Essex Yeomanry

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The Essex Yeomanry
Active 1797-present
Country Britain
Branch Army
Type Yeomanry
Role Signals
Size Squadron
Garrison/HQ Chelmsford
Motto Decus Et Tutamen (Honour and Protection)
Engagements First Battle of Ypres
Battle of Frezenberg
Battle of Loos
Battle of Arras
Battle of the Hindenburg Line
Battle of the St Quentin Canal
Pursuit to Mons

The Essex Yeomanry was a regiment of the British Army raised in 1797. It recruited volunteers from the county of Essex in the East of England. The Essex Yeomanry is currently 36 (Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron, with Sqn HQ and 845 Signal Troop at Colchester, and 907 Signal Troop at Chelmsford .



The Essex Yeomanry was raised in 1797 during the Napoleonic Wars as a number of independent troops. Its Band was formed in 1809. The regiment was brought together as the 'Essex Yeomanry Cavalry' in 1814. It was disbanded in 1828; but, with the expansion of the volunteer movement in the 1850s, it was re-raised as the 'West Essex Yeomanry Cavalry' in 1857. The regiment was disbanded again in 1877, but an 'Essex Troop' continued to serve under command of the 'Loyal Suffolk Hussars'.

Essex Imperial Yeomanry[edit]

In 1902, the 'Essex Imperial Yeomanry' was raised with four sabre squadrons, one machine gun section, and its regimental headquarters at Colchester Garrison. In 1908, the regiment was renamed the 'Essex Yeomanry' and transferred to the Territorial Force.

  • Regimental Headquarters was based at Colchester
  • A Squadron was based at Colchester
  • B Squadron was based at Braintree
  • C Squadron was based at Waltham Abbey
  • D Squadron was based at Southend

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 of the unit 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. A 3rd Line was later formed to act as a reserve, providing trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line regiments.[1]

1/1st Essex Yeomanry[edit]

The Essex Yeomanry was mobilised at the outbreak of war. The regiment joined the Royal Horse Guards and the 10th Royal Hussars in France in November 1914 as part of 8th Cavalry Brigade.[2]

In April 1918, the 1/1st Essex Yeomanry was broken up as reinforcements for three other cavalry regiments. Lieutenant Colonel Whitmore of the EY was appointed to command the 10th Royal Hussars, the only Territorial officer without previous regular service to command a regular cavalry regiment.[citation needed] Other officers included members of the Towers family, whose descendants subsequently hung portraits of their menfolk in uniform at Ashridge, where they can still be seen today.[citation needed]

2/1st Essex Yeomanry[edit]

The 2/1st Essex Yeomanry was raised at Colchester and later served as garrison troops in Ireland during the war.

3/1st Essex Yeomanry[edit]

The 3/1st Essex Yeomanry was raised at Colchester and later absorbed into the 4th Reserve Cavalry Regiment in 1917.

Between the Wars (1918–1939)[edit]

The regiment was reconstituted in 1920 as part of the Territorial Army with regimental headquarters at Colchester. In 1921, the regiment was converted from cavalry to artillery and became the '104th (Essex Yeomanry) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery'.

  • Regimental Headquarters was based at Colchester
  • 413 (Essex Yeomanry) Battery was based at Colchester
  • 414 (Essex Yeomanry) Battery was based at Harlow

In 1932, with regimental headquarters and 413 Battery transferred to Chelmsford, the regiment gained a 339 (Essex Royal Horse Artillery) Battery based at Colchester. In 1938, the regiment was renamed '104th (Essex Yeomanry) Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery' (RHA).

World War II[edit]

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the "104th (Essex Yeomanry) Regiment, RHA" formed a duplicate regiment as part of the increase in British military manpower. The second Essex Yeomanry regiment was designated '147 Regiment RHA (Essex Yeomanry)'.

104th (Essex Yeomanry) Regiment, RHA[edit]

The first line regiment went to the Middle East in 1940 and served in most of the Western Desert battles, notably the Battle of El Alamein and the Siege of Tobruk. It went on to fight in the Italian Campaign and was stood-down in Austria in 1946.

147th (Essex Yeomanry) Regiment, RHA[edit]

The new regiment landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, 1944. It fought with the British 8th Armoured Brigade as a spearhead unit through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and into Germany. The regiment stood-down in 1946.

14th Regiment, RHA[edit]

Another regiment, 14th RHA, was formed in India on 1 September 1942. It commanded 414th (Essex Yeomanry) Battery from 104th RHA, 524th Battery (formerly independent) and the newly formed 525th Battery.

The Regimental Headquarters, 524th and 525th Batteries were disbanded on 27 April 1946 and 414th Battery was placed in suspended animation in Middle East Land Forces on the same date. 414th Battery was reconstituted in 304th (Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment. Royal Artillery on 1 January 1947.[3]



The Essex Yeomanry was re-raised on 1 June 1947 as 304th (EY) Field Regiment RA with HQ at Chelmsford and batteries at Colchester (P), Southend (Q), and Harlow (R). The title RHA was restored in February 1955 and shoulder chains were added to the green No. 1 dress.[4]


The Essex Yeomanry tradition was continued through the men and women of the Territorial Army who served as members of '70 (Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron', which formed part of 71 Yeomanry Signal Regiment in the Royal Corps of Signals. The squadron headquarters and 881 Troop were located in Chelmsford, with 882 Troop based in Harlow. Members of the squadron wore the Green Beret of the Essex Yeomanry and were liable for active duty under the Reserve Forces Act 1996; soldiers from the Squadron contributed to operations in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq[citation needed].

On 25 April 2009, 70 (Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron was awarded the freedom of Harlow.[5]


Following the announcement in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, 28 April 2009, concerning the restructuring of Royal Signals Territorial Army, Harlow TA Centre was closed on 1 October 2009. 70 (Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron amalgamated with 68 (Inns of Court & City Yeomanry) Signal Squadron to form 68 (Inns of Court & City and Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron. The official parade where the two Squadrons fell out and then fell back in as one Squadron occurred on Saturday, 26 June 2010. 68 (Inns of Court & City and Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron consisted of 3 Troops based at 3 TA Centres, SHQ and 1 Troop at Lincoln's Inn, 907 (Essex Yeomanry) Signal Troop at Chelmsford and 1 Troop at Whipps Cross. Soldiers from the Squadron continued to contribute to operations in Afghanistan and Cyprus.

Present day[edit]

It was announced on 3 July 2013, as part of the Army 2020 Reserve structure changes the Essex Yeomanry troop will be re-subordinated from 68 (Inns of Court, City & Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron to 36 (East Anglian) Signal Squadron which in turn will become 36 (Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron. With Sqn HQ at Colchester and one out station at Chelmsford. This is due to take place no later than Dec 2016.[6]

Re-subordination commenced with 907 Troop reverting to rifle green beret with Royal Signals cap badge and the Essex Yeomanry stable belt during April 2014 and the new squadron had its first successful ADE (Annual Deployment Exercise) September 2014. The Squadron is expected to be fully amalgamated and dressed the same by 2015.

'B' Company, Essex Army Cadet Force has an affiliation with the Essex Yeomanry, the company is formally referred to as 'B'(EY)Coy, all adult instructors wear the rifle green beret with the Royal Signals cap badge and are entitled to wear the Essex Yeomanry stable belt.

Essex Yeomanry Band[edit]

The Essex Yeomanry Band playing at The Menin Gate, Ypres, in Belgium
Director of Music Major Danny Greer leading the Band on Parade at Audley End House

The Essex Yeomanry Band is one of the oldest established Military bands in the East of England, being originally formed in 1809. The Band is today a self-funding organisation and is based in Chelmsford.


The History of the Band, especially in its formative years, is somewhat sketchy, and not so clearly documented as that of the Essex Yeomanry Regiment. Trumpeters were used by all Cavalry Regiments as a means of giving commands.

The first real evidence of an Essex Yeomanry Band (then on Horseback), was recorded in 1809.

In 1830, the Commanding Officer of the West Essex Yeomanry was financially supporting the Band out of his own pocket. An engraving of 1846 shows a black drummer mounted on a white horse, sporting a plumed turban. The other mounted bandsmen wore the Yeomanry uniform of the period.

In 1877, the West Essex Yeomanry was disbanded, but later reformed to be become the Waltham Abbey Town Band. However, this newly formed band proudly continued to wear the Yeomanry uniform.

The Essex Yeomanry became gunners in 1921, but still retained the Band. The musicians were now dismounted, but continued to entertain all those who heard them play. By 1937, the band was in the full dress uniform of the Regiment, complete with plumed brass helmets.

During the Second World War, the Essex Yeomanry Band was disbanded, but reformed in 1947. This was a difficult time for the players, as all the uniforms had been destroyed with the bombing of Chelmsford in 1943. In 1952, official recognition of the band was given by the War Office, but like the Regiment, it was withdrawn in 1968.

Today, as a result of work given by successive Directors of Music, Bandmasters and the loyalty of musicians, the Band now operates on a self-supporting basis. Members pay an Annual Subscription towards the band's upkeep, together with income from concerts.

The band gives concerts at a wide range of events such as public concerts, bandstands, private functions and events for organisations such as ex-servicemen's charities.

The current Director of Music is Major Danny Greer A.R.C.M. He trained at the Royal Military School of Music and is a former Bandmaster to the Royal Highland Fusiliers.



  • Frederick, J.B.M. (1984). Lineage Book of British Land Forces 1660–1978. Wakefield, Yorkshire: Microform Academic Publishers. ISBN 1-85117-009-X. 
  • Mileham, Patrick (1994). The Yeomanry Regiments; 200 Years of Tradition. Edinburgh: Canongate Academic. ISBN 1-898410-36-4. 

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