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Royal Wessex Yeomanry

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The Royal Wessex Yeomanry is the only reserve army armoured regiment (Yeomanry) consisting of four squadrons, each of which bears the cap badge of an old yeomanry regiment:

B (Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry) Squadron

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A (Dorset Yeomanry) Squadron

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C (Royal Gloucestershire Hussars) Squadron

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D (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Squadron

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The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, which was formed in 1971, currently serves the role of Armoured Resilience, forming partial and complete replacement crews for the 3 Armoured regiments, RTR, KRH and QRH. It also trains liaison officers advisers and instructors in the use of ISTAR (Information, Surveillance, Targeting, Acquisition and Reconnaissance) equipment.

HRH Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, is the Royal Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry.

History

In 1947 the Territorial Army was reconstituted, but the subsequent history of the Yeomanry regiments continued to be one of constant change. There were 26 regiments of the reformed Royal Armoured Corps, TA, and 24 regiments of the Royal Artillery, TA (there had been altogether 53 regiments of Yeoman gunners during the war).

Major re-organisations of the TA took place in 1951, 1956 and 1961 - many of the Royal Armoured Corps regiments were amalgamated as were most Gunner regiments.

During the National Service years a number of regiments provided the continuation training for both national servicemen and reservists.

The greatest re-organisation of all however took place in 1967. The majority of Territorial Army regiments were then reduced or disbanded and those which remained were divided into four categories of the Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve (TA & VR), with different Terms of Service and commitment.

Some Yeomanry regiments struggled on as TA&VR III regiments but, starved of equipment and funding, they inevitably dwindled. Others, however, managed to retain cadres - establishments of a few officers and NCOs - but most of the remaining Yeomanry establishments were of sub-unit size.

A new major unit of the RAC was formed, named The Royal Yeomanry Regiment and was given an Armoured Reconnaissance role.

In 1971 a second Yeomanry Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment was formed - The Queen's Own Yeomanry, along with three new Royal Armoured Corps Home Defence Infantry regiments.

The first of the three new regiments, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry (or The Wessex Yeomanry as it was then known) was formed on 1 April 1971 by the re-raising of squadrons from the cadres of The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry (RWY), The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars (RGH) and the Royal Devon Yeomanry (RDY)/1st Rifle Volunteers

At that time the Regiment comprised of a Regimental Headquarters and four squadrons roled as Infantry. In the early 1980s it was re-roled to carry out reconnaissance and became the Military Home Defence Reconnaissance Regiment for parts of southern and eastern England. The Regiment was granted its Royal title on 8 June 1979. Following a Defence Review in the early 1990s the Regiment was re-organised and re-roled. The number of Reconnaissance squadrons was reduced to three and a new Headquarters Squadron was formed.

This new structure was to last until the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) of 1998. In July 1999 the Regiment merged with The Dorset Yeomanry and was again re-organised and re-roled.

The Royal Wessex Yeomanry of today now consists of a Regimental Headquarters and four squadrons with the Regimental Headquarters based at The Armour Centre, Bovington, Dorset.

Present

As part of the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) The Royal Wessex Yeomanry is the South West of England's only Yeomanry regiment.

The Royal Wessex Yeomanry has four squadrons and has TA centres in the counties of Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

The RWxY trains Yeomen in a unique role, both replacement, Drivers, Gunners, Operators and (in the near future) Commanders for the Challenger 2 .

  • The provision of skilled officers and senior non-commissioned officers to support the Regular Army on operations as watchkeepers and liaison officers.

The three roles are shared between all four squadrons who, in addition, maintain basic soldier skills and fitness.

The Squadrons

A Sqdn (Dorset Yeomanry) were formally the Armoured Replacement Squadron, due to their proximity to RHQ they are to rerole as HQ (Dorset Yeomanry) Sqdn. They will continue to train Challenger crewmen along with signals and liaison specialists.

B (Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry) and C (Royal Gloucestershire Hussars) Sqdns will remain in their role of training CR2 Turrent cres and drivers. They also have (limited number) of facilitators, chefs, clarks and medics. B sqdn will absorb a troop of Royal Yeomanry from Swindon due to the disbanding of that sqdn and reorganisation.

D (Royal Devon Yeomanry) Will rename as A Sqdn, and move it's location from Barnstaple to Exeter and will keep its' Paignton location.


All four squadrons train officers and senior non-commissioned officers for command, watchkeeping and liaison duties.

Unusually, B Sqn is the senior of the four squadrons of the regiment. This is because the RWY is the senior Yeomanry regiment in the Yeomanry Order of Precedence, having been raised in 1794. It is not designated as A Sqn (which would be the usual practice) because there is an A (Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry) Sqn of the Royal Yeomanry with which it could be confused.