John Strawson joined The 4th Hussars in late 1942 and was posted to ‘C’ Squadron to command 3rd Troop.

Maj Gen J Strawson CB OBE
Maj Gen J Strawson CB OBE

The Regiment was in the Middle East and was re-equipped with Sherman and Honey tanks as Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment of 1st Armoured Division, he also became Gunnery Officer.

After much training, The 4th Hussars arrived in Italy in 1944 and took part in a series of battles from the Gothic Line to the final breakout in April 1945.

By this time ‘C’ Squadron was equipped with Kangaroos and Strawson commanded a half-squadron carrying the New Zealanders into battle.

For his leadership during these final battles, he was awarded the US Bronze Star.

After the war and a brief time in Austria, The 4th Hussars were stationed near Trieste and with the return of Officers who had been taken prisoner in Greece, horses once more dominated the sporting scene.

John Strawson greatly enjoyed whipping into Loopy Kennard’s pack of drag hounds and became a very keen horseman with racing at Aiello and innumerable hunter trials.

These activities continued when the Regiment moved to Lübeck in 1947.

Next, after further training at Colchester, The 4th Hussars moved to Malaya in 1948 as the first armoured car regiment to take part in the so-called emergency.

Soon after arrival in Ipoh Captain Strawson took over command of ‘A’ Squadron for about a year and then after a brief time as Adjutant, was posted back home to attend the 1950 Staff College course.

Then after two years as Brigade Major of an infantry brigade, he rejoined The 4th Hussars in 1953 to command ‘C’ Squadron.

He remained as ‘C’ Squadron Leader until late 1954 when he was posted to Fort Knox, Kentucky as British Liaison Officer. He then rejoined The 4th Hussars early in 1957 with Loopy Kennard now in command, until the Regiment’s amalgamation with 8th Hussars in the summer of 1958.

He was then posted to Minley Manor as a DS at the Staff College, where he greatly enjoyed being Master of the Staff College Drag.

After a brief tour in the then War Office, Lieutenant Colonel Strawson was appointed to command The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars in the Far East.

It was the time of the Borneo campaign and the Regiment had far flung operational duties in Sarawak, Brunei, North Borneo (later Sabah), Ipoh and Singapore. For some months Strawson was Commander West Sarawak, and he ensured that all three sabre squadrons had their fair share of all operations.

He was awarded the OBE for the Regiment’s distinguished service.

After leaving Malaysia the Regiment reassembled at Wolfenbüttel, still as an armoured car regiment, and in March 1965 he handed over command to his old comrade in arms, John Paley.

After 18 months in the Military Operations branch of MOD, John Strawson was promoted to Brigadier to command 39 Brigade in Northern Ireland, where he much enjoyed laying on training exercises for the brigade and indulging his love of sport.

Two years later he was sent to the Imperial Defence College, after which, promoted to Major General, he was Chief of Staff, Live Oak, responsible for ensuring access to Berlin, His final appointment in the Army was as Chief of Staff, UKLF, and for his service there he was appointed CB.

During his final year of service, Major General Strawson succeeded General Sir John Hackett as Colonel of the Regiment. He was greatly honoured to be so and served for ten years.

Throughout his life, John Strawson was a keen sportsman, his greatest love in this field being for equitation. Among the many books he wrote, one dealt with the history and practice of drag hunting.

He was most happily married to Baroness Wilfried von Schellersheim and they had two daughters.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. A short history of The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars
  3. Malaya 1948-51
  4. Aden and The Persian Gulf 1961
  5. Malaya and Borneo 1962-64