Why this Cavalry oddity?

Discussion in 'RAC' started by Invictus_88, Dec 23, 2003.

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  1. Is anyone able to explain why there seems to be an incongruous role-reversal in the modern British Cavalry?
    The Hussars used to the the reconnisance regiments or the British army and the Lifeguards, Blues&Royals were the heavy-end of things. Why is it now that the Household Cavalry are reconnisance and the Hussars are the regiments with the CH2?
    It's not even as it the roles have been properly reversed because, as far as i know, the Household Cavalry are mounted on heavy horses and the Hussars on light.

    Why is this, when did it become so and are they going to set things right again?


  2. Dunno.
  3. H-Cav chose Formation Recce to enable them to continue with mounted ceremonial duties. It was impossible for them to reamin at Windsor with a heavy armour role. Previously, I believe the LG and the RHG/D did their time in Challenger 1s, but leapt at the chance of re-roling come the reforms in the early 90s.

    Lancers were traditionally the lightest soldier on the most nimble horses - hussars were on heavier horses, and much more tooled up. Dragoons and then dragoon guards were the heavy horses and biggest soldiers.

    Not sure why the reversal in roles occurred between line cavalry regiments. There's probably some sensible and more knowledgeable explanation.
  4. Flyingrockdj

    Flyingrockdj War Hero Moderator

    It goes way back to the initial mechanisation of the Cav at the start of the second world war, the LG and RHG deployed to Iraq with nags and then were chosen to rerole as lorried inf/medium recce, this role they defined in the western desert as formation recce named 1 HCR.
    2 HCR were initialy the training regiment but then reroled in time for D Day and fought through europe as Formation recce for 30 corps and the Guards armoured Div alongside 1 HCR who failed to become D Day dodgers . At the end of the war they resplit into LG and RHG both staying in role.
    Many other cav regiments went recce as well but equally some went armour and even grunts had tanks(Guards armoured) many Yeomany regiments became Gunners in fact there was no cohesive plan it was an as and when partly based on geograhy/location.
    It was felt that the role of recce was ideally suited to the flair and elan of the Household cavalry and had no bearing on mounted duties as through the forties fifties and sixties both regiments were almost always away in Palestine, Egypt, Germany, Malaya, Honkers, Borneo, Oman, Kuwait etc.
    The main change to armour happended after the amalgamation of the Blues with 1RD in 1969, the Royals were MBT at the time and as part of the planning the new regiment would form in Detmold on Chieftan with LG at windsor on Recce and then roule between them selves between the two duty stations every four years or so.
    This continued until options when the regiment was told to reform as HCR at Windsor, This was due to a number of factors not least the long affiliation with both 5 airborne and 3 Cdo which role sat alongside their job as formation recce to 3 UK Div.
    The current regiment has 4 sabre Squadrons and is well recruited and if you add the extra three squadrons at mounted duty, all of whom are dual trained, they could expand into two regiments quite simply.

    Hope this puts to bed some myths
  5. The fact is that a balance between light and heavy armour must be maintained, ie 5 regiments of each, but originally heavy cavalry (Dragoon Guards) were more in the minority and amalgamations have left them with less than half of the total number of regiments in the RAC. Therefore 2 light cavalry regiments must be equipped with Challenger 2s (though the RTR could be made all heavy, no cavalry regiment would want to be NBC regiment). The reasons as to why the HCR is light are very plausible but don't account for the fact that there is still a Dragoon Guards regiment (QDG)equipped for recce leaving more Lancers (QRL) and Hussars (KRH and QRH) equipped with C2.
    Regimental amalgamations were conducted by putting 'like with like' (lancers with Lancers (eg 9/12) based on the regimental 'labels' at the timenames as opposed to roles. All cavalry regiments were originally numbered and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries their roles were changed. For example it was pot luck in WW2 as to which cavalry regiments were formation recce, which were equipped with cavalry tanks or medium tanks. The result was that regiments with different roles were amalgamated and their final role was decided by which of the two roles (recce or heavy) was required at the time as the constituent regiments had been able to do both.
    I also believe that armoured regiments used to alter roles every few years but now no longer do so, the result being that the present situation is unlikely to change.

    Also contrary to what has been said I believe Lancers and light dragoons were medium cavalry, while Hussars were light scouting cavalry.
  6. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    Yes. When I joined up, 15/19H were listed as armour, though had left Fally to do an 18 month IS tour of Omagh. Came out of Omagh into the recce role, which they fulfilled until after I had left. Then I heard they were armour again in the late 80s I think, at Detmold. In the book "Light Dragoons, formation of a New Regiment" or whatever it was called, describing the merger of 15/19H with 13/18H to become 13/15/18/19H - er I mean Light Dragoons, there's a picture of a lad who'd been a sprog when I left, now commanding a tank in Berlin the day before the Wall came down.

    But it wasn't new. !5/19H were raised as Elliot's Light Dragoons, then under an (18th century?) restructuring they became 15H. 15H merged with 19H after WW1. 19H had been raised from Bengal Police Force. Then they became Light Dragoons again after Options For Change, though by this time the change was entirely titular.
  7. I dont think current roles reflect the old traditional roles of the different types of cavalry anymore. its all down to money and who was on what when decisions have to be made. The QRL have gone from armour to recce, why them? because the 16/5L were on recce for years and were recce when they amalgamated with 17/21L and a lot of them are still in the QRL. Why lose that hard earned expertise?, it was easier. simpler and ultimately cheaper to convert an armoured regiment (with a lot of ex recce men) than trying to convert a regt that had been on heavy armour for 20 years or more.
  8. If only the above were true.

    The "experience" as either 1. left the army. 2. Been promoted beyond influence. Also,their locationmade them the ideal candidates to be re-roled (19 Mech).

    Skill fade, technology and tactics mean us three toe dino's would not stand a chance against a thrusting SNCO/JNCO!!!!
  9. I agree with you, except for one thing: the roles you mention for mounted cavalry. Initially there was 'heavy horse' (the old knights of the battlefield). They became known as 'dragoons' after the introduction of firearms. The restructuring of the army during Cromwell's time created 'light dragoons' who were (by dint of their name) lighter and faster moving. In further reorganisation of the army some dragoon regiments were lightened and renamed 'Dragoon Guards'. In the early 1800's the entire army was being modified and some European concepts were introduced to completetly replace Light Dragoons. Some became 'lancer' regiments while others became 'hussars'.

    All of this was to increase the shock value of cavalry and make them more useful on the battlefields of that time, i.e:

    Lancers - light cavalry with spears who could ride in quickly and kill the enemy's front line, including the artillery gunners but could also be used in the recce role or as dismounted infantry.

    Hussars - light cavalry who moved at great speed against infantry or other light cavalry and could also be used as recce.

    Dragoons and Light Dragoons - heavily armoured mounted infantry who moved slowly but packed a fearsome punch. Could also be used as recce.
  10. True - although in the case of the Britich Cavalry, a Hussar is actually just a more fashionable Light Dragoon, hence Regiments like the 14th Light Dragoons became the 14th Hussars, simply because of the influence coming from the East, where the label Hussar came from.
  11. Fashion wasn't the reason for change, tactics were. Many light dragoon regiments became lancers too - like the 5th, 9th, 12th, and 17th. Yes I agree that hussars were very 'fashionable' in Victorian society but even they weren't above change. Further changes in the army in 1907 saw the hussar uniform become less fancy (especially with the dropping of the pelisse), a change of weaponry and a further change of tactics. By this time khaki had started to come in as well - after the boer war. Artillery had a big influence on tactics during that period however (in the conventional sense of course because colonial wars were mainly fought as they always had been).
  12. Unfortunately Shiny Pips is wrong the title Hussar does not come from India it comes from Hungary where the first "Hussars" originated.

    Question for all: Which regiment was formed as the first of the "Light Cavalry" and was subsequently awarded the first battle honour ever awarded to a British Regiment of the Line and as a result of their sucess at said battle a further 6 Regiments of "Light Cavalry" were reformed or raised.
  13. He didn't say the title came from India, he said it came from 'The East', and he is correct.

    The formation of "Light Cavalry" in the British Army began with 'Troops' not regiments, of light horse who were attached to the RHG. The idea was successful and led not to the 'formation of' light cavalry units but the retasking of (previously) heavy regiments as light dragoons.
  14. The first operational deployment of Light Dragoons were two Regiments in the American War of Independance. Without looking it up i think it was 15th and 17th. Though who got the honour or for which battle.

    Although the tactics for light and Heavy cavalry were officialy different and they were certainly armed and mounted differently, there was never any real difference in how they were employed. All British cavalry wanted to be used for shock action charges and had to be forced to do recce tasks. Even the Heavy cavalry were not above being used as recce.
  15. Accepted, but the first operational deployment of 'light cavalry' were as 'light troops' of the RHG. Subsequent regimental taskings were based on the success of these.