Royal Devon Yeomanry

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Royal Devon Yeomanry
Active 7 June 1920–present day
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Yeomanry
Role Challenger 2 replacement
Size Squadron
Part of Royal Armoured Corps
March Widdecombe Fair
Anniversaries Monte Cassino
Insignia
Identification
symbol
Maple Leaf

The Royal Devon Yeomanry was a Yeomanry regiment of the British Army, formed in 1920. It participated in World War II and now forms a squadron of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry.

Antecendents[edit]

Following the experience of the First World War, it was decided that only the fourteen most senior yeomanry regiments would be retained as horsed cavalry,[1] with the rest being transferred to other roles.[2] As a result, on 7 June 1920, the Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry was amalgamated with the Royal North Devon Yeomanry to form the Royal Devon Yeomanry and simultaneously transferred to the Royal Artillery to form 11th (Devon) Army Brigade, RFA.[3]

Pre war[edit]

The brigade / regiment underwent a number of redesignations before the outbreak of World War II. In 1921 it was renumbered and regained its yeomanry title as 96th (Devon Yeomanry) Army Brigade, RFA and in 1922 became 96th (Devonshire Yeomanry) Army Brigade, RFA. In 1923 it regained its royal title as 96th (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Brigade, RFA. Another title change came in 1924 as the Royal Field Artillery was reamalgamated back into the Royal Artillery and the regiment became 96th (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Field Brigade, RA. The final change came in 1938 as artillery brigades became regiments, hence 96th (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA. In 1939, the Territorial Army was duplicated - existing units formed a second unit.[4] 96th (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA formed 142nd (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA.[3]

World War II[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.[5]

96th (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA[edit]

96th Field Regiment served in the Home Forces for most of the war, moving to India in January 1945.[6]

At the outbreak of the war, 96th Field Regiment was part of 45th Division. Initially commanding two batteries - 381 from Torverton and 382 from Totnes - the third battery (469) was formed in the regiment at Knottingley in December 1940.[7]

It transferred to 61st Division in June 1944 before being posted to India. In the Far East, it supported 81st (West Africa) Division and 25th Indian Division in preparation for Operation Zipper.[8]

142nd (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA[edit]

A battery of 142nd Field Regiment Bishops at a former German airfield in Sicily, October 1943

142nd Field Regiment also initially served in the Home Forces, before moving to Sicily and Italy from July 1943.[6]

At the outbreak of the war, 142nd Field Regiment was also part of 45th Division. Initially commanding two batteries - 383 from Torrington and 384 from South Molton - the third battery (506) was formed in the regiment at Bircotes on 5 November 1940. It was authorised to use the "Royal Devon Yeomanry" designation from 17 February 1942.[9]

142nd Field Regiment fought in Sicily from July 1943 and in Italy thereafter under command of 8th Army,[10] taking part in most of the major actions of that campaign including the landings in Sicily and Anzio and the Battle of Monte Cassino.[11] Throughout the campaign the regiment was armed with Bishop self-propelled guns. For its support to the Canadian Division it was awarded the right to wear the Maple Leaf of Canada.

Post war[edit]

Both regiments were reformed in 1947 as 296th (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA (at Exeter) and 342nd (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, RA. In 1950, 342nd Medium Regiment was amalgamed into 296th Field Regiment[6] and in 1956 absorbed 256th (Wessex) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA.[3] 296th Field Regiment survived until 1967.[6]

On 1 April 1967 the regiment was amalgamated with the 4th Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment to form The Devonshire Territorials (Royal Devon Yeomanry/The 1st Rifle Volunteers). In the process it was reduced to squadron strength as "A" Squadron. This had a brief, two year, existence and throughout that time was kept very short of equipment and training time. It was reduced to cadre in 1969.[3]

With a change of government policy, in 1971 the Territorials were again reformed, and on 1 April a new regiment was born incorporating three old and distinguished cavalry regiments. "A" and "C" Squadrons were formed from the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, "B" Squadron from the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, and "D" Squadron from the old Royal Devon Yeomanry. The regiment is called the Royal Wessex Yeomanry.[11]

The Royal Devon Yeomanry now serves as D Squadron, Royal Wessex Yeomanry based in North Devon (Barnstaple) and South Devon (Paignton). It provides trained replacement crewmen for the Regular Army's Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank.[12]

The Royal Devon Yeomanry Museum is incorporated in the North Devon Museum, The Square Barnstaple.

Honorary Colonels[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mileham 1994, p. 48
  2. ^ Mileham 1994, p. 50
  3. ^ a b c d Royal Devon Yeomanry at regiments.org by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 16 August 2007)
  4. ^ "History of the Army Reserve". MOD. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Forty 1998, p. 73
  6. ^ a b c d Mileham 1994, p. 83
  7. ^ Frederick 1984, p. 525
  8. ^ Barton, Derek. "96 (Royal Devonshire Yeo) Field Regiment RA(TA)". The Royal Artillery 1939-45. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  9. ^ Frederick 1984, p. 532
  10. ^ Bellis 1995, p. 100
  11. ^ a b "D (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Squadron". Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Royal Wessex Yeomanry". Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  13. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44335. p. 6328. 2 June 1967. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44558. p. 3864. 29 March 1968. Retrieved 2 November 2009.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 49619. p. 687. 16 January 1984. Retrieved 2 November 2009.

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. 
  • Mileham, Partick (1994). The Yeomanry Regiments; 200 Years of Tradition. Edinburgh: Canongate Academic. ISBN 1-898410-36-4.