The 13th Hussars
Badge of the
13th Hussars
  Pugaree (Helmet) Badge
of the 13th Hussars
Badge of the
Royal Hussars
Badge of the
Light Dragoons

Baden-Powell’s first regimental posting was to the 13th Hussars, a cavalry regiment with a long tradition. They were perhaps best known for their part in the Charge of the Light Brigade before the Russian guns at Balaklava in the Crimean War. Battle Honors for the 13th Hussars included: "Waterloo," "Peninsula," "Toulouse," "Orthes," "Vittoria," and "Albuhera" in the Napoleonic Wars; "Alma," "Balaklava" (Charge of the Light Brigade), "Inkerman," and "Sevastapol" in the Crimean War; and, "South Africa 1899-1902" and "Relief of Ladysmith" in the Boer War.

Baden-Powell’s military service through 1907 is summarized in C. R. B. Barrett, History of The XIII. Hussars, William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1911:

BADEN-POWELL, Sir ROBERT STEPHENSON SMYTH, K.C.V O, K.C.B. Lieutenant, 13th Hussars, 11th September 1876; Adjutant, 1st April 1882 to 17th February 1886; Captain, 16th May 1883; Major, 1st July 1892; Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, 25th March 1896; Lieutenant-Colonel (5th Dragoon Guards), 25th April 1897; Extra Regimental employ, 8th July 1899; Brevet Colonel, 8th May 1897; Major-General, 23rd May 1900; Lieut.-General, 10th June 1907; served in Zululand in 1888 as Assistant Military Secretary to General Officer Commanding, and as Intelligence Officer (mentioned in despatches); expedition to Ashanti under Sir Francis Scott, 1895 (Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel and star); operations in South Africa as Chief Staff Officer to Sir F. Carrington (Matabele campaign, 1896-97 (mentioned in despatches, medal, brevet of Colonel); South African War of 1899-1900; defence of Mafeking till relieved by Brigadier-General Mahon and Colonel Plumer (promoted Major-General for distinguished service in the field, and mentioned in despatches); afterwards served as Major-General on the Staff (Queen’s medal with three clasps, King’s medal with two clasps and C.B.; also served in the Ashanti campaign, where he raised and commanded a Native Contingent and Scouts; also served in Afghanistan in 1880-81; created C.B., 1900; K.C.V.O., 1909; and K.C.B. the same year; organised South African Constabulary; Inspector-General of South African Constabulary, 1900-3; Inspector General of Cavalry, 1903-7.

Baden-Powell’s painting "South Africa, August 21st, 1900." When C. R. B. Barrett was writing the History of the XIII Hussars, he looked to one of the most distinguished veterans and serving officers of the 13th Hussars, Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Baden-Powell. The two volume set has several color plates, some done exclusively for this history. Volume II is introduced with Baden-Powell’s painting "South Africa, August 21st, 1900." It depicts a member of the 13th Hussars offering a "hand up" to a dismounted Hussar during an engagement near the Buffalo River. The regimental history reported the events of the day.

B-P served with the 13th Hussars in India, Afghanistan, South Africa and, on home service, in England. In 1912, he would be appointed Colonel of the Regiment. Over the years, he would write about his experiences in several books and in hundreds of letters home, many illustrated with his sketches.

Trooper on post in Kandahar,
Afghanistan during B-P’s first
posting to the 13th Hussars

From: Baden-Powell,
Indian Memories
, 1915

Uniform for field
service in India. Mount
with blanket roll and rifle.
(c. 1880)

From: Baden-Powell,
Indian Memories, 1915

In Afghanistan, the field uniform remained the traditional dark blue with white trim. In India, Khaki was worn for field service. The dress uniform remained dark blue with a double white stripe on the trousers. The officers uniforms were highlighted with gold lace. The busby was a tall fur hat with a baglike ornament hanging from the top over the right side. The busby of the 13th was dressed with a plume, a white egret feather held by a gilt ring (see the 1880 Field Service Uniform and the 1886 Dress Uniform). The sun helmet (see the Trooper at Kandahar) was originally white, but was changed to khaki during the South African War. "A blue and white satin badge was worn on the left side of the khaki helmet as a distinguishing badge, and ’13 H’ on the shoulder straps of the men. (Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, 1910).

"Khaki uniforms were introduced for British colonial troops in India and were found to be especially effective for field service and battle. After the Indian Mutiny (1857-58) khaki served as the official colour for uniforms of British armies, native and colonial, in India; later it was adopted in other parts of the British Empire and by other nations."

"During the South African War (1899-1902), cotton khaki proved to be unsatisfactory because of climatic conditions, so woolen and worsted serge were introduced. The use of olive tints, which reduce visibility against bare ground and foliage, began during World War I."

From Britannica Online
"Khaki." Britannica Online.
[May 25, 1997]

Even after the change to khaki, the full dress uniform remained quite elaborate in the best traditions of the cavalry. Baden-Powell is shown in full dress in photographs from the Coronation of King George in 1937.

Dress Uniform of 1886

From: C. R. B. Barrett,
History of the XIII Hussars, 1910

"Early Days in India" relates B-P’s adventures as a young officer with the 13th Hussars in India. Excerpt from Baden-Powell,s autobiography, Lessons from the Varsity of Life, Chapter III – Soldiering.
  The 13th Hussars in India & Afghanistan, 1874-1884. From the Regimental History, C. R. B. Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, 1911.
  B-P’s first Commanding Officer, Sir Baker Creed Russell, 13th Hussars. He had a distinguished career, serving in the Indian Mutiny, the 1st Ashanti War, the Zulu War, the Egyptian War, and the South African War.
  "The 13th at Waterloo" recounts the actions of the 13th Light Dragoons during the Waterloo Campaign of 1815. From the Regimental History, C. R. B. Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, 1911.
  "The 13th at Balaclava." The 13th Light Dragoons in the Charge of the Light Brigade before the Russian guns at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. From the Regimental History, C. R. B. Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, 1911.
  "The 13th Hussars in the South African War." While B-P was engaged in the Siege of Mafeking and on later Special Duties, his Regiment, the 13th Hussars, served with distinction in South Africa. From the Regimental History, C. R. B. Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, 1911.
  "H.M. 13th Light Dragoons." The Regiment served in India from 1819-1840. During that time, as the 13th Light Dragoons, the regiment took part in the suppression of the mutiny at Bangalore and in actions at Kurnool and Zorapoor. Excerpts from the Regimental History, C. R. B. Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, are featured in the Family History in India website, which is designed to help people research their European and Anglo-Indian family history in colonial India. (This website is unavailable. Some information can be found in the Internet Archives at

The 13th Hussars were raised in 1715. As part of Army consolidation after the First World War the 13th Hussars were amalgamated with the 18th Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own) to form the 13th/18th Royal Hussars in 1922. They were in turn consolidated with the 15th/19th King’s Hussars to form the Light Dragoons in 1992.

From the British Army Home Page:


As the name suggests, light dragoons were light cavalry who were capable of dispositions, cutting enemy lines of communication and harassing the enemy in the pursuit.

All four regiments served in a wide variety of campaigns around the world including the Peninsula War, the Crimea, India and the Boer War in South Africa. Many battle honours were won including the first battle honour ever awarded at Emsdorff in 1760 to the 15th.

Others include Sahagun (1808) and Balaklava (1854). Both days are still celebrated by the regiment. In 1922, the 13th and 18th and the 15th and 19th were amalgamated as part of the draw-down in the size of the army after the Great War.

Both regiments fought with distinction during World War II. The most notable achievement was the use by the 13th/18th of the Duplex Drive Sherman tanks to swim ashore on D-Day (6 June 1944). After the war both regiments were principally involved in the fighting of the Cold War in West Germany, but also took part in the campaigns in Malaya, Aden and Muscat.

The ending of the Cold War and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact meant a further draw-down in the size of the army and so the Light Dragoons were formed. The name of the new regiment represents a return to our roots and the cap badge is an amalgamation of the regiment which still retains the character of its forebears – speed, daring and an invaluable asset for the commander on the battlefield.

  The British Army Web Site
  The Light Dragoons (British Army Website)
  The Light Dragoons: Regimental History Website

A Note on the Regimental System of the British Army
From: Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth (website temporarily unavailable)

The Regimental System

Loyalty to a regiment or corps is a peculiar characteristic of the British Army: each regiment is a family zealously guarding its heritage and traditions, and during the heyday of this system (1881-1956) personnel were not normally transferred out of the family against their will. This esprit de corps is a nebulous quality that has on occasion snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, but has also been regarded as an inefficient anachronism in the latter part of the 20th century. While there have been several attempts since 1945 to dismantle this system, the Army of the 1990s still thrives on it. Like many British institutions, the regimental system evolved haphazardly rather than by any conscious design.

Snapshots of the British Army, in the form of rolls of regiments at various periods in the Army’s history, serve to illustrate the evolving continuity and heritage of this regimental system that has been described as both the envy and puzzlement of the rest of the world. The modern British Army was born in 1660 with the Stuart restoration to the throne. In the subsequent three and a half centuries the army evolved from a very small insular establishment to a far-flung imperial force, and back again to something similar to its original role.

  Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth (website temporarily unavailable)

For excellent research on the history, uniforms and command of the 13th Hussars, see the materials on Stephen Luscombe’s website on the British Empire.
On March 25, 1897, Baden-Powell was appointed to command the 5th Dragoon Guards. He served with the Regiment in India until June 1899.
Baden-Powell Photo Gallery: Early Years and Military Career.
Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the World Scout Movement, began his career as a Lieutenant in the 13th Hussars in India. In his army career, he would rise to Lieutenant-General and Inspector-General of Cavalry and later serve as the Regiment’s Colonel.

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Last Modified: 9:15AM on September 14, 2009