The Yeomanry


The Yorkshire Hussars Yeomanry


In Collaboration With Charles Griffin



Raising of the Regiment, 13th Aug 1794
The first meeting held to discuss the raising of yeomanry units in Yorkshire was held on 12th June 1794, at Northallerton. The gathering included nobility, gentry, clergy, freeholders and others. A further meeting on 13th July brought the resolution to form two regiments of West Riding Yeomanry on 13th Aug. The First or Southern Regiment became the Yorkshire Dragoons, and the Second or Northern Regiment was the forerunner of the Yorkshire Hussars.
Disbandment and Re-raising, 1802
The Northern Regiment was commanded by Lord Fitzwilliam of Wentworth Woodhouse and consisted, at first, of troops from Craven, Agbrigg and Morley, Barston Ash, Knaresborough and Skyrac. They wore scarlet jackets with green collars and cuffs, and light cavalry helmets. They were disbanded in March 1802 when the Peace of Amiens was signed, but in July three Troops offered to renew their services and were accepted, the Knaresborough Troop under Capt Robert Harvey, Tadcaster Troop under Lord Hawke, and Aberford under Lieut Bainbridge. Four further Troops were added to these in October, one of which was from Ripon, and the regiment of 300 men was commanded by Robert Harvey. One more Troop of 43 men under Lord Grantham joined in May 1803 and the 8 Troops assembled on Scotton Moor near Knaresborough in June 1803 for 5 days training. On 26th Sept 1803 the regiment marched from Scarborough to York, a distance of 40 miles, in one day. They were inspected the following day by Lieut-Col Ponsonby of the 5th Dragoon Guards.
Duties
The duties of the regiment were to assemble annually for a few days and submit to an inspection. In 1812 there was an order for them to hold themselves in readiness to assist the civil powers in quelling the Ludd riots. Mostly, however, they were inspected by a general officer. In 1817 they were inspected by Major-General Sir John Byng who wrote of them: 'I should have been satisfied to have seen an equal appearance in any regular regiment which had been together as many months as this had hours of exercise.' In September 1817 two more Troops were raised, from Leeds, under the command of Captain William Beckett.
Hussars
In 1819 Robert Harvey died and his place as commanding officer was taken by Lord Grantham who later became Earl de Grey. He served as Colonel Commandant for 40 years until his death in 1849. Lord Grantham was instrumental in turning the regiment into hussars and had already paid for items of uniform for the men, sashes and sabretashes, in 1818. On 11th Jan 1819 the regiment were re-titled The Yorkshire Hussar Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry. When Robert Harvey died on 16th Jan, at Farnham near Knaresborough, Lord Grantham took over, on 19th Jan. One year later the men received their scarlet hussar pelisses and light blue shakos. During Lord Grantham's long period of command he had the same adjutant. It is customary for the adjutant of yeomanry regiments to be a regular cavalry officer, and is still the case now. The adjutant of the Yorkshire Hussars for 41 years was Captain W Slayter-Smith of the 13th Light Dragoons and 10th Hussars.
Summary of the Years 1804 to 1852
1804 8th June, eight days training at Doncaster

1805 17th May, assembled at Doncaster. 5th Dec, the Ripon Squadron attended a thanksgiving service at the cathedral for the victory at Trafalgar.

1806 Did not assemble

1807 Did not assemble

1808 8th Aug, two days training on Scotton Moor

1809 Did not assemble

1810 Did not assemble

1811 5th Oct, the greater part of the regiment assembled at Newly Hall for 2 days

1812 5th May, ordered to hold itself ready to assist the civil powers in the Ludd Riots. 14th May, assembled at Harrogate for 10 days training

1813 17th May, assembled at Doncaster for 10 days training

1814 Regiment was increased to 401 men. Grey overalls were issued. They did not assemble in that year. They received the thanks of Parliament for their services in the Napoleonic War

1815 Did not assemble

1816 20th Oct, ordered to hold themselves ready to assist the civil power

1817 29th Mar, regiment called out and remained on duty for 2 days. 24th May, the regiment assembled at York for 8 days duty. New clothing was issued: shakos and shabraques. 20th June, the band was mounted for the first time. 1st Sep, two additional Troops raised at Leeds.

1818 May, 18th 19th and 20th, the different squadrons were inspected at their HQs by Lord Grantham. Hussar sashes and sabretaches were issued to the men. 23rd May, the regiment assembled at York for 8 days duty. 30th May, reviewed by Major-General Sir John Byng.

1819 Jan, received the title The Yorkshire Hussar Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry. 19th Jan, Lord Grantham took command. 22nd May, assembled at York for 8 days duty.

1820 1st Jan, scarlet hussar pelisses and light blue shakos issued to the men. 22nd April, assembled at York for 8 days duty. Blue overalls and black horse-hair shako plumes issued.

1821 18th May, assembled at Doncaster for 8 days duty.

1822 17th May, assembled at Ripon for 8 days

1823 1st Aug, assembled at Pontefract for 8 days

1824 1st Jan, blue pelisses and black shakos with drooping plume issued. White duck overalls and blue forage caps with peaks also issued. 23rd July, assembled at Pontefract for 8 days. 29th July, inspected by Lieut-Col Dorville, Royal Dragoons.

1825 25th May, assembled at York for 8 days training. Reviewed by Sir John Byng. NCOs and men presented Lord Grantham with an gift of silver plate.

1826 The various Troops of the regiment were 'almost incessantly under arms' during the entire year assisting regular units to quell riots. In May they were summoned to Bradford and Addingham to protect mills and other manufacturing premises from rioters.

1827 23rd May, the regiment assembled at York for the usual training. Jackets were changed from scarlet to dark blue.

1828 24th May, assembled at York wearing their new blue jackets for the first time.

1829 19th Sep, assembled at Pontefract for the usual training.

1830 15th Oct, assembled at Pontefract for training.

1831 The regiment did not assemble but the Troops trained separately.

1832 22nd Sep, assembled at Pontefract for 8 days training.

1833 19th Sep, assembled at Ripon for duty.

1834 20th Sep, assembled at Ripon

1835 Sep, two Troops (around 100 men) commanded by Sir John Johnstone and the Hon William Lascalles escorted Princess Victoria during her visit to Yorkshire. 19th Sep, assembled at York for 8 days training.

1836 1st Oct, assembled at York for training.

1837 7th Oct, assembled at York for training and next day after church service took the oath of allegiance to HM Queen Victoria.

1838 Jan, red forage caps issued. 25th June, five Troops paraded on foot in full dress in honour of the Queen's coronation. 20th Oct, annual meeting at York.

1839 20th Oct, assembled at York

1840 1st April, red shakos issued (light blue for the band). 20th July, escorted The Queen Dowager, Queen Adelaide, travelling from Leeds to Harewood House and on to Bolton Bridge. 23rd Sep, assembled at York.

1841 15th May, assembled at York.

1842 3rd June, under arms until 31st Aug assisting the military in the outbreak of serious Chartist riots in the West Riding. They were on duty in the Leeds and Bradford area. One Troop under Captain York had to charge the mob at Cleckheaton. 1st Oct, a new permanent officers mess was opened, the De Grey Rooms in York.

1843 5th Oct, assembled at York for training.

1844 2nd Oct, assembled at York

1845 Regiment did not assemble.

1846 23rd Sep, assembled at York for training.

1847 Assembled at York. Reviewed by Colonel James York Scarlett

1848 Jan, black sheepskins issued to NCOs and privates to replace white ones. April and May, regiment called out to assist civil authorities. 21st Sep, assembled at York for training.

1850 26th Sep, assembled at York. A review was held on 2nd Oct at which 12,000 people attended.

1852 23rd Oct, assembled at York and inspected by HRH Duke of Cambridge who congratulated Earl de Grey on the 'splendid turn-out of the the gallant Yorkshire Hussars.'

South Africa 1900-1902
In 1897 the strength of the regiment was 379 all ranks, making it the largest yeomanry unit. The number riding their own horses was 331. When the Imperial Yeomanry was organised to reinforce the mounted infantry in South Africa, a company of the Yorkshire Hussars formed part of the 3rd Battalion IY along with a company of the Yorkshire Dragoons, the South Notts Yeomanry, and the Sherwood Rangers. The company was commanded by Major R F T Gascoigne and included Capt C W E Duncombe. Both these officers went on to command the regiment. There were about 120 men in the company but only a third of these had previously served in the Yorkshire Hussars, the others had joined up to serve in the Boer War. They sailed on 29th Jan 1900 and reached Table Bay on 20th Feb. At Capetown they joined Lord Methuen's division and travelled north by train. Their first action was at Boshof near Kimberley on 5th April. More fighting followed at Paardeplats, Heilbron and Rhenoster River. In July, one of their officers was wounded at Oliphant's Nek, Lieut R B Wilson, who died later. The battalion fought the Boers on 25 occasions and suffering 92 casualties. After an action at Buffels Hook a British prisoner was told by De Wet that he would rather face 1,000 British regular cavalry than 200 Yeomanry. One more officer died in Feb 1901, Captain Stephen Wombwell. He died in Vryberg, of enteric fever. He was the only surviving son of Sir George Wombwell of the 17th Lancers who rode in the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Consequences of the Boer War
The regiment faced some changes as a result of the Boer War. They were now a Mounted Infantry regiment. They had their swords removed and were now taught the use of one weapon, the rifle. The annual 8-day training in billets came to an end along with mornings spent performing field movements in dress uniform. In June 1900 the regiment under Colonel Bolton held it's first camp, at Harrogate, with the Yorkshire Dragoons. It lasted a month but subsequent camps were of a fortnight's duration. In 1902-03 the regiment was re-clothed in khaki, the full dress being reserved for mounted parades and church parades. Slouch hats were worn between 1903 and 1907.
Territorials 1908
The Territorial Act of 1908 resulted in the Yorkshire Hussars, Yorkshire Dragoons and the East Riding Yeomanry being put together as the Yorkshire Mounted Brigade. In 1912 the brigade trained at Bulford (Salisbury Plain). This was the first time that the regiment trained outside the county in peace-time.
World War 1

Mobilisation

The Territorials were mobilised on 5th Aug 1914, and the men assembled at their squadron headquarters: A Squadron - Leeds (Maj F H Fawkes) B Squadron - York (Maj Viscount Helmsley) C Squadron - Knaresborough (Maj A E Collins) D Squadron - Middlesborough (Maj E A Herbert) They were issued with horses and infantry rifles. The yeomanry rank and file were not issued with swords. Within two days they had stationed themselves along the east coast of Yorkshire with the HQ at Scarborough. Lt-Col Stanyforth was CO with Lord Deramore 2nd in command. D Squadron was split up and distributed among the other 3 squadrons.

1/1st Yorkshire Hussars

Later in August the Foreign Service Regiment was formed from those willing to serve overseas plus recruits. This was later called the 1/1st Yorkshire Hussars, commanded by Lt-Col Viscount Helmsley. They spent the winter of 1914-15 in Harlow, Essex, waiting impatiently to go to France. In February they were told that the regiment was to be split up and the 3 squadrons to serve in the 46th 49th and 50th Divisions.

Yorkshire Hussars Machine Gun Section

Machine Gunners
Their machine-gun section, commanded by Lt T Preston, was sent to the Essex Yeomanry, 8th Brigade and took part in the Battle of Loos in September. In 1916 the Machine Gun Corps was formed and the YH section became part of the 8th MG Squadron in the 3rd Cavalry Division. They were in the Thiepval trenches on the Somme in August 1816 and took a prominent part in the Battle of Arras in April 1917. They sustained casualties in the cavalry operations of the spring and autumn of 1918 and were awarded many decorations. They were thus the only part of the Yorkshire Hussars to serve as cavalry throughout World War 1.

A Squadron

Major G R Lane Fox commanded A Squadron which was assigned to 50th Division. They arrived in France on the eve of the 2nd Battle of Ypres. From 22nd to 25th May they were in the dismounted role in the Menin road where they lost 5 men killed and 5 wounded, including Maj Lane Fox. The next few months were spent in the Bailleul-Hazebrouk area providing men for digging parties, police duties etc.

B Squadron

B Squadron, commanded by Maj W G Eley who had served in 14th Hussars, was with the 46th Division. They were also in the Menin Road area but later moved to Bethune. At the end of Aug 1915 they lost an officer, Lt E S Turton who was killed by a sniper whilst he was attached to the Sherwood Foresters. In Jan 1916 the division was sent by train to Marseilles where it was intended that they be shipped off to Mesopotamia, but the idea was scrapped and they were sent back to the trenches in the St Pol area.

C Squadron

C Squadron was commanded by Major E York who later commanded the regiment in 1924. They were part of the 49th (West Riding) Division, billeted in turn at places like Merville, Steenwerck, Proven and Esquelbecq.

The Regiment Reunited, 10th May 1916

In May 1916 it was decided that the static nature of the war required a rethink of the cavalry role and that the cavalry regiments were to work as units within a Corps, and that the Corps Commander would control their movements. On 10th May 1916 the Yorkshire Hussars were reunited as a regiment under 17th Corps, at Gouy-en-Ternois. On 1st June there was a new CO, Lt-Col W Pepys of 13th Hussars. They later moved to Berles, between Arras and St Pol, where they remained for more than a year. The initial delight at being a united regiment with the prospect of cavalry action began to wear off as winter approached and the new year produced no more hope. In Nov 1916 their CO left and was replaced by newly promoted Lt-Col Eley. They spent the winter at Warne and then moved to Berles and Habarcq. Here, on 14th Aug 1917, they were given the sad news that the regiment was to be broken up and used as reinforcements to various infantry battalions.

9th Battalion, 11th Oct 1917

However, it seems that the regiment did survive as a unit. They were initially sent for 5 or 6 weeks infantry training and then on the 11th Oct 1917 they went to Zudrove, 20 officers and 396 other ranks. They joined the 9th West Yorkshires in the 32nd Brigade, 11th Division. They were a complete battalion, called the 9th (Yorkshire Hussars) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. They wore their regimental cap-badges but West Yorks collar badges, and were commanded by Lt-Col F P Worsley DSO. They were at Passchendale in the line north of Lens and then carried out a successful raid on the Norman Brickstacks. This was led by Captain Roger Walker and consisted of 250 men. One of the officers was killed, Lt C S Haslam.

1918

They spent the winter in the depressing colliery district south of Bethune. They were holding the sector opposite Hulluch and Haisnes through the spring of 1918 and suffered gas shelling on 9th April, and the following days, at St Elie. On 15th June they carried out a raid on the St Elie Craters in which a tunnel was successfully blown up by 2nd LT A Dalley. On 24th Aug they were moved to the Arras front for the final advance. They lost two killed and 6 wounded in the line east of Pelves, but they captured a complete German clothing store. On 27th Sep, the battalion, now commanded by Maj R E M Cherry MC made a successful attack on Aubencheul-au-Bac, and on 3rd Oct Marquion Quarry was assaulted and captured. The enemy were in retreat and the battalion crossed the Sensee Canal on 10th Oct.

Roisin, 4th Nov 1918

A new CO was taken on in October, Captain R H Waddy. The battalion was sent back for a short rest and they then advanced south and east of Valenciennes. They dug in on the evening of 3rd Nov just beyond the Jenlain-Curgies railway line, and advanced at dawn through thickly wooded country. They captured Le Triez, taking prisoners and releasing civilian captives. They pushed on to Roisin but had to retire because their flank was exposed. They were in a sunken road but it gave them no protection from enemy shelling. They lost 5 officers and 12 other ranks killed, and 2 officers and 57 other ranks wounded, and a further 44 missing. They sustained 43 more casualties the following day when the Germans shelled the densely populated village of Roisin.

End of the War

On 10th and 11th November 1918 the 11th Division was relieved and the 9th Battalion's active part in the Great War had come to an end. They marched back and spent the winter at Wallers, 5 miles west of Valenciennes. On 20th Feb 1919 they were presented with Colours and were demobilised. There were 6 officers and 41 men remaining.

1919-1939
The regiment was reformed as horsed cavalry under Lt-Col G R Lane Fox. On the reforming of the Territorial Army it was decided that the 14 senior regiments of yeomanry should be armed as cavalry with rifles and swords. They were also to be armed with Vickers and Hotchkiss machine guns. The first camp was at Harrogate where horses were hired from a contractor. In some cases the officers and men provided their own mount especially in the country Troops such as Helmsley, Easingwold and others. The camps were held annualy except for the 'strike' years of 1921 and 1926. The three squadrons were located at Leeds, Middlesborough and York, with the HQ at York. The regiment performed well in shooting contests, winning Lord Scarborough's Cup 5 times in 7 years. They also shot well with the Vickers gun.
World War 2
The regiment were embodied in Sept 1939 but remained in their squadron HQ towns in case they were needed to keep order following a German bombing attack. Later they were concentrated at Malton as part of 5th Cavalry Brigade with the Yorkshire Dragoons and Sherwood Rangers. The brigade commander was Brigadier T Preston who was the Lieutenant in charge of the machine gun section in World War 1, and the CO of the Yorkshire Hussars from 1932 to 1936. They were moved to Market Rasen in Lincolnshire and there formed the 1st Cavalry Division with the 4th and 6th Brigades.

Middle East 1940

The division was sent to Palestine in January 1940 and in 1941 the Yorkshire Hussars were moved into the 6th Cavalry Brigade which later became 8th Armoured Brigade. They were now with the Staffordshire Yeomanry and the Scots Greys. The regiment was converted to armour in October '41 and trained on Stuart tanks. They were moved again, into the 9th Armoured Brigade with the Wiltshire and Warwickshire Yeomanry. In March 1942 they were in Cyprus, armed with Cruiser (A 13) tanks and Valentines, titled the Armoured Striking Force. They were shipped off to Egypt in Jan 1943 and there were trained on Shermans and Crusaders (A 15). They had concentrated training on 75mm guns and desert tactics for the North African campaign.

England 1943-1945

In November 1943 the Yorkshire Hussars embarked at Alexandra and returned to the UK. They arrived at Gourock on 12th Dec. They were converted to an Infantry Recce regiment and placed at first in the 50th Division and then in Feb 1944, the 61st. From April to August the regiment was split into squadrons and put in charge of the D Day Embarkation camps in Sussex. A Squadron remained in the operational role. In August the regiment was reunited again and the drafting of tank trained personnel began in earnest. The regiment became a Recce Holding Unit for refresher training and drafting of returned wounded recce personnel. In June 1945 the regiment started to re-organise as a Light Armoured Regiment with Churchill tanks.

Post War
The regiment remained an armoured unit after the war, but in 1956 it was reduced to a squadron as part of The Queen's Own Yorkshire Yeomanry together with the Yorkshire Dragoons and East Riding Yeomanry. There was a further reduction in 1967 to a cadre, and in 1971 became Y Squadron of the Queen's Own Yeomanry. The Yorkshire Squadron was now a sabre squadron and formed part of the ACE Rapid Reaction Corps, equipped with Scimitar tracked recce vehicles.
Badges
Badges
Uniforms
1794 - 1994
Commanding Officers
1794 - 1994
Soldiers
1794 - 1994
Sabretaches
1794 - 1994
Pouchbelts
1794 - 1994
Band
1794 - 1994
Battle Honours
SOUTH AFRICA 1900-02

World War 1
ARRAS 1918
SCARPE 1918
DROCOURT-QUEANT
HINDENBURG LINE
CANAL DU NORD
CAMBRAI 1918
SELLE
VALENCIENNES
SAMBRE
FRANCE AND FLANDERS 1915-18

Titles of the Regiment
1794 Second or Northern Regiment of West Riding Yeomanry
1803 Northern Regiment of West Riding Yeomanry
1819 The Yorkshire Hussar Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry
1864 The Yorkshire Hussars (Princess of Wales's Own) Yeomanry Cavalry
1903 Yorkshire Hussars (Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own) Imperial Yeomanry
1967 Queen's Own Yorkshire Yeomanry
1994 Y (Yorkshire Yeomanry) Squadron, Queen's Own Yeomanry
Further Reading
An Alphabetical List of the Officers of the Yorkshire Hussars
By Henry Stooks Smith (1853)

The Uniforms of the British yeomanry Force 1794-1914: 3 The Yorkshire Hussars
By L Barlow and R J Smith (Army Museums Ogilby Trust c1979)

The Cavalry Journal Vol XVIII no.67 Jan 1928 (article by Major T Preston)


Army Units | Yeomanry




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by Stephen Luscombe