Title: The Cheshire (Earl of Chester’s) Yeomanry – The Last British Regiment to Fight on Horses 1898 – 1967
Author: Verdin, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Richard, OBE TD
Condition: Very Good
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Date: 1971
Cover: Hard Cover with Dust Jacket – 666 pages
Comments: The Cheshire Yeomanry was a yeomanry regiment that can trace its history back to 1797 when Sir John Fleming Leicester of Tabley raised a county regiment of light cavalry in response to the growing fears of invasion from Napoleonic France.
In 1803 the Prince of Wales (later King George IV) gave his permission for the regiment to wear his triple feather crest, a badge that Cheshire Yeoman still wear today.
The Peterloo Massacre of 16 August 1819 was the result of a cavalry charge into the crowd at a public meeting at Saint Peters Field, Manchester, England. Eleven people were killed and over 400, including many women and children, were injured.
Local magistrates arranged for a substantial number of regular soldiers to be on hand. The troops included 600 men of the 15th Hussars, several hundred infantrymen; a Royal Horse Artillery, unit with two six-pounder (2.7 kg) guns; 400 men of the Cheshire Yeomanry, 400 special constables, and 120 cavalry of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry, relatively inexperienced militia recruited from among shopkeepers and tradesmen.
The first battle honour was, in 1900–02, when the regiment provided two companies of Imperial Yeomanry for service in South Africa.
In the First World War the regiment spent 1914–15 training in Norfolk before being sent to fight dismounted in Egypt in 1916–17. There they met up with the Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, (a veteran of South Africa, who had been posted away from the regiment) with his Rolls-Royce Armoured Car, the prototype of which he had produced at his own expense in 1914.
In February 1916, after the battle of Mersa Matruh, the Duke mounted a raid against the Senussi using the cars. He was instructed to pursue them with ‘reasonable boldness’. Driving across the desert at high speed, the Duke and his 12 cars caught the fleeing enemy, killing many of the Senussi and all of their Turkish companions, returning with three captured guns, nine machine guns and 30 prisoners.
In March 1916 the Duke and the Rolls Royce mounted Cheshire Yeomanry rescued the survivors of two British merchant vessels, torpedoed off the coast of what is now Libya, earning the Duke worldwide praise and the DSO.
The regiment moved to Palestine in 1917, this time as half a battalion of the 10th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, and saw fierce fighting against the Turks in battles for Jerusalem, Jericho and Tel Azur, before embarking for France in April 1918. The KSLI saw action at the Somme, Bapaume and Epehy, suffering heavy casualties. The battalion was disbanded in June 1919, and the Cheshire Yeomanry was reconstituted as a cavalry regiment in March 1920.
During World War 2 the regiment was part of the 6th Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division and remained mounted until 1942, seeing action in Palestine, Syria and the Lebanon. As one of the last regiments of the British Army to fight on horseback, the Cheshire Yeomanry found it particularly painful to lose its horses and to re-role as a Signals Regiment, when its role changed in 1942 to the 5th Lines of Communications Signals Regiment. After leaving the Middle East the Regiment was redesignated the 17th Line of Communication Signals (Cheshire Yeomanry) for service in North West Europe.
On May Day, 1947, the Cheshire Yeomanry reformed as an armoured regiment, equipped with Cromwell and Comet tanks. It continued as such until 1958, when it re-equipped with Daimler Armoured Cars. The defence re-organisation of 1967 led to the disbanding of the regiment except for a small cadre, but happily in 1971 The Queen’s Own Yeomanry (QOY) was formed from four old yeomanry regiments, including the Cheshire Yeomanry. This lasted until 1999 when the regiment, as part of the Strategic Defence Review, was amalgamated into The Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry.