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Royal Yeomanry

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The Royal Yeomanry
The Royal Yeomanry cap badge
Active1 April 1967–Present
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch British Army
RoleLight Cavalry
SizeOne Regiment
Part ofRoyal Armoured Corps
Garrison/HQRegimental HQ, in Leicester
MarchThe Farmers Boy
EngagementsIraq 2003
Lt Col Charles Field
Royal Honorary ColonelPrincess Alexandra, The Hon. Lady Ogilvy
Honorary ColonelMaj Gen Simon Brooks-Ward
Tactical Recognition Flash
Brigade Insignia
Paired unit1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards

The Royal Yeomanry (RY) is the senior reserve cavalry regiment of the British Army. Equipped with Supacat Jackal variants, their role is to conduct mounted and dismounted formation reconnaissance. The Regimental Headquarters is located in Leicester, with squadrons in Fulham, Nottingham, Dudley, Croydon (with an outstation in Windsor), Telford (with an outstation in Cardiff), and Leicester.[1] The regiment is part of the Royal Armoured Corps and is only reserve cavalry regiment to resubordinate into regular brigade as part of the Future Soldier Programme, which in turn arose from the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy ("Global Britain in a Competitive Age") published in March 2021.[2]

The Royal Yeomanry is the only British Army reserve unit to have been awarded a battle honour since the Second World War.[3]


Formation and succession[edit]

The Royal Yeomanry Regiment (Volunteers) was raised on 1 April 1967, after the Territorial Army was disbanded the previous day under the Reserve Forces Act 1966 and replaced by a newly constituted organisation, the TAVR (Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve).[4]

The Royal Yeomanry Regiment (Volunteers) was in TAVR II.[5] For four years, it was the only Royal Armoured Corps yeomanry reserve regiment: hence its generic name. In 1971, three new RAC Yeomanry regiments (the Queen's Own Yeomanry, the Mercian Yeomanry and the Wessex Yeomanry) were raised and the Royal Yeomanry's name was shortened to its current one; the opportunity to give it a more distinctive name was missed. The Queen's Own Yeomanry was given the same NATO role as the Royal Yeomanry, while the other two were Home Defence light reconnaissance.[6]

The Cold War[edit]

The Royal Yeomanry's role during the Cold War was medium armoured reconnaissance. Its primary task was to operate as a mobile force to protect the massive, widespread logistic assets of the Corps, and certain key bridges against covert attacks and airborne descents by Soviet special forces. In addition it trained to perform the full range of medium armoured reconnaissance tasks for general war. The Royal Yeomanry was equipped with armoured cars,[1] first Saladin, Saracen and Ferret, then Fox, Spartan and Sultan.[7] Each squadron had an establishment (maximum number of personnel) of around 120, operated 30 armoured vehicles and around 15 soft-skinned vehicles and was supported by a team of 11 regular army instructors and five local civilian staff.[7]


The ‘peace dividend’ review of the Armed Forces (‘Options for Change’) which followed the end of the Cold War saw substantial changes to the Royal Yeomanry's role, equipment and establishment. These were justified by the then Secretary of State for Defence on the basis of a perceived "need to adapt [the Territorial Army's] roles to support and complement the new roles of the regular army. Under the previous strategy, it had important roles defending positions close to the previous West German border in support of the substantial British stationed forces. Clearly this task is no longer relevant in a unified Germany and under the new NATO strategy of greater flexibility and mobility. Instead, new opportunities arise to be part of the Rapid Reaction Corps and in national defence, and it is for these new roles and responsibilities that the Territorial Army units must now be structured and trained."[8]

As a result, in 1992 the Royal Yeomanry was reduced in status and function to align with what were by then four other RAC yeomanry regiments and become national defence light reconnaissance, converting from armour to the Scout Land Rover and reducing in establishment by half, to between 50 and 60 personnel per squadron.[9] At this time, the Royal Yeomanry lost two squadrons to the Queen's Own Yeomanry (one in Nottingham, which later returned to the regiment, and the other in Northern Ireland) and gained one (in Leicester).[10]

Fuchs CBRN Reconnaissance Vehicle

The Royal Yeomanry's national defence role encompassed a wide spectrum of possible operational uses. They included NATO, United Nations and national operations worldwide, as well as military aid to the civil authorities in the United Kingdom and military home defence.[8] However, the role was perceived to be ill-defined and too broad a set of potential outputs to train against using limited resources. At a time when the Territorial Army was under continuing pressure to reduce in size and capabilities, this was regarded as potentially imperilling the regiment's existence. A more definite role that would address a clear Defence requirement was needed. Consequently, in 1996[11] the Royal Yeomanry accepted the role of being the British Army's only[12] specialist nuclear, biological and chemical defence regiment,[11][1] taking on the 11 Fuchs CBRN reconnaissance vehicles which had been acquired by the British Army during the 1990 Gulf War.[13]

The Royal Yeomanry served exclusively in the CBRN (or NBC) role from 1996 until 1999. During this time, its first operational deployments began. On 1 April 1999, on the recommendation of the Strategic Defence Review, the Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Regiment (originally, the Joint NBC Regiment) was formed as a joint regular Army and Royal Air Force unit composed of four squadrons of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment and 27 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment.[14][15] The Royal Yeomanry was therefore reconfigured and partly re-roled. Two of the Royal Yeomanry's squadrons (A and W) were retained in the CBRN role to provide reserves for the new Joint NBC Regiment.[16] The three non-CBRN squadrons converted to Challenger 2 to serve as reserves for armoured regiments. The establishment of each squadron was increased to 80–90. The regiment lost D (Berkshire Yeomanry) Squadron in Slough to disbandment but regained S (Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry) Squadron in Nottingham from the Queen's Own Yeomanry.[17]

2000s to Present[edit]

In 2006, as a result of the changes to the Territorial Army triggered by the Future Army Structure unveiled by the Ministry of Defence in 2004,[18] the Royal Yeomanry's role ceased to be split between CBRN and Challenger 2 reserves. It was consolidated into a single role: 'formation CBRN reconnaissance'. In practice, this meant continuing to train as CBRN specialists and as RAC crew using the Scout Land Rover as a surrogate training platform, while also training as CVR(T) crew. This change paved the way for the uplift of each squadron's vehicle fleet to include two CVR(T) Spartan armoured fighting vehicles for training purposes.[19] Soldiers and officers of the Royal Yeomanry then began to deploy to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK as Scimitar, Spartan and Samaritan gunners, drivers and loaders.[20]

Since 2013 the Royal Yeomanry has been a reserve light cavalry regiment. In that year, under the Reserves in the Future Force 2020 White Paper[21] and the reserves basing plan announced by the Secretary of State for Defence on 5 July 2013,[22] the regiment was paired with 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (QDG). On 24 February 2015, as part the same Army 2020 reorganisation programme, the Royal Yeomanry was transferred from under the command of Headquarters London District to that of 7th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East within 1st (United Kingdom) Division as the brigade switched from its armour role into that of an infantry brigade and regional point of command.[23][24] The regiment gained two squadrons (in Telford and Dudley)[25] of the disbanded Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry but lost a squadron (in Swindon) to the Royal Wessex Yeomanry under the Army 2020 reforms.[26][27]

Under Army 2020 (Refine), it was confirmed that the Royal Yeomanry would (exceptionally) retain all six of its squadrons, two of which had been under threat of deletion under the 2013 plan. It was also confirmed that the squadron which the regiment had lost to the Royal Wessex Yeomanry would also be retained at squadron size.[28] Furthermore as a result of the ongoing 2021 Future Soldier (British Army) reforms, the Royal Yeomanry was resubordinated to the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division under the newly raised 1st Deep Recce Strike Brigade Combat Team with the restructure due to be complete by October 2023.[29]

The Royal Yeomanry's current light cavalry role is to provide a rapidly deployable force with fast mobility and substantial firepower as part of the British Army's combat arm. Its soldiers provide reconnaissance, reassurance, security and, if the situation demands it, decisive tactical effects by raiding and attacking the enemy.[1]

Operational Deployments[edit]

Y Squadron at the Duke of York's HQ, Chelsea, January 2003

The Royal Yeomanry's first operational deployment was in 1998 as CBRN/NBC specialists, to Kuwait.[11] Some 35 members of the regiment deployed in August 1998 to set up biological detection systems in advance of Operation DESERT FOX (the Bombing of Iraq (1998)) and stayed on as part of Operation BOLTON. Between 1998 and 2002, some 44 members of the regiment deployed on operations to Kuwait, Bosnia & Herzegovina (Operation PALATINE) and Kosovo (Operation AGRICOLA).[11]

In January 2003, A (Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry) and W (Westminster Dragoons) Squadrons were mobilised together with the Regimental Headquarters for Operation TELIC, the war in Iraq. The two squadrons were amalgamated with a number of augmentees from the other three squadrons of the Royal Yeomanry and from 160 Transport Regiment Royal Logistic Corps to form a much-enlarged "Y" Squadron comprising 116 personnel, which deployed as part of the Joint NBC Regiment. Despite being held at 180 days' notice for mobilisation, the Royal Yeomanry deployed to the operational theatre by 4 March 2003, three months after the commanding officer had received a warning order and less than six weeks after those who mobilised had received their call-out notices. This was the first deployment of a formed TA unit (TA soldiers under TA command) for combat operations since the Suez crisis in 1956.[3]

During the warfighting phase, formed complete troops (an officer and 12 soldiers) of the Royal Yeomanry were attached to 16 Air Assault Brigade,[30] 7 Armoured Brigade (the Desert Rats) and 3 Commando Brigade for the invasion as NBC specialists. The remainder of the squadron had responsibility for NBC support to 1st (United Kingdom) Armoured Division's rear area. The Regimental Headquarters was detached from 1st (United Kingdom) Armoured Division to the US 75th Exploitation Task Force and Coalition Force Land Component Command to act as the liaison between the UK and US NBC efforts throughout the theatre of operations. Once the war-fighting phase was over, Y Sqn reverted to being under the operational command of Commanding Officer Royal Yeomanry and undertook peace support operations to the north of Al-Qurnah following a relief-in-place with elements of 16 Air Assault Brigade.[3]

The Royal Yeomanry maintained a constant presence in Iraq from March 2003 until the end of Operation TELIC, including a substantial deployment on Op TELIC 4 of 53 members of the non-NBC squadrons to augment the Queen's Royal Lancers and 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment, serving principally as infantry but also in the armoured role.[31]

From 2007 to 2014, the Royal Yeomanry also provided officers and soldiers for Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan,[20][32] including a deployment of seven soldiers on Operation HERRICK 7 (one of whom, Corporal James Dunsby, served as gunner in HRH Prince Harry's armoured fighting vehicle).[33]

In 2018, the Royal Yeomanry undertook its first operational deployments with its paired regular regiment, the 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, sending 3 officers and 11 soldiers on Operation CABRIT 3 and 4 to Poland as part of NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence.[1]


The Royal Yeomanry mainly recruits from Greater London, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Kent, Shropshire and Worcestershire.[34]


Army Reserve soldiers with no previous military service complete the Common Military Syllabus (Reserves) course, also known as Phase 1 training. After completing Phase 1, soldiers in the Royal Yeomanry move on to "special-to-arm" (Phase 2) training as light cavalry soldiers. This consists of courses in gunnery (Heavy Machine Gun and General Purpose Machine Gun), signals (Bowman communication system), and driving (Land Rover RWMIK and Supacat Jackal) delivered by the Royal Yeomanry by Army Reserve soldiers and also by Regular Army instructors in centres such as the Armour Centre.[35] In addition, field training exercises develop tactics and situational awareness, as well as the ability to operate away from base for long periods. Royal Yeomanry soldiers also undertake training in dismounted close combat (which includes rifle marksmanship and physical fitness training).[35]

The training commitment for the Army Reserve Light Cavalry is around 40 reserve service days per year. This normally consists of a 16-day consolidated training period plus (typically) at least four 2.5-day weekends throughout the year, as well as one weekday evening (0.25 days) per week. The light cavalry role is physically arduous and members of the Royal Yeomanry are required to meet the Army Reserve Ground Close Combat fitness standards,[36] so Royal Yeomanry officers and soldiers are required to undertake physical fitness training in their own time in addition to what is provided to them by physical training instructors.[35]


A static British Army WMIK on display.
Supacat Jackal

The regiment's main equipment is the Supacat Jackal, a light armoured vehicle equipped with the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) and the Browning M2 .50 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG).[1][37]


The Royal Yeomanry is one of the two light cavalry regiments in 1st Deep Reconnaissance Strike Brigade Combat Team, which in turn is part of 3rd (United Kingdom) Division. The other light cavalry regiment is the Queen's Dragoon Guards, the regiment's paired unit.[38][39]

The regiment's current organisation (following 2021 changes) is as follows:[40]


The Inns of Court and City Yeomanry provides the regimental band, a tradition dating back to the late 60s. It was formed was in 1961 following the amalgamation of two regiments.[41] It one of only two Army Reserve Bands in London with the honoured status of "State Band".[42] The band is currently based at Holderness House in London. The band undertakes many activities overseas, including providing musical support to regimental celebrations in France and Belgium, and training to musicians of the Military Band Institute of the Armed Forces of Saudi Arabia.[43]

Battle Honours[edit]

The Regimental guidon of the Royal Yeomanry (face)
The Regimental guidon of the Royal Yeomanry (obverse)

As a result of the Regiment's initial service during the Iraq war, in 2005 the Royal Yeomanry was awarded the battle honour "Iraq 2003".[44] This is the first such honour the regiment has won since its formation, and the first, so far the only, battle honour awarded to an Army Reserve regiment since the Second World War.[3] The honour is carried on the regiment's guidon. The guidon, presented to the regiment on 7 May 2016, additionally bears 40 of the battle honours won by its antecedent regiments. As well as these, the guidon also carries an artillery badge as a distinction, and four theatre honours awarded to those of its antecedents that were converted to artillery during the Second World War.[45]

Battle Honours:

Second Boer War South Africa 1900–01
First World War Gallipoli 1915, Scimitar Hill, Suvla, Frezenberg, Egypt 1915-17, Gaza, Nebi Samwil, Broodseinde, Jerusalem, France and Flanders 1916-18, Macedonia 1916-18, Palestine 1917–18, Bapaume 1918, Hindenburg Line, Pursuit to Mons, Somme 1918, Bailleul, Lys, Kemmel
Second World War Palmyra, Alam el Halfa, El Alamein, Advance on Tripoli, Tunis, North Africa 1940-43, Normandy Landing, Città della Pieve, Cassino II, Monte Cedrone, Italy 1943, '44, Tebaga Gap, Geilenkirchen, Advance to Florence, Villers Bocage, NW Europe 1944-45, Rhine, Roer
Iraq War Iraq 2003


1908 Haldane Reforms 1922 Amalgamations 1956 Defence White Paper 1966 Defence White Paper 1971 TA


1992 Options for Change 1998 Strategic Defence Review 2013 Army 2020 2021 Future Soldier
2nd County of London Yeomanry (Westminster Dragoons) Berkshire and Westminster Dragoons, RAC HQ Squadron, Royal Yeomanry W Squadron, Royal Yeomanry HQ (Command & Support) Squadron, Royal Yeomanry F Squadron, Royal Yeomanry
Berkshire Yeomanry
Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry B Squadron, Royal Yeomanry B Squadron, Queen's Own Yeomanry S Squadron, Royal Yeomanry A Squadron, Royal Yeomanry
Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment) B Squadron, Queen's Own Mercian Yeomanry A Squadron, Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry B Squadron, Royal Yeomanry
Warwickshire Yeomanry Queen's Own Warwickshire and Worcestershire Yeomanry A Squadron, Queen's Own Mercian Yeomanry
Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars
Royal East Kent Yeomanry (Duke of Connaught's Own) Kent Yeomanry Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry C Squadron, Royal Yeomanry
Queen's Own West Kent Yeomanry
3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) [a]
Shropshire Yeomanry C Squadron, Queen's Own Mercian Yeomanry B Squadron, Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry D Squadron, Royal Yeomanry
Leicestershire Yeomanry (Prince Albert's Own) Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry B Company, 3rd (V) Battalion, Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters[b] B Squadron, Royal Yeomanry E Squadron, Royal Yeomanry E (HQ) Squadron, Royal Yeomanry
Derbyshire Yeomanry
City of London Yeomanry (Rough Riders) Inns of Court and City Yeomanry[c] Royal Yeomanry Band
Inns of Court Regiment

Commanding Officers[edit]

Honours board showing the Commanding Officers of the Royal Yeomanry, displayed at Regimental Headquarters Royal Yeomanry

Commanding officers have been as follows:

Lt Col DHG Rice QDG 1 Apr 1967 – 18 Sep 1969
Lt Col DP Rowat 5 INNIS DG 19 Sep 1969 – 13 Dec 1971
Lt Col DC Part OBE TD RY 14 Dec 1971 – 30 Jun 1974
Lt Col The Hon MJH Allenby RH 1 Jul 1974 – 30 Oct 1977
Lt Col RNC Bingley RH 31 Oct 1977 – 1 Dec 1979
Lt Col JCV Hunt TD RY 2 Dec 1979 – 16 Nov 1982
Lt Col JR Clifton-Bligh 14/20H 7 Dec 1982 – 6 May 1985
Lt Col SJM Jenkins 4/7DG 7 May 1985 – 22 Nov 1987
Lt Col IC Brooking-Thomas TD RY 23 Nov 1987 – 31 Dec 1990
Lt Col CJR Day 5 INNIS DG 1 Jan 1991 – 26 Jun 1993
Lt Col JR Arkell TD RY 28 Jun 1993 – 27 Jul 1995
Lt Col DRL Bone RDG 28 Jul 1995 – 15 Jun 1997
Lt Col RWH Sutcliffe RY 16 Jun 1997 – 14 Jan 2000
Lt Col MWE Wade MBE KRH 15 Jan 2000 – 1 Jul 2002
Lt Col SH Brooks-Ward LVO TD RY 1 Jul 2002 – 30 Jan 2005
Lt Col ANR Brown RDG 30 Jan 2005 – 1 Aug 2007
Lt Col DEM Guinness MBE RY 1 Aug 2007 – 31 Jan 2010
Lt Col NRW Astbury RY 1 Feb 2010 – 15 Sep 2012
Lt Col KDM Donaldson RTR 15 Sep 2012 – 26 Oct 2014
Lt Col SJ McMenemy RY 27 Oct 2014 – 18 Feb 2017
Lt Col CJS MacEvilly RY 18 Feb 2017 – 27 Jul 2019
Lt Col TWH Bragg RY 28 Jul 2019 – 17 Jan 2022
Lt Col CED Field KVRM RY 17 Jan 2022 – Present

Order of precedence[edit]

For the purposes of parading, the Regiments of the British Army are listed according to an order of precedence. This is the order in which the various corps of the army parade, from right to left, with the unit at the extreme right being the most senior.

Preceded by British Army
Order of Precedence
Succeeded by

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Merged with 4th County of London Yeomanry during World War II to form 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters)
  2. ^ Converted to infantry in 1971, and split into two parts, attached to volunteer battalions of the Royal Anglian Regiment and the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters. The latter company then converted back to armour and became B Squadron of the Royal Yeomanry in 1992.
  3. ^ Served as an armoured car regiment 1961-1967, then re-roled as infantry, but a cadre was retained in the Royal Armoured Corps and formed the band of the Royal Yeomanry


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The Royal Yeomanry". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
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  3. ^ a b c d "Future Reserves 2020 Study (FR20)" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. p. 12. Retrieved 1 December 2018. This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Open Government Licence v1.0. © Crown copyright.
  4. ^ "Reorganisation of London Units 1967-1968". The Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Association for Greater London. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  5. ^ "House of Commons debate 15 May 1968, speech of the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army (Mr. James Boyden), column 1239". Hansard. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
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  12. ^ "Strategy and Force Structure". House of Commons Defence Select Committee. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  13. ^ "Kent & Sharpshooters Yeomanry About Us". Kent & Sharpshooters Yeomanry Museum. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
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  29. ^ "Future Soldier-Transforming the British Army". Ministry of Defence Policy Paper. 25 November 2021.
  30. ^ "Iraq War stories: Lieutenant Colonel Andy Phipps: 'I thought to myself 'welcome to Iraq'". Daily Telegraph, London. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  31. ^ "Honour for Territorial Army unit". BBC. 18 January 2004. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  32. ^ "Freedom of the Borough for Royal Yeomanry". The Cowan Report. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  33. ^ "Friend of Prince Harry 'died of multiple organ failure' after SAS test". Daily Telegraph, London. Archived from the original on 12 August 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  34. ^ "Royal Yeomanry". www.army.mod.uk. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  35. ^ a b c "Westminster Dragoons - About Us". Westminster Dragoons Regimental Association. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  36. ^ "New Physical Employment Standards". British Army. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  37. ^ "First Jackal Delivered To Royal Yeomanry". Forces Network. 20 November 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
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  41. ^ "Band of The Royal Yeomanry recruiting clarinet and sax players". www.cassgb.org.
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  44. ^ "Written Ministerial Statement by the Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram) dated 10 November 2005". Hansard. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  45. ^ Administrator. "Royal Guidon Parade Buckingham Palace and Cavalry Memorial Parade". www.wmrfca.org. Retrieved 9 May 2017.


External links[edit]