This article on the 14th (King’s) Hussars will provide you with an overview of the Regiment’s activities during the First World War and will help you to research a soldier who served with the unit. I have also written a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served in the British Army during the war:
The 14th (King’s) Hussars in the First World War
When Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, the 14th (King’s) Hussars was stationed at Mhow in India. The Regiment had arrived from Britain on 27 September 1906 and was serving as part of the Mhow Cavalry Brigade when war was declared. Remaining in India for the first year of the war, the 14th Hussars received orders to mobilize while stationed at Meerut, to the north of Delhi, on 28 October 1915. Mobilization didn’t take long and on 8 November the Regiment arrived at Karachi where it boarded the Hired Transports Elephanta, Islanda and Chakdara. These ships then sailed for Basra in Mesopotamia, now Iraq with the Regiment receiving orders at the port to continue to Kut-al-Amara. Between 21 and 23 November, the 14th Hussars disembarked piecemeal at Kut which was soon to be under siege. Once in Mesopotamia, the Regiment served as part of the 6th Indian Cavalry Brigade until May 1914 when it moved to Persia, now Iran. To find out the location and activities of the Regiment during the war, you can turn to its war diaries which are discussed below.
Researching a Soldier of the 14th Hussars who served in the First World War
I’ve written a large number of generic British Army research guides with those on service and medal records being the most important if you’re just starting out. As you’ll come across a lot of military jargon, keep my page on abbreviations and acronyms open. I’d recommend downloading the 15th Hussars’ war diaries which I have discussed below and also viewing a copy of the regimental history.
Officers: Usually, you can find a lot of information about officers who served in cavalry regiments. A service record is the most important document to find but not all have survived. If a service record has survived, it will either be held at the National Archives in London or by the Ministry of Defence. In theory, the Ministry of Defence holds the service record of all officers who served past April 1922 and I’ve written a guide to ordering them on my Second World War website. Officers are frequently mentioned in the war diaries of the 14th Hussars and you can check an officer’s promotion information in the London Gazette and Hart’s Army List. Another important source of information for cavalry officers are local and society newspapers of the period, especially if you’re researching a casualty.
Other Ranks: The most important document to research a soldier who served in the ranks of the 14th (King’s) Hussars is their service record. Unfortunately, many were destroyed in the Blitz. If a soldier served past January 1921 then the Ministry of Defence should hold their service record and you’ll be able to apply for one. I’ve written a separate guide to ordering a service record from the Ministry of Defence on my Second World War website Researching WW2. As the Regiment spent years in Mesopotamia, a very unhealthy theatre of war, it’s worth serving silver war badge records and the pension records held by the Western Front Association available on Fold3.
This photograph of Corporal Saddler Ernest Willan of the 14th Hussars was published in The Todmorden Advertiser on 16 February 1917 when it reported his death in Mesopotamia. The quality is poor as it was copied from microfilm rather than scanned from the newspaper. A letter sent by Matron Eva Stockwell reported Ernest’s last moments as he “came to us off a boat from up the river very seriously ill, and died almost directly he came into our hospital… I assure you everything possible was done to aid him, but his heart gave out”. Another letter is quoted from Reverend A. Jones, the Wesleyan chaplain at Amara, who wrote that Ernest “was laid to rest by his comrades in a lovely spot under the palms”. Local newspapers are such an important source of information and many have been digitized.
Providing a soldier served outside of Britain and Ireland, they will have at least two medal records, a medal index card and a corresponding medal roll. Often these are the only surviving documents relating to a soldier’s service in the war. Another important source of information is the War Office casualty lists, especially if you’re researching a soldier who was wounded. The war diaries of the 14th Hussars contain the names of over one hundred soldiers. Enlistment dates can often be worked out if you know a soldier’s regimental number by comparing it to regimental numbers of soldiers whose service records have survived. However, care must be taken as there are two numbering series for the Hussars. Prior to 1907, all Hussar regiments numbered their men separately so you’ll often find multiple Hussars with the same regimental number. From 1907 onwards, all Hussar regiments numbered their soldiers from the same numbering block.
To research a soldier who served in the 14th Hussars during the war you’ll need to search the records on FindmyPast and Ancestry. Both sites offer a free trial period and if you live in Britain, you can often access them at your local library.
War Diaries of the 14th (King’s) Hussars
A war diary was written by an officer of a unit and recorded its location and activities. They are the most important documents to view if you’d like to research a unit of the British Army during the First World War. There are four war diaries for the 14th Hussars and all have been digitized by the National Archives. To download the war diaries for a small fee click on the blue links below. I have transcribed the entries from January 1917 at the bottom of the page.
- Date: 28 October 1915 – 31 December 1916
- 6th Indian Cavalry Brigade
- Reference: WO 95/5086/5
- Notes: An average war diary in the most part though there are a few more detailed entries. The only appendix is a sketch map of the country between Sheikh Sa’ad and the Shumran Bend.
- Date: 01 January 1917 – 09 February 1918
- 7th Indian Cavalry Brigade, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO 95/5086/6
- Notes: A good, detailed war diary which also records the regiment’s casualties. There is a roll of officers who served with the 14th King’s Hussars during December 1917 and January 1918. There is also a strength return for the Regiment dated 1 January 1918. Also, a couple of maps of the area around Baghdad.
- Date: 01 September – 13 November 1918
- North Persia Force
- Reference: WO 95/5046/2
- Notes: A good war diary with lots of detail. There is a Memorandum on the Defence of the Bijar Position and a sketch of Takan Tappeh.
- Date: 01 March 1918 – 24 March 1919
- Reference: WO 95/5086/7
- Notes: Another good war diary with lots of detail. There are a number of interesting appendices including “Notes on Local Persian Transport” and a map of northern Persia. There is also a nominal roll of officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men transferred to Provisional Hussar Regiment, 7th Cavalry Brigade dated March 1919 and a nominal roll of the cadre of the 14th (King’s) Hussars from the same month. These two nominal rolls have in excess of 100 names on them.
Regimental History of the 14th King’s Hussars
There is a very detailed regimental history: Historical Record of the 14th (King’s) Hussars from 1900-1922 by Brigadier-General J. Gilbert Browne and Lieutenant-Colonel. E. J. Bridges. This history has been reprinted by the Naval and Military Press.
Extracts from the War Diary of the 14th Hussars
01 January 1917 – 09 February 1918, 7th Indian Cavalry Brigade, WO 95/5086/6
1 January 1917: Arab Village: In camp, some rain.
2 – 4 January 1917: Arab Village: In camp, fine.
5 January 1917: Arab Village: D Squadron (Captain Astley) on reconnaissance towards Pusht-I-Kuh and covered 52 miles leaving at 6:30 am, returning 5:30 pm. Reported country very wet, going bad. Wet night. Day fine but cloudy ground very wet.
6 January 1917: In camp, fine.
7 January 1917: Bassouia: Left Arab Village 8:30 am marched via Twin Canals, Sinn and Atab to Bassouia arriving there at 4:30 pm. The camp had been laid out in the wrong place and considerable delay was occasioned. Transport arrived 9 pm. Fine day, fog at night.
8 January 1917: Bassouia: In camp. Orders received to March to Bgailah (25 miles upstream from Kut) at 6:30 pm. Thick fog came down at 6.15 pm. Column moved off at 6:30 pm proceeded 4 miles and returned to camp as it was found impossible to move owing to the fog.
9 January 1917: Bassouia: Foggy till 2 pm. Orders again received to march to Bgailah at 6:30 pm but cancelled at 5.45 pm.
10 January 1917: Zenabiah (near): Left Bassouia 7 am and marched to near Zenabiah (en route to Hai Town) arriving there at 5.00 pm. Much delay was caused as the Shib Gussab canal had to be bridged. Fog till noon, fine afterwards, some rain at night.
11 January 1917: Hai Town: Arrived Hai Town, 12 noon having met with no opposition en route. Several Arab shelters were looted and 15,000 rounds of Mark VI ammunition were found in one. At 12:30 pm one of our aeroplanes flew over us and dropped 4 bombs, killing 1 man of 6th Machine Gun Squadron and causing a stampede of their horses. Camped 1 mile East of the town. Cloudy, some rain.
12 January 1917: Hai Town: In camp, collecting grain etc.
13 January 1917: Hai Town: In camp, 80 rifles and a large quantity of ammunition was found and destroyed. Fine.
14 January 1917: Dujailah Depression: Left Hai Town 6.30 am. Inhabitants turned out and fired on the rear guard, 1 squadron 22nd Cavalry and caused delay. One of our aeroplanes made a forced landing near Zenabiah and had to be burnt. Marched 32 miles via Atab and camped at Dujailah arriving there 10.15 pm.
15 January 1917: Arab Village: Left Dujailah 9 am arrived Arab Village12 noon. Lieutenant and Quartermaster Best and Second Lieutenant Woodhouse joined from India. Fine.
16 January 1917: Arab Village: In camp. Fine some rain at night.
17 January 1917: Arab Village: In camp. Fine.
18 January 1917: Arab Village: In camp, fine 13th Hussars and 22nd Cavalry on reconnaissance towards Pusht-I-Kuh.
19 January 1917: Arab Village: In camp. Fine.
20 January 1917: Arab Village: In camp. Fine. Orders received at 2 pm to march next morning at 6 am. These orders were cancelled at 7:30 pm.
21 January 1917: Arab Village: In camp. Orders received at 11 am to march to Dujailah at 5:30 pm. Orders again cancelled at 3 pm and at 5 pm more orders issued to march at 6 am on 22nd to Bedrah. Fine but cloudy.
22 January 1917: 4 miles south of 28 wells: Left Arab Village at 6:30 am and marched to Wadi, North of Fort Yakub, watered and fed and proceeded to a point 4 miles south of 28 wells. The going here was very bad several guns and waggons becoming stuck in the mud and bog. Darkness came on and they were only extricated with great difficulty. Bivouacked on a piece of firm ground at 9:30 pm. Rained steadily all night.
23 January 1917: Fort Abdul Wahab: Left bivouac 7 am and marched towards the Wadi. Several vehicles again sunk in the bog causing delay. Bivouacked at Fort Abdul Wahab at 1:30 pm. A supply column was sent out from Arab Village. Fine day. Some rain at night.
24 January 1917: Arab Village: Left Fort Abdul Wahab at 6:30 am arriving in camp at Arab Village at 2:30 pm. Fine.
25 January 1917: Arab Village: In camp. Fine.
26 January 1917: Arab Village: Marched at 7.30 pm to Sinn Aftar. Following officers remained at Arab Village: Lieutenants Moule, Hamer, Macintyre, Woodhouse also 72 non-commissioned officers and men. Marching out strength 432. Fine, cold night.
27 January 1917: Bassouia: Arrived Sinn After 1:30 am and bivouacked. Left at 5:30 pm and marched to Bassouia arriving there 10:30 pm. Transport arrived 4:30 am on 28th. Fine.
28 January 1917: Bassouia: In camp. Fine.
29 January 1917: Bassouia: Marched at 9 am to a point south of the marsh west of Bassouia in support of the 13th Hussars who were carrying out a reconnaissance of enemy trenches north of the marsh. Returned to camp 4 pm. Fine, hot day.
30 January 1917: Bassouia: Marched at 5 am to Maherja arriving at 10 am. Slight Arab opposition delayed the advanced guard. 500 head sheep, cattle and goats and 1600 maunds of barley collected and brought back to camp. “C” (Capt Bridges) rearguard on return to Bassouia. Arabs followed up. Reached camp 7:30 pm. 1 man slightly wounded. Fine.
31 January 1917: Bassouia: In camp. Rain during night 30/31. Fine but cloudy.