The 7th Queen's Own Hussars was a cavalry regiment in the British Army, first formed in 1690. It saw service for three centuries, including the First World War and the Second World War. 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 in 1958.
The regiment was first raised by Brigadier-General Richard Cunningham as The Queen's Own Regiment of Dragoons in May 1689, by the regimenting of various independent troops, and was ranked as the 7th Dragoons and named for Queen Mary. The regiment fought at the Siege of Namur in July 1695. The Hon William Kerr became colonel in 1709 in the closing stages of the Nine Years' War. The regiment was disbanded in 1714, with its squadrons joining the 1st and 2nd Dragoons, but reformed in 1715 as The Princess of Wales's Own Regiment of Dragoons, named for Princess Caroline.
The regiment marched up to Scotland in October 1715 and fought the rebels at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in November 1715 during the Jacobite rising. The regiment was retitled on Caroline's coronation as Queen Consort, becoming The Queen's Own Regiment of Dragoons in 1727. The regiment next saw action when it took part in charges at the Battle of Dettingen in June 1743 and at the Battle of Fontenoy in May 1745 during the War of the Austrian Succession. It saw action again at the Battle of Rocoux in October 1746 and the Battle of Lauffeld in July 1747. The regiment was formally titled as the 7th (The Queen's Own) Regiment of Dragoons in 1751.
The regiment also took part in the Raid on St Malo in June 1758, at which 100 enemy vessels were burned, the Raid on Cherbourg in August 1758 and the Battle of Warburg in July 1760 during the Seven Years' War. The regiment was designated as light dragoons in 1783, becoming the 7th (The Queen's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons. The regiment fought bravely at the Battle of Beaumont in April 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars: the Duke of York commented:
"Nor is the determined gallantry with which the 7th and 8th light dragoons attacked the enemy on the left (notwithstanding their numbers) less worthy of every commendation."
The regiment undertook two successful charges causing substantial enemy losses at the Battle of Willems in May 1794. The regiment was designated as hussars in 1807 and became the 7th (The Queen's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars).
In October 1808 the 7th Hussars were sent to Corunna to reinforce Sir John Moore's Army which was in retreat: the regiment supported Moore's retreat at the Battle of Sahagún on 21 December 1808 and at the Battle of Benavente on 21 December 1808. Many horses had to be destroyed for want of transport as the troops re-boarded their ships at Corunna. On the return journey the transport Dispatch, was wrecked, on Black Head, a few miles to the south of the Lizard on 22 January 1809. The regiment lost 104 men in the wrecking: only seven men from the Dispatch were saved. The regiment arrived back on the Peninsula again in August 1813 and undertook two highly successful charges at the Battle of Orthes in February 1814 leading the Marquess of Wellington to report:
"The 7th Hussars distinguished themselves on this occasion and made many prisoners."
In March 1814 the regiment was ordered to proceed to Brighton and put down rioting caused by the imposition of the Corn Laws. The regiment then embarked for the Netherlands and was ordered by General Lord Uxbridge to undertake a series of charges on the advancing enemy, the French 2nd regiment of lancers under Colonel Jean Baptiste Joseph Sourd, at the action at Genappe on 17 June 1815. The following day, at the Battle of Waterloo, the regiment was held in reserve until the evening, but then again undertook a series of charges. Standish O'Grady, 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".
In May 1838 the regiment was deployed to Canada as part of the response to the Lower Canada Rebellion.
The regiment was deployed to India in late 1957 as part of the response to the Indian Rebellion. Cornet William Bankes, died fighting off his attackers in an incident at Musa Bagh in March 1858 and Major Charles Fraser saved three non-swimmers from the regiment stranded in the middle of a sandbank on the River Rapti in December 1858. The regiment's title was simplified in 1861 as the 7th (Queen's Own) Hussars. The regiment provided a contingent for the Nile Expedition in autumn 1884. The regiment was deployed to South Africa in November 1901 and was stationed at Leeuwkop during the Second Boer War.
The regiment, which had been stationed in Bangalore at the start of the First World War landed in Mesopotamia as part of the 11th Indian Cavalry Brigade in November 1917. The regiment took part in the action of Khan Baghdadi in March 1918 and the Battle of Sharqat in October 1918. After service in the First World War, the regiment retitled as 7th Queen's Own Hussars in 1921. The regiment, which was re-equipped with Mark II tanks, transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps in 1939.
The regiment was deployed to North West Africa as part of the 7th Armoured Brigade in the 7th Armoured Division in June 1940 where it fought against the Italians at Fort Capuzzo and at La Maddalena. It took part in the Battle of Sidi Barrani in December 1940 and at the Battle of Bardia in January 1941. Hitler created the Afrika Korps under the command of General Erwin Rommel to re-inforce the Italians: in April 1941, the allied troops in Tobruk were cut off by the Germans and Italians but in June 1941 the 7th Armoured Division was again prepared for battle as part of Operation Battleaxe, having received new tanks and additional personnel. Rommel then started to push the Allies back into Egypt. The regiment helped delay Rommel's advance although the commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Freddie Byass and many others were killed at the Battle of Sidi Rezegh in November 1941. In January 1942 the regiment was sent to Burma and engaged with the Japanese Army at Pegu. Field Marshal Sir Harold 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."
The regiment was ordered to destroy its tanks as it crossed the Chindwin River in May 1942. It then re-deployed to the Italian Front and, having been seconded to the Polish 2nd Corps, fought at the first Battle of Ancona in June 1944 and in the battles for the Gothic Line in autumn 1944. The Polish Army granted the regiment the privilege of wearing the "Maid of Warsaw" for their "Magnificent work – fine examples of heroism and successful action". The regiment reached Bologna in October 1944 and then took part in the battle for the Po plains in the spring of 1945.
The regiment was deployed to Bournemouth Barracks in Soltau, in Northern Germany in June 1946. It returned to the UK in December 1947 and then moved to Alma Barracks in Lüneburg in 1949 and to Lumsden Barracks in Bad Fallingbostel in October 1951. The regiment was sent to Hong Kong in 1954 and returned home in 1957. It 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 in 1958.
The regiment's battle honours were as follows:Early wars: Dettingen, Warburg, Beaumont, Willems, Orthes, Peninsula, Waterloo, Lucknow, South Africa 1901-02
The Great War: Khan Baghdadi, Sharqat, Mesopotamia 1917-18
The Second World War: Egyptian Frontier 1940, Beda Fomm, Sidi Rezegh 1941, North Africa 1940-41, Ancona, Rimini Line, Italy 1944-45, Pegu, Paungde, Burma 1942
Lieutenant General Sir Charles Craufurd Fraser
Cornet William George Hawtry Bankes
The regimental colonels were as follows:The Queen's Own Regiment of Dragoons - (1690)
1690–1696: Brig-Gen. Richard Cunningham
1696–1707: Lt-Gen. William Kerr, 2nd Marquess of Lothian, KT (Lord Jedburgh)
1707–1709: Col. Patrick Hume, Baron Polwarth
1709–1714: Lt-Gen. Hon. William Kerr
The Princess of Wales's Own Regiment of Dragoons - (reformed 1715)
1715–1741: Lt-Gen. Hon. William Kerr (reappointed)
The Queen's Own Regiment of Dragoons - (1727)
1741–1760: Lt-Gen. Sir John Cope, KB
7th (The Queen's Own) Regiment of Dragoons - (1751)
1760–1763: Gen. John Mostyn
1763–1779: F.M. Sir George Howard, KB
1779–1795: Gen. Sir Henry Clinton, KB (senior)
7th (or Queen's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons - (1783)
1795–1801: Gen. Sir David Dundas, GCB
1801–1842: F.M. Henry William Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey, KG, GCB, GCH
7th (The Queen's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars) - (1807)
1842–1846: Lt-Gen. Sir James Keanrey, KCH
1846–1864: Gen. Sir William Tuyll, KCH
7th (Queen's Own) Hussars - (1861)
1864: Gen. James Alexander St. Clair Erskine, 3rd Earl of Rosslyn
1866–1873: Gen. Sir John Scott, KCB
1873–1879: Gen. Charles Hagart, CB
1879–1884: Gen. Henry Roxby Benson, CB
1884–1896: Lt-Gen. William Thomas Dickson
1896–1907: Maj-Gen. Robert Hale
1907–1924: Maj-Gen. Sir Hugh McCalmont, KCB, CVO
7th Queen's Own Hussars - (1921)
1924–1946: Maj-Gen. Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone, KG, PC, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, DSO, ADC
1946–1948: Col. Geoffrey Fielden, OBE
1948–1952: Col. Thomas Anson Thornton, CVO
1952–1958: Maj-Gen. Ralph Younger, CB, CBE, DSO, MC
1958 Amalgamated with 3rd The King's Own Hussars to form the Queen's Own Hussars