In Collaboration With Charles Griffin



Regimental History
A few months after Brudenell took over, the 11th returned from India with only 224 fit men. Through his efforts and high expenditure the regiment was brought up to strength and mounted on the best horses. They were also armed with the new percussion carbines and brilliantly turned out. Being a smart unit and being based in Kent they were the ideal choice to escort the dashing German Prince Albert from Dover when he arrived in England to marry Victoria. They also formed part of the escort on their wedding day. Albert was so impressed that he adopted the 11th as his own regiment and the Queen directed that they convert to hussars. The new title became the 11th (or Prince Albert's Own) Hussars.

The new uniform consisted of a fur busby with crimson bag, blue dolman and pelisse and crimson trousers with double yellow stripes. The colour of the trousers, adopted from the Saxe-Coburg livery, was described as cherry and Lord Cardigan referred to his men as Cherry-Bums. This fitted very well with the dubious regimental nickname of 'Cherrypickers' which had been acquired in the Peninsula when a troop of the 11th had been forced to hide in cherry trees to avoid the French.

Black Bottle
Cardigan picked quarrels with those officers who had served throughout the Indian campaign. One of these was Captain John Reynolds who produced a dark bottle of Moselle at a mess dinner, at the request of the visiting General Sleigh. Cardigan assumed that Reynolds was drinking un-decanted porter at table and exploded with fury, shouting "BLACK BOTTLE" at the poor man. The next day Reynolds was under arrest and curiously, General Sleigh who had ordered the Moselle in the first place, backed Cardigan. Reynold's career would have been totally destroyed if the press had not published the story and caused a national outcry.

This incident and many more like it, including his duels, brought calls for Cardigan's removal but he was saved by the Queen because of his noble birth and because it was Albert's own regiment. Cardigan retained direct involvement in the regiment even after his promotion to Major-General on 20th June 1853.

Crimea
Lord Cardigan
Charge of the Light Brigade

The excitement caused by the announcement of war in the Crimea in 1853 was in direct contrast to the horrendous experience of the soldiers sent out. The 11th Hussars provided two squadrons, 250 men in all, under the command of Lt Col Douglas. The cavalry, commanded overall by Lord Lucan were in two brigades, Heavy and Light. The Light Brigade under Cardigan's command consisted of the 8th and 11th Hussars, the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons and the 17th Lancers. The main base for the British and French Army was at Varna on the western side of the Black Sea. The conditions were bad and many died from cholera and dysentry.

Although the reason for going to war was abating, Lord Raglan, the Allied commander made the decision to go ahead. the regiment, like the rest of the army crossed the Black sea by ship in September 1853, landing at Calamita bay. Because the weather was still hot, the hussars were ordered to leave their fur-edged pelisse jackets on board. This was later regretted as the temperature dropped. They would also have been useful in the fateful Charge; a pelisse worn over the jacket would have given the men that extra bit of protection.

The march south to Sevastapol was hot and dusty. Preparations had been very lax and the men suffered badly from hunger and thirst . The cavalry were present at the Battle of the Alma but were not sent into action.

After Balaclava
The siege of Sevastapol and the battle of Inkerman did not involve the cavalry to any degree. The worst part of the war was yet to come as winter set in causing great hardship to the under-supplied soldiers. They lived with mud, cold and cholera. Cardigan returned home in December, a sick and 'broken-hearted' man, having no brigade to command. The Crimean War was to be a turning point in how the the British Army was run. The casualties sustained by the 11th during the two year war were 109 men and 5 officers. The number killed in the Charge was about 30 leaving the number having died from Cholera or other diseases as about 85.
India 1866-1877
Black Mountain
Black Mountains
The 11th served in India for 11 years and earned themselves a good reputation whilst there. They had two fine commanding officers, Charles Fraser VC up until 1873, and then Arthur Lyttleton-Annesley. They were also fortunate to have a very efficient adjutant, Lieut. St John Taylor for 10 of those years. Two of the squadrons were mounted on bays while the third was on greys. They always had glowing inspection reports and were praised for ‘the cordial good feeling which prevails throughout all ranks, and the almost total absence of crime' In 1879, when they returned to England, the Inspector-General of Cavalry told them ‘I have seen several regiments return from India, but yours is the best I have seen'.
1877 - 1914
Camel Corps
Gordon Relief
For the rest of the century the 11th served in England and South Africa (1890-92) without particular distinction. They did send a contingent with the Light Camel Regiment sent as part of the Gordon Relief Expedition of 1884. In 1899 Captain Harrison and Lieutenant FitzGerald and 108 men of the 11th served in the Boer war. They were dismounted and were present at Ladysmith during the siege. The regiment spent much of the war in Egypt, an anticlimax to a century that started so energetically.
World War One
The 11th sailed from Southampton to France on the 15th August 1914 and were Commanded by Lt-Col T T Pitman. 'C' Squadron was commanded by Major W J Lockett, 'A' Squadron by Captain A B Lawson and 'B' Squadron by Captain J A Halliday. There were 26 officers, 523 NCOs and men, and 608 horses.

The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) under Field Marshal Sir John French was on the left of the 5 French armies. The cavalry were commanded by Major-General Allenby and the 11th were in the 1st Cavalry Brigade, heading towards Mons. The area round Mons was secured but a forced night march was made when the cavalry were ordered further west.

When the right flank of the British army was exposed by the French reversal, the great retreat from Mons began. This was a fraught and ardous movement for everyone and morale was low because things seemed to be going so well at Mons. Units became cut off from their parent unit. 'A' Squadron, under Capt Lawson had lost more than two thirds of his men and were fired on by British troops as well as German. He found 30 of them when he rejoined the regiment. One man, Private Patrick Fowler of the 11th was lost for most of the war and hid with a French family until October 1918.

Nery
Nery
Cavalry Charge, 1914
The 1st Cavalry Brigade reached Nery, south of Compiegne (50 miles north east of Paris) on 31st August 1914. They were with the Queen's Bays, the 5th Dragoon Guards and 'L' Battery RHA. The Allied lines were supposed to be linked up but a gap had formed between II and III Corps at Nery where the cavalry were. A large force, numbering thousands, of German cavalry approached Nery through the forest of Compiegne. They heavily outnumbered the British cavalry but were tired after a long night march.

At 4.15am on 1st September 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. Surprisingly the Germans retreated but it had given the British position away and Col Pitman ordered defensive positions to be prepared.

They came under heavy artillery bombardment and machine-gun fire which stampeded the horses and knocked out most of 'L' Battery. The 5th DG under the command of Lt-Col Ansell were ordered to counter-attack the flank and rear of the Germans. Captain Lawson reinforced the depleted Bays in the main street of Nery and went to see what had happened to 'L' battery. He found them wiped out except for Battery Sergeant-Major Dorrell and Sergeant Nelson working one gun alone. They were both awarded a VC.

The 5th DG came across a large mass of German cavalry and caught them unawares with a dismounted display of fire-power. This un-nerved the Germans who were unsure of the size of the British force. In the south of the village, the two machine guns of the 11th under Lt Kavanagh, held off the German advance together with the Bays' Maxims. Their sustained fire, plus the positioning of a ravine, proved the last straw for the Germans and they began to retreat.

Pitman ordered 'C' Squadron to pursue them and capture their guns. The leading troop under Lt. Norrie made a brilliant cavalry charge, with drawn swords, against the Germans and captured 8 guns, 2 machine-guns and many prisoners. By this time reinforcements were arriving in the form of the 1st battalion The Middlesex Regiment.

The 11th had been very lucky in losing only 2 men wounded and 2 horses, mostly because Col Pitman and his second in command, Major Anderson had made good use of strong farm walls to protect the regiment rather than place them in the open. The German division that had lost at Nery had to be held back and caused problems for von Gluck's army and eventual German failure on the Marne.

Messines
First World War Trench
Trench
The region right in the north of France near Lille and the Belgian border was where the 11th fought their next historic battle. It was part of the BEFs struggle to hold the line at Ypres. Between October 19th and 23rd 1914 the 11th fought successfully in the Ploegsteert area, helping to stop the advance of 3 German cavalry divisions. Then Allenby ordered them to a small Belgian village called Messines which stood at the southern end of a ridge 2 miles south-east of Wystschaete. The Messines Ridge offered a good vantage point over the surrounding flat countryside and it was a barrier to the Germans wishing to pass south of Ypres.

The 11th were no longer mounted. They fought in the trenches just like the infantry. At the end of October the Germans brought in 6 new divisions to make an all-out assault on the British line between Messines and Gheluvelt. The British were heavily outnumbered. On the 30th Oct a heavy German bombardment of Messines stared at 8am. Capt Halliday staggered into the HQ shelter to report the destruction of 'B' Squadron's trench and that half of them had been buried. Sergeant T Frane had managed to rally the remainder, earning himself a DCM.

At 5pm the 11th were relieved by the 9th Lancers. The big German attack came the next day, Oct 31st at 4.30am. They drove back the 57th Rifles, an Indian regiment, but a counter-attack by the 57th, 5DG and 'C' Squadron under Captain Lakin regained lost ground. The town came under attack from infantry as well as artillery fire. One of the 11th's machine-guns proved very effective from a top window in one of the buildings. This was a dangerous place to be as houses all around were being destroyed. The shelling devastated regimental HQ where most of the senior officers, including Col Pitman were wounded.

The town was now a place where every man fought with rifle and bayonet. The streets were barricaded and holes hacked in walls to shoot through. Luckily the 11th prided itself on more than it's fair share of marksmen, so their firing with the new Mark III Lee Enfield rifle was deadly. The battle lasted for two days until Nov 1st when the Germans succeeded in capturing Messines, but they had paid a heavy price.

Second Ypres
During April 1915 the Germans started using poison gas, as if the bombardments and the rain and mud weren't enough. On 13th May, the 11th, commanded now by Major Anderson, were just east of Ypres at Potijze Chateau, still brigaded with the Bays and 5DG who were entrenched 600 yards in front. Two troops under Lt Norrie were reinforcing them when a severe bombardment destroyed the 5DG trenches. They suffered badly and were ordered back to the reserve trenches, Norrie stayed in place. Captain Lawson was given the task of re-taking the lost position. He reached the trench with 'A' Squadron and took control of the mixed regimental troops to repair and defend the trench in very difficult circumstances.

On May 24th 1915 the 11th had a very lucky escape when an enormous cloud of gas passed over them when they were in the Hooge-Menin Road area. The 5th Bn Durham Light Infantry and 9th Lancers weren't so lucky. Col Pitman commanded the Brigade while Lt Col Anderson commanded the regiment. Communications were cut so Pitman acted on his own account. The fighting was intense that day with the Germans crossing the Menin Road and then being driven back. Hooge was held due to the hard fighting on the part of the 11th along with the DLI and 9th Lancers under Capt Grenfell VC. At one stage, Corporal Skipper and Captain Lawson were catching German grenades and throwing them back. For the 11th Hussars, the battle of 2nd Ypres had cost the lives of 3 officers and 24 other ranks, 40 officers and men wounded.

The rest of the war was spent absorbing new recruits, training on horses in case the cavalry was needed, and spells in the trenches. When tanks were introduced the cavalry regiments were not involved in their use, that would come later. The regiment was 200 strong with 12 officers by March 1918. They were at Villecholles, east of Vermand. This is the point where the order to retire caused men to panic, but thanks to the steadfast Major of the Argylls the retreat became more orderly. The 11th were temporarily commanded by Captain Luke White who kept a cool head and encouraged his men to return fire to cover the retreat.

Sailly Laurette and Hamel
Later in March the 1st Cavalry Division were ordered to hold at all cost, the ground between the Somme and the Ancre. The fighting was so hard around Sailly Laurette that the 11th were pulled back across the Somme to hold the line at Hamel to block the German advance on Amiens. Later, Col Anderson led a bayonet assault of Sailly Laurette with 120 men which took the Germans by surprise and won the day. There were attempts to retake the village but they were repulsed by the accurate shooting of RSM Upton. The first four Germans that tried to cross the bridge were picked off by his rifle. This action earned the regiment great praise from all quarters. At the end of march there was one more terrible battle in defence of Hamel. Some describe the German bombardment as the worst the regiment had felt throughout the whole war. Hand-to-hand fighting followed but the front was stabilised and Amiens saved. This battle, lasting 2 weeks had cost the 11th three officers and 24 other ranks killed and 86 officers and men wounded.

The 11th were in Lens, a small village near Mons when hostilities ceased at 1100hrs on 11th November 1918. The whole war had seen 163 of them killed, 337 wounded and 60 taken prisoner. They went into Germany on the 1st Dec and returned to England in March 1919.

Between the wars
The next few months in Aldershot were spent building up an entirely new regiment because of demobilisation and retirement. So the regiment that sailed for Egypt consisted mostly of new recruits. They then served in India from October 1921 to January 1926 under the command of Lt-Col W J Lockett. Before they left England, they acquired a new Colonel-in-Chief, HRH The Duke of York. They returned to England and served there until 1934. During this time they undertook the greatest change in the regiment's lifetime - they became mechanised.
Mechanisation
The 11th Hussars and 12th Lancers were the first two cavalry regiments to swap their horses for armoured vehicles. It was a shattering blow because they had been a mounted regiment for 213 years. Up until then, the operation of tanks and armoured cars was carried out by the Royal Tank Corps, but it was felt that the age of the horse in warfare was over so the cavalry would need a more up-to-date modus operandi. There was much training to be done, maintenance, weapons, wireless and tactics so it was just as well that there was a long delay before the first vehicles arrived. The first to come were Rolls-Royces in January 1929 and a new Lanchester was delivered on 25th June 1929 followed 3 weeks later by one more. However, by the end of the year the regiment was equipped with 16 two-seater Austin 7s, 30 Triumph moteorcycles, and some Crossley and Leyland six wheelers. Altogether they had 117 vehicles.

By 1934 the peace-time establishment was laid down as follows: RHQ. 'C', 'A' and 'B' squadrons, each consisting of HQ and 3 Troops. 21 officers, 34 NCOs, 380 rank and file, total 435. There were 38 armoured cars , 30 motor-cycles and 31 lorries and other vehicles.

Egypt 1934-1939
Cairo 1937
Helmieh Camp
The regiment had been in England from 1926 to 1934, a very busy time, converting the regiment to armoured cars. On 15th November 1934 they sailed from Southampton to Alexandria in Egypt. They were to spend the next 4 years alternating between Egypt and Palestine. These years aclimatised the regiment to hot conditions. Little did they know that this was to prove so useful in the first 3 or 4 years of World War 2. They were stationed at Helmieh near Cairo under the command of Lt-Col John Galbraith.
Abyssinian Crisis 1935
Mussolini's North African empire included Cyrenaica which bordered on Egypt. The Italians had built the 'Wire' on the border. This was an entanglement 6 foot high and 30 feet broad. It ran for 150 miles south from the Mediterrenean. In 1935 Mussolini moved Libyan troops to the Wire which caused alarm for the British. A 'Mobile Force' was set up to defend the Western Desert but it became bogged down in the Mersa Matruh area. They had become the 'Immobile Force'. The threat of war receded, thankfully, but the crisis did throw light on the deficiencies of the army and gave the 11th a sense of urgency. As the reconnaissance regiment of the 7th Armoured Division they created a confidential coloured map of the desert indicating which type of vehicle would best suit a particular area.
Palestine 1936
The Arab Rebellion erupted in April 1936 as a result of the rise in Jewish immigration brought on by Hitler and Stalin's purges. Another factor was the dissatisfaction with British rule and the fact that, since the Abyssinian crisis, the British didn't look that hard to pick a fight with. The rebellion had reached the stage of guerilla warfare by the time the 11th arrived in July. At first the RHQ was at Nablus from where they provided military escorts through bandit country in the central hill massif. This type of work gave great responsibility to Troop units acting on their own, negotiating minefields and under fire. The RAF were responsible over all for military security and they covered the South. The 11th were spread out in the north; 'C' squadron operated in the Galilean Hills, 'A' squadron, at Nablus, operated down to Deir Sharaf, and 'B' based at the hornet's nest of Jenin covered Deir Sharaf to Affula.
There was a big engagement on September 3rd 1936 on the Nablus-Tulkarm road near 'Windy Corner'. It went on all day and involved the shooting down of an RAF plane, the deaths of 3 infantrymen and wounding of 8. Sergeant Harry Petch was in command of 2 armoured cars escorting an ambulance to Nablus. It was night and he spotted a trip-wire in his headlights a few inches above the road surface. He got out under a hail of bullets and managed to disarm the lethal booby-trap device and bring it back to base. He continued with his escort duty and was awarded the DCM. He ended World War 2 as a major and Squadron leader with an MC.

The regiment returned to Egypt in October to carry on with reconnaissance work and building on the connection they had formed with the RAF (208 Army Co-operation Squadron). RAF personnel travelled in 11th Hussar vehicles while Hussars flew in RAF Lysanders for a better view of their areas. Due to a resurgence of the Arab troubles, the regiment shuttled back and forth between Egypt and Palestine until 1939.

Badge
Badges
Official Name
Prince Albert's Own
Motto
Treu und Fest
Faithful and strong
Nicknames
The Cherrypickers
Lord Cardigan's Bloodhounds
The Cherubims
Colonels-in-Chief
1840 - 1969
Colonels
1840 - 1969
Lieutenant-Colonels
1840 - 1969
Soldiers
1840 - 1969
Sabretaches
1840 - 1901
Pouchbelts
1840 - 1969
Drumhorses
1840 - 1969
Vehicles
1920 - 1969
Uniforms
1840 - 1969
Battle Honours
1840 - 1969
Campaigns
Crimean War
Regimental Anniversary
El Alamein Day
23rd October
Marches
Quick: Moses in Egypt
Slow: Coburg
Predecessor Units
11th Dragoons
1715 - 1783
11th Light Dragoons
1783 - 1840
Successor Units
The Royal Hussars
1969 - 1992
King's Royal Hussars
1992 -
Suggested Reading
The 11th Hussars
by Richard Brett-Smith (Leo Cooper: 1993)
Light Dragoon
by G R Gleig 1850
The Eleventh at war, 1934-1945
by D Clarke, 1952
The Historical Records of the 11th Hussars
by G T Williams, 1908
History of the 11th Hussars 1908-1934
by L R Lumley, 1936
Museum
Peninsula Barracks, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 8TS
Tel: 01962 863751





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by Stephen Luscombe