The earliest beginnings of the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) can be traced to 1775 in the Colony of Virginia, where a Captain John Saunders raised a troop of cavalry (Saunders’ Horse) at his own expense to fight for the Crown against the colonial rebels. This unusual troop which included riflemen, grenadiers, artillery and cavalry never knew defeat until the British surrender at Yorktown in October 1783. In September 1783, Saunders’ horse as an entity was dispatched to New Brunswick where a large number of these Loyalist solders settled in the Saint John and Kennebecasis valleys.
The New Brunswick Militia Act of 1825 permitted the raising of cavalry troops by voluntary enlistment for attachment to the various county infantry battalions. Many amongst those who enlisted in these troops were the sons and grandsons of those who served with John Saunders in Virginia. By authority of Militia General Order Number One on 4 April 1848, eleven independent troops were united to from a regiment entitled the New Brunswick Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry. It is this date that is officially recognized as the formation of the Regiment. For a period during thc late 1870s thc Regiment was known unofficially as the 8th Queen’s Canadian Hussars. This was the first designation of the unit as Hussars. even though the Regiment had been uniformed as Hussars since the early 1860s. At least one of the troops had worn Hussar uniforms prior to 1848.
In 1879, the Regiment provided a mounted escort for the visit of the Governor General, the Marquis of Lorne and his wife, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria. Princess Louise so caught the eye of the Regiment that permission was sought to include her name in the Regiment’s title. Princess Louise consented and in July 1884, the Regiment was redesignated the 8th Princess Louise’s New Brunswick Regiment of Cavalry. In 1889, the Regiment was officially classified as "Hussars" in the Militia List and in 1892 the Regiment was again redesignated the 8th Princess Louise’s New Brunswick Hussars, a title which remained until 1957.
On mobilization for the Great War, the Hussars were dealt a bitter blow; plans permitted mobilization of only a few existing units for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The Hussars did, however provide one formed squadron and a number of officers to the 6th Canadian Mounted Rifles (CMR). In July 1915, the 6th CMR sailed for England and by late October arrived in France for service in the trenches as infantry. It was almost forty years later that the Hussar contribution to the Great War was recognized when the Regiment was granted the perpetuation of the 6th CMR with the bestowment of the Battle Honours Mount Sorrel, Somme 1916 and France and Flanders 1915-16.
The Second World War provided the Regiment’s first opportunity for active service as a formed unit, initially as the 4th Canadian Motor Cycle Regiment and then as the 5th Armoured Regiment. The Regiment landed in Italy on 19 December 1943 at Naples and saw action soon and frequently thereafter. The bloody battles of Cassino and the Liri Valley, the Metfa Crossing, Ceprano, The Gothic Line, Missano Ridge, Coriano, the Lamone River Crossing, and Coventello were grim testimony to the Regiment’s fighting effectiveness. In February 1945, the Hussars sailed from Italy to Southern France, and then moved by rail to Northwest Europe. After refitting the tanks the Regiment went into action in Holland, breaking through to Putten in mid-April. The Regiment then moved north for the final actions of the war at the Delfzijl Pocket where 3,000 German soldiers surrendered to the Regiment. On 26 January 1946, the Regiment arrived in Halifax and the next day reached Sussex, New Brunswick. where it was demobilized.
In 1950. the Regiment was again called upon to provide men for service with the Special Force which was deployed to Korea, and in 1951 "Y" Troop was organized for service with the 27th Canadian Infantry Brigade in Germany.
On 29 January 1957, it was decided that a third armoured regiment would be formed in the Canadian Army (Regular). As a result the Regiment was honoured with the privilege of providing its name to the new Regiment. which resulted in the change of the Regiment’s name to the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s). The Regular Regiment served in Camp Gagetown, New Brunswick.
In February 1958 the Reconnaissance Squadron of the Regular Regiment departed Canada for a one year tour of duty with the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in Egypt. The following year. the regiment sailed to Germany for service with the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. Following a three year tour in Germany, the Regular Regiment returned to Canada and established itself at Camp Petawawa, Ontario. In February 1964, "U" Squadron was deployed for a one year tour of duty with UNEF in Egypt.
On 24 June 1972 Her Majesty the Queen announced the appointment of Hcr Royal Highness, The Princess Anne as Colonel-in-Chief of the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s). In May 1978, "B" Squadron was formed as an independent tank squadron at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown equipped with "Leopard" tanks. In October 1978, the Regiment again deployed as part of a UN force in Cyprus. Upon returning to Canada it was equipped with the "Cougar" Wheeled Fire Support Vehicle. In 1987, the Regiment moved from its home of 25 years in Petawawa to Lahr, Germany. Equipped entirely with "Leopards", it became the Armoured Regiment of the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group until 1993.
During this time the Reserve Regiment won no less than eight Worthington Trophies as the best Reserve Armoured Regiment in Canada. This feat was unmatched by any of the other 18 Reserve Armoured Regiments in Canada.
In 1993, the Regular Regiment returned to Moncton and was amalgamated with the Reserve Regiment, to become Canada’s first Total Force Armoured Regiment. Regimental Headquarters, "C" and "HQ" Squadrons were then co-located in Moncton Garrison, "B" Squadron at the Sussex Armoury and "A" Squadron at CFB Gagetown.
On 27 June 1998, the Regiment celebrated its 150th Anniversary highlighted by the presentation of a new guidon in Moncton, New Brunswick by its Colonel-in-Chief, the Princess Royal. The old Reserve Force Regimental Guidon was laid up at St. Michael’s Anglican Church in Hampton, New Brunswick in September, 1998.
In August of 1998, the Regiment’s Regular Force squadron was re-badged, and the Regiment began its reversion to Reserve Force status. "C" Squadron in Moncton was to become "A" Squadron, with "B" Squadron remaining in Sussex. Under the Total Army Establishment, the Regiment was restructured to be consistent with other Reserve Armoured Regiments, and "HQ" Squadron was reduced to a Combat Service Support (CSS) Troop.
The Regiment has participated in several “Aid to the civil authority” missions in recent history. In the summer of 1990 the Regiment sent a troop sized force to the province of Quebec in Cougars to assist in Canadian Forces Operations in the Oka Crisis. In the 1998 Ice Storm, the Regiment provided a platoon-sized force to assist in the maintenance of infrastructure in the community of St Stephen, New Brunswick. In the fall of 1998, the Regiment provided soldiers to the recovery effort for the Swiss Air Flight 111
The 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) is the longest serving armoured regiment in the Canadian Forces. It had, for a time, the distinction of being Canada’s only Total Force Armoured Regiment. A classification it had between 1993 and 1998 when it was a mixed Regiment of Regulars and Reserve Troops. A Squadron being Regular Force served in CFB Gagetown and B, C and HQ Squadrons served in Sussex, Moncton and Sackville. In 1998 again due to budget reasons the Regular Squadron was disbanded and the Regiment reverted to reserve status again.
THE REGIMENT TODAY
The Regiment currently consists of 175 Regular and Reserve soldiers with squadrons located in Moncton and Sussex. The Regimental family also includes five Army Cadet Corps which parade 300 youths in Moncton, Port Elgin, Sussex, Shediac and Dieppe. The Regiment is allied with the Queen’s Royal Hussars (Queen’s Own and Royal Irish) and affiliated with the Queen’s York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC). Our Colonel-in-Chief is Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, GVCO, CD. The Regimental motto is Regi Patriaeque Fidelis (Loyal to King and Country). The Regiment is currently commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel D.A. Bourque, CD. The Regimental Sergeant Major is Master Warrant Officer E. Stairs
The 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) has, through its long and distinguished service, demonstrated that it will continue to rise to each challenge in the same tradition the Regiment is known for.
Commanding Officer- Lieutenant Colonel M.W. Bech
Regimental Second-in-Command- Major G.M.W. Kennedy
Honorary Colonel- Elisabeth Rybak
Honorary Lieutenant Colonel- Lieutenant Colonel(Ret'd) D.A. Henderson
Regimental Sergeant Major- Chief Warrant Officer T Halfkenny
Past Commanding Officers (1957 - 2010)- Commanding Officers
Past Regimental Sergeant Majors (1957 - 2000)- Regimental Sergeant Majors