This article is about the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers in the First World War and will also help you research a soldier who served with the Regiment. In addition to this article, I have written a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served in the British Army during the war:
I offer a First World War Soldier Research Service.
9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers in the First World War
The 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers was stationed at Tidworth, Wiltshire when Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914. The Regiment was quickly mobilized and landed at Boulogne, France on 15 August 1914 as part of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade, Cavalry Division which became the 1st Cavalry Division on 16 September 1914. The Regiment served in this formation for the duration of the war on the Western Front. The 9th Lancers returned to Tidworth from France in September 1919.
When the Regiment landed at Boulogne it was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Sir David Graham Muschet Campbell, nicknamed “Soarer” after the horse on which he had won the Grand National in 1896. The 9th Lancers took part in two charges early in the war, at Audregnies on 24 August 1914 and Moncel on 7 September 1914. The charge by part of the Regiment on 7 September is noteworthy as it was the last lance on lance cavalry charge of the British Army. Lieut-Colonel Campbell who led the successful charge was shot, lanced, and thrown from his horse. Campbell told the medical officer attending him who found him sprawled out in a patch of clover that “I’ve just had the best quarter of an hour I’ve ever had in my life!”.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Graham Muschet Campbell, known as “Soarer” Campbell who commanded the 9th Lancers in the opening stages of the war. Campbell was a Major when this photograph was taken and wears the Queen’s South Africa Medal and King’s South Africa Medal.
Researching a Soldier who Served in the 9th Lancers in WW1
I have a large number of guides on my Researching Soldiers who Served in the British Army page which you should look at first. The most important pages are those detailing how to find surviving service and medal records, along with my page of British Army abbreviations and acronyms. The war diaries which I have discussed below should be downloaded as they will provide a lot of information not found elsewhere. I’d also recommend combining the war diaries with the regimental history The Ninth Queen’s Royal Lancers, 1715-1936 by Major E. W. Sheppard.
Officers: Hopefully, a service record has survived which will either be located at the National Archives ( I offer a copying service for these files) or held by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). If an officer served past April 1922 then the MOD should hold the record and you can use my guide to help you order: Ordering a Service Record from the MOD. Download the war diaries which I have mentioned below and have a look through as officers are frequently mentioned. Also, look at my articles on searching the London Gazette, and Hart’s Army List. You can usually find out a lot of information for a cavalry officer.
This portrait of Lieutenant Charles Garstin appeared in The Sphere after he was killed in action on 24 August 1914. If you are looking for an officer casualty I would recommend searching The Sphere which has been digitized and is available to view on FindmyPast.
Other Ranks: A service record is the most important document to find but unfortunately, many were destroyed in the Blitz. If a soldier served past January 1921 then their service record should still be with the Ministry of Defence: Ordering a Service Record from the MOD. If no service file survives then it could be that only medal records have: Medal Records. If you know a soldier’s regimental number you can often work out an approximate enlistment date.
To research a soldier who served in the First World War you’ll need to use both FindmyPast and Ancestry. Both sites offer free trials and clicking on the link below will take you to FindmyPast. If you live in Britain, you can often access the sites for free at your local library.
War Diaries of the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers
Both war diaries have been digitized and can be downloaded from the National Archives’ for a small fee by clicking on the blue links below.
- Date: 15 August 1914 – 31 March 1919
- 2nd Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
- Reference: WO95/1113/2
- Notes: A good war diary which contains a wide variety of appendices and is over 400 pages in length.
- Date: 01 April – 31 August 1919
- Rhine Cavalry Brigade
- Reference: WO95/1166/12
- Notes: A slightly more detailed post-war diary than is usually found. There are no appendices.
Regimental History of the 9th Lancers
The Ninth Queen’s Royal Lancers, 1715-1936 by Major E. W. Sheppard has been reprinted by the Naval and Military Press. A good history which devoted around 100 of its 500 pages to the Regiment’s service in the First World War. Contains useful information for the pre and post-war years which can be difficult to find elsewhere. Combine the book with the war diaries for the best results.
Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum holds the following documents relating to the Regiment:
The Private Papers of Alfred Wells: Documents.18542. Alfred was a reservist called back to the Colours on the outbreak of war and served as part of C Squadron between August and December 1914 when he was wounded. After the war, he wrote an account of his experiences based on notes he kept at the time. The first forty pages or so recounts his experiences with the 9th Lancers with the IWM museum catalogue providing a good description of contents.
The Private Papers of Captain B. J. N. Marden: Documents.14292. Photocopy of a diary Marden kept while serving on the Western Front in 1914 which contains “vivid descriptions”.
The Private Papers of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Rex Benson DSO MVO MC: Documents.13475. The catalogue records that amongst the “extensive collection of cyclostyled copies” are operational reports for the 9th Lancers for October 1914.
The Private Papers of Frederick Arthur Randall: Documents.14412. Letters written by Randall as a Trumpeter with the Regiment. He was killed in action during the Second Battle of Ypres in May 1915.
Further Sources for the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers
The war diaries of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade Headquarters which have been digitized by the National Archives. These diaries contain additional information not found in the 9th Lancers’ war diary in particular regarding the location of working parties and the Regiment’s movements. If you are researching the Regiment in-depth then they are worthwhile. They are available to view on Ancestry.
At the British Library: Collections 293A/5 Assault and murder of a native cook by soldiers of 9th Lancers: Parliamentary Question, punishment inflicted etc. IOR/L/MIL/7/13234. This was a very well known case of the period, when Atu “a native who had been engaged to cook for regiment, was brutally assaulted just outside barracks of 9th Lancers by two soldiers” on 9 April 1902. Atu later died of his injuries and the officers of the Regiment showed no interest in finding the culprits, or once they were known in bringing them to justice.
A good book to add context to the Regiment’s service after 1914 is Horsemen in No Man’s Land: British Cavalry and Trench Warfare 1914-1918 by David Kenyon.
Extract from the War Diary of the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers
Below is a transcription of one of the appendixes contained in the war diary of the 9th Lancers. The writer was R. H. Grace the Brigade Major of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade and the report was written at Le Plessis on 28 August 1914.
Report on the action at Audregnies: Monday 24 August 1914
After the withdrawal of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade from Thulin in the evening of the 23rd August it fell back to Marliere, holding the line of the railway, 1 mile to the North with 2 regiments.
On the morning of the 24th at 4 am a reconnaissance squadron 9th Lancers was sent to Thulin with orders to patrol north to the canal. At 7 a.m German infantry supported by artillery advanced to the Mons-Valenciennes road, where it was checked by the Brigade supported by L Battery, Royal Horse Artillery in position at the first E of Elouges.
Before the cavalry division moved SW about 10.30 am, my orderly officer, Lieutenant Armstong, 10th Hussars took a message from the Divisional Headquarters to the General Officer Commanding, 5th Division. An hour later he returned with a message to the effect that the 5th Division required the support of the Cavalry Division on the left flank, to enable it to retire. In consultation with the General Officer Commanding, 3rd Cavalry Brigade. I decided to halt at Angre until the General Officer Commanding Division has received this message, and signalled to the 18th Hussars (less 1 squadron) then holding Audregnies to remain there.
On the return of the General Officer Commanding Division he ordered me to reoccupy the position w had vacated north of that town. On arrival there myself with the 18th Hussars and L Battery Royal Horse Artillery. I directed Major Slater Brooke to take up a good position for his battery. Before this was accomplished a strong counterattack was seen advancing South East from Quievrain and a heavy infantry fire opened at a range of 800 yards.
I rode back to the village where I met Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell Commanding 9th Lancers and ordered him at all costs to check the hostile advance adding “It may even be necessary for your regiment to charge”. I then rode to meet the 4th Dragoon Guards and ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Mullins to support the 9th Lancers with his regiment and to assume charge of the defence on the North East of the river until my return.
I then rode West to give the situation to the General Officer Commanding Division whom I met shortly afterwards. Just then I saw the 3 Squadrons of the 9th Lancers charge the German infantry. The charge was well led and gallantry executed by all squadrons. The actual effect was marred by a wire fence between the squadrons and the enemy. The moral effect was complete. The enemy did not advance beyond the wire for 4 hours and gave time for the 5th Division to retire in good order.
I then returned to the town and withdrew units in succession.
L Battery magnificently handled by Major Sclater Booth did great execution on the German infantry and in spite of concentrated artillery fire from several batteries of the enemy withdrew in perfect order after firing all its ammunition. By its support I was able to withdraw all my squadrons in action to a position from where they could retire with small loss.
Later I marched to the South for 3 miles and then West to billets in Ruesnes having with me L Battery and about 150 men, the bulk of the Brigade having joined the Division earlier in the afternoon. My losses were heavy and although unable to obtain accurate particulars owing to the continuous fighting ever since, I do not think they will exceed 20 per cent of my strength.
I wish specially to bring to the notice of the General Officer Commanding the very gallant conduct of the 9th Lancers and L Battery Royal Horse Artillery and to bring forward the following names:
9th Lancers: Lieut-Col. D. Campbell, Capt. Lucas Tooth, Capt. F. Grenfell.
Royal Horse Artillery: Maj. Hon. Sclater Booth.