The 14th/20th King’s Hussars Collection
The collection of the 14th/20th King’s Hussars is now held by HorsePower the Museum of The King’s Royal Hussars. For the first time the collections of all predecessor regiments of the King’s Royal Hussars are combined in one Museum. Whilst we are working to update our main displays a temporary exhibition will showcase a selection from the 14th/20th King’s Hussars collection and will be rotating objects from across nearly 300 years of history.
The 14th/20th King’s Hussars amalgamated with The Royal Hussars (PWO) in 1992 to form the King’s Royal Hussars. The Regiment traces its origins to Dormer’s Dragoons raised in 1715 and the 20th Inniskilling Light Dragoons raised in 1759.
Joseph Bonaparte’s chamber pot – ‘The Emperor’
During the French retreat at the Battle of Vitoria on 21 June 1813 the British cavalry ransacked the French baggage train including the coach of Joseph Bonaparte, the King of Spain. The 14th Light Dragoons’ liberated’ this silver chamber pot from the coach which had been presented to Joseph by his brother Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and still bears the Royal Arms.
Major (Later General) Thomas Brotherton of the 14th described the scene during the plunder:
‘Indeed it was a strange scene. The plunder of years collected, hordes of the Spanish women who had been seduced by the French officers and men, and lastly, King Joseph’s own seraglio of courtly ladies, cooped up in carriages of which we had taken possession, forming a procession nearly a mile long; the carriages ransacked by our soldiery, and every valuable taken out of them, but a bottle of brandy seized by them more eagerly than precious jewels.’
The taking of the chamber pot led to the Regiment’s nickname – ‘The Emperor’s Chambermaids’! It became tradition that, at formal mess dinners, the Officers of the Regiment toast ‘The Emperor’ with champagne drunk from the silver chamber pot. The one on display is an exact replica, as the original is still used in the officer’s mess of the King’s Royal Hussars as a toasting cup!
1796 Pattern Light Cavalry Sabre
This sabre is believed to have been used by the 14th Light Dragoons in the War of 1812 when 2 troops were sent to America and participated in the Battle of New Orleans in 1814. The markings on the hilt reveal that this sword was used by a soldier of D Troop, 14th Light Dragoons. It was discovered in Canada and presented to the Museum by Mr Alan Duffy, a former Officer in the Ontario Regiment and President of the Ontario Regiment Museum in Oshawa, Ontario Canada.
The 1796 Pattern was designed as a collaboration between the extremely skilled cavalry commander John Gaspard Le Marchant and Birmingham based sword cutler Henry Osborn. Major-General Le Marchant was killed during the Battle of Salamanca on 12 July 1822 after leading what is considered one of the most destructive cavalry charges of the Napoleonic era.
The training of British cavalry emphasised slashing or cutting, as opposed to thrusting favoured by the French. This was far less accurate but could be devastating as Private George Farmer of the 11th Light Dragoons vividly recalls:
‘Just then a French officer stooping over the body of one of his countrymen, who dropped the instant on his horse’s neck, delivered a thrust at poor Harry Wilson’s body; and delivered it effectually. I firmly believe that Wilson died on the instant yet, though he felt the sword in its progress, he, with characteristic self-command, kept his eye on the enemy in his front; and, raising himself in his stirrups, let fall upon the Frenchman’s head such a blow, that brass and skull parted before it, and the man’s head was cloven asunder to the chin. It was the most tremendous blow I ever beheld struck; and both he who gave, and his opponent who received it, dropped dead together. The brass helmet was afterwards examined by order of a French officer, who, as well as myself, was astonished at the exploit; and the cut was found to be as clean as if the sword had gone through a turnip, not so much as a dint being left on either side of it.’ (The Light Dragoon, George Farmer)
Medals of Major Percy Drew MBE, 14th/20th King’s Hussars
Major Percy Thomas ‘Mickey’ Drew was awarded: Member of the Order of the British Empire (Military Division), The 1939-45 Star, The Italy Star, The Defence Medal, The 1939-45 War Medal, King George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935, The 1953 Coronation Medal, The Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Also on display is his 14th/20th King’s Hussars Regimental Medal and Bar.
Born in 1901 Percy Drew joined the Army in 1919 and was first posted to the 14th King’s Hussars in Germany as part of the first British Army of the Rhine. In 1922 the 14th amalgamated with the 20th Hussars to form the 14th/20th Hussars. By 1936 he was promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major and was commissioned in 1939. In May 1941 he became Lieutenant and Quartermaster (QM). He served with the Regiment in Germany, India and Egypt and throughout the Second World War, including the Battle of Medicina in Italy on 16 April 1945.
The same year he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). His recommendation reads ‘In recognition of outstanding initiative and devotion to duty…This Officer throughout his commissioned service as Quartermaster of this Regiment has shown a complete disregard of self-interest, and his unswerving devotion to duty has been to the best interest of the Service. A culmination of 26 years distinguished service in this Regiment’
He was awarded the Regimental Medal in 1939 and later a bar in 1948 in recognising his valuable contribution to Regimental life. In 1948 he left the 14th/20th King’s Hussars and was appointed Quartermaster at the Royal Armoured Corps Depot at Bovington, retiring from the Army in 1956. He died on 27 August 1970
The high regard in which he was held, by those he served with, is clear from his obituary in the Regimental Journal:
‘His full support and considered advice was invaluable to everyone with whom he came in contact; cheerful in adversity, steady and conscientious in success, he was a first class RSM, a superb quartermaster and a loyal and wonderful friend.’
Emergency Rations, August 1906
This emergency ration tin belonged to Percy Wheeler of the 14th Hussars, and was issued during his time in India. They contain 4 ounces (113 grams) of ground beef and 4 ounces of cocoa. It is stamped with the date of manufacture and the ‘Broad Arrow’ mark of the War Office.
Instructions on the tin read: ‘Emergency ration. This ration is not to be opened except by order of an officer or in extremity. It is to be carried in the haversack and produced at inspections, etc. The ration is calculated to maintain strength for 36 hours if eaten in small quantities at a time.‘