3rd (King’s Own) Hussars

This article on the 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars will:

  • Provide you with an overview of the activities of 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars during the First World War
  • Explain what records are available if you are researching a soldier who served in the Regiment during war

The 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars in the First World War

The 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars was stationed Shorncliffe, Kent when Britain declared war on German on 4 August 1914. The Regiment landed at Rouen, France on 17 August as part of the 4th Cavalry Brigade, Cavalry Division. This Division was redesignated as the 1st Cavalry Division on 16 September 1914 and on 14 October the 4th Cavalry Brigade was transferred to the 2nd Cavalry Division. The 3rd Hussars served with this Brigade and Division for the remainder of the war on the Western Front. The Regiment returned to Britain in September 1919 and was briefly stationed at Longmoor, Hampshire, before the 3rd Hussars moved to Aldershot in November 1919.

Researching a Soldier of the 3rd Hussars who Served in WW1

Start by having a look at my generic guides to researching soldiers who served in the British Army during the First World War. The pages dealing with service and medal records are the most important. I have a page on British Army abbreviations and acronyms which will help you decipher the military jargon. There are four good war diaries which contain many of the Regiment’s casualties and I would recommend downloading them.

Officers: A service record will be the key document to find but unfortunately, not all have survived. If a service record has survived it will either be at the National Archives or if the officer served past April 1922 at the Ministry of Defence: Ordering a Service Record from the MOD. The war diaries of the 3rd Hussars contain the names of many officers of the Regiment, especially if they become casualties. For promotion dates, see my articles on thLondon Gazette and Hart’s Army List. If you are trying to find a photograph of an officer of the 3rd Hussars try the following newspapers: The SphereTatler and Illustrated London New. See my page on Researching Soldiers Using Newspapers.

Lieutenant Samuel Tudor Barr 3rd (King's Own) Hussars

This portrait of Lieutenant Samuel Tudor Barr who was killed in action on 23 February 1915 appeared in The Sphere. If you are searching for a photograph of an officer who became a casualty it is worthwhile looking at The Sphere as it contains thousands of photographs of officers. Samuel was the only son of Sir James Barr, a well-known physician of his day. While no service record survives for Samuel, as an officer casualty he would be easy to research.

Other Ranks: Like for officers, you will need to search for a service record, however, many were destroyed during the Blitz. If the soldier you are researching served past January 1921 then their record will still be held by the Ministry of Defence and you will have to apply for it: Ordering a Service Record from the MOD. If no service record has survived, you will often be able to uncover information from other sources including medal records. The war diary records many of the casualties the Regiment suffered so you will want to have a look at these casualty lists. You can often work out when a soldier enlisted from their regimental number. Newspapers should also be searched especially if you’re looking for casualties or a photograph of a soldier.

Thirteen soldiers of the 3rd Hussars who died between 23 March and 1 April 1918 are commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial. This memorial commemorates over 14,000 British and South African soldiers who died on the Somme between 21 March and 7 August and have no known grave.3rd (King's Own) Hussars Pozieres Memorial To research a soldier who served in the First World War you’ll need to search the records on FindmyPast and Ancestry. Both sites offer free trials and if you like in Britain you can often access them for free at your local library. Clicking on the banner below will take you to Findmypast.

War Diaries of the 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars

All the war diaries listed below have been digitized by the National Archives and can be downloaded for a small fee by clicking on the hyperlinks (the blue text). Overall, the war diaries of the 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars provide an excellent overview of the Regiment’s experiences during the First World War. Also, many (I suspect the majority) of the Regiment’s casualties are recorded in the war diaries.

  • Date: 01 September 1914 – 31 January 1915
  • 4th Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division
  • Reference: WO95/1136/1
  • Notes: A very good war diary which contains long and detailed entries.
  • Date: 01 February 1915 – 31 August 1916
  • 4th Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division
  • Reference: WO95/1136/2
  • Notes: A good war diary with a lot of detailed entries.
  • Date: 01 September 1916 – December 1917
  • 4th Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division
  • Reference: WO95/1136/3
  • Notes: Another good war diary for the 3rd Hussars which contains a variety of appendices. There is an appendix which contains all the casualties sustained by the 3rd Hussars between 20 November and 7 December 1917.
  • Date: 01 January 1918 – March 1919
  • 4th Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division
  • Reference: WO95/1136/4
  • Notes: A good war diary with many detailed entries when the 3rd Hussars is in action. There are a wide variety of appendices including a few rolls of officers. There is a list of casualties sustained by the 3rd Hussars between 21 March and 1 April 1918 and a list of officers who took part in “the counter-attack by the 2nd Cavalry Division on Rifle Wood, 1st April 1918”.
  • Date: 01 April – 30 August 1919
  • Rhine Cavalry Brigade
  • Reference: WO95/1166/7
  • Notes: An average war diary for this period with a variety of appendices including nominal rolls of officers.

Regimental History of the 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars

There is a regimental history: The 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars in the Great War (1914-1919) by Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Temple Willcox. This book was published in 1925 and hasn’t been reprinted so can be difficult to find. There is a copy at the British Library.

Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum contains two collections of private papers related to the Regiment:

  • Photocopy of a 39-page diary kept by James Ashford detailing his service on the Western Front between August 1914 and June 1916: Private Papers of J. Ashford. Documents.14383.
  • Letters written by Colonel John Cecil Petherick who served as the Regiment’s machine gun officer on the Western Front between August 1914 and February 1916: Private Papers of Colonel J. C. Petherick OBE MC: Documents.16591.

Extract from the War Diaries of the 3rd Hussars

01 September 1914 – 31 January 1915, 4th Cavalry Brigade, WO95/1136/1

11 September 1914: 4.30 am: Marched to join the Cavalry Division concentration 1/4 mile north of Breny. Here there was great confusion. Three Cavalry Brigade and a French Cavalry Division all on the same road Breny to Oulchy with result that one brigade did not reach latter place until 8 am. We are now very short of horseshoes and nearly all out horses require shoeing. W have I believe some shoes without transport but we seldom see this and then only in the dark when troops are trying to snatch a few hours sleep.

From Oulchy we moved eastwards to Cugny and crossroads north of Saponay. Thence via Loppeigne to Orme where we arrived 2 pm. Shortly after the rain which had been threatening all day came down in torrents and soaked everyone.

A French battery on our right came into action against enemy at Mont Notre Dame and the 1st Cavalry Brigade on our left was shelling a retiring convoy. About 5.15 pm retired to billets. Considerable confusion, two units allotted same billet, marching and countermarching. Eventually regiment bivouacked in a field in Loppeigne. Most men obtaining shelter in empty houses, sheds etc. Transport and supplies both came up also Lieutenant Turner with 30 remounts in very poor condition.

12 September 1914: 4.45 am: Regiment moved out to cover concentration of Brigade and to carry out to reconnaissance ordered. B Squadron to reconnoitre crossing over the River Vesle fro Bazoches to Corcelles, also high ground 3 miles north of Bazoches. The reports of these reconnaissances were to be handed to Brigade Headquarters at Quincy by 6.30 am. This meant extremely rapid progress but Major Combe was successful despite the late hour at which be received his orders.

The Bridge at Bazoches was intact but held by the enemy therefore the reconnaissance to the north could not progress and the bridge at Corcelles was destroyed. B Squadron had some fighting with hostile cavalry in this vicinity [?] and SSM Smith was shot in the toe, his horse being killed.

At about 7 am the French cavalry on our right retired 2 1/2 miles having suffered considerable loss through tumbling into a trap in the morning. The 4th Cavalry Brigade also moved west to Lesges where it remained in heavy rain till 5 pm. While here Lieutenant Clarke and his troop, reduced to 33 men, who had been missing since the retirement through Solemes August 24th rejoined (this troops had joined the 3rd Cavalry Brigade on the right in ? and had since been continually with the 5th Lancers in the operations of that Brigade sustaining several casualties). In the meantime the 1st Cavalry Brigade was attacking the Germans at Braine and eventually the river crossing there was secured. The 7 Division was already crossing at Bazoches.