Yeomanry

Yeomanry

[yoh-muhn-ree]
Yeomanry is a designation used by a number of units or sub-units of the British Territorial Army, descended from volunteer cavalry regiments. Today Yeomanry units may serve in a variety of different military roles.

History

In the 1790s, the threat of invasion of the Kingdom of Great Britain was high, after the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. In order to improve the country's defences, volunteer regiments were raised in many counties from yeomen. The word "yeoman" refers to small farmers who owned the land they cultivated, but the officers were drawn from the nobility and many of the men were their tenants. These regiments became known collectively as the Yeomanry. Members of the yeomanry were not obliged to serve overseas without their individual consent.

During the first half of the nineteenth century, Yeomanry Regiments were used extensively in support of the civil authority to quell riots and civil disturbances (including the Peterloo Massacre), but as police forces took over this role, the Yeomanry concentrated on local defence.

During the Second Boer War, companies of Imperial Yeomanry were formed to serve overseas from volunteers from the Yeomanry. In 1901 all yeomanry regiments were redesignated as "Imperial Yeomanry", and reorganised.

In 1908, the Imperial Yeomanry was merged with the Volunteer Force to form the Territorial Force, of which it became the cavalry arm. The "Imperial" title was dropped at the same time.

Following the First World War the Territorial Force was redesignated as the Territorial Army. Following the experience of the war, only the fourteen senior yeomanry regiments retained their horses, with the rest being reroled as armoured car companies, artillery, engineers or signals. Two regiments were disbanded. The converted units retained their yeomanry traditions, with some artillery regiments having individual batteries representing different yeomanry units.

On the eve of the Second World War the Territorial Army was doubled in size, with duplicate units formed, this led to some regiments being de-amalgamated. The last mounted regiment of yeomanry was the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons, who were converted to an armoured role in March 1942. Volunteers from the Yeomanry served in the Long Range Desert Group from 1940 through to 1943, incorporated into "Y Patrol".

There were reductions in the size of the TA in 1957 and 1961 and this led to amalgamation of some pairs of yeomanry regiments. There was a major reduction in reserve forces in 1967 with the formation of the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve, and all existing yeomanry regiments were reduced to squadron, company or battery sub-units. A number of further reorganisations have taken place in the intervening years.

Current Yeomanry Regiments

Today, in the modern Territorial Army, there are many former Yeomanry regiments serving in one form or another, usually as a squadron/battery that is part of a larger unit:

Royal Armoured Corps

Royal Yeomanry

Infantry

Royal Regiment of Scotland

Royal Signals

Independent Squadrons

Royal Artillery

100 Regiment

Army Air Corps

6 Regiment, Army Air Corps

Royal Engineers

101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment

Royal Logistic Corps

157 Transport Regiment

Army Medical Services

Yeomanry Regiments with more than one unit

Most of the old yeomanry regiments are perpetuated through a single unit, be it an armoured, engineers or signal squadron, or an artillery battery. However, there are seven yeomanry regiments that maintain more than one unit:

References

See also

Imperial Yeomanry
Yeomanry order of precedence
List of Yeomanry Regiments 1908

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