Major Arthur Hughes-Onslow

Major Arthur Hughes-Onslow

Major Arthur Hughes-Onslow

Major Hughes-Onslow was originally gazetted to the 5th Lancers, as a Lieutenant on the 10th May 1882, but did not join that regiment for duty having obtained a transfer to the Tenth on the 6th September 1882. He obtained his troop on the 4th January 1890, and was promoted to the Field rank on the 16th February 1898. To the Regiment’s great loss, and to the regret of all ranks, he retired on the completion of twenty years and 249 days service, on the 14th January 1903.

A keen and efficient soldier, the section, troop or squadron, which he at the time commanded, could be relied upon to compare favourably with any other in the Regiment. His methods were not perhaps the gentlest description, nor was his vocabulary at all times “Chesterfieldian”. Woe to the “slacker” or shirker who came under his control; such a one would be quickly taught that his best policy was to “do with all his might what-so-ever Major Onslow found for him to do.” Withal he earned a measure of wholesome respect and admiration from those under his command, which is denied to many who adopt more proprietary systems.

It was speedily realised that he never demanded or expected a man to do anything which he was not prepared to do himself, and general recognition of this fact resulted in ready and cheery obedience to his orders.

The reputation of old “B” Troop, whilst under his command, and later “A” Squadron – composed of “A” and “B” Troops – for general efficiency and everything that was soldierly, was of the highest.

This did not apply only in barracks, at camps and manoeuvres, but splendidly maintained on active service. In the early stages of the War in South Africa Major Hughes-Onslow’s Squadron was given many a difficult duty to perform, and under his leadership the job in hand, no matter how great and insuperable it may have appeared, was carried out in a manner daring and judicious that secured the approbation of the Commanding Officer or the General Officer at whose instigation the undertaking devolved upon the Squadron.

Before arriving at the scene of the War, his Squadron displayed its fine qualities and perfect discipline in the wreck of the transport “Ismore” on the morning of the 3rd December 1899. The vivid and excellent description given of this episode in a former Gazette by Major the Hon. W G Cadogan is doubtless remembered by most of our readers, and does not call for repletion here. At Capetown the Squadron was transferred from the “Columbia” to a train awaiting them, and was at once taken to that place of ill-omened name — Stellenbosch. Here was a re-mount depot from which Major Onslow was supplied with Argentine re-mounts of a quite good type, and their training was at once commenced. Such rapid progress was made that on the 19th of the month the Squadron was again in the train en route for Arundel, where the Headquarters and remaining squadrons were. It must be noted here that Major Hughes-Onslow, as might have been expected, took an active part in the training of the re-mounts, and was always ready to mount one that was more than ordinary refactory, or not amiable to his rider’s methods; indeed, one particular intractable animal gave him a nasty fall from which he sustained rather severe injuries to his back. These, however, did not prevent him from taking his command to the Regiment, and it at once took its share in the operations in progress in front of Taaiboschlaagte.

In the attack on the Boers near Colesberg on the 1st January 1900″A” Squadron was very hotly engaged and did very good work.

Possibly the most important performance of the Squadron was at Paardeburg, on the 17th February, when, after a forced march following immediately after the trying dash and relief of Kimberley, the Regiment was part of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade, arrived on the scene just in time to head off Cronje with his commando, numbering over 5,000. Here “A” Squadron raced with the commando of Field Cornet Nieuwenhodt, when the latter dashed forward to turn the western end of the rise on which French’s guns were posted, (Gun Hill). The Squadron, with its worn out horses and weary men, made a supreme effort and won the position – a kopje dominating the enemy’s approach – and effectually checked the move.

Under Major Hughes-Onslow the Squadron also did valuable work at Poplar Grove, Driefontein, and in the many similar fights which were almost daily incidents in the march from Orange Free State to the Transvaal.

Unfortunately its gallant commander fell a victim to the epidemic sickness prevalent during the War, and it was necessary to send him home. He there soon assumed the command of the large Depot of the Regiment in England where the duty, highly important, if less congenial, of training men for the service squadrons demanded, and was accorded the untiring energy and thoroughness characteristic of him at all times.

To return to the earlier period of Major Onslow’s services, he joined the Regiment at Lucknow on the eve of Christmas 1882, and two years later accompanied it to the Eastern Soudan, where he received his baptism of fire, at the Battle of El Teb. He was also present at the Battle of Tamaai, and took part in the reconnaissance of Tamanieb. He is in possession of the medal, with clasps for those engagements, and the Khedivial Star, also of the Queens Medal with three clasps.

From the day on which he joined, he immediately took his place in the Regiment as an able and skilful exponent of every form of sport appealing to the cavalry soldier. Our space is too limited to attempt a narration of his performances in the fields of racing, cricket, polo and hunting, therefore we content ourselves with a brief relation of some of his regimental achievements. Wherever British sportsmen congregate, his name as a “top-holer” – in all these pursuits, is familiar, and famous. A perfect horseman, and an unrivalled judge of a horse, his racing record is brilliant. His troop, in the days of York, found it a remunerative practice to “put a bit on” the red and white hoops and black cap, when they were out for an airing. “The Captain” and his gallant animal “Brass” were never neglected by his enthusiastic admirers of “B” Troop no matter what the event for which they were competing.

Major Onslow has ridden winners of the Grand Military Steeplechase, no less than three times, namely in 1888 and 1889, when he steered to victory horses belonging to Major Fenwick of the Blues, and in 1903, when he was “up” on Major Loader’s Marpessa.

He won the Tenth Royal Hussars Cup on his own “Ace of Trumps” in 1886.

He took part, and finished third, in the Point-to-Point race between five subalterns of the regiment, and five subalterns of the Blues for a cup presented by our Royal Colonel, H. R. H. the Prince of Wales, afterwards His late Majesty King Edward VII. A spirited account of this race was kindly contributed to an earlier number of the Gazette by Major Onslow, entitled most appropriately, “A Sporting Event”.

In 1888 he rode the winner of the Tenth Hussars Cup, Sorrow, the property of Lieut. (Now General) Kavanagh; in 1889 he won, on his own well remembered “Patch“, the point to point race from Skip Bridge to Marston Hill near York. The cup for the race was also given by our late Royal Commander, H. M. King Edward VII, who was at the time in personal command of the Regiment, and in quarters with it at York barracks. His Majesty witnessed the race and His late Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence, then a Captain in the Regiment, took part in it on his own horse, Scraptoft, and finished fourth.

Major Onslow was one of Eton’s cricket eleven, and a keen supporter of the game throughout his regimental service; he was conspicuous with the bat and as a bowler, being well at the head of the averages more than once.

As one of the regimental polo team he played in the 1885 Tournament at Hurlingham. In a very exciting final the 7th Hussars were opposed to us, and just won by the call of time by just one goal. In 1886 he again took part in the Hurlingham Tournament, and in the same year, in the Irish Tournament. In this latter we met in the final the Eleventh Hussars, and won from them by five goals to love. Again at Hurlingham in 1887, when after a very fine match with the Fifth Lancers who eventually won the Cup, the score at the call of time was three all. Then, in accordance with the Hurlingham Rule, play was resumed, resulting in the Fifth scoring, and thus winning.

In the following year, when we won at Hurlingham, Major Onslow was in the team, as also in 1889 when we got into the final, and opposed by the 9th Lancers, lost by one goal, the score at the call of time being 3 – 2. In this game the team was badly handicapped by the fact that one of the players, Captain the Hon. H. T. Allsopp, took his place in it not withstanding that he had broken a rib playing against a scratch team two days before the game.

Major Onslow is a prolific and most interesting writer; we turn to his articles in the sporting magazines, and others with the assurance of being entertained and edified; also we are inspired by the hope that he will, at some time, again send an article for publication in the Gazette.

From recent photographs we know that Major Onslow has lost none of his vigour in the saddle, and all his old comrades, as well as those who are now serving, will join us heartily in the wish that the day is long distant that will witness any diminuation of his versatile qualities.

To Mrs Hughes-Onslow also we express similar good wishes, reviving pleasant memories of her years with the Tenth Hussars.