The death last year at the age of 77 of Philip Du Cros thins the surviving 3rd Hussars officers of the Great War almost to a single file.

Those of us who served with him in France in 1917-1918 will remember a dark-haired, debonair and diminutive figure, always (when that was possible, and even when it was not) immaculately turned out, and no matter what the circumstances of the trench or break-through warfare or the more leisurely life for a few weeks behind the line, his keen sense of the ridiculous (always a good cavalry quality) remained undimmed.

He was the eldest son of Sir Arthur, founder of the Dunlop Rubber Company, and like his namesake, Philip Waterlow, also of “B” Squadron, a Harrovian among a posse of Etonians, and never for a moment doubted a quiet sense of superiority on that account, though his gentle nature hid it perfectly except to his closest friends, and then apologetically.

If ever there was a truly amateur soldier, Philip was one, though beneath his skin he had an abiding pride, to be a 3rd Hussar, and knew the history of the Regiment backwards. But always he seemed to regard himself and everyone about him as somehow unreal in an idiotic world, and never took himself seriously.

He had an equally original character as a servant, a peacetime polo pony strapper by the name of England. They understood each other perfectly, and out of the line Philip held what he called his early morning boot parade as soon as England woke him. He had all sorts of foot and legwear, and each in turn had to be presented to him for inspection before he would make his selection for the day. Each had a name “Cavalry Field”, “Norwegian Field”, “Newmarket Special”, “Bond Street” (leggings) and so on, and the shine on his Sam Brown was not excelled, the Colonel’s included.

Being a very human and totally unconceited person, the men in his troop took him to their hearts, not least because of the unending flow of edible and drinkable luxuries regularly despatched by Fortnum and Mason from his father, and passed on by Philip to the Squadron Mess, the S.S.M. and in turn to the men also.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 3rd Hussars
  2. Timeline: The Western Front 1914-18