Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yeomanry Regiments of the British Army circa 1900 by Richard Simkin

It would appear that Yeomanry and Yeomanry Regiments, as part of a Territorial Army, is a concept unique to the United Kingdom. Today’s remaining regiments evolved from the original volunteer cavalry regiments raised in the 1790’s as an augmentation to the regular standing army, in order to provide an additional homeland defense against the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte in France, and the threat of invasion. Yeoman officers were drawn from both the nobility and the landed gentry. The definition of the word “yeoman" at that time being a small farmer who owned his own land. There was one unique proviso that existed in their regulations. No one could be sent abroad on foreign service duty without individually volunteering. However, officers and personnel of these regiments took their obligation as "nobles oblige" very seriously, and served with distinction throughout British military history, and even up to the present day.

As they continued to develop, and particularly during the Victorian era, it seems to this colonial that they became either a substitute or supplementary to membership in men’s private clubs. In any event their full dress uniforms became resplendent, rivaling those of the regular British Army’s hussar and lancer regiments of the times.  Naturally this provided rich (quite literally) natural material for the famous military artist Richard Simkin.

Again we are indebted to the pages of 'Tradition’ for the reprint of Simkin’s portrayal of their magnificent uniforms. Am not certain how many watercolors were included in the artist’s total effort, nor how many were included in the magazine’s reprint series. But I do know that the yeomanry regiments shown in these prints represent only a small fraction of the total number. The order of precedence from the Army List of 1914 shows 55 yeomanry regiments. 44 'regiments' still exist, albeit at reduced strength, i.e. squadron, detachment. What follows are the contents from those editions of the magazine in my collection.



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