North Somerset Yeomanry

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North Somerset Yeomanry
Active 1798–present
Country Great Britain
Branch Army
Type Yeomanry
Size Regiment
Part of Royal Armoured Corps
Royal Signals

The North Somerset Yeomanry was first raised in Frome in 1798. A condition of service was that it should not be required to march more than 10 miles from the town and it was soon disbanded in 1802. The Frome Troop was re-raised in 1803 and united with The East Mendip Corps in 1804, this new Yeomanry Regiment being designated the North Somerset Yeomanry Cavalry in 1814.

The Yeomanry were a select corps, with members accepted only on the recommendation of one or more serving members and usually paying an entrance fee. Their main employment in the early 19th Century was the suppression of riots, such as among miners in Radstock in 1817 and among weavers in Frome in 1822.


Boer War[edit]

During the Boer War it became part of the 7th Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry. The Regiment was renamed Dragoons in 1908, and went to France during World War I in that role.[1]

World War I[edit]

1st South Western 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 North Somerset Yeomanry[edit]

The 1st Line regiment mobilised at Bath in August 1914 as part of the 1st South Western Mounted Brigade. In October 1914 it moved to Sussex with the brigade, but left it shortly afterwards.[3] It landed in France on 3 November and joined the 6th Cavalry Brigade, 3rd Cavalry Division on 13 November,[4] replacing the 10th Hussars who moved to the newly formed 8th Cavalry Brigade[5] As such, it was one of only six yeomanry regiments to be posted to a regular cavalry division in the war.[a]

Trench warfare meant there was little scope for cavalry operations. Nevertheless, in 1915 the brigade and division took part in the Second Battle of Ypres (Battle of Frezenberg Ridge, 11–13 May) and the Battle of Loos (26–28 September). 1916 saw no notable actions, but in 1917 the division saw action in the Battle of Arras (First Battle of the Scarpe, 9–12 April).[9] At other times, the regiment served in the trenches as part of a dismounted regiment under the command of the brigade commander.[10]

The regiment left 6th Cavalry Brigade on 10 March 1918. Originally it was slated to become a cyclist unit, then to form a machine gun battalion with the Leicestershire Yeomanry. The German Spring Offensive forestalled this plan, and the regiment was remounted and returned to the Cavalry Corps. From April 1918 it was split up with a squadron joining each regiment in 6th Cavalry Brigade (3rd Dragoon Guards, 1st Dragoons and 10th Hussars).[3]

2/1st North Somerset Yeomanry[edit]

The 2nd Line regiment was formed in 1914 and in January 1915 it joined 2/1st South Western Mounted Brigade. In May it was in the Calne area, it moved in September to the Canterbury area and to the Colchester area in March 1916.[3] On 31 March 1916, the remaining Mounted Brigades were ordered to be numbered in a single sequence;[11] the brigade became the 15th Mounted Brigade and joined 4th Mounted Division.[3]

In July 1916, the regiment was converted to a cyclist unit in 6th Cyclist Brigade, 2nd Cyclist Division (4th Mounted Division redesignated). In November 1916 the 2nd Cyclist Division was broken up and the regiment was merged with the 2/1st Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry to form 10th (Wiltshire and North Somerset) Yeomanry Cyclist Regiment in 4th Cyclist Brigade in the Ipswich area. In March 1917 it resumed its identity as 2/1st North Somerset Yeomanry, still in 4th Cyclist Brigade at Ipswich. In July it was at Wivenhoe and in November at Walton-on-the-Naze. Early in 1918, the regiment moved to Ireland with 4th Cyclist Brigade and was stationed in Dublin; there was no further change before the end of the war.[12]

3/1st North Somerset Yeomanry[edit]

The 3rd Line regiment was formed in 1915 and in the summer it was affiliated to a Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Tidworth. In the summer of 1916 it was affiliated to the 11th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, also at Tidworth. Early in 1917 it was absorbed in the 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, still at Tidworth.[13]

World War II[edit]

During World War II, the Regiment was first employed in the Far East, then fought in Syria, and in 1943 was converted to the Royal Corps of Signals unit. As Air Formation Signals it served in the Western Desert, Sicily, Italy, and North West Europe.

Post war[edit]

After the War the Regiment became the Armoured Regiment of 16th Airborne Division and joined with the 44th Royal Tank Regiment to become The North Somerset and Bristol Yeomanry in 1956. Although the Regular battalions of the Somerset Light Infantry and the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry merged to become the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry in 1959, the Territorial battalions kept their county names. In 1967, the Territorial battalion (Somerset Light Infantry (TA)) and elements of the North Somerset Yeomanry and West Somerset Yeomanry merged to form the Somerset Yeomanry and Light Infantry, which changed title again in 1971 to become the 6th Battalion The Light Infantry (Volunteers).

In 1969, when the complete disbandment of the Territorial Army was being considered, it was reduced to a cadre of eight men, as was the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (TA).[1]

39 (Skinners) Signal Regiment (Volunteers)[edit]

The North Somerset Yeomanry was reformed as the Headquarters Squadron of 39 (Skinners) Signal Regiment in 2000 and, from 2008, the squadron became the regiment's Support Squadron. The regiment is now consists of the following elements.

  • Regimental Headquarters - Bristol
  • 56 Signal Squadron (Volunteers), [Eastbourne]
  • 57 (City and County of Bristol) Signal Squadron (Volunteers), [Bristol]
  • 93 (North Somerset Yeomanry) Support Squadron, [Bristol]
  • 94 (Berkshire Yeomanry) Signal Squadron, [Windsor]

Popular culture[edit]

The Hollywood motion picture War Horse (2011) featured a fictional depiction of the regiment in France in 1914.[14]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Hodge, Jonny. "Somerset Light Infantry". Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Rinaldi 2008, p. 35
  3. ^ a b c d James 1978, p. 27
  4. ^ "warpath.orbat". 
  5. ^ a b c Becke 1935, p. 20
  6. ^ Becke 1935, p. 4
  7. ^ Becke 1935, p. 12
  8. ^ Perry 1993, p. 14
  9. ^ Becke 1935, p. 22
  10. ^ Becke 1935, p. 19
  11. ^ James 1978, p. 36
  12. ^ James 1978, pp. 27–28
  13. ^ James 1978, p. 28
  14. ^ "War Horse Costumes Set to Excite Museum Visitors". National Army Museum. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 


  • Becke, Major A.F. (1935). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 1. The Regular British Divisions. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-09-4. 
  • 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. 
  • Perry, F.W. (1993). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 5B. Indian Army Divisions. Newport, Gwent: Ray Westlake Military Books. ISBN 1-871167-23-X. 
  • Rinaldi, Richard A (2008). Order of Battle of the British Army 1914. Ravi Rikhye. ISBN 978-0-97760728-0. 

External links[edit]