Bedfordshire Yeomanry

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Bedfordshire Yeomanry
Active 1797–1810
1817–1827
1 September 1901 – 1 May 1961
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Yeomanry
Size Regiment
Part of World War I
Yeomanry
World War II
Royal Artillery
Garrison/HQ Bedford
Engagements

World War I

France and Flanders 1915-18

World War II

No battle honours were awarded. It is tradition within artillery units that the Regiment's guns represent its colours and battle honours.[1]

The Bedfordshire Yeomanry was a Yeomanry regiment of the British Army. Serving intermittently between 1797 and 1827, it was re-raised in 1901. It participated in World War I before being converted to an artillery regiment. It served in World War II (as a heavy and a field artillery regiment). Post-war it was gradually reduced in strength until it was amalgamated with the Hertfordshire Yeomanry in 1961.

Early regiments[edit]

Under threat of invasion by the French Revolutionary government from 1793, and with insufficient military forces to repulse such an attack, the British government under William Pitt the Younger decided in 1794 to increase the Militia and to form corps of volunteers for the defence of the country. The mounted arm of the volunteers became known as the "Gentlemen and Yeomanry Cavalry".[2]

The Bedfordshire Yeomanry was first raised in 1797 as independent troops. These were regimented in 1803 as the Bedfordshire Yeomanry Cavalry but were disbanded in 1810.[3]

A new Bedfordshire Yeomanry Cavalry was raised in 1817, disbanded in 1827.[3]

Boer War[edit]

On 13 December 1899, the decision was made to allow volunteer forces to serve in the Second Boer War. Due to the string of defeats during Black Week in December 1899, the British government realized it was going to need more troops than just the regular army, thus issuing a Royal Warrant on 24 December 1899. This warrant officially created the Imperial Yeomanry.

The Royal Warrant asked standing Yeomanry regiments to provide service companies of approximately 115 men each. In addition to this, many British citizens (usually mid-upper class) volunteered to join the new regiment.[4] Although there were strict requirements, many volunteers were accepted with substandard horsemanship/marksmanship, however they had significant time to train while awaiting transport.

The first contingent of recruits contained 550 officers, 10,371 men with 20 battalions and 4 companies,[5] which arrived in South Africa between February and April 1900.[6] Upon arrival, the regiment was sent throughout the zone of operations.

The 28th (Bedfordshire) Company of the 4th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry (also known as Compton's Horse) was raised in 1900. This company was perpetuated from 19 September 1901 by the Bedfordshire Imperial Yeomanry.[5]

On 1 September 1901, the regiment was re-raised as the Bedfordshire Imperial Yeomanry with headquarters at Bedford. It was organised in four squadrons and a machine gun section formed from South African war veterans to perpetuate 28th (Bedfordshire) Company, 4th Bn, Imperial Yeomanry.[7] On 1 April 1908, the regiment was renamed as the Bedfordshire Yeomanry and transferred to the Territorial Force, trained and equipped as lancers. Its organisation was:[3]

Bedfordshire Yeomanry
HQ Bedford
A Squadron Bedford
B Squadron Biggleswade
(detachment at Shefford)
C Squadron Dunstable
(detachments at Leighton Buzzard, Woburn, Ampthill)
D Squadron Godmanchester (Huntingdonshire)
(detachments at St Neots, Kimbolton, Ramsey, Somersham, Sutton, Chatteris)

It was ranked as 48th[8] (of 55) in the order of precedence of the Yeomanry Regiments in the Army List of 1914.[9]

World War I[edit]

Eastern Mounted Brigade
Organisation on 4 August 1914

In accordance with the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw.7, c.9) which brought the Territorial Force into being, the TF was intended to be a home defence force for service during wartime and members could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, on the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, many members volunteered for Imperial Service. Therefore, TF units were split in August and September 1914 into 1st Line (liable for overseas service) and 2nd Line (home service for those unable or unwilling to serve overseas) units. Later, a 3rd Line was formed to act as a reserve, providing trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line regiments.[10]

1/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry[edit]

At the outbreak of the First World War, the regiment was attached to the Eastern Mounted Brigade.[11] It mobilised on 4 August 1914 and was stationed at Hatfield Peverel and Stansted until June 1915.[12]

France and Flanders 1915–18[edit]

On 12 June 1915 it joined the 9th Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division in France,[12] eventually dismounting to serve in the Battle of the Somme, Battle of Cambrai and the Hundred Days Offensive in 1918.

On 10 March 1918 it left the 1st Cavalry Division with the intention of converting it to a cylist unit, then to form a machine gun battalion with the Essex Yeomanry. The German Spring Offensive changed these plans and the regiment was re-mounted and returned to the 1st Cavalry Division. There it was split up, sending a squadron to each of the regiments in 9th Cavalry Brigade (8th, 15th and 19th Hussars).[12]

The record of the unit's service was set out by L. R. C. Southern (Lieutenant), an officer of the regiment, in The Bedfordshire Yeomanry in the Great War (Rush & Warwick, Bedford, 1935).

2/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry[edit]

The 2/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry was formed in September 1914 and remained in the UK until July 1917 when absorbed into 1st Reserve Cavalry Regiment at The Curragh.[12] At various times it was assigned, in whole or part, to the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division, 4th Mounted Division, 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division, 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division, 68th (2nd Welsh) Division, 71st Division, and new 1st Mounted Division.[10]

3/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry[edit]

The 3/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry was formed in 1915 and in June was attached to 13th Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Colchester. It remained in the UK until July 1917 when it was absorbed into 1st Reserve Cavalry Regiment at The Curragh.[12]

Between the wars[edit]

On 7 February 1920, the Regiment was reconstituted in the Territorial Army with HQ still at Bedford. Following the experience of the war, it was decided that only the fourteen most senior yeomanry regiments would be retained as horsed cavalry, with the rest being transferred to other roles. As a result, on 5 August 1920, the Regiment was transferred to the Royal Artillery to form 10th (Bedford) Army Brigade, RFA.[3]

The brigade / regiment underwent a number of redesignations before the outbeark of World War II. In 1921 it was renumbered and regained its yeomanry title as 105th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Army Brigade, RFA. Another title change came in 1924 as the Royal Field Artillery was reamalgamated back into the Royal Artillery as 105th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) (Army) Field Brigade, RA. Another change came in 1938 as artillery brigades became regiments, hence 105th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Army Field Regiment, RA.[3]

In 1939 the Territorial Army was "duplicated" - existing units formed a second unit. On 1 November 1938, 105th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA (417 and 418 Batteries) formed 148th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA (419 and 420 Batteries).[13]

World War II[edit]

52nd (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Regiment, RA[edit]

105th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA was converted to 52nd (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Regiment, RA on 1 November 1939.[14] It fought with the BEF but was disbanded after evacuation from Dunkirk[15] on 20 June 1940.[14]

It was re-raised on 11 March 1943,[14] and went on to take part in the North West Europe Campaign[15] from June 1944 as part of 5th AGRA.[16] It was disbanded in the BAOR on 1 April 1946.[14]

148th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA[edit]

Field regiments were organised in 1938 into two 12-gun batteries. The experience of the BEF in 1940 showed the problem with this organisation: field regiments were intended to support an infantry brigade of three battalions. This could not be managed without severe disruption to the regiment. As a result, field regiments were reorganised into three 8-gun batteries.[17]

At the outbreak of the war, 148th Field Regiment was assigned to 18th Division.[18] Initially commanding two batteries (419 and 420), the third battery (512) was formed in the regiment at Rochdale on 1 June 1941.[19]

The regiment was transferred to Singapore with its division, arriving just before the Fall of Singapore in February 1942.[15] The regiment was authorised to use the "Bedfordshire Yeomanry" designation from 17 February 1942 but as it was captured on 15 February, this change was ineffective.[19]

Post-war[edit]

On 1 January 1947, the regiment was reconstituted in the Territorial Army as 305th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, RA. On 31 October 1956, it was rerolled and renamed as 305th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Light Regiment, RA. Finally, on 1 May 1961 it was amalgamed with 286th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA to form 286th (Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA.[3]

Battle honours[edit]

The Bedfordshire Yeomanry has been awarded the following battle honours:[3]

World War I

Somme 1916 '18, Flers-Courcelette, Cambrai 1917 '18, Amiens, Albert 1918, Hindenburg Line, St Quentin Canal, Beaurevoir, Pursuit to Mons, France and Flanders 1915–18

World War II

The Royal Artillery was present in nearly all battles and would have earned most of the honours awarded to cavalry and infantry regiments. In 1833, William IV awarded the motto Ubique (meaning "everywhere") in place of all battle honours.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "mod.uk". 
  2. ^ Mileham 1994, pp. 8–10
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Bedfordshire Yeomanry at regiments.org by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 18 April 2007)
  4. ^ "Boer War Notes". Retrieved 11 June 2007. 
  5. ^ a b Imperial Yeomanry at regiments.org by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 29 May 2007)
  6. ^ "Boer War - Imperial Yeomanry Battalions". Retrieved 3 July 2007. 
  7. ^ War Office 23 August 1901. His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve the formation of a Regiment of Imperial Yeomanry for the County of Bedford, to be designated the Bedfordshire Imperial Yeomanry.The London Gazette: no. 27348. p. 5595. 23 August 1901.
  8. ^ 49th once the Welsh Horse was raised in August 1914.
  9. ^ Mileham 1994, p. 73
  10. ^ a b Baker, Chris. "The Bedfordshire Yeomanry". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  11. ^ James 1969, p. 35
  12. ^ a b c d e James 1969, p. 16
  13. ^ Frederick 1984, p. 527
  14. ^ a b c d Frederick 1984, p. 557
  15. ^ a b c Mileham 1994, p. 76
  16. ^ Bellis 1994, p. 58
  17. ^ Forty 1998, p. 73
  18. ^ Bellis 1995, p. 102
  19. ^ a b Frederick 1984, p. 533
  20. ^ Royal Regiment of Artillery at regiments.org by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 July 2007)

External links[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bellis, Malcolm A. (1995). Regiments of the British Army 1939–1945 (Artillery). London: Military Press International. ISBN 0-85420-110-6. 
  • Forty, George (1998). British Army Handbook 1939–1945. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-1403-3. 
  • Frederick, J.B.M. (1984). Lineage Book of British Land Forces 1660–1978. Wakefield, Yorkshire: Microform Academic Publishers. ISBN 1-85117-009-X. 
  • James, Brigadier E.A. (1978). British Regiments 1914–18. London: Samson Books Limited. ISBN 0-906304-03-2. 
  • Mileham, Patrick (1994). The Yeomanry Regiments; 200 Years of Tradition. Edinburgh: Canongate Academic. ISBN 1-898410-36-4.