11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own)

When King George I ascended to the throne of Great Britain in 1715, the Protestant king's succession was immediately challenged by a rebellion in Scotland by Roman Catholic supporters of James Stuart (the First Jacobite Rebellion - 'Jacob' being an ancient form of 'James'). To meet this threat, King George and his government raised a number of new regiments to augment the British army.

One such regiment of dragoons was raised by Brig. Phillip Honeywood (Royal Warrant dated 22nd July 1715) - Brigadier Honeywood was considered a 'brave, experienced, zealous officer, firmly committed to the House of Hanover'. The regiment was to consist of 6 troops recruited in Essex and the surrounding counties, with its headquarters at Chelmsford.

The uniform consisted of three-cornered cocked hats, black with silver lace, scarlet coats with buff facings and buff waistcoats and breeches. Horse furniture was predominantly buff in colour and, like all regiments at the time, sported the white horse of Hanover. Some reference is made to Honeywood's Dragoons being mounted on grey horses, but this has no official corroboration.

In October 1715, the Regiment marched from Chelmsford to Nottingham and subsequently took part in a significant engagement at Preston. The rebel troops surrendered, and Honeywood's Dragoons remained in Lancashire for a further year. With the threat from Roman Catholic sympathisers overcome, the Regiment's establishment was reduced to 207 officers and men.

The next ten years saw the Regiment move throughout the Midlands and southern England, before moving to Scotland in 1728. In 1732, General Honeywood left the Regiment he had founded and Lord Mark Kerr was appointed Colonel.

Kerr's Dragoons remained in various postings in England until another Roman Catholic rebellion arose in Scotland, the Second Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 when supporters of 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' rose in revolt. In 1746, the Regiment marched to Edinburgh and thence to Aberdeen where, under the practical command of Lt. Col. Lord Acram, they fought the battle of Culloden, which saw the end of Charles' claim to the British crown.

Re-organisation of the Army in 1751 saw the buff facings of the Regiment's uniform confirmed, and the title 11th Regiment of Dragoons adopted. In 1755, in common with most cavalry regiments, a seventh 'light troop' was added to the establishment. (The troop commander, Captain William Lindsay, received special recognition for his enthusiastic leadership of this specialised unit). In 1758, the combined 'light troops' of a number of regiments took part in raids on the French coast at St Maloes and Cherbourg.

In 1760 the main body of the Regiment, under the practical command of Lt. Col. William Gardner (who had been a cornet in the Regiment in 1715), embarked for the Continent, landing at Bremen and joining the army of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick to fight the Seven Years' War (1754-63). They fought the battle of Warbourg and subsequently a winter campaign in heavy snow.

Returning to England in 1763, the Regiment was ordered to 'remount with long-tailed horses' (presumably, the horses' tails had previously been docked). They moved between England and Scotland for the next twenty years.

In 1779, the men mounted and equipped as 'light cavalry' were detached to form the cadre of the 20th Light Dragoons. In 1780, the Regiment was involved in the suppression of the Gordon Riots in London and shortly thereafter riots in Nottingham.

In 1783, in common with a number of cavalry regiments, the Regiment was re-designated 'light dragoons' with a number of changes to height requirements (for both men and horses) and equipment. The cocked hats were replaced by brass helmets and the scarlet coats were replaced by blue coats, although the buff facings were retained.

In 1786 the 11th Light Dragoons performed Royal Escort duties whilst stationed at Hounslow and Windsor. On the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802), the establishment of the Regiment was increased to 9 Troops which crossed the Channel to join the allied army in Flanders. (Interesting, at the same time a small detachment of 26 other ranks joined an expedition to the West Indies under Lt. Gen. Sir Charles Grey and a detachment of 11 other ranks formed an escort for Lord Macartney on a visit to China).

In Flanders, the Regiment immediately saw action at Famars, Valenciennes and Dunkirk. After a brief respite for winter, the 11th Light Dragoons campaigned throughout 1974 in the army commanded by the Duke of York, second son of King George III. They fought with distinction at Tournay.

In 1796, the British troops left the scene on battle and returned home (although war in Europe still raged), the 11th Light Dragoons returning to Royal Escort duties based once more in Hounslow. In 1799, the Duke of York led British troops across the Channel again in an effort to relieve Holland from French occupation, and the Regiment, under the practical command of Lt. Col. J. Walbanck Childers, disembarked on the Dutch coast (swimming their horses ashore). The British troops joined Russian troops in a remarkable display of co-operation against the French. After some bitter but indecisive fighting, the Duke of York ordered his forces home to England, and the Regiment shot 152 horses for want of transport.

In 1800, a detachment of one troop strength from the 11th Light Dragoons was sent to join Gen. Sir Ralph Abercomby's small force in the Mediterranean, stopping first at Minorca and Malta and then moving on to Turkey. Napoleon's army was, at that time, firmly established in Egypt. In 1801, a combined force of British and Turkish troops landed in Egypt, where they defeated a French force at Alexandria. They then marched to the Nile, "through a country abounding in rice, sugar, wheat, barley and other necessities and luxuries of life". Passing the pyramids, the British / Turkish force captured Cairo and then returned to the coast to besiege Alexandria, where the French surrendered in September. British regiments involved in the campaign were awarded the battle honour "Egypt".

Meanwhile, the major part of the Regiment, with an establishment of some 500 mounted men, had been suppressing civil unrest in various parts of England during the years 1800-02. When Bonaparte establish a fleet of invasion barges on the French coast, the Regiment moved to Sussex, and later Kent, to meet the threat of invasion.

With his invasion plans thwarted by Nelson's defeat of the French fleet at Trafalgar, Bonaparte, now created "Emperor", turned his attention towards Germany. A British army was raised to meet this threat commanded by Lt. Gen. Lord Cathcart, and in 1805 the 11th Light Dragoons were preparing for embarkation at Ramsgate under the practical command of Lt. Col. Thomas when news that the allied armies of Austria and Russia had suffered a significant defeat at Austerlitz forced cancellation of the British plans.

From 1807-10 the 11th Light Dragoons were stationed in Southern Ireland. And in 1811 the Regiment, with an establishment 725 officers and men of under the practical command of Lt. Col. Henry Cumming, embarked to join Wellington's forces on the Spanish Peninsular. They were immediately committed to intensive skirmishing against the French in the area around Guadiana - at one point, 2 officers and 75 other ranks were cut off by the French and made prisoners. Skirmishing continued with further losses by the Regiment, both killed and captured, until a major battle was fought near Badajoz where the British displayed heroic gallantry in the face of overwhelming odds. Further continuous skirmishing was followed by the battle of Salamanca. Thereafter, Wellington's army marched to Madrid and pursued the retreating French across the Pyrenees.

Early in 1813, having suffered losses of 400 men and 500 horses, the Regiment was ordered home to England, and thence to Ireland, where they received horses from the 19th Light Dragoons who were embarking, unmounted, for Canada. Thereafter the 11th Light Dragoons returned to Hounslow and Royal Escort duties, where they provided escorts not only for the British monarch (King George III and his regent, the Prince of Wales) but also dignitaries from Europe, notable Prussia and Russia.

On Bonaparte's resurgence in March, 1815, the Regiment, under the practical command of Lt. Col. Sleigh, crossed the Channel to join Wellington's army in Belgium, leaving a Depot squadron at Canterbury. On 16th June, the Regiment reached Quartre Bras in time to witness the closing stages of the initial engagement of the battle of Waterloo, where they camped on the battlefield in pouring rain. Early on 17th, the entire British army withdrew, and the light cavalry were kept busy covering the withdrawal. On 18th, the Battle of Waterloo was engaged in ernest. The Regiment lost 1 officer, 10 other ranks and 17 horses killed. On 19th, the Regiment took part in the pursuit of the defeated French army towards Paris. On 7th July, the 11th Light Dragoons escorted Wellington as he entered the French capital.

After the defeat of Bonaparte, the Regiment remained in France. Returning to the UK in December 1818, the Regiment was immediately ordered to India. 540 officers and men embarked from Ramsgate bound for Calcutta in February 1819, leaving their horses at home. Sailing up the Ganges in barges, the Regiment arrived in Cawnpore in October and relieved the 21st Light Dragoons, taking over their horses and a number of men who wished to remain in India. In Cawnpore, 170 officers and men died of disease and the Regiment marched to the healthier environment of Meerut. The years passed, and each year the Regiment received the highest praise for turnout and deportment.

1825 saw an uprising against the British Raj in Bhurtpore - Bhurtpore (now Bharatpur) was, at the time, a massive fortress, about 30 miles west of Agra and was considered impregnable and the Regiment was integral in the suppression of the rebellion. There followed thirteen years of peace.

In 1830, the British government approved a request from the East India Company that the light cavalry's blue tunics be replaced with scarlet tunics. And in 1838, the Regiment sailed from Calcutta to the UK, having been relieved in India by 3rd Light Dragoons.

1839 saw the Regiment based at the Cavalry Barracks in Canterbury. In 1840, the Regiment furnished an escort for Prince Albert from Dover to London in preparation for his marriage to Queen Victoria, and his patronage was extended to the Regiment (as their Colonel) which became 11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars - at this point in time the Commanding Officer was Lt. Col. the Earl of Cardigan (who was later to lead the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea).

With the new designation, the shako, scarlet jacket and blue overalls were replaced by the hussar busby, blue jacket and crimson overalls. A pelisse was introduced for officers, and the colour of the shabraque (saddle cloth) changed from blue to crimson. (Although nicknamed 'Cherrypickers' from an incident on the Spanish Peninsular, the introduction of the colour crimson in the uniform relates to Prince Albert's heraldic tradition). Throughout 1841 and 1842, the Regiment furnished a Royal Escort for the young queen and her consort.

The years 1842 to 1854 saw the Regiment posted at various locations within Britain and Ireland until they joined the British forces in the Crimea. On the Black Sea coast, together with all British forces, the Regiment suffered from the senior commanders' shambolic logistic arrangements and the ravages of disease. At Balaclava, as part of the Light Brigade, the Regiment lost 85 officers and men from a total of 110, although some stragglers and prisoners returned to the British lines in the days that followed.

Ten years of peace for the Regiment at home in the UK followed the Crimean War, until in 1866 they were sent once again to India for a period of eleven years.

The Regiment returned from India to the UK in 1877. A small number of men joined the Light Camel Regiment in the Sudan as part of the Gordon Relief Expedition of 1884 each light cavalry regiment being required to provide a contingent of two officers and 43 other ranks to the expedition), and in 1890 a small contingent served in South Africa for two years.

On the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899, a squadron from the Regiment fought unmounted with the British forces, notably in the defence of Ladysmith.

During World War I, the 11th Hussars initiated one of the last mounted attacks in history of modern warfare:

"At 4.15am on 1st September [1914] a patrol from 'B' Squadron was operating in the fog and climbing a hill for better visibility. They spotted a column of Ulans 150 yards away. One of his men fired on their picquet unaware of the main body of Germans, so 2nd Lieutenant Tailby ordered a charge."