York and Lancaster Regiment

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The York and Lancaster Regiment
York and Lancaster Regiment Cap Badge.jpg
Badge of the York and Lancaster Regiment
Active 1881–1968
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line infantry
Size Up to 22 battalions
Part of Yorkshire Brigade
Garrison/HQ Pontefract Barracks, Pontefract
Nickname(s) The Tigers
Cat and Cabbage
Young and Lovelies
Motto Honi soit qui mal y pense
March Quick: The York and Lancaster, The Jockey of York
Slow: Regimental Slow March of the York and Lancaster
Mascot Cat (unofficial)
Colonel of
the Regiment
Field-Marshal Herbert Plumer

The York and Lancaster Regiment was a line infantry regiment of the British Army that existed from 1881 until 1968. The regiment was formed by the amalgamation of the 65th (2nd Yorkshire, North Riding) Regiment of Foot and the 84th (York and Lancaster) Regiment of Foot. The regiment saw service in many small conflicts and both World War I and World War II until 1968 when the regiment chose to be disbanded rather than amalgamated with another regiment, one of only two infantry regiments to do so with the other being the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).


It was formed on 1 July 1881 through the amalgamation of two regiments of foot and a militia regiment:

Under the original scheme of amalgamation announced in March 1881 the title of the new regiment was to be The Hallamshire Regiment.[1] This reflected the fact that the regimental district included an area of West Riding of Yorkshire known as Hallamshire.[2] The proposed title was unpopular with the amalgamating units, who sought a more "suitable title... which at the same time would identify the Regiment with the county (Yorkshire), which the word 'Hallamshire' entirely fails to do." Four different titles were proposed, and following a vote of the officers of all four battalions, the title York and Lancaster Regiment was chosen.[3] The regiment inherited the title "York and Lancaster" from the 84th Foot to which had been awarded in 1809. The 84th was one of the few Regiments of Foot lacking a county designation and the title was given in recognition of the fact that the unit had been raised in York in 1793, with a second battalion in Preston, Lancashire in 1808.[4][5]

The new regiment saw service in both Egypt and Sudan immediately after its formation, and also during the Second Boer War, when it took part in the Relief of Ladysmith.

The Relief of Ladysmith. Sir George Stuart White greets Major Hubert Gough on 28 February. Painting by John Henry Frederick Bacon (1868–1914)

Sudan, 1884[edit]

The 1st battalion of the new regiment had spent 11 years in India (as the 65th Reg) 1871-1882. They were moved to Aden to be held in reserve for the Egyptian Campaign. After 18 months they shipped on The Serapis to Trinkitat, Sudan, arriving 28 Feb 1884. The next day they came under gun fire and made a bayonet charge, capturing two Krupp guns. Later that day seven were killed and 35 wounded at the battle of El Teb. The 1st battalion was reported 421 strong when at Souakim, 14 March, before losing 32 killed and 25 wounded. They embarked on troopship HMS Jumna 29 March, arriving Dover 22 April 1884.[6]

First World War[edit]

The regiment raised 22 battalions for service in the Great War,[7] of which eight saw action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. During the war it suffered 48,650 casualties out of 57,000 men serving, with 8,814 killed or died of wounds (72 out of every 100 men being either wounded or killed). The regiment won four Victoria Crosses and 59 battle honours, the largest number for any English regiment during the war.

The 22 battalions consisted of the two regular battalions, the depot battalion, six Territorial Army battalions, nine Service, two Reserve, one Transport and one Labour battalion. 17 of the 22 battalions saw service overseas.[8]

During the Battle of the Somme the Yorks and Lancs' eight battalions that went over the top on the first day suffered huge casualties, the three Pals battalions; 12th (Sheffield City), 13th and 14th Barnsley Pals Battalions, in particular suffering heavily. Eleven battalions of the regiment fought during the Somme offensive.[8]

The regular 1st Battalion returned from service in British India to be formed up as part of the 28th Division. The 28th Division consisted of regular battalions returning from overseas service and was shipped to France in January 1915. The 1st Battalion saw action in the Second Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Loos. The battalion was then shipped to the Balkans as part of the British Salonika Army where it would remain until the end of the war.[8] While the battalion was still in France Private Samuel Harvey won the York and Lancs' first Victoria Cross since the regiment's creation in 1881.

The 2nd Battalion was stationed in Ireland with the 16th Brigade when war broke out. The battalion arrived on the Western Front in September 1914 with the 6th Division as part of the original British Expeditionary Force. The 2nd Battalion fought its first battle at Radinghem[9] south of Armentières during the Race to the Sea.[8] The 2nd Battalion fought in most of the major battles of the war including the Battle of the Somme and spent the entire war serving in France and Flanders.[8] Private John Caffrey, 2nd battalion, won the Victoria Cross in 1915. Following the armistice troops from the York’s and Lancaster Regiment were involved in a mutinous riot at the Clipstone Camp, Nottinghamshire, following disquiet at the slow rate of being demobilised.[10]

Second World War[edit]

During the Second World War, the regiment raised ten battalions, six of which served in the Burma Campaign in various roles. Other units of the regiment saw service in Europe – both the 1st Battalion and the Hallamshire Battalion were involved in the Norwegian campaign.

The 1st Battalion was carried to and from Norway by HMS Sheffield; this led to a bond of friendship between the regiment and the ship, and meant that when the Sheffield was adopted by its namesake city, the Yorks and Lancs was awarded the freedom of Sheffield soon after. This battalion served in the 15th Infantry Brigade, part of the 5th Infantry Division and after being shipped around most of the British Empire was finally sent to the Mediterranean where they fought in Sicily. They then fought in the Italian Campaign where they fought through that campaign from 1943 to 1945 until being transferred to Belgium in February 1945 to join the British Second Army in the invasion of Germany.

The 2nd Battalion (part of the 14th Infantry Brigade) was involved in the defence of Heraklion, during the Battle of Crete in 1941.[12] Most of their casualties in this battle were suffered in the withdrawal by the Royal Navy which came under heavy air attack from the German Luftwaffe. On returning to Egypt they became part of the 70th Infantry Division used in the breakout from Tobruk, where they suffered heavy casualties as one of the lead battalions. In 1942, they were transferred, along with the rest of the 70th Infantry Division, to India and Burma where they took part in the Second Chindit Campaign and the Arakan offensive toward the end of the war.

Allied troops pick through the ruins of Namsos after a German air raid, April 1940.

The Hallamshire Battalion, were part of Mauriceforce (Norwegian Campaign) in Norway in April 1940. The battalion was part of the 146th Infantry Brigade attached to the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division. The Hallamshires took part in the unsuccessful Namsos Campaign and were evacuated back to Britain by 5 May. The Hallamshires did not see active service until it was landed in Normandy soon after D-Day and fought its way through France, Belgium (where Corporal John Harper was awarded the regiment's fifth Victoria Cross), and into the Netherlands where they were part of the bitter fighting that led to the eventual capture of Arnhem in 1945.

The former 5th Battalion (Territorial Army), which had converted to anti-aircraft artillery in 1936, as the 67th (York and Lancaster) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, served in the North African Campaign in 1941 before being transferred to India and then Burma where they were prominent at Imphal, and later at Mandalay. From October 1944 to January 1945 the regiment served as infantry due to the shortage of manpower in the British Army at the time.

The 6th Battalion was a 2nd Line Territorial duplicate of the 4th Battalion formed in 1939 when the Territorial Army was doubled in size. The battalion was attached to the 138th Infantry Brigade and went to France in 1940 with the 46th (West Riding) Infantry Division, and experienced heavy fighting in the St Omer-La Bassée area. In 1942 the 46th Division was part of the British First Army in the Tunisia Campaign, and from 1943 until the end of the war they fought with the British Eighth Army in Italy, from Salerno to Rimini.

Meanwhile, the 7th Battalion, which was raised in 1940, was in India (from December 1942), but served mainly on the North-West Frontier, before being moved to Burma in 1945, too late to contribute to the defeat of the Japanese.

The 8th and 9th battalions, both raised in 1940, after being stationed in Northern Ireland with the 71st Brigade from 1940 to 1942, were both sent to India in 1942 where they joined the 25th Indian Infantry Division. The 8th Battalion joined the 51st Indian Infantry Brigade and the 9th Battalion the 53rd Indian Infantry Brigade. The two battalions took a significant part in the Arakan battles of 1942–1943 and in the battles for southern Burma in 1944 to 1945.

The 10th Battalion was converted to tanks in India, becoming the 150th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps, in the 254th Indian Tank Brigade. The 150th Regiment used Lee tanks with which it fought at the Battles of Imphal, Kohima and Meiktila and on the advance to Rangoon (Operation Dracula).

Post Second World War[edit]

Following the Second World War, the regiment saw service around the world, including participation in the Suez Crisis of 1956. With the reorganisation of the army in 1968, the Yorks and Lancs was one of two infantry regiments that chose to be disbanded rather than amalgamated with another regiment, the other regiment being the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). However, although the 1st Battalion was disbanded in 1968, with the Regimental HQ closing in 1987, the traditions of the regiment were continued through the descendents of the Hallamshire Battalion, which was constituted as two companies in the Yorkshire Volunteers. This was reduced to a single company in 1992 and then a platoon in 1999, when the East and West Riding Regiment (E and WRR) was formed. Between 1999 and 2006 the platoon was known within E and WRR as 'The Hallamshire Platoon'.

On 6 June 2006, the platoon took its rightful place in the ORBAT of the newly formed 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment thus ensuring a continued and direct link, via the Territorial Army, with The York and Lancaster Regiment. Recognition of this link was further reinforced by a recent decision by the Yorkshire Regiment Association (YRA) to recognise all former members of the York and Lancaster Regiment be members of the YRA.[13]

Honours and affiliations[edit]

Battle honours[edit]

1. the honour India of the 84th Regt was modified to India 1796–1819 in 1912 to differentiate it from the "India" Tiger badge of the 65th Regt

2. awarded 1909 for services of 65th Regiment

Victoria Cross awards[edit]


In fiction[edit]

One of the characters in Alan Bennett's play The History Boys goes on from school and university to serve in the York and Lancaster Regiment. The film version is set in 1983, 15 years after the disbandment of the regiment's 1st Battalion.

The Novel Covenant with Death by John Harris, although fiction, is loosely based on the experiences of the 'Pals Battalons' during the time up to and including the first battle of the Somme.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Territorial Regiments". The Times. 7 March 1881. p. 13. 
  2. ^ The regiment's Territorial Army battalion dropped its number and was known simply as the Hallamshire Battalion from 1924.
  3. ^ Raikes, George Alfred (1885). Roll of the officers of the York and Lancaster regiment. The Second Battalion. London: Richard Bentley and Son. p. xii-xv. 
  4. ^ Mills, T F. "84th (York and Lancaster) Regiment of Foot". Regiments.org: Land Forces of Britain, The Empire and Commonwealth. Archived from the original on 9 January 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  5. ^ Letter dated 21 January 1809 from Sir James Pulteney, Secretary at War, stating that "His Majesty has been pleased to order that the 84th Regiment of Foot... shall in future assume and bear the name of 'York and Lancaster' in addition to its present numerical title." Raikes, George Alfred (1885). Roll of the officers of the York and Lancaster regiment. The Second Battalion. London: Richard Bentley and Son. p. viii. 
  6. ^ [1] Article, Wanganui Herald, NZ; 24 July, based on a Folkstone Advertiser article 8 May 1884 about 65th's history
  7. ^ "York and Lancaster Regiment History". Yorks and Lancs.org. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Regimental War Path". warpath.orbat.com. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  9. ^ Wylly (1930). The York and Lancaster Regiment Volume 1. 
  10. ^ Whatling, Frank Henry. "Frank Henry Whatling Memoirs". Great War Forum. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  11. ^ George Forty (1998), "British Army Handbook 1939–1945", Stoud: Sutton Publishing, pp. 50–1.
  12. ^ Dillon, John. "Battle of Crete, 1941". John Dillon. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  13. ^ [2] Archived 27 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]