Shropshire Yeomanry


The Shropshire Yeomanry in World War One

As with other local Yeomanry units, the Shropshire Yeomanry was quickly mobilised for war in August 1914. They were to be the only Shropshire unit to serve against the Turks in Palestine and one of their number, Pte. Harold Whitfield, was to win the only Victoria Cross to a Shropshire regiment for World War One.

It was quickly clear that the old era of cavalry warfare was effectively over - certainly, on the Western Front, the use of machine guns, barbed wire, posion gas and complex trench systems destroyed the effectiveness of cavalry.

A Shropshire Yeoman "ready for war" in 1916

A Shropshire Yeoman "ready for war" in 1914

The Shropshire Yeomanry was expanded during the war to form three units:

1/1st Shropshire Yeomanry

The original county Yeomanry formation was mobilised on 4th August 1914, the day war broke out.

They joined the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade and, to their great disappointment, were posted to East Coast defences in case of a German invasion. They spent over a year on these duties.

SY Ludlow 1914_1

SY leaving LUDLOW, Aug. 8th 1914

Leaving Ludlow on August 8th 1914.

Finally, in November 1915 they sailed for active service, their destination being Egypt. In Alexandria, they were deprived of their horses to become infantry (another great disappointment) and became part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade. This force served in the Western Desert of Egypt, south of Mersah Metruh and around the Sewa oasis, against the local Senussi.

In March 1917, the Shropshire Yeomanry was amalgamated with the dismounted Cheshire Yeomanry to form a new infantry battalion : the 10th (Shropshire and Cheshire Yeomanry) Battalion of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. A few members of the Shropshire Yeomanry also served with the Imperial Camel Corps in Palestine.

As 10 KSLI, they were destined to see a great deal of active service in Allenby's advance into Palestine in 1917. After taking part  in the battles of Gaza, they were present in the operations to capture Jerusalem and the occupation of Jericho.

At Burj-el-Lisaneh in May 1918 (part of the wider Tel Asur operations) Pte. Harold Whitfield was awarded the Victoria Cross for his conspicuous gallantry in single-handledly attacking, capturing and holding a Turklish machine-gun position which had been holding up the advance.

In May 1918, the 10th finally left the Middle East for service on the Western Front, where they spent the rest of the war, taking part in the 1918 campaign on the Some, the brreaching of the Hindenburg Line and the final "hundred days" operations which saw the defeat of Germany's armies in the west.

Battle Honours :

Egypt 1916-17 ; Gaza ; Jerusalem ; Jericho ; Tel Azur ; Palestine 1917-18 ; France and Flanders 1918 ; Somme 1918 ; Bapaume 1918 ; Hindenburg Line ; Epehy ; Pursuit to Mons (12)

2/1st Shropshire Yeomanry

A "second line" unit was raised in Shrewsbury in 1914, its initial function being to supply drafts to the 1/1st and to undertake home defence duties. It served only in the UK, based in Northumberland, East Anglia and Morpeth.

In July 1916 it was converted to a Cyclist unit in the 10th Cyclist Brigade, which was re-named the 6th Cyclist Brigade in November 1916. It went to Ireland early in 1918 and was based at the Curragh, Dublin, when the war ended in November 1918. It was disbanded shortly afterwards.

No overseas war service or battle honours.

3/1st Shropshire Yeomanry

A "third line" regiment was formed in Shrewsbury in 1915 and affiliated to a Reserve Cavalry Regiment in Ireland in the Summer of that year.  

Dismounted in Summer 1916, it was then based at Oswestry and was disbanded early in 1917, its personnel going to other units, incluing the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, KSLI.

No overseas war service or battle honours.