Surrey Yeomanry

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Surrey Yeomanry (Queen Mary's Regiment)
Active 1794–present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Yeomanry
Role World War I
Yeomanry
Infantry
World War II
Artillery
Size World War I
Three Regiments
World War II
Two Regiments
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Lt-Colonel Eric Richard Thesiger DSO TD

The Surrey Yeomanry was a unit of the British Army formed as volunteer cavalry in 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars. In 1901 the Regiment was granted the title Princess of Wales's which was changed to Queen Mary's when George V became the King.[1] Converted to artillery in 1922, they were later reduced to battery strength and merged into the Queen's Regiment.

History[edit]

Formation and early history[edit]

The Surrey Gentlemen and Yeomanry Cavalry was raised in 1794, but disbanded in 1828. A Southwark Troop was raised in 1831 and became a full Regiment in the same year. That too was disbanded in 1848. The Surrey Imperial Yeomanry was raised in 1901 for service in the Boer War. In 1908 the Regiment became part of the Territorial Force

World War I[edit]

South 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.[2]

1/1st Surrey Yeomanry[edit]

On mobilisation the Surrey Yeomanry now known as the 1/1st Surrey Yeomanry was attached to the South Eastern Mounted Brigade of the 1st Mounted Division.[3] In late 1914 the regiment was split up, with the Regimental Headquarters and A Squadron being attached to the 27th Division ; B Squadron joined the 28th Division while C Squadron joined the 29th Division.[3] C Squadron would see service in the Dardanelles campaign at Gallipoli in 1916 moved to France as the XV Corps Cavalry squadron which lasted until July 1917 when they were dismounted and sent to be retrained as infantry, before being drafted into the 10th Battalion Royal West Surrey Regiment in September 1917.[3] In December 1916 the regiments A and B Squadrons reformed to become the XVI Corps Cavalry Regiment in Salonika.[3]

2/1st Surrey Yeomanry[edit]

The 2nd Line regiment was formed at Clapham in September 1914 and moved to Dorking. In May 1915 it went to Maresfield, in September to Wrotham and in the winter of 1915–16 it was at Hastings, possibly in 1/1st South Western Mounted Brigade which became 2/1st Southern Mounted Brigade. In March 1916 the brigade joined 4th Mounted Division, and was redesignated as 16th Mounted Brigade, in the Manningtree area.[4]

In July 1916, 4th Mounted Division became 2nd Cyclist Division and the regiment was converted to a cyclist unit in 7th Cyclist Brigade at Woodbridge . In November 1916 the division was broken up and the regiment was merged with the 2/1st Sussex Yeomanry to form 8th (Surrey and Sussex) Yeomanry Cyclist Regiment in 3rd Cyclist Brigade at Ipswich. In March 1917 it resumed its identity as 2/1st Surrey Yeomanry at Ipswich, and in July moved back to the Woodbridge area. In May 1918, the regiment moved with 3rd Cyclist Brigade to Ireland. It was stationed at Athlone and Galway; there was no further change before the end of the war.[4]

3/1st Surrey Yeomanry[edit]

The 3rd Line regiment was formed in February 1915 at Clapham and in June it was affiliated to 3rd Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Canterbury. Early in 1917 it was absorbed in the 1st Reserve Cavalry Regiment at The Curragh.[4]

Between the wars[edit]

In February 1920 The Surrey Yeomanry (Queen Mary's Regiment) (TF) was reformed, Headquarters once again opened at 73 King's Avenue, Clapham, S.W.4. With the South-Eastern Mounted Brigade (TF) having been disbanded, the Surrey Yeomanry was reformed as an Army Troops unit within Eastern Command. In November 1921 the Territorial Force was renamed as The Territorial Army.

However, the post-war reorganisations of the Territorials made most of its Yeomanry Cavalry Regiments surplus to requirements and in early 1922 it was announced that the Surrey Yeomanry would convert to Royal Field Artillery and provide two batteries to an existing Brigade, 98th (Sussex Yeomanry) Army Brigade, RFA (TF). This had been formed in 1920 by the conversion to Artillery of the Sussex Yeomanry and comprised Headquarters and 389th (Sussex Yeomanry) Battery at Brighton and 390th (Sussex Yeomanry) Battery at Chichester. The Surrey Yeomanry would then form 391st (Surrey Yeomanry) and 392nd (Surrey Yeomanry) (Howitzer) Batteries, both at Clapham. As a result of this merger the Brigade was redesignated as 98th (Surrey and Sussex Yeomanry) Brigade, RFA (TA).

In 1924 the Brigade Headquarters moved to Clapham and the Brigade was renamed 98th (Surrey and Sussex Yeomanry, Queen Mary's) Army Field Brigade, RA (TA). Although still a unit of Army Troops, not allocated to any particular formation, it was attached for training to 44th (Home Counties) Division (TA).

A reorganisation of TA Field Forces was announced in February 1938 and as part of this the Brigade redesignated 98th (Surrey and Sussex Yeomanry, Queen Mary's) Army Field Regiment, RA (TA). It was ordered to reorganise and reduce to two Batteries, in line with the new establishment for TA Field Artillery, but this reorganisation did not immediately come into effect.

In March 1939 the War Office ordered the doubling of the Territorial Army and this enabled the Regiment to shed its two surplus Batteries. The Sussex Yeomanry Batteries were withdrawn and formed into a duplicate Regiment, 144th (Sussex Yeomanry) Army Field Regiment, RA (TA), leaving the original Regiment comprising Headquarters, 391st and 392nd Field Batteries.[1]

Memorial to the Surrey Yeomanry dead of WWI and WWII, inside Guildford Cathedral. Photo 2009.

World War II[edit]

98 Field Regiment (Surrey & Sussex Yeomanry Queen Mary's)[edit]

On mobilisation in 1939, the Regiment was part of the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) that was sent to France, initially attached to the 1st Infantry Division in the Lille area. In May 1940 it would be attached in turn to the 46th and 44th Infantry Divisions during the German advance the regiments Guns and vehicles were caught in a traffic jam and had to be destroyed, with the troops proceeding on foot to Dunkirk for evacuation.[5] Back in the United Kingdom the regiment was attached to the 1st Infantry Brigade while it reformed it remained in the United Kingdom until September 1942 when it was sent out to the Middle East and attached to the 10th Armoured Division in Egypt where it participated in the Second Battle of El Alamein, when 10th Armoured was disbanded the regiment was part of the 8th Army Artillery and served in Sicily and Italy being involved in the Battle of Monte Cassino amongst others before leaving Italy in March 1945 and joining the 2nd Army in France and Belgium ending the war in the Netherlands. In April 1945 the Regiment moved to the Lübeck area of Germany as occupation forces and demobilisation was started in October 1945 with the Regiment being placed in suspended animation in June 1946.[5]

144 Field Regiment (Surrey & Sussex Yeomanry Queen Mary's)[edit]

The 144 Field Regiment remained in the United Kingdom in the early war years as part of the 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division and later the British 4th Infantry Division.[6] In November 1940 they were sent to Egypt and then attached to the 5th Indian Division seeing service in the Sudan, Abyssinia and Eritrea it was at Keru Gorge that 390 Battery were charged by about 60 Eritrean cavalry, almost certainly the last cavalry charge on the British Army.[6] The Regiment returned to Egypt with the division before being attached to the 70th Infantry Division during the Siege of Tobruk in September 1941.[6] After being withdrawn from Tobruk they were briefly attached to the 4th Indian Division in early 1942 and the British 1st Armoured Division in February to April 1942.[6] In May 1942 they were sent to Iraq with the 10th Army attached to the 17th Indian Infantry Brigade, 31st Indian Armoured Division they remained with this formation until the end of the war serving in Syria, Persia, Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon.[6]

Post war[edit]

In 1947 The Regiment was re-formed as the 298th (Surrey Yeomanry, Queen Mary's) Field Regiment R.A and Successor units eventually became 200 (Sussex Yeomanry) Field Battery RA (V) and D Company 6/7th Bn The Queen's Regiment (V). [7] In April the Regiment was reduced to a cadre "The Surrey Yeomanry (Queen Mary's Regiment) RA" at Sutton, of the 100 Medium Regiment RA (V), with some personnel being transferred to 'C' Squadron, Royal Yeomanry Regiment (V). In April 1971 they were reformed as infantry becoming 'D' (Surrey Yeomanry, Queen Mary's) Battery 6th (V) Battalion The Queen's Regiment[8] in April 1975 this Battalion was disbanded and amalgamated with the 7th (Volunteer) Battalion to form 6th/7th (Volunteer) Battalion.[9]

The title Surrey Yeomanry continues in use as the designation of one troop of 579 Field Squadron (EOD). Part of 101 (London) Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) (Volunteers), 2 (Surrey Yeomanry) Field Troop at Reigate TA centre.

The Surrey Yeomanry Band[edit]

In 1964, Captain Basil Payne persuaded the Colonel that the regiment should have a band and the Surrey Yeomanry Band was thus founded. Despite the regiment itself no longer operating, the band was kept together by its members and became afflicated to the Regimental Association and continues to this day as a concert band.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "queensroyalsurreys". 
  2. ^ Rinaldi 2008, p. 35
  3. ^ a b c d Baker, Chris. "The Surrey Yeomanry". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c James 1978, p. 29
  5. ^ a b Barton, Derek. "98 (Surrey & Sussex Yeo Queen Marys) Field Regiment RA(TA)". The Royal Artillery 1939-45. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Barton, Derek. "144 (Surrey & Sussex Yeo) Field Regiment RA(TA)". The Royal Artillery 1939-45. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "queensroyalsurrys". 
  8. ^ "win.tue". 
  9. ^ "win.tue". 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Davis, Lt-Col T B (1980). The Surrey and Sussex Yeomanry in the Second World War (1st ed.). Ditchling: Ditchling Press. ISBN 095005843-2. 
  • 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]