The Shropshire Yeomanry : outline history
The county's volunteer cavalry regiment dates its origins to 1795 and is still serving ....
The Shropshire Yeomanry - Origins.
The Shropshire Yeomanry dates its origin to the French wars of 1793-1815 and to the formation of the Wellington Troop in April 1795. At this time, volunteer cavalry units were raised throughout the country, with Shropshire raising many varied corps - the Brimstree Loyal Legion, the Pimhill Light Horse, the Oswestry Rangers and others.
At the end of the French Wars, and with a general reduction in Britain's armed forces, these units were amalgamated in 1814 to form three regiments:
- The Shrewsbury Yeomanry Cavalry
- The South Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry
- The North Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry
A Coaport mug wishing "Success to the Shropshire Cavalry" 1806.
The Nineteenth Century
The County Yeomanry was not designed for overseas or war service, being retained as a form of mounted "home guard" or to serve "in aid of the civil power" in times of unrest.
The men were usually workers from the county's landed estates and their officers usually country landowners. They were required to undertake a certain number of days training each year and to attend an annual camp (usually of a fortnight's duration and usually on a local estate) in which they undertook full-scale training excercises and learned to act in concert with other military forces.
In 1828, the Shrewsbury Yeomanry Cavalry was absorbed into the South Shropshire, leaving two Regiments:
- The South Salopian Yeomanry Cavalry
- The North Salopian Yeomanry Cavalry
These in turn amalgamated in 1872 to form the Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry. The Regiment dates its origins to the raising of the Wellington Troop in April 1795.
Officers of South Salopian Yeomanry, c. 1846.
First "Campaign Service" - as Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa 1900-1902
Although the Yeomanry were not intended for overseas or campaign service, such was the need for mounted forces during the Boer War (South Africa, 1899-1902) that the government allowed volunteers to serve in South Africa. Those drawn from the country's Yeomanry regiments were designated as Imperial Yeomanry and those from the Shropshire Yeomanry served as the 13th Company, 5th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry.
Volunteers were normally required only to serve abroad for one year. Two contingents of 13/5 (with approx. 120 men in each) served in South Africa (1900-01 and 1901-02), with a third prepared for war but too late to see active service. They earned the first Shropshire Yeomanry battle-honour, "South Africa 1900-1902".
Annual camp - Training in Walcot Park, 1908.
During 1907-1908, with the reorganisation of the country's Volunteer forces, the Shropshire Yeomanry became part of the new Territorial Force and joined the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade. The Shropshire Artillery Volunteers were designated as Royal Horse Artillery to serve as the artillery arm of this mounted brigade.
The Yeomanry 1914 - 1918
During the 1914-18 War, the Shropshire Yeomanry was expanded. The original unit, designated 1-1st, was originally sent to the East Coast as part of the Home Defence force. In 1915, they were dismounted and in March 1916 were sent to the Middle East, where they served in the Western Desert of Egypt in the Senussi campaign and in Palestine against the Turks, as part of the famous 74th "Broken Spur" (Yeomanry) Division.
A Shropshire Yeoman "ready for war" in 1914.
In March 1917, the 1-1st Shropshire Yeomanry was merged with the Cheshire Yeomanry to form the 10th Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry. As such they served in the battles for Gaza, the occupation of Jerusalem and the capture of Jericho. In May 1918, the 10th KSLI were sent to the Western Front where they served out the war.
Sergt Harold Whitfield VC.
The only Victoria Cross to a Shropshire Regiment was won by Pte. (later Sgt.) Harold Whitfield of the Yeomanry (10th KSLI), for gallantry at Burj-el-Lisaneh in Palestine in 1918. His VC and other medals are on display in the Regimental Museum in Shrewsbury Castle.
The 10th KSLI was disbanded at the end of the war and the Shropshire Yeomanry reformed as its pre-war single regiment. The war-raised 2-1st Shropshire Yeomanry served in Northumberland, East Anglia and Morpeth before being converted to a Cyclist Battalion, becoming part of the 6th Cyclist Brigade in November 1916. They subsequently served in Ireland and in 1918 were based at the Curragh Camp in Dublin They were disbanded at the end of the war.
The war-raised 3-1st Shropshire Yeomanry was formed in 1915 and affiliated to a Reserve Regiment of Cavalry in Ireland in the summer of that year Dismounted in the summer of 1916, it was based at Oswestry and largely served to train and post men to other units. Disbanded early in 1917, its personnel were sent to other units, including the KSLI.
Service in the Second World War 1939 - 1945
The regiment resumed its usual round of weekend training and annual camps in the inter-war years.
75th Medium Regt : Shropshire Yeomen near the Pyramids of Giza in 1943.
During the Second World War, the Shropshire Yeomanry was converted to artillery in the 75th and 76th Medium Regiments, R.A. They served in North Africa and Sicily and then throughout the arduous Italian Campaign, including Monte Cassino and against the Gothic Line. Both regiments were in N.E.Italy, opposite Trieste, when the war ended.
After the war, the Shropshire Yeomanry faced defence cuts and later amalgamations. In 1967, they absorbed the Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery but were themselves absorbed firstly into the Mercian (later Queen's Own Mercian) Yeomanry in 1971 and then into the present Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry.
They exist today as part of Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry based at Dawley Bank, Telford.