Peter Farquhar took command of the 3rd Hussars on 8th October 1942.
Since arriving in Egypt in 1940 the Regiment had taken part in Wavell’s spectacular victory over the Italian Army but had suffered three severe losses: one sabre squadron at Buq Buq, one in Crete and one in Java.
For the past twelve months, they had frequently been dispersed and never properly equipped. Now modern but unfamiliar tanks were being issued, reinforcements had arrived and the Regiment had to be organised and ready for battle in less than two weeks.
Under his inspiring leadership, a major part was played in winning the battle of El Alamein but at a heavy cost.
The final action started at dawn on 2nd November and continued all day. By night the German lines had been breached and the gap held open for the pursuit. The exhausted remnants of the 3rd Hussars moved into leaguer and while everybody else slept the Colonel took over guard duty for the night.
Now came the task of rebuilding and training. He was determined that when next the Regiment went into battle it would be as a trained team, familiar with their equipment and with every man knowing his job and being competent to do it. He selected his officer reinforcements with great care, even boarding
troopships before they docked at Suez.
The same intelligence, clear thinking and quick, cool mind that had made him an outstanding amateur huntsman in peacetime, produced a superbly trained Regiment of high morale that by the summer of 1943 was ready once again for war. Finally, in May 1944 they landed in Italy.
During the following months, the results achieved against an experienced and determined enemy on the ground ideal for defence proved beyond all doubt the success of his tactical genius and meticulous training. He was clear-thinking and receptive to new ideas with an eye for ground and tactical flair
that was unequalled.
The confidence that he inspired was enormous, and when one heard his voice on the air there was no doubt that all was under control and that there would be no mistakes or panic. He trusted his Squadron Leaders to make their own plans, advising and guiding them and always backing them to the full in any event.
He was determined that never again would his Regiment be launched into a suicide attack, if the local Brigadier suggested a plan he did not like, he would go to the Divisional Commander or higher. With no personal military ambition and with a wealth of experience to support his argument he always
eventually got his own way.
However, when there was a chance to attack the enemy on favourable terms, no man was quicker to seize the opportunity. His nickname in the 8th Army of “Colonel Push On” was earned by his determination to carry the war to the enemy whenever possible.
Everyone knew that Peter would create opportunities for an attack but would never be careless of their lives and such was the fighting spirit he inspired that more than one wounded soldier left the hospital without orders to rejoin the Regiment in battle.
Colonel Peter had been severely wounded, in 1940 and again in the Desert. During the Italian Campaign, he was wounded again, by wartime standards he was no longer a young man and was often in considerable pain.
By August 1944 he was no longer fit enough to carry on but had achieved his aim. He had produced a Regiment of great efficiency and excellent spirit that in three months had won a high reputation in the 8th Army and was known and feared by the enemy. It was reported that in the latter days in the Tiber valley the sound of tanks was enough to cause the enemy to withdraw.
He was awarded the DSO for El Alamein and a bar to it for Italy.
Although outwardly aloof he was an understanding and generous man. Never averse to a party himself, he viewed some of the more exuberant activities of his young officers with a tolerant and lenient eye. However, he did not shirk making difficult decisions affecting individuals when necessary.
After the war he became Master of the Portman, Earlier he had gained a reputation with the Meynell and others of the leading amateur huntsmen of his generation. He now consolidated this as the foremost authority on hound breeding, judging the championship class at Peterborough no fewer than six times.
He was instrumental in providing hounds for the Regimental Hunt when it was set up in Germany in 1949 and was always ready to help and encourage others, particularly the young.
His OBE was awarded for services to the National Association of Boys Clubs.
Peter was a keen and expert supporter of all country sports and a devoted family man. Those who had the privilege to serve under him will always hold him in very special regard.
In the three hundred years of Regimental History there can have been very few Commanding Officers who have done so much for the Regiment and who inspired so much admiration, respect and devotion.
Peter died on 2 Jun 1986. His youngest son lan served in the Regiment and is now hunting the Beaufort, a fact which gave Peter great pleasure. To all his family we extend our deepest sympathy.
- A short history of The 3rd Hussars
- Timeline: Middle East (Egypt and Libya)
- Timeline: Italy 1943-5
- Gallantry Award: Citation and Award of The Distinguished Service Order – Lt Col Sir Peter Farquhar, 3H
- Gallantry Award: Citation and Award of a Bar to The Distinguished Service Order – Lt Col Sir Peter Farquhar, DSO, 3H