8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars
In 1693 Colonel Conyngham, under the authority of The King, raised a regiment of dragoons in Ireland.
Early active service of the 8th Hussars, known then as Pepper’s Dragoons, was during the War of Spanish Succession, at Almenara, where on the 27th of June 1710 they defeated a Spanish Cavalry Corps and to add insult to injury, stole their crossbelts and killed them with their own swords.
They were afterwards known as the “Crossbelt Dragoons”, and the Regimental Journal is still called “The Crossbelts”.
After service in England which saw extensive action to suppress the 1745 Rebellion, a quieter period was then enjoyed until the start of the Napoleonic Wars. The 8th Light Dragoons distinguished themselves in the 1794 Flanders Campaign although at a very high price and then continued with active duty in South Africa and Egypt.
It fought against the Russians at Silistra on the Danube, en route to the main theatre of the Crimean War (1854-56). There, it served at the Alma and took part in the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava. The charge was led by the Earl of Cardigan, who had been an officer in the 8th Hussars from 1824 to 1830.
Only 154 members of the 8th Hussars returned from the Crimea in 1856. They were in Ireland for less than a year before being dispatched to deal with the Indian Mutiny (1857-59).
In 1858, a Squadron of The 8th Hussars charged a vastly superior enemy force at Gwalior winning four Victoria Crosses in the process. A fifth Victoria Cross was added at the Battle of Beejapore a few months later. Central India 1857-58 became a Battle Honour for the Regiment.
It then formed part of India’s garrison until 1864, and again from 1878 to 1889, guarding lines of communication between Kabul and Peshawar during the Second Afghan War (1878-80) and fighting against the Shinwarrie tribe.
It spent the rest of the 19th century in England and Ireland. And from there, it sailed to the Boer War (1899-1902) in 1900, taking part in the anti-guerrilla operations.
The 8th Hussars were stationed once more in India when The Great War broke out. Like The 3rd and 4th Hussars, they spent the duration of the war winning the bitter struggle on the Western Front. For almost all of the war, the Regiment was confined to the trenches, however at Villers-Faucon, ‘D’ Squadron managed to mount the last heroic charge of The 8th Hussars in 1917.
The last mounted parade of the Regiment was on Armistice Day in 1938.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Regiment found itself fighting alongside The 3rd, 4th and 7th Hussars in the Middle East.
The 8th Hussars landed in Normandy on the 9th of June 1944 as the armoured reconnaissance regiment of the 7th Armoured Division and fought all the way across North-West Europe to Hamburg with the Allied advance.
In 1950 The Regiment was sent to the aid of the UN forces in Korea, only to find them in full retreat before the more numerous Chinese forces. The UN force gradually took up the offensive again and The 8th Hussars fought gallantly in the Battle of Imjin River and the actions around Seoul and Kowan-San before returning to Germany in 1952.
In 1958, The 8th Hussars amalgamated with The 4th Hussars to form The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars.
Titles of The Regiment
- 1693 – Henry Conyngham’s Regiment of Dragoons
- 1751 – 8th Regiment of Dragoons
- 1775 – 8th Regiment of Light Dragoons
- 1777 – 8th (The King’s Royal Irish) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
- 1822 – 8th (The King’s Royal Irish) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)
- 1861 – 8th (The King’s Royal Irish) Hussars
- 1921 – 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars
- 1958 – Amalgamated with the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars as The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars