Hertfordshire Yeomanry

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Hertfordshire Yeomanry
Herts Yeomanry Badge.jpg
Active 1794–present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Yeomanry
Role Boer War
World War I
World War II
Size Boer War
One Regiment
World War I
Three Regiments
World War II
Two Regiments
Part of one Battery
Battle honours Boer War
South Africa 1900 - 1902
World War I
First Battle of Gaza (1917)
World War II
No battle honours were awarded. It is tradition within artillery units that the Regiment's guns represent its colours and battle honours.[1]

The Hertfordshire Yeomanry is a unit of the British Army specializing in artillery and yeomanry that can trace its formation to the late 18th century. First seeing service in the Second Boer War, it subsequently served in both World War I and World War II.


Formation and early history[edit]

At the time of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry's formation, King George III was on the throne, William Pitt the Younger was Prime Minister of Great Britain, and across the English Channel, Britain was faced by a French nation that had recently guillotined its King and which possessed a revolutionary army numbering half a million men. The Prime Minister proposed that the English Counties form a force of Volunteer Yeoman Cavalry that could be called on by the King to defend the country against invasion or by the Lord Lieutenant to subdue any civil disorder within the country.[2] Five independent Troops of Yeomanry Cavalry were raised in Hertfordshire in June 1794. They were disbanded one by one between 1807 and 1824. In late 1830 and early 1831 seven new troops were formed, four of which were grouped as the South Hertfordshire Corps. Of the three independent Troops only the North Hertfordshire Troop survived. It was amalgamated with the South Hertfordshire Corps to form the Hertfordshire Yeomanry Cavalry in 1871.

Boer War[edit]

Hertfordshire Yeomanry in the 1890s.

On 13 December 1899, the decision to allow volunteer forces serve in the Second Boer War was made. Due to the string of defeats during Black Week in December 1899, the British government realized they were going to need more troops than just the regular army, thus issuing a Royal Warrant on 24 December 1899. This warrant officially created the Imperial Yeomanry.

The Royal Warrant asked standing Yeomanry regiments to provide service companies of approximately 115 men each. In addition to this, many British citizens (usually mid-upper class) volunteered to join the new regiment.[3] Although there were strict requirements, many volunteers were accepted with substandard horsemanship/marksmanship, however they had significant time to train while awaiting transport.

The first contingent of recruits contained 550 officers, 10,371 men with 20 battalions and 4 companies,[4] which arrived in South Africa between February and April 1900.[5] Upon arrival, the regiment was sent throughout the zone of operations.
The Hertfordshire Yeomanry provided troops for the 42nd Company,12th Battalion.[6]

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 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.[7]

1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry[edit]

The 1/1st was mobilised in August 1914 and attached to the Eastern Mounted Brigade, they later moved to Egypt in January 1915 and joined the Yeomanry Mounted Brigade.[8] The Yeomanry Mounted Brigade moved to Gallipoli as dismounted troops attached to the 2nd Mounted Division and redesignated as the 5th Mounted Brigade.[8] After the evacuation of Gallipoli they returned to Egypt in December 1915, and were remounted and moved to the Western Frontier Force.[8] In March 1916 the Regiment was split up, RHQ with A Squadron were attached to the 54th Division, later A Squadron joined XXI Corps, Cavalry in Palestine.[8] B Squadron was attached to the 11th Division, in England until on 12 July 1916 joined VI Corps Cavalry, until early in 1917 when it moved to join XVIII Corps, Cavalry. In May 1917 it became GHQ Troops. In July 1917 it returned to Egypt and in May 1918 joined XXI Corps Cavalry in Palestine.[8] D Squadron moved to Mesopotamia, initially on Lines of Communication duties and in July 1916 it was attached to the 13th Division, until December of that year when they moved to III (Tigris) Corps Cavalry.[8] In August 1917 they were attached to the 15th Indian Infantry Division, and in May 1918 they were tasked with Lines of Communication duties with the North Persia Force.[8]

2/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry[edit]

The 2nd Line regiment was formed at Hertford on 1 September 1914. In August 1915, it was attached to the 69th (2nd East Anglian) Division at Huntingdon. On 28 April 1916 it joined the 16th Mounted Brigade of the 4th Mounted Division in the Manningtree area. It moved to West Malling in October 1916 and to the Sevenoaks area in March 1917.[9]

In September 1917, the regiment was converted to cyclists and joined the 13th Cyclist Brigade of The Cyclist Division. On 26 October it transferred to the 214th Brigade in 71st Division at Colchester. This brigade was intended to serve at Murmansk. On 12 February 1918, the brigade joined the 67th Division, still at Colchester. In March, all fit men were posted to France and the Murmansk operation was cancelled. The regiment remained in East Anglia for the rest of the war.[9][8]

3/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry[edit]

The 3rd Line regiment was formed at Hertford in December 1914. In March 1915 it was affiliated to the 13th Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Colchester, moving to Maresfield later in the year. In February 1917 it was absorbed into the 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Tidworth.[9]

Between The Wars[edit]

On the reforming of the TA, the 14 senior Yeomanry Regiments remained as horsed cavalry regiments (6 forming the 5th and 6th Cavalry Brigades) the remaining Yeomanry Regiments would be re rolled as Artillery.[10] The Hertfordshire Yeomanry was one of the regiments now re-designated and formed part of the Royal Artillery.

World War II[edit]

During World War II there were three regiments associated with the Hertfordshire Yeomanry: the pre-war 86th (East Anglian) (Herts Yeo) Field Regiment RA (TA) and its 2nd Line unit, the 135th (East Anglian) (Herts Yeo) Field Regiment RA (TA).[11] 79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment was also formed in 1939.[12]

86th (East Anglian) (Herts Yeo) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery[edit]

The 86th (East Anglian) (Herts Yeo) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery was mobilised in September 1939, its three batteries were the;

341 (St Albans) Battery
342 (Hertford) Battery
462 Battery

In 1940, during World War II, the regiment was equipped with 8 x 4.5 inch Howitzers & 4 x 18/25 pounder guns,[11] it remained in the United Kingdom until 1944 being attached to various divisions; The 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division, 42nd (East Lancashire) Infantry Division and the 42nd Armoured Division.[11] During this time it used a number of new self-propelled artillery vehicles Bishop, Priest and the Sexton self-propelled guns.[11]

In 1944 it was attached to the British Second Army, as part of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, and participated in the following battles; Normandy, Antwerp, Nijmegen, Ardennes, Rhine Crossing, Bremen.[11]

135th (East Anglian) (Herts Yeo) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery[edit]

The 135th (East Anglian) (Herts Yeo) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery was formed in September 1939 it consisted of three batteries, the;

344 (Hitchin) Battery
336 (Northampton) Battery
499 Battery

The Regiment remained in the United Kingdom until 1941 when it was sent to India and joined the 18th (East Anglian) Infantry Division and deployed to Fortress Singapore it was still serving with the 18th Division when Singapore was captured by the Japanese.

Bridge on the River Kwai[edit]
Photograph of Philip Toosey taken in 1942

Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey, in 1941 was appointed to command the 135th (East Anglian) (Herts Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. In October 1941, his unit was shipped to the Far East. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for heroism during the defence of Singapore. Because of his qualities of leadership, his superiors ordered him on 12 February 1942 to join the evacuation of Singapore, but Toosey refused so that he could remain with his men during their captivity. He was the senior Allied officer in the Japanese prisoner-of-war camp at Tha Maa Kham (known as Tamarkan) in Thailand during World War II. The men at this camp built the Bridge on the River Kwai which was described in a book by Pierre Boulle and later in an Oscar-winning film in which Alec Guinness played the senior British officer. Both the book and film outraged former prisoners because Toosey did not collaborate, unlike the fictional Colonel Nicholson.[13]

79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery[edit]

79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery was formed in 1939.[12]

Post war[edit]

When the Territorial Army was reformed after the war the Hertfordshire Yeomanry was amalgamated with the Bedfordshire Yeomanry and formed 201st (Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Parachute Battery, Royal Artillery which is part of the 100th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers). 201 Battery, is based in Luton and Romford and is affiliated to the 7 Parachute Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, which it supports on operations.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "mod.uk". Archived from the original on 2007-01-09. 
  2. ^ "worcestershire". Archived from the original on August 15, 2004. 
  3. ^ Stevenson, Wf (Mar 2002). "Boer War Notes". Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps. 148 (1): 91–5; discussion 89–90. ISSN 0035-8665. PMID 12026888. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  4. ^ "Imperial Yeomanry at regiments.org by T.F.Mills". Archived from the original on 29 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  5. ^ "Boer War - Imperial Yeomanry Battalions". Retrieved 2007-07-03. 
  6. ^ "Anglo Boer War". Archived from the original on 2008-07-14. 
  7. ^ Rinaldi 2008, p. 35
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Baker, Chris. "Hertfordshire Yeomanry". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c James 1978, p. 20
  10. ^ "army.mod.uk". Archived from the original on 2007-01-09. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Barton, Derek. "86 (East Anglian)(Herts Yeo) Field Regiment RA(TA)". The Royal Artillery 1939-45. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  12. ^ a b 79 HAA at RA 39–45
  13. ^ "Cambridge Forecast". 
  14. ^ "army.mod.uk - Contact Us". 


  • 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. 
  • Sainsbury, J.D. (1999). The Hertfordshire Yeomanry Regiments, Royal Artillery - Pt 1 Field Rgts 1920-46. Welwyn: Hart Books. ISBN 0-948527-05-6. 
  • Sainsbury, J.D. (2003). The Hertfordshire Yeomanry Regiments, Royal Artillery - Pt 2 The HAA Rgt 1938-45 & the Searchlight Bty 1937-45. Welwyn: Hart Books. ISBN 0-948527-06-4. 

External links[edit]