Held AtGloucestershire Archives
Alt Ref NoD4920
TitleRoyal Gloucestershire Hussars and the Royal Wessex Yeomanry
DescriptionAdministrative records of the RGH pre 1971 and its successor regiment the Royal Wessex Yeomanry including: Royal Gloucestershire Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry minutes 1797-1823; Tetbury Troop order book 1831-1838; war diaries (1898)-1919, 1939-1943; daily orders 1939-1943; registers of men 1939-1943; officers' leave book 1939-1945; nominal rolls (2 RGH), 1941-1943, administrative orders (2 RGH), 1939-1943, casualty returns, 1941-1943 , RGH club minutes 1945-1967; regimental scrapbooks1957-1959, files of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry concerning policy, establishment and personnel, annual fitness for role inspections, regimental history, newsletters and associations, discipline, commendations, officers' mess, equestrian events, conferences and meetings, visits and events, c.1971-c.1990, C (RGH) squadron scrapbooks, diary, nominal rolls (1989) and other papers, 1971-1992; memorabilia given to the RGH trustees by ex RGH members and their relatives, comprising photographs, newscuttings, articles on RGH history and other papers, (1795)-2001; papers of RGH trustees and other bodies intimately related to the regiment, trustees meetings papers 1980-1999; papers of the RGH Association 1970s-1980s; draft of 'The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars' by Rollo Clifford; replies to questionnaire about RGH history and related file 1980; videotapes of 150th parade 1984 and RGH museum opening 1990; museum appeal papers 1987and plans 1989; audiotapes concerning museum exhibits [c.1990] and of RGH and Gloucestershire Regiment bands, Colston Hall, Bristol 1989
NotesPhotographs and cinefilm are stored in very cold strong rooms and need to acclimatise for 1½ hours before they can be made available in the search room. THERE WILL THEREFORE BE A DELAY OF ABOUT 2 HOURS BETWEEN HANDING IN A REQUEST SLIP FOR SUCH AN ITEM, AND BEING ABLE TO SEE IT.

RGH archive and family history: many searchers will hope to use this archive to find out information about an ancestor. An alphabetical index to this catalogue is provided but searchers should bear in mind that although the RGH archive contains a wealth of material, there is surprisingly little which can be accessed directly by an individual's name. Lateral thinking will be rewarded, both in terms of how the RGH archive is approached and the use made of records held elsewhere!

Some initial background reading is strongly recommended. There are many publications aimed at those with military ancestors. One of the most directly relevant to people tracing an ancestor who served in the RGH is Records of the Militia and Volunteer Forces 1757-1945 by William Spencer (A PRO publication, available in the Record Office library). Also useful are Army Records for Family Historians (a new edition has been produced, 2002) and My Ancestor was in the British Army (both available in the Record Office library).

The dearth of nominal rolls in the RGH archive (none at all for WW1) presents a problem for family historians. However, a nominal roll for the WW1 period can, in effect, be created by searching the National Archives database of campaign medals from WW1 (available at http://www.documentsonline.nationalarchives.gov.uk) under the term Gloucestershire yeomanry.

Searchers are also reminded that there may be records relating to RGH ancestors, particularly those who served in the Boer War or World War 1, in the National Archives. The National Archives (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk) holds a large number of central government records relating to the military, (including material about volunteer regiments) including those of the Home Office and War Office. Most of these date from the 17th to the 20th centuries and are made up of operational records as well as service records to 1922. In addition, as mentioned above, campaign medals from WW1 are available online http://www.documentsonline.nationalarchives.gov.uk.

Service records for those who served in World War 2 are currently held by the Ministry of Defence. Advice on how to access them is available via the veterans' agency on the MODs website http://www.mod.uk

Other useful websites are the Army Museums Ogilby Trust (www.armymuseums.org.uk) which offers advice on how to research army ancestry and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org) which offers an on line "debt of honour" search for those who served and died in World Wars 1 & 2.

A glossary of abbreviations used in the catalogue is available as part of the printed catalogue


1/1 Pre WW1
1/2 WW1
1/3 Between the wars
1/4 WW2
1/5 Post WW2 -1971
1/6 1971 onwards (Royal Wessex Yeomanry, including C RGH squadron)


2/1 Pre WW1
2/2 WW1 and aftermath
2/3 Between the wars
2/4 WW2 and aftermath
2/5 Post WW2-1971
2/6 1971 onwards (RGH and Royal Wessex Yeomanry)


3/1 RGH Association
3/2 War memorial
3/3 Regimental History
3/4 RGH property
3/5 Trustees files: "RGH matters"
3/6 Soldiers of Gloucestershire museum

The archive falls into several distinct sections. It comprises a mixture of administrative records (both of the RGH pre 1971 and its successor regiment the Royal Wessex Yeomanry), RGH memorabilia which constitutes the largest part of the archive, and papers of RGH trustees and other bodies intimately related to the regiment. Taken as a whole, the archive does not contain many administrative records for the pre 1971 era. Those which do exist mainly concern 2 RGH as a fighting unit in the Middle East during WW2 and include some of the most useful material in the archive such as registers of personnel, nominal rolls, casualty returns, detailed administrative orders and an official war diary. There are also nominal rolls for 1 RGH 1939-1946, listed at D4920/3/1/3. As might be expected, there are not many surviving administrative records from earlier periods in the regiment's history. For the pre World War 1 era there is a minute book of the Royal Gloucester troop of yeomanry cavalry, 1797-1892 and an order book for the Tetbury troop, 1831-1838. The only significant administrative record to survive for the first World War period is an official war diary (listed at 1/2/1). Also useful are newspaper reports for 1914-1915 which contain a roll of honour, lists of men siging up and various active service rolls, and are listed at 2/2/2.
When the new regiment was formed in 1971, the RGH provided the regimental HQ which was based in Cirencester. This archive therefore includes a good run of post 1971 administrative files which relate to the Royal Wessex Yeomanry as a whole as well as material generated by C (RGH) squadron. Unfortunately however, many files of the new regiment were disposed of in the mid 1980s.

The second, and largest, category of material within the archive comprises memorabilia given to the RGH trustees for the archive by ex RGH members and their relatives. It mainly consists of photographs but contains other items such as news cuttings and copies of articles on RGH history. It also contains a small amount of what were once, strictly speaking, core administrative records which were kept by individuals as being of historical significance and presented to the RGH trustees later. Such material tends to relate to times when the regiment was threatened with disbandment, for instance the late 1960s.

The files and working papers of RGH trustees and the RGH Association and related organisations form the third major section of this catalogue. It includes papers relating to the main areas of concern covered by the various RGH committees such as war memorial and RGH history and RGH property as well as material concerning the planning, setting up and running of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire museum which opened in 1990. The museum is the result of a collaborative partnership between the RGH and the Gloucestershire regiment, and contains artefects relating to both regiments.

It has proved difficult to find a satisfactory way to organise this material. It seems that at one time the RGH had intended to arrange their papers thematically into categories such as weaponry, uniform, vehicles and a certain amount of work was done towards this by the RGH honorary archivist Willy Russell. However the scale of the archive meant that the bulk of items did not receive such treatment. The approach taken in this catalogue has been to arrange the memorabilia into broad chronological periods. However, items from different eras relating to the same person have been brought together, placed in the era during which they were associated with the RGH, and cross referenced. Although the RGH regiment as such ceased to exist after 1971 when it became a constituent part of the newly formed (Royal) Wessex Yeomanry, there is material relating to the RGH constituted HQ troop, (based at Cirencester), and squadrons A (Gloucester) and C (Cirencester). There is also post 1971 material generated by the commemoration of important dates in RGH history.

Original bundles have been preserved where-ever possible. However, a few very miscellaneous collections of material, covering a wide chronological period, have been split. All material was given a running number prefixed by AO, prior to transfer from HQ at Highfield House in Cirencester to the Record Office. This number is recorded at the end of each entry and could be used to recreate original bundles in cases where these have been split.

A small proportion of the records in this catalogue were deposited at the record office in 1984/5 and listed shortly afterwards. In order to provide a unified list of all accessions these items have been incorporated with the more recently deposited material and now bear different reference numbers. The previous reference numbers are noted in the list for all such items. In addition a conspectus of old and new reference numbers is provided as an appendix to the printed catagloue. For searchers unable to access this, details are avaialble on request
Admin HistoryThe RGH has long been proud of its history and traditions which it has fought hard to preserve as a key part of its regimental identity during the various re-organisations which the regiment has undergone. Uncertainty over the future of the regiment during defence cuts in the late 1960s had acted as a catalyst for the collection of photographs and other material generated by or relating to the regiment. In 1971 the amalgamation of the RGH into the newly formed Wessex Yeomanry again focused attention on the need to safeguard and preserve RGH belongings and in 1972 the RGH charitable trust was established whereby RGH property, including its archives, could be held in trust for present and future members of the Regiment.

A brief history of the RGH: The origins of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars can be traced back to the volunteer cavalry troops which were first raised in the late 18th century as a response to the threat of invasion during the Napoleonic Wars. Small informal troops were raised on an ad hoc basis between 1795 and 1830 to counter the threat of French invasion and to deal with unrest at home. In 1834 these were amalgamated into a single regiment, the Gloucestershire Yeomanry Cavalry (from 1841 the Royal Gloucestershire Yeomanry cavalry). In 1847 the regiment adopted the title Royal Gloucestershire Hussars (abbreviated henceforth as RGH).

Volunteer regiments were not liable for service overseas. However, in times of crisis provision was made for units to volunteer for service abroad and for individual members to transfer to the Regular Army. The regiment first saw active service during the Boer War when in 1900 a contingent of 123 RGH men left for Cape Town under the command of Captain WH Playne, serving there for 18 months. The regiment was badly affected by sickness which claimed more lives than did enemy action. At the start of the Great War in 1914 the regiment was at first involved in home defence on the east coast but in April 1915 sailed for Egypt and then to Gallipoli in Turkey where it suffered heavy losses. On 23 April 1916 a whole RGH squadron, led by Captain M G Lloyd Baker, were attacked at Katia by a vastly superior enemy force and despite putting up a fierce resistance, were eventually overwhelmed. There were many casualties and only nine of those surviving escaped capture.

Following the armistice, the army as a whole faced a massive rundown. This took its toll on the RGH which in 1922 was reduced to company strength as part of the Royal Tank Corps. (Horses were not used from this date following War Office instructions) However, by 1930 their strength had grown to three squadrons, one based at Gloucester, one at Bristol and one county wide. They were equipped with Rolls Royce cars and proper training had begun.

In 1938 the regiment once again adopted the title Royal Gloucestershire Hussars and recruiting began in earnest in response to the growing threat from Germany. In 1939 the regiment had become so large, numbering over 1000 men, that it was divided into two, 1 RGH and 2 RGH. 1 RGH was mobilised as an armoured regiment but remained in England for the duration of the war, functioning mainly as a training and rehabilitation unit. It was disbanded in 1946 after doing garrison duty in Austria. 2 RGH sailed for the Middle East in August 1941 as part of the 22nd Armoured Brigade, and fought as an armoured tank regiment in Libya and Egypt. Such heavy losses were sustained that the regiment was disbanded in January 1943 despite strong opposition from its surviving officers. The men were dispersed and used to re-inforce other regiments, principally the 4th Hussars, the 8th Hussars and the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry

In 1947 the RGH was reformed as an armoured car regiment in the reconstituted Territorial Army with squadrons at Gloucester, Cirencester, Bristol, Tetbury and Cheltenham. The regiment was officially affiliated to the 11th Hussars who henceforth provided its permanent staff. The cuts in the defence budget made in the late 1960s under a Labour government was a particular time of crisis for the regiment. In 1967 the axe fell on the Territorial Army, including the RGH which was effectively disbanded. Over the next 18 months all the permanent staff left and all equipment was handed back. By the end of 1968 all that remained of the RGH was a permanent cadre of only eight personnel.

However, the change of government in 1970 brought a corresponding change of policy towards the armed forces. In 1971 the RGH rose once again from the ashes, this time as part of a new regiment, the Wessex Yeomanry (from 1979 the Royal Wessex Yeomanry). The Wessex Yeomanry, formed on 1 April 1971, was an amalgamation of three regiments: the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry and the Royal Devon Yeomanry. Each constituent regiment retained its original insignia, guidon and regimental march The RGH provided three units within the new regiment: the HQ troop, based at Cirencester, and squadrons A (Gloucester) and C (Cirencester).

Note: a more detailed account of significant developments and events in RGH history is provided at the start of each section, as appropriate

There are two volumes of official RGH regimental history: The Yeomanry Cavalry of Gloucestershire and Monmouth by Wyndham Quin (published 1898) and The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Yeomanry 1898-1922 by Frank Fox . (London 1923).
In addition, Major Stuart Pitman wrote a detailed battle account of the 2 RGH entitled Second Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Libya Egypt 1941-1942 (London 1950). There is also a photographic history of the regiment The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars by Rollo Clifford, (1991). Many of the images in this book are made from photographs now preserved in the RGH archive. Cross references to Rollo Clifford's book have been made from the relevant entries wherever possible. Copies of all these books are available in the Record Office library. A database comprising an index of all those men mentioned in the two official regimental histories (Wyndham Quin and Fox) and Rollo Clifford's photographic history is currently being compiled. It is intended that references to this catalogue will be added in due course. There are several RGH publications, produced to mark key dates in the regiment's history, which contain useful information and accounts . These are to be found listed in the "History" section of this catalogue. There is also a pamphlet "The Royal Wessex Yeomanry" held at the Record Office under the reference MI48. The website (http://www.soldiersofglos.co.uk) of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, which relates to both the RGH and the Gloucestershire Regiment, (part of the regular army) includes a useful account of RGH history. The museum is based in Customs House at Gloucester Docks. The same building also houses the archive of the Gloucestershire Regiment, which can be viewed by appointment
Custodial HistoryDeposited by the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, except accession 5705, which was given by Mrs M J Vaughan.
TermFamily archives
Military history
Second World War (1939-1945)
First World War (1914-1918)
French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1800)
Related Material A comprehensive list of military records held in the Gloucestershire Record Office is being compiled. This will pull together all relevant records held at the Office and also indicates other repositories which may contain useful material

See also D1610; D1770; D1969; D4576; D4652; D10277
Access ConditionsThese records are open for research EXCEPT FOR D4920/1/6/9/8 AND D4920/1/6/13/1-5 WHICH ARE CLOSED UNTIL 75 YEARS OLD AND D4920/1/6/16/4-5 WHICH ARE CLOSED UNTIL 30 YEARS OLD
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