Yeomanry

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This article is about a British Army unit. For other uses, see Yeoman (disambiguation).

Yeomanry is a designation used by a number of units or sub-units of the British Territorial Army, descended from volunteer cavalry regiments. Today, Yeomanry units may serve in a variety of different military roles.

History[edit]

A Review of the London Volunteer Cavalry and Flying Artillery in Hyde Park in 1804

In the 1790s, the threat of invasion of the Kingdom of Great Britain was high, after the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. To improve the country's defences, volunteer regiments were raised in many counties from yeomen. While the word "yeoman" in normal use meant a small farmer who owned his land, Yeomanry officers were drawn from the nobility or the landed gentry, and many of the men were the officers' tenants or had other forms of obligation to the officers. These regiments became known collectively as the Yeomanry. Members of the yeomanry were not obliged to serve overseas without their individual consent.

During the first half of the nineteenth century Yeomanry Regiments were used extensively in support of the civil authority to quell riots and civil disturbances, including the Peterloo Massacre; as police forces were created and took over this role, the Yeomanry concentrated on local defence. 1 During the Second Boer War companies of Imperial Yeomanry were formed to serve overseas from volunteers from the Yeomanry. In 1901 all yeomanry regiments were redesignated as "Imperial Yeomanry", and reorganised. In 1908 the Imperial Yeomanry was merged with the Volunteer Force to form the Territorial Force, of which it became the cavalry arm. The "Imperial" title was dropped at the same time.

On the eve of World War I there were 57 Yeomanry regiments, each of four squadrons instead of the three of the regular cavalry. Upon embodiment these regiments were either brought together to form mounted brigades or allocated as divisional cavalry. For purposes of recruitment and administration the Yeomanry were linked to specific counties or regions, identified in the regimental title. Some of the units still in existence in 1914 dated back to those created in the 1790s while others had been created during a period of expansion following on the Boer War. Following the First World War the Territorial Force was redesignated as the Territorial Army. Following the experience of the war, only the fourteen senior yeomanry regiments retained their horses, with the rest being re-roled as armoured car companies, artillery, engineers, or signals. Two regiments were disbanded. The converted units retained their yeomanry traditions, with some artillery regiments having individual batteries representing different yeomanry units.

On the eve of the Second World War the Territorial Army was doubled in size, with duplicate units formed; this led to some regiments being de-amalgamated. The last mounted regiment of yeomanry was the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons, who were converted to an armoured role in March 1942. Volunteers from the Yeomanry served in the Long Range Desert Group from 1940 through to 1943, incorporated into "Y Patrol".[1] There were reductions in the size of the TA in 1957 and 1961 and this led to amalgamation of some pairs of yeomanry regiments. There was a major reduction in reserve forces in 1967 with the formation of the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve, and all existing yeomanry regiments were reduced to squadron, company or battery sub-units. A number of further reorganisations have taken place since then.

Current Yeomanry regiments[edit]

Today, in the modern Army Reserve (as the Territorial Army is now known), there are many former Yeomanry regiments serving in one form or another, usually as a squadron/battery that is part of a larger unit:

Royal Armoured Corps[edit]

Royal Yeomanry
Royal Wessex Yeomanry
Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry
Queen's Own Yeomanry

Infantry[edit]

Royal Regiment of Scotland
Royal Welsh

Royal Signals[edit]

Independent Squadrons
32 (Scottish) Signal Regiment
33 (Lancashire and Cheshire) Signal Regiment
35 (South Midlands) Signal Regiment
36 (Eastern) Signal Regiment
37 (Wessex and Welsh) Signal Regiment
39 (Skinners) Signal Regiment
40 (Ulster) Signal Regiment
71 (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment

Royal Artillery[edit]

104 Regiment
106 (Yeomanry) Regiment

Army Air Corps[edit]

6 Regiment, Army Air Corps

Royal Engineers[edit]

101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment
71 Engineer Regiment

Royal Logistic Corps[edit]

Welsh Transport Regiment

Yeomanry Regiments with more than one unit[edit]

Most of the old yeomanry regiments are perpetuated through a single unit, be it an armoured, engineers or signal squadron, or an artillery battery. However, there are seven yeomanry regiments that maintain more than one unit:

Cheshire Yeomanry (Earl of Chester's)
  • Challenger 2 Replacement Squadron
  • Signals Squadron
Inns of Court and City Yeomanry
  • Signals Squadron
  • Regimental Band
Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry
  • NBC Recce Squadron
  • Signals Squadron
North Irish Horse
  • Armoured Reconnaissance Squadron
  • Signals Squadron
Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry
  • NBC Recce Squadron
  • Armoured Replacement Squadron
Shropshire Yeomanry
  • Challenger 2 Replacement Squadron
  • Signals Squadron
The Scottish Horse

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Arthur Taylor, Discovering British Cavalry Regiments, Aylesbury, 1973