Chain of Command:Abyssinia -Hussars

8th Hussars 1936

The Cavalry

In 1928 the 11th Hussars and the 12th Lancers were selected to become armoured car units, the two regiments being ‘paired’, so that one would serve overseas, while the other would be based in the UK and the two would exchange on the normal rotation basis. Rather than transport the vehicles as well as men, these would remain in-situ and the incoming regiment would simply take them over. By 1935 the ‘home unit’ possessed a squadron of Rolls-Royce armoured cars (on ‘occupation duty’ in the Saar) and two squadrons of Lanchester 6×4 armoured cars. The ‘Egyptian unit’ correspondingly had a single squadron of Ex-RTC Rolls-Royce armoured cars and two squadrons of Crossley MK. I 6×4 armoured cars. Organisation for all squadrons was a HQ section of two cars, with three troops, each three cars.

These two units were intended to be the initial components of a mobile division in the UK and a ‘mobile force’ in Egypt. The Egyptian force was to be made up of the afore-mentioned armoured car regiment, a regiment of motorised cavalry and two regiments of light tanks. The 8th Hussars were selected for conversion for the motorised cavalry role and the 4th and 7th Hussars for the tank role. While the 7th possessed a squadron worth of light tanks, the 4th were totally vehicle-less and neither regiment was to receive further vehicles until after the end of the crisis.

Various vehicles (mainly Ford V8s) were purchased as the mechanical mounts of the 8th Hussars. There was a dearth of drivers and mechanics (in the UK there was approximately one vehicle per fourteen people and few working-class people knew how to drive) and the 11th Hussars trained them in batches. The remainder of the force received training with the Vickers-Berthier light machine gun, which was issued to them in lieu of the Lewis Guns which would normally equip an infantry unit. A similar situation occurred in the UK where the brand-new Bren Guns were issued to the cavalry first. All of this aside, by the time of the Crisis the 8th Hussars as effectively motorised infantry, were ready for war.

As it stood the cavalry brigade, less the pedestrian rather than equestrian 4th and most of the 7th Hussars, was quite a respectable force for its time. Its supporting RHA battery was completely mechanised with Light Dragon Tractors for its 3.7” Howitzers. There were the three squadrons of motorised infantry, each with three rifle troops in the 8th Hussars. The 11th Hussars had three squadrons of armoured cars, the 12th Lancers two of Lanchesters and the single squadron of the 7th had its light tanks. While it wasn’t apparently the case, had the moth-balled SEMAG-Becker dual-purpose guns been added to the inventory too, it would also have contained an effective counter to the Italian tankettes facing them.

 

Chain of Command British 8th Hussars army list

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