3rd (King's Own) Hussars



The years following the English civil wars (1642-51) saw the monarchy restored in 1660, when parliament invited Charles II to ascend the throne. Politics within England remained unsettled, however, and when Charles' son James II was crowned in 1685, the fact that James favoured the Roman Catholic faith caused considerable concern. A serious threat arose in the form of the Monmouth Rebellion and it became immediately apparent that the king required an army for protection within his kingdom.

Oliver Cromwell's former "New Model Army" having been largely disbanded after the Civil War, James II and his advisers raised a number of regiments with the help of noblemen known to be loyal to the king - Parliament awarded James a sum of £400,000 in this respect. Five independent troops of "dragoons" were raised in Middlesex, Berkshire, Bedfordshire and Essex. These troops subsequently came under command of Lord John Churchill (later the Duke of Marlborough).

Monmouth's claim to the throne (he was an illegitimate son of Charles II) was settled when he was soundly defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor (1685). After the battle, James's forces were re-organised and the Duke of Somerset became Colonel (patron) of six troops from Churchill's dragoons. This force was given the title The Queen Consort's Regiment of Dragoons under the practical command of Lt Col Alexander Cannon (by commission dated 2nd August 1685). The establishment was set out in a Royal Warrant dated 1st January 1686 and uniform specified was scarlet with blue facings.

James II's increasingly open Roman Catholic beliefs caused discontent with England, however. In 1688 the Duke of Somerset openly defied the King, and Alexander Cannon was promoted Colonel of the Regiment. Confusion followed, and when William of Orange arrived in England at the invitation of English parliament, a senior officer, Lt Col Richard Leveson led a large proportion of the Regiment to join William's (Protestant) forces.

A grateful King William III subsequently conferred the Colonelcy of the Regiment on Richard Leveson, and whilst the Regiment was officially referred to as Leveson's Regiment of Dragoons, William encouraged the use of the name The Queen's.

In Ireland, meanwhile, the strongly Roman Catholic population were unhappy that James had been over-thrown and an army was raised for the purpose of restoring him to the throne, if not of the "three kingdoms" (England, Ireland and Scotland), then certainly of Ireland.

Leveson's Regiment of Dragoons embarked to join a Protestant army in Ireland on 21st August 1689, where they were immediately involved in suppressing Catholic unrest and where they fought the Battle of the Boyne on 1st July 1690. The war in Ireland was to continue for two bitter and bloody years.

In 1692, the Regiment returned to England. In April 1694, the Regiment shipped to Holland at the start of the War of the Grand Alliance (1694-1703). The Regiment returned to England in 1698, and took part in the expedition against Cadiz in 1702, where they were the only British cavalry regiment involved.

In 1707, the Regiment arrived in Portugal to support the Grand Alliance in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). The Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Lawrence, was killed in desperate fighting at the Battle of Almanza (1707). Suffering losses of fifty per cent, the Regiment returned to England to re-group. Rapid recruiting saw the Regiment's establishment increase from 103 to 443 men within two years.

George I was crowned King in 1714, and there being no Queen, the Regiment was renamed The King's Own Regiment of Dragoons. In 1715 the Regiment marched to Scotland to meet the threat of Jacobite rebellion. On 13th November 1715 they fought at Sheriffmuir.

Twenty years of comparative peace followed the defeat of the Jacobites, during which the Regiment was stationed mainly in Southern England, at which time the establishment was reduced to some 200 men.

The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48) saw the Regiment shipped across the Channel in 1743. But in 1745, a Second Jacobite Rebellion caused them to be urgently recalled to England, and thence to Scotland, where they fought many engagements including the Battle of Clifton Moor (1745).

Returning to England, a Royal Warrant of 1751 set clothing standards: scarlet jackets with light blue facings, light blue breeches and waistcoats, high black boots and, significantly, horse furniture featuring "the white horse within the garter".

1756 saw the addition of a "light troop" within almost all British cavalry regiments. The "light troops" of various regiments were amalgamated to see action in France in 1758, with such success that regiments designated "Light Dragoons" were conceived. In 1771 the "light troop" was detached to form the 21st Light Dragoons.

The Gordon Riots of 1780 saw the Regiment on policing duties in London. Thereafter they served in Southern England and Scotland. In 1798, clothing regulations changed and a new model carbine was issued. In 1801, the Regiment was ordered to maintain exclusively black horses. In 1803, the Regiment shipped to Ireland in the face of civil unrest, but they returned to England in 1805.

In 1811, the Regiment shipped to Portugal at the conclusion of the Peninsular War (1807-14), where they joined Gen. Le Marchant's Brigade together with 5th Dragoon Guards and 4th Dragoons. They fought at Salamanca in 1812 (where a severe thunderstorm stampeded the horses, injuring several men). Thereafter they were constantly in action, returning to England after peace was declared in 1814.

In October 1818, it was ordered that the Regiment be re-mounted and re-equipped as "light dragoons" with the title 3rd King's Own Light Dragoons. They shipped to Ireland in 1819, back to England in 1822. They took part in the Grand Cavalry Review at Hampton Court on 15th July 1823. In 1825 magistrates called on the Regiment to provide policing duties in the North. 1826 saw the Regiment back in Ireland, where they remained for three years.

The 1830's were a period of constant civil unrest in England, and the Regiment was moved frequently to help maintain order in the community.

In 1837, the Regiment shipped to India, arriving in Calcutta on 13th November. (The Commanding Officer of the Regiment, Col. Thackwell, was later to command the Cavalry in the disastrous Invasion of Afghanistan in 1839). After the British retreat from Afghanistan in 1842, the Regiment joined Gen. Pollock's 'Army of Retribution' which invaded the country a second time both to relieve British troops in Jalalabad and Kandahar, and to re-establish British prestige in the district. They fought a passage through the Khyber Pass in April, 1842, and amongst continuous skirmishing they fought a major engagement at Tezin Pass which destroyed the Afghan forces of Mahomed Akbar-Khan. The British entered Kabul on 15th September 1842.

On returning to India, the Regiment was almost immediately involved in the First Sikh War (1845-46) and fought the Battles of Moodkee (18th December) and Ferozepore (22nd December1845), where they repeatedly charged enemy guns and suffered heavy casualties. On 20th January 1846 the Regiment fought the Battle of Aliwal closely followed by the Battle of Sobraon, the concluding action of the war. During the entire campaign the Regiment earned the highest praise possible for their efforts.

Of the 420 men in the Regiment who sailed to India in 1837, only 47 would return to England in 1853. In 1861, the Regiment was re-designated the 3rd King's Own Hussars, the uniform being blue with red facings and a busby featuring a white plume and green flap with white piping.

Between 1861 and 1900, the Regiment served (in comparative peace) in Ireland, England and two short tours in India.

In 1901 the Regiment went to South Africa, where most of the serious fighting had concluded. Within six months, the Regiment shipped from South Africa back to India.