7th Queen's Own Hussars

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7th Queen's Own Hussars
7th Hussars - Crest & Tie Colours.png
Crest and tie colours of the 7th Hussars
Active 1689–1714
1715–1958
Country  Kingdom of England (1689–1707)
 Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1958)
Branch Army
Type Cavalry of the Line/Royal Armoured Corps
Role Light Cavalry
Size one regiment
Nickname The Saucy Seventh/The Lilywhite Seventh
Motto Honi soit qui mal y pense (French, Evil Upon Him who Evil Thinks)
March (Canter) The Campbells Are Coming
(Quick) Bannocks o'Barley Meal
(Slow) The Garb of Old Gaul
Anniversaries Waterloo Day
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Field Marshal Earl Haig
"7th Hussars" redirects here. For the 7th Hussars in the French Army, see 7th Hussar Regiment (France).

The 7th Queen's Own Hussars was a cavalry regiment in the British Army, first formed in 1690. It saw service for three centuries, before being amalgamated into The Queen's Own Hussars in 1958.

The regiment was first raised as The Queen's Own Regiment of Dragoons in 1690, by the regimenting of various independent troops, ranked as the 7th Dragoons and named for Queen Mary. The regiment was briefly disbanded in 1714, with its squadrons joining the 1st and 2nd Dragoons, but reformed the following year as The Princess of Wales's Own Regiment of Dragoons, named for Princess Caroline. The regiment was retitled on Caroline's coronation as Queen Consort, becoming The Queen's Own Regiment of Dragoons in 1727, and formally titled as the 7th (The Queen's Own) Regiment of Dragoons in 1751.

The regiment was designated light dragoons in 1783, becoming the 7th (The Queen's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons, and as hussars in 1807 as the 7th (The Queen's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars), with the title simplified in 1861 as the 7th (Queen's Own) Hussars. After service in the First World War, the regiment retitled as 7th Queen's Own Hussars in 1921.

The regiment was transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps in 1939. The regiment survived the immediate post-war reduction in forces, but was slated for reduction in the 1957 Defence White Paper, and was amalgamated with the 3rd The King's Own Hussars, to form The Queen's Own Hussars the following year.

History[edit]

Formation, Scotland & Flanders[edit]

Owing to the 7th Hussars losing 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. The regiment was 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 note, all the troops being dispersed among the highlands. In March 1692 the regiment was brought to Edinburgh to assist in law and order duties. In 1694 it was sent to Flanders to join the King's Army. They were present at the capture of Namur in 1695. Two years later the regiment came home to Scotland for a dozen years policing the lowlands. In 1709 the Hon William Kerr took over the Colonelcy and 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 reduced the Army. Kerr's Dragoons, despite their seniority, were one of the first to go. 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, the first title of the regiment, the "Princess Of Wales' Own Regiment of Dragoons".

At the end of October Kerr's marched up to Scotland and fought the rebels in November at the Battle of Sheriffmuir. The battle was indecisive and apart from Kerr himself having three horses shot from under him, the regiment did nothing exemplary. 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".

1742–1806[edit]

In 1742, The Queen's Own mobilized 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 27 June, standing next to the 3rd Hussars exposed to the devastating fire from the French guns, but 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 Fontenoy in 1745. 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 Fontenoy had done and Lauffeld in which the cavalry saved the British from a major defeat. The regiment returned to England 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 Cipher, 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. In 1783 the 7th were converted to the (Queen's Own) Light Dragoons. A decade later, after the French Revolution, Britain was at war with the Netherlands. April 1794 brought the battle of Beaumont which 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, Sandhurst. There was a minor campaign on the continent in 1795 to rescue Holland which failed. Back in England George, the Prince of Wales, 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.

Corunna to Waterloo[edit]

7th Hussars, Waterloo

In October 1808 the 7th Hussars embarked for Corunna to reinforce Sir John Moore's Army. 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 Sahagún 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 1812. The 7th crossed the Pyrenees and wintered near Bayonne, not fighting until Battle of Orthes in February 1814, where 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 after Napoleon had escaped from Elba. Their Brigade Commander was the late Commanding Officer, Major General Sir Hussey Vivian and the Colonel of the Regiment General Henry Paget, Lord Uxbridge was overall commander of the entire 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 charged more than twelve times. Standish O'Grady, 2nd Viscount Guillamore, then a lieutenant in the 7th Hussars mentions is a letter to his father:

"We charged twelve or fourteen times, and once cut off a squadron of cuirassiers, every man of whom we killed on the spot except the two officers and one Marshal de Logis, whom I sent to the rear".[1]

Uniform of the 7th Hussars, c. 1840

In 24 hours the 7th Hussars had lost two Officers killed, and eleven wounded, sixty two other ranks killed and 109 wounded, while Uxbridge lost his leg to enemy artillery.

For three years the regiment was part of the Army of Occupation around Paris. 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 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 in England when once again an uprising in the Empire called them far from home, this time to India.

The Indian Mutiny[edit]

This anonymous painting hangs in the Warrant Officers & Sgts Mess of the Queen's Royal Hussars and shows the dress of a private of the 7th during the Napoleonic wars. Of special note is the barrel-sash round his waist which is blue and white instead of the usual red and yellow for hussars.
Privates on patrol – 1850

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 were 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 with 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 notwithstanding the peril Major Charles Fraser 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. 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. 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.

1905–1938[edit]

They were stationed at Bangalore until the start of World War I, moving to Secunderabad with detachments keeping order in Delhi. In 1917 the regiment sailed to the river Tigris near Basra to fight against the Turks as part of 11th Indian Cavalry Brigade. They moved to Baghdad from where the first attack was launched in March 1918 against a division of the enemy in Action of Khan Baghdadi; the 7th in their Brigade had the role of cutting off the enemy retreat, 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 Battle of Sharqat. On 30 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 until May 1919.

The inter war years the regiment had a short and uneventful tour of India up to 1923, then at Aldershot before sailing to Egypt in 1935. They were transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps in May 1936. Training with Mark II tanks proved valuable practice.

World War II[edit]

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 Fort Capuzzo[2] (which they had to capture twice in a month) and Maddalena.[3] In January 1941 the 7th were involved in the fighting around Bardia and Sidi Barrani. Then came the attack on Tobruk. At Beda Fomm came the final destruction of the Italians and the 7th fought for 36 hours helping to capture 20,000 prisoners and 112 tanks.

Rommel's Africa Korps then started to push the allies back into Egypt. On 21 November 1941 the 7th Hussars were ordered to a blocking position north of Sidi Rezegh, where they encountered 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 28 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 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. Field Marshal Alexander spoke highly of the regiment when he said:

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 at the start of May 1942 when they crossed the river Chindwin,[4] the regiment had to destroy their tanks, and became pedestrians for the final 150 miles of the retreat. On 17 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. The regiment moved back to Egypt, were 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".[5] By October the allies were nearing Bologna and 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[6] and ensured that by 2 May 1945 the German Army in Italy had had to surrender.

1946-Amalgamation[edit]

The 7th then marched north ending up in June 1946 at Soltau, in Northern Germany, as part of the occupying Army. They spent a year 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.[7]

The 7th Hussars had a long and close affiliation with the Leicestershire (Prince Albert's Own) Yeomanry; officers from the 7th Hussars had fought with the LY in 1915 at the Battle of Frezenberg from 12 to 14 May that year and specifically Captain D P Tollemache (7th H), Brigade Major of the 7th Cav Brigade, who led the final charge of "A" Squadron of the Leicestershire Yeomanry who had single handedly held the line for the whole Brigade during 24 hours of intense battle. Major B R Liebert (7th H) was attached to the LY and was commanding B Squadron, he fell along with many in the front line under intense artillery and infantry attacks. The 7th Hussars and the Leicestershire (PAO) Yeomanry were affiliated from 1915 to 1956 whereupon both Regiments became victim to amalgamations.

Principal battles & campaigns[edit]

1808–1809 Peninsula, 1808 Sahagún, 1809 Carrion, 1809 Benevente, 1809 Corunna, 1813–1814 Peninsula, 1814 Orthez, 1814 Toulouse, 1815 Hundred Days, 1815 Waterloo, 1838–1839 Canada, 1858 Indian Mutiny, 1858 Lucknow, 1881 Transvaal, 1896 Rhodesia, 1901–1902 South Africa, 1914–1918 The Great War, 1918 Khan Baghdadi, 1918 Sharqat, 1939–1945 Second World War; 1940 Egyptian Frontier, 1940 Beda Fomm, 1941 Sidi Rezegh, 1942 Burma, 1944 Ancona.

The Hussars were responsible for riot control during the 1956 riots in Hong Kong.

Victoria Crosses[edit]

Lieutenant General Sir Charles Craufurd Fraser[8][9]
Cornet William George Hawtry Bankes

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cannon, Richard. Historical Records of the Seventh or The Queen's Own Regiment of Hussars. John W. Parker London, 1842.
  • Barrett, C. R. B. The 7th (Queen's Own) Hussars. (2 vols) Royal United Services Institution London,1914.
  • Anon. A Short History of the Seventh Queen's Own Hussars from 1689 to 1932. Gale & Polden Ltd. Aldershot. 1932.
  • Davy, G. M. O. Brig. The Seventh and the Three Enemies. The Story of World War II and the 7th Queen's Own Hussars. W. Heffer & Sons Ltd. Cambridge 1953
  • Evans, Roger. The Years Between, The Story of the 7th Queen's Own Hussars 1911– 1937. Gale & Polden Ltd, Aldershot 1965
  • Brereton, J. M. The 7th Queen's Own Hussars (Famous regiments series?) Leo Cooper 1975