A Short History of the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry
B and Y Squadron of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry are both descendants of the first Yeomanry Cavalry
Regiment ever raised. They may now have now replaced their horses for the Challenger 2 Main
Battle Tank but they have a strong history of mounted warfare to draw upon.
1794: The First Yeomanry Cavalry Regiment ever is raised at The Bear Hotel in Devizes by a meeting of
country gentlemen to counter the threat of French invasion.
1900-1902: The regiment provides 3 “service companies” of Imperial Yeomanry to South Africa where the
Yeomanry quickly adapts to the new style of warfighting the British Army is facing.
1914-1918: The RWY fought as cavalry for much of the war, waiting for an opportunity to break out before spearheading the
British advance in 1917 during the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line. The Regiment then
dismounted to fight amongst the trenches at Ypres, Cambrai, in the German spring offensive of
1918, and on the Messines Ridge winning a total of 13 battle honours over the course of the war.
1939: Just prior to the declaration of war, the RWY was mobilised for the Second World War and sent to fight in Palestine, Syria,
Iraq, and North Africa.
1941: The Regiment converts to armour, recieving its first tanks, which were named after Wiltshire towns and pubs.
1942: At the Battle of El Alamein, the Wiltshire Yeomanry spearheads the attack, which is credited with turning the tide of the war, fighting alongside the New Zealand Division. Their heroism is recognised by the New Zealanders who grant the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry the honour of wearing the New Zealand Fern Leaf on their vehicles. B and Y Squadron still wear the Fern on their parade uniforms.
1944: As the war progressed into Europe, the regiment fought through Italy, taking part in the advance on Rome and fighting through the
mountains south of Florence before returning home in 1945.
2003- 2014: In 2003, members of the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry took part in the Invasion of Iraq, in a specialist recce role. Throughout the following decade, Wiltshire Yeomanry soldiers deployed on operations to both Iraq and Afghanistan.