The 20th Hussars took part in operations to evacuate British troops from Sudan to the Egyptian border from 1885 to 1889.
In March 1885, two squadrons of the 20th Hussars based in England arrived in Suakin, on the Red Sea, to reinforce the garrison there. Their orders were to destroy the power of the Dervish forces of Osman Digna, a former slave trader, near Suakin. The first objective was the destruction of several thousand Dervishes at Tamai, 60 miles west of Suakin. The 20th led a reconnaissance to Tamai, discovered an outpost of Dervishes at Hasheen, attacked them and put them to flight.
The British Force retired to Suakin, where the squadron re-embarked and joined the rest of the regiment, which had arrived in Cairo. In December 1885, the 20th were part of the Frontier Force at Aswan. General Sir Frederick Stephenson led the Force out to meet the Dervishes at Ginnis, some 100 miles inside Sudan, south of Haifa. In the last battle to be fought in the British Infantry’s red coats, the 20th were out on the flanks of the advancing force. The Dervishes broke under the accurate volley-fire of the infantry and the regiment charged and routed them.
In 1887 the 20th left for England, leaving one squadron in Suakin, which was soon besieged by Osman Digna. On 20th December 1888 a sortie led by Colonel Herbert Kitchener, later Field Marshal Earl Kitchener, drove the Dervishes out of their trenches. They were charged by the squadron and put to flight. In the battle, three of the swords of the 20th Hussars broke short, an incident which later caused a debate in the House of Commons. The squadron returned to Cairo, and on 1st August 1889 the squadron sailed up the Nile in barges to the Battle of Toski.