1st Hussars - History

Our History

The 1st Hussars was founded in 1856 with the formation of the First London Volunteer Troop of Cavalry. Through the amalgamation of several troops in southwestern Ontario, the 1st Regiment of Cavalry was formed on 29 May 1872. In April 1892 the Regiment was redesignated the First Hussars and thus became the Canadian Cavalry Regiment which has held its name longer than any other.

During the South African War, the Regiment contributed officers and men to the Canadian contingent and was awarded the Battle Honour, South Africa 1900.

After the outbreak of the First World War, the 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles was formed in London with the 1st Hussars contributing the majority of the unit. The 7th CMR was tasked to provide the Divisional Cavalry Squadron for the 2nd Canadian Division. Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Ibbotson Leonard, the Squadron went overseas in June 1915. In January 1916 the unit was renamed the Special Service Squadron, First (Canadian) Hussars. Later that spring, formation of the Canadian Corps lead to the establishment of the Canadian Light Horse. The First Hussars formed B Squadron but continued to wear unit cap badges and collar dogs. The Squadron saw a great deal of action; often operating dismounted as infantry. One of the most significant cavalry actions occurred on 9 October 1918 when B Squadron, under Major C.F. McEwen, DSO, crossed the only intact bridge of Escaut Canal at Escamdoeuvres just north of Cambrai and held the high ground northeast of the village until relieved later that night.

Between the wars, the 1st Hussars continued mounted training and, in 1937, won all but one of the trophies in events open to Cavalry units. In 1929, the Regiment was allied to the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) - the "Cherry-Pickers" famed in the charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea. This affiliation has been preserved with the successor units: the Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales Own), formed in 1969 through the amalgamation of the 11th Hussars and the 10th Hussars and the King’s Royal Hussars, formed in 1993 with the amalgamation of the Royal Hussars and the 14/20th Hussars.

The first Non-Permanent Militia unit to be mobilized at the outbreak of World War II, the Regiment moved overseas as part of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division in 1941 and continued training until D-Day. Following the Normandy Landing, the Regiment took part in bitter battles in the bridgehead, the closing of the Falaise Gap and the clearing of the cross channel guns at Calais. The Regiment fought with distinction throughout Belgium and Holland and ended the war in Germany. During this period, the 1st Hussars won 72 decorations, certificates or mentions in dispatches - more than any other unit in the 1st Canadian Army.

Returning once again to the Dundas Street Armoury in London, the First Hussars resumed their Militia role. Reorganizations lead to disbanding one of two Squadrons in London and, in 1965, acquiring an outlying squadron in Sarnia. Taskings moved from armour through civil defence, reconnaissance and to armour once again in 1981, followed by a return to armoured reconnaissance in 2005.

On 5 July 1967, as a part of Canada's centennial celebrations, the 1st Hussars received the Regimental Gideon from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at a presentation held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. In 1977 Regimental Headquarters and A Squadron were relocated to the Royal School Building at London's Wolseley Barracks and in 1983 the Regiment was presented with an armoury in Sarnia. In 1992, RHQ and A Squadron moved into its present quarters in “A” block.

In 1993, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario presented the current Guidon to the Regiment.

The Regiment has continued its military service by sending personnel on United Nations peacekeeping operations in the Middle East, Bosnia, Kosovo, Eritrea and Afghanistan as well as contributing personnel to combat natural disasters within Canada.

Today, the Regiment continues to move forward while living up to the Regimental Motto: HODIE NON CRAS (TODAY NOT TOMORROW).

More history on 1st Hussars can be found on the History and Heritage website.

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