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Unit History: 4th Hussars

The 4th Hussars have forebears as old as the 3rd, created as the original Dragoons, and boast a chronicle in conflict as any cavalry regiment. They were also a very smart, wealthy regiment with a strong equine tradition, excelling particularly at polo and pig sticking. To The Queen’s Royal Hussars, they have bequeathed the motto "Mente et Manu", translated as "might and main", the green colour which offsets the main colour of garter blue and Winston Churchill, "The greatest Hussar of them all". The character of the 4th has been epitomised by a son of a 4th Hussar as " The Regiment you wanted to join if you had not joined your own"

Monmouth’s rebellion scared Parliament into forming the first standing Army in 1685, among it six regiments of horse and two of Dragoons, the latter becoming 3rd and 4th Hussars. It was constituted of six troops, raised by the honourable John Berkeley and named after him as "Berkeley’s Dragoons" it’s recruiting area for all of the troops was Wessex. Berkeley married Barbera Villiers, an intimate friend of the King’s younger daughter, Princess Anne. Thus came about the first title of the Regiment "The Princess Anne of Denmark’s Regiment of Dragoons". In October Berkeley’s Dragoons rode into London to be inspected by the King, a critical Commander, who was nevertheless impressed with them. For the next three years the regiment came to annual summer camp on Hounslow Heath. In the glorious revolution of 1688, the Regiment performed the same role as most of the King’s Army changing to William of Oranges side when the Monarchs position became untenable.

In 1689 Berkeley’s Dragoons saw their first action in Scotland fighting against those still loyal to King James. The following year Fitzhardinge took over the colonelcy from Berkeley and the title of Princess Anne’s Regiment fell into disuse. In 1692 the Regiment went to Flanders to fight against the French for six years, a tedious succession of marching and counter marching waiting to catch the enemy unawares. In 1692 they fought at Steinkirk, a badly orchestrated defeat in which Fitzardinge’s Dragoons lost 130 Killed, despite their conspicuous gallantry. The colonelcy changed again in 1693, when the Earl of Essex took over for almost twenty years. Two years later the Regiment helped to recapture the fortress of Namur. After the peace of Ryswick in 1697, Essex’s Dragoons returned to Yorkshire, a blooded Cavalry Regiment.

Two troops were sent to Spain and fought along side the 3rd and 8th at the battle of Almanza in 1707. It was heavy defeat and Essex’s Dragoons lost half their number, the remainder being sent home later in the year. The whole regiment boarded ships for action in 1708 but no battle was forth coming. Until 1715 the regiment was engaged in home service, before joining the 3rd and the 7th at sheriffmuir late that year. Their brave charge smashed the enemy’s left wing however it was a Pyrrhic victory which ended the old pretenders hopes of the crown.

1742 the War of Austria succession started Rich’s Dragoons went into battle the following year at Dettingen. Their third charge drove back the French and turned the battle in favour of the British while George Daraugh, a Dragoon from the 4th, won the Regiment and himself great fame. He saw a French Officer riding off with a Regimental Standard, and followed him, cut him down and returned to the Regiment with the Standard. He was Promoted by King George II on the Battlefield to the rank of Cornet, and given a purse of guineas.

The Rich’s had only very light casualties, a different story to the encounter they had with the French in July 1745 when they were ambushed five miles short of Ghent, ordered to fight through the town and reached it with only 150 of the 400 with which they started. During the subsequent attacks on Ghent, only 60 of Rich’s dragoons got away. They were sent home and took no further part in the conflict until, they reconstituted and were sent back to Holland in 1747, and thrown against the French again at Lauffeldt where the cavalry saved the British from severe defeat.

The names of regiments were enumerated in 1751 thus Rich’s became the 4th Dragoons. Their coats remained scarlet and their waistcoats and breeches were to be green. 1788 saw another reorganisation of cavalry, with the 4th accruing the title "The Queen’s Own Regiment of Dragoons".

Finally in December 1808 the 4th sailed to Portugal to join Wellesley’s Army which was trying to push the French out of Portugal by bringing them to battle in Spain. They achieved this at Talavera in July 1809. The British withstood the French Force of twice their number and thus they won the battle. Two years of defence consolidated Britain’s last remaining Army until 1811 at Albura when although the Beresford lost half the English number in the battle, the French lost double that. At Usagre a fortnight later the 4th were part of a perfectly executed ambush which started to turn the War to Britain’s favour. The master stroke was at Salamanca in July 1812 when the 4th, next to the 3rd, in Le Marchant’s Cavalry Brigade took part in a murderous Charge described by Wellington with praise, "I never saw anything so beautiful in all my life". After the rout, the regiment captured some of Joseph Bonaparte’s silver from the baggage train which was melted down to provide cutlery and the Salamanca Donkey in the Officers’ Mess. Later in the year the 4th were again in action at Vittoria, slowly pushing the French out of Spain and into France where the final battle in the Peninsula War was fought and won in 1814 at Toulouse. From Toulouse the regiment marched the 700 miles to Boulonge and embarked for England.

1818 saw another clarification of the titles they had become The 4th or Queen’s Own Regiment of Light Dragoons.

Another quiet decade was to pass before the 4th were chosen as part of the Allied Army of fifty thousand which was to Immortalise it’s exploits in the Crimea. The reason for the war with Russia involved complex diplomatic and religious agreements between the European powers, a far cry from the deprivation suffered by the 4th in 1854 through disease and maladministration. The first battle was near the river Alma in September in which the Allies inflicted heavy losses on the Russians. The "Battle of Balaclava" took place in October, including the "Charge of the Light Brigade", that ultimate catastrophe from which so much honour has been drawn. 607 charged into the valley of death, and 198 were at the roll call afterwards; twenty minutes of hell. The "reasons why" can be pursued in any amount of documents and books, but the result was summed up by Paget, commanding the 4th:

"What a scene of havoc was the last mile, strewn with the dead and dying and all friends. Some running, some limping, some crawling; Horses in every position of agony, struggling to get up, then floundered again on their mutilated riders!".

Paget led the remnants of the Light Brigade back through the valley of death and out of danger to find that out of the 118 men of the 4th Light Dragoons, 79 were killed or missing, Private Samuel Parkes of the 4th was awarded the Victoria Cross for protecting the Colonels Trumpeter against the Cossacks and despite his selling it to buy a drink, it is now back in the Regiments possession.

At the battle of Inkerman the infantry were the heroes before the Allied Army endured a dreadful winter besieging Sevastpol which finally fell in September 1855. The following May the Army was evacuated back to England, having spent two years a long way from home, having defeated an enemy superior in numbers and having endured heavy deprivation it had emerged victorious.

From 1856 the 4th served at home, becoming in 1861 The 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars, before sailing for India in 1867 serving at Meerut and Rawalpindi for 12 years. Home service from then until 1896 passed in England, Scotland and Ireland presaging a return to

Forces Reunited Forum Posts Involving 4th Hussars

"...few bob more than yours. The armoured units that were in Sek Kong in my time were 3 RTR and 5 or 7 RTR with Comet tanks I think.Tankies were always good for a "brew up" if you were near enough.Never really served with the real cavalry except for 4th Hussars in Malaya but they were mostly concerned with road escorts and security. Its great talking about old times and places aint it? Regards and Ding Hao Stan "
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" Anyone around who used to be in 4th Hussars B Squadron during the years 1955 to 1957 "
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"Hi Tom. It is nice to know someone who remembers Catterick Camp, and Italy intake 57/08. I do to remember Sgt. Haynes, and yes you are right, he was badged up for the 4th Hussars. Derek Howes, I think I can place him, but cannot put a face to his name. What are you doing these days, and where do you live. Let me know mate, and keep in touch wont you. John (Pat) Patey."
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"Hi to all and any who served in 4th Hussars between 45 and 52. I was in 2 trp B Sqdn for seven years, finishing in Raub in Malaya. It would be good to hear from any of the old 4th Hussars. I now live in Sydney in Australia. Good luck to all. Bob Downes"
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"John cross 4th hussars 1948 1960"
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