The Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment) (19th Foot): The Green Howards



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
Ginnis
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. 

Driefontein, 10 Mar 1900

The army set off for Bloemfontein on 7 Mar and reached Poplar Grove where they bivouacked, spending a cold night without blankets, coats or a proper cooked meal. On 10 Mar they advanced and received news that the Boers were gathered in strength on the kopjes at Abramskraal. The battalion, in Kelly-Kenny’s 6th Division, headed towards Baberspan and having to pass through three lines of kopjes, the last line being the highest and occupied by the enemy. The Welsh Regiment was in the centre, the Essex on the left and the Yorkshires on the right. The Welsh and Essex suffered badly from rifle and artillery fire while the Yorkshires were halted until 4pm, also under enemy fire. However, when they moved forward across open ground the rifle fire increased and in their assault of the enemy sangers they lost 20 men. They halted again while the artillery shelled the Boer position. More casualties added to the number as they had to wait until darkness allowed them to reach a place to bivouac near Driefontein Farm. The final tally of casualties in the Yorkshires was 3 men killed and 25 wounded but the losses of the heroic Welsh and Essex battalions amounted to 200 killed and wounded. The division’s losses totalled 6 officers, 52 men killed, and 16 officers, 321 men wounded. The Boers were defeated and lost 140 killed and 400 wounded according to Major Ferrar’s account, although Jan Geldenhuys’ Diaries claim 30 men killed and 47 wounded. Because of the darkness it was difficult to rescue all the wounded men over a large area, so many injured men spent a very uncomfortable night.

Green Howards Mounted Infantry

At the outset of the Boer War there were two cavalry brigades in the force sent out to South Africa. Each Brigade had a battalion of Mounted Infantry drawn from 18 different regiments. The Green Howards supplied an officer and 35 men for no.3 section of the Northern Company, 2nd Battalion MI. They sailed on 22 Oct 1899 from Tilbury, and arrived at Cape Town on 14 Nov. They travelled by train to camp at De Aar where they were given country-bred ponies. The officer commanding the Green Howards section was Lieutenant M H Tomlin, the section being made up of a colour-sergeant, a sergeant, two lance-corporals, a bugler and 30 privates. However, Lt Tomlin was appointed to the staff on 18 Jan 1900 so that the Yorkshires were without an officer until 31 May 1901. Sergeant Wilson was in command during those 16 months and according to Tomlin, ‘..acquitted himself well of the task’.

The following is a synopsis of the account given by Private Sidney Fallowell: They saw action at Klip Drift on 16 Feb 1900, and at the battle of Paardeberg played little part in the first day’s fighting. But in the following days they were constantly reconnoitring and fighting in very wet weather. At Dreifontein they were engaged in hard fighting all day but had few casualties. In the 2nd week of April they fought  at Thaba N’chu for two days during which Private Humphries was killed. In May they fought at Dornkop all day and then bivouacked at Florida before entering Pretoria on 5 June. On 11 June they fought at Diamond Hill and in the weeks following were engaged in the pursuit of De Wet. On 24 Aug they returned to Pretoria after exhausting treks and skirmishes. There they were given much-needed new kit, and then renewed their work on 4 Sep. For the next month they were constantly patrolling in the Hekpoort and Magaliesberg districts. On the way to Krugersdorp they were sniped at ‘from every nook and dell.’ and after two days set off to chase De la Rey’s commando. 

Nooitgedacht, 13 Dec 1900

On 7 Dec the Green Howards MI section was part of a force of 1,200 mounted men camped at Nooitgedacht. As well as the 2nd Battalion MI there were Kitchener’s Horse, Imperial Yeomanry, 4 guns of P Battery RHA, and a pom-pom. The mounted troops were commanded by Colonel Norton Legge of the 20th Hussars who was killed in the battle on 13 Dec. There was also infantry, half a battalion of the KOYLI and half of the Northumberland Fusiliers. The whole force was under the command of Major-General Clements. All the troops, apart from the Yeomanry and the KOYLI were camped on a hill to the west of a stream which flowed south into a river. The 2nd Battalion MI provided the picquet for the hill. Another high hill, the Magaliesberg, was occupied by the Northumberlands. At 3.30am on 13 Dec the camp on the picquet hill came under attack from the 600-strong commando of De la Rey and the 1,200 commando of Christiaan Beyers. The attack was too strong for the defenders and they began to withdraw. Captain Atkins of the Wiltshires managed to rally the men and counter-attacked the Boers so that it was their turn to pull back. The firing was continuous and at very close range, and several officers were killed. However, the Boers reached their horses and fled the scene so that it was assumed to be the end of the battle.

The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Prisoners at Nooitgedacht
The MI were ordered to have breakfast leaving Kitchener’s Horse and the RHA on the picquet hill. But the guns of P Battery soon found themselves in action firing on Magaleisberg. Everyone was confident that the Northumberland Fusiliers could  resist a Boer attack on their high and steep position. But they were hopelessly outnumbered and before reinforcements of KOYLI and Yeomanry could reach them, they had surrendered. The Boers had established a vantage point on a cliff overlooking the Northumberlands and from there they were able to pour a heavy fire on the approaching KOYLI and Yeomanry. 

The Mounted Infantry battalion returned to picquet hill but were then ordered to retreat to some hills 2,000 yards south west of the camp. The guns limbered up in succession so that at least one was in action to cover the retreat. The retreat was made under heavy fire so that it was difficult to secure the spare horses. One gun of P Battery suffered the loss of the gun crew, and a colour-sergeant took 20 men of the MI to retrieve the gun and bring it to where it could be limbered up. A wagon was loaded with ammunition but the mules were hit by enemy fire and the contents of the wagon were lost. The hills were reached and the RHA guns ensured that the Boers did not pursue. In fact they were too caught up with raiding the stores and food left by the British. At 3.30pm the force set off towards Pretoria, being harried by pursuing Boers until it became too dark. They marched through the night until they arrived near Commando Nek at 5am on 14 Dec. The MI battalion had lost many men in killed and wounded, and many had been taken prisoner. 

2nd Battalion Mounted Infantry, 1 Feb 1901 - 1 June 1902

Sidney Fallowell suffered sickness in Pretoria and was away from the MI for the whole of January 1901, rejoining the Yorkshires section on 1 Feb. Throughout February the battalion operated between the Vaal River and the Krugersdorp-Klerksdorp railway. Fallowell remembers  the 7th March as the most miserable day of the whole campaign. The column was moving through the Krugersdorp hills in heavy rain when their rearguard came under attack. The convoy of wagons moved ever slower as the road became more boggy. There was a heavy mist and at an awkward pass the wagons could only be moved by having two mule teams pulling each wagon. The Boers tried to stampede the convoy animals but were prevented by the action of the MI sections of the Wiltshires and Yorkshires. The enemy were kept back and the convoy reached Krugersdorp late in the evening. There they bivouacked on cold wet ground and attempted sleep in soaking wet clothes. The next day they entrained for Potchefstroom and trekked around that area for the rest of March. On 23 Mar they had the satisfaction of capturing a large Boer convoy of 40 bullock wagons as well as two guns, a pom-pom and 5 Maxims, also 139 prisoners were taken.

The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Mounted Infantry 1901
Another successful haul was seized on 13 April but the work was hard throughout that month, escorting convoys in the Klerksdorp-Ventersdorp district. In May they trekked through difficult country east of the Mafeking line. It was a flat plain with tall grass, many holes and ant-heaps, no trees, no water and few farms. At the end of May Capt Tomlin returned but was put in command of the Northern Company, while another officer joining at that time, Lieutenant Walker, took command of the Yorkshires section. On 8 June 1901 they captured another Boer convoy, largely through the action of Captain Tomlin who led 20 men through a deep kloof to the head of the convoy, and under heavy fire, stopped them, so that 27 wagons, 14 Boers, and much livestock was captured. For the months of June and July they linked up with Lord Methuen’s troops in the Zeerust district which was good country to work in. It seems that the Boers were loosing heart as those that they found were, ‘not in large numbers and were not over anxious to fight’. They marched south  through the Orange Free State towards Bloemfontein, then on to Glen, Wepener and Aliwal North just over the border in Cape Colony, which they reached on 12 Sep. But later that month they were put on the train and returned north to Heidelburg in Transvaal. On 5 Oct they had an unsuccessful encounter with a superior force of Boers after a night march from Greylingstad, in which Lt Walker and his men had to make a hasty retreat under fire. The battalion worked in the area of Standerton in November, and in December arrived at Ermelo. They worked together with Major-General Bruce Hamilton’s force to make successful night marches, capturing or killing almost 400 Boers. 

In Jan 1902 they took part in the drives which together with the Blockhouses formed the strategy devised by Lord Kitchener who was at that time commander-in-chief. The battalion’s first drive ended at Wolverhoekon on 8 Feb and another took place near Harrismith. Fallowell again went sick with enteric fever at this time and was out of action from 11 Jan to 20 April 1902. He was back for the last drive from Klein Palmeitfontein in May which resulted in the capture of 13 Boers and 10 wagons containing kit plundered from the Yeomanry in Methuen’s force. This drive ended at Devondale siding on the Mafeking railway. They then marched to Klerksdorp arriving on 22 May. They remained there while the Boers debated the continuance of the guerrilla war. Peace finally came on 1 June 1902 and Sidney Fallowell finished his account by saying that the MI section had marched a total distance of 8,453 miles.
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Mounted Infantryman

Mounted Infantry in Griqualand, Jan 1900

Prior to the embarkation of the Green Howards 1st Battalion to South Africa, orders were received for the formation of a company of Mounted Infantry. The men chosen amounted to 130, commanded by Major Handcock, with 2nd Lieutenants Tarbet and Nevile. They joined up with the 1st MI Battalion under Colonel Edwin Alderson which also included a MI company from the Warwickshires. On 20 Jan 1900 half the Green Howards company and half the Warwickshires formed part of a column that was ordered to march on Prieska in Griqualand West. Major Handcock and 2nd Lt Tarbet went with this column which also included a detachment of New South Wales Mounted Rifles and artillery. They set off from De Aar on 22 Jan trekking via Shulefontein, Britstown, Haudwater and Omdrai Vlei. The Green Howards were, at some point, detached for convoy duty and Alderson’s column continued on to Prieska. Whether any action was required there is not recorded but the whole 1st MI battalion was recalled except for the Warwickshire MI Company which remained in the Prieska district until 16 April. Alderson was ordered to take his mounted force to Orange River Station to join Lord Roberts’s invasion of the Free State. The half company under Handcock’s command had been constantly on the move for 12 days.

4th Battalion Mounted Infantry

At Orange River Station the Green Howards MI company were placed in the 4th Battalion MI together with the Warwickshires, Duke of Cornwall’s LI and the King’s Shropshire LI, under the command of Lt-Col Henry. Their first action was at Jacobsdal where Lt-Col Henry was wounded and taken prisoner so that Major Handcock took over temporary command. On 15 Feb they crossed the Modder and became aware that Cronje’s force was engaged with General Knox’s 13th Brigade. The Green Howards company galloped 3 miles to catch the Boer rearguard but after some fighting they retired on Klip Drift. The battalion lost 13 men killed or wounded, two of the wounded being from the Green Howards. Many horses were drowned in the Modder. On 18 Feb Major Handcock led half the battalion to Paardeberg where they were engaged in the battle, fighting throughout the day. For the next few days they were kept busy until Cronje’s surrender. At Poplar Grove on 7 Mar they were in the advance guard and on the left flank, but not as involved as the Shropshire and Cornwall companies. During a patrol on 7 Mar 2nd Lt Tarbet’s men came under fire from a farm and had to retire, but Tarbet’s horse fell over some barbed wire and the officer was dragged along with his foot caught in the stirrup. Private Wright rode back to him under heavy fire and loosened the stirrup leather, The horse bolted but was caught by Private Bushby so that Tarbet was saved.

Waterval Drift, 31 Mar 1900

Having marched to Roodeval on 31 Mar they joined Colonel Matyr’s brigade and set off for Sanna’s Post to cover Colonel Broadwood’s retirement. On reaching the river at the Drift two sections of the Green Howards took up position on high ground while the Cornwall and Shropshire companies, along with the rest of the Green Howards, crossed over. On the other side they went into action, and when they came under shell-fire they were reinforced by the Queensland MI followed by the remaining two sections. They took up positions on the left, lining a ridge where they were able to fire on the enemy, but the Boers were in great numbers and could not be stopped from moving around to the flank. The Green Howards had left their horses half a mile away and when the order to retire came they reached them without casualties but as they retreated back across the river three men and some horses were wounded. Later that afternoon reinforcements arrived from Bloemfontein and the Boers were driven off. The Cornwall company came off worst, having 20 men and an officer taken prisoner. They spent a miserable night without food or blankets, and with a large force of Boers in the vicinity. The next day the Boers had gone and it was safe to cross the river and march to their old camp at Valambrosa.

Brandfort, 30 April 1900

On 16 April the camp was moved from Valambrosa to Rusfontein a mile and a half north of Bloemfontein. There a huge Mounted Infantry camp was set up for the reorganisation and equipping of the various MI units. Colonel Henry was elevated to command 4th Corps and Major Handcock promoted to the command of 4th MI Battalion. The Boers were in force near Brandfort and on 30 April the whole Corps made a reconnaissance in force, the Victorian Mounted Rifles on the left, supported by the Cornwall and Warwick MI, with the Green Howards on the right, and the Shropshires, Tasmanians and Australians to the right of them, also 8th Corps. The 4th MI trotted forward and dismounted so that the horses were under cover of a ridge. To the left of the Yorkshires two pom-poms of the RA came into action but the Boer artillery was more effective, and with the combined effect of enemy riflemen, caused a withdrawal. The 4th MI did not suffer badly but the Victoria MR and Lumsden’s Horse had casualties. Private Simpson of the Green Howards was wounded and had to be left behind in the retirement. He was recovered a few days later when Brandfort was occupied. A key position at Gun Hill was captured on 1 May by General Maxwell’s Brigade allowing a general advance but the Boers decided to retreat. The Yorkshire Company attempted to pursue but their horses were of poor quality at this time and found the going difficult. They managed to ascend a high rocky ridge where the men dismounted and descended the other side, being shelled by the Boers all the way down. They took cover and waited for infantry support from Maxwell’s brigade. The Boers had a big gun which they were hauling away. The whole of 4th Corps was ordered to cut them off and capture the gun, but although they pursued until dark, the enemy were too quick and the chase abandoned.

The Advance to Transvaal, 10 - 26 May 1900

On 8 May while the 4th Corps were at Leuwkenil, 15 miles south of the Zand River, the Yorkshires received some remounts. They came into contact with the Boers when they crossed the river near Virginia Siding. But the enemy retreated and shelled the 4th MI all day. There was more mutual shelling on the way to  Kroonstad, and after securing that town the advance on Pretoria began, on 22 May. They trekked to Wolvehoek then on to Vereeniging the first station across the Vaal. The 4th Corps were ordered to detain the enemy at Viljoen’s Drift until the guns came up. They raced ahead and were just in time to prevent the Boers blowing up the Vaal River bridge. The 4th Battalion MI were the first troops to cross the Vaal River, on 26 May. They then spent the night on outpost duty, occupying positions vacated by the Boers.

Johannesburg, June 1900

The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Johannesburg
Captain Walker of the Cornwalls took temporary command of the 4th Battalion MI and on 29 May was ordered at short notice to seize Elandsfontein station at all costs. He selected 23 men of the Green Howards with their officers, Lt Stansfeld and 2nd Lt Nevile, and galloped off. On arriving at the station, they charged in with fixed bayonets and seized a hospital train and another filled with rifles and entrenching tools. They also sent an engine towards Johannesburg to damage a rail to prevent a train full of Boers from reaching Elandsfontein. The men remaining at the station were sniped at by the enemy who occupied nearby buildings. In Johannesburg there was a parade in which the army marched past Lord Roberts. The 4th MI did not take part in this for some reason and bivouacked at Dead Horse Nullah. On Sunday 10 June Lt Stansfeld took out a patrol and managed to escape a Boer ambush with only one man, Private Rose, being taken prisoner. On 22 June, Stansfeld and a party of MI escorted envoys from General Botha to Pretoria to discuss peace terms with Lord Roberts, but the talks were inconclusive.

Belfast, 24 Aug 1900

At the end of July the 4th MI was split up all along the line between Bronkhorst Spruit and Groot Oliphant’s River. The Green Howards company went to Balmoral and were reunited with the 1st Battalion Yorkshires. They were sent on frequent patrols in one of which Private Varlow was killed, on 12 Aug. On another patrol Colour-Sergeant Parkinson earned a DCM for rescuing a man who was about to be captured by the enemy. In the middle of August the company left their Green Howard comrades when 4th Corps resumed its march and concentrated at Wonderfontein. The Boers were in a strong position at Belfast, 12 miles away. On 24 Aug the whole force which included the 11th Division set off towards Belfast. The 11th Division marched straight towards the town while the Yorkshire and Cornwall Companies swung to the right towards Monument Hill. When they reached a ridge north of the hill they came under fire and 4 men were hit as well as several horses. They then received orders to ascend and hold Monument Hill which they, along with the Warwick Company did under heavy fire. They remained on the summit until dusk, and 5 men of the Green Howards were wounded including Lt Tarbet who was hit in the wrist. They were relieved but had to spend a cold winter’s night with no food or blankets.

Komatipoort, October 1900

Having moved north from Belfast there was another fight at Weltevreden where the 4th MI advanced on the Boers under cover of fire from J Battery RHA. There were no human casualties but horses were hit. Following this action the 11th Division, which included 4th Corps MI, was ordered to advance to Komatipoort and occupy Delagoa Bay railway. The three week journey was long and hard, the men existing on siege rations and the horses on almost nothing. They went via Uitkomst, Kaapsche Hoop, Jamestown, Avoca and Kaapmuiden Junction. At the end of September they reached Komatipoort near the border of Transvaal and what is now Mozambique. The town was almost deserted apart from a few Boers who were disarmed. The Yorkshires were in the advance guard. The first men to cross the river bridge were Green Howards, Captain Holmes, Lt Stansfeld and Lt Nevile. The officers entered Portuguese East Africa having left their weapons with their men and were greeted by the Portuguese Commandant and taken to Ressano Garcia. The Boers had vacated Koomati Poort in a hurry, leaving much in the way of food and ammunition. They had attempted to destroy the food but there was enough to make life much easier for the badly deprived British soldiers. The ammunition consisted of soft-nosed bullets intended to cause maximum pain and injury, also many coated with ‘a suspicious-looking green grease.’ Information was received that a large convoy of Boers was heading north close to the Selati railway so 200 men with the fittest horses were selected to pursue them. Fifty of this party were from the 4th MI, the remainder were Australians. They marched 90 miles without contact with the enemy and returned on 4 Oct.

The Company Split into Detachments, 1901

The Yorkshire MI Company remained at Komatipoort to be reinforced by drafts from the 1st Battalion. In November they moved to Kaapsche Hoop and later to Machadodorp. The railway had been attacked and sabotaged between Machadodorp and Middleburg so the decision was made to attack the Boers at Dullstroom. They were gathered there in force, around 2,000, under Ben Viljoen and Muller, buoyed up after successes against Belfast and Helvetia garrison. The force of 1,300 infantry and 500 mounted troops failed to disperse them and had to retreat on Belfast. From 24 Jan until July 1901 the Yorkshire Company was split up. There were patrols and guard duty on the railway as well as sweeps in the Komati valley. From April to May the Yorkshires were attached to a column under Colonel Park operating in northern Transvaal. The company was commanded by Lt Stansfeld at this time but when the column was broken up they were joined by Captain Hartley who took over command. The various detachments were reunited on 4 July at Wonderfontein and there they were attached to a column under Brigadier-General Spens carrying out the unpleasant task of evicting Boer families from their farms and destroying farm buildings.
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Green Howards MI Company

Patrols and Action in the Dullstroom Area, 1901

On 13 July a return convoy was sent back escorted by 20 men under the command of Lt Nevile. Whilst engaged in this Nevile led a successful attack on a Boer laager, taking them by surprise in a night assault. He was later promoted for this action. Two more successful actions took place at Honings Kloof and Klipplaats Drift in the middle of July. There was a large convoy leaving Dullstroom on 27 July which was escorted by the MI. Capt Harley led a daring dismounted attack on Boers at Witpoort in which two Green Howards were wounded, and on the way back to camp the rearguard was busy fending off counter-attacks until reinforcements arrived. In October the MI formed the advance guard of the Manchester Regiment crossing the Spekboom River and halting at De Grootboom farm. They dismounted and climbed the heights overlooking Pilgrim’s Rest but were fired on causing three men to be wounded and 13 horses killed. A further 12 men were hurt from falling.

Operations, 18 Dec 1901 and 19 Feb 1902

From 9 Oct to 18 Dec the MI were stationed at Lydenburg, but they were then ordered back to Dullstroom, and while the column was camped at Elandspruit they were attacked at about 9pm. The Manchester Regiment bore the brunt of the attack losing 15 killed and 17 wounded. The 4th MI then marched into Machadodrop and on to Belfast where they stayed until 16 Jan 1902. For the rest of the month they operated with other units in that region, and on 19 Feb they accompanied Colonel Park’s column of Australians in a dawn attack on a Boer laager. This followed a 30 mile night march north of Pan in a planned raid on the commandos of Jack Hindon and Karl Trichart. The 4th MI galloped up to the laager and achieved complete success resulting in 164 prisoners, 8 Boer casulties, 100 horses, 630 cattle, and large quantities of rifles and ammunition. Hindon managed to escape, however.

Rhenoster Kop, Feb - Mar 1902

On 27 Feb 1902 a party of 4th MI numbering 200 which included 60 Green Howards, entrained for Bronkhorst Spruit. The objective was to attack Schalk Burgher’s laager near Rhenoster Kop. From the station they had to ride 30 miles northwest, reaching the laager at 6am on 28 Feb. The attack was a complete surprise and 17 prisoners were caught. They operated in this area for the first half of March. There was a great deal of marching, covering great distances, and for the rest of the month they worked between the Delagoa and Natal lines. In April they were part of the drives organised by General Bruce Hamilton, and in May they returned to Dullstroom where they had their last fight on 12 May in a rearguard action during a retirement from Swartz Kopjes. Private J Greenwood as wounded at this time.

Dismantling of the 4th Battalion Mounted Infantry

The 4th MI Battalion was stationed at Middleburg for the winter months of 1902, and on 9 Aug the Green Howards Company left for Elandsfontein where the 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment was based. Of the other infantry companies, the Warwickshires had already left South Africa, the Shropshire LI were expected to go to India, and the Duke of Cornwall LI hoping to return to England at the end of the year. The author of With The Green Howards in South Africa 1899-1902, M L Ferrer, wrote:

A considerable number of men from each of the above-named battalions had served together in the 4th MI since January 1900, and loyal as they were to their own regiments, there had grown up to be a great esprit de corps in the 4th MI. From being a unit composed of men drawn from four different regiments, they had become a regiment themselves in the true sense of the word, and more than justified their existence, as did all the old MI regiments raised at the beginning of the war. Consequently the break-up of the corps was felt by all more than can be imagined.

First World War  1914-18
During the First World War 24 battalions of the Green Howards were raised. The Victoria Cross was won by 12 men and officers of the regiment. The battalions took part in most of the principal battles and campaigns of the war. More than 65,000 men served in the regiment, and of those, over 7,500 lost their lives, and nearly 24,000 were wounded. The regiment gained 56 battle honours in that 4-year war alone.

The 1st Battalion remained in India throughout WW1. When war broke out they were in Barian, Punjab with the 2nd (Rawalpindi) Division. The outstanding feats of courage and endurance shown by the Green Howards in the war were at Ypres in 1914 and 1915. The 2nd Battalion fought for 16 days in October 1914, losing many men, and in April 1915 the 4th Battalion earned immortality as the Yorkshire Gurkhas at St Julien.

First Battle of Ypres, Oct - Nov 1914

The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Crossroads at Gheluvelt
The 2nd Battalion, under the command of Lt-Col C A C King had been in the Channel Islands when war broke out in August, and were at first returned to England and then on to Belgium as part of the 7th Division in October 1914. They came to Ypres on 14 Oct and occupied the village of Gheluvelt without any opposition. On Sunday 16 Oct they marched through Becelare and took up a very exposed position in trenches north of the Menin crossroads east of Gheluvelt. They were heavily shelled by the Germans, and when they saw the enemy massing for an attack they poured concentrated fire which dispersed them. For the next three days the Germans exploited a gap between the Scots Fusiliers and the Yorkshires. The fighting over these three days was intense and sustained and required six ammunition carts every day. Their Lee Enfield rifles were worked to the limit and needed constant repair. The armourer sergeant was busy night and day making repairs so that he was near to collapse. Colonel King ordered him back and when he stood to salute, his head was taken off by a German shell. The enemy artillery was now able to target their trenches very accurately and men had to constantly repair the damage or move to another trench. But they were never deterred from the task of keeping up a sustained rifle fire on the enemy infantry when they attacked en masse. They had no barbed wire at that time so they had to be vigilant at all times.

By 26 Oct the battalion was down to half its strength after 9 days fighting, and at last, on the 27th they were moved back to Sanctuary Wood for a period of rest. But no sooner had they settled down in their bivouacs than they were ordered forward again to the advanced fire trenches. They marched off again without complaint and were accompanied by Colonel King who was unwell at this stage. On the morning of the 29th the Germans broke through on their left and threatened the rear of their position. They fell back half a mile but Colonel King organised a counter-attack with men from his and other battalions. They not only captured their former position but also trenches 200 yards to their front. This was all done in the face of artillery fire but it saved the line. Sadly Colonel King was killed the next day, 30 Oct, when the enemy infantry, combined with a heavy bombardment, threw themselves against the Yorkshires. Many officers and men were lost that day along with their CO. They were now down to 300 men commanded by Captain Moss-Blundell. That afternoon they were ordered to retire and Moss-Blundell decided to carry out this order straight away rather than wait until dark. They were able to avoid heavy casualties in this dangerous move; only 11 men were killed or wounded. They had no rest that night as trenches had to be dug, and early the next morning, A Company, or what was left of it, was ordered forward again to plug a gap in the line for several hours. On 4 Nov they were finally moved into brigade reserve and able to have some rest at Sailly. The casualty figures were: 10 officers killed and 18 wounded. 250 men killed and 400 wounded.

Territorial Battalions

The 4th and 5th Battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment were in the 150th Brigade of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division. The brigade also contained the 4th East Yorkshires and the 5th Durham Light Infantry. The 4th Green Howards Battalion was formed from the 1st Volunteer Battalion founded in 1860 and in 1908 re-designated as the 4th Bn Green Howards. They were based at Northallerton with other companies located at Bedale, Eston, Stokesley, Catterick, Richmond, Redcar, Skelton, Thirsk and Guisborough. The 5th Battalion was the 2nd VB also founded in 1860, based in Scarborough with companies at Malton, Hovingham, Helmsley and Pickering. Both battalions were in North Wales for their annual camp in July 1914. They were mobilised soon afterwards with 90 per cent of them volunteering for war service in France and Belgium. There followed eight months of hard training and they embarked for France, the first Territorial Division to go to the Western Front. Landing at Boulogne on 18 April 1915 they went straight into the front line without the usual trench-training.

Second Battle of Ypres, 22 April - 25 May 1915

The second battle of Ypres began on 22 April with a horrific cloud of poison gas launched by the Germans who were favoured by a gentle wind which carried it towards the allied troops. Algerian and Canadian soldiers were taken by surprise and had no protection, so suffered agonising pain and death. On the night of 23 April the 150th Brigade were led into trenches along the line of the Yser Canal, north of Ypres. In the morning the Canadians were gassed so that a gap appeared in the line and the enemy advanced well beyond St Julien.The Yorkshires were shelled but had few casualties, and that afternoon were ordered towards Fortuin and if possible push the Germans back into St Julien and beyond. The CO of the 4th Battalion was given an order which warned that it was ‘inadvisable to lose many men unless some really definite advantage could be gained’. The untried men of the 4th Green Howards and the 4th East Yorks advanced in the face of shrapnel and machine-gun fire ‘as if they were doing an attack practice in peace! They went on in such a way as if they’d done it all their lives, nothing stopped them.’ The CO and 2ic of the East Yorks were both killed so Col Bell led both battalions to capture Fortuin and on to the outskirts of St Julien. There he received orders to halt. Five officers of the 4th Battalion had been killed and ten other ranks as well as 85 wounded. The 5th Battalion fought in a similar action that afternoon, losing 60 men in just 5 minutes. For the rest of the month the brigade came under the command of the Cavalry Corps and on 24 May the 4th Battalion, in the company of the 9th Lancers, 15th and 18th Hussars, halted the German attack but at the cost of 200 killed and wounded. The Second Battle of Ypres had taken 60,000 British casualties in all. The 4th Battalion Green Howards earned the nickname the Yorkshire Gurkhas not only because they appeared to show no fear but on account of their diminutive physical stature.

2nd Battalion, 1915

The 2nd Battalion was reinforced with new drafts and took part in the British offensive at Neuve Chapelle, 10-13 Mar 1915, during which Corporal William Anderson won the first Green Howards VC of WW1. Then Aubers Ridge, 9 May and Festubert, 15-25 May 1915. At the battle of Loos in Septemebr 1915 the battalion suffered from chlorine gas which was used by the British for the first time on a large scale, but the wind changed and blew it back on their own men. After a week’s fighting the 2nd Battalion lost 300 men.

10th Battalion at Loos, Sep - Oct 1915

One of Kitchener’s New Army divisons was the 21st which incorporated the 10th Battalion of the Green Howards, made up of raw recruits and untried officers.  Their first experience of battle was at Loos where they were ordered to capture Hill 70 east of the village of Loos. The maps, like the orders, were inadequate so their progress towards the objective, difficult as it was because of congested roads, was unsure, so that they went astray and failed to find the hill. They were fired on by enemy machine-guns and had to retrace their steps. The next day they were directed again to Hill 70 and attempted to attack the strong German redoubt. They were moving forward under heavy fire from artillery and small-arms, taking many casualties. The men were naturally hesitant so the CO, Colonel Hadow courageously went forward shouting “Charge!” and was shot dead. Major Dent then took his place with the same result. Two more officers followed their example but the situation was hopeless and at the end of the day the battalion had to retire, at first in an orderly fashion, and then in a desperate scramble. The 10th Battalion lost 300 men in this battle.

Gallipoli 1915

The Turkish Empire sided with Germany in October 1914, since their old enemy, Russia, was allied to Britain and France. In April 1915 General Sir Ian Hamilton led an Anglo-French force, which included the ANZAC troops, against the Gallipoli peninsula defended by Turkish troops and German advisers. This achieved initial success but over the summer of 1915 they could hardly move beyond their bridgeheads. Another landing was planned for 6 Aug 1915 in which the 6th Battalion Green Howards, played a heroic but disastrous part. 

Lala Baba, 6-7 Aug 1915

The landing at Sulva Bay was carried out by recruits in Kitchener’s New Army in the 10th and 11th Divisions, and was their first battle.
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Lala Baba Hill
The 6th Battalion was given the task of capturing the nearby Lala Baba Hill and then to cross a dry salt lake and attack a smaller hill the other side. Although the landing itself was easy, the men were tired from rigorous training and a long hot march to the embarkation point. They had also been given cholera inoculation which at that time caused them to be temporarily ill. Two companies of the battalion advanced up the hill before the rest of the unit was ashore. Due to the great secrecy of the operation the commanding officers were unprepared and unable to give precise orders. The landing was in darkness and the men were ordered to use bayonets until the Turks were aware of their presence. Suddenly a flare went up and they were subjected to a heavy fire from the entrenched enemy.  However, the troops carried on, and stepped over crouching men who fired at their backs as they passed on. The Green Howards were supported closely by the West Yorkshires, and against the odds they managed to capture the hill, but at the cost of most of their officers and one third of the men. The CO, the 2ic and two company commanders were killed in the attack. 

Sulva, 21 Aug 1915

The crossing of the salt lake seems to have been forgotten, and the staff failed to keep up the momentum. Two vital days passed before they were sent across the lake to attack the hills beyond. During this time the Turks brought up reinforcements. The attacks on the hills could make no impression and the war in Gallipoli became a stalemate. The battalion received new drafts of men and they were now commanded by Captain Archie White. The next action by the 6th Battalion was on 21 Aug, after an ineffective bombardment of the enemy trenches. All the officers were killed or wounded so that the 100 strong battalion was now commanded by  a WO2. They reached their objective but had no back-up so were forced to return to their starting point. There was more misery to come with the entrenched stalemate at Sulva, as men, tormented by heat and flies, were picked off by snipers. The staff finally realised that there was no point in staying there so the evacuation of the peninsula began. The planning of this retreat was faultless and carried out without any loss of life. It was used as a model for all future training at Staff College.

The Somme, 1916

The Green Howards suffered heavy casualties in the Allied offensive on the Somme in the summer of 1916. The battalions involved were the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th and 13th. The regiment had four soldiers awarded the Victoria Cross between July and October 1916, although many more were recommended for the award. The battle began on 1 July and saw 100,000 infantrymen from eleven British divisions go over the top. By the end of the day 57,470 of them were dead or wounded. A page in the Green Howards Gazette published in July 1916 gives a list of the officer casualties after the first few days. Officers Killed in Action 29, Died of Wounds 4, Wounded 46, and Missing 2.

Fricourt, 1 July 1916

The 7th Battalion in the 17th Division were ordered to attack the village of Fricourt, following on from the other battalions in its brigade. One of these battalions was the West Yorkshires who were annihilated, and an attempt was made by the brigade commander to halt the Green Howards by to no avail. A Company went in prematurely and were wiped out by a single machine-gun before they had advanced 20 yards. In the afternoon the rest of the battalion could see that the intense bombardment had made little impression on the German defences but were nevertheless expected to throw themselves towards almost certain death. Within 3 minutes the battalion lost 13 officers and 300 men had been mowed down. The CO, Lt-Col Ronald D’Arcy Fife had been ordered to remain behind because of the severe shortage of senior officers. Three days later he was able to walk across the ground which by then had been captured and he saw the corpses of his men lying in neat rows.  

2nd and 10th Battalions,  July 1916

The 10th Battalion in the 21st Division lost most of one company in the fighting just north of Fricourt on 1 July. Only 28 men survived, and the company commander, Major Loudoun-Shand was awarded a posthumous VC. The 2nd Battalion had been transferred to the 30th Division a few months earlier and on the same day were ordered to attack Montauban Ridge. They lost 200 men but were successful in capturing their objective and taking prisoners. Six days later, on 7 July, they made another attack which was less successful and caused them more casualties than the previous attack. This did not end their troubles; two weeks later, having been given 12 new subalterns and 300 other ranks, they went in again and lost another 250 men.

6th Battalion, Sep 1916

Having been brought back from Gallipoli, the 6th Battalion was sent in during two bitter weeks in September. They took part in a succession of assaults and defensive actions against German counter attacks. Captain Archie White who had led the battalion in the latter stages of the Gallipoli campaign won the VC at Stuff Redoubt for his command of a steady defence against an attack that lasted four days from 27 Sep to 1 Oct. His CO, Lt-Col C G Forsyth had been killed on 14 Sep.

Arras, April 1917

The French army’s offensive on the Aisne was to be supported by a similar British advance at Arras in 1917, but the French attack faltered through bad planning and mutiny, leaving the British to carry on alone. Some of the lessons of the Somme had been learned and the artillery was now better supplied with ammunition for a more effective barrage. The 2nd Battalion attacked on 9 April 1917, the opening day of the offensive, when the Canadians forced a huge gap in the German defences. Casualties were heavy but after two weeks the battalion was sent in again, fighting alongside the 4th and 5th battalions in the 50th Division. By 23 April the 4th Battalion had lost all their officers, the last being Captain Hirsch who won a posthumous VC, killed near Wancourt. On 12 May the 7th Battalion were near Roeux and saw Tom Dresser win a VC for a fearless delivery of a vital message to the front line trenches. Their CO, Lt-Col Fife was badly wounded and there was only one officer left in the battalion.

Messines Ridge, 7 June 1917

The assault of Messines Ridge was a preliminary to the 3rd Battle of Ypres or Passchendaele. The ridge, situated southeast of the city included Hill 60, the scene of heavy fighting for the 8th Battalion who went in as soon as a huge mine was detonated under the German defences. The battalion occupied the summit of the hill with their HQ on the eastern slope. The reserve company pressed on to the third and final objective. By the end of the day they had suffered 250 casualties. The 9th Battalion, in reserve, had a similar number of killed and wounded after coming under concentrated machine-gun fire. The capture of Messines Ridge was treated as a great victory in the British press. The 6th Battalion was also involved in this battle but casualty figures are obscure. Despite the conquest of this enemy stronghold the fighting continued for six more days.

Passchendaele, 31 July - 12 Nov 1917

For soldiers serving on the Western Front this period of the war is often described as the worst. The weather throughout August was relentlessly wet and the ground almost impossible to move in. Despite this, on the first day the British attack organised by General Sir Hubert Gough was successful. The 2nd Battalion were in the forefront of the assault in this 3rd Battle of Ypres, and gained 1,000 yards which was dotted with strong concrete German pill-boxes. Having achieved their objective in the area of Gheluvelt, they had to hang on for four days during which they lost half their number in casualties.

Menin Bridge Road, Sep 1917

On 14 August, after a fortnight of rain, the 6th Battalion went into action on the left bank of the Steenbeek but it was soul-destroying as well as costing many lives. On 25 Aug Gough was replaced by General Plumer who halted operations to retrain the infantry with different tactics. After a bombardment, lines of widely spaced skirmishers sought out those pockets of the enemy’s defence that had avoided the shells. These were dealt with by small groups of Lewis gunners, bombers and men armed with rifle-grenades, followed by mopping-up parties. These tactics were employed by the 8th and 9th Battalions alongside Australian troops and were less daunting than the former suicidal over-the-top assaults. But casualties were still high; the 9th Battalion made its final assault with only one officer left in each company. The battle of Menin Bridge Road was successful and resulted in heavy German losses.

Broodseinde and Poelcapelle, 4 - 9 Oct 1917

The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Poelcapelle
The 10th Battalion were brought up from Arras to take part in the mud war of Passchendaele. They were up to their knees in mud and water at Broodseinde on 4 Oct and sustained 334 casualties. The weather did not improve and any sane commander would have halted operations until dryer conditions made fighting slightly easier, but Haig pressed on and the 6th Battalion paid a heavy price on 9 Oct at Poelcapelle where they had to deal with concrete blockhouses. Corporal William Clamp won the VC for capturing the largest of these defences and bringing back 20 prisoners. He was killed later that day. The 7th Battalion were also transferred from Arras to spend 16 days in the hell of this battle. They held on in a muddy landscape where trenches had all but disappeared. The arrival of fresh troops from the Canadian contingent brought Passchendaele to a close. 

Northern Italy 1917

Italy entered the war in 1915, on the side of the allies. The Italians fought against  troops from the Austro-Hungarian Empire supported by Germans who were released from fighting the Russians on the eastern front as a result of the Revolution. The Italians were defeated at Caporetto and called on the allies for help. The enemy had pushed them back to the River Piave and that is where British troops became involved in that theatre of the war.

The Montello, Dec 1917

The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
The Montello
The 8th and 9th Battalions of the Green Howards, in the 23rd Division could not believe their luck when they were transferred from the hell of Ypres to the Piave, arriving on 2 Dec 1917. They were tasked with holding the flat topped hill of the Montello where the mountains met the Piave. They made a good job of the defences there and were held up as an example of how it should be done. They had little to do apart from sending out patrols, remaining until March 1918.

The Asiago Plateau, March 1918

Both battalions were moved from the Montello to the Asiago Plateau in the Alps in March 1918. This had been the scene of bitter fighting and it was where the Austrians launched their last offensive. But the enemy had already lost heart and the they proved easy to defeat. The Green Howards were in divisional reserve and had little to do.

Vittorio-Veneto, Oct 1918

The two battalions were separated in March 1918 when the 9th returned to France. The 8th remained in Italy  to take part in the battle of Vittorio-Veneto on the River Piave. The two remaining British Divisions were tasked with capturing Papadopoli Island, the most difficult area. The initial assault was on 23 Oct and the 8th were sent in on 27 Oct. They made a night approach on a compass bearing in pouring rain, across narrow water channels and sand banks. They reached the forming up point, and the next morning had to wade across a 60 foot fast running tributary whilst being fired on by machine-guns. Some of the wounded men were swept away. At this juncture Sergeant McNally rushed an enemy gun team and put it out of action. He carried out two more acts of heroism two days later at Vazzalo and for these three actions he was awarded the Victoria Cross. This was the 12th and last VC of the war won by the Green Howards. The battalion secured their objective after a five mile push which involved constant fighting. They lost 120 men killed and wounded. Five days later the armistice with Austria-Hungary was signed. 

Bourlon Wood, 23 - 26 Nov 1917

The 13th Battalion took part in the battle of Cambrai which began on 20 Nov 1917, famous for being the first battle where tanks played a prominent role. The attack was very successful to begin with but by the end of the first day half the tanks had broken down and the advance petered out. The 13th Bn in the 40th Division were in reserve and brought forward on 23 Nov to attack Bourlon Wood. Tanks were again used, but this did not prevent the battalion losing many men. They achieved their objective but continued to fight for another 3 days before being pulled out. They started with 474 all ranks but ended the battle with less that 100.

The German Spring Offensive, 21 Mar 1918

The Germans had withdrawn 34 divisions from the Eastern Front after the collapse of Russia in 1917. This allowed them to concentrate 58 divisions for a huge offensive over the old Somme battlefields starting on 21 Mar 1918. The 2nd Battalion was defending a redoubt in the second line in the Picardy region and succeeded in fending off the first attack, but a second attempt by the Germans overran the forward platoons and the pressure was kept up all day. The next day the Royal Artillery fired short so that they were hitting their own men. The adjutant, Captain Herbert Read served in the 2nd Battalion at this time and wrote of the terrible ordeal suffered by the officers and men in their 16-day defence of their position. They lost more than two thirds of their number in killed wounded and captured but they succeeded in delaying the German advance. The Germans were not able to keep up the momentum and the offensive came to a halt. The depleted battalion was moved to the Ypres Salient to recuperate but that was where the Germans directed their next offensive.

Lys, April 1918

Four of the Green Howards battalions fought at Lys where the Germans chose to make their second Spring offensive of 1918. The 4th and 5th Territorial Battalions had been switched to the Lys Valley to recover from heavy fighting only 3 days previously, but hey were reinforced by raw recruits and some old soldiers and thrust into the thick of the battle. In a week of confused withdrawals they lost 300 men. The two other battalions were the 12th and 13th fighting on the left of the Territorials. The 12th were trained as pioneers but fought as infantry. They too delayed the German advance but with great difficulty. 

The Aisne, 18 May 1918

What little remained of the 50th Division, its infantry numbering no more than 55 officers and 1,100 other ranks, were sent south to the Champagne country, to rest and absorb further drafts of the same type of raw recruit that had fought so well in Flanders. But once again they were unlucky. On 18 May a third German offensive fell upon them. In the battle of the Aisne the 4th and 5th Battalions were finally wiped out. There were no reinforcements left. Few units on the Western Front had, over the years, seen harder or more prolonged fighting.

Sep - Nov 1918

The Germans had come to a standstill by July 1918. The allied counter offensive was held up because the Germans had flooded the area around the half constructed Canal du Nord. At the beginning of September the 2nd Battalion helped the Canadians in their assault on the Germans at the Canal and turn the northern end of the Hindenburg Line. The 9th Battalion had returned from the fighting on the Piave in Italy and joined the 25th Division. The fighting was as hard as ever and the 2nd Battalion lost 175 men in the last 9 days of the war. Over the whole of WW1 the 24 battalions of the Green Howards had recruited 65,000 men, of whom 7,500 had died, and 24,000 had been wounded.

Russia 1918 -19
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
North Russia
The Revolution took Russia out of the war against Germany but allowed the Germans to use the port of Murmansk on the north coast where U-Boats were refitted and launched. Up until 1917 Russia had been on the allied side and supplied with arms and equipment but these had to be retrieved, so an international expedition under General F C Poole was organised to recapture Murmansk. They also found themselves supporting the Tsarist White Russians in the civil war against the Reds. The Green Howards were selected as a unit to send to North Russia to join the troops already there. In July 1918 the 6th and 13th Battalions were reconstituted using mostly Green Howards officers, but the rank and file was made up of men from different regiments and corps. The 6th Bn was reinforced with 422 men of which only 57 were Green Howards. 

The Armistice had been signed by the time the 6th Battalion set sail on 16 Oct 1918 aboard a low-grade ship called the Tras-os-Montes. Their arrival was delayed due to a series of incidents, including a mutiny at Dundee where only officers were allowed ashore, and after mechanical failure, having to transfer to a more reliable ship on the Orkneys. The allied base was now at Archangel on the White Sea where the munitions were stockpiled, but they disembarked at Murmansk on 28 Nov. The fighting between the allied forces and the Reds was practically over by the time they arrived so their duties were confined to loading material onto rail trucks and guarding the line. It was while stationed at Archangel on Christmas Day 1918 that 2nd Lt Plumpton (not a Green Howards officer) was murdered and robbed by local Russians. The perpetrators were caught on 14 Jan 1919 and tried at Murmansk on 30 Jan. Three men were found guilty and condemned to death. They were shot by a firing squad made up of British and Russian soldiers.

The rest of the time was spent in tedious fatigue and guard duties carried out in temperatures down to 40 degrees centigrade and in darkness. The battalion was split into 3 detachments and 200 men were chosen to form a mobile company trained by Sir Ernest Shackleton the famous Arctic explorer. The tour of duty lasted until Feb 1919.

Third Afghan War 1919
As one of the British units of the 3rd Afghan War of 1919 the 1st Battalion fought a tough campaign in difficult and mountainous country against Amanullah, the Amir of Afghanistan’s regular army of 7,000 cavalry, 42,000 infantry and 260 guns, plus support from up to 80,000 tribesmen. The battalion was camped at Dakka from 19 May to 13 Sep 1919 and involved in the fighting where they were the first troops to occupy the ridge on 18 May. Towards the end of the campaign local Mohmand tribesmen attacked the piquets on the heights near the camp resulting in a tough fight in which a subaltern and 4 other ranks were killed and 9 men wounded. The war began on 6 May 1919 and culminated in the Treaty of Rawalpindi on 8 Aug 1919. The casualty figures for the 3-month war were 236 British and Indian troops killed and 615 wounded but many more died of cholera and other diseases, 900 in all. The 1st Battalion Green Howards lost 8 men killed and 14 wounded. They marched back to India in September.
Ireland 1919 - 1923
The 2nd Battalion returned from France at the end of the war with only 4 officers and 43 men but after it was reconstituted the war-weary battalion was posted to Ireland in the autumn of 1919. The Republicans had been agitating for Home Rule throughout WW1, the Easter Rising of 1916 being the high point of the conflict. In July 1919 two policemen were murdered in Tipperary and that is where the 2nd Battalion were posted. They were dispersed around the area by platoon or company and sent out patrols to keep the peace. On 2 May a ten-man patrol mounted on bicycles, commanded by a subaltern and accompanied by 3 policemen ran into an ambush. They were lucky to get out of it with only one man wounded, and managed to kill 5 of the Fenians. They retreated but were harried for 5 hours during which another man was seriously wounded and 5 more of the enemy killed and 35 wounded. Another patrol around that time also achieved success against the rebels. After this the Republicans did not fight in large groups, and confined their activity to sabotage and selecting soft targets like a lone soldier who was caught and crippled. The troubles seemed to be over when the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed on 21 Dec 1921, but a civil war ensued which lasted until 1923. After the Treaty was signed many units left Ireland but the Green Howards were posted to Queenstown. It was here on 22 April 1922 that Lieutenant Robert Henderson was kidnapped along with two other officers and a driver. Their bodies were recovered months later, by which time the battalion were posted at Belfast.
The Inter-War Years
The Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment
Green Howards in Egypt 1929
The 2nd Battalion were posted to the Middle East in the 1920s. They served in Egypt, posted at Kasr-el-Nil in Cairo, and Moascar. The Green Howards were also posted to Shanghai from 1927 to1930 when civil war broke out between Communists and Nationalists. British and Indian troops were sent from India to protect British lives and interests. The regiment also sent troops to Palestine in 1938, and were involved in the operations in Waziristan from 1937 to 1939.
Badges
Badges
Anniversaries
September 20th Alma Day
Nicknames
The Green Howards
Howard’s Greens
Howard’s Garbage
The Bounders
Marches
Bonnie English Rose  Quick Maria Theresa  Slow
Alliances
The Rocky Mountain Rangers of Canada
The Queen’s York Rangers (1st American Rangers) of Canada
Colonels-in-Chief
1688 -
Commanding Officers
1688 -
Colonels
1688 -
Soldiers
1688 -
Uniforms
1688 -
Band
1688 -
Colours
1688 -
Battle Honours
War of the Spanish Succession 1701-15
MALPLAQUET

Seven Years War 1756 - 63
BELLE ISLE

Crimean War 1854 - 5
ALMA 
INKERMAN
SEVASTOPOL

Tirah Campaign 1897 - 8
TIRAH

South African War 1899 - 02
RELIEF OF KIMBERLEY
PAARDEBURG
SOUTH AFRICA 1899 - 1902

World War One 
Emblazoned
YPRES 1914 1915 1917
LOOS
SOMME 1916 1918
ARRAS 1917 1918
MESSINES 1917 1918
VALENCIENNES
SAMBRE
FRANCE AND FLANDERS 1914 - 18
VITTORIO VENETO
SULVA

Accredited
LANGEMARCK 1914 1917
GHELUVELT
NEUVE CHPELLE
ST JULIEN
FREZENBERG
BELLEWAARDE
AUBERS
FESTUBERT 1915
ALBERT 1916
BAZENTIN
POZIERES
FLERS-COURCELETTE
MORVAL
THIEPVAL
LE TRANSLOY
ANCRE HEIGHTS
ANCRE 1916
SCARPE 1917 1918
PILCKEM
MENIN ROAD
POLYGON WOOD
BROODSEINDE
POELCAPELLE
PASSCHENDAELE
CAMBRAI 1917 1918
ST QUENTIN
BAPAUME 1918
ROSIERES
LYS
ESTAIRES
HAZEBROUCK
KEMMEL
SCHERPENBERG
AISNE 1918
DROCOURT-QUEANT
HINDENBURG LINE
CANAL DU NORD
BEAUREVOIR
SELLE
PIAVE
ITALY 1917-18
LANDING AT SULVA
SCIMITAR HILL
GALLIPOLI 1915
EGYPT 1916
ARCHANGEL 1918

Third Afghan War 1919
AFGHANISTAN 1919

Second World War
Emblazoned
NORWAY 1940
NORMANDY LANDING
NORTHWEST EUROPE 1940 1944-5
GAZALA
EL ALAMEIN
MARETH
AKARIT
SICILY 1943
MINTURNO
ANZIO

Accredited
OTTA
DEFENCE OF ARRAS
DUNKIRK 1940
TILLY SUR SEULLES
ST PIERRE LA VIEILLE
GHEEL
NEDERRIJN
DEFENCE OF ALAMEIN LINE
NORTH AFRICA 1942-3
LANDING IN SICILY
LENTINI
ITALY 1943-4
ARAKAN BEACHES
BURMA 1945

Titles
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
Richmond
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

Mosaic of Memories
by Ronald D’Arcy Fife  (Heath Cranton 1943)

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)

All That Was Left of Them
by Herbert Read  (Orage Press 2014)

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)




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