Cheshire Yeomanry

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The Cheshire Yeomanry
Active 1797–2007
Country United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Yeomanry
Role Formation Reconnaissance
Signals
Size Two Squadrons
Part of Royal Armoured Corps
Royal Signals
March Quick -
Engagements Boer War
World War I
World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster

The Cheshire Yeomanry was a yeomanry regiment that can trace its history back to 1797 when Sir John Fleming Leicester of Tabley raised a county regiment of light cavalry in response to the growing fears of invasion from Napoleonic France.[1]

In 1803 the Prince of Wales (later King George IV), gave his permission for the regiment to wear his triple feather crest, a badge that Cheshire Yeoman still wear today.[1]

Peterloo Massacre[edit]

The Peterloo Massacre of 16 August 1819 was the result of a cavalry charge into the crowd at a public meeting at Saint Peters Field, in Manchester, England. Eleven people were killed and more than 400, including many women and children, injured.

Local magistrates arranged for a substantial number of regular soldiers to be on hand. The troops included 600 men of the 15th Hussars, several hundred infantrymen; a Royal Horse Artillery unit with two six-pounder (2.7 kg) guns; 400 men of the Cheshire Yeomanry, 400 special constables and 120 cavalry of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry, relatively inexperienced militia recruited from among shopkeepers and tradesmen.

First battle honour[edit]

Memorial to the Earl of Chester's Imperial Yeomanry in Chester Cathedral

The first regimental battle honour was bestowed in 1900–02, when the unit provided two companies of Imperial Yeomanry for service in South Africa.

World War I[edit]

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.[2]

1/1st Cheshire Yeomanry[edit]

In the First World War the regiment spent 1914–15 training in Norfolk before being sent to fight dismounted in Egypt in 1916–17. There they met up with the Duke of Westminster, (a veteran of South Africa, who had been posted away from the regiment) with his Rolls-Royce Armoured Car, the prototype of which he had produced at his own expense in 1914.[1]

In February 1916, after the battle of Mersa Matruh, the Duke mounted a raid against the Senussi using the cars. He was instructed to pursue the guerrillas with ‘reasonable boldness’. Driving across the desert at high speed, the Duke and his 12 cars caught the fleeing enemy, killing many of the Senussi and all of their Turkish companions, returning with three captured artillery pieces, nine machine guns and 30 prisoners.[1]

In March 1916 the Duke and the Rolls Royce-mounted Cheshire Yeomanry rescued the survivors of two British merchant ships, HMT Moorina and HMS Tara, which had been torpedoed off the coast of what is now Libya, earning the Duke worldwide praise and the DSO.[1]

The regiment moved to Palestine in 1917, this time as a half battalion of the 10th King's Shropshire Light Infantry and saw fierce fighting against the Turks in battles for Jerusalem, Jericho and Tel Azur, before embarking for France in April 1918. The KSLI saw action at the Somme, Bapaume and Epehy, suffering heavy casualties.[1] The battalion was disbanded in June 1919, the Cheshire Yeomanry was reconstituted as a cavalry regiment in March 1920.[1]

2/1st Cheshire Yeomanry[edit]

The 2nd Line regiment was formed in 1914 and joined the 2/1st Welsh Border Mounted Brigade in the Newcastle area of Northumberland in January 1915[3] (along with the 2/1st Shropshire Yeomanry[4] and the 2/1st Denbighshire Hussars[3]). The brigade was placed under the command of the 63rd (2nd Northumbrian) Division.[5] On 31 March 1916, the remaining Mounted Brigades were ordered to be numbered in a single sequence and the brigade became 17th Mounted Brigade, still in Northumberland under Northern Command.[6]

In April 1916, it moved with its brigade to East Anglia where it joined the 1st Mounted Division; it replaced its 1st Line which had departed (dismounted) for Egypt.[7] By July it had left with its brigade for the Morpeth, Northumberland area.[3]

In July 1916 there was a major reorganization of 2nd Line yeomanry units in the UK. All but 12 regiments were converted to cyclists[6] and as a consequence the regiment was dismounted and the brigade converted to 10th Cyclist Brigade. Further reorganization in October and November 1916 saw the brigade redesignated as 6th Cyclist Brigade in November, still in the Morpeth area.[8] In July 1917, the regiment moved to Acklington.[3]

Early in 1918 the Brigade moved to Ireland and was stationed at the Curragh.[8] There were no further changes before the end of the war.[9]

3/1st Cheshire Yeomanry[edit]

World War II[edit]

During World War II the regiment was part of the 6th Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division and remained mounted until 1942, seeing action in Palestine, Syria and the Lebanon. As one of the last regiments of the British Army to fight on horseback, the Cheshire Yeomanry found it particularly painful to lose its mounts and to re-role as a Signals Regiment, when its title changed in 1942 to the 5th Line of Communications Signals Regiment. After leaving the Middle East the Regiment was redesignated the 17th Line of Communication Signals Regiment (Cheshire Yeomanry) for service in North-West Europe.

Post war[edit]

On May Day, 1947, the Cheshire Yeomanry reformed as an armoured regiment, equipped with Cromwell and Comet tanks. It continued as such until 1958, when it re-equipped with Daimler Armoured Cars.
The defence re-organisation of 1967 led to the disbanding of the regiment except for a small cadre, but in 1971 The Queen's Own Yeomanry (QOY) was formed from four old yeomanry regiments, including the Cheshire Yeomanry. This lasted until 1999 when the regiment, as part of the Strategic Defence Review, was amalgamated into The Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry.

The Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry[edit]

The RMLY’s current mission is to provide Challenger 2 (CR2) War Establishment Reserves (WER) to the Regular Army. To fulfil this commitment the RMLY soldiers train as CR2 loaders and gunners. C (Cheshire Yeomanry) Squadron based in Chester, continues the traditions of the Cheshire Yeomanry.[1]

33 (Lancashire and Cheshire) Signal Regiment[edit]

A second squadron continues in service as 80th (Cheshire Yeomanry) Signal Squadron (V), part of 33 Signal Regiment, Royal Signals.[1] The squadron is based in Runcorn, Cheshire.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "mod uk". 
  2. ^ Rinaldi 2008, p. 35
  3. ^ a b c d James 1978, p. 17
  4. ^ James 1978, p. 27
  5. ^ Becke 1937, p. 51
  6. ^ a b James 1978, p. 36
  7. ^ Becke 1936, p. 6
  8. ^ a b James 1978, pp. 17,27
  9. ^ James 1978, pp. 17–19,27

Bibliography[edit]

  • Becke, Major A.F. (1936). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 2A. The Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and the 1st-Line Territorial Force Divisions (42–56). London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-12-4. 
  • Becke, Major A.F. (1937). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 2B. The 2nd-Line Territorial Force Divisions (57th–69th) with The Home-Service Divisions (71st–73rd) and 74th and 75th Divisions. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-00-0. 
  • 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. 
  • Rinaldi, Richard A (2008). Order of Battle of the British Army 1914. Ravi Rikhye. ISBN 978-0-97760728-0. 

External links[edit]