This article looks at the structure and composition of a British cavalry regiment on the outbreak of war in August 1914. I have also written a similar article for a British infantry battalion and a series of articles to help you research those who served in the British Army during the war:
I also offer a First World War Research Service.
A British Cavalry Regiment
The establish of a British cavalry regiment was changed repeatedly during the First World War, though most of the changes were minor. This establishment below was created in January 1914 but did not apply to British cavalry serving in India. Throughout the war, different war establishments were created for cavalry serving in Britain and Ireland, France, Egypt and Salonika. There was also another establishment for British cavalry regiments serving in Indian cavalry divisions. This establishment did not apply to reserve cavalry regiments formed in August 1914.
A British cavalry regiment was 549 which included 26 officers. An infantry battalion had a greater establishment of 1007 including 30 officers. A cavalry regiment was commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel with a Major as second-in-command. Three cavalry regiments would form a Cavalry Brigade which included a battery of Royal Horse Artillery firing a 13-pounder field gun.
Structure of a British Cavalry Regiment
The 549 officers and men of a cavalry regiment would be divided into:
- Three Squadrons
- Machine Gun Section
The headquarters and machine gun section contain 8 officers and 67 other ranks. The other 18 officers and 482 men were divided between three squadrons usually lettered A, B and C. Each squadron contained 6 officers and 152 men, and was commanded by a Major or Captain. A squadron was subdivided into four Troops of 32 men commanded by a Lieutenant. A Troop was further subdivided into four Sections each of 8 men, commanded by a corporal.
A British Cavalry Regiment contained:
- 1 Headquarters and 1 Machine Gun Section
- 3 Squadrons
- 12 Troops
- 48 Sections
Suggested Reading for British Cavalry in the First World War
Little has been written about British Cavalry during the First World War compared to British infantry. I would recommend David Kenyon’s Horsemen in No Man’s Land if you’re interested in British cavalry during the war and also the Marquess of Anglesey’s multivolume A History of British Cavalry