The 8th (King’s Royal Irish) Hussars arrived in Marseilles in November 1914 and entered the trenches on the western front for the first time on the 9th December, not having arrived home in time to take any part in the retreat from Mons. They spent the whole War in the Ambala Brigade or first cavalry brigade next to native Indian mounted regiments, seeing their first action in December 1914 at Givenchy. The majority of their time was spent sending large parties forward to dig trenches and this continued for the whole span of the war. In the second battle for Ypres in May 1915, gas was first used by the Germans who expected a breakthrough which the 8th were sent forward to contain and this they did.
The majority of the casualties occurred from the unsanitary conditions of the trenches, the cavalry being held almost exclusively in reserve, waiting for "the gap" constantly warned off but never used. In July 1916 the King's Royal Irish Hussars fought at Bazentin then Flers-Courcelette the following month, both battles being in the Somme area, which they returned to in March 1917 to clear the small pockets of machine guns left by the retreating Germans. At Villiers Faucon after a "dashing attack" the regiment captured two of these machine guns, which are still outside the guardroom today. For the battle of Cambrai in November, the 8th Hussars were again warned for "The Gap" which did not appear, however they did some fierce defending against the enemy counter attack.
It was the same story for the German spring offensive of 1918, when "C" Squadron under Captain Adlercron bravely defended the village of Hervilly until untenable, only to recapture it later that day at the loss of sixty six casualties. The tide turned against the Germans when the allies began their final offensive in August, the 8th fighting at St Quentin, Beaurevoir and Cambrai and the pursuit to Mons. On the 11th November at Maffles, the regiment heard that the Armistice had been signed. They had lost 105 killed and many, many more wounded in the previous four years.
The 8th Hussars returned to England in 1919 and embarked almost immediately for India where again they spent less than a year when they ordered to Mesopotamia in order to deal with various native insurrections at Medali which they put down, moving from there to Egypt. In 1923 the Regiment moved back to York and completed a three year tour as part of the occupation forces in Germany from 1926-1929, after which they returned to Aldershot and received their first motorised transport for the machine gun squadron. The 8th moved back to Abassia in Egypt in 1934 and their last mounted parade was held in November 1935. Their particular brand of soldiering was at an end after 242 years, and it is difficult nowadays to imagine the sense of loss felt by the King's Royal Irish Hussars when the horses disappeared and the tanks came in.
A very full history of an Irish cavalry regiment over two hundred and thirty years in peace and in war with lists of all officers who served in it, of Colonels, COs, RSMs. Very useful for research. Originally published in a limited edition of just 200, and virtually unobtainable since then.
Painting by a French artist at St Riquier in May 1916. The regiment had been in Northern France since December 1914. They had been wearing a khaki cap up until 1916 when the steel helmet was introduced. They were also issued with a bayonet in that year although they had carried the Lee Enfield rifle since the beginning. His sword was attached to the saddle of his horse.