10th (Prince of Wales's Own) Hussars



In 1714, Britain's Queen Anne died, after a life of constant illness, at the age of 49. Although she herself had been a popular Queen, her death prompted, once again, argument between Protestants and Roman Catholics as to who should inherit the Crown of what had become, in 1707, 'Great Britain'.

Anne was succeeded by her second cousin, George I of the (German) House of Hanover, who was a Protestant. The succession resulted in the First Jacobite Rebellion by Roman Catholic supporters of Anne's half-brother, James Stuart, the 'Old Pretender' and in 1715 the new King ordered new regiments to be raised to suppress the rebellion.

A Royal Warrant issued in July 1715 required Brig. Humphrey Gore, a serving officer with considerable experience, to raise a 'regiment of dragoons' in Hertfordshire and this was accomplished within two months. Gore's Regiment of Dragoons (comprising of six troops) marched to Marlborough and then to Exeter. In 1718 the Regiment was stationed in Yorkshire, in 1719 Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, in 1720 Devonshire and Shropshire and in 1721 they returned to Gloucester and Worcester.

In 1723, Brigadier Gore transferred to the 1st (Royal) Dragoons and the Colonelcy of the Regiment passed to Col. Charles Churchill who was to retain the command for the next twenty years. During this period, Churchill's Dragoons served in various parts of England.

When the Second Jacobite Rebellion broke out in Scotland in 1745, the Regiment - now with Field-Marshall Viscount Cobham as Colonel - marched north, joining the army commanded by Lt. Gen. Hawley in Falkirk in 1746. Cobham's Dragoons were immediately in action at the Battle of Falkirk Moor (sometimes 'Falkirk Muir'). Due largely to Gen. Hawley's incompetence, the battle was lost. With Hawley replaced by the Duke of Cumberland, the Protestant army assumed the offensive and in April the Battle of Culloden was fought.

Culloden was a decisive victory for the Protestant army and 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' fled 'over the sea to Skye' and thence back to France. Job done, Cobham's Dragoons returned to England where the establishment was halved to 285 men.

A Royal Warrant of 1751 saw the Regiment designated the 10th Regiment of Dragoons with a uniform featuring a double-breasted scarlet jacket, deep yellow facings and deep yellow breeches, black tri-cornered hats with a white band and black cockade, and high leather boots. Officers wore a crimson sash. Horse furniture was of deep yellow cloth embroidered with the King's cypher and the letters X.D.

1753 saw the Regiment stationed in Scotland, then 1754 they were stationed in Romford, Essex.

On the outbreak of the Seven Years War in 1754, a seventh 'light' troop was added to the Regiment's establishment (in common with the majority of dragoon regiments). 1757 saw the Regiment on coast watch in Kent and Sussex and in 1758 the Light Troop joined similar 'light troops' from various regiments to raid the French Coast. In July, the remainder of the Regiment took part in a major review(which included many prestigious cavalry regiments) before King George II on Hounslow Heath. Subsequently the 10th Hussars crossed the Channel to join the allied army in Germany under command of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick.

The Regiment's first serious engagement with the French was at Minden in 1759, and in 1760 they fought the Battle of Warburg in which 2 officers and 1 private from the Regiment were killed, together with 4 horses. 10 privates and 12 horses were wounded. Crossing the Rhine on a pontoon bridge, the Regiment fought the Battle of Campen (sometimes 'Kloster Kampen') where they suffered severe casualties and their Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. William Pitt, was captured by the French. Col. Pitt was exchanged, and was to command a brigade in 1762. Throughout this period the British cavalry was involved in intense skirmishing and a number of significant engagements around Hanover. In 1763, on conclusion of hostilities, the Regiment returned to England and the establishment was reduced. Interestingly, at this time the Light Troop was disbanded and 8 men in each regular troop were equipped at 'light dragoons'.

The next sixteen years saw the Regiment stationed in various locations of England and Scotland. In 1779, the men designated 'light dragoons' were detached from the Regiment to form a new regiment, the 19th Light Dragoons.

1783 saw the Regiment itself converted to 'light dragoons', with new uniforms and equipment and a new title, the 10th Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Light Dragoons. Jackets were changed from scarlet to blue.

The next twenty-five years saw the Regiment stationed in various parts of England - "in August, 1793, it pitched its tents at Brighton" - and in 1796 the Prince of Wales himself (later King George IV) was appointed Colonel. This appointment brought with it considerable social ramifications, and the Regiment frequently provided a Royal Escort and was feted in London society, where one inspecting general stated "it is not possible there could be a more complete regiment of light dragoons".

In 1794, the London dandy Beau Brummel (himself a friend of the Prince of Wales) joined the Regiment: "George 'Beau' Brummel may have been striking a pose when, the 10th having been ordered to Manchester, he protested that he had not enlisted for foreign service." (Mallinson A Regimental Affair 2001). And numerous historical references are made to the fashionable nature of the Regiment: "But the 10th Hussars, that the Marquis of Worcester had joined, was a regiment known for taking in the aristocracy, and Lord Worcester was an heir to a Dukedom, so he had a lot of influence. Hence it being acceptable for him to keep a mistress while he was in training barracks, and why it was considered perfectly normal to invite that mistress to dine with the regiment." (Lark The Illicit Love of a Courtesan 2000).

In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte had 200,000 men and a fleet of flat-bottomed barges held in readiness at Boulogne for an invasion of England, and the establishment of the 10th Light Dragoons was increased to 10 troops, stationed in southern England. (Napoleon's plans were thwarted by Nelson's victory at Trafalgar in 1805).

In 1806 the Regiment followed a fashion common throughout European cavalry and was designated "hussars", with variations to the uniform and an augmentation to the title which became the 10th Prince of Wales's Own Light Dragoons (Hussars).

In November 1808, the years of comparative peace ended when the Regiment embarked for war in Portugal, under command of Lt. Col. George Leigh with an establishment of 8 Troops, each with 3 officers and 90 other ranks plus horses. Arriving at Corunna, the horses were winched into the sea where they swam to shore. The Regiment joined the army commanded by Lt. Gen. Sir John Moore at Zamora.

To General Moore's surprise, there were no Spanish allies waiting to support his army of 25,000 British troops against the entire French army of 300,000 regular troops. Nevertheless, Moore advanced and the 10th Hussars, together with the 15th Hussars, fought a major engagement at Sahagun in December and another shortly thereafter at Majorga, both of which were successful. At the approach of the main body of the French, under command of the Emperor himself, the British retreated to Corunna with the cavalry acting as rear-guard. Many valiant actions are recorded in this respect. Apart from the French, the winter conditions were particularly arduous with 1 officer and 17 privates dying of fatigue, and 60 horses dying in the snow.

In January 1809 the British re-embarked at Corunna, leaving behind the majority of the horses and their commander, General Moore, who had been killed during the retreat. The Regiment rested in the area of London and both men and horses were recruited to bring the Regiment back to strength. On the appointment of the Prince of Wales as regent for the (demented) King, the title of the Regiment was changed to the 10th, Prince of Wales's Own, Royal Regiment of Hussars. In 1812 the Regiment undertook ceremonial duties at Knightsbridge Barracks in London.

In January 1813, the Regiment returned to Portugal, where the British fortunes had changed. Taking advantage of Napoleon's ill-fated invasion of Russia, Wellington's army in Spain seized the initiative and defeated the French in a long campaign which was drawing to a close in 1813. Pursuing the retreating French forces, the Regiment operated in mountainous country with a major engagement at Morales in June, and later that month they fought the Battle of Vitoria, which sealed the fate of the French army in Spain. In December, Wellington's army entered France.

The Regiment took part in continuous harassment of the French withdrawal and fought the major battle of Toulouse in April 1814. Shortly thereafter, Napoleon conceded defeat. The Regiment returned to England in July, at which time they were stationed in Brighton. The establishment was reduced from 12 troops to 8. In March 1815, they were required to suppress riots in London (relating to the introduction of Corn Laws which raised food prices).

On Napoleon's resurgence in April 1815, the Regiment re-embarked for France (leaving a depot squadron at Brighton) where they joined the brigade commanded by Maj. Gen. Sir Hussey Vivian in Wellington's army. A night march took the 10th Hussars to the proximity of Brussels just as the Prussian allies were defeated at Ligny and British troops were engaged at Quatre Bras. On 17th July the heavens opened with a thunderous storm which quickly turned the fields to mud. After an uncomfortable night, the Regiment was positioned on the left of the British line in front of the village of Waterloo. Mid-morning, the Regiment was ordered to support the centre of the British line where the infantry squares were sorely pressed:

"So dense was the smoke that the noise of the approaching enemy was often heard before any object could be distinguished . . the roar of four hundred cannon, the volleys of musketry and the impetuous noise and shouts of the soldiery producing a scene of carnage and confusion impossible to describe. "

Passing between the infantry squares, the Regiment twice charged the advancing French. The charges were successful, but at huge cost with 2 officers, 19 privates and 51 horses killed and 6 officers (including the Commanding Officer, Col. Quentin), 24 other ranks and numerous horses wounded or missing. (Later, all ranks were issued with a silver medal and two years' service credit). The Regiment entered Paris in July. Returning to England in January 1816, bad weather tragically caused 37 horses to be lost at sea.

1817 saw the Regiment on Royal Escort duty in London and escorting the funeral procession of Princess Charlotte of Wales who had died tragically in childbirth at the age of 21 (Princess Charlotte was the daughter of the future King George IV). Thereafter, the Regiment moved to coast watch duties in the South East with a considerable reduction in establishment. In 1819 the Regiment moved to Edinburgh, where there was some political unrest.

When George, Prince of Wales, ascended the throne on the death of his father in 1820, he directed that the title of the Regiment remain as the 10th, Prince of Wales's Own, Royal Regiment of Hussars, although the Colonelcy passed to Lt. Gen. Charles Vane. By virtue of their royal patronage, the uniforms and accoutrements of the 10th were always a cut above other regiments.

The Regiment returned to England in 1820 and were stationed at Hounslow and Hampton Court. (In 1820, King George IV presented the Officers' Mess with a large, solid silver statue of himself in appreciation of his time as Colonel of the Regiment, from 1793 to 1820. Not surprisingly, the Regiment's collection of silver plate rivalled any other regiment's.)

In 1822, the Regiment crossed the Bristol Channel to Dublin, where they remained for three years, returning to Nottingham in 1825.

Two squadrons of the Regiment joined a small expeditionary force to Portugal in 1827, where the Portuguese government was under threat both internally and from Spain. The crisis over, the squadrons returned in 1828 and joined the Regiment once more at Hounslow and Hampton Court.

1831 saw the Regiment in Ireland, and thence to Scotland in 1835 for one year. In 1836 the Regiment marched south to England and, after a year in Yorkshire and Northumberland, back to Hounslow on Royal Escort duties in 1838. The Regiment featured prominently in the coronation of Queen Victoria in June. In 1841, the Regiment was transferred once more to Ireland.

In 1846, the 10th Hussars were shipped to India for what was to be the first of many postings to the sub-continent.

On the outbreak of war in the Crimea (1854-56), the Regiment travelled direct from India to the Black Sea. By good fortune, the Regiment was not included as part of Cardigan's Light Brigade and avoided the battle of Balaclava, although they were heavily involved in the siege of Sevastopol and the triumphant battles of Eupatoria and Kerch.

The Regiment returned to England in 1856, and in 1863 the 10th (The Prince of Wales's Own) Royal Hussars again had a Prince of Wales (in the form of Prince Edward, later Edward VII) as their Colonel. The 10th Hussars are credited with the introduction of the sport of polo, which they had mastered in India, to the United Kingdom, winning the first ever inter-regimental polo match in 1871.

In 1873 the Regiment shipped once more to India, where they were remain for ten years. They featured prominently in the Second Afghan War (1878-80), notably at Ali Masjid (at the entrance to the Khyber Pass on the North West Frontier). A disastrous ford crossing of the Kabul River at Kalai Sak, saw 46 soldiers and 13 horses drowned, with only 19 bodies being recovered - a disaster recorded in an epic poem by Rudyard Kipling.

Returning home in 1884, the Regiment was diverted to join General Garnet Wolseley's expedition to the Sudan, where they fought at El Teb, and then on to Egypt for a brief tour before returning to the United Kingdom.

There followed a period of respite. In 1897 the regiment took part in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee parade.

On the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899, the Regiment shipped to South Africa where they were immediately committed to fighting at Colesberg, Kimberley, Paardeburg and thereafter an extensive campaign in the Transvaal.

In 1902, on conclusion of the war in South Africa, the 10th Hussars shipped direct to India once more, where they were stationed at Mhow.