took part in the defence of Greece, during which it was involved in a series of rearguard actions covering the withdrawal from the Yugoslav border to the Southern Beaches. Two Officers and 14 Other Ranks were killed in the fighting and a further 14 Other Ranks were drowned in the subsequent evacuation. After re-forming in Cairo the 4th again fought in North Africa during the Gazala battles and at El Alamein before being taken out of the line for re-equipping. After serving in Cyprus and North Africa as part of 10th Armoured Division the regiment land in Italy as the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment of 1st Armoured Division in May 1945. After a serious of engagements the 'C' Squadron was initially converted to drive Armoured Infantry Carriers being equipped with Sherman tanks (modified to carry troops known as "Kangaroos"), while the other Squadrons still had tanks, but later A the B Squadrons were also converted to use Priest SPGs modified to carry troops known as "Kangaroos or Defrocked Priests".
The regiment ended the war at Padua in Italy and soon after moved to Austria, near Paternion, where it became part of the Army of Occupation, capturing war criminals and maintaining law and order. In September 1945 it returned to Italy, initially near Trieste and Venice, after being converted back to an Armoured Regiment again.
The Regiment spent the years between the end of the War and Amalgamation in Austria, Italy and Germany before serving as an armoured car regiment in Malaya from 1948-51 combating terrorists. Amalgamation in 1958, with the 8th Hussars, to form the Queens Royal Irish Hussars. Later in 1993 this regiment merged with The Queen's Own Hussars to form a new regiment The Queen's Royal Hussars (Queen's Own and Royal Irish) which is one of the two Hussar Regiments in the British Army today.
|Army Hussars Web Page|
|Queen's Royal Hussars Museum & RHQ, Redoubt Fortress, Eastbourne|
|Army Queens Royal Hussars Website|
|4th Hussars Page on Queens Royal Hussars Website|
|War Diaries of 4th Queen's Own Hussars|
|Hussars - in Black & White website - 2nd RGH and 4th Hussars|
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3rd, (King's Own Hussars) Museum , 7th, (Queen's Own Hussars) Museum,,
Lord Leycester Hospital,
Tel: 01926 492 035
7th Hussars: When the Mobile Division was formed in 1938 7th Hussars was one of the original units that formed what was then called The Light Brigade which was then to become 7th Armoured Brigade in December 1939. After moving to 4th Armoured Brigade, it took part in the British offensive in late 1940 which re-captured Sidi Barrani and Bardia from the Italians.
Along with the rest of 7th Armoured Division it was re-equipping in the Nile Delta when Rommel attached in April 1941 and in November 1941 it was part of 7th Armoured Brigade ready for 'Operation Crusader' battles.
When 7th Armoured Brigade left the desert to serve in India 7th Queen's Own Hussars was part of it serving along with 2nd RTR, arriving in Burma on 21st February 1942. It took part in the retreat from Burma. By the start of May 1942 when they crossed the river Chindwin, the regiment had to destroy their tanks, and became pedestrians for the final 150 miles of the retreat. On 17th May the remnants of the Regiment staggered into Imphal. The 7th Hussars had covered nearly one thousand miles in three and half months losing forty six killed and fifty wounded, and earning the highest regard from all who had met them.
The regiment then returned to Iraq in 1943 with 7th Armoured Brigade and then moved back to Egypt, where they were re-equipped with Sherman tanks but spent two years idle until May 1944 when they joined the advance up Italy seconded to the 2nd Polish corps. They fought first for Ancona, a hard forty eight hour battle; and then in August for the gothic line earning the praise of the Polish who granted the 7th Hussars the privilege of wearing the Maid of Warsaw for their "Magnificent work - fine examples of heroism and successful action". By October the allies were nearing Bologna, prepared to sit out the winter which provided the Queen's Own time to practice in new swimming tanks and conduct foot reconnaissance into enemy territory. Both these factors proved vital in the battle for the plains of the River Po and ensured that by 2nd May 1945 the German Army in Italy had had to surrender.
The 7th Hussars stayed on in Italy for a while then marched north ending up in June 1946 at Soltau, in Northern Germany, as part of the occupying Army.
Due to the fact that the 7th Hussars lost many of their earliest documents twice within their first fifty years, their beginning is something of a mystery. It is certain that a commission was delivered to Colonel Richard Cunningham in 1690 ordering him to relinquish his foot command and take over a regiment of Dragoons. Formed from Eglintoun's Horse and Cardross's Dragoons to be six troops strong. By February 1691 Cunningham's Dragoons were an established unit of King William's Army in Scotland. The 7th could always boast of being one of the only two surviving regiments of cavalry raised in Scotland.
The first years of Cunningham's Dragoons service north of the border were without noteworthy event, all the troops being dispersed among the highlands. In March 1692 the regiment was brought to Edinburgh to assist in law and order duties but it was not until 1694 that it was sent to Flanders to join the King's Army marching and counter-marching for the next three years and subject to the odd review. They were present at the capture of Namur in 1695 and fought alongside the 3rd and the 4th periodically. Two years later the regiment came home to Scotland for a dozen years policing the lowlands, during which in 1709 the Hon William Ker took over the Colonelcy. He then led the regiment onto the continent for the final year before the treaty of Utrecht in which there were only minor skirmishes, from where they were ordered to Ireland. In August 1713 Parliament short-sightedly reduced the Army, The King's Jacobite-Minded political adviser Bolingbroke, Weeding out the Protestant regiments. Ker's Dragoons, despite their seniority, were one of the first to go alongside Pepper's Dragoons, later the 8th Hussars. Within 18 Months George I, the new King, had re-raised the regiment to help him to deal with the old pretender and the Jacobite Army, adding, a few months later the first title of the regiment, which was the excessively cumbersome "Our Dear Daughter Her Royal Highness the Princess Of Wales' Own Regiment of Dragoons".
At the end of October Ker's marched up to Scotland billeted alongside the future 3rd and 4th Hussars. They fought the rebels in November at Sheriffmuir. The Battle was indecisive and apart from Ker himself having three horses shot from under him, the regiment did nothing exemplary. The "Fifteen" died out and for 27 years Ker's did no fighting. When George II took the throne in 1727 there was no Princess of Wales so the regiment was re titled "The Queen's Own Royal Regiment of Dragoons". A merciful improvement, while the six troops were split up around England engaged in nothing more serious than smuggling control at sundry seaside towns.
In 1742, The Queen's Own mobilised for "The war of the Austrian Succession" and by June 1743 they were formed up in a disadvantageous position near the village of Dettingen near the valley of Maine. They spent the morning of the 27th June, standing next to the 3rd Hussars exposed to the devastating fire from the French guns. In the afternoon, stationed with the 4th and 3rd Hussars they charged, pushing the French Cavalry back and eventually with the support of the foot, broke the enemy's ranks. Both sides withdrew to lick their wounds until the battle of Fonteroy in 1745. The infantry performed well but were beaten back by superior numbers at which stage the British Generals threw in their mounted arm to cover the retreat. The Queen's Own charged again and again, sustaining fifty casualties but achieving their task. In 1746 the regiment was caught in the action at Roucoux, which developed as Fonteroy had done and Lauffedlt in which the Cavalry saved the British from a major defeat. By 1748 the impetus for war had petered out and the Queen's Own Dragoons landed back in England in 1749.
Two years later George II signed a warrant numbering Regiments, thus the 7th Queen's Own Regiment of Dragoons, who were also given the right to bear the Queen's Cypher, still used today. In 1756 the 7th moved back up to Scotland and had a light troop added to the establishment, who distinguished themselves in 1758 with raids on St Malo, where they destroyed over one hundred French ships, and at Cherbourg. During the Seven Years War the Queen's own were sent in 1760 to the continent, fighting at Warburg and then tediously marching and skirmishing for three years before coming home.
For the next thirty years the regiment soldiered quietly at home, north and south of the border. Another titular change took place in 1783 when the 7th were converted to the (Queen's Own) Light Dragoons. A decade later, after the French Revolution, Britain was at war once again with her old enemy in the Netherlands. April 1794 brought the battle of Beaumont that was a cavalry victory glowingly reported by the Fortescue as "the greatest day in the history of the British horse" because the British mounted regiments routed 25.000 French troops with their flanking attacks. A fortnight later the British repeated their success in much the same manner at Willems, charging the French squares nine times until they broke and then massacring the fleeing enemy. It was the same story at Mouvaux some days later when the 7th rescued their Colonel who had been captured during the fray by the enemy. The campaign ended a year later and the regiment went home for four peaceful years, during which their most celebrated patrons joined, Lord Henry Paget, Later the Marquis of Anglesey and John Gaspard Le Marchant, the founder of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. There was a minor campaign on the continent in 1795 to rescue Holland that failed and thus closed the eighteenth century.
Back in England George, the Prince of Wales, was the arbiter of all fashion and as such he decided to bestow first on his own regiment, the 10th, the distinction of being Hussars in 1806. Lord Paget, now Colonel of the 7th Hussars was a friend of the Prince and thus the 7th were the second regiment to be granted the magnificent uniforms in the same year. In October 1808 the 7th Hussars embarked for Corunna to reinforce Sir John Moore's Army. A bleaker could not have been foreseen. Moore had started the retreat before the 7th Hussars had reached the Army. Two minor conflicts brought the cavalry some renown during the retreat, the first at Sahagun in which two regiment of French Cavalry were overwhelmed, the second at Benavente when the over-enthusiastic leading elements of the French advance were pushed back into the river they had just crossed.
The remainder of the retreat over the mountains in the January snow and ice were disastrous, 150 effective soldiers were left of the 749 Queen's Own who had landed two months before. The Coup-de-Grace was delivered to the regiment when one of the troopships was wrecked on the way home, drowning sixty more of the regiment. The remainder reconstituted and served in Ireland for three years before being recalled to London for ceremonial duty owing to the Life Guards being overseas, and proceeding from there to the Peninsula as part of the Hussar Brigade arriving in September. The 7th crossed the Pyrenees and wintered near Bayonne, not fighting until Orthes in February 1814 when they mauled the retreating French infantry and were the only Cavalry regiment mentioned by Wellington in his dispatches. In June the regiment arrived home for service along the south Coast and an interlude keeping order during the Corn Law Riots in London.
A year later the 7th were hurriedly mobilised on hearing the news that Napoleon had escaped by the Elba. Their Brigade Commander was the late Commanding Officer, Maj General Sir Hussey Vivian and their regimental Colonel; Henry Paget (Lord Uxbridge) was commander of the whole British Cavalry. On the eve of the Battle of Waterloo the 7th were Honoured by Uxbridge by being given the charge on the advancing enemy in Genappe, who were Polish Lancers. After a spirited and fearless succession of charges only nineteen of the 120 men of the 7th Hussar squadron were left in the saddle. For the Battle of Waterloo itself, the 7th were on the extreme right of the allied line, 300 yards north of the Chateau of Hougoumont. Until 5pm they were not used, but then they were charged more than twelve times.
"And having charged every species of troops, infantry, artillery and cavalry we halted about half a mile in the rear of the French position and there found, tho' of the 7th and 15th there remained only 35 men, Colonel Kerrison and four Officers".
In 24 hours the 7th Hussars had lost two Officers killed, and eleven wounded, sixty two other ranks killed and 109 wounded, not to mention Uxbridge losing his leg to gain a marquessate.
For three years the regiment was part of the Army of Occupation around Paris with no shortage of entertainment. In October 1818 the Duke of Wellington held a final grand parade before the regiment sailed to England in January and back up to Scotland by July after a forty year absence. They were to have two generations of peace during which the Marquis of Anglesey remained their indulgent Colonel up to 1842. Until 1838 the 7th moved from billet to billet around Britain before being sent with the King's Dragoon Guards to Canada to punish the French republicans who were in minor rebellion. The 7th were not given the chance of action as the revolt petered out but they were kept on until 1842 in Canada. For the next fifteen years the regiment soldiered on quietly in England when once again an uprising in the Empire called them far from home, this time to India.
In the six months that it took for the 7th Hussars to reach the subcontinent the mutinous Sepoys had been pushed back into the province of Oudh. Fierce fighting raged along the approaches to Lucknow and the regiment was continually in action. At Musa Bagh in March 1858 the 7th won their first Victoria Cross when a troop was engulfed by drug crazed natives and despite the overwhelming odds, Cornet William Bankes, the only officer left, rallied the troops and drove off the attackers receiving eleven wounds of which he later died. Lucknow fell to the British who then rounded up the remnants of the mutineers. There were numerous fierce little actions, which combined the intolerable heat to cause casualties. In one of these battles by the river Rapti the 7th won their second Victoria Cross when as the regiment were pursuing a band of rebels over the river, they came under heavy fire from the far bank and not withstanding the peril Major Charles Frasier dived into the river to save three non-swimmers stranded in the middle of the sandbank.
In April 1859 the regiment arrived at Amballa. The mutiny was over and they spent eleven years in India containing only one notable skirmish at Shabkadr on the North West frontier when the 7th charged the tribesmen three times before the enemy took flight. In 1871 The Queen's Own moved back to Aldershot, and three years later had an infusion of royal blood when Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, was given a Captain's Commission. Son of Queen Victoria, he was a great character, well-liked by the regiment. The regiment did a short stint in South Africa in 1881 and provided two Officers and forty four soldiers for the socially elite camel corps three years later. 1886 found the complete regiment back in India for a decade during which they excelled at polo then a spell in England preceded the 7th Hussars being sent to "Drives" to herd up the Boers with a new type of operation which exhausted the horses, even after they were finished the 7th were kept on in South Africa until 1905. Then they had six quiet years in England before another tour in India drew them to the subcontinent.
They were stationed at Bangalore and were left there at the start of World War I, moving to Secunderabad with detachments keeping order in Delhi. It was not until 1917 that the frustrated regiment sailed to the river Tigris near Basra to fight against the Turks. They moved to Baghdad from where the first attack was launched in March 1918 against a division of the enemy in Khan Baghdadi. The 7th in their Brigade had the role of cutting off the enemy retreat that they managed very efficiently, first destroying the baggage column, then routing the enemy division in fifteen minutes. Six months of stagnation around Baghdad took place as the Turks had withdrawn until another offensive was mounted by the British and they again encircled the enemy at Sharquat. The 7th executed a brilliant piece of fire and withdrew. On the 30th October, as they were preparing to attack again, news came through that Turkey had surrendered but the 7th were to remain as an occupying force not arriving home until May 1919.
Between the World Wars the regiment had a short and uneventful tour of India Up to 1923, then a period at Aldershot before sailing to Egypt in 1935. The present generation of armoured cavalrymen can have little conception of the impact of mechanisation as it was announced to the regiment in May 1936. Training with their mark II tanks filled their next years and proved valuable practice as the Second World War started and the 7th were called into battle against the Italians in North West Africa in June 1940. The first action was taking the fort of Capuzzo that they had to capture twice in a month. In January 1941 the 7th were involved in the fighting around Bardia and Sidi Barrani then came the attack on Tobruk, which earned the regiment high praise from the Australian infantry. At Beda Fomm came the final destruction of the Italians and the 7th fought alongside the 3rd Hussars for 36 hours helping to capture 20,000 prisoners and 112 tanks.
A far sterner enemy took over from the Italians when Rommel's Africa Korps with its superior tanks started to push the allies back into Egypt. On 21st November 1941 the 7th Hussars were ordered to a blocking position north of Sidi Rezegh, where they encountered the might of the German advance in the shape of fifty Panzers, whose armament completely outclassed the mark VI. For four days the regiment carried out its mission, holding off a German armoured division until by the 28th November, the 7th had only two surviving tanks, had lost their Commanding Officer Killed among many other casualties, missing and prisoners. They went back to Abassia to refit until embarking in January 1942 for Rangoon in Burma, where again they were part of 7th Armoured Brigade.
The situation was desperate and the 7th moved straight up to Pegu to fight the marauding Japanese. Pegu was untenable so the British began their historic retreat northwards using the 7th Hussar Stuart Tanks to smash road blocks, cover the withdrawal and carry the wounded. There were countless acts of heroism by the 7th in the face of the inhumanity of the Japanese, and epitomised in Field Marshall Alexander's words about the 7th Hussars:
"Without them we should never have got the Army out of Burma; no praise can be too high for them"
Soon the British had been pushed back beyond Prome and the start of May 1942 when they crossed the river Chindwin, the regiment had to destroy their tanks, and became pedestrians for the final 150 miles of the retreat. On 17th May the remnants of the division staggered into Imphal. The 7th had covered nearly one thousand miles in three and half months losing forty six killed and fifty wounded, and earning the highest regard from all who had met them.
The regiment moved back to Egypt, where it was equipped with Sherman tanks but spent two years idle until May 1944 when they joined the advance up Italy seconded to the 2nd Polish corps. They fought first for Ancona, a hard forty eight hour battle; and then in August for the gothic line earning the praise of the Polish who granted the 7th Hussars the privilege of wearing the Maid of Warsaw for their "Magnificent work - fine examples of heroism and successful action". By October the allies were nearing Bologna, prepared to sit out the winter which provided the Queen's Own time to practice in new swimming tanks and conduct foot reconnaissance into enemy territory. Both these factors proved vital in the battle for the Po plains and ensured that by 2nd May 1945 the German Army in Italy had had to surrender.
The 7th stayed on in Italy for a while then marched north ending up in June 1946 at Soltau, in Northern Germany, as part of the occupying Army. They spent a year becoming friendly with the 4th Hussars, their neighbours before sailing back to Yorkshire, after twelve years abroad in December 1947. Two years of sorting out in England, with a large change in personnel, renewed the 7th for a five year tour in Fallingbostel near Soltau, before they were sent as the first armoured regiment in Hong Kong in 1954.
It was a quiet tour and on the boat home in August 1957 the 7th Queen's Own Hussars found that they were to be amalgamated the following year. It was heartbreaking news to the regiment, many of whom had fought all three of Britain's enemies in World War II and felt fiercely proud of the exploits of their regiment which had for so long epitomised the élan and flair of a cavalry regiment. In 1958 7th Queen's Own Hussars were amalgamated wit 3rd King's Own Hussars to for The Queen's Own Hussars.
In turn this regiment was amalgamated with The Queen's Royal Irish Hussars (4th and 8th Hussars) in 1993 to form a new regiment The Queen's Royal Hussars (Queen's Own and Royal Irish) which is one of the two Hussar Regiments in the British Army today.
|7th Hussars Page on Queens Royal Hussars Website|
|Queens Own Hussars Museum|
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4th (Queen's Own) Hussars Museum & 8th (King's Royal Irish) Hussars Museum
Tel: 01323 410 300
8th Hussars: When the Mobile Division was formed in 1938 8th Hussars was one of the original units that formed what was then called The Light Armoured Brigade which was then to become 7th Armoured Brigade in December 1939. It took part in the British offensive in late 1940 which re-captured Sidi Barrani and Bardia from the Italians and then in February 1941 the decisive Battle of Beda Fomm, which lead to the capture of most of the Italian forces in North Africa at the time.
In March 1941, 8th Hussars saw brief service in Greece before returning to North Africa as part of 1st Armoured Division. July 1941 found 8th Hussars back as part of 4th Armoured Brigade with which they then fought during Operation Crusader, suffering heavy casualties when attacked in the rear by 15th Panzer Division, which left them with just eight Honey Tanks fit for battle, with 35 having been captured in this engagement.
After a re-fit 8th Hussars were once again part of 4th Armoured Brigade with which it served during the Gazala battles of May and June 1942, suffering heavy losses at Bir Hacheim, where once again they were almost annihilated showing amazing bravery, before withdrawing with the rest of the 8th Army to El Alamein. In June one squadron reorganised they were temporary amalgamated with 4th Hussars as the 4th/8th Hussars, and faced the massive enemy onslaught at Alam Haifa. During the battle of El Alamein, the combined regiment forced their way through the German minefields. They were reconstituted in December 1942 and after a short break in Cyprus 8th Hussars returned to England in November 1943 where they became the Armoured Reconnaissance regiment of the 7th Armoured Division, which trained hard and landed in France on 9th June 1944, just after D-Day. They served as 7th Armoured Division's Armoured Reconnaissance regiment for the rest of the war, liberating the POW camp in Belsen before ending the war close to Hamburg. They later moved to Berlin with the rest of the Division and took part in the victory parade in July 1945.
In 1693, Colonel Conyngham raised a Regiment of Dragoons in Ireland. The first action they took part in was against the Spanish at Almenara in 1710. During the fighting the Regiment "overthrew a corps of Spanish cavalry and the Dragoons equipped themselves with the cross-belts of their fallen foe". This audacious action gave the Regiment the nickname of the "Crossbelt Dragoons".
After service in England against the Jacobite rebels, the 8th Light Dragoons were sent to Flanders in 1794 to fight the French. After a short spell in England, during which they marched on foot from Manchester to Portsmouth, they embarked on a 90 day voyage to the Cape in South Africa where they spent five years keeping order among the Boers and other peoples. Moving north to Egypt in 1801, the 8th helped rid the country of what was left of Napoleon's expeditionary force. Spending the next 20 years in India taking part in the Mahratta and Nepalese during which they won their first Battle Honour at Laswaree (November1st 1803). At this battle, their Colonel Thomas Packenham Vandeleur was killed because of the colour of his horse. All the 8th Light Dragoons were mounted on grey arabs, Vandeleur was an obvious target on his black charger, and was killed by an enemy cannon ball.
In 1822 the 8th received orders that they were to be uniformed, armed and equipped as a Hussar Regiment. Service in England followed with Squadrons serving in a variety of locations from Brighton to Ballincollig, Norwich to Newcastle. They passed three tours in Ireland including acting as escort to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their first visit to Dublin in 1849. Following the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade, the Regiment was sent to India to help quell the Mutiny.
On June 17th 1858 at Gwalior, a Squadron charged and routed several hundred rebel horsemen. They later attacked a large force of infantry and cavalry who were attempting to flee the city. In this attack the rebel cavalry leader the Rani of Jhansi was killed by a Hussar. Four Victoria Crosses were awarded for this action. The Regiment spent the rest of the Mutiny in operations across central India. Between landing and the end of the Mutiny, one Squadron of the 8th marched 3,365 miles and changed horses twice. They were awarded the Battle Honour "Afghanistan 1879-80" for service in that troubled part of the Empire, during which time it is estimated that 25% of the Regiment were ill at any one time with malaria. The last Imperial campaign of the 19th century was against the Boers with a force of 600 men including reservists and 500 horses.
Arriving in France from India in 1914, the 8th spent the whole war on the Western Front. They took part in what would be the Regiment's last mounted charge at Villiers-Faucon when B and D Squadrons, supported by a howitzer battery and two armoured cars, attacked a heavily defended German position. B Squadron charged then attacked on foot (the armoured cars were quickly put out of action) and drew then enemy's fire. D Squadron charged and quickly captured the village with few casualties. The Squadron Commander, Major Van der Byl was awarded the DSO for the action. Over the next twenty years, the 8th were posted to Iraq, Germany and England before being sent to Egypt in 1934. The last mounted parade of the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars was held on November 11th 1935 at Abbassia Barracks, Cairo.
Following service in Palestine, the 8th Hussars became one of the founders of the 7th Armoured Division - "The Desert Rats". They fought in the Western Desert from the outbreak of war until after El Alamein when it was sent to Cyprus for re-organisation.
It landed in Normandy on D Day + 2 (8th June 1944) and fought their to Hamburg as part of 7th Armoured Division once more. Returning to England in 1947, the Regiment would form part of the United Nations force sent to Korea in 1950. Equipped with Centurion tanks, they took part in many actions from Pyongyang to the fighting around Seoul and Kowant-San. It was awarded a Battle Honour for covering the retreat of the Northumberland Fusiliers, the Glosters and the Belgians at the Battle of the Imjin (April 1951). The 8th returned to Luneberg in Germany in 1952 where they were to remain until Amalgamation in 1958, with the 4th Hussars, to form the Queens Royal Irish Hussars.
Later in 1993 this regiment merged with The Queen's Own Hussars to form a new regiment The Queen's Royal Hussars (Queen's Own and Royal Irish) which is one of the two Hussar Regiments in the British Army today.
|War Diary for 8th King's Irish Hussars, June 1944|
|Military Roots Page for 8th King's Irish Hussars|
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The Royal Hussars Museum (Prince of Wales's Own)
(10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales's Own)),
(11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own))
Tel: 01962 828 539
Service History: When the Second World War started on 3rd September 1939, 11th Hussars were already an integral part of what was then called the Mobile Division. They were considered by both the British and Italians in North Africa to have the best understanding of how to operate and fight in the harsh desert environment. It took part in all the operations against the Italians when they declared war on 10th June 1940, being the scourge of many a supply convoy. Originally consisting of only three Squadrons, plus a HQ Squadron, with an additional Squadron being added when an RAF Armoured Car Squadron was attached in late 1940. They served as the eyes of the now renamed 7th Armoured Division, fighting in the in 'Operations Brevity, Battleaxe and Crusader'. When Rommel attacked in early 1942 were on detached duty in Iraq and re-joined 7th Armoured Division before the Gazala battles of May and June 1942, covering the Division withdrawal to Egypt.
After Alam Halfa and El Alamein 11th Hussars fought as part of 7th Armoured Division during the rest of the North African campaign and then in Italy. When the Division returned in early 1944 to the UK to prepare for the Normandy landings, the Regiment came under Corps command as did all other Armoured Car reconnaissance regiments, although it still served along side 7th Armoured Division. 'C' Squadron (the Regiments Senior Squadron) landed on Gold Beach on D-Day, itself with the other Squadron following on in the days to come. The 11th Hussars were involved in scouting for 7th Armoured Division during the engagements at Villers-Bocage and finally rejoined the Division on 30th July 1944. It then served with 7th Armoured Division until the end of the war and took part in the Victory Parade in Berlin, in July 1945. So highly thought of were 11th Hussars that Winston Churchill mentioned them by name in his speech to the Division after the parade.
The original Regiment was raised in 22nd July 1715 as Light Dragoons at the time of the Jacobite rebellion and were know as Philip Honeywood's Regiment of Dragoons, being ranked as 11th Dragoons. Between then and 1751 they were known by the names of the various Colonels that commanded them, before becoming 11th Regiment of Dragoons in 1st July 1751, serving in the Seven Years War. In 1783 they became the 11th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons.
As Light Dragoons, the Eleventh saw action in Egypt in 1800 and it was here that 'C' Squadron became the 'Senior Squadron' in the Regiment and as such parades Right of the Line, a tradition which has been upheld for nearly two hundred years since its inception in the 11th Hussars. It was awarded this honour as in 1800 General Sir Ralph Abercrombie led an expedition to Egypt to counter the French threat present in the area. The force was organised primarily as an infantry formation, but detachments of cavalry were sent to provide reconnaissance support. Gen Abercrombie, under whose command the 11th Light Dragoons had served in the Seven Year's War, asked the Duke of York, then Captain General of the Horse Guards, for a detachment to be provided by the Regiment. This was drawn from 'C' Squadron, and consisted of 79 men under the command of Lieutenant Captain Money (so called because he was an acting captain only).
The Squadron sailed for Egypt in the summer of 1800, but did not arrive in theatre until 8 March 1801 - a journey of some 9 months. They saw immediate action, taking part in the seaborne assault at Aboukir Bay and subsequently in a fierce engagement with the French cavalry near Beda. There were many other minor battles and skirmishes during the campaign, but the most significant action was the defeat of the French at the Battle of Alexandria on 21 March 1801, during which General Abercrombie was himself mortally wounded. During the battle the infantry, comprising 28th (North Gloucestershire) and 42nd (Black Watch) Regiments of Foot, ran out of ammunition whilst under attack. With no cavalry at the time to support them, they were forced to beat off the marauding French cavalry with bayonets and stones!
So impressed was General Abercrombie with 'C' Squadron's distinguished conduct during their time in Egypt, before he died he directed that on their return to the Regiment they be granted the honour of being Right of the Line. The Sphinx superscribed with the campaign honour 'Egypt' was also added to the Guidon at this time. The London Gazette recorded this latter award "as a distinguished mark of his Majesty's Royal approbation and a lasting memorial of the glory acquired to His Majesty by the zeal, discipline and intrepidity of his troops in this arduous and important campaign".
The regiment then fought in the Peninsula War of 1808 to 1814, where they were nicknamed the "Cherrypickers". The term "Cherrypicker" - is said to have been derived from an incident in the Peninsular War when the 11th Dragoons were engaged in an action with the French in a cherry orchard. The Regiment later fought at Waterloo, serving in the force occupying Paris afterwards. In 1840, 11th Dragoons escorted Prince Albert from Dover for his marriage to Queen Victoria. For this they were honoured with the title of 'Prince Albert's Own' and privileged to wear the distinctive crimson trousers of the Prince's Coburg household. At this time they were know as 11th (Prince Albert's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars). The Regiment was in the Crimea, taking part in the famous charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava where they gained one of the first Victoria Crosses to be awarded. They become 11th (or Prince Albert's Own) Hussars on 17th August 1861 and finally 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) on 1st January 1921.
The Regiment fought in France from 1914 to 1918 largely in a dismounted role. Horses gave way to mechanisation with the Eleventh being the first cavalry in the Army to be equipped with armoured cars in 1928. The 11th Hussars were one of the first regiments to formally join the Mobile Division in 1938 and were widely regarded as being experts in the desert and in desert warfare. They served with the 7th Armoured Division throughout the Second World War, being the first unit in action against the Italians in 1940, in the Western Desert. It earned distinction in their armoured role in the Second World War, and the battle honour of El Alamein one of many the Regiment has won. In July 1941, all Royal Armoured Corps units were ordered to adopt the black beret, as worn by the tank regiments, but as H.M. King George VI was the regiments Colonel-in-Chief, he ordered that 11th Hussars were to continue to wear their rust coloured beret, with its cherry-picker band, for which the regiment was grateful.
The Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales's Own) were formed by the amalgamation of the 10th Royal Hussars (PWO - Prince of Wale's Own) and the 11th Hussars (PAO - Prince Albert's Own) on 25 October 1969 and on 4 December 1992 the Royal Hussars (PWO) amalgamated with 14th/20th King's Hussars to become The King's Royal Hussars, an Armoured Regiment equipped with Challenger tanks. As a continuation of the 11th Hussars heritage 'C' Squadron, The King's Royal Hussars, is the senior squadron within the new Regiment, and as such parades Right of the Line, a tradition which has been upheld for nearly two hundred years since its inception in the 11th Hussars.
|The role of the Armoured Car in the North African Campaign.|
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|The badge of 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry, after the amalgamation of the two Regiments, on 31st July 1944.|
Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry Museum
The collection of uniforms, badges, medals, weapons, models, paintings and photographs belonging to the East Kent Yeomanry, West Kent Yeomanry and the 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) is displayed here.
Museum Website: http://www.ksymuseum.orguk/ksytop2.htm
3rd CLY: When war was declared in September 1939 3rd County of London Yeomanry were stationed at St. John's Wood, London, as part of 22nd Heavy Armoured Brigade, along with 4th County of London Yeomanry. They did not serve in the BEF in France and after Dunkirk formed part of Britain's Defences against German invasion. While still being equipped they worked alongside Home Guard units in southern England in early 1941. They embarked for the Middle East in August 1941 arriving in Suez in late September. By November 1941 they and the rest of 22nd Armoured Brigade were part of 7th Armoured Division, taking part in Operation Crusader, during which they suffered heavy losses and became part of the 22nd Armoured Brigade Composite Regiment with 4th CLY and 2nd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars. By the end of the battles what tanks they had left were handed over to 4th Armoured Brigade and the regiment withdrew for re-equipping and retraining.
When the Gazala battles started in May 1942 3rd CLY and the rest of 22nd Armoured Brigade were back in the desert under command of 1st Armoured Division. It fought near the 'Knightsbridge Box' coming under the command of 2nd Armoured Brigade before all of 22nd Armoured Brigade was attached to 7th Armoured Division to strengthen it on 3rd June. By 16th June 3rd CLY was effectively a composite Squadron, now under command of 4th Armoured Brigade, due to heavy losses. In early July the regiment came was under command of 2nd Armoured Brigade, together with 1st/6th RTR and 5th RTR withdrawing with the rest of the 8th Army to El Alamein. By August it and 4th CLY had formed 3rd/4th CLY a Composite Regiment, as part of 22nd Armoured Brigade fighting at Alam Halfa.
3rd CLY did not take part in the Battle of Alamein, as they were out of the line, retraining and re-fitting, near Cairo. In November 3rd CLY were considered for disbandment and would have suffered the fate as 2nd RGH, but as they were a first line unit and not a second line unit as 2nd RGH were, the blow would fall on the latter. The training continued until early 1943, during which time a new 'D' Squadron was formed on 12th January 1943. During this time they received a number of 6 pdr Crusader and Sherman tanks. In March 1943 as detachment took a number of vehicles to Turkey, via Palestine and Syria. The regiment stayed in and around Cairo training unit July 1943 when the embarked landing on Sicily on 10th July as part of 4th Armoured Brigade, fighting their way across the island.
The regiment landed in Taranto, Italy on 21st September 1943, still as part of 4th Armoured Brigade. It then fought in various actions in Italy until January 1944, when it returned with the rest of the Brigade to the UK, handing over most of its tanks to 50th RTR and 5th Canadian Armoured Division. After re-equipping and retraining back in the UK it landed in Normandy at Mont Fleury La Riviere. On 31st July 1944 it was amalgamated with 4th CLY, at Carpiquet (near Caen), due to heavy losses in both regiments and a shortage of vehicles. Thereafter being known as 3rd/4th CLY. This new regiment served as part of 4th Armoured Brigade for the rest of the war, as an independent brigade, fighting its way across Europe along side the 7th Armoured Division, ending the war in the Hamburg area.
4th CLY: At the start of the Second World War was declared in September 1939 3rd County of London Yeomanry were stationed at St. John's Wood, London, as part of 22nd Heavy Armoured Brigade, along with 3rd County of London Yeomanry. They did not serve in the BEF in France and after Dunkirk formed part of Britain's Defences against German invasion. While still being equipped they worked alongside Home Guard units in southern England in early 1941. They embarked for the Middle East in August 1941 arriving in Suez in late September. By November 1941 they and the rest of 22nd Armoured Brigade were part of 7th Armoured Division, taking part in Operation Crusader, during which they suffered heavy losses and became part of the 22nd Armoured Brigade Composite Regiment with 3rd CLY and 2nd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars.At the end of the battles the regiment withdrew for re-equipping and retraining.
When the Gazala battles started in May 1942 3rd CLY and the rest of 22nd Armoured Brigade were back in the desert under command of 1st Armoured Division. It fought near the 'Knightsbridge Box' coming under the command of 2nd Armoured Brigade before all of 22nd Armoured Brigade was attached to 7th Armoured Division to strengthen it on 3rd June. By early July the regiment came was under command of 2nd Armoured Brigade, together with 1st/6th RTR and 5th RTR withdrawing with the rest of the 8th Army to El Alamein. By August it and 3rd CLY had formed 3rd/4th CLY a Composite Regiment, as part of 22nd Armoured Brigade fighting at Alam Halfa.
By the start of El Alamein 4th CLY were part of a reformed and re-equipped 22nd Armoured Brigade, serving as part of 7th Armoured Division again. The regiment then served with this Brigade for the rest of the war in North Africa and the in Italy, returning to the UK in early 1944. In preparation for the Normandy landings it embarked from Felixstowe and its first tanks landed on Gold beach just before midnight on 6th June 1944.
It took part in the battles at Villers-Bocage and the Brigade box where 'A' Squadron was lost and later after the whole Division came out of the line for a rest. 4th CLY left 22nd Armoured Brigade and therefore 7th Armoured Division, to be amalgamated with 3rd CLY, at Carpiquet (near Caen), due to heavy losses in both regiments and a shortage of vehicles, on 31st July 1944. Thereafter the new regiment was known as 3rd/4th CLY, serving as part of 4th Armoured Brigade for the rest of the war, as an independent brigade, fought its way across Europe along side the 7th Armoured Division, ending the war in the Hamburg area.
When the Boer War broke out in 1899, it was not possible to send complete regiments to South Africa and so a group of wealthy sportsmen met together to form a battalion of Imperial Yeomanry from people who could already ride and shoot well, to be called Sharpshooters.
During the First World Wars the Sharpshooters were sent to the Middle East, fought as infantry at Gallipoli, regained their horses to take part in Allenby's 1917 offensive and ended the war in France. In the Second they served in the Middle East and Italy. The Sharpshooters received 42 battle honours, a record surpassed by only one other regiment in the RAC, regular or territorial. In August 1944 the 3rd and 4th County of London Yeomanry were merged as both Regiments had suffered heavy losses in the fighting in Normandy.
In 1961 the Kent Yeomanry was amalgamated with the Sharpshooters to form a reconnaissance regiment. Six years later the Kent and County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) was reduced to squadron strength to form 'C' Squadron of the Royal Yeomanry.
The Regimental Histories are below;
3rd County of London Yeomanry
In 1900 3rd County of London Yeomanry was raised as companies of Imperial Yeomanry for the South African war. In 1901 it was renamed 3rd County of London Imperial Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) being reorganised in London from South African war veterans, to perpetuate 18th, 21st and 23rd Battalions, Imperial Yeomanry.
'A' Squadron, was formed from 18th Bn,
'B' Squadron was formed from 21st Bn. and 23rd Bn.
'C' Squadron being formed from "other Yeomen and ex-soldiers"
'D' Squadron was newly raised.
In 1908 it became 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) (Hussars).
After service in the Great War, as a junior, London-based Yeomanry Regiment the Sharpshooters had little prospect of retaining their horses and instead accepted the new role of an Armoured Car Company of the Royal Tank Corps. After two years as the 5th County of London Armoured Car Company, their title was changed in 1922 to the 23rd London Armoured Car Company to avoid confusion with the regular army armoured car companies of the Royal Tank Corps. They remained at their pre-war headquarters in Henry Street, now renamed Allitsen Road.
From 1920 to 1929 the Company was equipped with Peerless armoured cars. In 1929 the first Rolls Royce's appeared. In 1933 a few Crossleys were added but the Rolls Royce remained the predominant type until 1938 when they were replaced by Lanchesters. Enough armoured cars were held permanently to allow one section to go out fully equipped. For camp or major exercises extra vehicles were borrowed from a pool
By 1938 the regiment was know as 23rd Cavalry Armoured Car Regiment, Royal Tank Corps, and as the threat of war increased, the 23rd LAC built back up to regimental strength and resumed their former title of 3rd County of London Yeomanry, being transferred to Royal Armoured Corps. The Territorial Army was called upon to double its strength, but unlike most regiments which split in half, the 3rd CLY remained virtually unchanged and 'duplicate' unit the 4th County of London Yeomanry, was built up from a small cadre of junior officers and senior NCOs.
The Regiment saw service in the UK along with 4th County of London Yeomanry and 2nd Royal Gloucester Hussars, before moving to North Africa in 1941. There it fought in most of the major engagements and later in Sicily and Italy as part of 4th Armoured Brigade before returning to the UK in January 1944. It the served in Normandy until on 31st July 1944 it was amalgamated with 4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), becoming 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), after both regiments had suffered heavy losses.
4th County of London Yeomanry
In 1901 4th County of London Imperial Yeomanry (King's Colonials) formed as a Yeomanry regiment from overseas volunteers resident in England, with "colonial" squadrons:
'A' Squadron (British Asian)
'B' Squadron (British American) [i.e. Canadian]
'C' Squadron (Australasian)
'D' Squadron (British African) [i.e. South African]
In 1902 a New Zealand Squadron was formed, and so 'C' Squadron was re-designated "Australian". By 1905 it was renamed The King's Colonials, Imperial Yeomanry and in 1909 the colony squadrons were discontinued.
In 1910 the regiment was again renamed, becoming King Edward's Horse (The King's Oversea Dominions Regiment), before being transferred to Special Reserve and loosing its yeomanry status, in 1913.
In 1924 the regiment was disbanded, but in 1939 4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) formed as duplicate of 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), from a small cadre of junior officers and senior NCOs. Although it perpetuating the title, it did not take on the battle honours of former regiment.
The Regiment saw service in the UK along with 3rd County of London Yeomanry and 2nd Royal Gloucester Hussars, before moving to North Africa in 1941. There it fought in most of the major engagements including El Alamein and Italy still as part of 22nd Armoured Brigade before returning to the UK in January 1944. It the served in Normandy until on 31st July 1944 it was amalgamated with 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) met at Capriquet airfield near Caen, becoming 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) after both regiments had suffered heavy losses.
3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry
On 31st July 1944 the new regiment was formed by the amalgamation of 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) and 4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), becoming 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters).
It continued to serve as part of 4th Armoured Brigade until the end of the war, and within three days of the amalgamation. The 3rd/4th CLY were in action again for the breakout from Normandy, the swan through Belgium into Holland, the long hard winter on the Maas and in the Reichswald. In March 1945 came the crossing of the Rhine and the final gallop across the North German plain ending up near Hamburg in May 1945.
The Sharpshooters received 42 battle honours for World War II, a total exceeded by only one other Cavalry or Yeomanry regiment. Individually Sharpshooters received one George Medal, 9 DSOs, 42 MCs, 8 DCMs and 71 MMs. The regimental roll of honour records 381 names.
The Regiment then remained in Germany for another year before returning to the UK for a brief spell in suspended animation before being re-formed in 1947 as the 3rd/4th CLY in its old headquarters at Allitsen Road, St John's Wood, under the command of Lt-Col The Earl of Onslow. It became an armoured regiment in 56th London Armoured Division and in 1956 the regiment changed its role to become the divisional recce regiment for 44th (Home Counties) Division equipped with Daimler armoured cars and scout cars (Dingos).
In 1961 the 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) and 297th (Kent Yeomanry) LAA Regt RA were amalgamated to form the Kent and County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) and continued its role as divisional recce regiment for 44th (Home Counties) Division. The Regiment in this form served for only six years. Its most memorable moment was on 17th July 1963, when HRH Princess Alexandra presented the Regiment with its Guidon.
In 1967, the Kent and County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) were reduced to one Squadron of the one remaining Yeomanry Regiment and took on the title of C (KCLY) Squadron The Royal Yeomanry Regiment. The former HQ Squadron at Bromley formed part of the London and Kent Regiment in the short-lived TAVR III. In 1969 they were converted to a signal squadron and are now known as 265 (Kent and County of London Yeomanry) Signal Squadron.
|Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry Page for 4th CLY|
|Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry Page for 3rd/4th CLY|
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The Household Cavalry Museum
1st / 2nd Life Guards. Blues & Royals
(Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) & 1st (Royal) Dragoons)
St Leonard's Road
Tel: 01753 755 112
The Household Cavalry Composite Regiment was formed at Windsor by amalgamation of The Life Guards and the 'Blues and Royals' on 1st September 1939. By January 1940 it was serving in the Middle East, mainly in Palestine. In November 1940 it became 1st Household Cavalry Motor Battalion and in March 1941 the 1st Household Cavalry Regiment. It served as part of 4th Cavalry Brigade in Iraq and Syria during May and June 1941, before joining 10th Armoured Brigade in August in Persia. It returned to Egypt with 10th Armoured Division in October 1941. It served with 7th Armoured Division in April 1942. It then took over from 11th Hussars before the battle of El Alamein for a few days to allow them to come out of the line for a rest.
In 1943 was back in Syria as the reconnaissance regiment for 10th Armoured Division. By November 1943 it a Corps armoured reconnaissance regiment in Italy, returning to the UK in October 1944. There it remained until May 1945 when it went to Germany as 30 Corps reconnaissance regiment. This unit should not be confused with 2nd Household Cavalry Regiment that served with Guards Armoured Brigade in 1944 to 1945 in Northern Europe.
The Household Cavalry consists of two Regiments - The Life Guards and the 'Blues and Royals' This is there combined history.
The Royal Horse Guards trace their origins to a force raised by Cromwell prior to the second invasion of Scotland, but the parliamentary officers were replaced by royalists in 1660. The Regiment then saw almost continuous service in Flanders, the Boyne, the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War during which the Regiment was commanded by the celebrated Marquis of Granby. The Regiment went on to see service during the Peninsular Campaign, fighting at the decisive Battle of Vittoria in 1813, and as part of the Household Cavalry Brigade at Waterloo. The Regiment was especially favoured by King George IV and, with the appointment of the Duke of Wellington as its Colonel, was elevated to the status of Household Cavalry in 1820.
The Royal Dragoons trace their origins to a troop of horse raised by King Charles II in 1661 to form part of the garrison of Tangier. They became Dragoons on their return to England in 1683, the term Dragoon being derived from the 'dragon', a musket suitable for mounted infantry. The Regiment then served in the War of Spanish Succession, the War of Austrian Succession and in the Spanish Peninsula before performing with distinction at the Battle of Waterloo where the Regiment captured the Colour, surmounted by an eagle, of the French 105th infantry Regiment. This eagle is now commemorated in the Regimental cypher and worn on the left sleeve of all uniforms. The latter half of the 19th century saw them in action in the Crimea, the Boer War and in India before deploying to Flanders in 1914. The Regiment fought at Ypres, Loos, Hohenzollern and the Hindenburg Line in 1917. The inter-war years saw the Royal Dragoons stationed in Egypt, India and Palestine. They deployed to the Western Desert in 1941 seeing distinguished service at El Alamein. Operation Overlord in 1944 saw the Regiment in Normandy from where they liberated Copenhagen in 1945. The Regiment spent the post-war years in Egypt, Germany, Aden and Malaya before amalgamation in 1969.
Meanwhile, the Royal Horse Guards were serving with the Household Cavalry Regiment in Egypt in 1882, the Sudan and South Africa. Like the Life Guards, the Blues saw action in the majority of major actions in France and Flanders during World War I. Likewise World War II saw the Regiment divided between the 1st and 2nd Household Cavalry Regiment in Palestine, Syria and the invasion of Normandy as reconnaissance troops for the Guards Armoured Brigade.
The Life Guards, the senior Regiment in the British Army, were formed at the Restoration in 1660 from a group of 80 Royalists who had gone into exile with King Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester (1652). They first saw action at the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685 (the Monmouth rebellion) and subsequently in both the Jacobite wars and during the War of Austrian Succession (1742-46). They were re-designated the 1st and 2nd Life Guards in 1788, a period from which the majority of today's state dress originates. They formed the front charging line of the Household Cavalry Brigade at the battle of Waterloo (1815), staging the famous charge against the French Cuirassiers that saved the British centre from being overrun.
During the 19th century, the Life Guards served in Egypt, as part of the Household Cavalry Regiment, taking part in the moonlight charge at Kassassin, and also in the Sudan and South Africa. During World War I, the Regiment saw action at Mons, Le Cateau, Ypres, Loos and most notably at Zandvoorde where two complete squadrons were lost. During World War II, the Life Guards contributed men to both Household Cavalry Regiments, the second of which was described by General Sir Brian Horrocks as the 'finest