23rd October - 4th November 1942
The 3rd The King's Own Hussars were at Wadi Natrun (on the Cairo - Alexandria road) along with the Warwickshire Yeomanry the Wiltshire Yeomanry and the Motor Ba ttalion of the Sherwood Foresters. To gether they formed the 9th Brigade under the command of General Freyber g's 2nd New Zealand Division. Recently the 3rd had been reinforced with a new B Squadron to replace the squadron that had been posted to the Far East . The Regiment was fully trained and equipped with Crusader , Sherman and Grant Tanks in anticipation on the battle ahead.
The Plan that General Alexander had was similar to the tactics of the horsed cavalry. The Infantry were to breach the enemies' defense clearing a gap for the armour to move through. General Montgomery saw three phases 1. The break in, 2. A battle of attrition, and 3. The break out by the armour. The 3rd played a large part in the first phase by wearing down the enemies armour and antitank capabilities by repeated attacks through the minefields . However it was the second phase where the 3rd were to make a name for themselves . It was on the morning of the 24th October 1942 that the 3rd were called forward to bolster a tank screen : it was here that they sat all day under the wrath of the accurate German batteries. They were pulled back to leaguer about half a mile away. General Freyberg again ordered the m under darkness to creep forward and try to gain the El Whiska feature some 1000 yards from Miteiriya. The y would have to overcome the enemy Anti-Tank gunners if they were to succeed in a brea kthr ough.
The objective was too hard to take and by daylight they found themselves in an unfavo ur able position of the forward slope of M it eiriya ridge and were easy targets for the enemy . "A" Squadron were pulled back by Sir Peter Farquhar ( th e C ommanding O fficer) after their Squadron Le ader and Squadron Sergeant Major were both killed . The remainder of the regiment stayed there for most of the day exchanging fire with the enemy. Later that night, the remainder of the regiment pulled back behind the ridge.
After a couple of days rest at Onsel the 3rd moved on October 30th with th e rest of their Brigade to the railway west of Alamein station were they were further rested and received their orders. (Rommel after returning from hospital had moved his reserves to the north) .
At 22:30 hrs on the night of November 1st they were to advance southwest along Diamond track to the start line. At 01: 00 hrs on the 2nd they were to follow the attack of the 151st and 152nd Infantry brigades to within 1 and 3/4 miles of the Sidi Rahman track and then at 05:45 hrs they were to push forward a further mile so as to break the enemy an ti-tank and field gun positions so as to hold open the door for the 1st Armo ured Division and the 10 Corps. This was pointed out by the Commanding Officer (Sir Peter Farquhar) to General Montgomery as being almost certain suicide for his unit as a whole, but the General responded by saying "It's go to be done and, if necessary, I am prepared to accept 100% casualties in both personnel and tanks".
The R egiment started the march to the start point and with minefield either side of the 16-yard wide track, the Re giment had lost 10 of their 35 tanks before they reached the infantry objective. The final attack was delayed further by half an hour and eventually took place at 06:15 hrs meaning they had lost the cover of darkness. Majority of the officers of the Foresters and New Zealand anti -tank troop were killed on the approach. Due to the increasing light both "A" an "B" Squadrons were silhouetted and received anti-tank gunfire at close range from the front and both flanks but they still pressed on relentlessly just as their ancestor s had done in previous battles. They crushed the guns on their advance and the battlefield was amassed with think black smoke and burning tank s. Radio Communications were lost and at one point the Co mmanding O fficer had to walk round on foot to pass his order to the remaining 7 crews in his own headquarters. The 3rd held this position for half an hour until supported by the Queen's Bays of the S econd Division together repelled a counter attack of tanks from the 15th Panzer Di vision. The breach was created and the Re giment reformed what was left into a squadron and came under the command of the Warwickshire Ye omanry and moved to the north of the breach in support of the New Zealanders.
This Battle was indeed the most glorious for the 3rd Hussars, there total tally was around 15 anti tank guns, 4 field guns and 5 tanks during the second phase of the battle alone, they also took some 300 prisoners. The following day t he extent of the battle was assessed and found that the Germans had retreated leaving some 30 , 000 prisoners. For the 3rd Hussars the fighting at El Alamein was over. Th ey handed over their remaining tanks and moved back to El Alamein station. In total their losses were 47 out of 51 tanks destroyed, along with 21 Officers and 98 Other Ranks who gave their lives in this Battle .
The 3rd Hussars at the Battle of El Alamein was compared by some newspapers back at home to that of the charge of the Li ght B rigade at Balaklava in 1854 but the R egiment was too exhausted to enjoy their victory. As a result of this action General Lord Freyberg VC, Governor of Windsor Castle, who commanded the New Zealand expeditionary forces during World War II, granted the 3rd Hussars the honour of carrying the emblem of New Zealand "The Fern Leaf" in commemoration of the association of the 3rd Hussars with the 2nd New Zealand Division. This tradition was carried on by The Queen's Own Hussars and still continues with today's regiment The Queen's Royal Hussars.
" EL ALAMEIN " was awarded as a Battle Hono ur to the 3rd King's Own Hussars.
Today you will find a Magnificent interactive display within the museum and you can experience life from an observation post as if you were there yourself.