Lieutenant Ronald Arculus joined the 4th Hussars from the 7th Hussars in October 1943 when the Regiment was in Egypt.

Capt Sir Ronald Arculus, KVCO
Capt Sir Ronald Arculus, KVCO

He was posted to ‘C’ Squadron, which was initially equipped with Sherman and Crusader tanks, later replaced by turretless Stuart tanks as the regiment converted to an Armoured Reconnaissance role.

During the next six months, he was involved in the tasks of providing guards and patrols in connection with the defection of Greek army personnel, as well as an intensive programme of training and range practices to absorb reinforcements posted in to bring the Regiment up to War Establishment in preparation for operations.

In May 1944 he crossed to Italy with the Regiment, now equipped with Sherman tanks, as part of 1st Armoured Division. ‘C’ Squadron’s first taste of action was in the assault on the Gothic Line in September. In November, the squadron converted from tanks to turretless Sherman Kangaroos, for an infantry carrying role which continued as the Allied forces advanced north until the German Army surrendered in May 1945.

During the Italian campaign, he mastered vernacular Italian, which was to serve him in good stead in his later career as a diplomat.

When hostilities ceased in Italy he moved with the Regiment to Austria, where they were re-equipped with Staghound armoured cars and became responsible for collecting and guarding prisoners of war, refugees and liberated slave workers, in addition to rounding up fleeing SS officers and assisting local authorities with civil administration and police problems.

He left the Regiment in September 1945 to resume his studies at Oxford, which had been interrupted by the war, and then joined the Foreign Office.

His diplomatic career included postings to the USA, Ankara, Paris and, finally, Rome, where he organised visits by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and by the Queen in 1980. (There he also entertained General John Strawson, a wartime fellow troop leader in ‘C’ Squadron, whom he had met more recently when they were both students at the Imperial Defence College).

He was appointed CMG in 1969, raised to KCMG in 1979 and KCVO in 1980. He was also a Knight Grand Cross of the Italian Order of Merit.

After he retired from the Diplomatic Service he pursued a number of business interests in non-executive roles, and in 1987 was appointed special adviser to the Government on the procurement of rolling stock for Channel Tunnel trains.

He was president of the Kensington Society from 2001-2011.

He continued to maintain contact with the Regiment through the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars Officers’ Dining Club whose dinners he regularly attended.

He married in 1953, Sheila Faux who predeceased him in 2015. They had two children and two grandchildren.

He died on 28 August 2016 aged 93.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. Italy 1943-5 timeline