Queen's Royal Irish Hussars

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The Queen's Royal Irish Hussars
Regimental Badge
Active 1958–1993
Country  United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Royal Armoured Corps
Role Main Battle Tank
Size 550
Nickname(s) The Crossbelts
Motto Mente et Manu (By Hand and Mind)
March The Queen's Royal Irish Hussars
Anniversaries St Patrick's Day, Balaklava Day
Colonel-in-Chief Prince Phillip
Colonel of the Regiment Sir Winston Churchill
Lt Col George Kidston-Montgomerie DSO MC of Southannon[1]
Air Marshall Sir John Baldwin
Major General John Strawson
Stable Belt Colours
The Queen's Royal Irish Hussars guidon party and honour guard at the Freedom of Munster Parade, West Germany 1983
Prince Phillip and Major General John Strawson. St Patrick's Day 1980, Bhurtpore Barracks, Tidworth. Both are wearing the Irish Hussar "Tent Hat".
Piper in Irish Hussar dress (this is Tpr Paul Ashfield of the QRH)

The Queen's Royal Irish Hussars, abbreviated as QRIH, was a cavalry regiment of the British Army formed from the amalgamation of the 4th Queen's Own Hussars and the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars in Hohne, West Germany in 1958.[2]

The Regimental Journal and the Polo Team were nicknamed 'The Crossbelts',[3] which was taken from a nickname earned by the 8th Hussars at the Battle of Alemenaro in 1710. Many customs and practices of the two predecessor regiments were retained by the QRIH, such as the green and gold tent hat worn without a badge which was used by officers.[4][5]

The regiment was amalgamated with The Queen's Own Hussars on 1 September 1993, to form The Queen's Royal Hussars (The Queen's Own and Royal Irish).[4]


Both regiments were in Germany at the time of amalgamation and stayed there as an armoured car regiment until 1961 when it was moved to Aden (via England) in 1961, reroling as an armoured reconnaissance regiment and after serving there against insurgents for almost a year, sailed on the SS Oxfordshire to the newly independent nation of Malaysia.[6] It was based in Ipoh, Malaysia from October 1962, and saw limited action against Indonesian insurgents, seeing service in Brunei and Sarawak on jungle operations during the Indonesian confrontation, and in Singapore as part of the Internal Security Forces. Returning to West Germany in 1964 the regiment was based in Wolfenbüttel, near the East German border as part of NATO forward defences.[6] Further deployments were:

  • 1968–1970: United Kingdom, Recce Role at Perham Down until 1969, then RAC Centre regiment, Bovington.[6]
  • 1979–1982: United Kingdom, including short tours to Rhodesia and Cyprus. Main body of the regiment was based at Bhurtpore Barracks in Tidworth as the UKLF (reserve) tank regiment, with C Squadron detached to the School of Infantry at Warminster where it was used in the role of RAC Demonstration Squadron.[6]
  • United Kingdom 1988–1990 – Half the regiment to Cambrai Barracks, Catterick, RAC Training Regiment. The other half as RAC Centre Regiment, Bovington.[6]

Victoria Crosses include:

The regiment celebrated two special days in each year. St Patrick's Day and Balaklava Day (celebrating the Charge of the Light Brigade). On most occasions these were holidays for all soldiers with sporting activities during the day and celebrations in the evening. These holidays began with the quaint tradition of senior nco's serving Gunfire [1] (a mixture of tea and rum) to junior soldiers as a morning wake-up drink. During active operations the festivities were suspended but the occasion always marked in some way. On St Patrick's Day each soldier would wear a sprig of shamrock, normally presented by the honorary colonel, Prince Phillip who assumed the role upon the death of Sir Winston Churchill.

The regimental motto was the Latin Mente et Manu of the 4th Hussars, meaning With Mind and Hand which was inscribed on the cap badge and regimental crest. The motto of the 8th Hussars was also retained Pristinae Virtutis Memores (Mindful of former valour).

The Regimental Quick March was "The Queen's Royal Irish Hussars" (an arrangement of St Patrick's Day, Berkley's Dragoons and The Galloping Queen's Hussar, preceded by the regimental trumpet call).[8]

The regimental slow march was "Litany of Loreto".[8]

The regimental hymn was Abide With Me.

The regimental song was "The Galloping Queen's Hussar" (A version of the "Galloping 8th Hussar" from the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars):[8]

  • The Regimental Song

I'm a soldier in the Queen's Army
I'm galloping Queen's Hussar
I've sailed the ocean wide and blue,
I'm a chap who knows a thing or two,
Been in many a tight corner,
Shown the enemy who we are,
I can ride a horse,
Go on a spree, or sing a comic song,
And that denotes a Queen's Hussar!

The Regimental Pipes and Drums[edit]

The Pipes and Drums were first formed in Paderborn in November 1972, in preparation for a parade on 17 March 1973 for St. Patrick's Day as a joint brain child of the then Commanding Officer Lt Col BR O'Rorke and Lord St Oswald, (8th Hussars) and the RSM, WO1 William James (Jim) McLucas MBE who obtained as much as he could from the Royal Irish Rangers as well as organising fund raising events and raffles to purchase equipment as the regiment wasn't on army establishment for free supply. The Commanding Officer designed and purchased pipe banners, and the Lord St Oswald had a set of bagpipes especially made in Glasgow for donating to the COs Piper. RSM McLucas managed to produce six pipers who performed for the first time on St Patrick's Day of that year. A subsequent posting to Cyprus for part of the emergent band prevented future development. This and a general disapproval of the concept by some senior officers meant that the band declined. An attempt by SNCOs to rejuvenate it in 1982 failed, again due to lack of support at senior level. The regiment had moved to Muenster and had access to instruction from the locally based Irish Guards pipes and drums but without the support of the Colonel the attempt foundered leaving only two pipers properly clothed and able to parade. It wasn't until Lt Col Sir Charles Lowther Bt, took command in 1987 that a further effort was made. RSM McLucas (by now a major and quartermaster) had expressed the wish that the Pipe band be reformed. Col Lowther agreed and organised a plan, as a result the band was formed and approved by the MOD and placed on the establishment.

The pipe band originally consisted of just two pipers but no drums, the uniform was a saffron kilt with a green piper's jacket, and a Saffron Cloak. After two years the band grew by adding four drummers and was now in a position to carry out more challenging engagements.

By the end of the 1970s and the start of the 1980s the pipe band received its first Pipe Major, Pipe Major Jimmy Walker, which in turn helped to improve the musical talents within the pipe band. To perform at the Royal Tournament in London was one of the main driving focus's at the time. Sadly this was not achieved until 1996 (after amalgamation) Under Pipe Major Walker's Successor, Pipe Major David Johnson who joined the regiment and the Pipe Band from the Irish Guards in Munster in 1988.


As with all armoured regiments the structure was based around the squadron concept. The number of troops in a squadron changed and so did the number of squadrons but the basic premise remained and has carried on after amalgamation.

Headquarter Squadron (HQ Sqn) – command, control and administration. Recce and Guided Weapons troops were also a component part of HQ Sqn.
A Squadron (D of E Sqn) – Sabre*
B Squadron (B Sqn) – Sabre
C Squadron (C Sqn) – Sabre
D Squadron (D Sqn) – Sabre

  • The designation "Sabre" indicates a fighting squadron, a throwback to the days of horses.
  • "D of E Sqn" refers to an honorary title and means Duke of Edinburgh Squadron. Prior to 1979 the sabre squadrons would compete to be the best and the honour would be bestowed upon the winner for a year and indicated on the squadron flag flown outside squadron HQ. The competition was suspended in 1979 as C (D of E) Sqn was detached to Warminster. Following the return to Germany in 1982 it was decreed the A Sqn would assume the title for all time.


Centurion Tank
Chieftain Tank
Challenger 1 Tank

Although having re-equipped on several occasions to deal with emergency postings such as Malaya, Aden, Cyprus and Northern Ireland, the regiment's main role was almost always as a Main Battle Tank regiment of the Royal Armoured Corps.

Post amalgamation, the two types used by the regiment were primarily Centurion and Chieftain. As with all MBT regiments however the QRIH did have other armoured vehicles in service in parallel with their main role. These included:

During the first Gulf War when the regiment deployed it did so with, what was then, the latest British main battle tank, Challenger or as it is now referred to since the introduction of the second of the Challenger series Challenger 1.

In addition, for command, control and administration, some "soft skinned" vehicles were also in use:

Some vehicles were modified for specific use with an armoured regiment. Some 4 ton trucks for example had a modular set of fuel tanks with dispensing nozzles to increase the speed at which tanks could be refueled during combat (much faster and cleaner than emptying Jerrycans of fuel into the 220 gallon fuel tanks). Others even more notably such as the Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV) used by the mechanics and fitters from the REME who were responsible for the recovery and repair of broken down or damaged vehicles.


The regiment went to Brunei and Sarawak on jungle operations during the Indonesian confrontation as part of the Internal Security Forces in Singapore.[9] Garrisoned in Ipoh, Singapore and Sarawak, the Squadrons rotated through this series of widely dispersed camps, patrolling to keep the peace from being broken by Indonesian communist forces, with whom there was some limited fighting.[10] Carrying out foot and vehicle patrols and vehicle checkpoints in Saladin and Ferret armoured cars. 5001 Squadron RAF Airfield Construction unit was guarded by The Queens Royal Irish Hussars and a small force of Sarawak Rangers. based at Tawau, Sabah mid to late 1965. Accommodated at Camp Glenn.[11] Maj.John Paley MC, took 'C' Sqn, QRIH to Kuching, Sarawak in Dec 62 and became COMBRITBOR, Commander British Forces Borneo, then Lt. Col. John Strawson arrived and as he was CO QRIH he assumed the title.[12] Soldiers from the regiment also carried out searches for arms to prevent them falling into the hands of communist guerrillas, this included searching private houses.[13]

Gulf War One[edit]

Main article: Gulf War
Lt Col (now Maj Gen) Arthur Denaro, Commanding Officer of the regiment in Gulf War One

The Gulf War took place between 2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991, code named Operation Desert Storm by the United States Military but called Operation Granby by the British.

Prior to the war the regiment had just arrived in Fallingbostel as part of the 7th Armoured Brigade, (under the command of Brigadier Patrick Cordingley) 1st (UK) Armoured Division and was engaged in training on the Soltau-Lüneburg Training Area known to all as Soltau.[14] The Colonel, Lt Col Arthur Denaro was recovering from a polo accident four weeks earlier when he had broken his skull in four places requiring a metal plate to be inset but was still taking part in the exercise.[15] The other regiments in the brigade had recently undergone intensive training at BATUS in Canada which the hussars missed out on having just arrived with the British Army of the Rhine.[15]

The regiment trooped to the port city of Al Jubayl (scene of a later suspected chemical attack)[16] and awaited the arrival of their 57 Challenger 1 tanks[17] and other equipment. After the arrival of everything, grease had to be cleaned off, sand filters etc. fitted before the regiment made its way by tank transporter into the desert.[18] After which training for the forthcoming combat began.[19] At one point depleted uranium ammunition was issued at the rate of five rounds per tank. During one training day 14 of the 57 tanks broke down causing serious concerns for Col Denaro.[20]

The Iraqi army knew the regiment was coming. Air bombardment and media interest ensured that they were well warned. Tanks and artillery were dug in across a wide front to provide a warm reception for the allies from the world's fourth largest army.[21] Casualty figures were predicted to be as high as 15000 for the allies, even General Schwarzkopf, the allied commander of land forces, estimated 5000.[22]

H Hour was at 0300hrs on 24 February 1991: (G Day). The regiment was given the order to cross the start line at 0315hrs. With helicopters providing reconnaissance the tanks advanced to contact at speed. The first contact was not until 1628hrs when an Iraqi trench position was engaged with machine gun fire before surrendering.[23]

On G+2 reports of a counterattack began to arrive at brigade HQ. D Sqn under Captain (Acting Major) Toby Madison picked up fourteen thermal image contacts at maximum range and engaged. The battle went on for 90 minutes. Madison received the Military Cross for his command of the squadron in this action. The Iraqis were at a severe disadvantage as they had no night vision capability and were out-ranged by the British tanks with their thermal gunnery sights and superior tank guns.[24] Captain Tim Purbrick commanding 4th Troop described firing fin at an Iraqi T55 tank, "Our second round entered its glacis plate and exited through the gearbox at the rear, igniting its ammunition and destroying the tank at a range of three thousand six hundred metres." [25] This showed the phenomenal range, accuracy and penetrating power of the L11A5 manufactured by Vickers plc.

Large numbers of prisoners were now surrendering to the regiment. They were passed rearwards to Regimental sergeant major Johnny Muir's party who did their best to feed them and keep them safe. Rations were limited however as no-one had considered that an armoured unit would have to deal with POW's so often the food supplied wasn't as nourishing as that provided to the troops. Items such as Oatmealbiscuits, which were effectively left overs from ration packs were given along with water. One Iraqi medical officer expressed concern that he and his fellow POW's were going to be shot. The RSM assured him that "we are not barbarians".[26]

Col Denaro's tank "Churchill" is now preserved at the Tank Museum, Bovington.

The regiment continued its advance, destroying all in its path until it arrived at the map line "Platinum" at which point a halt was called for sleep for the first time in 48 hours. On G+3 the regiment resumed its advance in the company of the Scots DG, the other armoured regiment in 7 Armd Bde. The regiment entered Kuwait through Wadi al Batin. After fifteen kilometres travel recce troop stopped to collect prisoners and were fired up by two U.S. Abrams tanks, wounding Cpl Lynch and Cpl Balmforth, following this up by engaging Command Troop as it passed by.[27]

Following the blue on blue incident Brigadier Cordingly ordered all vehicles to fly flags, banners or anything they could lay their hands on to show they were friendly. He felt the campaign was coming to a close and that vehicles from all nationalities were roaming everywhere and that this would lead to more friendly fire incidents. The Irish Hussars didn't disappoint. Union flags and Ulster Banners quickly appeared. Col Denaro, a Roman Catholic from Donegal led the advance into Kuwait from that point onwards with an Ulster flag supplied by his Northern Ireland Protestant crew fluttering from one of his tank's antennae.[28]

The regiment was then tasked on G+4 to take possession of the Basra to Kuwait City highway to prevent retreating Iraqi forces from escaping. This was done by 0800hrs. The ceasefire was then announced so the regiment went firm and started putting up bivouacs and tents.[29]

As the regiment left the area heading back to Al Jubayl for "de-bombing" the RSM was stopped by some civilians who said, "Thank you for giving us back our country", which seemed to him to be a fitting end to the deployment.[30]

The regiment lost no casualties, no tanks were disabled or knocked out by enemy fire, and it took part in the destruction of over three hundred Iraqi tanks in a four-day period.[31]

Colonel Denaro's Challenger 1 tank named "Churchill" is now preserved at The Tank Museum, Bovington with the list of its crew, Corporal John Nutt, Corporal Gerry McKenna, and Trooper les Hawkes[32]

Ceremonial Colonels[edit]

The first Colonel in Chief was Sir Winston Churchill who was known as the "Greatest Hussar of all time". After his death in 1965 Cornets from the Regiment stood vigil over his catafaulque in Westminster and carried his coffin to the funeral train and to the graveside.[33][34] The Colonelcy then passed to Prince Phillip who retained the position until amalgamation.

The last Colonel of the Regiment was Major General John Strawson,[35] the eminent military author and historian. Former commanding officer of the 4th Hussars and the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars who saw service in various theatres during World War Two.

Battle honours[edit]

There is a combined total of 538 years service from the formation of the parent regiments until the amalgamation which was to create the QRIH. During this time 102 battle honours were awarded to the regiments. 40 of these appeared on the QRIH guidon as shown in the table below.[36]

Guidon of the QRIH emblazoned with 40 battle honours.
4th Hussar To both regiments 8th Hussar
Dettigen (1743) Alma (1854) Leswaree (1803)
Talavera (1809) Balaklava (1854) Hindoostan (1802–1822)
Albuhera (1811) Inkerman (1854) Central India (1857–58)
Salamanca (1812) Sevastopol (1855) Afghanistan (1879–80)
Vittoria (1814) Mons (1914–18) South Africa (1900–02)
Toulouse (1814) Somme (1916–18) Givenchy (1914)
Peninsular (1809–14) Cambrai (1917–18) Albert (1918)
Ghuznee (1839) Amiens (1918) Bapaume (1918)
Afghanistan (1839) France & Flanders (1914–18) Villers Bocage (1944)
Marne (1914) Alam el Halfa (1942) Rhine (1945)
Ypres (1914–15) Gazala (1942) Roer (1945)
Proasteion (1941) El Alamein (1942) Imjin (1951)
Greece (1941) North Africa (1940–42) Korea (1951)
Coriano (1944)

The regimental journal[edit]

Cover of "Crossbelts", the regimental journal.

The regimental journal was called Crossbelts, a name which is still used today with the successor regiment. Published annually the magazine of approximately 150 pages was printed on good quality paper with a bound spine. The front cover carried the year of publication as well as identifying artwork peculiar to the regiment.

The contents included a foreword from the Colonel in Chief, a round up of the previous years events including squadron reports with many images. In latter years some images were in colour. Every officer and soldier serving with the regiment was named including lists of those on posting. An obituary section was published at the rear. Historical articles and other interesting items were published from those who had served in various conflicts.

Sports occupied some pages with football, boxing and polo featuring every year. Alongside these could be found details of regimental marriages of all ranks. Wives Club, messes, Old Comrades and a forecast of up and coming events also featured.

The journal contained advertising from companies who supplied good to the regiment or who invited officers and soldiers to purchase their wares, for example: tailors, car sales, banks and travel companies.

The journal also contained information on the Regimental Association and other sources of help for those leaving the regiment.

The magazines have now become collectors items and the Regimental Association has also issued back copies on CD.


The Irish Hussars maintained affiliations with territorial and allied units.



  1. ^ http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/43662/supplements/5271/page.pdf
  2. ^ The Queen's Royal Hussars – Regimental Association
  3. ^ Inventory Search Results | Books & Publications | Research | National Army Museum, London
  4. ^ a b [ARCHIVED CONTENT] Object moved
  5. ^ The Queens Royal Irish Hussars | British Hussar Regiments
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Queen's Royal Irish Hussars | Famous Units | Research | National Army Museum, London
  7. ^ http://www.victoriacross.org.uk/puchampi.htm
  8. ^ a b c d The Queen's Royal Hussars – Regimental Association
  9. ^ http://www.nam.ac.uk/research/famous-units/queens-royal-irish-hussars
  10. ^ http://qrh-crossbelts.com/index.php/history/queens-royal-irish-hussars
  11. ^ http://www.britains-smallwars.com/Borneo/units.html
  12. ^ Crossbelts 1963
  13. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2507&dat=19630420&id=sGxAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=kaMMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5306,3185546
  14. ^ McManners p35
  15. ^ a b McManners p36
  16. ^ Defense.Gov News Release: Gulf War Al Jubayl Case Narrative Update Released
  17. ^ British Units in the Gulf War – Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm
  18. ^ McManners p84
  19. ^ McManners p87
  20. ^ McManners p111
  21. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 1989–90, Brassey's, 1989, p.101-102
  22. ^ Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.
  23. ^ McManners p236
  24. ^ Manners p251
  25. ^ McManners p255
  26. ^ McManners p257
  27. ^ "Friendly Fire Incidents (Hansard, 24 July 1991)". hansard.millbanksystems.com. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  28. ^ McManners p281
  29. ^ McManners p293
  30. ^ McManners p323
  31. ^ http://www.tanks.net/tank-history/tanks-during-the-first-gulf-war.html
  32. ^ http://www.tankmuseum.org/ixbin/indexplus?record=ART3850&_IXMENU_=news_and_events
  33. ^ BBC ON THIS DAY | 24 | 1965: Memories of Churchill's funeral
  34. ^ Inside The Age
  35. ^ John Strawson
  36. ^ http://www.eastbournemuseums.co.uk/documents/QRIH/QRIHBattleHonours.pdf

External links[edit]

The Eastbourne Redoubt South Seaward facade