The Shropshire Yeomanry 1939 - 1945 : as Royal Artillery
Peace-time Territorial soldiering with Cavalry Camps and mounted competitions was resumed after the Great War and continued as normal through the interwar years. However, in 1939 the Shropshire Yeomanry was again called upon to serve in a World War.
Farewell to the Horse ...
On September 1st 1939, the Shropshire Yeomanry was embodied as a Horsed Cavalry Regiment, but Blitzkrieg, aerial threats and modern warfare could not be countered by the old mounted arm and the age of warfare on horseback was over. In 1940 the regiment lost its horses, these being handed over at Adderley to the Cheshire Yeomanry.
Like many other county Yeomanry formations, the Shropshire Yeomanry was dismounted to form Artillery units, in their case the 75th and 76th Medium Regiments, Royal Artillery.
The Artillery do not, of course, carry Colours or battle-honours, but after the war the Shropshire Yeomanry was allowed an Honour Distinction of the badge of the Royal Artillery with scrolls "Sicily" and "Italy 1943-45". This is carried on the Regiment's Guidon below its earlier battle-honours.
The 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, R.A.
Converted to artillery, "A" Squadron (Hodnet and Bridgnorth) and H.Q. Squadron (Shrewsbury) formed 101 and 102 Batteries of the 75th Medium Regiment, R.A.
Part of 75th Medium Regt. at Giza in 1943
On 20th December 1942 the Regiment, equipped with 4.5 howitzers, left Liverpool for Durban and Suez, arriving on 14th April 1943. 101 Battery was re-equipped with 5.5 howitzers, whilst 102 kept its 4.5s. After intensive training, 101 battery moved through the desert to Tripoli, then went to Syracuse in Sicily and saw its first action. 102 Battery arrived in Sicily from Egypt on August 7th.
The Regiment served through the Italian campaign, sometimes in support of the 5th Army, sometimes with the 8th, and saw action in many notable battles. These included the third battle of Cassino, operations against the Gustav Line and subsequent breakthrough, operations against the Hilter Line, actions at Arezzo and the occupation of Florence.
Guns in the mud : Italy 1944
The Regiment went on to serve in the Apennines against the Gothic Line and on to the final offensives of the 8th Army in Spring 1945. The end of the war found the 75th Medium Regiment in defensive positions facing Tito's Yugoslav army in Venezia Giulia (Trieste region). The regiment lost one officer and 17 men killed and nine officers and 86 men wounded.
Its awards were:
1 D.S.O.; 2 M.B.E.; 6 Military Crosses; 1 British Empire Medal; 13 Military Medals, 50 Mentions in Dispatches and 2 Foreign Awards.
76th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, R.A.
After the conversion from Cavalry to Gunners in early 1940, "B" Sqn. (Oswestry Area) and "C" Sqn. (Ludlow Area) formed the nucleus of the new 76th Medium Regiment as 112 and 113 Batteries; they were equipped with Great War 60-pounders, later replaced by 6" howitzers. From then until sailing in 1942, the Regiment was occupied in intensive training.
"B" Battery 76th Medium Regt., marching through Welshpool in 1940
On 25th August 1942, the Regiment, newly equipped with 5.5-in. howitzers, sailed from Gourock on the Clyde around Africa by way of Durban, to the Suez Area, arriving there on 21st November.
In January 1943, the Regiment left Egypt and motored through the Sinai Desert along the Transjordan Pipeline to Baghdad to join the Persia and Iraq Force ("Paiforce"). Its aim was to protect the vital oil supplies and pipleines in the region. Training was carried out with little or no comfort.
In April, the Regiment moved to Syria and because of a shortage of guns in Tunisia had to lose its own. In May, more guns arrived and combined operations with further intensive training were carried out in the Suez Canal area.
76th Medium en route from Durban to Port Said
The Middle East was finally left in December 1943 and the Regiment had landed at Taranto, Italy, by the 9th December. 112 Battery had at this time 5.5" howitzers and 113 Battery 4.5s, but shortly after landing, 112 lost its guns to another Yeomanry Regiment, receiving 4.5s in exchange. On 15th December, 76th Regiment moved up to the Sangro battle area and took over from its sister-regiment in support of the 8th Army.
In February 1944, the Regiment moved across to Cassino and took part in the battles of 16th February to 15th March and the successful capture and break-through of 11th May, and so on to the Hitler Line.
The chase now went on past Rome, with 76th Regiment supporting the 6th South African Armoured Division up to and including the fight for Florence, except for the Arezzo battle, with 6th British Armoured Division.
From here, in September 1944, the Regiment moved into the extreme wintry conditions of the Gothic Line and In April 1945, the again moved across Italy to the east coast to join the final offensive with the 8th Army. After the surrender on 2nd May, 76th Regiment saw further action on the road to Austria, but, like its sister-regiment the 75th, was watching Tito near Trieste on V.E. Day.
During the war the Regiment lost one officer and 18 other ranks killed, and six officers and 50 other ranks wounded.
Its awards were:
3 M.B.E.s ; 3 Military Crosses; 6 Military Medals; 64 Mentions in Despatches; 3 Foreign Decorations.
As a mark of esteem, the Commander of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Lt. Gen. Sir B. C. Freyberg, V.C., permitted 76 Medium Regiment the honour of wearing the New Zealand Fern Leaf badge in appreciation of the support given to 2nd New Zealand Division at Cassino, Faenza and the Advance to the Po.
This emblem is still worn by the Shropshire Yeomanry as the descendants, by amalgamation, of the Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery.