The 11th Hussars 1934 - 1939


When the 11th Hussars sailed from Southampton to Egypt in November 1934, nine years would elapse before the Regiment would see England again.  In Egypt the 11th Hussars were equipped with 34 Rolls-Royce armoured cars (illustrated) plus five Crossley armoured cars which were used as headquarters and command cars.  The latter were later replaced by Morris armoured cars.

The Rolls Royce armoured cars were 1924 pattern, designed in 1917, but they were still the main vehicles of the 11th Hussars right up to 1941.  The vehicle was lightly armoured, carried a crew of three and had a single Vickers .303 machine gun on a ball mounting in the turret.  In 1935 wireless was fitted to one car in every troop; and after the beginning of WW 2 the original turrets were replaced by a two man type, increasing the crew to four, and the armament to a .55 Boyes rifle and a Bren gun.

Reliability and performance were high on the hard desert surface. The vehicle had a speed of 45 mph and a range of 180 miles.  Its mobility was affected by soft sand (vehicle weight 6 tons when fully loaded) and in the summer heat of Africa its crew often had to use their own precious water ration to top up the water cooled petrol engine.

April 1936 saw the start of the Arab rebellion in Palestine.  By the time the 11th Hussars arrived in early July 1936, the rebellion had developed into guerrilla warfare and it was to be the first time that the Regiment experienced action since deploying to Egypt.  RHQ was established at first in an old Turkish fort at Nablus and the main role of the Regiment was to provide escorts for regular day-time convoys, mobile reserves and for artillery support.   In addition to threats from snipers, the armoured car troops had to deal with land mines in the roads.  The mines were crudely constructed but they were effective as can be seen from the damage inflicted upon the armoured car in the second picture.   Squadrons and troops were compelled to operate on their own which was an invaluable preparation for the future conflict in North Africa.

The 11th Hussars stayed in Palestine until October 1936 and then returned to Egypt but in July 1938 the Regiment deployed to Palestine again to deal with a new revolt.  However, when the Munich crisis developed, the Regiment was recalled to Egypt in spite of the deteriorating situation in Palestine.  After the political tensions eased, C Squadron and an advanced headquarters went back to Palestine where they continued to operate in arduous conditions with the usual incidence of ambushes and skirmishes. In April 1939, Italy invaded Albania and for the third and last time the 11th Hussars were recalled to Egypt from Palestine.  In early 1941, when the Afrika Korps was deploying to Libya, the last of the Rolls Royce armoured cars were replaced by more modern vehicles.  It was not until 1944 that the 11th Hussars returned to England from Italy to prepare for the Normandy invasion.