Royal Gloucestershire Hussars

Royal Gloucestershire Hussars
Active 1795–present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Royal Armoured Corps
Role Armour Replacement
Part of Royal Wessex Yeomanry
Motto(s) Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense
Colors Beaufort Blue, Buff and Crimson
March Quick: D'ye ken John Peel?
Anniversaries Katia Day - 23 April 1916,
Bir El Gubi - 19 November 1941

Second Boer War
World War I

Gallipoli 1915
Egypt 1915–17
Palestine 1917–18

World War II

North Africa 1941–42
Capt MG Lloyd-Baker,
Lt Col NA Birley DSO,
Lt Col Anthony Kershaw MC

The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars (RGH) was a yeomanry regiment of the British Army.

Raised in 1795 following William Pitt's 1794 order to raise volunteer bodies of men to defend Great Britain, through various re-organisations, the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars remain today on the establishment of the Territorial Army as C (RGH) Sqn Royal Wessex Yeomanry. Its main function is to provide Tank Replacement Crew for the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank. It also trains in a forward reconnaissance role on the Land Rover Defender. It continues to have strong ties with the King's Royal Hussars.


Formation and early years

In 1795, Captain Powell Snell raised the First Troop of Gloucestershire Gentleman and Yeomanry at the Plough Inn in Cheltenham. By 1797, troops had been raised at Minchinhampton, Wotton Under Edge, Stow on the Wold, Henbury, Bristol, and Gloucester. In 1798, Stroud had also raised a troop. Following the 1802 Peace of Amiens, all except the Cheltenham Troop under Major Snell were disbanded.

Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, all Yeomanry Troops were disbanded, either voluntarily or by order, in 1827. In 1830, responding to unrest amongst agricultural workers, Yeomanry Troops were raised again. The First Troop was established by Mr Codrington of Dodington Park, quickly followed by troops from Fairford, Cirencester, Stroud, Tetbury, Gloucester, and Bristol. In 1834, the captains of all Gloucestershire troops met in Petty France and combined to form one regiment, known as the Gloucestershire Yeomanry Cavalry. The Marquis of Worcester was appointed as the first Commanding Officer and the band was established.

Boer War

In 1900, 123 members of the RGH under Capt WH Playne left for Cape Town, forming C Coy 1 Bn Imperial Yeomanry.

World War I

1st South Midland Mounted Brigade

Organisation on 4 August 1914

In accordance with the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw. 7, c.9) which brought the Territorial Force into being, the TF was intended to be a home defence force for service during wartime and members could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, on the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, many members volunteered for Imperial Service. Therefore, TF units were split in August and September 1914 into 1st Line (liable for overseas service) and 2nd Line (home service for those unable or unwilling to serve overseas) units. Later, a 3rd Line was formed to act as a reserve, providing trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line regiments.[1]

1/1st Royal Gloucestershire Hussars

On 15 April 1915, the RGH sailed to Egypt and was almost immediately dispatched as dismounts to Gallipoli. On returning to Egypt, it took part in many of the battles that formed the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, primarily as part of the Imperial Mounted Division, including the Battle of Beersheba.[2]

The RGH served with the 1st South Midland Mounted Brigade throughout the war, initially with the 2nd Mounted Division in the Gallipoli Campaign, then with the Imperial Mounted Division (as the 5th Mounted Brigade) and the 5th Cavalry Division (as the 13th Cavalry Brigade) in Sinai and Palestine.

2/1st Royal Gloucestershire Hussars

The 2nd Line regiment was formed at Gloucester in September 1914. In April 1915, it joined the 2/1st South Midland Mounted Brigade at Cirencester and, in June moved to north Norfolk where the brigade joined the 2/2nd Mounted Division.[3] On 31 March 1916, the remaining Mounted Brigades were ordered to be numbered in a single sequence;[4] the brigade was numbered as 10th Mounted Brigade and the division as 3rd Mounted Division.[5]

In July 1916, the regiment was converted to a cyclist unit in 8th Cyclist Brigade, 2nd Cyclist Division, initially in Kent then at Ipswich. In November 1916, the division was broken up and regiment was merged with the 2/1st Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars to form 12th (Gloucestershire and Worcestershire) Yeomanry Cyclist Regiment in 4th Cyclist Brigade at Ipswich. In March 1917, it resumed its identity as 2/1st Royal Gloucestershire Hussars. In July 1917, it moved to Wivenhoe and in January 1918 to Clacton. About April 1918, the regiment moved to Ireland and was stationed at Dublin, where it remained, still in 4th Cyclist Brigade, until the end of the war.[5]

3/1st Royal Gloucestershire Hussars

The 3rd Line regiment was formed in 1915; in the summer it was affiliated to a Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Tidworth. In the summer of 1916, it was affiliated to the 4th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, still at Tidworth. Early in 1917 it was absorbed into the 5th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, also at Tidworth.[5]

Between the wars

On 7 February 1920, the regiment was reconstituted in the Territorial Army with HQ at Gloucester. Following the experience of the war, it was decided that only the fourteen most senior yeomanry regiments would be retained as horsed cavalry,[6] with the rest being transferred to other roles.[7] As a result, on 14 July 1921, the regiment was one of eight[lower-alpha 1] converted and reduced to 21st (Gloucestershire Yeomanry) Armoured Car Company, Tank Corps. In October 1923, it was redesignated as 21st (Gloucestershire Yeomanry) Armoured Car Company, Royal Tank Corps and on 30 April 1939 it was transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps.[9]

By 1939, it became clear that a new European war was likely to break out, and the doubling of the Territorial Army was authorised, with each unit forming a duplicate.[10] The RGH was expanded to an armoured regiment and, on 30 April, regained its original title as 1st Royal Gloucestershire Hussars; it also provided a cadre for its duplicate 2nd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars.[11] A nominal 3rd RGH was formed later.[12]

World War II

1st Royal Gloucestershire Hussars

1st RGH guarded the South West of England after Dunkirk. Due to leave for Africa as part of 6th Armoured Division, a last minute change saw the unit spend the majority of the war as a UK Defence / Training regiment. After VJ Day, 1st RGH was sent to Austria, where it took part in the Musical Ride at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.

2nd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars

2nd RGH reached Egypt in October 1941 as part of 22nd Armoured Brigade. The unit took part in many of the key battles in Operation Crusader. In subsequent engagements, the RGH suffered many casualties and was re-equipped on two occasions. 2nd RGH fought its final action at Battle of Alam el Halfa, on 31 August to 5 September 1942. Expecting to be re-equipped, the regiment was instead disbanded with 'F', 'G' and 'H' Squadrons transferred to the 4th Hussars, Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry and the 8th Hussars respectively. HQ Squadron was divided between the 5th Royal Tank Regiment and the 3rd Hussars.

3rd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars

The 3rd "regiment" was formed as a deception unit. It constructed and moved dummy tanks in order to deceive the enemy as to the disposition and strength of British armour.[12][lower-alpha 2]

Late 20th Century

In keeping with many Territorial Army units, the RGH was reduced to a cadre of three officers and four NCOs between 1969 and 1971.

Current status

The RGH forms C (RGH) Sqn Royal Wessex Yeomanry as an Armoured Replacement Squadron. It is also the parent unit of the army section of Pate's Grammar School Combined Cadet Force, whose members wear the cap badge of the RGH.


The current Guidon was presented to the RGH by Col the Duke of Beaufort, representing HM The Queen at Badminton House on 27 May 1962.

Battle honours

The battle honours earned by the regiment were:[9]

Boer War

South Africa 1900–01

World War I

Suvla, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915, Rumani, Rafah, Egypt 1915–17, Gaza, El Mughar, Nebi Samwil, Jerusalem, Megiddo, Sharon, Damascus, Palestine 1917–18

World War II

Tobruk 1941, Gubi I, Sidi Rezegh 1941, Chor es Sufan, Gazala, Bir el Aslagh, Cauldron, Alam el Halfa, West Point 23, North Africa 1941–42

Items of interest

JNCO rank

Lance Corporals and Corporals in the RGH have slightly different badges of rank compared to other similar units within the British Army. A Lance Corporal has two chevrons and a Corporal has two chevrons topped with a cloth crown. This crown is lost when the Corporal is promoted to Sergeant. In keeping with all armoured and cavalry units, rank is worn only on the right sleeve.

The origin of this arrangement is unclear. Suggestions vary from 'Queen Victoria preferred all NCOs to wear two chevrons minimum' to the practice of Lance Corporals removing the single chevron from the left sleeve of the dolman as this would be covered by the pelisse. As the RGH does not form part of the Household Division and the pelisse was not worn by NCOs from 1882 (and cavalry wear rank on only one arm in the first instance), both these explanations are probably incorrect.

See also


  1. The eight yeomanry regiments converted to Armoured Car Companies of the Royal Tank Corps (RTC) were:[8]
  2. Other dummy tank "regiments" formed in a similar manner included the 4th Northamptonshire Yeomanry[13] and the 37th, 38th, 39th, 60th, 62nd, 65th, 101st, 102nd, 118th and 124th Royal Tank Regiments.[14]



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