Surrey Yeomanry

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Surrey Yeomanry (Queen Mary's Regiment)
Active 1794–present
Country  Kingdom of Great Britain (1794–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–Present)
Branch  British Army
Type Yeomanry
Role World War I
World War II
Size World War I
Three Regiments
World War II
Two Regiments
Lt-Colonel Eric Richard Thesiger DSO TD

The Surrey Yeomanry was a unit of the British Army formed as volunteer cavalry in 1794. It saw action in the Second Boer War, the First World War and the Second World War. The lineage is maintained by 2 (Surrey Yeomanry) Field Troop, 579 Field Squadron (EOD), part of 101 (London) Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) (Volunteers).


Formation and early history[edit]

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] The regiment was raised as the Surrey Gentlemen and Yeomanry Cavalry in 1794 but was disbanded in 1828.[2] The Corps of Surrey Yeomanry was raised in 1831 and, after becoming the Surrey Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry in 1832, it was also disbanded in 1848.[2]

Second Boer War[edit]

The Surrey Imperial Yeomanry was raised in 1901 for service in the Second Boer War. From June 1902 it was known as the Surrey (the Princess of Wales′s) Imperial Yeomanry.[3] In 1908 the Regiment became part of the Territorial Force, and like the other yeomanry regiment dropped the Imperial.[2] The regiment was based at Kings Avenue in Clapham at this time.[4]

First World War[edit]

South Eastern 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.[5]

1/1st Surrey Yeomanry[edit]

On mobilisation the Surrey Yeomanry now known as the 1/1st Surrey Yeomanry was attached to the South Eastern Mounted Brigade of the 1st Mounted Division.[6] In late 1914 the regiment was split up, with the Regimental Headquarters and A Squadron being attached to the 27th Division ; B Squadron joined the 28th Division while C Squadron joined the 29th Division.[6] C Squadron would see service in the Dardanelles campaign at Gallipoli in 1916 moved to France as the XV Corps Cavalry squadron which lasted until July 1917 when they were dismounted and sent to be retrained as infantry, before being drafted into the 10th Battalion Royal West Surrey Regiment in September 1917.[6] In December 1916 the regiments A and B Squadrons reformed to become the XVI Corps Cavalry Regiment in Salonika.[6]

2/1st Surrey Yeomanry[edit]

The 2nd Line regiment was formed at Clapham in September 1914 and moved to Dorking. In May 1915 it went to Maresfield, in September to Wrotham and in the winter of 1915–16 it was at Hastings, possibly in 1/1st South Western Mounted Brigade which became 2/1st Southern Mounted Brigade.[7] On 31 March 1916, the remaining Mounted Brigades were ordered to be numbered in a single sequence;[8] the brigade was numbered as 16th Mounted Brigade and joined 4th Mounted Division in the Manningtree area.[7]

In July 1916, 4th Mounted Division became 2nd Cyclist Division and the regiment was converted to a cyclist unit in 7th Cyclist Brigade at Woodbridge . In November 1916 the division was broken up and the regiment was merged with the 2/1st Sussex Yeomanry to form 8th (Surrey and Sussex) Yeomanry Cyclist Regiment in 3rd Cyclist Brigade at Ipswich. In March 1917 it resumed its identity as 2/1st Surrey Yeomanry at Ipswich, and in July moved back to the Woodbridge area. In May 1918, the regiment moved with 3rd Cyclist Brigade to Ireland. It was stationed at Athlone and Galway; there was no further change before the end of the war.[7]

3/1st Surrey Yeomanry[edit]

The 3rd Line regiment was formed in February 1915 at Clapham and in June it was affiliated to the 3rd Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Canterbury. Early in 1917 it was absorbed in the 1st Reserve Cavalry Regiment at The Curragh.[7]

Between the wars[edit]

In February 1920 The Surrey Yeomanry (Queen Mary's Regiment) (TF) was reformed, Headquarters once again opened at 73 King's Avenue, Clapham, London.[2] With the South-Eastern Mounted Brigade (TF) having been disbanded, the Surrey Yeomanry was reformed as an Army Troops unit within Eastern Command. In November 1921 the Territorial Force was renamed as The Territorial Army. However, the post-war reorganisations of the Territorials made most of its Yeomanry Cavalry Regiments surplus to requirements and in early 1922 it was announced that the Surrey Yeomanry would convert to Royal Field Artillery and provide two batteries to an existing Brigade, 98th (Sussex Yeomanry) Army Brigade, RFA (TF). This had been formed in 1920 by the conversion to Artillery of the Sussex Yeomanry and comprised Headquarters and 389th (Sussex Yeomanry) Battery at Brighton and 390th (Sussex Yeomanry) Battery at Chichester. The Surrey Yeomanry would then form 391st (Surrey Yeomanry) and 392nd (Surrey Yeomanry) (Howitzer) Batteries, both at Clapham. As a result of this merger the Brigade was redesignated as 98th (Surrey and Sussex Yeomanry) Brigade, RFA (TA).[2]

A reorganisation of TA Field Forces was announced in February 1938 and as part of this the Brigade redesignated 98th (Surrey and Sussex Yeomanry, Queen Mary's) Army Field Regiment, RA (TA).[2] It was ordered to reorganise and reduce to two Batteries, in line with the new establishment for TA Field Artillery, but this reorganisation did not immediately come into effect. In March 1939 the War Office ordered the doubling of the Territorial Army and this enabled the Regiment to shed its two surplus Batteries. The Sussex Yeomanry Batteries were withdrawn and formed into a duplicate Regiment, 144th (Sussex Yeomanry) Army Field Regiment, RA (TA), leaving the original Regiment comprising Headquarters, 391st and 392nd Field Batteries.[9]

Memorial to the Surrey Yeomanry dead of WWI and WWII, inside Guildford Cathedral. Photo 2009.

Second World War[edit]

98th Field Regiment (Surrey & Sussex Yeomanry Queen Mary's)[edit]

On mobilisation in 1939, the Regiment was part of the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) that was sent to France, initially attached to the 1st Infantry Division in the Lille area. In May 1940 it would be attached in turn to the 46th and 44th Infantry Divisions during the German advance the regiments Guns and vehicles were caught in a traffic jam and had to be destroyed, with the troops proceeding on foot to Dunkirk for evacuation.[10] Back in the United Kingdom the regiment was attached to the 1st Infantry Brigade while it reformed it remained in the United Kingdom until September 1942 when it was sent out to the Middle East and attached to the 10th Armoured Division in Egypt where it participated in the Second Battle of El Alamein, when 10th Armoured was disbanded the regiment was part of the 8th Army Artillery and served in Sicily and Italy being involved in the Battle of Monte Cassino amongst others before leaving Italy in March 1945 and joining the 2nd Army in France and Belgium ending the war in the Netherlands. In April 1945 the Regiment moved to the Lübeck area of Germany as occupation forces and demobilisation was started in October 1945 with the Regiment being placed in suspended animation in June 1946.[10]

144th Field Regiment (Surrey & Sussex Yeomanry Queen Mary's)[edit]

The 144th Field Regiment remained in the United Kingdom in the early war years as part of the 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division and later the British 4th Infantry Division.[11] In November 1940 they were sent to Egypt and then attached to the 5th Indian Division seeing service in the Sudan, Abyssinia and Eritrea it was at Keru Gorge that 390 Battery were charged by about 60 Eritrean cavalry, almost certainly the last cavalry charge on the British Army.[11] The Regiment returned to Egypt with the division before being attached to the 70th Infantry Division during the Siege of Tobruk in September 1941.[11] After being withdrawn from Tobruk they were briefly attached to the 4th Indian Division in early 1942 and the British 1st Armoured Division in February to April 1942.[11] In May 1942 they were sent to Iraq with the 10th Army attached to the 17th Indian Infantry Brigade, 31st Indian Armoured Division they remained with this formation until the end of the war serving in Syria, Persia, Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon.[11]

Post war[edit]

In 1947 The Regiment was re-formed as the 298th (Surrey Yeomanry, Queen Mary's) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.[2] It amalgamated with 263rd (6th London) Field Regiment RA, 291st (4th London) Field Regiment RA, and 381st (East Surrey) Light Regiment, RA to form 263rd (Surrey Yeomanry, Queen's Mary's) Field Regiment, RA in 1961.[2] The unit was disbanded in 1967 but reformed as B (Surrey Yeomanry) Troop, 200 (Sussex Yeomanry) Field Battery, 100 Medium Regiment RA (V) in 1969.[2]

In April 1971 the unit was re-designated D (Surrey Yeomanry) Battery, 6th (V) Battalion, The Queen's Regiment.[2] In April 1975 the battalion amalgamated with the 7th (Volunteer) Battalion to form 6th/7th (Volunteer) Battalion but the Surrey Yeomanry lineage was discontinued at that time.[12]

In October 1992 2 (Surrey Yeomanry) Troop, 127 (Sussex Yeomanry) Field Squadron, 78th (Fortress) Engineer Regiment, RE (V) was formed; in July 1999 this unit was transferred to 579 Field Squadron (EOD), part of 101 (London) Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) (Volunteers) at Reigate Army Reserve Centre.[2]


Following the South African War yeomanry regiments were encouraged to discard their expensive and colourful 19th century uniforms in favour of the newly introduced khaki service dress of 1902.[13] While understandable as an economy measure this policy overlooked the importance of "the peacock factor" in attracting volunteer recruits. Accordingly most long-established yeomanry regiments reverted to simplified versions of their traditionally elaborate parade and off-duty uniforms within a few years. A notable exception was the Surrey Yeomanry, which adopted the khaki uniform of the New South Wales Lancers as a model from 1901. Even this was ornamented by the addition of a detachable scarlet plastron and facings for parade, together with green feather plumes on the slouch hats. In 1912 a compromise dark blue full dress of simple design was adopted,[14] while the standard khaki service dress of British mounted troops was worn for training and ordinary duties.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavalry (1794-1994)". Archived from the original on August 15, 2004. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Surrey Yeomanry (Queen Mary's Regiment) at by T.F.Mills". Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "No. 27447". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 24 June 1902. p. 4121. 
  4. ^ "Clapham". The Drill Hall Project. Retrieved 27 December 2017. 
  5. ^ Rinaldi 2008, p. 35
  6. ^ a b c d Baker, Chris. "The Surrey Yeomanry". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d James 1978, p. 29
  8. ^ James 1978, p. 36
  9. ^ "The County of Surrey". Queen's Royal Surreys. 
  10. ^ a b Barton, Derek. "98 (Surrey & Sussex Yeo Queen Marys) Field Regiment RA(TA)". The Royal Artillery 1939-45. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Barton, Derek. "144 (Surrey & Sussex Yeo) Field Regiment RA(TA)". The Royal Artillery 1939-45. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "The Queen's Regiment". Archived from the original on 1 March 2007. Retrieved 12 November 2017. 
  13. ^ Imperial Yeomanry Regulations of 1903
  14. ^ R.G. Harris, colour plate 25 and text, "50 Years of Yeomanry Uniforms", Frederick Muller Ltd 1972, SBN 584 10937 7
  15. ^ "Yeomanry". Uniformology. Retrieved 9 April 2018. 


External links[edit]