Northamptonshire Yeomanry

Northamptonshire Yeomanry
Active 1794–1946
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Yeomanry
Size World War I
Three Regiments
World War II
Two Regiments
Engagements World War I
First Battle of Ypres
Battle of Neuve Chapelle
Second Battle of Artois
World War II
Operation Overlord
Operation Charnwood
Operation Totalize
Operation Varsity

The Northamptonshire Yeomanry was a Yeomanry regiment of the British Army, formed in 1794 as volunteer cavalry. It later served in an armoured role before being reduced to squadron level in 1956. It ceased to have a separate existence in 1969.[1]


Boer War

A Northamptonshire Imperial Yeomanry regiment was formed during the Boer War.

World War I

Eastern Mounted Brigade

Organisation on 4 August 1914

In accordance with the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw. 7, c.9) which brought the Territorial Force into being, the TF was intended to be a home defence force for service during wartime and members could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, on the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, many members volunteered for Imperial Service. Therefore, TF units were split in August and September 1914 into 1st Line (liable for overseas service) and 2nd Line (home service for those unable or unwilling to serve overseas) units. Later, a 3rd Line was formed to act as a reserve, providing trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line regiments.[2]

1/1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry

On mobilisation in August 1914, the 1st Line regiment was attached to the Eastern Mounted Brigade, which was part of the 1st Mounted Division.[3]

In November 1914, the regiment moved to France with the 8th Division. It remained with the 8th Division until April 1915, when it was split up:

Regimental HQ and B Squadron joined the 6th Division
A Squadron joined the 4th Division
C Squadron joined the 5th Division.[3]

This lasted until May 1916, when the Regiment reformed, becoming the 6th Corps Cavalry Regiment.[3] In November 1917, it moved to Italy, becoming 14th Corps Cavalry.[3]

2/1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry

The 2nd Line regiment was formed in September 1914. In November 1915, the regiment joined the 59th (2nd North Midland) Division.[3] In April 1916, the regiment began to split up, with the RHQ and A Squadron joining the 69th (2nd East Anglian) Division in Yorkshire. One Squadron was attached to the 67th (2nd Home Counties) Division in Kent in October 1916. During the following winter, the remaining squadron went to France, where it was absorbed into the Tank Corps around August 1917. Of the two squadrons remaining in the United Kingdom, one was absorbed into the 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Tidworth in March 1917, the other was disbanded.[3][4]

3/1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry

The 3rd Line regiment was formed in 1915 and in the summer it was affiliated to the 3rd Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Canterbury. Early in 1917 it was absorbed in the 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Tidworth.[4]

Between the wars

On 7 February 1920, the Regiment was reconstituted in the Territorial Army with HQ at the Old Militia Barracks in Clare St, Northampton. It was initially established with three Squadrons. Following the experience of the war, it was decided that only the fourteen most senior yeomanry regiments would be retained as horsed cavalry,[5] with the rest being transferred to other roles.[6] As a result, on 1 March 1922, the Regiment was one of eight[lower-alpha 1] converted and reduced to 7th (Northamptonshire) Armoured Car Company, Tank Corps. In 1922, it was renumbered as 25th (Northamptonshire Yeomanry) Armoured Car Company, Tank Corps, in October 1923 as 25th (Northamptonshire Yeomanry) Armoured Car Company, Royal Tank Corps, and in April 1939 it was transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps.[8]

In November 1938, the formation of a Mechanised Cavalry Brigade (TA) was announced, to comprise three Cavalry Light Tank Regiments. The Northamptonshire Yeomanry was selected to form part of this Brigade and ordered to expand to full Regimental status. By early 1939, Regimental Headquarters and "A" Squadron were based at Northampton, with "B" Squadron at Daventry and "C" Squadron at Brackley.

This expansion coincided with the decision to increase the Territorial Army by forming duplicates of existing TA units. By 1939, it became clear that a new European war was likely to break out, and the doubling of the Territorial Army was authorised, with each unit forming a duplicate.[9] These duplicate units are often wrongly described as second-line. However, they were not; the duplicate units were afforded equal status to their parent units, and were destined to form part of the active field forces immediately on mobilisation, whereas the second-line units of World War I had been intended to form reserve units for home defence.

As a result of this move, the Northamptonshire Yeomanry was divided in May 1939 to form two Cavalry Light Tank Regiments:

1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry (TA) - Regimental Headquarters and "A" Sqn at Northampton, "B" Sqn at Daventry and "C" Sqn at Brackley.
2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry (TA) - Regimental Headquarters and "A" Sqn at Northampton, "B" and "C" Sqns at Kettering.

Both Regiments formed part of 20th Light Armoured Brigade (TA) and were mobilised on 1 September 1939. A nominal 4th NY was formed later.[10]

World War II

1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry

Sherman of 33 Armoured Operation Charnwood
Crew from the Northamptonshire Yeomanry eating rations during Operation Totalize

During World War II, 1st Northants Yeo (TA) initially remained in the United Kingdom and from 1941 - 1942 was part of the Coats Mission, the plan to evacuate the Royal Family in the event of a German invasion.

In 1944, now as a part of the 33rd Armoured Brigade, the unit participated in the Invasion of Normandy, landing on Gold Beach in Normandy on 12 June. The brigade also included the 1st East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry and the 144 Regiment RAC. The Brigade's role was to support any infantry who were in need of armour support, therefore it rarely fought as one entity. One of the occasions when the Brigade did undertake an operation on its own was at Le Mesnil-Patry, Rots on 11 June 1944. Further battles they were involved in were around Caen, including Operation Charnwood on 7 July, the battle to capture Caen. On 16 July 1944, it was involved in Operation Pomegranate, where it come under the command of the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division.

On 8 August 1944, it was involved in Operation Totalize, a planned breakout from the Caen Salient. It was during Operation Totalize that Joe Ekins, a Sherman Tank gunner of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, gained recognition for killing the renowned German tank commander, Michael Wittmann, the 4th top scoring tank ace in history, near St. Aignan de Cramesnil, France.[11][12][13][14][15] The regiment was briefly attached to the 51st (Highland) Division for the actions around the Battle of the Bulge[16] The Regiment was reformed and re-equipped with LVT 4 Buffalo amphibious armoured fighting vehicles for the Rhine crossing and was placed under the command of the 79th Armoured Division.

2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry

After leaving the 20th Armoured Brigade in 1943, the 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry was converted to an Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment and assigned to the 11th Armoured Division. The regiment landed in Normandy in June 1944. In August, it was disbanded and it members were drafted to other regiments.[17]

4th Northamptonshire Yeomanry

The 4th "regiment" was formed as a deception unit. It constructed and moved dummy tanks in order to deceive the enemy as to the disposition and strength of British armour.[10][lower-alpha 2]


The 1st and 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry (TA) were both demobilised by 1946 and for a short period remained in a state of suspended animation. Then, on 1 January 1947, the TA was reconstituted, the 1st and 2nd Northants Yeo were amalgamated and reformed as The Northamptonshire Yeomanry, RAC (TA). The Regiment was assigned to 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division (TA) as its Divisional Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment. Recruiting for the Regiment began in May 1947 and by 1949 it comprised:

Regimental Headquarters and "A" Sqn at Northampton "B" Sqn at Kettering "C" Sqn at Brackley, with outlying Troops at Daventry and Towcester. In 1955, the Sqn Headquarters moved to Northampton and Brackley was reduced to a Troop location.

In 1950, the Regiment assumed the role of a mobile Anti-Tank Regiment, equipped with self-propelled anti-tank guns.

Reorganisations of the TA in 1956 resulted in the Regiment being reduced to a single Squadron as "D" (Northamptonshire Yeomanry) Squadron, The Inns of Court Regiment, RAC (TA). The Headquarters of this Regiment was in the City of London, whilst "D" Sqn was centred on Northampton.

This state of affairs lasted until April 1961, when "D" Squadron was transferred to the Corps of Royal Engineers and reorganised to form 250th (Northamptonshire Yeomanry) Independent Field Squadron, RE (TA). It was assigned a role in support of the British Army of The Rhine (BAOR) and had its Squadron Headquarters and No.1 Troop at Northampton, No.2 Troop at Kettering and No.3 Troop at Brackley.

When the TA was reorganised into the Territorial & Army Volunteer Reserve (T&AVR) in April 1967, the Northamptonshire Yeomanry formed a successor unit as "A" (Northants Yeo) Company, The Northamptonshire Regiment Territorials. It continued the traditions of the old Regiment until 1969, when the Northants Territorials was reduced to a Cadre, effectively ending the history of the Yeomanry. In 1971, the cadre was reconstituted as part of the Royal Anglian Regiment.[1]

History of the Regimental Light Aid Detachment

The Regiment had its own Light Aid Detachment from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, formed at Northampton in 1947. Sections were later formed at Kettering and Brackley and attached to the outlying Squadrons. When the Regiment was reduced to Squadron size in 1956, it lost its own L.A.D., which was redesignated as a Platoon of 169th (London) Infantry Workshops, REME (TA) and was centred on Kettering, thus becoming part of 56th (London) Infantry Division (TA). In April 1961, this Platoon was transferred to form the "B" Vehicles Platoon of 104th Medium Workshops, REME (TA).

On the formation of the T&AVR, 104th Med Wksps was reformed into part of 118th Recovery Company, REME (V) at Northampton and Corby.

See also


  1. The eight yeomanry regiments converted to Armoured Car Companies of the Royal Tank Corps (RTC) were:[7]
  2. Other dummy tank "regiments" formed in a similar manner included the 3rd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars[18] and the 37th, 38th, 39th, 60th, 62nd, 65th, 101st, 102nd, 118th and 124th Royal Tank Regiments.[19]


  1. 1 2 Wienand Drenth (28 August 2000). "TAVR III Infantry". Lineage of British Army Regiments, 1967 - 2000. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  2. Rinaldi 2008, p. 35
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Baker, Chris. "The Northamptonshire Yeomanry". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  4. 1 2 James 1978, p. 25
  5. Mileham 1994, p. 48
  6. Mileham 1994, p. 50
  7. The Royal Tank Regiment at by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 3 May 2007)
  8. The Northamptonshire Yeomanry at by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 July 2007)
  9. "History of the Army Reserve". MOD. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  10. 1 2 Bellis 1994, p. 19
  11. After the battle, Issue 48, Pg 50
  12. Tout, Fine Night For Tanks
  13. Tout, Fine By Tank D to VE Day
  14. Reid, Pg 424
    Lord Boardman letter to Radley-Walters, 13 June 1999
  15. Hart, Pg 52-69
  16. "qohldrs".
  17. Mileham 1994, p. 102
  18. Bellis 1994, p. 18
  19. Bellis 1994, pp. 26–27


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