County of London Yeomanry

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Several British Army regiments have born the title County of London Yeomanry (CLY). Most have been mounted, then armoured regiments.

1st County of London Yeomanry (Middlesex, Duke of Cambridge's)[edit]

The 1st CLY saw service in the Boer War, 1900–1901, and in World War I at Gallipoli, Macedonia and Palestine.

The regiment was first founded in May 1797 as the Uxbridge Volunteer Cavalry becoming the Uxbridge Yeomanry Cavalry in 1798. It was disbanded in 1801. It was reformed in December 1830 as the Middlesex Yeomanry Cavalry, based at Harefield and West Drayton and later had a troop based in Brighton. Over the following years there were further name changes: Middlesex (Duke of Cambridge's Hussars) Yeomanry Cavalry (in 1884); Middlesex Imperial Yeomanry (Duke of Cambridge's Hussars) (17 April 1901, with four squadrons and a machine-gun section); 1st County of London Yeomanry (Middlesex, Duke of Cambridge's) (1 April 1908) and transferred to the London Mounted Brigade in the Territorial Forces.

Now in the Territorial Army, the regiment was transferred to the Royal Signals in 1920 as the 2nd Cavalry Divisional Signals (Middlesex Yeomanry); Mobile Divisional Signals (Middlesex Yeomanry) (1938); 1st Armoured Divisional Signals (Middlesex Yeomanry) (1939); 9th Armoured Brigade Signal Squadron (Middlesex Yeomanry) (1941).

It returned to the Territorial Army on 1 January 1947 as 16th Airborne Divisional Signal Regiment (Middlesex Yeomanry); then as Middlesex Yeomanry Signal Regiment (44 Parachute Brigade Signal Squadron) (1 October 1956); 40th Signal Regiment (Middlesex Yeomanry) (44 Parachute Brigade Signal Squadron and 303 Signal Squadron) (1 September 1959); 47th Signal Regiment (Middlesex Yeomanry) (1961).

The regiment was amalgamated with the 47th (London) Signal Regiment on 1 April 1967 to form 47 (Middlesex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron, 31st (Greater London) Signal Regiment, Royal Signals; disbanded and immediately reconstituted in the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve.

In 1995 47 (Middlesex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron came under command of the 39th (Skinners) Signal Regiment (Volunteers). In 2006 the squadron moved under the command of 71 (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment. The squadron took command of 831 Troop based at Southfields on 1 Oct 2009. 47 (Middlesex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron is the modern day iteration of the 1st County of London Yeomanry.

2nd County of London Yeomanry (Westminster Dragoons)[edit]

In World War I, the regiment was attached to the London Mounted Brigade. It served in the Middle East from September 1914 until August 1917 and then reformed, first as XX Corps Cavalry Regiment then, in April 1918 as "F" Battalion, Machine Gun Corps.

During World War II, 2nd CLY served as a unit in the 79th Armoured Division.

The regimental history goes back to 1779, when it was formed as the London and Westminster Light Horse. It was repeatedly disbanded and reformed over the following fifty years as the Westminster Volunteer Cavalry.

It was reformed on 24 August 1901 as the 2nd County of London Imperial Yeomanry from South African war veterans with four squadrons and a machine gun section and in 1902 the name became 2nd County of London Imperial Yeomanry (Westminster Dragoons), to continue the 1779–1829 regiment. On 1 April 1908, the regiment transferred to the Territorial Forces and then in 1920 to the Territorial Army.

On 26 March 1920, the regiment transferred to the Tank Corps as 22nd (London) Armoured Car Company (Westminster Dragoons), in 1939 changing its name to 22nd (Westminster Dragoons) Battalion in the Royal Tank Corps. After a short spell as 2 Officer Cadet Training Unit, on 30 November 1940, the regiment renamed as 2nd County of London Yeomanry (Westminster Dragoons), converted and transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps.

After the war, in 1947, it was reconstituted in the Territorial Army, based in London and in 1951 it became The Westminster Dragoons (2nd County of London Yeomanry). The regiment was amalgamated, on 1 May 1961, with "R" (Berkshire Yeomanry) Battery, 299 (Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry, Berkshire Yeomanry, and The Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars) Field Regiment RA, to form The Berkshire and Westminster Dragoons.

3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters)[edit]

Formed on 23 July 1901 as the 3rd County of London Imperial Yeomanry (Sharpshooters). On 25 September 1920, the regiment became the 5th (London) Armoured Car Company, Tank Corps, based at St. John's Wood and subsequently the 23rd (London) Armoured Car Company, Royal Tank Corps (June, 1922), 23rd Cavalry Armoured Car Regiment, Royal Tank Corps (1938) (transferred to Royal Armoured Corps on 30 April 1939. On 24 August, the name reverted to 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters).

On 27 September 1939, 3rd CLY formed a separate unit as a nucleus of the 4th County of London Yeomanry. This lasted until 1 August 1944 when losses in Normandy prompted the amalgamation of 3rd CLY and 4th CLY, to form 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters).

4th County of London Yeomanry[edit]

The original 4th County of London Imperial Yeomanry (King's Colonials) was formed in November 1901 at Charing Cross, London, as a yeomanry regiment from overseas volunteers resident in England, with four "colonial" squadrons:

A Squadron ("British Asian")
B Squadron ("British American" or Canadian)
C Squadron (Australasian)
D Squadron ("British African" or South African)

An additional, New Zealand Squadron, was formed in 1902, leaving C Squadron as Australian.

In 1905, the regiment was renamed as The King's Colonials, Imperial Yeomanry. In 1909, the separate "colony" squadrons were discontinued and in 1910, the regiment was again renamed, as King Edward's Horse (The King's Overseas Dominions Regiment). The regiment was transferred to Special Reserve and lost yeomanry status in 1913 and 21 March 1924, it was disbanded.

4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters)[edit]

The army began to expand as the international situation worsened and on 27 September 1939, the 4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) was formed as a duplicate of the 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) starting with a nucleus detached from the 3rd CLY.

During the Battle of Normandy, 4th CLY served as part of the 7th Armoured Division, the "Desert Rats". On June 13, they advanced with a battalion of the Rifle Brigade by road from Villers-Bocage and were ambushed by a detachment of Tiger tanks. A single Tiger, commanded by SS-Obersturmführer Michael Wittmann, knocked out the CLY's lead Cromwell and then took out the rest of the column, trapped in the embanked road. This was the prelude to a counter-attack by Panzer-Lehr-Division Division which forced the British out of Villers-Bocage.

On 1 August, 1944 the two regiments were amalgamated to form 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters).

3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters)[edit]

Action in Normandy so depleted the 3rd and 4th CLY that they were merged on 1 August 1944, at Carpiquet.

The Sharpshooters continued as a Territorial Army (TA) Regiment after World War 2, initially as an armoured regiment in the 56th London Armoured Division.

They changed role in 1956 as a result of TA reorganisation and became the reconnaissance regiment for 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division. In 1959 the affiliation with the Royal Tank Regiment ended and the Royal Dragoons became the parent regiment.

In 1960 the number of Yeomanry Regiments was halved and the Sharpshooters were amalgamated with the Kent Yeomanry – descended from the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles and the Queen's Own West Kent Yeomanry – to become the Kent and County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters). The regiment's role was to be that of an armoured reconnaissance regiment consisting of a Headquarters and three sabre squadrons.

In 1967 the former HQ Squadron of the Kent and County of London Yeomanry became part of a new TAVR III Regiment, the London and Kent Regiment.

265 (Kent and County of London Yeomanry) Support Squadron (Sharpshooters)[edit]

KCLY1.jpg

After yet more reorganisation during the late 1960s a new Signal Regiment was formed (71st Signal Regiment) and the name of the London and Kent Regiment was preserved in one of its squadrons, 265 (London and Kent) Squadron primarily to perform a regimental headquarters function, but eventually as a fully operational Signal Squadron.

In 1974 the new signals regiment adopted the title 71 (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment and the Squadron's title changed to 265 (Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry) Signal Squadron.

In 1985 the squadron's title changed once more and became 265 (Kent and County of London Yeomanry) Signal Squadron. Then two years later a new squadron was formed from its RHQ elements and titled Headquarters (Kent and County of London Yeomanry) Squadron.

The two squadrons remained as such until further reorganisation in 2006 when 265 (Kent and County of London Yeomanry) Signal Squadron was disbanded and the majority of its personnel absorbed into the former Headquarters Squadron to form the new 265 (Kent and County of London Yeomanry) Support Squadron (Sharpshooters), effectively reverting to its combined RHQ and signals role prior to the formation of Headquarters Squadron in 1987.

265 (Kent and County of London Yeomanry) Support Squadron (Sharpshooters) continues in this role today and by carrying the titles of the former Yeomanry Regiments continues to maintain the traditions and history of those regiments.

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