This guide for the 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars will:
- Give you an overview of the activities of 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars during the First World War
- Explain which records are available if you are researching a soldier who served in the 4th Hussars during the war
The 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars in the First World War
The 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars was stationed at Curragh, Ireland when Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914. The Regiment landed at Havre, France on 18 August 1914 as part of the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, Cavalry Division. On the 6 September, the 3rd Cavalry Brigade moved to Gough’s Command which became the 2nd Cavalry Division on 13 September 1914. The Regiment remained in this formation on the Western Front for the remainder of the war. The 4th (Queen’s) Own Hussars returned to Britain in April 1919 and was stationed at Colchester. If you would like to learn more about the Regiment I’d recommend downloading its excellent war diary for a small fee which I have discussed below.
Researching a Soldier who Served in the 4th Hussars during WW1
Start your research by looking for the relevant guides to researching soldiers who served in the British Army during the First World War. Initially, focus on service and medal record articles and keep open my page on British Army Abbreviations and Acronyms as you’ll encounter a lot of jargon. The Regiment’s war diary for the First World War is great and contains all the casualties so I’d recommend downloading that.
Officers: Hopefully, a service record has survived either at the National Archives or if they served past April 1922 at the Ministry of Defence: Ordering a Service Record from the MOD. The war diary contains a lot of officers so this should be downloaded (see below). The London Gazette and Hart’s Army List will also provide you with information regarding an officer’s promotions. If you are after a photograph, The Sphere, Tatler and Illustrated London News are good newspapers to search. See my page on Researching Soldiers Using Newspapers.
Portrait of Lieutenant Francis Ellison Levita who was killed in action on 12 October 1914 and is buried in the Meteren Military Cemetery, France. The photograph was published in The Sphere which is a fantastic newspaper to search if you’re looking for a photograph of an officer who became a casualty. There is a service record for Levita at the National Archives: WO 339/7542 and as an officer casualty he would be easy to research.
Other Ranks: You’ll need to start off by trying to find a service record, however, many were destroyed in the Blitz. If a soldier served past January 1921 then their record should still be with the Ministry of Defence: Ordering a Service Record from the MOD. If there is no service record, then, unfortunately, many facts about the soldier’s service will have been lost to history. However, there are often other sources including medal records. The war diary contains the Regiment’s casualties. If you have a soldier’s regimental number then you can often work their approximate enlistment date by comparing it to other soldier’s in the Regiment who have surviving service records. Newspapers are fantastic resources especially if you’re looking for casualties or a photograph of a soldier.
If you’re researching a soldier who served in the First World War then you’ll need to search the records on Ancestry and FindmyPast. Both sites offer a free trial and if you live in Britain you can often access them for free at your local library. Clicking on the banner below will take you to FindmyPast.
War Diary of the 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars
There is only one war diary for the 4th Hussars which has been digitized by the National Archive. To download this war diary for a small fee click on the blue link below.
- Date: 19 August 1914 – 27 April 1919
- 3rd Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division
- Reference: WO95/1134/1
- Notes: This is a fantastic war diary, not so much for its daily entries which can be detailed but the diary recorded all casualties including sick and also reinforcements arriving until November 1916 which means it contains hundreds of names. From December 1916 until October 1917, the war diary only recorded battle casualties and no reinforcements are listed. An appendix has citations for gallantry, including military medals, for the German Spring Offensive. This war diary is available to download from the National Archives’ website (click the blue link above to be taken to the page).
Regimental History of the 4th Hussars
There is a regimental history: The 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars in the Great War 1914-1919 by Captain H. K. D. Evans and Maj. N. O. Laing which has been reprinted by the Naval and Military Press.
Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum holds the following collection of documents relating to the Regiment:
- The diaries of W. Collins along with other unnamed documents who served as a non-commission officer with the Regiment: Private Papers of W. Collins: Documents.14141.
- The diaries of Captain E. A. Godson who served with the 4th Hussars in France between November 1914 and February 1915: Private Papers of Captain E. A. Godson MC: Documents.10995.
- The diaries of Captain Francis Henry Ash who served with the Regiment on the Western Front covering September and October 1916 and November and December 1917: Private Papers of Captain F. H. Ash: Documents.7038.
- An account and other papers relating to Lieutenant-Colonel A. Fleetwood-Wilson who served in the 4th Hussars during the war: Private Papers of Lieutenant-Colonel A. Fleetwood-Wilson: Documents.7476.
Extracts from the War Diary of the 4th Hussars
19 August 1914 – 27 April 1919, 3rd Cavalry Brigade, WO95/1134/1
23 August 1914: Elouges: Arrive 4 am. Remain in billets all day. Several false alarms during night.
24 August 1914: Wargnies-Le-Grand: Move out from Elouges at 4.30 am. Halt for some time on ridge north west of Elouges while enemy attacks line of canal. Fall back through Baisieux-Angre where regiment watered at 12.30. Came into action against strong enemy infantry advancing from Quievrechain through Baisieux. Dismounted action followed in which the regiment suffered about 35 casualties, chiefly C Squadron. Enemy had no guns employed against us. No patrols out in the direction of enemy who engaged with us.
Retired through wood to Roisin (being shelled en route) near which village the Cavalry Division concentrated. At 5.30 marched to Wargnies-Le-Grand where in conjunction with 19th Infantry Brigade, the regiment held trenches during the night. No supplies.
25 August 1914: Catillon: Saddled up 4 am. Patrols sent out 2 miles to north east, one of which fired on an Uhlan patrol which galloped off. Forming portion of flank guard, marched to Verchain, passing there a French Territorial Brigade. Rumours in village of hostile trolls in vicinity and German forces near Haspres, near which place heavy shelling could be seen. Hostile aeroplanes reconnoitring our movements.
Came under shell fire on point 94 from the west moved to shelter of hollow east of point 94. Moved over ridge 90, coming under shell fire again. Casualties 4 wounded, with whom medical officers remained. The Regiment took cover near St Martin ?. Cavalry Division then concentrated again East of Maison Rouge, where it again came under shell fire. 3rd Brigade moved to north west of Vertain. After long half the Brigade passed north of Vertain. Coming under heavy shell fire of Le Quesnoy Road. The regiment moved to a small depression south of road where it remained for 20 minutes under very heavy shell fire, passing just overhead…
26 August 1914: Very heavy rifle fire during early hours in direction of Landrecies. Regiment moved off at 6 am, handing over safeguarding of bridges to Scots Greys. At Basuel came into action as right flank (rear) guard to the 5th Infantry Division moved slowly through Baudival to Souplet-Busigny where halted for 2 hours. At 2 pm the Brigade massed for attack on reported Uhlan Brigade which failed to appear. At 5 pm watered in Busigny and marched via Maretz-Premount to Mountbrehain, having some difficulty in keeping clear of a long returning mixed column. Halted from 10 pm to 1.30 am.
27 August 1914: Urvillers: Marched at 1.30 am. Horses and men very tired via Fontaine to Homblieres where regiment halted for 4 hours. At 10 am Brigade concentrates east of St. Quentin. At 2.30 pm German column reported advancing south. Some shell fire. Brigade moved south Regiment went into billets in Urvillers.
28 August 1914: Failloue: Moved out south west about 8 am and halted. At 1 pm withdrew to near Benay. Hostile patrols now began to be in evidence, one of which was caught and destroyed. About 3 pm the 5th Cavalry Brigade came into action against an Uhlan Brigade. The 3rd Brigade was not engaged. At 4.30 pm the Brigade went into billets. 4th Hussars in Failloue.