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Northamptonshire Yeomanry in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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Northamptonshire Yeomanry

Territorial Force:

  • Northamptonshire Yeomanry 1/1st btn
  • Northamptonshire Yeomanry 2/1st btn
  • Northamptonshire Yeomanry 3/1st btn

       Northamptonshire Yeomanry was a mounted unit of the Territorial Force with its HQ at Territorial Headquarters, Clare Street, Northampton. They were part of the Eastern Mounted Division. B Squadron were based in Queen street, Northampton.

    7th Mar 1915 13th Londons on the March

    27th Feb 1916 Injured by a Horse

    If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

  • Want to know more about Northamptonshire Yeomanry?

    There are:13863 pages and articles tagged Northamptonshire Yeomanry available in our Library

    Those known to have served with

    Northamptonshire Yeomanry

    during the Great War 1914-1918.

    • Heygate Leonard William. Pte.
    • Smith Thomas Robyn. Tpr. A Squadron (d.30th Oct 1918)
    • Smith Thomas Robins . Tpr. 1st/1st. A Sqd. (d.30th Oct 1918 )

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    Tpr. Thomas Robins Smith 1st/1st. A Sqd. Northamptonshire Yeomanry (d.30th Oct 1918 )

    Thomas Smith served with “A” Squadron 1st/1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry during WW1 and was killed on the 30th October 1918. He is named on the Memorial in the Northampton Scouts Museum. He is buried in the Tezze British Cemetery, a village north of Venice, Italy. He was the son of Alice G A Smith of Duston, Northampton.

    Mike Longman


    Tpr. Thomas Robyn Smith A Squadron Northamptonshire Yeomanry (d.30th Oct 1918)

    Thomas Robyn Smith was my Mothers Uncle and my Grandmothers brother. My Grandmother used to tell me he was a loving and generous person who was an active Scout leader. I also know that he was a deeply religious man and an artist. My mother has his watercolours, some are illustrations of flowers but one that I know most is an illustration of "Rock of ages".

    Tom answered Baden Powell's call to arms for scout leaders to enlist at the outbreak of the First World War. He was 18 years old. Tom joined the 1st Regiment A Squadron that was raised and based at Cottesbrooke. October 1914 they were moved to Winchester and placed under orders of 8th Division and on the 4 November 1914 they landed in France. Regimental HQ, A,B and C went to France. I believe that D Squadron remained in the UK as the home reserve, but I cannot confirm that.

    Following the battle of Neuve Chapelle, for which the Regiment received battle honours the Regiment was split up in April 1915. - Regimental HQ and B Squadron: 14 April 1915 placed under orders of 6th Division. - A Squadron: 13 April 1915 placed under orders of 4th Division. - C Squadron: 12 April 1915 placed under orders of 5th Division.

    A Squadron went with the IV Division to take up positions in St. Julian and Frezenburgh. This would be known as the Second Battle of Ypres. This was the first use of gas on the Western Front by the Germans and took the allies by surprise leading to a breakthrough in the British lines. The Germans could not bring up reinforcements to exploit this and eventually they were beaten back to almost their original starting point. The IV Division was almost wiped out during this battle and after a tour on the Canal Front at Beosinghe they were moved South to Beaumont Hamel, which at that time was a quiet sector, to relieve the French.

    On the 9 May 1916 Regimental HQ and B Squadron left IV Division and became VI Corps Cavalry Regiment. They were joined by A and C Squadrons two days later. Contrary to the popular myths about the British Army in 1914-18 it is my belief that it learnt rapidly the realities of war and changed tactics accordingly. Cavalry no longer performed in the traditional method as shock troops other than in isolated incidents. They became mobile troops that theoretically could move into position rapidly to exploit a gap forced by the infantry and then they would fight on foot. Also when kept as a reserve move to plug any gaps created by a counter attack. A regiment consisted of 549 Officers and Men. GHQ plus three fighting Squadrons numbering 227 each at full compliment. They also included a Machine Gun Section armed with 2 Maxims and later Vickers machine guns.

    In May 1917 VI Corps saw action in the Arras offensive with the Northamptonshire Yeomanry involved in the fighting at what is called the Battle of Scarpe. Again achieving battle honours for the Regiment. Arras saw spectacular gains initially but as with the Germans at 2nd Ypres failure to get support quickly enough led to most of those being lost. Although the British Army was mow learning and the use of the rolling barrage and integrated attacks utilising infantry, tanks and artillery could force a breakthrough. In the Summer of 1917 the Regiment left VI corps, possibly attached to XV Corps.

    Then on the 10 November 1917 The Northamptonshire Yeomanry sailed for Italy and became XIV Corps Cavalry Regiment. This move was made to support the Italians who had just suffered a major defeat at the battle of Caporetto against the Austrians, bolstered by Germans and looked likely to fall. They fell back to the Piave River and consolidated their position. The addition of the British XIV Corps, together with French forces prevented any further Austrian and German gains.

    On the 18 April 1918 the XIV corps became British GHQ in Italy, so regiment remained attached but were now GHQ rather than Corps troops. In June 1918 the Italians resoundingly beat the Austrian at the battle of the Piave River but then failed to press home their advantage. On the 9th October 1918 the XIV Corps reformed and the Northamptonshire Yeomanry joined it, becoming XIV Corps Cavalry Regiment again. Lord Cavan took command of the Tenth Army in Italy under the Italian General Diaz. This included the XIV corps.

    On the 23th October the battle of Vittorio Veneto began with an Italina attack in the mountains. On the 25th the British 10th Army had made resounding successes, capturing Papadopoli Island and establishing a bridgehead over the Piave by the 27th. Together with the Italian 8th Army they pushed the Austrians and Hungarians back to Vittorio Veneto. On the 30th October Vittorio Veneto was taken.

    It was on this day that Tom Smith was killed, together with 2 colleagues. It is believed in the family that Tom was killed by an enemy sniper having detected a potential counter attack and warned the regiment. Although this I have not confirmed. Thomas Robyn Smith now lies in a war graves cemetary at Vittorio Veneto. My mother and father were the first of the family to visit his grave a few years ago. I still have a magnificent photograph of Thomas on his horse in his full field uniform hanging in my dining room.


    Pte. Leonard William Heygate Northamptonshire Yeomanry

    My Grandfather Leonard William Heygate was born on the 3rd September 1889. His father, Richard Ralph Heygate (1852 to 1923) was a varnish manufacturer in Hackney and a gentleman farmer in West Haddon, Northants. Leonard had a brother Gerald Ralph (1886 to 1951)who also joined the army in the First World War. Their Mother Lizzie Emma was also from the Heygate family.

    I have not been able to find very much First World War information on my grandfather Leonard, except that he joined the Northamptonshire Yeomanry as a Private and apparently, according to my Mother Margaret Ruth Heygate, he was engaged to my Grandmother Evelyn Lucy Underwood of Long Buckby, Northants. He had to go to Ireland to learn to ride horses and Evelyn, accompanied by her Mother, travelled to Ireland to see him! Leonard had been training to be an Auctioneer at Rugby but was also joint owner, with his Father of some agricultural land at West Haddon, Northants, where he lived.

    I have some information that he served in France, date of entry 18.04.1915. He also seemed to have served with the Bedfordshire Yeomanry. At the Army Museum it states in the Army list February 1918 L W Heygate 333 Yeomanry Territorial Force 332, Bedforshire, Ashburnham Road, Bedford. Uniform blue. Facings white. Plume black and white. Commissioned 3/1st Beds Yeo 16.4.17, 2nd Lieutenant 17.4.1917. Reserve Brigades Artillery (TF). L W Heygate September 1918 332 (attd 2-1) York, Dns, Yeo 17 April 1917. Attached to the York Dragoons Yeomanry. On one piece of paper I have Medal 15 star, roll cc/5b page6. Also it states 'on R T or and F Roll CC/106B1/36. NW/2/3606.

    My Grandfather was rather a shy, quiet gentleman and would not talk about his experiences of the First World War. Years later, my brother was on a school trip to France and he happened to send his Grandparents a postcard from Arras. The only thing my Grandfather said to my Mother was, 'I was there' and he was very sad. He apparently, on hearing that World War 2 had broken out, disappeared out of the house into the fields and probably cried. I just want to know more about where he was in France and whether he was at the Battle of Arras. I think I am right in saying that he had a wound to his face from shrapnel.

    He was very fortunate to survive the war and had a pleasant life as a gentleman farmer at Creaton and West Haddon, Northants. He married Evelyn and produced three children, Margaret, Barbara and Michael John. He had five grandchildren. He died on 3rd August 1975 and is buried in West Haddon Churchyard.

    The only other thing I would add about the Second World War. When Coventry was bombed, Grandpa had a bonfire in one of the fields at Creaton and to the family's horror, they saw the German aeroplanes flying overhead and the bonfire which had been earlier put out, sprang to life, so the family ran across the fields with buckets of water to put the flames out! They all survived but witnessed the sky all lit up from Coventry and could hear the bombs landing.

    Elizabeth Anne Heygate Gates

    Want to know more about Northamptonshire Yeomanry?

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