Country horsemen going to war

THE YEOMAN of England – who were they? In peace time they lived and worked in the countryside, the backbone of Great Britain.

They fought for their country in time of war and in the reign of Henry V they had the reputation as the Bowmen of England, proving their worth at the Battle of Agincourt. Their history is one of serving when called, without hesitation and as time and fighting methods progressed they fought as Yeomanry, mounted cavalry regiments or Hussars.

They fought in many campaigns over a long period and were respected by many. The 1914-1918 war with its trench warfare was very different for the cavalry and the few times that they were used proved very costly in the lives of men and particularly their horses.

In other spheres of war such as the Palestine Campaign against the Turks, the Yeomanry came into their own. They coped with very rough terrain, fighting over a wide area of desert with lack of cover, in extreme heat and with water in short supply.


The last large-scale cavalry charge of the British Army was by the 6th Mounted Brigade and took place on Nov 13, 1917, when men of the Berks, Bucks and Dorset Yeomanry were ordered to capture the Turkish positions at El Mughar.

The infantry could not proceed because of lack of cover and effective enemy fire. The Brigade Commander reported: “The Yeomanry drove the enemy out after a dashing charge.”

The versatility of the Yeoman was shown again when they were called to fight the Sennussi Araba who were co-operating with the Turks in the Sinai Desert. Because of the extreme heat and shortage of water the only means of transport was by camels.

They learned to ride the camels and successfully put down the Sennussi rebles. Good old Yeoman of England.

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