In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

Raising of the Regiment 1688
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Raising the Regiment
In his ‘Historical Record of the Nineteenth or The First Yorkshire North Riding Regiment of Foot’ Richard Cannon writes:

‘The Flight of King James to France was followed by the elevation of the Prince and Princess of Orange to the throne, in February 1689. At this period several of the companies of pikemen and musketeers raised when the Prince of Orange landed, were incorporated into a regiment under Colonel Francis Luttrell, whose commission, as colonel of this regiment, was dated 28th of February1689; but the regiment, being formed of companies raised about the middle of November 1688, was permitted to take rank from that date, and now bears the title of the “NINETEENTH REGIMENT OF FOOT”.’

The commanding officer was Lieutenant-Colonel William Norcott, and he had one major (Henry Hawley), 10 captains (including Alexander Luttrell, brother of Francis), 11 lieutenants, 12 Ensigns (including Robert Norcott, brother of William), and an adjutant, a surgeon and a Quartermaster. 

In the summer of 1689 they marched to Portsmouth and were stationed on the Isle of Wight. In September they embarked on the fleet to serve as marines. The year 1690 was a bad year for the young regiment. In March they were ordered to send 520 men to Ireland to reinforce the depleted army of Marshal Duke Schomberg at the unhealthy camp at Dundalk. They also sent a detachment to the West Indies where nearly all of them died. Their Colonel, Francis Luttrell also died in that year. 

War of the League of Augsburg 1689-97

Steenkirk 3 Aug 1692

In Jan 1691 the regiment came under the colonelcy of General Thomas Erle who was already Colonel of another regiment which was later disbanded in 1697. In 1691 they were in England to recruit more men in time for the Nine Years war in northern Europe where William’s army was part of a confederacy up against the French army of Louis XIV, commanded by Marshal Luxemburg. Erle’s regiment consisted of 10 companies of the former Luttrell’s, and 3 companies from Erle’s other regiment. They were ordered to Flanders and played a minor part in the Battle of Steenkirk. The advance guard was repulsed before the main part of the army reached the battlefield. A retreat was ordered by William and that concluded the battle. Erle’s regiment did not sustain any loss.

Landen 29 Jul 1693

The regiment were brigaded with Ticomb’s (14th), Stanley’s (16th) and two newly raised regiments all commanded by their Colonel, Brigadier General Erle. They were assembled at Parck Camp near Louvain in May 1693 and marched to Landen where they encountered the French on 29 July. Erle was ill but left his bed to lead his brigade, however, the French were superior in numbers and forced William’s allied army to retreat. Heavy losses were sustained on both sides and the enemy were able to besiege Charleroi and capture it in the autumn.

Namur 1695

When King William laid siege to Namur a covering army was deployed to intercept reinforcements to the enemy Garrison. The Prince of Vaudemont commanded this force of which the 19th formed. When the French army arrived they were seen to be in greater numbers than expected, and Vaudemont was forced to retreat. This withdrawal was carried out skilfully and the 19th played a prominent part in covering the retreat. After several more operations in Flanders the regiment wintered in Dendermond.

Return to England, March 1696

Louis XIV hatched a plan to split the allied alliance. He intended to invade England to place King James II back on the throne, and assassinate King William. A number of regiments, including the 19th were sent back to the UK. They embarked at Sas-van-Ghent in March 1696 and sailed to Gravesend. Whether the plot was real or fake, it succeeded in removing several regiments from the allied army in Flanders. The 19th had little to do in England, and returned to the theatre of war in the summer of 1697. But by then the war was over and the treaty of Ryswick was signed in September. They returned to England once more in November.

War of Spanish Succession 1701-15

West Indies and Newfoundland 1703

From 1698 to 1702 the regiment were stationed in Ireland and from there were sent on the abortive expedition to capture Cadiz in August 1702. A naval squadron took the regiment to the West Indies in 1703 to attack French and Spanish settlements. An unsuccessful attempt was made on Guadaloupe in March 1703 but little took place after that. After the usual tropical diseases had killed several men they sailed to Newfoundland to take part in an attack on the French settlement of Placentia. But bad weather prevented disembarkation and the men suffered illness on board the transports. This tragedy wiped out most of the regiment. In 1704 they returned to Ireland.

Malplaquet 11 Sep 1709

From 1706 to 1708 the regiment served in England and were then ordered to join the Duke of Marlborough’s army in Flanders. Some sources claim that the regiment was present at Oudenarde, but the Green Howards do not have that battle honour. They were retrospectively granted the honour for the Pyrrhic victory of Malplaquet which took place on 11 Sep 1709. It is said that they were in the reserve which is hard to believe. It seems inconceivable that Marlborough kept men in reserve when his army of British, Dutch and Austrian troops suffered such heavy losses. Richard Cannon’s Historical Record of the 19th makes no mention of Malplaquet and goes so far as to say that the regiment arrived in Flanders in the spring of 1710, several months after the battle. 

The Siege of Douai 1710

The siege of Douai began in June 1710 and the 19th were actively engaged in the attacks and storming of the outworks. They sustained heavy casualties: 3 sergeants and 99 men killed, 11 officers, 10 sergeants and 200 men wounded. But the siege was successful and the French surrendered on 25 June. They were also at the successful sieges of Bethune, Aire and St Venant. They then marched to Ghent and into winter quarters.

Siege of Bouchain 1711

The regiment was on the move again in the spring of 1711, camping at Warde where they were reinforced by a draft of new recruits from England. In the Passage of the Lines of Ne Plus Ultra they were fighting at Arleux on 5th Aug where the French occupied a fortified position. When Bouchain was invested the regiment, along with the rest of Marlborough’s army, were put to a severe test. The struggle was hard and involved at one stage fighting in waist-deep water. Bouchain finally surrendered on 13 Sep 1711 after  siege of 34 days. The rgiment remained in Flanders until 1714. After Queen Anne died on 1 Aug 1714 the regiment was ordered home. There they were stationed at Tilbury Fort, Landguard Fort and Hull, with a detachment at Sheerness.

Jacobite War with Spain, 1715-19

Raid on Vigo, Sep-Oct 1719

The regiment were posted to Ireland in March 1715 so missing out on the first Jacobite rebellion. The Spanish supported the Old Pretender causing a state of war to exist between Spain and Georgian Britain. A new armada of Spanish ships attempted an invasion but foundered on the British coast. A reprisal raid was organised to attack Vigo on the Atlantic coast of north Spain. The regiment, called Grove’s Foot at that time was sent along with nine other regiments, a force of 6,000. There was a  near mutiny, however, as the men were reluctant to leave their life in Ireland. Once landed, 3 miles from the port of Vigo, they marched on the Fort of San Sebastian, capturing that and the citadel with the loss to the force of only six killed and 40 wounded. The British troops behaved disgracefully once they had the run of the place. With unlimited access to wine looting and pillage was rife for 3 days. Sickness and alcohol poisoning caused many more casualties but the raid was successful in the amount of arms, gunpowder and wine sent back to England. There was more fighting when the bulk of the force was  sent inland to capture Redonedela  and Pontevedra. The casualty figures for Grove’s Foot are not known but several were taken prisoner and later returned to England. 

The Green Howards 1738

For the next 20 years the regiment had postings in Ireland and Scotland. An inspection report in Cork gives their strength as 35 officers and 373 other ranks, stating that their discipline was good. Their ‘Cloathing’ was also described as good but unfortunately does not confirm the green facings to their uniforms and Colours. When the Colonel of the regiment, General Richard Sutton, died in 1738 he was succeeded by General Sir Charles Howard who gave his name to the Green Howards during his colonelcy of the 19th Foot from 1 Nov 1738 to 14 Mar 1748. The infantry regiments at that time were not officially numbered, but were named after their Colonel. Trouble arose when two regiments had Colonels with the same surname, as was the case with the 19th and 3rd Foot. This matter of the two ‘Howard’s Foot’ became a problem when the 3rd and 19th were both serving in Flanders from 1744. The 3rd Foot, known as the Buffs, had as their Colonel, Lt-General Thomas Howard, from 1737 to 1749, and after that, Field Marshal Sir George Howard, until 1763. The 19th had green facings to their coats and the 3rd had buff so they were referred to as the Buff Howards and the Green Howards. The Buffs soon dropped the ‘Howard’ and had anyway been called The Buffs since 1708. That name was official when all the regiments were numbered in 1751, but the 19th Foot had to be content with ‘Green Howards’ as only a nickname until 1920 when it became their official name.

The War of Austrian Succession, 1740-48

Fontenoy, April 1745

Howard’s Regiment of Foot had spent several years at Edinburgh c1740 so that their ranks were filled with Scotsmen. In 1744 they were mobilised for active service in Flanders where the Pragmatic army was fighting the French and Bavarians in an argument over the Austrian Succession. Dettingen had been fought and won in 1743 so the regiment missed that and had to wait until 1745 for their involvement in the conflict. Having spent the winter in Ghent they marched towards Tournai to relieve that besieged fortress. The army was commanded by the 25 year old Duke of Cumberland who was now faced with the French Army in a well fortified position astride the village of Fontenoy. The initial advance was successful but Cumberland’s strategy was devoid of subterfuge. He marched the British and Hanoverian infantry straight towards the strongest redoubt in line abreast, up a half-mile slope under fire from artillery. The ‘Green Howards' were on the left of the line with an exposed flank. On reaching the crest they were greeted by the enemy defenders who opened up a withering volley from only 30 yards. But the discipline was so good that they carried on and penetrated 300 yards into the enemy position. However, the Dutch allies had failed in their attack, leaving the British/Hanoverian infantry to the mercy of cavalry attacks and concerted infantry fire. With depleted ranks and overwhelming enemy superior numbers they had to retreat. This was made in good order rather than a mad rush to get away. The regiment lost 100 men that day, and their colonel, General Sir Charles Howard, who commanded a brigade, had been wounded four times.

The 1745 Jacobite Rebellion

The Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stewart, took advantage of the absence of  the British Army fighting in mainland Europe, and landed in the Highlands with his Jacobite supporters in July 1745, with the intention of gathering more support from anti-Georgian Highlanders, and marching south. The Duke of Cumberland was ordered to send home some of his army and he chose 10 battalions of which Charles Howard’s Regiment was one. This portion of the army were stationed in the Midlands expecting to intercept the Jacobites who were moving south. Meanwhile Cumberland and the remaining regiments returned to England and then went north to Scotland where the rebellion was crushed at Culloden in April 1746. The Green Howards did not take part in the fighting against the Highlanders.

Battle of Roucoux  11 Oct 1746

With the British Army, and some of her allies, kept busy in Scotland, the French were able to overrun the Low Countries. In July there was a return to the continent of six regiments of Foot and four of cavalry. The Green Howards were in this force, but little happened for the rest of the summer. They were stationed near Liege which was still in allied hands, and in October they confronted the French under Marshall de Saxe at Roucoux. The allies consisted of Dutch, Austrian, Hanoverian and British troops. Sir John Ligonier commanded the British, and Colonel Charles Howard was with his regiment at this battle, but the allies were outnumbered; 90,000 allies against 120,000 French. However they held their ground for as long as they could until ordered to withdraw which they did in good order. They were not pursued, contrary to normal practice, and it was not the crushing blow that Saxe had expected to inflict.

Battle of Lauffeld or Val, 21 Jun 1747

The last battle in this war differed from the usual formal style. It was fought at Lauffeld just west of Maastricht. The British had been reinforced by 10 more regiments, and the Duke of Cumberland was back in command. Charles Howard commanded the British infantry which saw hard fighting in defence of a group of small enclosures divided by high mud walls and thick hedges. It was a confused battle with the enemy suffering heavy casualties. But it was another defeat for the allies and they were forced to retreat, again in good order. The Green Howards lost 165 men, the highest number out of all the British battalions. Among their dead was Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, the CO of the regiment.

Gibraltar 1749-52

The regiment returned to England and spent 6 months at Winchester before embarking for Gibraltar. Their time there is well documented, with misdemeanours and punishments written up. Private George Peck was hanged for housebreaking, and Corporal William Shaw given 500 lashes and reduced to the ranks for encouraging two privates to fight each other. Ensign William Gunn was merely docked a month’s pay for beating his soldiers. It was while the regiment was in Gibraltar that, in 1751,  a Royal Warrant officially designated them as the 19th Regiment of Foot. By this time Charles Howard was no longer their Colonel; that position was taken by Lord Beauclerk who was with his regiment during their posting. 

Seven Years War 1754-63

2nd Battalion, 1755

At the outbreak of the Seven Years War, in 1755, the 19th raised a second battalion at Morpeth, along with 14 other regiments. These second battalions were formed into separate regiments in April 1758, and the 2nd/19th became the 66th Regiment. They retained their ‘yellowish-green’ facings and white red and green lace. In 1760 five companies were sent to Madras, while two years later, the main body were sent to Jamaica to relieve the 49th who, much later, became their sister battalion in the Berkshire Regiment.

Belle Isle 1761

The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Belle Isle
The Seven Years War with France spread all over the world but the Prime Minister, Pitt the Elder wanted to bring the war closer to France and chose to send raiding parties to Rochefort and Cherbourg which had limited success. Support for his plans was thin on the ground. The war was expensive and peace talks were having to be put on hold. However, despite concerted opposition at home, Pitt ordered another raid, in March 1761, against the island of Belle Isle off the west coast of France below the Breton Peninsula. The expedition was led by General Studholme Hodgson and Admiral Augustus Keppel and consisted of 8,000 troops of which the 19th Regiment were part. There were two assaults on the island, the first one was on 8 April 1761, the main attack being against Port de Andro with a diversion on the other side of the island. The 19th were part of the main attack which failed causing them the loss of 200 men, of which 122 were taken prisoner. The second attack, weeks later, also concentrated on Port de Andro, but this time the 19th were part of the diversion. This involved a steep climb up a cliff face. The grenadier company reached the summit and engaged the French in a bitter fight. One man, Private Sam Johnson went to the aid of a beleaguered and wounded officer, shooting one Frenchman and killing 5 more with his sword. He was wounded himself but managed to  get the officer to safety. His reward was promotion to sergeant and 20 guineas from the saved officer. The French retreated into the citadel of Le Palais and fought off the British until they finally capitulated on 7 June.  The grenadier company of the 19th were hailed as heroes of the invasion and played a prominent part in the formal surrender. The island was occupied by the British for 2 years until the Treaty of Paris in 1763 when it was exchanged for Menorca. The Green Howards who sustained 150 casualties had to wait a long time to be awarded the battle honour of BELLE ISLE. It was finally granted in 1951.

War of American Independence 1775 - 83

Relief of Fort Ninety Six, June 1781

After the Seven Years War the 19th spent 10 years at Gibraltar from 1761 to 1771. The War of Independence began in 1775 but the 19th did not arrive in North America until 17 June 1781, when they landed at Charleston together with the Buffs and the 30th Foot. They were ordered to New York but an American ship intercepted the orders and they arrived at Charleston instead. This was opportune because they were able to reinforce Lord Rawdon’s force of 2,000  which marched immediately to relieve Fort 96. Only the grenadiers and light companies accompanied this relief. The battalion companies were fortunate to have stayed in Charleston because the march was long and difficult, lasting 2 weeks in the heat of summer. The men who had been cooped up in ships for long weeks were not acclimatised, and 50 of them died of heat stroke. The march failed to achieve its objective anyway because the siege had ended by the time they arrived.

Monck’s Corner, July 1781

The battalion companies, mostly made up of inexperienced Irishmen, under the command of Lt-Col John Coates remained at a staging post called Monck’s Corner, 35 miles from Charleston. When an enemy raiding party approached they were assumed to be the main American army so Coates decided to evacuate the position and burn the church that had been fortified, along with all their stores. They set off on 16 July in the direction of Charleston but were pursued and harried. Their wagon was captured and all the baggage was lost including the men’s tents, blankets and knapsacks. They were subjected to a daring cavalry charge by the Americans during the night and the next day were rescued by a relief force. The 19th Regiment lost 10 killed, 34 wounded and 60 taken prisoner. The paymaster’s chest was lost. It contained 720 guineas which was shared among the Americans.

Eutaw Springs, 8 Sep 1781

The British force of thee battalions containing 1,800 men, was commanded by Lt-Col Alexander Stewart of the Buffs. They squared up to the Nathaniel Greene’s Americans at Eutaw Springs on 8 September. Major Marjoribanks of the 19th commanded the flank companies of the 19th and 30th Regiments. The Americans attacked but were driven back which encouraged the British on the left of the line to rush forward. But they were repulsed by fire from a second enemy line. The flank companies stood firm and withstood a charge by American cavalry while the British camp was overrun and plundered. Marjoribanks’ companies pulled back to a stronger position being the only effective group putting up a fight, and managed to drive the enemy out of the British camp. It was a fierce fight ending with both sides loosing a third of their number in killed or wounded. Major Marjoribanks himself was killed in the battle. It was claimed as a victory by the Americans but also by the British, only because of the part played by the grenadiers and light troops of the 19th and 30th Regiments. One of the most notable casualties was an officer of the 19th, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, who was seriously wounded and tended to by his black servant, Tony Small. Fitzgerald later achieved notoriety when he championed Irish nationalism and became involved in a failed plot to assassinate Irish peers in 1798.

West Indies 1782 - 1791

For the rest of their time in Carolina the regiment suffered from disease, and loses were great. The six regiments there were reduced to a total of 75 officers and 882 rank and file. In December 1782 the 19th sailed to Barbados and then Jamaica. Drafts of recruits from Britain brought the regiment up to strength but they were soon whittled down due to tropical diseases and general poor health. The unfortunate recruits would probably have come from the North Riding of Yorkshire as, from 1782, the 19th was territorially designated the 19th or 1st Yorkshire, North Riding Regiment. They did not return to England until 1791, landing at Portsmouth in June.

French Revolutionary Wars 1793 - 1802

Flanders 1794-95

In 1793 the war against Revolutionary France broke out and the 19th were embarked on an expedition under the command of Major-General the Earl of Moira. They were to link up with French Royalists at Quiberon but stormy weather prevented this. They sailed back to Devon where they had to recover from sickness after a long confinement on board the transports. After a few months they re-embarked and sailed to Ostend, landing on 26 June 1794. They set off with the intention of joining the Duke of York’s army, an arduous march that involved several encounters with the French. They arrived at Alost and fought successfully against enemy forces on 6 July 1794. Three days later they met with the Duke’s army at Malines. The campaign was a disastrous failure, ending with a retreat through Holland and Germany in the middle of a severely cold winter. There was an attack on the enemy at Tuyl on 30 Dec 1794 which resulted in 5 casualties for the 19th. After a long hard march through snow and ice they reached Bremen and were evacuated to Britain. They landed in May 1795 and remained 11 months in England.

India 1796

On 28 April 1796 the regiment embarked for India and arrived at Madras in the middle of November. A few weeks later they were sent to Ceylon which had recently been captured from the Dutch allies of the French. They landed at Columbo in December 1796. Two years later they were ordered to provide 5 companies to return to India and take part in the Mysore War against Tippoo Sultan. Lieutenant-General Harris led an attack on Mysore in March 1799 and defeated Tippoo at Seringapatam on 4 May. The 5 companies of the 19th did not take part in this battle, they were otherwise engaged in attacking hill forts and escorting a huge convoy of livestock to feed Arthur Wellesley’s army. They arrived at Seringapatam 9 days after the battle, too late to have a share of the plunder. In August 1799 they were sent up against the Polygars, robber barons who were terrorising southern India. These  were well protected by isolated forts which they inhabited, and by thick jungle and deep ravines. The 5 companies, along with 13 sepoy companies, fought and captured no less than 44 of these forts in gruelling heat. An amazing achievement.

Ceylon 1796 - 1820

Expedition to Kandy, Mar 1800

The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Map of Ceylon
The Island of Ceylon, recently captured by the British, could at first only be controlled in the coastal areas. The mountainous interior, dominated by the centrally placed city of Kandy was ruled by its own monarch. The coastal plain, principally around Columbo was administered by the British, the first administrator being the Honourable Frederick North. The 19th landed there in December 1796. When the King of Kandy died in 1798 the chief minister, the Mahadigar, seized power but placed a young man on the throne who could be manipulated. In March 1800 North sent a mission to Kandy in the hope that a garrison could be established there, ostensibly to protect the King. The expedition was led by Major-General Macdowall, consisting of 15 companies, 5 from each of the 19th Regiment, an HEIC Madras battalion, and a battalion of Malays, as well as 6 guns and a large admin train. Due to the difficulty of the journey, most of this column had to be left on the outskirts of the Kingdom of Kandy. While stationed there they suffered from dysentery and malaria, and the mission was written off as a failure apart from the fact that the experience ensured that the next incursion into central Ceylon could be better planned.

The Conquest of Kandy, 1803

Almost three years later Governor North organised a determined effort to subjugate the Kandians. It was a two pronged invasion of the city, setting off from Columbo on the west coast, and Trincomalee on the east. Macdowell led the Columbo column, setting off on 31 Jan 1803. It contained nearly 2,000 fighting soldiers, the whole of the 51st (2nd Yorkshire West Riding) Regiment, 2 companies of the 19th, the Ceylon NI, a company of Malays and some Bengal gunners. The Trincomalee column was commanded by Lt-Col Barbut of the 73rd and contained 5 companies of the 19th, the rest of the Malay Regiment, and some Madras gunners. The men of the 19th were described as seasoned soldiers, acclimatised and resilient. The CO was Lt-Col George Dalrymple and 15 of his officers had seen action in Holland in 1794-5. The Columbo column was ambushed only once on the way, and later the grenadiers of the 19th performed well in an assault against a solid stone fort perched on a steep and rocky hill. Three small forts were built to protect the lines of communication. The two columns met up and entered Kandy on 20 Feb. But they found the place in ruins, and deserted by the inhabitants. There was nothing to be looted and no food available. 

The Garrison in Kandy, Feb - Jun 1803

The rest of their time in the capital was spent in miserable conditions. They suffered sickness and were in a dangerous situation. The enemy gained confidence and attacked their supply columns. The locally raised troops deserted and the native porters melted away. Any soldiers who were captured by the Kandians were butchered in a very cruel manner. The forts built along the routes were attacked and Macdowell decided that Kandy should be partially evacuated. The force left behind contained 300 of the 19th and 700 Malays, commanded by Barbut. There was also a large number of hospitalised sick soldiers that couldn’t be moved.  Barbut was later taken ill and had to be sent back to Columbo, replaced by Macdowell, who, when he arrived in Kandy found only 5 men fit for duty, and they were kept busy tending the 112 men in the hospital. It was decided to evacuate as many as possible but only 23 men were able to march. Before long Macdowell fell sick and had to return to Columbo, leaving Major Adam Davie of the Malay Regiment in charge. Davie tried to avoid the job and sent a letter home telling of the dangerous situation in Kandy both from a health and a military point of view. 

Final Evacuation of Kandy, 24 June 1803

The garrison were now confined to the ruined Palace which had been prepared for attack. On 24 June a horde of Kandians stormed the defences which were manned by only 20 Europeans. The men of the 19th managed to fire a round of grapeshot which halted the attack so that the enemy resorted to using their own or captured artillery. At midday Davie negotiated a truce with the leader of the Kandians, but without consulting the officers of the 19th and 51st. It was agreed that the sick men in the hospital would be cared for by the enemy while the rest were allowed to march out unmolested in the direction of Trincomalee. The evacuees consisted of 34 Europeans, 250 Malays, some Bengal gunners and camp followers. It poured with rain as they marched out, and they came to the river Mahaweli Ganga which was impassable without boats. That night they stayed on the bank as rafts were constructed, watched closely by a horde of hostile Kandians. There was still no river crossing by the next afternoon, and then one of the sick men from the hospital approached with a horror story of what had happened to the other patients. He was the only survivor out of around 150 sick men who had been brutally killed by the Kandians. 

Massacre of the Survivors, June 1803

The efforts to cross the river were thwarted by the Kandians and Davie and his survivors were given an ultimatum to give up their weapons and return to Kandy. Once their weapons were relinquished the Europeans were taken into the forest in pairs and executed. The last two men to be dealt with were Davie and another officer, but the Kandian minister, the Mahadigar, intervened and they were sent back to Kandy where Davie spent 10 years in miserable captivity. One other officer, the surgeon of the 19th managed to escape the slaughter and turned up at the coast a year later. One other soldier of the19th survived. Corporal Barnsley was chopped in the neck with a big sword but remained alive amongst the corpses. When it was safe to move he found that he had to support his head, as a tendon was severed. Somehow he managed to swim across the river and walk in agony for 13 miles to Fort Macdowell. This was one of the forts built to protect the line of communication between Kandy and Columbo. Barnsley was picked up by Kandians who treated him well but wanted to use him to deliver a message to the fort, that the garrison should come out and fight in the open. The fort commander, Captain Madge was appalled at Barnsley’s appearance and despite hearing the report of the fate of the survivors and hospital patients of Kandy, Madge left his sick men behind and took the rest away to the coast. They were harassed for 4 days but managed to fend off all attacks. Barnsley survived his terrible injury and was invalided home. The British garrison of Ceylon was reduced from 5,000 at the start of 1803, to just a few fit men.

Second Invasion of Kandy, 1804

The Singhalese Kandians now threatened Columbo and other coastal garrisons. Patrols were sent out to confront them in the thick jungle, one of them led by Captain Herbert Beaver who led a force of 60 Europeans, 140 sepoys and 170 Malays. A draft of 100 men from the 10th Foot reinforced the 19th and 51st Regiments. Despite incurring the displeasure of the British Government, Governor North organised another offensive against Kandy in 1804. This time there were to be seven columns converging on the enemy from different coastal points. The one from Batticaloa was led by Captain Arthur Johnston of the 19th. His force numbered 300 of which 100 were from his own regiment and the rest sepoys, Malays and some artillery. They had 550 porters and set out on 20 Sep 1804. During this difficult journey of 180 miles they fought several actions. In one of these, two men of the 19th, Simon Gleason and Patrick Quinn swam the river Mahaweli Ganga under fire to secure a boat from the far bank.  

When Johnston’s column reached Kandy, they found it deserted, with no sign of the other columns. An escaped Malay informed them that they had all been prevented from making progress, so there could be no reinforcement of the troops now occupying the city. Morale was low and so was the supply of ammunition. They had many sick and wounded men and the monsoon was imminent. They remained for 56 hours before Johnston decided to evacuate and head for the nearest place of safety, Trincomalee. This journey turned into a nightmare. They were constantly harassed by the enemy, and sickness and poor food compounded their suffering. Any men captured by the Singhalese were killed in a horrible way. One officer, Lt Vincent was one of the wounded, and carried a knife in his hand ready to kill himself in the event of his being captured. Sadly he was captured and his fate is unknown. Johnston himself was ill with dysentery and had to be carried. This journey lasted 10 days and covered 140 miles. But they reached Trincomalee having lost 38 men, of which 9 were of the 19th. The remainder did not fare well. At the coast they nearly all succumbed to sickness and died. Captain Arthur Johnston survived to become commandant of the newly established Staff College. He wrote a book about the expedition: Narrative of the Operations of a Detachment in an Expedition to Candy, in the Island of Ceylon in the Year 1804: With some Observations on the Previous Campaign, and on the Nature of Candian Warfare by Arthur Johnston.

Ceylon and India 1805-1815

The following year saw the end of the first war against Kandy although not before the countryside had been devastated. A new governor had taken over from the Hon Frederick North; he was Major-General Sir Thomas Maitland, an effective administrator who withdrew troops from isolated posts and restored discipline and morale. By August 1806 the 19th were fit enough to travel to Velore in Southern India where a mutiny had broken out. That change of posting lasted a year, then they returned to Ceylon. In 1809, they went back to India for the fighting against the Rajah of Travancore. The regiment suffered casualties as soon as they arrived and went on to take part in the storming of an enemy stockade. Soon after this there was another mutiny in the Madras Army to be quelled, for which credit was given to Lt-Col P Stuart of the 19th who persuaded the mutineers to give up. The 19th spent the rest of their overseas posting in Ceylon. Their life there is vividly described in The Diary of Colour Sergeant George Calladine who joined the regiment out in Ceylon in 1814.

The Kandian War Resumed 1815

After the raids against the Kandy countryside in 1805 there was relative peace in Ceylon for the next 10 years. In 1812 the puppet king of Kandy ordered the execution of Pilima Talawa, the minister who had placed him on the throne, and continued to rule his people cruelly and oppressively. The new Governor General Sir Robert Brownrigg decided in 1815 to finish his rule, and to this end another invasion of Kandy was organised. Eight columns of troops, mostly from the Ceylon regiments, but strengthened by the 19th and other British units, made their way inland, capturing the city once more and arresting the king. One of these columns, from Trincomalee was commanded by Lt-Col Rainsford of the 19th and another, from Batticalao, was commanded by Captain Anderson of the 19th. A further uprising of Singhalese was faced in 1817. During this 16 month war there was a heroic defence of the post at Paranagamme in March 1818 where 80 men of the 19th commanded by Major MacDonald resisted a force of 6,000 well-armed Singhalese for a period of 7 days. Their time in Ceylon and Southern India came to an end in 1820. During their 24 year posting they lost 1,500 men to disease and fighting, and returned to England with only two of the original members of the regiment that came out to Ceylon in 1796.

The West Indies 1826 - 1836
The19th served in Ireland in the early 1820s, acting as police to control the production of illicit alcohol, called potheen. They retained a depot in Ireland when the regiment sailed to the West Indies in 1826 for a 10 year tour of duty in Demerara (Guyana), Barbados, St Vincent, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago. The usual problem in that part of the world was sickness, often fatal. Two commanding officers died whilst there; Alexander Milne in 1828 and Henry Hardy in 1835. Hardy stands out as a particularly humane and charitable officer, ensuring the comfort and well-being of his men and their families.
Malta, Corfu, Canada, 1940 - 1851
On returning from the West Indies, the depot companies received them in Ireland but were shocked at their sickly appearance. They spent 4 years there until 1840 when they sailed to Malta for a two and a half year posting. This was followed by duty in the Ionian Islands where they played cricket in Corfu, helping to establish the game there for the population. In 1846 they had to return to the West Indies, but only for two years. Then they embarked for service in Canada. They were in Montreal to help quell civil disturbances, and then Quebec. They finally returned to the UK in 1851, posted to Winchester.
Duke of Wellington’s Funeral, Nov 1852
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Wellington’s Funeral
When the Duke of Wellington died on 14 Sep 1852 the 19th were selected to join the huge funeral procession through London on 18 November. Powell’s history says that they were one of only two regiments chosen but there were in fact many more. The artist Richard Ebsworth sketched the regiment as they prepared themselves in the grounds of Guys Hospital. This was used as the basis for the painting by P W Reynolds in our Uniforms section. The huge funeral car had to proceed up Ludgate Hill but the horses need the help of soldiers of the 19th to pull and push it up the hill. The road had newly laid gravel which impeded the progress, and eye witness accounts mention officers with green facings ‘plastered up to their knees in yellow slush’.
The Crimean War 1854 - 56

Varna, May - Sep 1854

On 24 Mar 1854 the Herald at the Royal Exchange read out the Royal Proclamation that war had been declared against Russia. The Herald was escorted by two companies of the 19th who, with the band, were stationed at the Tower of London. On 23 April the regiment assembled at the Tower and set off for the war as a huge crowd cheered them on. The scene was sketched by Richard Ebsworth and used as a basis for the painting by P W Reynolds in our Band section. The regiment was 900 strong and part of the Light Division, commanded by Lt-General George Brown. The 19th were under Major Unett for the journey but were met by the CO, Lt-Col Robert Sanders, at Scutari where they landed in May 1854. The men of the Light Division were then moved north to Varna and were subjected to harsh training under General Brown’s command but they also suffered greatly from cholera, what they called black fever, greatly weakening the army and lowering morale so that discipline was hard to maintain. Men were buried in their blankets until it was realised that the Turks were opening the graves to steal the blankets. After that they were buried simply with branches and brambles. 

The Alma, 20 Sep 1854

At the beginning of September the regiment left Varna to sail to the Crimea. Sick men and families were left behind. They landed at Calamita Bay on 14 Sep 1854 and spent a miserable night in the rain without tents or knapsacks which had been left on the transports. They had to wait another 4 days for the rest of the army to land, and then set off for a harrowing march south to the river Alma. The tired and thirsty men reached the Alma valley on 20 Sep and were faced by the slope of Kourgane Hill on the other bank scarred by breastworks which formed the defences of the Russian gun batteries. The battle did not begin until 1pm. The Light Division were on the left of the allied line, facing the Great Redoubt. On the right of the line were the French divisions facing a much easier climb near the coast, which was expected to threaten the Russian left flank. The British commanders called a halt to the advance to give the French a chance to cause a diversion. The British troops laid down for an hour and a half, still on the north bank of the river, during that time they sustained casualties from Russian shell-fire. When at last the order came to advance they had to negotiate vineyards and walls before reaching the river.

The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Battle of Alma
The river crossing was a hazardous undertaking where firearms were likely to dampen and several men drowned. On the other bank one soldier of the 19th, called Kerwin, witnessed an ensign shot through the head, and four comrades disemboweled by a single round shot. The brigade commander called another halt but the 19th had become intermingled with Codrington’s brigade on their right and failed to heed their commander’s order. The regiment, armed with the Minie rifle, advanced up the slope to the Great Redoubt, fired on by the enemy artillery. Next to the redoubt were densely packed formations of Russian infantry in heavy grey coats and helmets. The 19th and some companies of the 23rd fired into these masses and caused them to retreat. Meanwhile some of the 19th, along with the rest of Codrington’s men, concentrated on the redoubt itself, their ranks being thinned by grapeshot and canister. But those that got through stormed the fortified position and drove out the gunners. Five regiments were involved in what became known as the assault of Kourgane Hill so that 2,000 men succeeded in the capture of the enemy position. They thought it was all over but there were still 10,000 Russian infantrymen poised for a counter-attack. Codrington realised this and prepared the men to defend the captured redoubt. The Russians attacked in waves and there was still a chance that these could have been repulsed, but in the confusion an officer, mistaking the Russians for French troops, ordered the bugler to sound the cease-fire, and soon after, the retreat. Before long the Russians were once more in possession of their Redoubt and the Light Division were retreating down the hill, carrying their wounded.

On the way down they had to pass through the ranks of the Guards and Highlanders of the 1st Division who started the day in support of the Light Division, but were now moving up the slope to recapture the lost redoubt. This was soon accomplished and the Russians fled the field towards Sevastopol. At this point the cavalry should have pursued the enemy but they were kept inactive throughout the battle. The 19th were rallied by Major Unett who now commanded in place of the badly injured Colonel Sanders. He led them back up the slope behind the Guards so that they were able to collect any of their wounded left on the hill. They bivouacked for the night, many sleeping in wet uniforms. They were hungry and had to look for food in the Russian knapsacks left on the battlefield. The casualty figures for the 19th Yorkshire Regiment were among the highest out of all the 29 units that took part: 2 officers and 45 men killed, 6 officers and 174 men wounded. The regiment was awarded the battle Honour ALMA on 16 Oct 1855 and celebrated Alma Day on 20th September every year. Among the trophies still retained by the regiment are seven captured drums.

Inkerman, 5 Nov 1854

Despite the problems caused by the lack of equipment and the losses from injury and sickness, the morale of the army improved after the victory over the Russians at Alma. The retreating enemy did not have time to destroy food sources like crops and stores so the British and French troops did not go hungry. The 19th were fortunate in capturing a convoy containing all sorts of luxurious supplies. The next objective was the capture of the port of Sevastopol where all went well to begin with, as their tents arrived at Balaclava harbour on 9 Oct, and the weather was fine. But as winter progressed conditions became much worse. The 19th were not involved in the battle of Balaclava on 25 Oct but when the Russians surprised the allies on 5 Nov at Inkerman by attacking in huge numbers there occurred the third major battle of the war. The regiment were not heavily involved in this as they were mostly confined to their trenches. Three companies, however, were called upon to reinforce the British troops struggling to contain the onslaught on the Inkerman plateau. Their losses were one officer and the RSM killed, and three men wounded.

Sevastopol, 1854-55

The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Officers in the Crimea
The winter spent in camp around Sevastopol was unbearably miserable, not just because of the freezing conditions but because the men were inadequately clothed, housed and fed. A draft of new recruits arrived on 21 Nov, 102 very young men who nearly all died within a month, of cold and disease. By the spring of 1855 morale began to improve. The siege of Sevastopol continued throughout the spring and summer and the 19th were actively engaged in the fighting. On 13 April Private Samuel Evans won the VC by repairing a damaged breach to a gun battery under fire. And on 10 June Private John Lyons won another VC for grasping a live shell and throwing it out of harm’s way to save his comrades. Two major attacks were made by the besiegers; the first on 18 June, in which the 19th did not play a part, and the second took place on 8 Sep. After a lengthy bombardment to soften up the Russians, an assault was made on the Redan, an elaborate enemy fortification established outside the city walls. The 19th, who mustered 438 men, were in support of a thousand-strong storming party which had to cross a deep ditch and scale a 30ft wall. The regiment made good progress over the ditch but the younger, untested recruits could not summon the courage to brave the musket fire to go any further. The casualties amongst the officers was high, and Colonel ‘Daddy’ Unett was mortally wounded. One 17 year old officer took it upon himself to inspire the men forward. Lt Dunham Massy, although wounded, managed to scale the wall and stand in full view of both British and Russians to urge the soldiers on. He suffered further severe injury to his legs and had to lie in great pain for many hours before he was rescued and treated. He survived the ordeal and earned himself fame and glory as Redan Massy, living to the age of 68. But the attack was a failure and caused terrible casualties. The 19th lost half their number in dead and wounded in this action. Eventually the Russians did evacuate from Sevastopol and the war came to an end. The regiment left the Crimea in June  1856 having lost 700 killed and wounded in action, and 317 from disease.

Service in India 1857 - 1871

The Indian Mutiny 1857 - 58

The 19th returned to England in 1856, landing at Portsmouth and travelling partly by rail to Aldershot. In July 1857 they sailed to India in response to the call for troops to quell the Mutiny. The regiment consisted of 47 officers and 1007 men. Although not all the Indian regiments of the East India Company had mutinied, the British were naturally jittery about so many armed native Indians, and felt safer in the presence of regular regiments of the British army. After a voyage of 5 months they reached Calcutta by 19 Dec. Initially they were required to guard prisoners and chase the remaining mutineers into the Himalayan foothills. The next 10 years, however, were quiet, with the threat of cholera being the main worry. In 1862, at Mian Mir near Lahore, the disease reached its height so that 144 of the soldiers and their families succumbed. 64 men died, along with 2 women and 5 children. In the same year the regiment was joined by an officer called Edward Spencer Mott (aka Nathaniel Gubbins) who wrote of regimental life in India in his book, A Mingled Yarn.

Black Mountain Expedition, 1868

The peaceful life of the regiment came to an end in 1868 when they were ordered to take part in a column of 12,500 troops sent to the Black Mountains to deal with the troublesome Hazara tribesmen.
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Officers in India
The 19th had been engaged in road-building so were fit enough for the tough marching they were to undertake. They marched to Abbotobad which they reached on 13 August, the hottest time of the year. They covered 65 miles in 59 hours without a man falling out. Another unit made a similar journey but lost 38 men from heatstroke. The Hazara Field Force assembled at  Oghee at the end of September. The 1st Brigade was made up of the 19th Yorkshire Regiment and the 20th Punjab NI, commanded by their CO, Colonel R O Bright. The expedition was fraught with difficulty but gave the men valuable training for the kind of warfare facing the British Army on the Northwest Frontier. They set off on the final leg of the journey which involved a climb of 10,000 feet over rough country whilst being sniped at and ambushed. Half way up they encamped, protecting themselves with stone sangers. The redoubt on the summit of the mountain was formidable. In the words of the commander of the expedition, “I had never, in the border hills, seen such a naturally strong and defensible position as this peak.” The 19th and the 2nd Gurkhas led the attack and swept the tribesmen off the mountain. Peace was agreed on 9 Oct. The regiment had suffered no casualties. The other tribes saw the consequences of Hazara belligerence with the result that there was little trouble from the Afghans for the next 20 years.

Return to England, 1871
The regiment remained in India until 1871 when they were ordered home after 14 years service there. Some men elected to stay in India so that 184 NCOs and men were transferred to other regiments stationed there. The remainder, totalling 561 all ranks embarked on HMS Crocodile at Bombay on 24 Nov 1871.
2nd Battalion in Burma and India, 1863 - 1877
On 9 Mar 1858 a second battalion of the 19th was raised at Exeter. This was part of an increase in the strength of the army as a result of the lessons learned in the Crimea, and the extra regular regiments of the Crown needed in India after the Mutiny. In all 28 new battalions were raised. The 19th had previously raised extra battalions and this was the third incarnation. The regimental depot supplied 350 men as a nucleus. The CO, Lt-Col Robert Warden, was from the first battalion as were most of the junior officers. The rest of the officers were from other units, veterans of overseas campaigns. The new recruits brought the strength up to almost 1,100 men, mostly English but with a high proportion of Irish. The regiment was posted in many areas of Britain before being sent to Burma in August 1863. A farewell report by the Irish Times commented on the good behaviour and level of education of the men of the 19th, and that the officers treated their men as human beings, not machines. Up-country Burma was an unpopular posting. The rain was constant, and the snakes, centipedes and other ‘creeping things’ as well as the dacoits, made life unpleasant. In 1868 the battalion was transferred to India until 1877.
Alexandra, Princess of Wales, 1875
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Presentation of the Colours 
The 1st Battalion was in Britain in 1875 when new Colours were presented to them by the Princess of Wales. This occurred at Sheffield on 17 Aug 1875 and at the end of the ceremony she consented to having her name and title connected with the 19th. The title of the regiment then became; The 19th (1st Yorkshire North Riding) Princess of Wales’s Own Regiment of Foot. The name Green Howards was still the unofficial title. Six years later in 1881 the regimental numbering was abolished so that they became The Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment). It was not until 1902, in which year she became Queen consort, that the regiment became Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment). The regiment was now based at Richmond, it’s permanent home, since 1873. The reforms of 1881 also brought two militia units into the regiment so that there were 4 battalions. The 5th West Yorkshire Militia and the North York Rifles formed the 3rd and 4th Battalions.
Bermuda and Nova Scotia, 1877 - 1884
As the 2nd Battalion returned from India in the early summer of 1877 the 1st Battalion sailed for Bermuda in the autumn. They were there for three years, time enough to become acclimatised to the heat before being sent to Nova Scotia.  Initially they had to bear the cold in their tropical lightweight uniforms but were later issued with greatcoats, long boots and fur caps. But the cold winter brought about many desertions with men fleeing on trains to the warmer parts of the United States.
Battle of Ginnis, 30 Dec 1885
Early in 1884 the 1st Bn Yorkshire Regiment, as they were now called, sailed to Malta and then on to Egypt in August where the Gordon Relief was about to set off south to the Sudan. The regiment were not in this expedition although a detachment of 60 men joined a Mounted Infantry battalion at Suakin.
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
The rest of the battalion stayed behind on garrison duty. However, in March 1885, they were ordered up the Nile in boats to Aswan. They spent a sweltering summer guarding the frontier against the Mahdists. In December they were chosen to taken part in a column sent to relieve the besieged fort at Ginnis-Kosha. The Yorkshires were in the 2nd Brigade along with 6 companies of Cameron Highlanders and units of Sudanese and Egyptian soldiers as well as a mule battery and 3 Gardner guns. The two Brigade force was led by Francis Grenfell. The soldiers were ordered to wear their red tunics in an attempt to impress and intimidate the Dervishes. On the morning of 30 Dec 1885 the 2nd Brigade took up positions overlooking the town of Kosha while at the same time a sortie was made from the besieged fort. The Dervishes came out of Ginnis to attack Grenfell’s column but the 2nd Brigade advanced towards them to counter the threat. They became embroiled in a fight in the palm groves and in Kosha. The 1st Brigade deployed to attack the Dervish camp while the 2nd was sent into the town of Ginnis to flush out the enemy there, fighting from street to street and managing to clear it. The Mahdists were put to flight and the fort was relieved. Grenfell’s column had lost 45 men killed and wounded. The casualty figures for the Yorkshire Regiment is not stated in Powell’s history. The battle was a relatively small one and as such was not considered worthy of awarding a battle honour despite the protests of the regiments who fought there. Not only was the fort relieved but the Mahdist threat to Egypt was averted. The battalion returned to Aswan where they were stationed long enough for 84 of them to die of enteric fever and heatstroke.
2nd Battalion in Burma, 1893 - 1896
The 2nd Battalion had spent 12 years in England and Ireland but were ordered to sail to India, embarking on 1 Jan 1890. They spent nearly 3 years in Bangalore then moved to Upper Burma. Some men from the battalion were seconded for duty as Mounted Infantry, using small local ponies. The regiment was based mostly in Schwebo and Bhamo from where patrols and punitive expeditions were launched to deal with troublesome Dacoits and Kachins. In early 1896 the battalion moved back to India and prepared for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Raniket the following year. 
The Tirah Campaign, 1897 - 98
The festivities in honour of Queen Victoria were short lived because the Northwest Frontier erupted into a serious rising of Pathan tribesmen, mainly the Afridis who with the Orakzai controlled a region  known as the Tirah. They were a formidable enemy, much more difficult to fight than the Hazaras had been 30 years earlier, and in a region largely unknown and unmapped. The Tirah Expeditionary Force, commanded by Sir William Lockhart, consisted of 35,000 British and Indian troops and a huge convoy of servants, animals and guns. The 2nd Battalion Yorkshires were commanded by Lt-Col William Franklyn, in the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division. Setting off from Kohat on 18 Oct 1897 they made their way to the Tirah along single tracks watched and sniped at by hidden tribesmen who were much better armed than the Hazaras had been, some Pathans having been discharged after serving in the army. The troops were badly equipped for the cold mountain nights as their warm clothing was carried on pack mules and difficult to get hold of. This punitive expedition carried out the unpleasant task of laying waste the houses and crops in the Tirah valleys to starve the Afridis into submission. The battalion were in support at the capture of the Sampagha Pass, but played a more prominent part in the capture of the Arhanga Pass. 

The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Wounded Men in the Tirah
The withdrawal from the Tirah proved to be just as hazardous as the advance. In Late November the column made their way to the Bara Valley along a stony path from Bagh to Dwatoi that went through a narrow gorge. The heights need to be secured, so companies of the Yorkshires and 2nd Gurkhas were given the task of scaling the precipitous sides of the gorge. Lieutenant Jones, recently joined from England, and temporarily commanding his company, encountered a withering fire from concealed tribesmen 200 yards away. Unable to spot them he called for a few volunteers and went forward. Having identified the position he ordered his men to keep the enemies’ heads down while he, Lance-Corporal Brunton and Private Dangerfield reconnoitred a route to outflank them. They were spotted and fired on, and ran to some rocks within yards of the enemy. They returned fire and Lt Jones was killed after emptying his revolver and ordering the covering party to charge. L-Cpl Brunton was also hit but Dangerfield kept up a rapid fire with his Lee Metford rifle. The rest of the company were led by Lt Oliver Watson who was shot through the lung while saving the wounded lance-corporal, and recovering the dead body of Lt Jones. The company cleared the enemy away from their position and secured the safety of the column down in the gorge. Private Dangerfield was awarded the DCM for his part in the action. 

The Yorkshires also operated against the Zakka Khel in the Bazar Valley in late December. They came out of the campaign with relatively few casualties compared with some other units like the 1st Northamptonshires who were all but wiped out. One officer and 9 other ranks of the Yorkshires were killed, 3 officers and 29 wounded. Besides the casualties from action the battalion lost 34 men who died of sickness on the campaign and several more later in Peshawar as a result of the harsh conditions in the mountains. The 2nd Battalion remained in India for another 8 years so that their posting on the sub-continent lasted 19 years before their return to England in March 1909.

The Boer War 1899 - 1902

Embarkation, 24 Nov 1899

The 1st Battalion had been posted in Britain since 1890 but also served in Ireland and Jersey. There was also a spell of guard duty in London at the end of which they were inspected by Alexandra, Princess of Wales, and in 1898 they were briefly sent to Gibraltar. Returning to England in 1899 the battalion were stationed at Bradford when they were ordered to sail to South Africa. After an enthusiastic send off by a 50,000 crowd, they arrived at Aldershot on 17 Nov where 450 reservists joined the battalion. They paraded for inspection on 23 Nov, the day before embarkation at Southampton on the SS Doune Castle, numbering 938 NCOs and privates, and 20 officers, all commanded by Lt-Col Henry Bowles. There were veterans of the Tirah campaign amongst the reservists; 117 men who had been in the 2nd Battalion on the Northwest Frontier. The battalion had been preceded by a Mounted Infantry detachment of 35 officers and men that had made the voyage to the Cape in October. The Yorkshires arrived after Black Week, on 15 Dec after a 3 week voyage. It was the middle of summer in South Africa and the train journey from Cape Town to their camp at De Aar was hot and dusty.

De Aar Camp, Dec 1899

The Yorkshires were camped at De Aar with the 2nd Warwicks and the 1st Essex. In October and November Boer snipers had been successfully targeting officers, so orders were given to the three battalions for officers to remove their swords and arm themselves with rifles, belt and pouches so that they could not be easily distinguished. Buttons were also to be dulled and badges of rank removed but the Yorkshires retained their pips and crowns. The men were allowed to dispense with their valises but carried a rolled blanket, haversack, entrenching tool, and 150 rounds of ammunition. Their greatcoats were confined to the wagons, most of which were captured by the Boers. This was not a problem until the winter months when an extra blanket had to be issued. Whilst at De Aar a further Mounted Infantry Company was formed by 130 men from the battalion. The rest were marched up and down kopjes to keep them fit. On 3 Jan, after nearly 3 weeks of heat and dust, they were pleased to receive orders to go to Naaupoort, transported by rail in open coal trucks.

New Zealand Hill, 15 Jan 1900

The battalion was now operating in the Colesberg district under the command of General French who was based at Slingersfontein Farm.
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Signallers on NZ Hill
On 12th Jan a picquet from D Company was sent to the top of a high hill west of the camp which overlooked a chain of kopjes. They shared the task with 30 men of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles commanded by Captain Madocks RA. On 15 Jan the picquet, commanded by Captain Orr, reported that the Boers were attacking, so A and E Companies were sent up to reinforce the position. The Boers were able to reach dead ground to their front and some gained the crest of the hill. In the firing Capt Orr was severely wounded along with 5 privates. Colour Sergeant F Roberts, Sergeant D Jamieson, Privates Smith, Duffy and Ward were killed. Lance-Corporal Collings was awarded the DCM for leading a charge when all his more senior NCOs had been incapacitated. Two New Zealanders were killed, and the hill was named New Zealand Hill for the duration of the war. General French expressed his gratitude for their fine work in defending the hill and preventing its capture by the enemy.

Paardeberg, 18 Feb 1900

Lord Roberts took command of the army at the beginning of the year and directed his troops towards Kimberley which was under siege. But first he needed to defeat Cronje and capture the Free State capital of Bloemfontein. Cronje’s force was trapped at Paardeberg, but Roberts was taken sick, and command passed to his Chief of Staff, General Kitchener. It was because of Kitchener’s incompetence that on the first day of the battle, Bloody Sunday, the Yorkshires lost 130 officers and men, killed and wounded. His strategy was to order the Green Howards, in the 18th Brigade, and other regiments, in a near-suicidal frontal attack while other units made a pincer movement. The advance towards the Boer trenches on the Modder River was made over 1,500 yards of flat featureless ground. The enemy were well hidden and using smokeless ammunition so that they were virtually invisible. At a point 400 yards from the river, the CO, Lt-Col Bowles was wounded in the chest, and command devolved upon Major J A Fearon. The infantry were exposed to accurate rifle fire, with nothing to protect them except the occasional rock or not-to-be-trusted ant heaps. One brave party of 5 officers and 60 men were sent forward presumably for reconnaissance. Second Lieutenant Neave and several others were killed in this hazardous venture and the others were saved by diving into small nullahs. They reached the river bank from which they learned that the enemy were positioned on the opposite side of the Modder and that the river was impassable. 

The men were ordered by Major Fearon to lie down and advance no further. Unable to move they lay out all day in the hot sun, dying of thirst and still exposed to rifle fire. The regiment had not had the opportunity to find water the previous day so their thirst was desperate. Some men tried to reach the trapped men with water and medical aid and it was one of these, Sergeant Atkinson, who made several journeys to help wounded men before being killed, that earned the regiment its third VC. The party trapped in the nullahs were pinned down by a British machine-gun in their rear and Private Burns volunteered, at great risk, to go back and politely ask them to stop firing. When darkness fell the survivors managed to move back to the British line, and for wounded men to be picked up. The Yorkshires gained the distinction of having the highest number of casualties in this first day of fighting: 30 men and one officer killed, 95 men and four officers seriously wounded. Of the wounded 10 died soon after the battle. Three men were captured but released when Pretoria was occupied. 

Kitchener’s Kop, 23 Feb 1900

Lord Roberts returned to the command the following day and there began negotiations between him and Cronje. The Boer leader had asked for an armistice to bury his dead but was refusing to surrender, so the shelling of his position continued. In the afternoon the Yorkshires, Gloucesters and the Oxford LI were given the task of capturing Kitchener’s Kop, a hill two miles to the south of Cronje’s position. This had previously been garrisoned by a local unit called Kitchener’s Horse although Kitchener himself had ignored the good advice of Lieutenant-General Kelly-Kenny to provide a stronger defence. On the evening of 18 Feb a 300-strong force of Boers under Christiaan de Wet had captured the Kop as part of his strategy to relieve Cronje. But when the three battalions attempted the recapture of the Kop it was found to be too well defended. However, by 21 Feb the Boers evacuated the Kop for lack of water. The Yorkshires were ordered to occupy the hill, in the process of which they took 40 prisoners.
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Green Howards Officers 1900

The battalion bivouacked on the flat summit of the Kop, posting 4 companies as picquets on lower hills to the south. At dawn on 23 Feb they came under attack from de Wet’s increased force. The picquets kept up a sustained level of fire which, after a short while drove off 500 mounted Boers. But another group of Boers had managed to capture the furthest of the small hills and fired on the picquets, who returned fire and eventually drove off another 100 Boers. A party from A Company rushed towards the now evacuated hill but found out that it was still well defended. Two men were wounded and they called for reinforcements. Some men of the Buffs came up and they together with three companies of the Yorkshires attacked the enemy position which was concealed by bushes. It was at this part of the battle of Kitchener’s Kop that the Yorkshire’s suffered the most casualties. One sergeant and eight men were killed, three officers and 17 men were wounded. One of the officers, Captain Pearson, was severely wounded in the legs. But they forced the Boers to surrender so that they took 85 prisoners. They found eight dead Boers, and many wounded. Sixty horses had been killed. Many of the Boers were teenagers or younger, and one man was in his seventies. A large grave was dug in which both British and Boer dead were interred. 

The battalion remained in bivouac on the Kop until 7 Mar, mostly in the rain. For some it was impossible to get a good night’s sleep, and matters were made much worse by the lack of tobacco and matches, an important part of a soldier’s life at that time. Food was also scarce, hard biscuits, and any meat they could find was too tough to enjoy. One aspect of their sojurn on the Kop was beneficial; they were supplied with water from Osfontein Farm which was of good quality. The bulk of the army had to take their water from the Modder River which was muddy and polluted by decomposing animals. When the army later occupied Bloemfontein many soldiers died of enteric fever as a result of having drunk bad water. The Yorkshires fared better than the others, but even so they lost 20 men to the fever in April and May. Whilst on the Kop there was good news on 27 Feb as it became clear that Cronje had surrendered, thus ending the battle of Paardeberg. 

September 20th Alma Day
The Green Howards
Howard’s Greens
Howard’s Garbage
The Bounders
Bonnie English Rose  Quick Maria Theresa  Slow
The Rocky Mountain Rangers of Canada
The Queen’s York Rangers (1st American Rangers) of Canada
1688 -
Commanding Officers
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Battle Honours
War of the Spanish Succession 1701-15

Seven Years War 1756 - 63

Crimean War 1854 - 5

Tirah Campaign 1897 - 8

South African War 1899 - 02
SOUTH AFRICA 1899 - 1902

World War One 
YPRES 1914 1915 1917
SOMME 1916 1918
ARRAS 1917 1918
MESSINES 1917 1918

LANGEMARCK 1914 1917
ANCRE 1916
SCARPE 1917 1918
CAMBRAI 1917 1918
AISNE 1918
ITALY 1917-18
EGYPT 1916

Third Afghan War 1919

Second World War

ITALY 1943-4
BURMA 1945

1688Luttrell’s Regiment
175119th Foot
178219th or 1st Yorkshire, North Riding, Regiment
187519th (1st Yorkshire North Riding, Princess of Wales’s Own) Regiment
1881The Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment)
1902Alexandra Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment)
1920The Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment)
2006The Yorkshire Regiment (14th/15th, 19th and 33rd/67th Foot)
Regimental Museum
Trinity Church Square
The Market Place
North Yorkshire
DL10 4 QN
Suggested Reading
The Nine Lives of Corporal Burke: A Journey Through World War Two with the Green Howards
by Mark Burke  (CreateSpace 2013)

Beyond Their Duty
by Roger Chapman (2001)

Echoes From the Crimea: Eyewitness Accounts by members of the 19th Regiment
edited by Roger Chapman (2004)

The Green Howards: A History in Photographs 1855 to 2006
by Roger Chapman (2006)

The Green Howards in the Norwegian Campaign 1940
by Roger Chapman

The Green Howards in the Boer War: a Yorkshire Infantry Regiment at War in South Africa 1899-1902
by M I Ferrar (Leonaur 2010)

A History of the Services of the 19th Regiment now Alexandra Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment) from its formation in 1688 to 1911
by Michael Lloyd Ferrar  (Eden Fisher 1911)

Baptism of Fire
by Mark Marsay (Great Northern 1999)

Sir Thomas Longmore of the 19th Regiment of Foot
by Edward Nicholl

The Green Howards in Malaya
by J B Oldfield (Gale & Polden 1953)

The Green Howards
by Geoffrey Powell (Leo Cooper/Secker & Warburg 2nd ed. 1983)

The History of the Green Howards: Three Hundred Years of Service
by Geoffrey and John Powell (Pen & Sword Books 2002)

The Story of the Green Howards 1939 -1945
by W A T Synge (1952)

The Green Howards in the Great War
by H C Wylly (1926)


by Stephen Luscombe