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Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum
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Outline History of the Regiment

1794 - 1914

Introduction

The Warwickshire Yeomanry was formed in 1794 to defend the United Kingdom against invasion by the French during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1957 the Regiment amalgamated with The Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars.

Throughout the life of the Regiment its members followed normal civilian occupations in peace time and voluntarily gave up their spare time at week-ends, evenings and for two week’s annual camp each year to train as soldiers.  The Regiment served with distinction during the Boer War and in both World Wars.

How the Regiment Began

In 1794 France was in turmoil and the British Government feared a Napoleonic invasion’, on 3rd March the House of Commons debated how best to provide for internal defence.  Immediately after this debate all Lord Lieutenants received a circular to strengthen the Militia with the provision of Cavalry, consisting of ‘Gentlemen and Yeomanry’.

Gentlemen and Yeomanry
Gentlemen and Yeomanry

 At Warwick on the 23rd  April 1794 a public meeting was held in  Shire Hall  for the purpose of which appears in Aris’ Birmingham Gazette:  “To adopt means for helping the internal Defence of the United Kingdom and for the protection of the Peace and Security of the Country”.

As a result the Warwickshire Regiment of Fencible Light Dragoons was raised by public subscription, under the command of the Earl of Warwick “all mounted on fine hunters superior to most Regiments of Light Dragoons.”

These troops became a Regiment in 1797 and thus the Warwickshire Yeomanry took their place, second only to the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry.  During the years that followed the Regiment was called out on several occasions in aid of the Civil Powers to quell riots and other disturbances in many parts of the County.

The Boer War 1899-1902

imperial yeomanry medal

Originally the Regiment was only required to serve in Warwickshire or any adjoining County but in 1900 the terms of service were altered to permit the Regiment to volunteer for full time overseas service in time of War. Two Squadrons of the Regiment volunteered for service in the Boer War and served as Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa with considerable success.

South African Medal and Campaign Bars

 

1901-14

In 1901 Queen Victoria died and the Regiment played a prominent part in her funeral procession. In 1902 a detachment attended the Coronation of Edward V11.

In 1908 the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act came into being with the creation of the Territorial Army. The Yeomanry Regiments of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire together with the newly formed Battery of Warwickshire Royal Horse Artillery formed the 1st South Midlands Brigade with headquarters at 12 Northgate Street, Warwick.

Those wishing a more detailed appreciation of the History of the Warwickshire Yeomanry may find this booklist of help.

 

The Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars.

 

 

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1914 - 1956

The Great War 1914-18

During the First World War the Regiment served with distinction at Gallipoli and took part in General Allenby’s campaign in Palestine. Both the Warwickshire Yeomanry and Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars are immortalised in Lady Butler’s painting of the last classic unsupported cavalry charge of the Great War known as the The Affair of Huj, (the painting can be viewed in the Museum).  Moving to France during the closing months of the War in 1918 where they fought with distinction as a Machine Gun Battalion.

Charge at Huj
Charge at Huj

1920-1939

It was reformed as a Cavalry in 1920 and a heavy machine gun troop was added.   As war clouds loomed the Regiment reached its War establishment strength by 1st May 1939.

The Second World War 1939-45

roshpinna1940
With Horses at Rosh Pina

In January 1940 the Regiment was sent to the Middle East to become part of the 1st Cavalry Division.   During March/April 1941 they gradually lost their horses converting to motorised infantry, in trucks. They served in Iraq, Syria and Persia.  Moving back to Palestine in October 1941, converting to a Tank Regiment, which later fought with distinction at El Alamein in October/November 1942.

Sherman Tanks
Sherman Tanks

In April 1944 they moved to Italy pursuing the enemy with great determination and courage.  In November 1944 after nearly five years continuous service they finally arrived at Livermore Camp, near Bury St Edmunds as a Tank Training Regiment.

WKY Sherman Italy
A Sherman in Italy

1946-1956

In 1946 the Regiment was placed in suspended animation but was quickly reformed in 1947 as an Armoured Regiment in much the same way as before the war.
Early in 1956 the Government announced its intention to reduce the size of the Territorial Army due to its high cost and the reduced international tension.  In November 1956 the Regiment learnt it was to merge with the Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars. There was to be no change in roles and the new Regiment  came into being initially as Warwickshire and Worcestershire Yeomanry in 1957. It later became The Queen's Own Warwickshire and Worcestershire Yeomanry, consequent upon her Majesty agreeing to become the Honorary Colonel of the Regiment. The only unit in the whole of the British Army to have this honour.

 

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