The 14th Dragoons / Hussars

The 14th Dragoons, known as Dormer’s Dragoons, was raised in 1715 as a cavalry regiment in the British Army to combat the first Jacobite rebellion.  They also fought in the second rebellion after which they were used to police areas of Ireland.  In 1791 the Regiment provided an escort to Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal of Prussia. 

As a mark of gratitude, the Regiment was authorised to adopt the Prussian Eagle as their badge to be worn on the right-hand-side of their Tarleton helmet.  Prior to these duties the Guidon of the 14th was Crimson, they were changed to Orange.

One squadron of the 14th Light Dragons was sent to Ostend in June 1794, in a force commanded by the Earl of Moira, to provide reinforcements for the Duke of York. The 14th were brigaded with the 1st Dragoon Guards and 8th Light Dragoons, under Colonel Vyse.

Their first battle occurred when Bokstel was overrun by the French and they were sent, with nine other light dragoon squadrons and ten battalions to recapture this position on the Dommel River in Holland. General Ralph Abercromby was in command of this detachment, and he soon realised that he was too under-manned to confront Pichegru’s large army. He decided to withdraw but not before sustaining casualties. Ninety men were lost, including two of the 14th.

That winter was particularly harsh and the men were poorly clothed and fed, so they were reduced to plundering towns and villages to stay alive. The 14th were, however, able to put up a fight in December when the French threatened the British flank, having crossed the frozen rivers of the Maas and Waal.

They and 5 other squadrons drove the enemy back. On 4th Jan the enemy attacked Tuyl and routed the Dutch but British infantry this time put the French to flight, supported by the 14th and 8th Light Dragoons. There was further action at Geldermalsen on the same day, 4 Jan 1795, in which the the French were driven back along the Waal.

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They and 5 other squadrons drove the enemy back. On 4th Jan the enemy attacked Tuyl and routed the Dutch but British infantry this time put the French to flight, supported by the 14th and 8th Light Dragoons. There was further action at Geldermalsen on the same day, 4 Jan 1795, in which the the French were driven back along the Waal.

The Revolutionaries were reinforced later and able the push the British and their allies from their line which stretched from Arnhem to Reenan. The Duke of York was no longer present but his deputy, Hanoverian General Walmoden ordered a general retreat which was one of the worst disasters in British military history. The men of the 14th suffered like all the others, of starvation and sickness so that most of them died. The rest were absorbed into the 8th Light Dragoons.

The Prussian Eagle insignia soon disappeared from the Regiments headdress but returned in 1922 when the 14th amalgamated with the 20th Hussars to form the 14th/20th Hussars.  During its existence the Regiment changed its name a number of times as the British Army expanded.

A portion of the 14th served in Flanders (1794 – 1795).  In 1796 it was sent to serve in the West Indies and served in San Domingo in the operations at Mirebalois and elsewhere.  The Regiment went to join Wellington’s Army in the Iberian Peninsula in 1808 following time spent in England.  The Regiment gained the battle honour Douro in May 1809 having been spared the retreat to Corunna in the same year; the only regiment having been spared this retreat.  

Hard action at the battle of Talavera in 1809 followed with smaller actions at Barquilla and on the Coa river during 1810. The regiment also saw action at Fuentes d’Onoro in 1811.  The following year was a very busy one for the 14th, having fought at Villagarcia and Salamanca as well as covering the sieges at Badajoz and at Ciudad Rodrigo where Lieutenant-Colonel Talbot, along with 34 of his men, was killed.

During the Battle of Vitoria in 1813 a group of farriers from the 14th Hussars captured a silver chamberpot belonging to King Joseph Bonaparte, brother of the Emperor Napoleon, which resulted in the regimental nickname of “The Emperor’s Chambermaids”.  Minor actions in the Pyrenees followed, and supporting roles took them into France itself. 

The Regiment went back to England at the end of the Peninsula War, but had to find two squadrons to send to North America.  There, the role of the Regiment was limited in that the men had arrived without their horses, although they did take part in the Battle of New Orleans on 8 January 1815.  Due to the action in North America the Regiment took no part in the Waterloo Campaign.

The Regiment later took part in the second Sikh War2 (1846-1849) and was present at the Battles of Chillianwallah and Goojerat.  It served in the Persian expedition (1856 – 1857) and took part in the Indian Mutiny.  It served with great distinction under Sir Hugh Rose in Central India.  The Regiment also participated in the South African War leading up to the relief of Ladysmith, and fought with distinction throughout the whole of the campaign.

The Regiment was renamed in 1830, to mark the coronation of William IV as the 14th (The King’s) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons. The title was simplified in 1861 to the 14th (King’s) Hussars.

On the 28th September 1917, the Regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Hewitt, part of the 6th Cavalry Brigade, engaged the advancing Turkish Army at Ramadi.  The fighting was fierce and went on until dawn the following day.  The Turks were pushed back to Ramadi and surrendered at 11 a.m. on the 29th.  Turkish casualties were estimated at over 600 killed and wounded.  Sadly, at the height of the battle Colonel Hewitt was mortally wounded and died on the 30th at Felujah. Due to its actions, the Regiment was granted Ramadi as a Battle Honour.

One of the bravest in the 14th King’s Hussars was a Welsh man called William Henry Owen. He died during the First World War on 30 October, 1914. William was a Lance Corporal and many of the regiment respected him for his duty to his nation.

2 thoughts on “The 14th Dragoons / Hussars

  1. 5655 LCpl William Owen was actually attached to the Royal Horse Guards when he was posted missing, presumed killed, on The 30th of October 1914. William had arrived in theatre on the 7th of October 1914 making him an old contemptible, he was killed during the retreat from Mons. In his will He left £11. 17. 6d to his father, David in Carmarthen, who also received his war gratuity. His body was never recovered, and he was officially accepted as dead on the 9th of February 1916. He is now remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial on panel 5.

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