|3rd The King's Own Hussars|
Uniform of the 3rd Light Dragoons, 1840s
Kingdom of England (1685–1707)|
Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
United Kingdom (1801–1958)
|Type||Cavalry of the Line/Royal Armoured Corps|
|Nickname(s)||The Moodkee Wallahs, Bland's Dragoons|
|Motto(s)||Nec Aspera Terrent (Latin Nor do difficulties deter)|
(Quick) Robert the Devil |
(slow) The 3rd Hussars
|Anniversaries||Dettingen Day, El Alamein Day.|
- 1 History
- 2 See also
- 3 Footnotes
- 4 References
- 5 Recommended reading
- 6 Gallery
- 7 External links
The Glorious Revolution
The formation of the 3rd The King's Own Hussars can be traced back to 1685. The advent of the Monmouth Rebellion in that year led the King of England, James II to expand the military forces under his command in order to suppress the rebellion. A number of infantry and cavalry units were raised during 1685, including a unit of three troops of cavalry detached from the Duke of Somerset's Royal Dragoons on 16 June by the order of the King. The three troop captains were ordered to recruit a number of volunteers from the regions around London, including Middlesex, Berkshire and Essex and then proceed to Acton in Middlesex. Once the unit had arrived it was ordered to guard the northern approaches to the City of London against any attempts by the forces commanded by the Duke of Monmouth to attack the city. Although the unit did possess weapons and some degree of training, it did not encounter any rebel troops and was still stationed in Middlesex when Monmouth's forces were defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685. In the aftermath of the failed rebellion the original three troops of the unit were combined with three more cavalry troops, one independent and two newly-raised, to form The Queen Consort's Regiment of Dragoons.
In 1688 the Prince of Orange William of Orange led an invasion of England in what came to be known as the Glorious Revolution, landing a force of 14,000 troops in Devon on 5 November. James II assembled the English army on Salisbury Plain, approximately 80 miles (130 km) from where William had landed his invasion force, in order to protect London; however, as William's forces advanced a large number of English regiments defected and travelled south to pledge their loyalty to William. The Queen Consort's Regiment of Dragoons was split by a division of loyalties; Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Leveson, along with several captains, led the majority of the regiment to Devon in support of William, but Colonel Cannon and his own troop remained loyal to James II and followed the remnants of James' army as it retreated to London. On 31 December William promoted Leveson to Colonel of the regiment, and Leveson proceeded to raise new recruits and horses to replace those who had remained loyal to James; the regiment continued to recruit from the Home Counties, with recruitment particularly focusing within Bedfordshire, and it was renamed as Leveson's Dragoons in honour of Leveson and his support of William.
The Williamite War in Ireland
In August 1689 the regiment, numbering approximately 400 officers and men organized into six troops, was transported to Ireland to take part in the Williamite War. James had fled from England in December 1688 to France, but had returned with an army in March 1689 and landed at Cork, Ireland, where he found that he had the support of a majority of the Catholic population. William's expeditionary force had landed south of Belfast on 13 August, encountering little resistance from the local Catholic forces, and entered the city on 17 August; Leveson's Dragoons landed in Ireland four days later, taking up position just outside of Belfast. Early records of the activities of the regiment are scarce, but it appears that it advanced with the rest of the Williamite forces southwards on 2 September, advancing to the town of Newry but failing to catch the garrison of the town as it retreated. The Williamite army moved southwards as far as Dundalk and fortified the town, but did not advance any further as a Catholic army, estimated 35,000 strong, was reportedly encamped nearby at Ardee. The regiment encountered a small Catholic force and killed five men on 20 September, but was forced to wait until October until it took part in its first major action. On 27 October two hundred troopers from the regiment, along with a detachment from the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, raided Ardee, killing a number of sentries and capturing a large number of cattle and horses. In November the Williamite army moved northwards and the regiment saw action one last time before entering winter quarters at Lisburn; on 26 November sixty troopers from the regiment were reconnoitring near Charlemont when they encountered a detachment from the town's garrison, engaging it and taking several prisoners. The regiment then retired to its winter quarters resting and taking on approximately 200 recruits shipped from England to replace losses from disease; whilst the exact casualty figures for the regiment are unknown, the entire army had suffered approximately 6,000 casualties as a result of fever, ague and dysentery by November. The regiment emerged from winter quarters in mid-February 1690 and immediately saw action; a gazette issued from Belfast on 14 February announced that a squadron from the regiment had formed part of a raiding force that had crossed enemy lines and burnt down a castle and looted a town, killing ten men and taking twenty prisoners. The next recorded action by the regiment took place on 22 June, when a squadron from the regiment and a company of infantry from the Tangier Regiment encountered a fort garrisoned by a force of infantry and approximately 500 cavalry; the force stood its ground and fought a pitched battle until the enemy commanding officer was killed and the Catholic force retreated.
The regiment was present for the Battle of the Boyne on 1 July, forming part of the 36,000-strong Williamite army which engaged the 25,000-strong Catholic army commanded by James II. During the closing stages of the battle a large portion of James' cavalry repeatedly charged the advancing Williamite infantry in order to provide protection for the retreating Catholic infantry, and were able to reach the village of Donore. The village was situated on an area of high ground, and from the there the dismounted cavalrymen were able to fire down on advancing Williamite troops. To counter this move, a squadron from the regiment charged up the hill and engaged the dismounted cavalry whilst the remainder of the regiment outflanked the village and attacked the Catholic force from the rear, inflicting a large number of casualties. After routing this force the regiment joined up with a Dutch cavalry unit, advancing and rapidly sighting another Catholic cavalry force. The Dutch cavalry attacked, but were repelled with heavy losses and retreated down a narrow lane. As the Dutch regrouped, the troopers of the regiment dismounted and took up position amongst the hedgerows lining the lane, as well as a nearby house; when the Catholic cavalry advanced down the lane they came under fire from the regiment, inflicting heavy losses and forcing the survivors to retreat. The battle was a decisive victory for the Williamite forces, with James forced to retire first to Dublin and then to France as the Williamite army advanced south and captured Dublin on 4 July. The regiment did not take part in the capture of Dublin, instead being ordered to advance to the city of Waterford; there it accepted the surrender of the city's garrison, as well as the garrison of the nearby port of Youghal, where it would remain the rest of the summer. A troop of the regiment patrolled the surrounding area, with a detachment engaging a large band of armed Catholic citizens who had been attacking Protestant settlements in the area; the detachment killed sixty and took twelve civilian prisoners, as well as attacking the village of Castlemartyr and taking its Catholic garrison prisoner. The remainder of the regiment moved to Limerick and took part in the failed siege of that city, although the specifics of what the regiment did are unknown. Before the regiment retired to its winter quarters in December it engaged and dispersed several more armed bands of civilians and came to the aid of a detachment from the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot who had been ambushed by Catholic infantry and had taken shelter in a ruined castle; a troop from the regiment drove off the infantry and escorted the Iniskilling detachment to safety.
The regiment left its winter quarters in February 1691 and immediately saw action, forming part of a combined force of infantry and cavalry that engaged a 2,000-strong Catholic force near Streamstown and forced it to retreat; the role the regiment played in this action led to Leveson being promoted to Brigadier-General. In May the majority of the Williamite army moved north and besieged the town of Athlone, which fell after eleven days, but the regiment took no part in the siege, having been ordered to encamp in the county of Mullingar. At the beginning of July the regiment formed part of the 12,000-strong Williamite army that defeated an 8,000-strong Catholic army during the Battle of Aughrim, taking part in a massed cavalry charge that breached the Catholic positions around the village of Aughrim. The Battle of Aughrim was a decisive victory for King William, with a number of leading Catholic generals being killed, and the Williamite forces pressed their advantage; they forced the surrender of Galway on 20 July and then began a second siege of Limerick in August. The regiment did not take part directly in the siege, instead being detached in late August and ordered to advance south-west into Kerry to reconnoitre and harass Catholic forces in the area around Limerick. On 2 September the regiment ambushed and routed two regiments of Catholic cavalry, and several days later subdued a number of Catholic garrisons between Cork and Limerick. The regiment inflicted a number of casualties, but more importantly captured thousands of cattle and oxen; one contemporary source states that the majority of the army's provisions for the siege of Limerick were provided by the regiment. On 22 September Limerick fell to the Williamite forces, effectively ending the conflict in Ireland; the regiment was withdrawn to its winter quarters and was then transported to England in the spring of 1692.
Nine Years War
The regiment remained in England for nearly three years before it saw battle again, recruiting to refill its ranks and also losing Colonel Leveson when he was promoted to the rank of Major-General by King William. Leveson was dispatched to command forces fighting in the Spanish Netherlands as part of the English contribution to the Nine Years' War before dying in March 1699 at Belvoir Castle. He was replaced by Thomas, 5th Baron Fairfax of Cameron in January 1694; as a consequence, the regiment lost the title of Leveson's Dragoons and reverted to its previous title of The Queen's Dragoons.
In the spring of 1694 the regiment was reviewed by King William along with a number of other English units, and was then transported to the Netherlands, landing at Willemstad, (nowadays in North Brabant) on 16 April. After two months the regiment marched to join the main body of the English Army at Tirlemont in Flanders, encamping to the rear of the Army's positions in order 'to cover His Majesty's quarters'. The regiment spent the summer of 1694 as part of a brigade with the Royal Horse Guards and Royal Scots Greys, taking part in manouvres and skirmishing with enemy troops before retiring to winter quarters in October near Ghent. By February 1695 the strength of the regiment had increased from six to eight troops, and the regiment had also gained another new commander, with Lord Fairfax being replaced by William Lloyd, previously the Lieutenant-Colonel of Essex's Dragoon's.
During the summer of 1695 the majority of the English forces were occupied with the second siege of Namur, but the regiment did not participate in the siege, instead forming part of a force that occupied the city of Diksmuide intended to lure French forces away from relieving the siege of Namur. The force was successful, luring a large number of French troops away from Namur who proceeded to besiege the city; instead of holding Diksmuide as intended, however, the Danish General commanding the force surrendered the city on 18 July, and as a consequence the regiment became prisoners of war. The officer commanding the regiment demanded that the regiment be allowed to attempt to break the siege of the city and escape, but the General denied the request. Although the request was denied, many of the officers and troopers broke their weapons to deny them to the French before they surrendered. The regiment remained in captivity for several weeks, only being released when the siege of Namur was successful and the commander of the French forces there, the Duke of Boufflers, surrendered the city; after a period of negotiation with Louis XIII, Boufflers was exchanged for all English prisoners of war.
After its release the regiment retired to winter quarters and received reinforcements, then during the summer of 1696 it formed part of a detached Corps encamped near Nieuwpoort, Belgium, skirmishing several times with French forces when they attempted to attack the region, but never being committed to a major battle. The regiment also appears to have seen little combat during 1697, moving to Brussels sometime during the year to protect the approaches to the city and remaining there until the Treaty of Ryswick was signed in September 1697. Once the treaty was signed, signaling the end of the Nine Years' War, the regiment returned to England.
War of the Spanish Succession
The huge expense incurred by England during William III's prosecution of the Nine Years' War angered Parliament, leading to large cuts in funding for the military; these primarily affected soldiers pay, which was drastically reduced, and the withholding of gratuities that soldiers were often promised prior to going into battle. Many regiments had their strengths reduced, including The Queen's Own Dragoon's, which had its strength reduced by half. During the period of peace between the end of the Nine Years' War in 1697 and the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1702, the regiment performed a number of small tasks befitting its reduced size; it conducted coastal revenue duty, confronted smugglers, and escorted the King when he traveled to Holland. The War of the Spanish Succession began in May 1702, and in June an English expeditionary force was assembled at Cowes on the Isle of Wight under the command of the Earl of Ormond, tasked with landing in Cadiz, Spain and capturing the surrounding area; eighteen officers, twenty-four non-commissioned officers and 186 troopers from the regiment formed part of the force. It sailed from Cowes on 23 June and landed in Cadiz on 15 August, where it soon engaged Spanish forces. As the only cavalry formation with the expeditionary force, the regiment was constantly employed as picquets at the forefront of the English advance, as well as being used to guard and protect outposts. The regiment skirmished with Spanish forces throughout September, but an attempt to besiege Cadiz was far more difficult than was expected, ending in a Spanish victory, and as a result the regiment was embarked on transports destined for England. During the voyage, however, the transports received word that a Spanish naval force had been sighted attempting to land near the city of Vigo, and turned back towards Spain. On 12 October they reached the city and off-loaded the regiment; there are few details about the regiment's involvement in the ensuing Battle of Vigo Bay, but records indicate that all of the Spanish vessels involved in the attempted landing were either destroyed or burnt, and the regiment received a considerable amount of prize money for its part in the action.
After the battle the regiment did not return to Spain and rejoin the English expeditionary force, but was instead ordered back to England; for a period of nearly four years the regiment remained in England, being quartered in Kent and the Isle of Wight as a garrison force, mustering for occasional parades and reviews. In December 1703 William Lloyd sold the colonelcy of the regiment to George Carpenter, who then assumed command of the regiment. In 1706 the regiment was once again transferred to the Isle of Wight, where 240 officers, non-commissioned officers and troopers were attached to an 8,000 strong force assembling there. The force was tasked with landing on the coast of France near Charente and fighting its way inland, aiding by local Protestant civilians. The fleet left England on 30 July, but the operation was canceled due to poor weather and the failure of Dutch naval forces to rendezvous with the transports to escort them to the French coast. The transports were then ordered to head for Spain where they would land at Cadiz and reinforce English forces in the area; however poor weather forced the ships to remain in Torbay for eleven weeks, with the troops remaining on board, until mid-August when they attempted to sail for Lisbon. Even more severe weather meant that the ships could not be unloaded at Lisbon either, however, and they remained there for a further two months; during this time the regiment and the other English troops on board the ships suffered hundreds of casualties from a lack of proper food and water, and outbreaks of disease. By January 1707 the weather calmed down enough for the ships to leave Lisbon harbor, and in February they reached Alicante, where the troops were off-loaded; of the 8,000 troops who had boarded the transports in July 1706, only 4,400 had survived.
The remnants of the force, including the regiment, then marched forty miles to Caudete to link up with an Allied army composed of English, Dutch, German and Portuguese troops under the command of the Earl of Galway. This army was to support Spanish forces loyal to Charles of Austria, who claimed that he was the legitimate heir to the Spanish throne; however, this claim was contested by his opponent, Philip of Anjou, who had gathered his own army and was determined to defeat Charles in battle. The campaign against Anjou's forces began in March, with the Allies advancing, destroying several magazines and besieging the city of Villena; soon after beginning the siege, however, they were soon alerted by several French deserters that a large Franco-Spanish force was advancing towards Almansa to the north-east. The Earl of Galway was also informed that a second enemy force under the command of Philippe II, Duke of Orléans was marching to reinforce the first force; in response to this information the Earl advanced immediately in an attempt to prevent the two forces from linking up. However the manoeuvre failed, leading to the 15,000-strong Allied army being opposed by 25,000 French and Spanish troops who also possessed a superior number of artillery pieces. The two forces clashed during the Battle of Almansa, which began on the afternoon of 25 April. The battle began with both sides bombarding the others positions with artillery fire, and after this general bombardment had ended the Allied cavalry were dispatched to attack the centre of the Franco-Spanish positions; The Queen's Own Dragoon's were committed alongside Essex's Dragoons to attack an enemy artillery battery which was bombarding the Allied line. The regiment charged the battery and force it to withdraw, but were then engaged by a superior force of Spanish cavalry approximately three times the size of the regiment; according to regimental records the ensuing battle 'nearly annihilated' the regiment, with its Colonel being killed along with a large number of officers and troopers. The remnants of the two cavalry regiments retreated to the Allied lines, where volley-fire from the Allied infantry was beginning to inflict significant casualties on the Franco-Spanish forces; it was at this point, however, that the 7,000 Portuguese troops belonging to the Allied army suddenly deserted, starting with their cavalry and rapidly followed by the Portuguese infantry. The desertion turned the tide of the battle and led to a Franco-Spanish victory, with 2,000 Allied infantrymen being taken prisoner and the remnants of the Allied army being routed. The Allied army suffered approximately 4,000 killed and wounded and another 3,000 taken prisoner; whilst there are no specific casualty numbers for the regiment, when it returned to England in the spring and began recruiting, it could only muster 150 troopers and officers.
War of the Austrian Succession
When the regiment had returned to England and finished recruiting, it was dispatched north to Scotland. There it formed part of the English garrison, intimidating the Scottish population in an attempt to repress any attempts at a Jacobite rising. When George I ascended to the English throne in 1714, the regiment's title was once again altered, and that same year became The King's Own Regiment of Dragoons. Shortly after his ascension, a major Jacobite uprising occurred and the regiment was amongst the English troops assembled in Scotland to bar the advance of the Jacobite forces. At the Battle of Sheriffmuir on 13 November, an English army commanded by the Duke of Argyll which included the regiment defeated a larger Jacobite army; sources are vague on the exact details of the regiment's involvement, but it is known that it formed part of the army's left wing, supporting several infantry regiments. The wing was struck by a Jacobite infantry assault, which inflicted significant casualties, but three squadrons from the regiment charged the infantry and forced it to retreat; this allowed the English forces to retire and reassemble without further loss. The regiment did not see any further action during the uprising, remaining with the Duke of Argyll's army which pursued Jacobite forces as they retreated northwards until the army occupied Aberdeen on 8 February; shortly after the rebellion came to an end. For a short period the regiment was stationed at Elgin, and then was transferred to southern England, where it remained for more than twenty years; it became an understrength garrison force and did little apart from conduct occasional raids against smugglers on the English coast. On 20 October 1740, Charles VI died and his daughter, Maria Theresa of Austria took his place on the Habsburg throne; the ascendancy caused a great deal of political controversy, which resulted in The War of the Austrian Succession. King George II pledged the support of Great Britain to Maria Theresa, and in May 1742 a 16,000 strong British army sailed to Ostend to link up with military forces of the Dutch Republic, who had also decided to support Maria Theresa. The King's Own Dragoons formed part of the army.
The English forces arrived in the Dutch Republic, but did not immediately go on campaign, instead moving into winter quarters in Bruges and Ghent. The army finally departed in February 1743, and the regiment was chosen to form part of the advance guard as it advanced towards the Rhine Valley. By June the English army had joined Hanoverian and Austrian forces by the river Main, the Allied forces totalling approximately 44,000 troops; they were opposed by some 70,000 French troops. After a period of marching and counter-marching, and the arrival of King George II who took personal command of the Allied forces, the French army engaged the Allies at the Battle of Dettingen on 27 June. The King's Own Dragoons were placed on the left flank of the Allied army, with instructions to protect an infantry force as it advanced. Exposed to French artillery fire for three hours, where it suffered heavy casualties, the regiment was eventually ordered to advance, and clashed with a larger force of French Household Cavalry; after a fierce engagement and more casualties, it drove off the French cavalry. Shortly after this, the French army was forced to retreat, and the remnants of the regiment participated in a general cavalry pursit of the French forces, which inflicted further casualties. The regiment suffered 42 officer and other ranks killed, and 106 wounded, shrinking its size considerably; this provoked a comment from George II when he reviewed the Allied forces after the end of the battle. He asked an aide to whom the regiment belonged in a sharp tone, to which its commanding officer replied, 'Please, your Majesty, it is my regiment, and I believe the remainder of it is at Dettingen.'
The Battle of Dettingen had brought the French advance towards the Dutch Republic to a halt, and the conflict devolved into a long series of small and indecisive battles in the Southern Netherlands. The regiment moved to winter quarters in late 1743 in Ghent and received a shipment of recruits to bolster its ranks; however, the regiment did not move from the Southern Netherlands until May 1745, when the Duke of Cumberland was dispatched to the continent to take command of the Allied army. Cumberland advanced towards the city of Tournai in early May, but failed to besiege it due to its strengthened defences; a few days later, the Allied army was engaged at the Battle of Fontenoy, where it was decisively defeated by a superior French forces. Unfortunately, there are detailed records that describe the King's Own Dragoons participation in the battle; the regiments commanding officer only noted that the regiment had launched several cavalry charges against the French line, but had been forced to retreat with the rest of the Allied army after suffering nine killed and eighteen missing. The Allied Army retreated back towards the Southern Netherlands, pursued by the French, but the regiment did not engage in any further fighting; instead it was dispatched northwards to receive more recruits, and then ordered to prepare to be transported to England. On 25 July, taking advantage of the English defeat at the Battle of Fontenoy, Prince Charles Edward Stuart landed in Invernessshire and began to organize another Jacobite uprising.
Within a month of landing, Stuart had raised a force of 1,600 men from various Scottish clans, and began to march south, increasing his numbers to 2,500 by mid-September when he entered Edinburgh. As the Prince advanced, the Duke of Cumberland assembled his English regiments in Flanders and then had them transported to England, arriving in London on 25 October and joining the rest of the English army at Lichfield. However, the advice of several of his senior officers, combined with a lack of support from the French and English Jacobites prompted Stuart to order a retreat, his forces moving back northwards towards Scotland with the English army in pursiit. On 16 December the advance guard of the English army, which included the King's Own Dragoons, managed to overtake the Jacobite rearguard and laid an ambush. The ambush did not completely succeed due to it being performed in the dark, and the English forces suffered more casualties than they inflicted. The regiment dismounted and fought as infantry during the ambush, clashing repeatedly with the Jacobite forces and engaging in hand-to-hand fighting, suffering a number of casualties. The regiment then re-mounted and pursued the Jacobite rearguard to Carlisle, being ststioned near the town until it surrendered on 30 December. The records for the regiment for the next year are vague; it appears that it did see action during the Battle of Culloden in 1746, but there are no details. After the English victory at Culloden, the regiment advanced into Scotland with the rest of the English army, before being detached to Dundee; after the rebellion had been suppressed, it moved to York, where it guarded Jacobite prisoners.
First World War
On the outbreak of the First World War, the regiment was stationed at Shorncliffe as part of 4th Cavalry Brigade. On mobilisation, the brigade was assigned to the Cavalry Division of the British Expeditionary Force, and was sent to France. The 4th Brigade was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Division in October, and the regiment spent the remainder of the war with this unit on the Western Front. They were later deployed to Turkey as part of the British intervention there from November 1921 until 24 August 1923, and then moved to Egypt.
Second World War
The 3rd Hussars were brigaded with the 4th Hussars in the 1st Armoured Brigade in 1939. After the fall of France the 3rd Hussars were shipped to North Africa and assigned to the 7th Armoured Brigade. The regiment served in the North African Campaign. In 1941 B Squadron was sent to Singapore as reinforcements but were diverted to Java when Singapore fell, where after a brief fight they were ordered to surrender and spent the rest of the war as prisoners of war. The remainder of the regiment fought in the Battle of El Alamein where all but five tanks were destroyed in the first days of the action. After the campaign in North Africa the 3rd Hussars next saw action in the Italian Campaign from 1944 through 1945.
Post-War period and amalgamation
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