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457 (Hampshire Yeomanry) Battery

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457 Bty

Role

457 Battery RA (V) located in the heart of Southampton on Millbrook Road, was formed in 1998 as a Close Air Defence unit, equipped with the HVM system.

History

457 (Hampshire Yeomanry) Battery Royal Artillery has a shared history with 2 major units, the Hampshire Yeomanry and the Hampshire Artillery Volunteers, and can trace its history back to 1794.

Formation of the Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers)

During the 1790s, the threat of invasion of England was high, with the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. In order to maximise the country's defences, a Bill was read in Parliament on 27 Mar 1794 for "encouraging and disciplining such corps and companies of men as shall voluntarily enrol for the defence of their counties, towns and coasts or for the general defence of the Kingdom during the Present War". As a result, units of the "Gentlemen and Yeomanry Cavalry" (i.e. the volunteer cavalry units based on the historic yeomanry tradition) were formed. Between 1794 and 1803, a large number of cavalry units such as the North Hampshire Yeomanry Cavalry, the New Forest Volunteer Cavalry, the Fawley Light Dragoons and the Southampton Cavalry to name but a few were raised across the South Coast and the Isle of Wight as independent groups but were brought under the collective title of North Hampshire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry in 1834, the title "North" was however dropped by 1848.

Over the next 60 years the name changed several times, but always maintained a link with both Hampshire and the Yeomanry until in 1908, after the formation of The Territorial Army, the regiment became known as the Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers) with detachments in Winchester, Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Southampton.

The Formation of The Hampshire Artillery Volunteers

On 5th May 1860, with the approval of the Lord Lieutenant of the County, a Corps of Artillery Volunteers (Garrison) was formed in Bishop Street, Portsea, with the object of defending the Royal Dockyard against foreign invasion.

Known as the 2nd Hampshire Artillery Volunteers it recruited over two hundred volunteers in its first year. During the second half of the nineteenth century the Corps was armed with a number of weapons, varying from the 32 pounder firing round shot to the 11inch muzzleloader. The Headquarters used by the Regiment was opened in St Paul's Road Portsmouth in 1898 by General Sir George Willis when the Corps comprised of eight companies at the Headquarters and additional companies in Cosham, which is just to the north of Portsea Island and Gosport on the other side of Portsmouth Harbour, where batteries were maintained until 1967.

After the formation of the Territorial Army, the Corps became the 1st Wessex Brigade RFA, with Batteries in Portsmouth and Gosport.

The First World War and Post War reformations

During the First World War both elements saw service but in 2 entirely different locations. The Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers) had formed as 3 regiments of which the First Regiment departed for France and saw action in Messines, the Somme, Arras, Ypres, and Flanders. The Second Regiment moved to Ireland and converted to a cyclist unit in 1916 and the Third Regiment stayed in the UK. The 1st Wessex Brigade RFA left England for India in October 1914, renamed as the 215th Brigade RFA and went into action against the Turks for the first time on 11th December 1916. For the remainder of the campaign the brigade was continually in action, gaining forty-five awards for gallantry, however the Brigade was broken up in 1917. This was also an important time for the Hampshire Yeomanry, the war had proved that the use of horse cavalry was drastically limited in the trench warfare currently seen in Europe and consequently they also was re-roled into an Infantry Regiment for the first time in their history to become the 15th Battalion, The Hampshire Regiment for the remainder of the war.

During the 1920's both units underwent major change, the reformation of the Royal Regiment of Artillery resulted in the merging of the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) and the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) into one regiment, the Royal Artillery (RA), consequently in 1921 the 215th Brigade RFA was reconstituted as the 54th (Wessex) Field Brigade, RA. In the same year The Hampshire Yeomanry, which had reformed as a single cavalry regiment post war, also changed. As the war had proved the decline of the cavalry, it had highlighted the advance of the artillery, and so it came to pass that they amalgamated with the Hampshire Royal Horse Artillery to become the 95th (Hampshire Yeomanry) Field Brigade, RA.

The Second World War

The 1930's saw the rise of Nazi Germany and a new threat, as the years advanced it became increasingly evident that war with Germany was imminent, such a war would bring new style of warfare, the war from the air. Towards the end of the decade and with this new threat a decision was made that both 54th and 95th Brigades would re-role as Anti-Aircraft Artillery, with this new role came new designations. The 54th Brigade became the 57th Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment, RA and the 95th (HY) Brigade became the 72nd (Hampshire) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA in which one battery, 217 HAA Battery, was designated "Hampshire Caribineers".

Initially both Regiments served as UK Air Defence and protected the docks and staging areas along the South Coast, 57th Regiment, whose main responsibility was protecting the Portsmouth Docks, distinguished itself in March 1941, when the Regiment was actively engaged in defending the Naval Dockyard against air attacks over several nights. In one four-hour engagement 1,421 rounds were fired and following the destruction of the command post, fire control was exercised from a trestle table illuminated by a hurricane lamp using graphic range tables and measuring the fuses with a length of string.

By 1942, once the Battle of Britain was won, both Regiments finally saw service overseas and served together in the North Africa and Italy Campaigns with the 8th Army, The Desert Rats. The 57th Regiment had a noteble time during the invasion of Salerno on the 9th Sept 1943, where they hastly re-roled to a field regiment.

Post War to Present

At the end of the war both regiments were initially placed into suspended animation whilst the Army scaled back its numbers. In 1947, with the revival of the Territorial Army, the Hampshire Yeomanry was reformed as 295th (Hampshire Carabineers) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA (TA), this regiment was however short-lived and rapidly reduced in size to a single Battery strength unit. The Hampshire Artillery Volunteers also reformed but renamed the 457 (Wessex) Heavy Air Defence Regiment RA (TA), the 4 was added to the 57th to avoid confusion with regular army units.

In 1963 saw the amalgamation of the 2 regiments as 457 Regt RA absorbed 295 Regt, becoming 457th (Wessex) Heavy Air Defence Regiment, RA (Hampshire Carabiniers Yeomanry), this gave the Regiment the longest title in the army, and took on a new role converting from traditional "Ack Ack" Guns to using the Thunderbird Anti-Aircraft Missile. The Regiment had the distinction of firing the last 3 missiles in the UK before Thunderbird was decommissioned. On 31st March 1967 the Regiment was disbanded on the demise of the Territorial Army and its replacement the TAVR.

What followed was the longest period of suspended animation for the unit and it wasn't till 1992 that the name Hampshire Yeomanry returned the guise of 227 (Hampshire Yeomanry) Amphibious Engineer Squadron, Royal Engineers. Again this was a very short lived incarnation as after the Strategic Defence Revue in 1999 returned the unit back to the Royal Regiment of Artillery with the formation of 457 (Hampshire Yeomanry) Battery, Royal Artillery based at Millbrook, Southampton and equipped again with an Anti-Aircraft Missile, HVM.

Contact Details

457 (Hampshire Yeomanry) Battery, Royal Artillery (Volunteers)

Blightmont TA Centre

Milbrook Road

Southampton SO15 0AJ

Tel: 023 8072 5025

Email: 106RegtRA-457-AO@mod.uk

Battery Website

Unofficial Regimental Website

MOD Regimental Website