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Hertfordshire Yeomanry
Herts Yeomanry Badge.jpg
Active 1794–1961
Country  Kingdom of Great Britain (1794–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–2014)
Branch  British Army
Type Yeomanry
Role Boer War
World War I
World War II
Size Boer War
One Regiment
World War I
Three Regiments
World War II
Two Regiments
Part of one Battery
Battle honours Boer War
South Africa 1900 - 1902
World War I
First Battle of Gaza (1917)
World War II
No battle honours were awarded. It is tradition within artillery units that the Regiment's guns represent its colours and battle honours.

The Hertfordshire Yeomanry is a unit of the British Army specializing in artillery and yeomanry that can trace its formation to the late 18th century. First seeing service in the Second Boer War, it subsequently served in both the First World War and the Second World War. Its lineage was maintained by 201 (Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Battery, 100th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery until that unit was placed in suspended animation in 2014.


Formation and early history

In 1793 the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, proposed that the English Counties form a force of Volunteer Yeoman Cavalry that could be called on by the King to defend the country against invasion or by the Lord Lieutenant to subdue any civil disorder within the country.[1] Five independent Troops of Yeomanry Cavalry were raised in Hertfordshire in June 1794. They were disbanded one by one between 1807 and 1824. In late 1830 and early 1831 seven new troops were formed, four of which were grouped as the South Hertfordshire Corps. Of the three independent Troops only the North Hertfordshire Troop survived. It was amalgamated with the South Hertfordshire Corps to form the Hertfordshire Yeomanry Cavalry in 1870.[2]

Second Boer War

Hertfordshire Yeomanry in the 1890s.

On 13 December 1899, the decision to allow volunteer forces to serve in the Second Boer War was made. Due to the string of defeats during Black Week in December 1899, the British government realized they were going to need more troops than just the regular army, thus issuing a Royal Warrant on 24 December 1899. This warrant officially created the Imperial Yeomanry. The Royal Warrant asked standing Yeomanry regiments to provide service companies of approximately 115 men each. In addition to this, many British citizens (usually mid-upper class) volunteered to join the new regiment.[3]

The first contingent of recruits contained 550 officers, 10,371 men with 20 battalions and 4 companies,[4] which arrived in South Africa between February and April 1900.[5] Upon arrival, the regiment was sent throughout the zone of operations. The Hertfordshire Yeomanry provided troops for the 42nd Company,12th Battalion.[6] The regimental headquarters headquarters moved from St Albans to Yeomanry House in Hertford in 1912.[2]

First World War

Eastern Mounted Brigade
Organisation on 4 August 1914
Assigned units
A Squadron at Cambridge (Cambridgeshire)
B Squadron at Bury St Edmunds
C Squadron at Ipswich
D Squadron at Beccles
A Squadron at Norwich
B Squadron at North Walsham
C Squadron at Fakenham
D Squadron at King's Lynn
A Squadron at Colchester
B Squadron at Braintree, Essex
C Squadron at Waltham Abbey
D Squadron at Southend-on-Sea
  • Brigade troops
Essex RHA, Chelmsford
Ammunition column, Colchester]] and [[Chelmsford
Transport and Supply Column, ASC,
Training attachments
  • Hertfordshire Yeomanry, Hertford
A Squadron at Watford
B Squadron at Hertford
C Squadron at St Albans
D Squadron at High Barnet
A Squadron at Bedford
B Squadron at Biggleswade
C Squadron at Dunstable
D Squadron at Godmanchestera
A Squadron at Northampton
B Squadron at Peterboroughb
C Squadron at Kettering
D Squadron at Daventry

  • a Huntingdonshire.
  • b Soke of Peterborough.

In accordance with the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw. 7, c.9) which brought the Territorial Force into being, the TF was intended to be a home defence force for service during wartime and members could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, on the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, many members volunteered for Imperial Service. Therefore, TF units were split in August and September 1914 into 1st Line (liable for overseas service) and 2nd Line (home service for those unable or unwilling to serve overseas) units. Later, a 3rd Line was formed to act as a reserve, providing trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line regiments.[7]

1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry

The 1/1st was mobilised in August 1914 and attached to the Eastern Mounted Brigade, they later moved to Egypt in January 1915 and joined the Yeomanry Mounted Brigade.[8] The Yeomanry Mounted Brigade moved to Gallipoli as dismounted troops attached to the 2nd Mounted Division and redesignated as the 5th Mounted Brigade.[8] After the evacuation of Gallipoli they returned to Egypt in December 1915, and were remounted and moved to the Western Frontier Force.[8] In March 1916 the Regiment was split up, RHQ with A Squadron were attached to the 54th Division, later A Squadron joined XXI Corps, Cavalry in Palestine.[8] B Squadron was attached to the 11th Division, in England until on 12 July 1916 joined VI Corps Cavalry, until early in 1917 when it moved to join XVIII Corps, Cavalry. In May 1917 it became GHQ Troops. In July 1917 it returned to Egypt and in May 1918 joined XXI Corps Cavalry in Palestine.[8] D Squadron moved to Mesopotamia, initially on Lines of Communication duties and in July 1916 it was attached to the 13th Division, until December of that year when they moved to III (Tigris) Corps Cavalry.[8] In August 1917 they were attached to the 15th Indian Infantry Division, and in May 1918 they were tasked with Lines of Communication duties with the North Persia Force.[8]

2/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry

The 2nd Line regiment was formed at Hertford on 1 September 1914. In August 1915, it was attached to the 69th (2nd East Anglian) Division at Huntingdon. On 28 April 1916 it joined the 16th Mounted Brigade of the 4th Mounted Division in the Manningtree area. It moved to West Malling in October 1916 and to the Sevenoaks area in March 1917.[9]

In September 1917, the regiment was converted to cyclists and joined the 13th Cyclist Brigade of The Cyclist Division. On 26 October it transferred to the 214th Brigade in 71st Division at Colchester. This brigade was intended to serve at Murmansk. On 12 February 1918, the brigade joined the 67th Division, still at Colchester. In March, all fit men were posted to France and the Murmansk operation was cancelled. The regiment remained in East Anglia for the rest of the war.[8][9]

3/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry

The 3rd Line regiment was formed at Hertford in December 1914. In March 1915 it was affiliated to the 13th Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Colchester, moving to Maresfield later in the year. In February 1917 it was absorbed into the 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Tidworth.[9]

Between The Wars

On the reforming of the TA, the 14 senior Yeomanry Regiments remained as horsed cavalry regiments (6 forming the 5th and 6th Cavalry Brigades) the remaining Yeomanry Regiments would be re-roled as Artillery.[10]

Second World War

During World War II there were four regiments associated with the Hertfordshire Yeomanry: the pre-war 86th (East Anglian) (Herts Yeo) Field Regiment RA (TA) and its 2nd Line unit, the 135th (East Anglian) (Herts Yeo) Field Regiment RA (TA).[11] 79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment was also formed in 1939.[12] In 1942 both 86th (East Anglian) (Herts Yeomanry) and 147th (Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiments supplied cadres to help form 191st (Herts and Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment.[13]

86th (East Anglian) (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery

Sexton 25-pdr self-propelled guns of 86th Field Regiment firing against enemy positions in April 1945

The 86th (East Anglian) (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery was mobilised in September 1939, its three batteries were:[11]

  • 341 (St Albans) Battery
  • 342 (Hertford) Battery
  • 462 Battery

In 1940, during the Second World War, the regiment was equipped with 8 x 4.5 inch Howitzers & 4 x 18/25-pounder guns,[11] it remained in the United Kingdom until 1944 being attached to various divisions; The 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division, 42nd (East Lancashire) Infantry Division and the 42nd Armoured Division.[11] During this time it used a number of new self-propelled artillery vehicles Bishop, Priest and the Sexton self-propelled guns.[11]

In 1944 it was attached to the British Second Army, as part of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, and participated in the following battles; Normandy, Antwerp, Nijmegen, Ardennes, Rhine Crossing, Bremen.[11]

135th (East Anglian) (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery

The 135th (East Anglian) (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery was formed in September 1939 it consisted of three batteries:[2]

344 (Hitchin) Battery
336 (Northampton) Battery
499 Battery

The Regiment remained in the United Kingdom until 1941 when it was sent to India and joined the 18th (East Anglian) Infantry Division and deployed to Fortress Singapore it was still serving with the 18th Division when Singapore was captured by the Japanese.[14]

Bridge on the River Kwai

Photograph of Philip Toosey taken in 1942

Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey, in 1941 was appointed to command the 135th (East Anglian) (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.[14] In October 1941, his unit was shipped to the Far East. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for heroism during the defence of Singapore.[14] Because of his qualities of leadership, his superiors ordered him on 12 February 1942 to join the evacuation of Singapore, but Toosey refused so that he could remain with his men during their captivity.[14] He was the senior Allied officer in the Japanese prisoner-of-war camp at Tha Maa Kham (known as Tamarkan) in Thailand during World War II. The men at this camp built the Bridge on the River Kwai which was described in a book by Pierre Boulle and later in an Oscar-winning film in which Alec Guinness played the senior British officer. Both the book and film outraged former prisoners because Toosey did not collaborate, unlike the fictional Colonel Nicholson.[14]

79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery

See main article: 79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery

79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery was formed in 1939 with headquarters at Watford.It served in the Battle of France, The Blitz, Operation Torch and the Italian Campaign before being placed in suspended animation in early 1945.[12][15][16]

Post war

The regiment was re-constituted as 286 (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment (later Medium Regiment) in 1947 and absorbed 479 (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment in 1955.[2][16][17] The regiment amalgamated with the 305th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Light Regiment to form the 286th (Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment in 1961.[2]


A memorial tablet to the men of all four Hertfordshire Yeomanry artillery regiments who died during the Second World War was unveiled in St Albans Cathedral on 19 September 1954.[18][19]


In the 1890s the Hertfordshire Yeomanry wore a scarlet and blue full dress modelled on that of the regular dragoon regiments of the British Army. This included a white metal spiked helmet with black plume and the Hertfordshire badge in white metal on gilt. Simpler uniforms were worn for training and ordinary duties (see photograph above). After 1903 a less elaborate uniform of peaked cap, scarlet patrol jacket with white facings plus silver shoulder chains was adopted for wear by other ranks for parade and off-duty wear. Officers (who paid for their own tailor-made uniforms) retained the earlier full dress, including plumed helmets and silver braided pouch belts. All ranks wore dark blue overalls (cavalry trousers) with double red stripes.[20] After 1914 the Northumberland Hussars wore the standard khaki service dress of the British Army with regimental insignia, for nearly all occasions. This included leather bandoliers during the regiment's remaining years as a mounted unit. After 1938 khaki battle dress was adopted.[21]

See also


  1. "Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavalry (1794-1994)". Archived from the original on 15 August 2004. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Hertfordshire Yeomanry at by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 July 2007)
  3. Stevenson, Wf (Mar 2002). "Boer War Notes". pp. 91–5; discussion 89–90. ISSN 0035-8665. PMID 12026888. Retrieved 2007-06-11 
  4. "Imperial Yeomanry at by T.F.Mills". Archived from the original on 29 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  5. "Boer War - Imperial Yeomanry Battalions". Retrieved 2007-07-03 
  6. "Anglo Boer War". Archived from the original on 2008-07-14. 
  7. Rinaldi 2008, p. 35
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Baker, Chris. "Hertfordshire Yeomanry". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 James 1978, p. 20
  10. "History of the Royal Berkshire Yeomanry". Archived from the original on 2007-01-09. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Barton, Derek. "86 (East Anglian)(Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment RA(TA)". The Royal Artillery 1939-45. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 79 HAA at RA 39–45
  13. Sainsbury, Part 1, pp. 215–48.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 "Bridge on the River Kwai as a symbol of violent globalisation: Philip Toosey and Saito". Cambridge Forecast Group. Retrieved 4 November 2017. 
  15. Sainsbury, Part 2, pp. 27–114.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Litchfield, Norman E H, 1992. The Territorial Artillery 1908–1988, The Sherwood Press, Nottingham, p104
  17. Sainsbury, Part 2, pp. 193–238.
  18. Sainsbury, Part 2, pp. 204–5.
  19. "National War Memorials Register Ref 49184". Imperial war Museum. Retrieved 4 November 2017. 
  20. Smith, R.J.. The Yeomanry Force at the 1911 Coronation. p. 12. ISBN 0-948251-26-3. 
  21. "Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Regiments". Retrieved 19 January 2018. 


External links

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