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.
Click here to read the War Diaries of 5th Royal Tank Regiment from 1939 to 1945.
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”.
Click here to read the War Diaries of 6th Royal Tank Regiment from 1939 to 1946.
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|
|The Alrewas Tank|
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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.
The War Diaries of 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars can be read here.
|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.
The War Diaries of 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), later 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry, can be read here.
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.
Click here to read the War Diaries of 4th County of London Yeomanry (The Sharpshooters) for 1939 to 1944..
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 armoured car regiment he had ever seen'. They landed at Normandy in July 1944 and spearheaded the Guards Armoured Brigade advance through France to liberate Brussels and became the only forces to make contact with the Polish Free Forces during the advance to the bridge at Arnhem.
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Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys) Museum,
(3rd Carabiniers (Prince of Wales's Dragoon Guards)),
(Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons))
Tel: 0131 310 5102
At the start of the Second World War The Royal Scots Greys were serving in Palestine, stationed at Rehovath. At this time they were still a cavalry regiment, actually mounted on horses and were policing the Jews and Arabs in the area, due to quarrels between them.
In 1941, elements of the Regiment took part in the British invasion of Syria, to remove the threat posed by the Vichy French to the Suez Canal and Egypt. In March 1941, last mounted parade by 'C' Squadron was held at Nablus. On 19th July 1941, the regiment officially become part of the Royal Armoured Corps, and by August, practically all the horses had been handed in and training had begun on American Stuart tanks. During this time the regiment served in 8th Armoured Brigade and in 10th Armoured Division.
In late February of 1942 the Scots Greys moved to Egypt as a fully trained armoured regiment and after three months in the Delta the Regiment was sent into the Western Desert to assist the rapidly retreating Eighth Army. Here they were ordered to hand over their tanks to another brigade, but they were soon re-equipped and sent forward again to the Alamein Line where the enemy advance had been arrested. During the later battle of Alam Halfa as part of 22nd Armoured Brigade the Scots Greys, with their new Grant tanks, charged down from the ridge in true cavalry style and were able to inflict such toll on the enemy armour that the attack foundered.
In September 1942 the Scots Greys joined 4th Armoured Brigade (The Black Rats) and remained with them until the end of the North African Campaign. They then became 8th Army Troops and saw service in Italy, where they provided the armoured support for the amphibious assault on 9th September 1943 in Salerno Bay. They returned to the UK, in early 1944, rejoining the 4th Armoured Brigade to prepare for the Normandy Invasion, landing in France on 7th June 1944. They then fought their way across Northern Europe as part of 4th Armoured Brigade along side 7th Armoured Division, finishing the war at Wismar, a Baltic port which they reached a few hours ahead of the Russians. They were the first British troops to join up with their allies from the east.
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are Scotland’s senior regiment and her only regular cavalry. The Regiment was formed in 1971 from the union of two famous regiments, the 3rd Carabiniers and the Royal Scots Greys. The 3rd Carabiniers had themselves been constituted in 1922 from the amalgamation of the old 3rd Dragoon Guards and the Carabiniers (6th Dragoon Guards). The history of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards is therefore the record of three ancient regiments and, through the Royal Scots Greys, they can claim to be the oldest surviving Cavalry of the Line in the British Army. With the other cavalry regiments they now form part of the Royal Armoured Corps but, though horses have been replaced by tanks and armoured cars, it is the cavalry spirit of the past which provides the inspiration for the future, whatever it may hold.
THE REGIMENT’S ORIGINS
Scots Dragoons v. Covenanters
Despite the restoration of the monarchy, the latter part of the 17th Century was a time of bitter religious strife. In 1678 three independent troops of dragoons were raised in Scotland to quell the Covenanters - a militant body opposed to the enforcement of episcopacy. Dragoons of that time were mounted infantrymen armed with sword and short musket, the word itself being derived from ‘dragon’, an old name for this particular weapon. Three years later, in 1681, King Charles II ordered General Thomas Dalyell of the Binns to raise further troops and form them into a regiment to be known as the "Royal Regiment of Scots Dragoons", a unit which later was to win universal fame as the Royal Scots Greys. Like many other troops in Scotland at that time, they were clad in stone grey coats for the first few years of their existence, red cloth being unobtainable. Their task during these early years was exacting and unenviable - patrolling the foothills of the Highlands, breaking up unlawful meetings, and cordon and search.
The First Grey Horses
Before the Royal Scots Dragoons embarked for Flanders in 1694, they were reviewed by William III in Hyde Park and it is recorded that they made a fine sight, for the entire regiment rode grey horses. This is the earliest known instance of them being mounted on the horses from which their name, the ‘Scots Greys’, was derived. Though this did not become the official title for many years it was in general use from the very early 1700s and will be used henceforth in this account. Some authorities have suggested that the name came originally from the grey coats worn during the first few years of the regiment’s existence, but this is not the case since their grey coats were not unique and there is no instance of the name being used until after the known introduction of the grey horses. For almost 300 years the regiment remained mounted exclusively on greys and it is fitting that this tradition is still continued in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
Horse convert to Dragoon Guards
By this time improved fire-arms and altered tactics meant that there was no longer any real difference between regiments of Horse and Dragoons - except that the latter were on a lower pay scale. And so in 1747, for reasons of economy, those regiments of Horse serving in England were restyled Dragoons. However, to compensate them for loss of status and so that they should remain numbered before the existing Dragoons - the 1st Dragoons (The Royals) and the 2nd Dragoons (the Scots Greys) being older than any of the surviving regiments of Horse - the word "Guards" was added. The 4th Horse became the 3rd Dragoon Guards, but the Carabiniers, who were serving on the Irish establishment, were unaffected, though they advanced their numbering to 3rd horse and did not become Dragoon Guards until 1788.
"Les Terribles Chevaus Gris"
Less than a year later, however, in the spring of 1815, Europe’s hope of a lasting peace was shattered by the news of Napoleon’s escape. Landing in the south of France, he re-raised his army within the astounding space of a hundred days. The Scots Greys were rushed to Belgium to form part of an Allied Army under the command of the Duke of Wellington. On 17th June they covered the withdrawal of the Allies from Quatre Bras to Waterloo, where Wellington was made to make his stand.
The Battle of Waterloo began shortly before noon on 18th June with a diversionary attack by the French on the Allied right. This was soon followed by the main onslaught by d’Erlon’s Corps on the left centre of the Allied position, which was guarded by Belgians and troops of Picton’s Division, including three battalions of Highlanders. The former fled, causing a critical situation. As the Highlanders were being beaten back the Royal Dragoons, the Scots Greys and the Inniskilling Dragoons, who together formed the famous Union Brigade, representing the three countries of the Kingdom, were ordered to charge. As the Greys passed through the Gordon Highlanders and many of the highlanders grasped their stirrups and shouting "Scotland for Ever" were carried headlong through the ranks of the leading French division.
Sergeant Charles Ewart captured the Imperial Eagle standard of the French 45th Regiment after a desperate fight and well deserved the commission which he was later given by the Prince Regent. In commemoration the Eagle forms part of the cap badge worn by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards to this day. Ewart lies buried on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, while the Eagle and Standards are displayed in the Castle itself.
Having completely destroyed the foremost division, the charge continued and, breaking through the ranks of the second division. Many of the Scots Greys, led by the Commanding Officer, who was last seen alive with both wrists slashed and holding the reins in his teeth, reached the hill beyond, where they cut down the enemy artillery batteries. Later in the day the remnants of the Regiment made further repeated charges but the price of bravery was high - out of the 416 men who began the day 200 men and 224 horses were killed or wounded. Napoleon, who witnessed the devastation wrought by the Scots Greys, was overheard to refer to them as "those terrible grey horses", whilst their charge has since been described as the greatest thunderbolt ever launched by British cavalry.
Neither of the other regiments was present at Waterloo, though the 3rd Dragoon Guards later joined the army of occupation and returned from the Continent with the Scots Greys in 1816.
THE FIRST WORLD WAR
On 4th August 1914 war was declared against Germany. The Scots Greys mobilised at York, landed in France at Le Havre on 17th August and moved up to the Belgian frontier as part of the 5th Cavalry Brigade. Their grey horses were stained chestnut as camouflage and to prevent easy identification of their formation. The Carabiniers, in the 4th Cavalry Brigade, followed a few days later. The Germans entered Brussels on the 20th and on the following day the 4th and 5th Cavalry Brigades led the advance of the BEF. into Belgium. On the 22nd the Scots Greys made contact with the Uhlan lancer patrols of the 2nd German Army and later in the day two squadrons of the regiment held an entire enemy cavalry division for four hours while covering the withdrawal of the British force. It was in support of this action that "J" Battery RHA (later Sidi Rezegh Battery, 3rd RHA) fired the first artillery rounds of the First World War. A few hours later the Carabiniers carried out several mounted actions against the German Cuirassiers. The success of these early actions was due entirely to the very high state of training and musketry among the British cavalry. However, an overwhelming enemy attack was imminent and both regiments acted as a mobile screen to cover the infantry in the retreat from Mons to the line of the river Marne, during which time they had no rest and were continually called upon to undertake limited counter-attacks. This was to prove the last time that they performed their true cavalry role until the final advance into Germany, but they had more than justified their presence in the "contemptible little army".
On the outbreak of war the 3rd Dragoon Guards, stationed in Egypt, had been moved to the defence of the Suez Canal, but with the situation critical in Flanders they arrived as reinforcements in early November 1914, by which time both sides had been forced into static trench warfare by the overwhelming fire of artillery and machine guns. All three Regiments were to see much bitter fighting in the grim battles of the Western Front, Aisne, Messines, Ypres, Arras, Cambrai, Amiens and the Somme, to which the long list of battle honours testify. Many of these actions were undertaken dismounted and on numerous occasions manning the trenches. Casualties were heavy, the 3rd Dragoon Guards having the highest amongst all the British cavalry.
During the late summer of 1918 the three Regiments were once again in action as mounted cavalry, the 3rd Dragoon Guards and Scots Greys taking part in the break through the Hindenburg Line and the Carabiniers subsequently advancing into Belgium. They were in pursuit of the retreating German Army when, on 11th November, the armistice was signed and the trumpeters sounded ‘Stand Fast’. On 1st December the Scots Greys rode across the German Frontier with their Guidon carried at the head of the Regiment.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR
Since the First World War, Britain had been left responsible for Palestine. The quarrels between Arabs and Jews grew worse and in October 1938 the Scots Greys were ordered to Palestine, still as a cavalry regiment mounted on their famous grey horses. Operations consisted in the cordon and search of villages, combining the hills for rebels and their hide-outs and assisting the police in the prevention of inter-racial feuds. The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 made little immediate difference the life of the regiment and the twilight of their days as horsed cavalry cannot have been far different from the long distant period in the 17th Century when the Scots Dragoons roamed the foothills of the Highlands in search of rebellious Covenanters.
By 1941 the war had taken a most unfavourable turn. After Wavell’s brilliant successes against the Italians in Abyssinia and the Western Desert, the German Afrika Korps, under Rommel, had landed in Libya and the pro-Axis Vichy French were encouraging the German occupation of Syria on the northern Palestinian border. Had the Germans been permitted to build up forces there they could, with little difficulty, have advanced through Palestine and captured the Suez Canal and the British bases in Egypt from the east. To counter this extremely serious threat scratch forces were hastily mustered and in the late spring of 1941 the Scots Greys were ordered to provide R.H.Q., the Machine Gun Troop and one squadron as motorised infantry. With the addition of a squadron of Staffordshire Yeomanry, they accompanied the Australians in an invasion of Syria.
When the Vichy French realised how slender the invading forces were, resistance stiffened and the column met heavy fighting round the village of Merjayun, for which action the regiment was awarded its first battle honour of the war. Several casualties were suffered, including some prisoners. However, within two months an armistice was forced and they were repatriated.
Meanwhile, on 19th July 1941, the regiment had officially become part of the Royal Armoured Corps, and by the time the force returned from Syria in August, practically all the horses had been handed in and training had begun on American Stuart tanks.
A young officer of the Scots Greys, Geoffrey Keyes, had been attached to the 11th (Scottish) Commando, and in November 1941, at the age of 24 and with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, he landed in command of a small party from a submarine on the North African coast, some 250 miles behind the enemy lines.
On the night of 18th November he raided the German Headquarters with the main object of killing General Rommel, the commander of the Afrika Korps. By a stroke of misfortune Rommel was away from his headquarters that night and Keyes was mortally wounded. For his outstanding bravery and complete disregard for his own safety he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
The Western Desert
Back in Palestine the Scots Greys were undergoing conversion to tanks and in late February of 1942 moved to Egypt as a fully trained armoured regiment; a remarkable achievement considering that only about ten per cent of its members had been able to drive before. After three months in the Delta the Regiment was sent into the Western Desert to assist the rapidly retreating Eighth Army. After reaching Sidi Barrani they received orders to hand over their tanks to another brigade, but they were soon re-equipped and sent forward again to the Alamein Line where the enemy advance had been arrested. After several weeks of tension, Rommel made his last concerted effort to reach the Suez Canal by attempting an armoured thrust across the Alam El Halfa ridge on 31st August 1942. The Scots Greys, with their new Grant tanks, were in reserve but were brought up to the ridge just as the battle had reached its most critical stage and were able to inflict such toll on the enemy armour that the attack foundered.
In September the Scots Greys joined 4th Armoured Brigade (The Black Rats) and remained with them almost continuously until the disbandment of the brigade in March 1948, except for the Brigade's time in Sicily and Italy in 1943.
The battle of El Alamein opened on the evening of 23rd October 1942, the Scots Greys escorting the Royal Engineers in minefield clearance on the southern end of the line. Through the mines first, they formed a bridgehead and took many prisoners.
But the attack in the south was a feint to draw off the enemy armour before the main attack was launched in the north. After several unpleasant days of fighting, the Regiment was switched north and after the break-through, pursued the fleeing enemy at the head of the Eighth Army. The Germans made a short stand at El Agheila, but after a left hook round their main position the Regiment was able to continue the advance to Nofilia, where they ran up against a strong enemy force of tanks and anti-tank guns. After a wholly successful old-fashioned cavalry charge in tanks, the enemy was dislodged and the Greys continued the advance through the desert to Tripoli, which they entered on 23rd January 1943. They remained in Tripoli for the next eight months and were visited by their Colonel-in-Chief, King George VI, during his tour of the Eighth Army.
Attached to the 56th (London) Division, the Scots Greys provided the armoured support for the amphibious assault on 9th September in Salerno Bay, on the Italian mainland. The landings were strongly opposed by the Germans and fierce fighting continued for ten days, mainly in and around the road centre of Battipaglia, during which the Regiment suffered many casualties. They were later informed by their corps commander that had it not been for the Greys the Allied beach head might well have been destroyed. After the breakout from Salerno the Greys led the advance and were the first troops to enter the city of Naples. The Regiment later undertook an assault crossing of the Volturno river and after fighting its way up to the river Garigliano, was sent home to prepare for the Second Front in Northwest Europe.
Stationed at Worthing on the south coast for three months, the Scots Greys awaited D-Day - 6th June 1944. Their first tanks landed in Normandy on 7th June and three days later the Regiment was complete. From then on they took part in the fighting in many sectors of the beach head, including the battles for Caen, Carpiquet, Hill 112, and Vire. As a prelude to the final breakout and pursuit, the Greys played a prominent part in the famous action at the Falaise Gap where untold casualties were inflected on the enemy in men, horses and transport of all descriptions.
The Low Countries
Under 4th Armoured Brigade, the Greys took part in the pursuit of the retreating enemy across the Seine, the Somme and so to the canals and waterways of the Low Countries which slowed down the advance. They spent the winter in Holland, taking part in the battles at Weert, Venlo, Nijmegen, Arnhem and Tilburg, and in February assisted the Canadian Army in the battle of the Rhineland, meeting heavy opposition in the wooded Hochwald area, inside the German border.
On the 25th March 1945 the Regiment crossed the Rhine, Germany’s natural defensive obstacle. After several days’ fighting, the enemy withdrew and did not stop until the river Aller. Clearing the enemy out of the villages on the east bank of the river, the Greys swung north to Bremen, which they captured with 52nd (Lowland) Division on 24th April.
On 1st May the Scots Greys were attached to 6th Airborne Division for the final operation of the war, which was to reach the Baltic and secure Denmark for the Western allies. The advance began on 2nd May and, with troops of the airborne Division riding on the tanks, they drove 80 miles through enemy country to Wismar, a Baltic port that they reached a few hours ahead of the Russians. This meant that were they first British troops to join up with their allies from the east. The enemy surrendered in the next few days and the war in Europe came to an end.
3rd CARABINIERS AND THE ROYAL SCOTS GREYS UNIT
The Defence cuts announced in 1958 and during the course of the 1960s forced further amalgamations within the Cavalry until finally the Scots Greys, by virtue of their unique position in Scotland, were left as the only regiment of British Cavalry with a history unalloyed. The changing pattern of defence required still further reductions, however, and so it was that the 3rd Carabiniers and Royal Scots Greys were ordered to amalgamate. The ceremony at which the two Regiments united to form the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys) took place beside the Palace of Holyrood House on 2nd July 1971 before Her majesty The Queen, who had consented to be their Colonel-in-Chief. At this parade she presented a new Standard - a standard which proudly displays the honours won by the Regiment’s forebears since Blenheim.
Thus The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, whilst providing Scotland with her own regiment of mechanised cavalry, contain and continue the traditions of three famous fighting units, each with a proud history spanning four centuries.
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, now form part of the 7th Armoured Brigade.
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Soldiers of Gloucestershire
Tel: 01452 522682
When war was declared in September 1939 2nd Royal Gloucester Hussars were stationed at Bristol, as part of 22nd Heavy Armoured Brigade. 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 4th CLY. At the end of the battles the regiment withdrew for re-equipping and retraining.
When the Gazala battles started in May 1942 2nd RGH 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 mid June 2nd RGH has suffered heavy losses and was now under command of 4th Armoured Brigade. In early July the regiment came was under command of 22nd Armoured Brigade withdrawing with the rest of the 8th Army to El Alamein. At this time 'F' Squadron served with 5th RTR as the 2nd RGH/5th RTR composite regiment and 'G' Squadron served with 10th Armoured Division while the rest of the regiment went into reserve. The squadrons of regiment were reunited in October and were re-equipping and retraining during the Battle of El Alamein. On 28th November notification that the regiment was to be disbanded were received. Originally 3rd CLY were to have suffered the fate but as they were a first line unit and 2nd RGH a second line unit the blow would fall on the 2nd RGH despite the Regiment's impressive battle record and its seniority in the 22nd Armoured Brigade. Finally on 28th December 1942 despite many efforts to keep the regiment intact the final orders to disband it were received, with 'F' Squadron going mostly to 4th Hussars, 'G' Squadron to the Wiltshire Yeomanry and 'H' Squadron to 8th Hussars. On 15th January 1943 2nd Royal Gloucester Hussars ceased to exist and remnants now called "K" Royal Tank Regt (RAC Holding Regt). A few members of the regiment also remained in 22nd Armoured Brigade HQ for the rest of the war, too.
THE ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE HUSSARS.
Throughout history England has relied extensively upon its volunteer forces during periods of national danger. In 1794, Prime Minister William Pitt, concerned with the possibility of invasion, proposed that volunteer bodies of cavalry consisting of 'gentlemen and yeomen' be raised on a county basis under the control of the Lord Lieutenant. Their role was to be the suppression of local disturbances and defence of the country in case of invasion. The first such troop to be formed in Gloucestershire was raised by Captain Powell Snell a year later at Cheltenham. Other troops were raised the following year at Minchinhampton and Wotton-under-Edge, and later at Stow in the Wold, Henbury, Gloucester and Bristol.
With French connivance, unrest broke out in 1798 in the South of England. This proved a great stimulus to recruitment and a powerful boost to the enthusiasm of the Yeomanry Cavalry -the Bristol troop assuring their commander " they were ready to march to any part of the world with him". In the same year, 1798, a further troop of horse was formed at Stroud.
With the Peace of Amiens in 1802 all troops were disbanded except that of Cheltenham commanded by Snell, now a Major. A year later, however, war broke out again in consequence of which twelve troops were formed, including one at Cirencester commanded by Earl Bathurst.
With the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo the need for the Yeomanry lapsed. Most troops were disbanded until by 1827 none remained in the county. The pattern of European unrest affected Britain and in 1830 the county of Wiltshire experienced a number of disturbances. Alarmed by events so close at hand, and impressed with the role that the Wiltshire Yeomanry displayed in restoring order, Mr. Codrington of Dodington Park, near Chipping Sodbury promptly formed a troop from his own tenants. His example was quickly followed by the raising of troops at Fairford, Cirencester, Stroud, Tetbury, Gloucester and two in Bristol.
On 30th March 1834 a significant meeting was held at Petty France, near Badminton. Here the assembled Captains of the Gloucestershire Troops agreed to combine as a single regiment to be called The Gloucestershire Yeomanry Cavalry. Command was offered to the Marquis of Worcester, heir to the 6th Duke of Beaufort. This appointment marked the start of the connection between the Regiment and the Somerset family, which remains unbroken to this day.
The title of 'Royal' was granted in 1841, and in 1846 the Regiment was renamed The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars. Each man of the Regiment continued to bring his own horse and in turn was equipped with sword and pistol. There were in addition twelve muzzle loading carbines per troop.
The first opportunity for active service as a member of the Yeomanry came during the Boer War when, in 1899, a contingent of the Regiment formed part of a Company, 123 strong that sailed for Capetown. Sickness rather than the Boer was, however, to prove the major enemy, with at times barely a quarter of the strength being fit.
The Great War.
Back in Europe the next few years were comparatively quiet. Officers were required to undertake professional examinations and there were short periods of secondment to regular regiments for training. At the onset of the Great War the Regiment was initially involved in Home Defence. However, in April 1915 it sailed for Egypt, leaving the freshly raised 2nd and 3rd Regiments at home. In August it received unexpected orders to proceed, without its horses, to Gallipoli, where it landed at Suvla Bay. For two months the RGH manned the front and reserve lines alternately before returning to Egypt in November to be reunited with its beloved horses. Casualties had been severe, for the Regiment's strength had fallen from 300 to 85. The Turkish Army, encouraged by its success at Gallipoli, now swept through Palestine and Sinai, determined to re-conquer Egypt.
April 1916 found the Regiment carrying out reconnaissance and patrol duties east of the Suez Canal. On the 23rd 'A' Squadron based at Qatia, was attacked by a much superior enemy force and a fierce battle ensued among the date palms but, in the end, the squadron was overwhelmed. Many casualties resulted and of the survivors only nine managed to evade capture or worse.
Fortunes turned following the Regiment's success at the Battle of Romani. From here the British and allied forces were able to advance through Palestine and Syria to Aleppo. The RGH formed part of the advance, led by General Allen by. This was one of the most famous and successful cavalry campaigns in history.
Peace, The Intervening Years
Following the Armistice the British Army underwent a substantial reduction from which the RGH was not immune. By 1921 it has been reduced to a single armoured car company of the Royal Tank Corps, later the Royal Tank Regiment. Initially equipped with Peerless armoured cars limited to a speed of no more than 10-15 mph, the unit gradually expanded to regimental strength with Rolls Royce armoured cars capable of 40 mph. In 1938, with war once again imminent, the Regiment resumed its original title and recruiting proceeded so successfully that it was soon able to split into two forming the First and Second RGH.
The Second War
1st RGH was destined to remain in England throughout World War II as a Training and Home Defence regiment. It carried out this role with good humour, patience and success, training some 50,000 men, until, towards the end it was ordered to prepare for the Far East. Before the Regiment could embark, however, the Japanese war ended and, in 1946, it moved instead to Austria as a part of the occupying force. Many of its members saw active service with other Regiments, and several were awarded decorations for gallantry.
The Second Regiment, as part of 22nd Armoured Brigade, embarked for Egypt in 1941 to join the 8th Army. Here, to begin with, it crewed Crusader tanks. During the desert campaign against Rommel that followed, the RGH had to convert to the 1929 American 'Honey' and then the poorly manoeuvrable 'Grant' tank, which the Americans had declared obsolete in 1936! Fortunes fluctuated and the Regiment distinguished itself on numerous occasions but suffered heavy casualties in the process. These reduced it to less than a squadron in strength.
General Norrie, in writing to the Brigade Commander, said, "I always told you that you had the best Brigade in the Army. The 11th Hussars which has been in all the campaigns out here say they have never seen men fight like yours".
On 6th June 1942 the Regiment fought its final battles as 2nd RGH at the feature known as the Cauldron, south of Tobruk. During these actions the Commanding Officer and Adjutant were killed and, shortly afterwards, the Second in Command. Thereafter it fought as squadrons of other Regiments until January 1943, by when it had added no less than ten Battle Honours to the Regimental Guidon. RGH members had won over twenty decorations for gallantry, with several NCOs being commissioned in the field. The surviving members were reluctantly dispersed to other Regiments, such as the 4th and 8th Hussars, the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry and 5th Royal Tank Regiment, plus the Headquarters of 22nd Armoured Brigade, too. With these they fought their way through Italy into France and ultimately Germany.
|Hussars - in Black & White website - 2nd RGH and 4th Hussars|
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Regimental Museum 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards
1st Kings Dragoon Guards & The Queens Bays - (2nd Dragoon Guards)
In September 1939, when the Second World War started, the King's Dragoon Guards were part of 1st Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, stationed in Aldershot, Hampshire. Other members of the Brigade were 3rd and 4th Hussars. It served in the BEF in this formation during the Fall of France, May 1940, before being evacuated at Dunkirk.
By the King's Dragoon Guards were in the Middle East serving as a reconnaissance Regiment in 2nd Armoured Division. The Regiment supported 7th Armoured Division during the battles of January and February 1941, including Beda Fomm. After 2nd Armoured Division was destroyed by Rommel's offensive in April 1941, the Regiment then joined 7th Armoured Division taking part in Operation Crusader in November 1941, with a detachment also forming part of the Tobruk Garrison during the siege in 1941. It was still with 7th Armoured Division during the Gazala battles of 1942 and assisted 11th Hussars in covering the Divisions withdrawal back to Egypt, taking part in the First Battle of El Alamein, July 1942.
The Regiment did not take part in the fighting during El Alamein, but did join up with 4th Armoured Brigade for the chase to Tunis, replacing 4th/6th South Africa Armoured Car Regiment on, or about, 24th November 1942. When 7th Armoured Division landed in Italy in September 1943, the King's Dragoon Guards were Corps troops attached to it. When the Division returned to the UK the Regiment remained in Italy fighting its way upto the Gothic Line. The King's Dragoon Guards left Italy in December 1944 to serve in Greece, where they ended the war.
The King's Dragoon Guards (KDG) was originally raised under the name of its Colonel. The KDG as (Lanier's) or the 2nd Queen's Regiment of Horse. They were raised in order to deal with the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth (1685). Although the Regiment saw no action in this rebellion one of the first duty's the KDG performed was to escort the Duke of Monmouth to London after his capture.
Between 1689 and 1691 the KDG served in Ireland and fought there for King William of Orange at the Battles of the Boyne (1690) and Aughrim (1691).
The Regiment again took part in the War of the Spanish Succession and the KDG fought with the Duke of Marlborough at the Battles of Blenheim (1704) and Ramillies (1706) where they captured French Standards and Kettle Drums.
In the War of the Austrian Succession the KDG fought at the Battles of Dettingen (1743) and Fontenoy (1745). At the Battle of Corbach (1760) a desperate charge by the KDG saved the Army. At the battle of Warburg (1760) the KDG charged under the Marquis of Granby. The charge was led by the Marquis of Granby who lost his wig during the charge and gave birth to the saying " going at it bald headed".
At the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 the KDG were part of the Earl of Uxbridge's Cavalry. Along with the 1st and 2nd Life Guards and the Royal Horse Guard's (Blues) they formed the Household Brigade under the command of the Lord Edward Somerset. Their first charge broke the advance of the French Cuirassiers and the Infantry of D'Erlons Corps attacking the allied centre along the ridge of Mont St Jean. The KDG charged 13 times during the battle and ended the day with a formed body of less than 40 men out of 577. It is reputed that the Senior NCOs and Officers were so few in number at the end of the battle that they shared their evening meal together. This is a tradition that is continued to the present day on the anniversary of the battle which has become one of the premier Battle Honours of 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards.
Between 1838 to 1843 the KDG fought in Canada against French insurgents. Whilst in China, during the Boxer Rebellion, they fought with great gallantry most notably against the Tartar Cavalry at the Battles of the Taku Forts and Pekin (1860). In 1879 they were involved in the Zulu Wars during which Major Marter, KDG, captured the Zulu King, Cetewayo. During the 1st Boer War Private Doogan (KDG) won the VC at Laings Nek (1881).
In 1896 Queen Victoria appointed His Imperial Majesty Franz Josef of Austria and Hungary as the Colonel-in-Chief of the KDG. Today 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards still wear the Hapsburg double headed eagle as its cap badge and has adopted the Radetzky March by Strauss as the Regimental Quick March.
The KDG, in India, formed part of the Lucknow Brigade of the Indian Cavalry Corps that was then sent to France. In France they also fought in the trenches as Infantry taking part in the Battles of Festubert and Hooge. In all the KDG undertook 9 tours of duty in the trenches until October 1917 when they returned to India. In 1919 they were heavily involved in the 3rd Afghan war and at the Battle of Dakka carried out one of the last British Army mounted Cavalry charges against the Afghans.
From 1920 the KDG meanwhile served in Iraq, Scotland, Germany, England, Egypt and India up to their mechanisation in 1938.
The KDG service in the 2nd World War was remarkably similar although they served as an armoured reconnaissance regiment. They also served in the Middle East and fought at the Battles of Beda Fomm, the Siege of Tobruk, Bir Hacheim and Alam Halfa. In Italy they were extensively employed, taking part in a number of major actions in particular Salerno, Naples, Monte Camino, Florence and the Gothic Line. When the KDG left Italy in December 1944 for Greece the Regiment had been in continuous action longer than any other Regiment in the British Army.
After the war the KDG served in Greece, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Libya and between 1956 - 58 they served in Malaya during the crisis.
In January 1959 Regiment amalgamated with The Queens Bays - (2nd Dragoon Guards)at a parade held at Perham Down on the Salisbury Plain to become 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards.
|The role of the Armoured Car in the North African Campaign.|
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Tel: 01244 327 617
When the Second World War started, on 3rd September 1939, the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards were stationed at Colchester, Essex, as part of 4th Infantry Division. When the BEF went to France it originally served as a reconnaissance Regiment for this Division before joining 2nd Armoured Reconnaissance Brigade in March 1940. After being evacuated at Dunkirk it formed part of 3rd Motor (Machine Gun) Brigade in June 1940, before joining 28th Armoured Brigade in December 1940.
The 'Skins' as they were normally known remained in the UK until they replaced 4th County of London Yeomanry in 22nd Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division in Normandy on 29th July 1944. They remained with 7th Armoured Division for the rest on the war.
Formed in 1922 as 5th/6th Dragoons (5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards in 1927, Royal in 1935) by the amalgamation of 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) and The Inniskilling's (6th Dragoons). The histories of these two regiments are shown below;
The 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) were raised in 1685 as the Duke of Shrewsbury's Regiment of Horse (5th Dragoon Guards in 1784) being then ranks as 7th Horse. From then until 1751 they were known by the names of eleven other colonels. In 1690 the regiment was ranked as 6th Horse. In 1746 it became ranked as 2nd Horse on Irish Establishment, being also known as Green Horse, and on 1st July 1775, it became 2nd Regiment of Horse. They fought in the War of Spanish Succession (1701-15) at Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet. They next were in battle during French Revolutionary Wars (1793-1802) at Beaumont
On 1st April 1788, it became the 5th Regiment of Dragoon Guards and was transferred from Irish to British Establishment, serving in the Peninsular War (1808-14) at Salamanca, Vittoria and Toulouse. It was re-titled in 1823 as 5th (The Princess Charlotte of Wales's) Regiment of Dragoon Guards (being named posthumously for Charlotte, Princess of Wales, consort of the Colonel), later becoming 5th (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) Dragoon Guards.
During the Crimean War (1854-5) they fought at Balaklava and Sevastopol. In the South African War (1899-1902) they were involved in the Defence of Ladysmith. It served in the BEF in France in the Great War (1914-1918). They fought at Mons, La Cateau, Marne and Messines in 1914; Ypres in 1914 and 1915; Bellewaarde in 1916; The Somme 1916 and 1918; Cambrai 1917 and 1918 and Amiens and the Pursuit to Mons in 1918
On 1st January 1921, it was renamed as 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) and then on 17th October 1922 it was amalgamated with The Inniskilling's (6th Dragoons), to form 5th/6th Dragoons.
The Inniskilling's (6th Dragoons) were raised in 1689 as (Albert) Cunningham's Dragoons, by amalgamation of several regiments formed in 1688. In 1690 they were ranked as 7th Dragoons and being ranked as 6th Dragoons in 1691. During 1715 the regiment was also known as the 'Black Dragoons'. They fought in the War of Austrian Succession (1740-8) at Dettingen. They were in battle again at Warburg in the Seven Years War (1756-63). They were renamed as 6th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Dragoons in 1751, having previously been by known names of colonels that commanded the regiment. The spelling on Inniskilling varied at times with such spellings "Enniskilling" and "Enniskillen" being preferred at different times.
During the French Revolutionary Wars (1793-1802) they fought at Willems and again during the 'Hundred Days' (1815) at Waterloo. In the Crimean War (1854-5) they were at Balaklava and Sevastopol. In 1861 the name was shorten to 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons. They were in the South African during the war of 1899-1902. During the Great War (1914-1918); they fought at The Somme in 1916 and 1918; and at St Quentin; Avre; Amiens; Hindenburg Line; St Quentin Canal; Pursuit to Mons; France and Flanders 1914-18.
On 1st January 1921, it was renamed as The Inniskillings (6th Dragoons) and then on 17th October 1922 it was amalgamated with the 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales's), to form 5th/6th Dragoons.
In May 1927, it was renamed as 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards serving in the UK during the inter war years. On 6th May 1935, the regiment became known as 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards and in April 1939 it was transferred to Royal Armoured Corps. During the Second World War its battle honours were: Withdrawal to Escaut, St. Omer-La Bassée, Dunkirk 1940, Mont Pincon, St. Pierre La Vielle, Lisieux, Risle Crossing, Lower Maas, Roer, Ibbenburren, North-West Europe 1940, 1944 - 1945.
After the Second World War the regiment served in Germany, the Korean War, Libya, Bahrain, Aden, Hong Kong, Cyprus and the UK at various times. The Regiment was amalgamated with 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards on 1st July 1992 to form The Royal Dragoon Guards.
|War Diaries of 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards|
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At the start of the Second World War the 2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry Regiment (along with the 1st Regiment) was stationed in Derby. The regiment did not serve in the BEF during the Fall of France, and after Dunkirk it began training and being re-equipped before it arrived in Egypt as part of 8th Armoured Division (which never fought as a whole Division) in 1942, after a short period in Iraq. It served with distinction during at El Alamein, as part of 4th Armoured Brigade within 7th Armoured Division. It was replaced in 4th Armoured Brigade by 4th/6th South Africa Armoured Car Regiment (the renamed 4th SAACR) in early November 1942.
The regiment moved to Iraq to serve in the 9th Army as an Army Unit, before returning to the UK and joining 51st (Highland) Division as its reconnaissance regiment on 20th January 1944. It then served with this Division during the Normandy campaign and then through the rest the battles in Northern Europe, taking part in Operation Market Garden in 1944 and in the Ardennes after the German offensive in December 1944 which became known as the 'Battle of the Bulge'. The Regiment then fought in area of the Rhine for the early part of 1945 and remained with 51st Division until the end of the war, in the Bremerhaven area of Germany, in May 1945.
The Derbyshire Yeomanry was first formed as the Derbyshire Regiment of Fencible Cavalry on 22nd October 1794, again being raised to meet a threatened French invasion. In 1900 it sailed for South Africa to take part in the Boer War, winning its first battle honour.
In the First World War, the Regiment was based in the Middle East and the names of the now-famous places it fought at include Egypt, Macedonia, Struma, Sulva, Scimitar Hill and, most famous of all, Gallipoli.
In the Second World War the Regiment retained its armoured role and again served in the Middle East, with the 2nd Regiment gaining special distinction at El Alamein and the 1st Regiment entering Tunis at the same time as 11th Hussars.
It now forms 'B' squadron of the Royal Yeomanry with the Leicester Yeomanry.
|The role of the Armoured Car in the North African Campaign.|
|2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry in WWW2 website|
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Badge is effectively the same as that for the Royal Tank Regiment, but with a Springbok replacing the Crown. The Motto is 'ONS IS' which is from Afrikaans and means 'We Are'.
The IV badge shown on the right, was a local desert one, worn on the beret, adopted by 4th SA ACR to differentiate it from the other South African SATC units.
|4th South African Armoured Car Regiment (later 4th/6th)|
On the 19th July, ‘B’ Squadron was detached to Desert Force HQ, then at the end of July 1941, the 4th SA ACR came under command of 7th Armoured Division, and on the 23rd August 1941, they took over responsibility of the forward reconnaissance line from the 11th Hussars.
On the night of 17th November 1941, the 4th SA ACR moved through the wire at the centre of the 7th Armoured Division, ahead of the 7th Armoured Brigade, at the start of 'Operation Crusader’. The Regiment served with the 7th Armoured Division throughout ‘Operation Crusader’, and the Sidi Rezegh battles, Gazala, Benghazi, Knightsbridge and the ‘Cauldron’, and the fall of Tobruk.
On the 9th July 1942, the 4th SA ACR was again under direct command of the 7th Armoured Division, in observation, in the Alamein line, North of the Qattara Ddepression, before they were relieved by the 11th Hussars. On 24th July 1942, and the Regiment moved to Sidi Bishr for rest and refit.
Prior to the Battle of El Alamein it was amalgamated with the 6th Armoured Car Regiment to form the 4th/6th Armoured Car Regiment, due to the volume of 6th SAACR personnel and equipment drafted in to reinforce its depleted ranks. At El Alamein it served as part of 'Hammerforce' made up from units not assigned to other Divisions from 8th Armoured Division when the latter was split up, and as part 1st Armoured Division, taking part in the final break out after 'Operation Supercharge'.
They then came under direct control of 10 Corps as they effected the breakthrough, having been directed by Montgomery himself to force a way through between German 15th Panzer and 90th Light Divisions.
After this breakout 4th/6th SAACR replaced 2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry in 4th (Light) Armoured Brigade, on 12th November 1942, only to be replaced themselves by King's Dragoon Guards on, or about, 24th November 1942.
In December 1942, the 4th/6th South African Armoured Car Regiment, was recalled to South African along with the rest of the South Africa forces in North Africa land forces were recalled in order to form an Armoured Division for service in Europe. In April 1943, the Regiment ceased to exist, but the veteran armoured car men of the desert soon adapted themselves to tank warfare, and served with distinction with the 6th South African Armoured Division through the Italian campaign. At first this was with the 8th Army, and finally with the US 5th Army, in Italy.
At the start of WW II, the Union of South Africa had no armoured units at all, but, the organisation of the Union Defence Force made liberal provision for the use of armoured cars as the most suitable form of armoured fighting vehicle in bush warfare on African soil. So in January 1940 many volunteer Armoured Car companies were formed in South Africa and they in turn became part of the South Africa Tank Corps (SATC) which was formed in May 1940. A number of Armoured Car Companies were formed, trained, and served in East Africa, with great success, against the Italians in Kenya, Somalia, and Abyssinia.
These original companies had been formed mainly from volunteers, from the 2nd Royal Natal Carbineers, the 2nd Imperial Light Horse, the Railways and Harbour Board, Regiment Suid-Westelike Distrikte and Regiment Westelike Provinsie, amongst others and from a total strength of 40 all ranks in March 1940, the SATC strength stood at 7,156 all ranks by December 1941. The Armoured Car Companies of the SATC being were formed into Armoured Car Regiments and Reconnaissance Battalions in March 1941, before preparing to embark for the North African theatre.
The 4th South African Armoured Car Regiment were the first to arrive in Egypt in June 1941 with it’s sister regiment, 6th SA ACR (formed out of 2nd Bn. Royal Natal Carbineers), and they both set about learning the finer points of desert navigation, reconnaissance, and wireless procedures, in the Alum Shaltut – Burg el Arab area.
On the 19th July, ‘B’ Squadron was detached to Desert Force HQ,then at the end of July 1941, the 4th SA ACR came under command of 7th Armoured Division, and on the 23rd August 1941, they took over responsibility of the forward reconnaissance line from the 11th Hussars. The regiment served with 7th Armoured Division throughout ‘Operation Crusader’, and the Sidi Rezegh battles, Gazala, Benghazi, Knightsbridge and the ‘Cauldron’, and the fall of Tobruk.
During the Gazala battles it was 4th SAACR that originally spotted the dust from the German advance at first light on 27th May 1942. After the fall of Tobruk, the Regiment found itself south of the German line and under command 7th Motor Brigade, covered the Brigade’s withdrawal back through the wire, and again after the evacuation of Mersa Matruh, acting as their rearguard, back to the defensive line at El Alamein.
In July 1942, the 4th SA ACR was again under direct command of the 7th Armoured Division, in observation, in the Alamein line, North of the Qattara depression, until they were relieved by the 11th Hussars. On 24th July 1942, after 3 months in actual contact with the enemy, and 500 miles of withdrawal ‘in contact’, and the Regiment moved to Sidi Bishr for rest and refit
The Officer Commanding Lt. Col. D.S. Newton-King was appointed 2nd I.C. of the British 22nd Armoured Brigade, and Maj R. Reeves-Moore assumed command on the 13th August, with the rank of Lt. Col., having been awarded the Military Cross.
At this stage before the battle of Alamein, the Regiment’s awards totalled;
Having been newly equipped with 17 Daimler Armoured Cars, and Mk. IIIA Marmon-Herrington's, mounting 37mm and 47mm guns, the Regiment proceeded to the Alum Shaltut area, under command 9th Armoured Brigade of 10th Corps during the battle of Alam Halfa.
In September, in order to maintain operational strength, an amalgamation of units became necessary, and the 6th SA ACR was withdrawn as a unit from service, and it’s personnel were drafted into the other regiments.
On the 23rd October 1942, so great had been the influx of 6th Regiment reinforcements to the 4th, that the official designation of the latter now became 4th/6th South African Armoured Car Regiment, under command Lt. Col Reeves-Moore.
With the reorganisation of the 8th Army, the 4th/6th South African Armoured Car Regiment formed part of the 1st Armoured Division of 10th Corps.
When the 8th Army took the offensive at Alamein, the 4th/6th SA ACR were assigned what was possibly the most dramatic and adventurous role given to any South African ground unit in the Western Desert – that of breaking through the front, in company with their British counterpart, the Royal Dragoons (from 10th Armoured Division), ahead of the armour, to raid deep into the enemy rear.
Given the stalemate at Tel el Aqqaqir, at 14:00 hours on the 1st November, the CO was summoned to a conference with the Army Commander, General Lumsden, and the CO of the Royal Dragoons, and were given the task of penetrating the German Armour between 15th Panzer and 90th Light, under cover of artillery.
This they eventually effected at the third attempt on 4th November, with two squadrons (and one in reserve), after the C.O. had personally led them into position. They were through by 06:30 on 4th November 1942 with ‘A’ and ‘B’ squadrons in open desert moving behind the enemy lines, and creating the impression that the British armour had broken through, and their War Diary states that 'From then on reports started coming in of our captures and destructions'.
This 'Breakthrough' was effected by the 'Cars', as opposed to the Heavy Armour, as Montgomery surmised that this would be more likely to succeed, and break the stalemate, and would panic the Germans into thinking that the Main Armour had broken through, which it did. By the afternoon of the 4th November, the desired effect had been achieved, and the battle was as good as won.
From then on, reports started coming in of their captures and destructions. At 10:28 Regimental HQ moved through the gap with the British Light Armour and in the afternoon the Squadrons were ordered well West to operate in the area South of Sidi Haneish.
The British armour had broken through and the battle of El Alamein was won and by 8th November, the 4th/6th had reported over 5,000 prisoners captured, including 2 Generals, (Edoar Nebbia and Arrigo Orilla), one Colonel, and 2 Lt. Colonels, 150 guns, and some 350 vehicles destroyed or captured.
From the 5th November 1942 they retraced their steps of the June withdrawal, wreaking havoc amongst the enemy, preventing them from regrouping and making a stand. Despite the heavy rain bogging down the British forces, the 4th/6th pressed on through 'Charing Cross' on 6th November, Fort Capuzzo on 7th November, past Sollum, and on to El Adem and Tobruk.
With ‘A’ Squadron having lost 6 cars to enemy air action on the 8th November, the regiment was further replenished with 3 troops from the old 6th SA ACR from Corps HQ, and came under command 4th Light Armoured Brigade, then moving towards El Adem.
On the 12th November 1942, ‘A’ Squadron entered Tobruk, and were the first of the 8th Army to do so, avenging the disaster to the 2nd South African Division, and their own 7th SA Recce Bn Armoured Cars, capturing 12 Germans, and reporting fires everywhere. Here they also released large numbers of Allied prisoners, captured there months before, and kept by the Italians as port labourers.
On to Benghazi leading the 4th Light Armoured Brigade, but at Tmimi, the 4th Light could move no further. Maj-General Harding commanding the 7th Armoured Division met with the CO, Lt. Col Reeves-Moore, and greeted him with "The old firm again, they can’t do without us", and congratulates the Regiment on it’s magnificent effort.
The regiment then moved on towards Benghazi, but they beaten to it by their old comrades in arms, the 11th Hussars, who entered the Port on the 20th November 1942.
The final action for the regiment was the pursuit to Agheila in December 1942, which brought an end to the Desert adventures of the 4th/6th South African Armoured Car Regiment, as the South African land forces are recalled.
Flushed with victory, and the thrill of the chase, back from the desert, which they had ranged with the 11th Hussars, the Kings Dragoon Guards, and the Royal Dragoons – bound for home and the bitter news of the disbandment of the South African Tank Corps.
After Alamein, Field-Marshal Smuts (the South African Prime Minister) announced that all South Africa’s fighting land forces would return home for leave, and be reconstituted into an Armoured Division for service in Europe.
In April 1943, the four South African Armoured Car Regiments and Recce Battalions that had served in East Africa and the Western desert ceased to exist. The 7th SA ACR (Recce) had been lost at Tobruk, the 3rd SA ACR was absorbed into the Natal Mounted Rifles, and the 4th/6th SA ACR were absorbed by the Royal Natal Carbineers and the Imperial Light Horse.
The veteran armoured car men of the desert soon adapted themselves to tank warfare, and served with distinction with the 6th South African Armoured Division through the Italian campaign. At first this was with the 8th Army, and finally with the US 5th Army and those SATC officers surplus to the 6th SA Armoured Division requirements were given permission to second to the British Army.
General Montgomery welcomed many of them into the 8th Army; some joined the Royal Marines; and others were absorbed into Special Operations units.
|The role of the Armoured Car in the North African Campaign.|
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This Regiment was originally formed as part of the 44th (Home Counties) Division, in January 1941, in the 44th (Home Counties) Division from the 7th Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment. It arrived in the Egypt with the rest of the 44th Division in mid 1942. In preparations for El Alamein it was especially trained for mine clearing and attached to the Division for coming battle. It cleared the way through the minefields for 7th Armoured Division, working closely with 11th Hussars, in the vanguard of the Divisions attacks in the early stages of El Alamein. During this action it suffered heavy causalities.
It joined 56th (London) Division in Iraq on 8th March 1943, seeing service in
Iraq, Palestine, Egypt until the Division moved to Libya at the end of May 1943.
The regiment landed with the rest of the 56th Division in Italy on 9th September
1943. It then served in Italy with 56th (London) Division, for the
remainder of the war, transferring to the Royal Armoured Corps on 1st January
1944. It was replaced in the reconnaissance role for
this Division by 4th Hussars in October 1945. The regiment was disbanded in
The Reconnaissance Corps was formed in January 1941. Although having its own organisation and individual insignia, this corps became a sub-division of the Royal Armoured Corps in January 1944. Originally the new regiments made up the reconnaissance regiments of the Infantry Divisions exclusively, the numbering being that of the division to which it belonged. However, as the war progressed the Reconnaissance units were moved to other Divisions as the Army was re-organised, whilst retaining their original numbering. After the end of the war the Reconnaissance Regiments started to be disbanded in August 1946.
Typical Reconnaissance Regiment Organisation;
(1 Humber Armoured Car, 9 x Bren carriers, 8 x 6-pounder AT guns and 6 x 3-inch mortars)
Signal Troop (R.Sigs)
Light Aid Detachment (REME)
3 Reconnaissance Squadrons (Each 1 Humber Armoured Car and 1 Reconnaissance Car) containing:
3 Scout Troops (Each 6 Bren Carriers, 2 Humber Armoured Cars and 2 Humber Scout Cars)
1 Assault Troop (Each 4 Half-Tracks)
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When war was declared No. 2 Armoured Car Company, Royal Air Force, which was part of the British force used to 'Police Palestine in the 1930's, plus Persia, was stationed in Jerusalem. Its main role was to protect RAF airfields in the region, but also supported the Army in various tasks, too. It may seem strange to be mentioning a Royal Air Force unit on a website about a British Armoured Division, but on 7th October 1940, the Company, with 10 Fordson Armoured Cars were attached the 11th Hussars, becoming known as D Sqn (RAF). The Fordson Armoured Cars were actually Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars whose chassis had worn out, so the body was fitted onto Fordson trucks. Being an RAF unit they fitted their 'Cars' with 'Scarff rings' which provided a better anti-aircraft mounting for Twin Lewis or Vickers 'K' Guns.
After training the RAF Company served with the 11th Hussars during Operation Compass and Beda Fomm. In later February it was briefly attached to the King's Dragoon Guards and in March, it was again on the Egyptian border. Subsequently, the half company might have joined the other half in Amman, Transjordania, but, in April 1941, the entire Company was ordered back to Egypt in order to take over protection of RAF forward airfields. On 30th April 1941, Iraq laid siege to the RAF garrison at Habbaniya including three sections of No. 1 Armoured Car Company RAF (the 4th Section was stationed south of Basra). As a relief, Habforce was sent from Transjordania to Habbaniya. No. 2 Armoured Car Company RAF with eight Armoured Cars covered the distance of about 1,000 miles from Sidi-Barrani to the staging area at Ruthbek in Transjordania in three days. The Iraq "campaign" was in principle over by end of May. While No. 1 Armoured Car Company went to the Mossul oilfields, No. 2 Armoured Car Company returned to Amman in order to prepare for the invasion of Lebanon and Syria which took place in June/July 1941. In October 1941 No. 2 Armoured Car Company RAF returned to airfield protection duty in the Western desert where it was joined by No. 1 Armoured Car Company in November, remaining there until 1943.
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The 4th Armoured Brigade (The Black Rats) was one of the original units that formed the Mobile Division (as the 7th Armoured Division was originally known) in 1938. It was originally known as the Heavy Armoured Brigade consisting of 1st and 6th Royal Tank Regiments. It became the 4th Armoured Brigade in December 1939. When Italy declared war on 10 June 1940 the Brigade took part in its first action the attack on Fort Capuzzo. It served from with 7th Armoured Division through all the early desert battles, including Sidi Rezegh and Gazala. After becoming an Independent Brigade (being then known as 4th Light Armoured Brigade) in September 1942, the Brigade continued to served under the command of 7th Armoured Division almost until the end of the war in North Africa in 1943. In June 1943 it joined 13 Corps and supported 5th and 50th Divisions in Sicily later that year. On 16th September 1943 it moved to Italy where it fought with the 8th Army on the East coast leaving in January 1944 to return home to prepare for the invasion on Northern Europe.
The first tanks of the Brigade landed in Normandy on 7th June 1944. The Brigade was then to fight its way across Europe along side the 7th Armoured Division ending up between Geesthacht and Hamburg in May 1945.
The Brigade was disbanded in March 1948 only to be reformed in 1981. The 4th Armoured Brigade was part of British Army in Germany, still wearing the "Black Rat" sign, as part of the 1st Armoured Division, but in 2007 it became 4th Mechanized Brigade. In 2015 the 4th Mechanized Brigade was disbanded and reformed as 4th Infantry Brigade and HQ North East, still proudly wearing the Black Rat.
|The role of an Armoured Brigade in an Armoured Division|
|History of 4th Armoured Brigade website|
|List of the Brigade's Commanding Officers|
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The 7th Armoured Brigade (The Green Rats) was one of the original units that formed the Mobile Division (as the 7th Armoured Division was originally known) in 1938. It was originally known as the Light Armoured Brigade consisting of 7th, 8th & 11th Hussars. It became the 7th Armoured Brigade in December 1939. It served from with 7th Armoured Division through all the early desert battles, including Sidi Rezegh before leaving it in early 1942. The Brigade arrived in Rangoon (Burma) in February 1942 in time to take part in the retreat through Burma to India during that year. It return to the Middle East in 1943 serving in Iraq and Egypt before moving to Italy in May 1944 where the Brigade fought as part of the Canadian Corps for the rest of the war. The end of the Second World War found 7th Armoured Brigade based in northern Italy as part of the occupying forces. Sometime in late 1945 and early 1946 the Brigade was disbanded and the 22nd Armoured Brigade (the Armoured Brigade then serving with the 7th Armoured Division in Germany) was re-designated the 7th Armoured Brigade. It is the re-named Brigade that is now serving in the British Army of today. In 2015 the 7th Armoured Brigade was disbanded and reformed as 7th Infantry Brigade and HQ East (The Desert Rats), still proudly wearing the Red Jerboa.
|The role of an Armoured Brigade in an Armoured Division|
|History of 7th Armoured Brigade website|
|List of the Brigade's Commanding Officers|
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The Brigade was formed out of the 22nd Armoured Car Company in the 1930's and started the war as the 22nd Heavy Armoured Brigade based in the home counties. It consisted of 3rd and 4th County of London Yeomanry in St. John's Wood, London and the 2nd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars in Bristol. The story goes that it adopted the Stag's head badge as its own due to the fact a Brigadier Carr of the Carr Biscuit family once commanded it and this was the logo used on the family's products. It did not serve with the BEF during the fall of France in 1940.
The Brigade embarked for Egypt on 15th August 1941, docking for a couple of days to re-fuel and restock at Freetown, Sierra Leone on 28th August and then headed for Suez. The convoy was escorted by HMS Revenge, which the SS Orion carrying Brigade HQ managed to ram amidships, while of the cost of South Africa, which caused a slight delay in the HQ's progress. By late September 1941 all the Brigade was in Egypt, ahead of the rest of 1st Armoured Division. It therefore became a Corps unit and was attached to 7th Armoured Division, in November 1941, for the Operation Crusader battles, including Sidi Rezegh, before returning to 1st Armoured Division command in December 1942. During the Gazala battles of 1942 it served with 1st Armoured Division, before being attached to 7th Armoured Division in August 1942.
When 4th Light Armoured Brigade became an Independent unit it replaced it as the Armoured Brigade in the Division at El Alamein. It then served with it until the end of the war, through North Africa, Italy and Northwest Europe, with only one change to the regiments under its command. On the way to Hamburg and later Berlin men from Brigade HQ witnessed the aftermath of Belsen, shortly after it was liberated.
In 1946 with the disbandment of the original 7th Armoured Brigade it was re-designated 7th Armoured Brigade. It is in fact this re-named Brigade that is still serving in the British Army today, in Germany, wearing the Jerboa Sign and known as the "Desert Rats", where they serve as part of the 1st Armoured Division. When the 7th Armoured Division was disbanded they took over its traditions and history, proudly wearing a modern version of the traditional Jerboa badge of the original Division. In 2015 the 7th Armoured Brigade was disbanded and reformed as 7th Infantry Brigade and HQ East (The Desert Rats).
List of Brigade Commanders:
1939 to February 1942
||Brigadier J Scott-Cockburn, DSO (Hussars)|
1942 to July 1942
||Brigadier W. G. Carr, DSO (12th Royal Lancers)|
| July 1942
||Brigadier H. F. Fisher|
|July 1942 to
||Brigadier G. P. B. Roberts, CB, DSO, MC, (Royal Tank Regiment)|
|January 1943||Colonel D. S. Newton-King (4th South African Armoured Car Regt) *|
| January 1943
||Brigadier W. R. N. Hinde, CBE, DSO, ADC, (15th/19th Hussars)|
||Lieutenant-Colonel G. P. Gregson. DSO. MC, (Royal Horse Artillery) *|
|August 1944 to September 1944||Brigadier H. R. Mackeson|
||Lieutenant-Colonel J. E. Swetenham, DSO, (5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards) *|
|September 1944 to October 1944||Brigadier H. J. B. Cracroft, DSO (Royal Tank Regt)|
||Lieutenant-Colonel A. G. V. Paley, OBE (The Rifle Brigade) *|
|October 1944 to August 1945||Brigadier A. D. R. Wingfield, DSO, MC, (10th Hussars)|
* Indicates Temporary Command
|The role of an Armoured Brigade in an Armoured Division|
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