This article is about the 18th (Queen Mary’s Own) Hussars and will help you to research a soldier who served with the Regiment during the First World War. I have also written a series of guides to help you research British soldiers:
The 18th (Queen Mary’s Own) Hussars in the First World War
When Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, the 18th (Queen Mary’s Own) Hussars was stationed at Tidworth, Wiltshire. Orders were received to mobilize soon afterwards and this was completed by 10th. On 15 August, the Regiment entrained at Tidworth for Southampton with a strength of 25 officers, 523 other ranks and 608 horses. The next day, the 18th Hussars embarked on board two ships which landed them at Boulogne on 16 August. The Regiment was part of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade of the Cavalry Division. This Division was redesignated as the 1st Cavalry Division on 16 September 1914 and the 18th Hussars served with this formation for the duration of the war on the Western Front. Between 23 August 1914, the date of the Regiment’s first death and 5 November 1918, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded 234 dead for the unit. If you’d like to learn more about the Regiment I’d recommend downloading its war diary (see below) for a small fee from the National Archives’ website.
Researching Soldiers who Served in the 18th Hussars in the First World War
Start off your research by looking at my generic guides on researching soldiers who served in the British Army. Those guides looking at service and medal records are the best starting points. Also, have my page on abbreviations and acronyms open as you’ll come across a lot of military jargon. The regimental history is difficult to find, so I’d recommend downloading the two 18th Hussars’ war diaries which are discussed below
Officers: You should be able to find out a lot of information regarding an officer who served in the 18th Hussars. You need to start by looking for a service record but not all have survived to the present day. If a record has survived it will either be at the National Archives or if an officer served past April 1922 then the Ministry of Defence should still hold it: Ordering a Service Record from the MOD. The war diary of the 18th Hussars mentions officers by name and you can also check the London Gazette and Hart’s Army List for promotion dates. Due to the social background of the average cavalry officer, they often appear in newspapers especially if they became a casualty.
A photograph of Captain John Lockhart Wood 18th (Queen Mary’s Own) Hussars who died of wounds in the 3rd London Hospital, Wandsworth on 11th June 1915. This photograph appeared in The Sphere which contains thousands of officers’ portraits and has been digitized. Captain Wood is buried in Battersea Rise Cemetery.
Other Ranks: The most important document to research a soldier who served in the ranks is their service record. Unfortunately, if a soldier left the army prior to January 1921, then there’s a good chance that it was destroyed in the Blitz. In theory, if a soldier served past January 1921 then the Ministry of Defence should still hold the record: Ordering a Service Record from the MOD. If no service file has survived, as long as a soldier served outside of Great Britain and Ireland then there will be at least two medal records. Often, these are the only records which have survived. Providing you know a soldier’s regimental number, you can often work out an approximate date of enlistment. However, be careful as there are two different numbering systems. If a soldier became a casualty during the war, then you can search Soldiers Died in the Great War, International Red Cross prisoner of war records, and the War Office casualty lists. To research a soldier who served in the war, you’ll have to search the records on Findmypast and Ancestry. Both sites offer a free trial and if you live in Britain then you can often access them for free at your local library.
War Diaries of the 18th (Queen Mary’s Own) Hussars
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 reports, maps, orders, etc. There are two war diaries for the 18th Hussars and both have been digitized by the National Archives. To download both war diaries for a small fee click on the blue links below.
- Date: 10 August 1914 – 31 March 1919
- 2nd Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
- Reference: WO 95/1113/1
- Notes: Most of the war diary contains short and repetitive entries in common with other British cavalry regiments. However, when the Regiment was in action or in the trenches there are usually good entries. There is a nominal roll of officers and men who were entitled to the 1914 Star who were still serving with the Regiment but the document isn’t dated. An appendix by Major Leveson dated July 1918 regarding the Regiment’s activities in August and September 1914. Also, an appendix regarding the “Engagement at Elouges August 24 1914”, a shorter “Report on action near Moncel 7 September 1914” and appendixes on Ypres.
- Date: 01 February- 13 March 1916
- 18th Hussars, Dismounted Company, Divisional Troops
- Reference: WO 95/1189/36
- Notes: A short war diary of six pages, though some of the entries are detailed. Part of the war diary is transcribed below.
Regimental History of the 18th Hussars
There is a regimental history covering the First World War: The Memoirs of the 18th (Queen Mary’s Own) Royal Hussars, 1906-1922, including Operations in the Great War by Brigadier-General Charles Burnett. This book was published in 1926 and hasn’t been reprinted so can be quite difficult to find. A copy is held by both the British Library, and Imperial War Museum.
Extract from the War Diary of the 18th Hussars Dismounted Company
18th Hussars, Dismounted Company, WO 95/1189/36
8 February: Company moved off from billets at 4.15 am. Battalion paraded at crossroads in Sailly at 4.45 am and moved off at 5.00 am for Vermelles there picking up rations. The company entered Gordon Alley to take up position in the trenches allotted to the reserve. Disposition of platoons: – No.2 platoon under Lieutenant Little proceeded to Vigo Street. No.1 and 4 platoons under Lieutenant McKeon took over part of O.B.I on either side of Gordon Alley, No.3, 5 and 6 platoons proceeded to Reserve Trench taking over the bomb and small arms ammunition store. Company Headquarters in Reserve Trench. 18th Hussars Company relieved the dismounted Company of the North Devon Hussars. Lieutenant Meredith with the Company bombers took over Sackville Street.
Disposition of the Battalion less 18th Hussars Company, 9th Lancers Company in Kaiserin Trench and Big Willie, 4th Dragoon Guards Company in Big Willie including Kink, and Alexander Trench, the supports of these companies occupying other trenches. The Company furnished numerous fatigues during the day, sandbags, bombs, and wire were carried from Vermelles to the firing line, bombs and ammunition were carried from the bomb store to the firing line. This evening the Royal Engineers exploded a mine in front of the Kaiserin Trench opposite Sap 6. The Company was kept going hard from 4.15 am until about 2:30 am next morning.
A fatigue party was sent to dig in saps and to dig on the edge of the newly formed crater. Lieutenant Meredith and the Company bombers were employed bomb carrying for the 9th Lancers Company and a party of bombers were sent to reinforce 9th Lancer bombers. Sap 4 was taken over from the 4th Dragoon Guards bombers at 11:30 pm. During the night the enemy made active use of trench mortars and rifle grenades. Shelling was not heavy.
9 February 1916: In trenches. At 2.30 am the Company bombers took over Sap 6 and the newly formed crater from the 9th Lancers. They were relieved at 4.45 am by the 4th Dragoon Guards. Casualties, one man killed, three men wounded. Lieutenant Colonel Sewell Commanding 2nd Dismounted Battalion expressed his appreciation of the way in which the Company had worked especially in the rapidity with which bombs were brought up to the firing line when urgently needed, and of the way in which the bombers carried out the duties assigned to them.
During the night 8/9th enemy machine guns and snipers shewed activity. In the morning O.B.I. was subjected to continual sniping from the dump. The enemy shelled this trench from 8.15 to 9 am Brigadier-General Kirby visited the trenches this morning. Lieutenant-Colonel Sewell visited the Reserve Trench about 10 am. In the afternoon the Company bombers took over Sap 5 (in addition to Sap 4.). The enemy dropped catapult bombs in front of Vigo Street. Fatigue parties employed bringing stores and munitions from Vermelles.
10 February 1916: Vermelles: In trenches. Various fatigues carried out during the day. In the afternoon a party was employed clearing Anchor Trench for bomb carrying. At 6.30 pm Sap 4 was evacuated and 20 reserve bombers were placed in Rifleman’s Alley at the disposal of the Battalion Bombing Officer. At 7 pm a mine was exploded near the kink in the front of Sap 3. This seems to have exploded an enemy charge close by, as the crater formed was a large one.
The enemy replied against Sap 4 and that part of Bigger Willie (which had been re-occupied after the explosion, close to the Sap mouth), causing two casualties to the 18th Hussars bombers. At 10 pm the reserve bombers in Rifleman’s Alley were ordered to return to Sackvillie Street. One man was hit in the head by what was thought to be an explosive bullet at about 7 am in Sap 4 and was killed. One man was also wounded.
11 February 1916: In trenches. A party from O.B.I. was sent to Sap 6 and Bigger Willie to repair trench. Various other fatigues were performed. No. 4 platoon and 15 men from No.3 platoon relieved 9th Lancers in Kaiserin Trench from midday to stand to. No.2 platoon relieved No.4 at dusk, and held Kaiserin Trench until relieved by Middlesex Regiment next morning. The company stood to during the bombardment in the afternoon. The enemy shelled Kaiserin Trench and exploded a mine at about 6 am this morning at a point about 10 yards from the right hand patrolled portion of this trench. Much damage was done to the parapet. The enemy at once proceeded to cut a sap to the crater.
12 February 1916: The company was relieved this morning, one platoon by the Middlesex Regiment, and the other platoons by the Royal Fusiliers. Relief completed by 10 am and company marched to Sailly and billeted. Remainder of the day spent in cleaning up and bathing. During the time the Company was in the trenches considerable improvements were carried out, fire steps, drainage, and sanitation being given special attention.
13 February: Marched at 3:30 pm to Bethune Station where Battalion entrained, and left at 6 pm for Montreuil.
14 February: Battalion arrived Montreuil about 2 am. The men were supplied with soup at the Station, the company then embussed on motor lorries arriving in billets about 4 am.