Hallamshire Battalion

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The Hallamshire Battalion
York and Lancaster Regiment
Active 1859-1999
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type Infantry
Size Battalion
Part of 148th (3rd West Riding) Brigade
146th Infantry Brigade
Battle honours World War I
World War II

The Hallamshire Battalion was an infantry battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment, part of the British Army in existence from 1859 until 1999.


Formed in 1859 as The Hallamshire Volunteer Rifle Corps with its H.Q. at Sheffield. The title Hallamshire came from the ancient lordship of West Riding that comprised the parishes of Sheffield, Ecclesfield and Bradfield. In 1862 the Hallamshire Rifles were presented with Colours.[1]

In 1881 with the reorganisation of the British Army, during the Cardwell Reforms, the Hallamshires became a volunteer battalion for the York and Lancaster Regiment and were renamed; 1st (Hallamshire) Volunteer Battalion.

Boer War[edit]

The Hallamshires (in common with other Volunteer units) raised a second "active service" battalion. They were awarded the battle honour South Africa 1900-1902.

In 1908 they were redesignated as the 4th (Territorial) Battalion. A year later it regained its title becoming 4th (Hallamshire) Battalion.[1] The battalion was assigned to the 3rd West Riding Brigade, alongside the 5th Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment, and the 4th and 5th KOYLI. The brigade was assigned to the West Riding Division.

World War I[edit]

In April 1915 the battalion was moved to the Western Front as part of the 148th (3rd West Riding) Brigade of the 49th (West Riding) Division and sent to the Ypres Salient by June. Over the next six months they lost 94 killed and 401 injured in the attritional war of the trenches.[1]

After a period of rest in Calais they moved to theSomme. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, the battalion was part of the follow-up assault wave. During the next three months of the campaign the Hallamshires lost 27 officers and 750 soldiers killed and wounded.[1]

During the rest of the war the Hallamshires suffered many more casualties including 288 in the first use of Mustard Gas at Nieuwpoort in July 1917. In the final Allied Advance to Victory, the Hallamshires were ordered on 13 October to reach the line of the river Selle which was supposedly undefended on the western bank. They advanced across open ground without artillery support to find strongly defended enemy positions. They achieved their objective but with only 4 officers and 240 men present of the 20 officers and 600 men who had started the advance.[1]

Between the wars[edit]

In 1924 the number was dropped by order of King George V in recognition of their war service and the battalion was known as simply The Hallamshire Battalion, Yorks and Lancs.[1]

World War II[edit]

Hallamshires manning 6-pounder anti-tank gun, Netherlands, November 1944
Hallamshires with civilians, Netherlands, April 1945

The Hallamshire Battalion saw action in World War II and would serve with the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division throughout the war. The battalion and most of the division first saw action as part of the ill-fated Norwegian Campaign in early 1940. The battalion arrived with most of the 146th Infantry Brigade. They were ashore for twelve days seeing limited action and losing their only casualties on the journey home when one of their transports was sunk.

The battalion spent the next two years "defending" Iceland and training as Alpine troops before returning to Scotland for garrison duties and to prepare for the invasion of North West Europe. The Hallamshires landed in France on D+3, 9 June 1944, three days after the initial invasion on D-Day, and moved into the front line four days later. Twelve days after landing the Hallamshires were involved in the attack on Fontenay-le-Pesnel (Operation Martlet) against the 26th Panzer Grenadier Regiment. The attack was successful but at the expense of 123 members of the battalion killed or wounded. To this day, former members of the battalion at that time still celebrate the victory as the Fontenay Club.[1]

The battalion was involved in the capture of the docks at Le Havre before the Germans could destroy the vital installations. Here they captured 1,005 prisoners, three Dornier flying boats and a submarine. In September, the Hallamshires crossed the Antwerp-Turnhout canal and for his part in a subsequent action, Corporal John William Harper was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroism. During the winter months, the battalion served in the Nijmegen salient and participated in the liberation of Arnhem in April 1945, their final action in World War II. Eleven months had seen the battalion suffer 158 officers and other ranks killed and 689 wounded.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Norton, Colonel I.G. "Yorkshire Volunteers". Yorkshire Volunteers Regimental Association. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 

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