The British cavalry regiments of 1914-1918

This section of the Long, Long Trail will be helpful for anyone wishing to find out about the history of the regiments of the British cavalry.

Known affectionately to the other branches of the army as the Donkey wallopers, the cavalry is the subject of one of the Great War myths - that they were the first love of High Command but were an expensive waste that did nothing to help the poor footsloggers. The reality is that on the Western Front they rarely had a chance to act as a mounted mobile force but often fought dismounted as infantry. On the few occasions when they were sent into action on horseback, they often suffered appalling losses. Without them, the crucial First Battle of Ypres - and arguably the war - would probably have been lost. In Egypt and Palestine, the cavalry was the mainstay and battle-winner. You can trace the history and affiliations of every British cavalry unit on the Long, Long Trail.

The basis of the detail shown in the pages linked below is the excellent work in Brigadier E. A. James "British regiments 1914-1918" (Samson Books, 1978) with corrections and additions by Chris Baker. These are mainly derived from regimental war diaries and published regimental histories.

The Household Cavalry

These were elite regular army regiments that had a traditional role of being the mounted guards of the Monarch.

The Household Cavalry also formed other units during the war:

  • Household Battalion
  • It also formed 520 (Siege) Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery, which served in France in 1918, and also provided a Squadron for the Guards Division. This was formed in July 1915 from the 1st Life Guards Reserve Regiment and landed in France in August 1915, joining Guards Division. It was broken up at Rouen on 19 June 1916.

The Line Cavalry Regiments

The backbone of the cavalry of the regular army.

The Special Reserve Regiments

These regiments were of the Special Reserve: part time units before the war, they were immediately mobilised for war service.

The Cavalry Reserve Regiments

Seventeen reserve regiments were created on mobilisation in August 1914, responsible for the basic training of new recruits and provision of drafts to the regiments.

Cavalry depots


The cavalry regiments usually came under orders of mounted formations (Brigades and Divisions) that also contained units of the Royal Horse Artillery, Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) and other miscellaneous horsed units. Information about these will be found in the relevant sections of the Long, Long Trail. The composition of the mounted formations can be found in the Orders of Battle.

Pubished histories

This is a list of histories of the cavalry regiments during the Great War. Some have been reprinted in recent years.

The Life Guards: War Diary of the 1st Life Guards, First Year 1914-1915 (1919)

The Royal Horse Guards: (The Blues) by R.J.T. Hills (London: Leo Cooper, 1970) [‘Famous Regiments’]

The Story of the Household Cavalry, Volume 3 by Sir George Arthur and P. Shennan (London: Heinemann, 1926)

History of the Queen’s Bays, 2nd Dragoon Guards, 1685-1929 by Frederic Whyte and A. Hilliard Atteridge (London: J. Cape. 1930)

The History of the 3rd Dragoon Guards (Printed for Private Circulation, 1937)

I Serve: Regimental History of the 3rd Carabiniers (Prince of Wales’s Dragoon Guards) by Lieutenant-Colonel L.B. Oatts (Chester, 1966)

Record of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards in the Great War, 1914-1918 by Rev. Harold Gibb, Lieutenant 4th R.I. Dragoon Guards, 1914-1915 (1925)

A History of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and their Predecessors, 1685-1980 by J.M. Brereton (Catterick: The Regiment, 1982)

History of the Royal Dragoons 1661-1934 by C.T. Atkinson (Glasgow: Glasgow University Press, 1934)

The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons) by R.J.T. Hills (London: Leo Cooper, 1972) [‘Famous Regiments’ Series]

History of the Royal Scots Greys - the Second Dragoons - August, 1914-March, 1919 by Sydney James Hardy and others [1928]

The Royal Scots Greys: (The 2nd Dragoons) by Michael Blacklock (London: Leo Cooper, 1971) [‘Famous Regiments’ Series]

The 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars in the Great War (1914-1919) by Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Temple Willcox (London: John Murray, 1925)

The 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars in the Great War by Captain H.K.D. Evans MC & Major N.O. Laing DSO (Aldershot, 1920)

History of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers by Colonel J.R. Harvey (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1923)

The Harp and the Crown: The History of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, 1902-22 by Ciaran Byrne (Lulu Books on Demand, 2007)

The Years Between: The Story of the 7th Queen's Own Hussars, 1911-1937 compiled by Roger Evans (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1965)

The History of the VIII King’s Royal Irish Hussars 1693-1927 (1928)

9th The Queen’s Royal Lancers 1715-1936 by Major E.W. Shephard (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1929)

The 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers: Roll of Honour, 1914-1918 by R. Raymond Walsh and Jean M. Walsh (Blackburn: T.H.C.L. Books, 1999)

The 10th (P.W.O.) Royal Hussars and the Essex Yeomanry during the European War, 1914-1918 by Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Francis H.D.C. Whitmore Bt. (Colchester: Benham & Co., 1920)

The 10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales’s Own) by Michael Brander (London: Leo Cooper, 1969) [‘Famous Regiments’ Series]

The Memoirs of the 10th Royal Hussars by R.S. Liddell, (London, 1981)

The Tenth: 10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales’s Own) 1715-1969 by Peter Upton (Old Comrades of the 10th Hussars, c1999)

Regimental History of the 11th Hussars. (Abridged edition, together with an account of the doings of the regiment in the Great War) by Major G. T. Williams (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1925)

The 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own) by Richard Brett-Smith (London: Leo Cooper, 1969) [‘Famous Regiments’ Series]

The Cherrypickers: 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own) 1715-1969 by Peter Upton [c1997]

The 12th Royal Lancers in France, August 17th, 1914-November 11th, 1918 by H.V.S. Charrington (1921)

History of the 12th Royal Lancers 1715-1945 by Captain P.F. Stuart MC (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1950)

The Thirteenth Hussars in the Great War by Right Hon. Sir H. Mortimer Durand (1921)

Historical Record of the 14th (King’s) Hussars by Brigadier J. Gilbert Browne and Lieutenant-Colonel E.J. Bridges.  Edited by Major J.A.T. Milet (1932)

Emperor's Chambermaids: The Story of 14th/20th King's Hussars by L.B. Oatts (London: Ward Lock, 1973)

The Hawks: A Short History of the 14th/20th King’s Hussars by Bryan Perrett (Chippenham: Picton, 1984)

The Ramnuggur Boys: 14th/20th King’s Hussars, 1715-1992 by John Pharo-Tomlin (Preston: Museum of the King’s Royal Hussars in Lancashire, c2002)

The History of the 15th The King’s Hussars 1914-1922 by Lord Carnock with a Foreword by Brigadier-General A. Courage (Gloucester, 1932)

The Scarlet Lancers: The Story of 16th/5th The Queen's Royal Lancers 1689-1992 by James Lunt (London: Leo Cooper, 1993)

The 17th/21st Lancers by R.L.V. ffrench Blake (London: Leo Cooper, 1993)

Memoirs of the 18th Queen Mary’s Own Hussars, 1906-22, Including Operation in the Great War by Charles Burnett (Winchester: Warren, 1926)

20th Hussars in the Great War by Major J.C. Darling (Lyndhurst, Hampshire: J.C. Darling, 1923)

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