20th Hussars

20th Hussars

The 20th Hussars were a regular cavalry regiment in the British Army. In 1922 they were amalgamated with the 14th Hussars to comprise the 14th/20th Hussars, later the 14th/20th King's Hussars. [citation|title=Commanding Change: War Winning Military Strategies for Organizational Change |author= Murray Davies|year= 2001|publisher=Praeger/Greenwood|id=ISBN 0275971104]

History of the 20th Hussars

A number of regiments of Dragoons have carried the title 20th Regiment.The "20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons"', also known as the "20th (Inniskilling) Light Dragoons" was formed in 1760 and disbanded in 1763. In 1779 a new 20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons was raised out of the Dragoon Guards regiments lasting until 1783.

This was followed by the 20th (Jamaica) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons raised in 1792. The regiment served in Jamaica during the Maroon War, 1795-6. It subsequently performed much varied and gallant service. Part of it was present at the capture of the Cape of Good Hope in 1806 and was subsequently employed in South America at Montevideo and Buenos Aires. A portion of the regiment also took part in the descent on Calabria, and was present at the battle of Maida. In 1807 the 3rd Squadron was the sole cavalry detachment present in the Alexandria expedition of 1807. It went to Portugal in 1808, and was much distinguished at Vimiero, where its conduct elicited the warmest praise from Sir Arthur Wellesley. It was also at the capture of Genoa in 1814.In 1805 it was just the 20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons and was disbanded in 1818.


In 1858 after the forces of the British Honourable East India Company were taken over by the Crown and the 2nd Bengal European Light Cavalry were renamed as the "2nd Bengal European Cavalry" and then in 1862 while based in Muttra they were transferred to the British Army and were renamed 20th Hussars. Moving to Sialkot in the Punjab at the beginning of 1863 the regiment was composed of 23 officers and 375 men of whom 100 were volunteers from the 14th Light Dragoons and other cavalry regiments departing from India.

The officers of the 20th had all been in the H.E.I.C.'s service and the majority had served throughout the Indian Mutiny, mostly after their original regiments had mutinied or been disarmed. Two of them, Major A.C. Warner and Captain T.T. Boileau, had served all through the defence of the Residency at Lucknow, one of the key episodes in the unsuccessful rebellion of the Indian Mutiny.

The Regiment's first commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel Henry James Stannus, born in 1824, who entered the H.E.I.C.'s service as a cornet in the 5th Light Cavalry, and with whom he had served in the 1st Afghan War of 1842, the Gwalior campaign of 1843, the 1st and 2nd Sikh Wars of 1845-46 and 1848-9, and the Indian Mutiny campaign. A very experienced veteran he held command of the 20th Hussars for the next 10 years.

The 20th remained on the North West Frontier for the next seven years during which time they participated in the Umbeyla expedition also known as the Eusocf zie Campaign, from October to December 1863 and the Hazara Campaign of October 1868, but were used only to protect the lines of communication.

After the Hazara Campaign, the Regiment moved to Ambala where it remained until 1872 when it was ordered to Bombay for embarkation to England.

Back to Britain

Upon arrival in the United Kingdom the 20th were first stationed at Colchester and then at Aldershot where, in 1874, they received official recognition of their status as descendants of the old 20th Light Dragoons, disbanded in 1819, and therefore entitled to the battle honour "Peninsula" awarded to that regiment. From Aldershot they moved to Brighton in 1877-8 and then to Leeds until 1879 when they were sent to Ireland, initially at Newbridge, for the obligatory tour of duty by British cavalry regiments who were employed to uphold the civil power in that country throughout the 19th century; the 20th were also garrisoned at Cahir and Ballincollig for this purpose.

North Africa

In 1884 two officers and 43 other ranks volunteered to form part of the Light Camel Regiment raised for service in Egypt against the forces of the Mahdi in the Nile Campaign. In February 1885 two squadrons left Portsmouth to take part in the Suakin Expedition, landing at Suakin in March. Here they were occupied in patrol work and escorting convoys and fought a number of small actions as well as taking part in the battles of Hasheen on the 20th March, 1885 and Tofrek, two days later. One squadron distinguished itself by saving many of the baggage animals and their drivers, who had been stampeded and were in danger of being wiped out by Dervishes.

The remainder of the Regiment arrived at Aswan in August, 1885 and three squadrons were present at the Battle of Ginnis on the 30th December in that year. During 1887 the 20th left Aswan and returned home in batches leaving in Egypt one squadron which, under Lieutenant Colonel Fraser, took part in the Battle of Gemaizah on the 20th December, 1888 where they made three charges against the Dervishes.

In August, 1889 the same squadron went up the Nile and took part in the decisive Battle of Toski on the 3rd August, in which they carried out a charge and pursuit of the fleeing enemy. This squadron then left for home and arrived back in Aldershot in 1890. For their services in Egypt the Regiment received the battle honour "Suakin 1885" and also that of "Vimiera" in respect of the earlier services of its predecessor, the old 20th Light Dragoons.

The Boer War

The 20th remained in England until 1896, being garrisoned successively at Woolwich, Norwich, Aldershot and Colchester, and then returned to India where they served uneventfully for the next six years, being stationed throughout this time at Mhow, until they were sent to South Africa to take part in the closing stages of the Boer War. Here they took part in Kitchener's operations against the Boer "commandos" of Transvaal and Orange Free State, participating in the fighting of the early months of 1902.

The 20th was at Heilbron in the Orange Free State when peace was declared in May, 1902. Owing to their late arrival in the theatre of operations their casualties were light in the extreme; just eight other ranks lost.

Egypt, England and Ireland

In 1903 the 20th moved from South Africa to Egypt but stayed there for only a year before returning home in 1904, when they were stationed at Brighton with a detachment at Canterbury. In 1906 the 20th relieved the 14th Hussars at Shorncliffe Camp and remained there until 1908 when they undertook another tour of Ireland, being garrisoned at the Curragh. After returning from Ireland in 1911 the 20th was sent to Colchester, being in the 5th Cavalry Brigade with the Scots Greys and 12th Lancers, and it was there that they received orders to mobilize on the 4th August, 1914.

First World War

They crossed to France on the 17th August, 1914 with a strength of 24 officers and 519 rank and file to join the rest of the "contemptible little army". The 20th Hussars formed part of the British cavalry that covered the gap between the British Expeditionary Force and the French 5th Army. The regiment

They arguably took part in the first cavalry action of the First World War. [citation|title=20th Hussars in the Great War |author= Major J. C. Darling |year= 2003|publisher=Naval & Military Press |id=ISBN 1843425386] , and became involved in actions that were typical of the role played by cavalry in the great war, the retreat from Mons, the battles of Marne and Aisne and the First battle of Ypres all saw the regiment involved and infantry fighting from the trenches in the Messines area. A battle at Bourlon Wood was complemented with 5 officers and 218 other ranks from the 20th and the regiment saw more dismounted action at Gouzeaucourt in 1917. Foot actions to stem the enemy advance followed the German Spring Offensive of 1918. A return to horses saw the regiment in support of infantry actions as the allied tide turned and the Germans started the return to Germany.

After the war and amalgamation

After the occupation the regiment returned to England for a short while before moving on to Egypt in 1919.

A nationalist uprising in Turkey caused the allies to send troops to Constantinople, now Istanbul, and the 20th Hussars found themselves on the Izmit peninsula in 1920 as part of General Ironside's command. The regiment charged Turkish positions near the village of Gebze and successfully routed the enemy. Although mounted action did take place in Syria during World War II, this was the last regimental charge ever made by British cavalry. [pp. 349-52, Marquess of Anglesey]

The 20th were relieved by 3rd Hussars in October 1920 and knowing that amalgamation loomed transferred some 225 men to the 3rd.Fact|date=June 2007 Another 118 men transferred to the 11th Hussars before the remainder of the regiment returned to England and in 1922 lost their separate identity when they were amalgamated with the 14th King's Hussars to become the 14th/20th Hussars.

Uniform and Customs of the 20th Hussars

The newly-formed 20th Hussars of 1862 wore the usual dark-blue, yellow frogged tunic with leather-strapped overalls. The tall black-brown busby displayed a crimson bag and plume and the gold-laced officers' sabretache had a crimson cloth face. In accordance with Dress Regulations, the throat plumes of the officers' horses were to be crimson but there is a small mystery in connection with this item.

In 1912, the Adjutant of the Regiment was perusing the latest edition of Dress Regulations and observed that the throat plume for the 20th was indicated as crimson. He, therefore. fired off a letter to the War Office stating that the regulations were wrong as the Regiment's throat plume was yellow and asking for them to be amended. A somewhat stiff letter came back from the War Office asserting that the Dress Regulations were not wrong and that consequently all the officers of the 20th Hussars were improperly dressed.

There followed a flurry of letters to and fro between the Regiment and the War Office, the Regiment pleading that to change the plumes to crimson would involve the officers in considerable expense and that the yellow ones had been worn "as long as anyone could remember". It transpired that at some time in the dim past, one of the 20th's commanding officers had decided that the crimson throat plumes did not present a very pleasing appearance and, without seeking permission and entirely on his own authority, had changed them to yellow. Eventually, the War Office conceded the point and allowed the yellow plumes to remain: this decision may have been influenced by the fact that the Regiment's busby plumes had also been altered (officially, this time) from crimson to yellow in 1892. The yellow plume thus became representative of the Regiment and their individuality and the Regimental journal of the 20th Hussars was consequently named The Yellow Plume.

For undress purposes, a dark-blue stable jacket was worn by all ranks, that of the officers being decorated with gold lace, the appropriate headgear for this order of dress being the dashing, if useless, pill-box forage cap; this had a gold lace band for officers and senior NCOs and a yellow lace band for the rank.

Battle honours

*Vimiera, Peninsula, Suakin 1885, South Africa 1901-02
*The Great War2: Mons, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, Messines 1914, Ypres 1914 1915, Neuve Chapelle, St. Julien, Bellewaarde, Arras 1917, Scarpe 1917, Cambrai 1917, 1918, Somme 1918, St. Quentin, Lys, Hazebrouck, Amiens, Albert 1918, Bapaume 1918, Hindenburg Line, St. Quentin Canal, Beaurevoir, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18

British bases

*1904 – Brighton, England
*1906 – Shorncliffe
*1908 – Curragh, Ireland:
*1911 – Colchester, England
*August 1914 – France and Flanders 5 Cav Bde, 2 Cav Div, BEF

Other notes

*A Squadron in the 14th/20th, 14th/20th King's Hussars and now the King's Royal Hussars remains the 20th Hussar squadron.
*The Museum of the 20th Hussars is the 14th/20th King's Hussars Museum Collection, Lancashire County and Regimental Museum, Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom (Army Museums Ogilby Trust).
*The nickname of the 20th Hussars is “Nobody’s Own”.
*The cap badge of the 20th Hussars is formed of an XHX with a crown above the centre H.
*The 20th Hussars were often referred to as the XXth Hussars or the XX's.



* The Marquess of Anglesey, History of the British Cavalry, 1816-1919, volume 8, Leo Cooper, London, 1997

External links

* [http://www.regiments.org/regiments/uk/cav/D20b(H).htm Regiments.org]

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