Unit History: Ayrshire Yeomanry
The Ayrshire (Earl of Carrick's Own)Yeomanry was formed as an independent troop of Fencible Cavalry by The Earl of Cassillis in around 1794, formed, among the local farmers and townsmen, a troop of yeomanry known as "The Earl of Carrick's Own Yeomanry" in honour of their royal feudal superior, the Earl of Carrick and heir to the Crown. By 1798 it was formally adopted into the Army List as The Ayrshire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry making them the senior yeomanry regiment in Scotland and the seventh yeomanry regiment in Great Britain’s Army. The Yeomanry were established and recruited at this time to provide Britain with a defence against any invasion by Napoleon and French forces.
The Regiment spent its formative years in aid to the civil powers reacting to and controlling riots across Ayrshire and beyond, most notably in Paisley. In 1897 the Regiment was granted permission to use the title Ayrshire Yeomanry Cavalry (Earl of Carrick's Own) in honour of the future King Edward VII, as Earl of Carrick is a subsidiary title of the Princes of Wales deriving from the Ayrshire district of Carrick. During these early years the Regiment adopted the uniform and role of Hussars.
During the Second Boar War in 1900 the regiment had its first deployment overseas for the Yeomanry. They along with the Lanarkshire Yeomanry sponsored the formation and deployment of the 17th Company of the 6th (Scottish) Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry. Upon return in 1901 the Regiment was given a new title of the ‘Ayrshire (Earl of Carrick’s Own) Yeomanry and reorganised as a mounted infantry. Though by 1908 it returned to its Cavalry role and transferred into the new Territorial Force.
In 1961 the Ayrshire Yeomanry were presented with their First Guidon bearing the Honours which had been hard won since the first overseas deployment to South Africa and through two World Wars.
Regiment continued to be independent until 1969 when it was reduced to a Cadre of just a few men along with most of the other Yeomanry Regiments. Then in April 1971 this cadre gave rise to two new units B Squadron of the 2nd Armoured Car Regiment, later renamed The Queen's Own Yeomanry, at the former RHQ in Ayr and 251 Squadron of 154th (Lowland) Transport Regiment in Irvine with no affiliation to the Ayrshire Yeomanry lineage.
In 1992 the regiment again underwent considerable change when under British Army post Cold War restructuring it was transferred to the newly formed Scottish Yeomanry. They joined a number of historic Scottish Yeomanry Squadrons that had been operating in other roles since 1969. The Scottish Yeomanry retained the Royal Armoured Corps reconnaissance role.
Under the Governments “Strategic Defence Review” in November 1998 it was announced that the Scottish Yeomanry was to be disbanded on 1 July 1999 and amalgamated with The Queen’s Own Yeomanry. Under command of the Queen’s Own Yeomanry, as from 1st July 1999, Headquarters in Newcastle the Ayrshire Yeomanry in Ayr, and the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry/Scottish Horse continued under this named and became equipped with light tracked vehicles and its role is Armoured Reconnaissance training.
Ayrshire Yeomanry during WW1
In the Great War of 1914-1918, the regiment was one of the fastest to react to the mobilisation order in August 1914, and received congratulations from the Scottish Command. Following mobilisation the Regiment remained in the UK for Home Defence duties. Finally they were deployed for active service in Gallipoli, landing at Helles Beach on 11 October 1915, serving as dismounted infantry; they were attached to 52nd (Lowland) Division. They withdrew to Mudros in January 1916 to move to Egypt as part of the 1st Dismounted Brigade. In January of 1917, the Ayrshire Yeomanry and Lanarkshire Yeomanry were formed into the 12th (Ayr and Lanark Yeomanry) Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. The 74th division to which the battalion was then attached was composed mainly of dismounted yeomanry units and was popularly known as the "Broken Spurs". The battalion took part in operations in Palestine and thereafter served in Europe on the Western Front.
The Regiment raised a second-line battalion, the 2/1st Ayrshire Yeomanry during September 1914, and later a third lone regiment the 3/1st Ayrshire Yeomanry. The 2/1st remained in the United Kingdom and was then converted into a cyclist unit in Scotland by 1916. It was then deployed to Ireland in May 1918, as part of the 9th Cyclist Brigade and was stationed in Omagh, but did not see overseas service. The 3/1st Ayrshire Yeomanry was formed in 1915 and was part of the reserve cavalry stationed in Aldershot and then Perth. The 3/1st was disbanded early in 1917, with personnel transferred to the 4th Royal Scots Fusiliers and to the 2/1st. Following demobilisation after the War, the Regiment was reconstituted in 1920 in the Territorial Army.
Ayrshire Yeomanry during WW2
On the outbreak of the Second World War the Regiment was then returned to its horsed Calvary Training in Scotland. Though they faced a difficult choice as they were not required as a cavalry or an armoured Regiment, so were asked to join the Army Artillery organisation. In 1940 the Regiment was transferred into the Royal Artillery and formed two regiments of Field Artillery 151st (Ayrshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment RA, formed in February, and 152nd (Ayrshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, formed in April as a second-line duplicate.
Till 1942 the 151st stayed in England then it was assigned to 46th Infantry Division to fight in the Tunisia Campaign. Then in 1944 it was assigned to the 11th Armoured Division, and remained with it fighting the campaign through North Western Europe.
The 152nd was in 1942 attached to the 6th Armoured Division which moved with the division to North Africa in November that year. Here it stayed till the end of the war, fighting in the Tunisian and Italian Campaign, ending the war in Austria. Then after this it was organised into a gymkhana using horses from a local Cavalry depot.
After the war the regiment was reconstituted in the Territorial Army as a Yeomanry Regiment, with the original title of The Ayrshire (Earl of Carrick's Own) Yeomanry, and transferred into the Royal Armoured Corps in 1949.