Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons

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Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons
Yorkshire Dragoons badge and service cap.jpg
Badge and service cap as worn at the outbreak of World War II
Active 1794–1956
Country  Kingdom of Great Britain (1794–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1956)
Branch  British Army
Type Yeomanry
Size Regiment
Engagements

Second Boer War
First World War

France and Flanders 1915–18

Second World War

Syria 1941
North Africa 1942–43
Italy 1944
Battle honours See battle honours below

The Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons was a yeomanry regiment of the British Army in existence from 1794 to 1956.

The regiment was formed as volunteer cavalry known as the South West Yorkshire Yeomanry Cavalry in 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars; in 1844, it changed its name to the First West Yorkshire Yeomanry Cavalry. Finally, in 1897, after the Sheffield squadron had the honour of escorting Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, at Sheffield and being represented at the Royal celebration of that year, the regiment became known as the Queens Own Yorkshire Dragoons, it was converted to an armoured role during the Second World War. In 1956, it merged with the Yorkshire Hussars and the East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry to form the Queen's Own Yorkshire Yeomanry. Its lineage is continued today by A (Yorkshire Yeomanry) Squadron, the Queen's Own Yeomanry.

History[edit]

Formation and early history[edit]

The regiment was formed in 1794 as the 1st or Southern Regiment of Yorkshire West Riding Yeomanry. Disbanded at the Peace of Amiens in 1802, it was subsequently reformed in 1803; in 1844, it was renamed the 1st West Yorkshire Yeomanry Cavalry. It became the Yorkshire Dragoons in 1889, and the title was augmented with "Queen's Own" after a Royal visit to Sheffield in 1897.[1]

Second Boer War[edit]

The Yeomanry was not intended to serve overseas, but due to the string of defeats during Black Week in December 1899, the British government realised they were going to need more troops than just the regular army. A Royal Warrant was issued on 24 December 1899 to allow volunteer forces to serve in the Second Boer War, the Royal Warrant asked standing Yeomanry regiments to provide service companies of approximately 115 men each for the Imperial Yeomanry.[2] The regiment provided:[3]

  • 11th (Yorkshire) Company, 3rd Battalion in 1900
  • 66th (Yorkshire) Company, 16th Battalion (co-sponsored with the Yorkshire Hussars) in 1900; transferred to the 3rd Battalion In 1902
  • 111th (Yorkshire Dragoons) Company, 3rd Battalion in 1901

First World War[edit]

Yorkshire Mounted Brigade
Organisation on 4 August 1914

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.[4]

1/1st Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons[edit]

The 1/1st Yorkshire Dragoons deployed to France in July 1915, as Divisional Cavalry:[5]

A Squadron to 17th (Northern) Division
B and HQ Squadrons to 37th Division
C Squadron to 19th (Western) Division

In May 1916, the Regiment reassembled and became Corps Cavalry to II Corps, with whom it remained until November 1917, when it was transferred to the Cavalry Corps. Up to this time, its only chance of mounted action had been during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line in April 1917, the regiment was present at the battles of the Somme (1916), the Ancre, the Somme (1917) and Ypres (1917). Although in these battles there was no mounted fighting, the men were often called upon to support infantry attacks with their Hotchkiss machine guns.[6]

In December 1917, the Yorkshire Dragoons was posted to the 8th (Lucknow) Cavalry Brigade, 4th Cavalry Division, where it relieved the King's Dragoon Guards[7] and took part in the Battle of Cambrai in 1917.[5] As such, it was one of only six yeomanry regiments to be posted to a regular cavalry division in the war.[a]

The Yorkshire Dragoons was dismounted in February 1918, and returned to II Corps as Corps Cyclists,[5] from September to November 1918, the Regiment fought with the 9th Division in the offensive east of Ypres.[11]

Hostilities came to an end on 11 November 1918 and the regiment was selected for the army of occupation and acted as advance guard to the 9th and 29th Divisions during the advance into Germany, the Regiment was stationed in the Cologne area until demobilisation in July 1919, when Lord Scarborough received a letter of appreciation from the Corps Commander. "They have earned the gratitude of their country and county, in the way they have worked and fought all through the war, and have made a name for themselves which will never be forgotten".[12]

2/1st Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons[edit]

The 2nd Line regiment was formed in 1914;[13] in 1915, it was under the command of the 2/1st Yorkshire Mounted Brigade in Yorkshire (along with the 2/1st Yorkshire Hussars[14] and the 2/1st East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry[15]) and by March 1916 was in the Beverley area.[16] On 31 March 1916, the remaining Mounted Brigades were numbered in a single sequence and the brigade became 18th Mounted Brigade, still in Yorkshire under Northern Command.[17]

In July 1916, there was a major reorganisation of 2nd Line yeomanry units in the United Kingdom. All but 12 regiments were converted to cyclists[17] and as a consequence the regiment was dismounted and the brigade converted to 11th Cyclist Brigade. Further reorganisation, in October and November 1916, saw the brigade redesignated as 7th Cyclist Brigade in November, now in the Bridlington area;[16] in March 1917, the regiment moved to Barmston and in July to Burton Agnes. It returned to Bridlington in January 1918.[13]

About May 1918, the Brigade moved to Ireland[16] and the regiment was stationed at Fermoy, County Cork. There were no further changes before the end of the war.[13]

3/1st Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons[edit]

A 3rd Line regiment was formed in 1915, that summer, it was affiliated to 5th Reserve Cavalry Regiment at York. Early in 1917, it was absorbed into the 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Tidworth.[13]

Between the wars[edit]

Post war, a commission was set up to consider the shape of the Territorial Force (Territorial Army from 1 October 1921), the recent experience of the Great War made it clear that cavalry was surfeit. The commission decided that only the 14 most senior regiments were to be retained as cavalry (though the Lovat Scouts and the Scottish Horse were also to remain mounted as "scouts"). Eight regiments were converted to Armoured Car Companies of the Royal Tank Corps (RTC), one was reduced to a battery in another regiment, one was absorbed into a local infantry battalion, one became a signals regiment and two were disbanded, the remaining 25 regiments were converted to brigades[b] of the Royal Field Artillery between 1920 and 1922.[20] As the 9th most senior regiment in the order of precedence, the regiment was retained as horsed cavalry.[21]

Second World War[edit]

During the Second World War, the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons was attached to the 5th Cavalry Brigade, part of the 1st Cavalry Division. When it became necessary to occupy Syria and the Lebanon to prevent their use by the Axis powers, the regiment was stationed on the Syrian frontier. It crossed the frontier in late June 1941, and occupied Kuneitra; in July, the Regiment moved to Ezraa in order to contain the French Druse Garrison of Jebel Druse. On 10 July, C Squadron Headquarters and two troops fought a patrol skirmish with French Druse Cavalry, which was probably the last action of British horsed cavalry, the Vichy French asked for an armistice on 12 July. From July until December, the Regiment garrisoned the Jebel Druse, prior to moving to Azib to train for mountain warfare, on 13 February 1942 came the news that they were to be reroled and on 1 March the men said goodbye to their horses; by a matter of a day, the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons gained the distinction of being the last active cavalry regiment in the British Army.[22]

Intensive conversion training to becoming an Armoured unit was carried out; in May, part of the regiment went up to the desert, taking part in the Battle of Gazala by holding the defensive box called “Knightsbridge”. This detachment subsequently withdrew to El Alamein after the disastrous First Battle of El Alamein, where they had carried out the camouflage and deception plans, particularly the representation of dummy tanks; in July, the regiment was hurriedly reunited and incorporated into "Delta Force", which was formed as the last line of defence in the event of the Alamein Line breaking.[23]

Owing to heavy losses in armour in the recent battles, it was impossible to fulfil the Commander-in-Chief's promise that the Yorkshire Dragoons should become an Armoured Regiment; instead, the regiment was equipped with Bren Carriers, 3 inch mortars and 6 pounder anti-tank guns and placed under command of the 2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, together with The Bays, the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers and the 10th Royal Hussars. Each motor squadron was under command of an armoured regiment, whilst the anti-tank guns were under command of the Brigade, the Second Battle of El Alamein started on 23 October. By daylight of the 24th, the attack was partially successful but the final minefield was unbreached, the regiment suffered considerable casualties in the congested minefield areas prior to the breaking of the line on 2 November, when the 1st Armoured Division started the pursuit it led as far as Timimi.[23]

At the end of January, the regiment went straight into the line at Medenine for the frontal attack on the Mareth Line that failed, after which 1st Armoured Division was moved round to the south to advance to El Hamma; in March, the attack on the Akarit Line was successful and the Division once again took up the pursuit.[23]

The regiment remained in North Africa for a further eight months, during which time it converted to lorried infantry, becoming the 9th (Yorkshire Dragoons) Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, as part of 18th (Lorried) Infantry Brigade. In February 1944, the Brigade was sent to fight in the Italian Campaign, landing at Anzio under command of the 1st Infantry Division, which was temporarily under command of Mark W. Clark's US Fifth Army. An attack on 13 March cost the regiment 170 casualties in killed, wounded, and missing,[23] these were not replaced until early May, prior to the breakout at the end of the month. On 3 June, they led the attack on the Ardea Line opening the road to Rome.[23]

After a period of training, the regiment moved up to Florence, reverting to the command of 1st Armoured Division for the attack on the Gothic Line, the original men of the Yorkshire Dragoons, who had served four and a half years abroad (less six officers), were sent home at the end of August, prior to the attack. The first attack on Coriano Ridge secured a precarious foothold, but failed to achieve its objective, the regiment, which was in reserve, stabilised the position and three days later carried out an attack that took San Savino, where 600 prisoners were taken, and two days later they carried a further ridge. However, such was the shortage of infantry replacements in the British Army at the time, as all were being sent to 21st Army Group in the North West Europe Campaign, that 18th Infantry Brigade was broken up and the personnel were used to reinforce other units. The regiment was placed in ‘suspended animation’ and the majority of the officers and men were posted to the 2/4th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry serving in the 138th Infantry Brigade of the 46th Infantry Division.[23]

Post war[edit]

After the Second World War, the yeomanry regiments in Yorkshire were amalgamated into The Queen's Own Yorkshire Yeomanry in 1956.[24]

Battle honours[edit]

The Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons was awarded the following battle honours (honours in bold are emblazoned on the regimental colours):[25]

Second Boer War South Africa 1900–02
First World War Cambrai 1917, Courtrai, France and Flanders 1916–18
Second World War Syria 1941, El Alamein, Tebaga Gap, El Hamma, El Kourzia, Tunis, North Africa 1942–43, Anzio, Rome, Coriano, Rimini Line, Ceriano Ridge, Italy 1944

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The other five were
  2. ^ The basic organic unit of the Royal Artillery was, and is, the Battery.[18] When grouped together they formed brigades, in the same way that infantry battalions or cavalry regiments were grouped together in brigades, at the outbreak of the First World War, a field artillery brigade of headquarters (4 officers, 37 other ranks), three batteries (5 and 193 each), and a brigade ammunition column (4 and 154)[19] had a total strength just under 800 so was broadly comparable to an infantry battalion (just over 1,000) or a cavalry regiment (about 550). Like an infantry battalion, an artillery brigade was usually commanded by a Lieutenant-Colonel. Artillery brigades were redesignated as regiments in 1938.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Military History of Doncaster @ Doncasterhistory.co.uk
  2. ^ Mileham 1994, p. 27
  3. ^ Imperial Yeomanry at regiments.org by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 29 May 2007)
  4. ^ Rinaldi 2008, p. 35
  5. ^ a b c Baker, Chris. "The Yorkshire Dragoons". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  6. ^ Spencer 2008, p. 96
  7. ^ Perry 1993, p. 14
  8. ^ Becke 1935, p. 4
  9. ^ Becke 1935, p. 12
  10. ^ a b c Becke 1935, p. 20
  11. ^ Messenger, Charles (2005). "Call to Arms: The British Army 1914-18". George Weidenfeld & Nicholson. ISBN 978-0297846956. 
  12. ^ Barlow & Smith 1984, unknown
  13. ^ a b c d James 1978, p. 31
  14. ^ Baker, Chris. "The Yorkshire Hussars". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  15. ^ Baker, Chris. "The East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c James 1978, pp. 31,32
  17. ^ a b James 1978, p. 36
  18. ^ "The Royal Artillery". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  19. ^ Baker, Chris. "What was an artillery brigade?". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  20. ^ Mileham 1994, pp. 48–51
  21. ^ Mileham 1994, p. 73
  22. ^ Cooper 1984, p. 68
  23. ^ a b c d e f "Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons". Sheffield Telegraph and Star. 1948. Retrieved 28 October 2017. 
  24. ^ Queen's Own Yorkshire Yeomanry Archive of regiments.org page.
  25. ^ T. F. Mills. "The Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons". regiments.org. Archived from the original on 5 May 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]