9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers

This article on the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers in the First World War will help you research both the Regiment and a soldier who served in it. 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:

The 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers in the First World War

When Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers was stationed at Tidworth, Wiltshire. Ordered to mobilize shortly afterwards, the Regiment landed at Boulogne France on 15 August with a strength of 27 officers, 523 other ranks and 611 horses. The Regiment was part of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade, in which it served for the duration of the war on the Western Front. This Brigade was part of the Cavalry Division which was redesignated as the 1st Cavalry Division on 16 September 1914. The Regiment returned to Tidworth from France in September 1919. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded that between 24 August 1914 and 4 November 1918, 271 soldiers of the Regiment died.

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 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. Campbell who led the successful charge was shot, lanced, and thrown from his horse. He 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!”.

David Soarer Campbell 9th Lancers

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 the First World War

I have a large number of generic guides on researching soldiers who served in the British Army, regardless of their regiment or corps. Those on service and medal records are the most important to look at first. My page on abbreviations and acronyms will help you with the large amount of military jargon you’ll encounter. The most important sources to consult when researching the regiment are its war diaries and regimental history, The Ninth Queen’s Royal Lancers, 1715-1936 by Major E. W. Sheppard. Both are discussed below.

Officers: Hopefully, a service record has survived which will either be located at the National Archives 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. The Regiment’s war diaries discussed below, contain frequent mentions of officers throughout its pages. For promotion dates, awards and honours, search for the officer in the London Gazette. However, it’s search engine is very poor and you may have to try combinations of an officer’s name to get results. For pre-war officers, it’s worth looking at a copy of Hart’s Army List. Due to the social status of most cavalry officers, newspaper searches often bring good results, especially if they were awarded a gallantry medal or became a casualty.

Charles Garstin 9th (Queen's Royal) LancersThis 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: 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 record survives then providing the soldier served outside of Britain and Ireland, there will be medal records. Other important sources of information to check include casualty lists, the recently digitized pension records held by the Western Front Association and Silver War Badge records. If you know a soldier’s regimental number, you may be able to work out when they joined the Regiment or Corps of Lancers. You have to be careful as prior to 1907, all lancer regiments numbered their recruits separately before all drawing from the same numbering block. If you know a soldier’s date of birth, you can often work out which numbering series is more likely based on their age.

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

A war diary was written by an officer of a unit and recorded its location and activities. They often contain appendices in the form of orders, battle reports and maps. Both the 9th Lancers’ war diaries have been digitized and they can be downloaded from the National Archives’ website 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: WO 95/1113/2
  • 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: WO 95/1166/12
  • 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 catalogue entry providing a good description of contents.

The Private Papers of Captain Basil Jack Newton 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. Randall was killed in action during the Second Battle of Ypres on 13 May 1915 and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Further Sources for the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers

The war diaries of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade Headquarters will be a further source of information for all units serving with the formation. They have also been digitized by the National Archives and are available to download for a small fee. 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 there is: 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.

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 24th 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 am 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 ? east of Elouges.

Before the cavalry division moved southwest about 10:30 am, my orderly officer, Lieutenant Armstrong, 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 had 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 we 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 Mullens 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: Lieutenant-Colonel D. Campbell, Captain. Lucas Tooth, Captain F. Grenfell.

Royal Horse Artillery: Major Hon. Sclater Booth.