Unit History: Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment)

Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment)

Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment) during the Boer War

The Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment) was a unit of the British Army. Raised in 1794 following Prime Minister William Pitt's order to raise volunteer bodies of men to defend Great Britain from foreign invasion,

The unit began as a volunteer Cavalry regiment seeing service overseas in South Africa 1901/02, the Regiment has has several titles during its term as a British Army Unit.

The Regiment was titled: Queen's Own Royal Regiment, Staffordshire Imperial Yeomanry.

Seeing action in: Springfontein, Harrismith, Howick, Standerton, Slabbertsnek, Mooi River, Ladysmith, Reenan, Bloemfontein, Bethlehem, Kroonstad and Durban.

Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment) during WW1

They next deployed during WW1, The Staffordshire Yeomanry, after a short period of training at Diss, Norfolk, was ordered to join the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in 1915, sending 1/1st Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment) to participate in the Sinai Palestine Campaign at the last minute. They were part of the North Midland Brigade and the orders they originally received ordered them to move to Salonika, arriving in Egypt during November 1915.

(Information is very scarce with regards the following, C Squadron definitely deployed, no information available or located regarding the rest of the Regiment).

The Regiment was attached to the 22nd Mounted Brigade, Yeomanry Mounted Division in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign against the Ottoman Turkish and German armies.

It fought in the First Battle of Gaza, Second Battle of Gaza in March and April 1917 and finally won through in the Third Battle of Gaza in October of that year they were then victorious in the decisive and crucial Battle of Beersheba on 6 November 1917, where Allied victory at last left the field open for the capture of Jerusalem on 9 December 1917.
In July 1918 the Division was reformed as the Fourth Cavalry Division under the command of General Allenby and the Regiment played a key role in the decisive Battle of Megiddo (1918).

The 1/1st Staffordshire Yeomanry then went on to joined the Desert Mounted Corps under the Australian General Henry George Chauvel and took part in his strategic cavalry ‘bound’ from the desert through Beisan, a forced march which covered an unheard of, within the cavalry, 87 miles in 33 hours a record in cavalry history.
During a rest period of 4 days the Regiment took 5,800 prisoners, they joined with the spearhead of the Allies and made a triumphant entry into Damascus on 1 October 1918, 200 men became casualties from malaria during their stay in Damascus.

After a week, the Regiment started on a 200-mile trek to Aleppo, despite the Regiment being reduced to 75 men, Aleppo was captured on 25 October 1918. Turkey surrendered on 30th October 1918.
2/1st Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment).

The Regiment formed as a Second-Line regiment in September 1914 and remained as a Home Defence unit throughout the war. They came under the command of 2/1st North Midland Mounted Brigade from January 1915.

The Regiment then moved with the brigade to Norfolk and were placed under the command of 1st Mounted Division, which assumed the responsibilities of 2/1st North Midland Mounted Brigade which was then sent to Salonika.

In July 1916 the Regiment converted into a cyclist unit, and was placed under the command of the 3rd Cyclist Brigade a Brigade under command of the 1st Cyclist Division, in November of that year they reverted back to their original Mounted Role.

In August 1917 they once again re-roled to a cyclist unit, under orders of 12th Cyclist Brigade, the regiment ended the war in Canterbury.

Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment) during WW2

In 1939, the Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen's Own Royal Regiment) was part of the 6th Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. The 6th Cavalry Brigade deployed to Palestine in January 1940 and its role was mounted operations assisting the Civil Police to suppress disturbances between the Arab and Jewish populations.
The Staffordshire Yeomanry retained its horses, but went on to convert to tanks in 1941 and then moved on to serve in North Africa in the 8th Armoured Brigade.

The Regiment, during its time in North Africa, fought the Afrika Corps at the Battles of Alam Halfa and El Alamein, all the way into Tunisia.

The unit was later transferred to serve in the 27th Armoured Brigade, part of Montgomery's Second Army in the UK. Deploying to Normandy, the Staffordshire Yeomanry landed on D-Day, on Sword Beach, the Regiment was equipped with conventional vehicles, which was unusual, as almost all other Armoured Regiments deployed with DD or Flail equipped vehicles.

After heavy losses, The Brigade was disbanded in Normandy during July 1944 and the Staffordshire Yeomanry were transferred to England and placed under the command of the 79th Armoured Division.
Whilst there the Regiment converted to Sherman DD tanks and B Squadron supported the 52nd (Lowland) Division in the assault on South Beveland, during the Battle of the Scheldt.

The Regiments Tanks carried out a swim of seven miles, completed without sustaining any casualties, the terrain proved impassable and only three tanks were able to advance with the infantry. More training ensued and, on 23 March 1945, the regiment used Sherman DD tanks to cross the Rhine.

The 79th Division and the units under its command were Specialised, using vehicles used for many different conditions of war, Tanks (Armoured Vehicles) which could swim, Clear Minefields, lay Bridges, Fascine Carriers, Destroy Defences, deploy Flame Thrower, lay Paths over unsuitable terrain, Deploy Ramps to go over obstacles and even a vehicle with a spot light to create daylight conditions. These are just a few of the types of vehicles used in the 79th Division.

Units from the Division, would be placed on loan, to other units to assist them to complete a mission and the loaned units would return to the command of the 79th on completion of the task.

**The Official British Army History:

The Staffordshire Volunteer Cavalry was formed on 4th July 1794 at the Swan Hotel Stafford, with troops in Newcastle under Lyme, Lichfield, Walsall, Stafford and Leek. With its motto of ‘Pro Aris et Focis’ – For our Hearts and Homes – it proudly boasts 200 years of unbroken service to Crown and Country. In 1838 the newly crowned Queen Victoria bestowed on the Regiment the title ‘The Queen’s Own Royal Regiment’ in memory of an earlier visit to the county. As a result the Staffordshire Yeoman wear scarlet facings on their uniforms.

The first members of the Regiment to fight overseas served with the 6th and 106th Companies of Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa during 1900 and 1901. Then in October 1915, the Regiment sailed for Egypt as part of the Western Frontier Force. After three months in Sinai, it advanced into Palestine at the end of March 1917, played a part in the two battles of Gaza and in the culminating capture of Damascus in September 1918.

With their horses the Yeoman returned to Palestine in 1939 but mechanisation in 1941 brought about the wearing of the Royal Armoured Corp’s black beret. At the same time the emblem of Bass Breweries, a red triangle, was added behind the cap badge. It is said this was suggested by Major Jim Eadie, who worked for the Brewery. The Regiment fought throughout the Desert Campaign with a mixture of Honey, Grant, Crusader and Sherman Tanks – a nightmare for the fitters and mechanics of the Light Aid Detachment.

It is in the Alamein line where it helped repel Rommel’s attack on the Alam El Haifa Ridge, later the Yeoman led the advance into Mersa Matruh. In Normandy, the Regiment destroyed nine of the enemy’s tanks on D Day. Fighting through North West Europe the Staffordshire Yeoman took part in the assault over the Rhine.

After the war the Staffordshire’s reformed as an Armoured Regiment, changing to armoured cars in 1958, until reduced in size to a small cadre in 1969. Reborn as a Queen’s Own Mercian Yeomanry which in 1992 became The Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry on amalgamation with the DLOY.

Crown Copyright/MOD 2012**

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