6th Cavalry Brigade (United Kingdom)

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6th Cavalry Brigade
Active 1815
Country  United Kingdom
Allegiance British Crown
Branch  British Army
Type Cavalry
Size Brigade
Part of 3rd Cavalry Division (World War I)
1st Cavalry Division (World War II)

Napoleonic Wars

Battle of Waterloo

World War I

Western Front
World War II
Hussey Vivian, 1st Baron Vivian
Sir David Campbell

The 6th Cavalry Brigade was a cavalry brigade of the British Army. It served in the Napoleonic Wars (notably at the Battle of Waterloo), in the First World War on the Western Front where it was assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Division, and with the 1st Cavalry Division during World War II.


Napoleonic Wars[edit]

From June 1809, Wellington organized his cavalry into one, later two, cavalry divisions (1st and 2nd) for the Peninsular War.[1] These performed a purely administrative, rather than tactical, role;[2] the normal tactical headquarters were provided by brigades commanding two, later usually three, regiments.[3] The cavalry brigades were named for the commanding officer, rather than numbered.[a] For the Hundred Days Campaign, he numbered his British cavalry brigades in a single sequence, 1st to 7th.[b] The 6th Cavalry Brigade consisted of:

It was commanded by Major General Sir Hussey Vivian.[10]

The brigade took part in the Battle of Waterloo. During the battle, the 1st Hussars, KGL suffered just 7 casualties (1 killed, 6 wounded), the 10th Hussars 94 (22 killed, 46 wounded, 26 missing) and the 18th Hussars 102 (12 killed, 73 wounded, 17 missing).[11] This represented a loss rate of about 13%.[c]

World War I[edit]


The brigade was formed on 19 September 1914 at Ludgershall, Wiltshire for the 3rd Cavalry Division.[13] It commanded three regular British Army cavalry regiments,[14] the only ones not stationed in the United Kingdom or India at the outbreak of the war.[d] A Royal Engineers signal troop also joined on formation.[14]

The 1st Dragoons joined the brigade on 19 September[16] and the 10th Hussars on 22 September,[17] both from Potchefstroom, South Africa. The 3rd Dragoon Guards from the Force in Egypt did not join the brigade in Belgium until 4 November.[16]

The brigade landed at Ostend on 8 October 1914[18] and deployed to the Western Front in France and Belgium. C Battery, Royal Horse Artillery (six 13 pounders) joined the division's Royal Horse Artillery Brigade from XIV Brigade, RHA of 7th Division on 19 October and was permanently attached to 6th Cavalry Brigade on the same day.[14] On 29 February 1916, a Machine Gun Squadron was formed from the machine gun sections of the brigade's constituent regiments.[19]

The 3rd Cavalry Division was initially formed with just two cavalry brigades – the 6th and 7th.[13] To bring the division up to the standard strength of three brigades, the 8th Cavalry Brigade was formed in Belgium on 20 November 1914.[20] The 10th Hussars was transferred to the new brigade on formation and was replaced by the 1/1st North Somerset Yeomanry from the 1st South Western Mounted Brigade in England.[14]


The brigade served with the 3rd Cavalry Division on the Western Front until the end of the war. In 1914, the division saw action in the defence of Antwerp (9 and 10 October) and the First Battle of Ypres, notably the battles of Langemarck (21–24 October), Gheluvelt (29–31 October) and Nonne Bosschen (11 November). In 1915, it took part in the Second Battle of Ypres (Battle of Frezenberg Ridge, 11–13 May) and the Battle of Loos (26–28 September). 1916 saw no notable actions, but in 1917 the division saw action in the Battle of Arras (First Battle of the Scarpe, 9–12 April).[13] At other times, the brigade formed a dismounted unit and served in the trenches (as a regiment under the command of the brigadier).[21]

1918 saw the return of the war of movement and the division took part in the First Battle of the Somme notably the Battle of St Quentin (21–23 March), Actions of the Somme Crossings (24 and 25 March) and Battle of the Avre (4 and 5 April); the Battle of Amiens and the battles of the Hindenburg Line (Battle of Cambrai, 8 and 9 October and the Pursuit to the Selle, 9–12 October). Its final action was in the Advance in Flanders (9–11 November).[22]

At the Armistice, units of the division had reached the River Dender at Leuze and Lessines in Belgium, when orders were received that they would cover the advance of the Second Army into Germany. They started the advance on 17 November, divisional headquarters being established at Waterloo on 21 November. Transport difficulties meant that the only one cavalry division could advance with Second Army so the following winter was spent in Belgium. By 31 March 1919, the division was demobilized.[22]

Units in WWI[edit]

Unit From To
3rd (Prince Of Wales’s) Dragoon Guards 4 November 1914
1st (Royal) Dragoons 19 September 1914
10th (Prince Of Wales’s Own Royal) Hussars 22 September 1914 20 November 1914[e]
12 March 1918[f]
1/1st North Somerset Yeomanry 13 November 1914 13 March 1918[f]
April 1918[g]
C Battery, RHA 19 October 1914
6th Signal Troop Royal Engineers 19 September 1914
6th Cavalry Brigade Machine Gun Squadron, MGC 28 February 1916

World War II[edit]

The 6th Cavalry Brigade was a pre-war First Line Territorial Army cavalry brigade reformed in 1920.[24] On the outbreak of the war, it was part of Western Command and commanded the Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire Yeomanry regiments.[25] It joined the 1st Cavalry Division when it was formed on 31 October 1939.[26]

With the 1st Cavalry Division, the 6th Cavalry Brigade departed the United Kingdom in December 1939, transited across France, and arrived in Palestine on 9 January 1940. It served as a garrison force under British Forces, Palestine and Trans-Jordan.[25]

On 1 August 1941, the Division was converted into the 10th Armoured Division[26] and the 6th Cavalry Brigade into the 8th Armoured Brigade.[25] 8th Armoured Brigade would later take part in the Second Battle of El Alamein and land at Gold Beach on D Day.[27]

Units in WWII[edit]

Unlike in the First World War, when brigade compositions rarely changed, there was considerable movement of units between the 4th, 5th and 6th Cavalry Brigades in the Second World War.

Unit From To
Warwickshire Yeomanry 3 September 1939 21 March 1941[h]
Staffordshire Yeomanry 3 September 1939 28 April 1941[i]
5 June 1941[i] 31 July 1941
Cheshire Yeomanry 3 September 1939 20 March 1941[j]
Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry 3 October 1940[k] 7 January 1941[k]
Royal Scots Greys 1 March 1941[l] 31 July 1941
Yorkshire Hussars 23 March 1941[m] 31 July 1941

Of the three regiments with the brigade when it was converted to an armoured formation:


The 6th Cavalry Brigade had the following commanders during World War I:[20]

From Rank Name
21 September 1914 Brigadier-General E. Makins (sick, 7 November 1914)
7 November 1914 Lieutenant-Colonel O.B.B. Smith-Bingham (acting)
9 November 1914 Brigadier-General D.G.M. Campbell
19 April 1915 Lieutenant-Colonel O.B.B. Smith-Bingham (acting)
4 May 1915 Brigadier-General D.G.M. Campbell
23 May 1916 Brigadier-General A.E.W. Harman
17 October 1917 Lieutenant-Colonel A. Burt (acting)
8 December 1917 Brigadier-General A.E.W. Harman
14 March 1918 Brigadier-General A.G. Seymour (sick, 8 August 1918)
8 August 1918 Lieutenant-Colonel F.H.D.C. Whitmore (acting)
15 August 1918 Lieutenant-Colonel E. Paterson (acting)
2 September 1918 Brigadier-General E. Paterson

The 6th Cavalry Brigade had the following commanders during World War II:[25]

From Rank Name
3 September 1939 Brigadier H.O. Wiley
18 May 1940 Brigadier J.I. Chrystall
27 February 1941 Lieutenant-Colonel P.L.M. Wright (acting)
10 May 1941 Lieutenant-Colonel G.H.N. Todd (acting)
18 May 1941 Brigadier L.S. Lloyd

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This could be a source of confusion as brigades acquired new commanders, or they moved between brigades. For example, Fane's Brigade became De Grey's Brigade from 13 May 1810 when Henry Fane went to Estremadura;[4] De Grey's Brigade was broken up 29 January 1812.[5] On 20 May 1813, Fane took over Slade's Brigade;[6] the second Fane's Brigade was unrelated to the original one although coincidentally, and to add to the potential confusion, the 3rd Dragoon Guards served in both.[7]
  2. ^ The British cavalry included five regiments of the King's German Legion.[8][9]
  3. ^ 1st Hussars, KGL had a strength of 605, 10th Hussars 452, and 18th Hussars 447.[12]
  4. ^ In August 1914, the regular British Army cavalry comprised 31 regiments. 19 regiments were in the United Kingdom, nine in India, two in South Africa and one with the Force in Egypt.[15]
  5. ^ 10th Hussars transferred to 8th Cavalry Brigade.[14]
  6. ^ a b 10th Hussars returned from 8th Cavalry Brigade in exchange for the 1/1st North Somerset Yeomanry.[14]
  7. ^ 1/1st North Somerset Yeomanry was originally slated to become a cyclist unit, then to form a machine gun battalion with the 1/1st Leicestershire Yeomanry. The German Spring Offensive forestalled this plan, and the regiment was remounted and returned to 3rd Cavalry Division. From April 1918 it was split up with a squadron joining each regiment in 6th Cavalry Brigade (3rd Dragoon Guards, 1st Dragoons and 10th Hussars).[23]
  8. ^ Warwickshire Yeomanry transferred to 4th Cavalry Brigade.[28]
  9. ^ a b Staffordshire Yeomanry transferred to, and returned from, 5th Cavalry Brigade.[29]
  10. ^ Cheshire Yeomanry transferred to 5th Cavalry Brigade.[29]
  11. ^ a b Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry joined from, and returned to, 4th Cavalry Brigade.[28]
  12. ^ Royal Scots Greys joined from Force Troops, British Forces in Palestine and Trans-Jordan.[30]
  13. ^ Yorkshire Hussars joined from 5th Cavalry Brigade.[29]


  1. ^ Reid 2004, p. 79
  2. ^ Haythornthwaite 1990, p. 103
  3. ^ Reid 2004, p. 75
  4. ^ Reid 2004, p. 80
  5. ^ Reid 2004, p. 83
  6. ^ Reid 2004, p. 85
  7. ^ Reid 2004, pp. 79–86
  8. ^ The Anglo-Allied Army at napoleonic-literature.com at the Wayback Machine (archived 17 July 2012)
  9. ^ "Wellington's Army in 1815". Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Smith 1998, p. 540
  11. ^ Smith 1998, p. 545
  12. ^ "Battle of Waterloo". Napolun.com. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c Becke 1935, p. 22
  14. ^ a b c d e f Becke 1935, p. 20
  15. ^ James 1978, pp. 11–13
  16. ^ a b James 1978, p. 11
  17. ^ James 1978, p. 12
  18. ^ James 1978, pp. 11–12
  19. ^ Baker, Chris. "Cavalry units of the Machine Gun Corps". The Long Long Trail. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Becke 1935, p. 18
  21. ^ Becke 1935, p. 19
  22. ^ a b Becke 1935, p. 23
  23. ^ James 1978, p. 27
  24. ^ "6 Cavalry Brigade". www.ordersofbattle.com. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  25. ^ a b c d Joslen 1990, p. 191
  26. ^ a b Joslen 1990, p. 33
  27. ^ Joslen 1990, p. 161
  28. ^ a b Joslen 1990, p. 189
  29. ^ a b c Joslen 1990, p. 190
  30. ^ Joslen 1990, p. 480
  31. ^ Bellis 1994, p. 12
  32. ^ Bellis 1994, p. 20
  33. ^ Mileham 1994, p. 118
  34. ^ Bellis 1994, p. 19
  35. ^ Mileham 1994, p. 110


  • Becke, Major A.F. (1935). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 1. The Regular British Divisions. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-09-4. 
  • Bickersteth, Lt-Col. J. B. (1920). History Of The 6th Cavalry Brigade 1914-1919. London: The Bayard Press (Sanders Phillips & Co., Limited). 
  • Haythornthwaite, Philip J. (1990). The Napoleonic Source Book. London: Guild Publishing. 
  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (1990) [1st. Pub. HMSO:1960]. Orders of Battle, Second World War, 1939–1945. London: London Stamp Exchange. ISBN 0-948130-03-2. 
  • Mileham, Patrick (1994). The Yeomanry Regiments; 200 Years of Tradition. Edinburgh: Canongate Academic. ISBN 1-898410-36-4. 
  • Reid, Stuart (2004). Wellington's Army in the Peninsula 1809–14. Volume 2 of Battle Orders Series. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-517-1. 
  • Smith, Digby (1998). The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-276-9. 

External links[edit]