East Riding

Yeomanry

1903 - 1918
Squadron

Image: Group photograph of a squadron of ERY. ERYC Museums collections

The Warrior

Image: Machine gun team, Egypt 1918. ERYC Museums collections

Smithson album

Image: Cover of album by Charles Leonard Smithson. In private collection.

Less Smith album

Image: Lee Smith album page. Courtesy of Hedon Museum & the Estate of Mr W.Palmer

Introduction

These web pages look at the men who joined the East Riding Yeomanry (hereafter ERY) in the period from its creation until the Armistice at the end of the First World War. The research developed out of a major exhibition "Cavalry, Camels & Camaraderie: The East Riding Yeomanry in the Great War". This exhibition took place in 2014 at the Treasure House in Beverley, and was part of East Riding of Yorkshire Council's WWI centenary programme.

Alongside this exhibition, a complementary publication "One Hundred Lives: The East Riding Yeomanry in the Great War" was produced, (still available at the Treasure House, priced £5.00). This included short biographies of a selection of 100 individuals who served in the ERY, accompanied by images of each soldier.

The success of the exhibition led to a decision to continue collecting information and images relating to ERY soldiers to be published in time for the centenary of the end of the war in November 2018. These web pages and linked documents are the fruits of that research.

The main elements of the ERY web pages are as follows:

  • A brief history of the ERY from its creation until the end of the First World War.
  • A database of about 2500 named individuals, including information on where they were born/lived, service histories, civilian professions, marital status, memorials etc. This can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet by visiting the Database page.

Drawing on this database and a host of information sources, the following pages look at various aspects relating to the men of the East Riding Yeomanry in 1902-1918:

  • A list of abbreviations used in this project
  • The officers
  • The Non-commissioned officers (Sergeants, Corporals and such.)
  • The other ranks
  • The civilian professions of ERY men
  • The religious affiliations of ERY recruits
  • Casualties
  • Medals and awards
  • Data on sickness and physical fitness & other reasons for discharge from service
  • Mental health and disciplinary issues within the regiment
  • Conclusions

There are numerous questions that can be asked of the data, some being easier to answer than others. How were men recruited to the ERY and what patterns can be detected from the data, i.e. how local a regiment was the East Riding Yeomanry? Did recruitment patterns change over time? What can we say about the officers of the regiment - for example; were there many internal promotions from the ranks? And what information do we have on casualties, not only those men killed, but also wounds, mental health issues or long term sickness? Also considered on these pages is the evidence for gallantry medals and other awards to ERY men. And on the other hand, what can we say about less worthy behaviour within the regiment, both military offences and civilian crimes too?

Finally, the database attempts to say something about the personal life of the Yeomen after they left the regiment, where this can be discovered. So data on marriages, burial places, probate and various other topics can be found within the database.

Elsewhere, you will find a number of other linked resources:

Images of individual ERY soldiers. Over 350 individuals have been identified during the research project and you can view many of their portraits on the Humber Museums Partnership Flickr page.

Transcribed diaries / memoirs of ERY soldiers can also be found in the WWI resources section on Museums Online.

We hope that you find this information useful and that it stimulates you to pursue your own research. We would welcome any additional information you might be able to provide.

Choose a chapter below to explore the exhibition in more detail.

Download the database

The following downloadable document represents the culmination of research into the East Riding Yeomanry. The document is in the form of an Excel spreadsheet that gives access to all available information on the men of the Yeomanry

Download database
What's included in the database
The database has more than 2,000 entries that cover known facts for members of the East Riding Yeomanry, including:
  • Name
  • Known dates
  • Final rank in the Yeomanry
  • Promotions and transfers
  • Birthplace
  • Where they lived (and when)
  • Whether the source was the service or pension record
  • Physical description
  • Religion
  • Profession
  • Clubs and societies
  • Marital status
  • When they enlisted, and age at enlistment
  • Service numbers
  • Any foreign service
  • Casualty status
  • Other information
  • Whether they were disciplined
There are also separate sheets with graphs of birthplace data, profession data and religious data.
The database itself includes a search option if required.
If you have any information to add or change, preferably verifiable with some evidence please contact the Museums Registrar using the contact us page.
Abbreviations used in the database
A list of the abbreviations commonly used in the East Riding Yeomanry Database and text:
  • AVL Absent Voter Lists (1918)
  • AWOL Absent Without Leave
  • BFP Bridlington Free Press
  • BG Beverley Guardian
  • BMD Birth, Marriages and Deaths registers
  • BWM British War Medal
  • CB Confined to barracks
  • CCS Casualty Clearing Station
  • CMG Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George
  • COE Church of England
  • CQMS Company Quartermaster Sergeant
  • CWGC Commonwealth War Graves Commission
  • DL Deputy Lord Lieutenant
  • DLI Durham Light Infantry
  • DSO Distinguished Service Order
  • ERY East Riding Yeomanry
  • FP Field Punishment
  • Gazette London Gazette (see website)
  • GCIE Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire
  • GCSI Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India
  • GSW Gun shot wound
  • HDM Hull Daily Mail
  • ICC Imperial Camel Corps
  • JP Justice of the Peace
  • KAR King's African Rifles
  • KCB Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
  • KIA Killed in action
  • KOYLI King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • KR King's Regulations
  • MGC Machine Gun Corps
  • MID Mentioned in Despatches
  • MM Military Medal
  • OC Officer commanding
  • OTC Officer Training Corps
  • QOY Queen's Own Yeomanry (current successor unit to the ERY)
  • RA Royal Artillery
  • RAF Royal Air Force
  • RASC Royal Army Service Corps
  • RE Royal Engineers
  • RFA Royal Field Artillery
  • RFC Royal Flying Corps
  • RGA Royal Garrison Artillery
  • RHA Royal Horse Artillery
  • ROH Roll of Honour
  • SDGW Soldiers Died in the Great War database
  • SQMS Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant
  • SSM Squadron Sergeant Major
  • SWB Silver War Badge
  • TD Territorial Decoration
  • TEM/TFEM Territorial (Force) Efficiency Medal
  • TF Territorial Force
  • TFWM Territorial Force War Medal
  • VD Volunteer Officer's Decoration
  • VM Victory Medal
  • WIA Wounded in Action
  • WO Warrant Officer (a senior Non-Commissioned officer)
  • YEP/YP Yorkshire Evening Post / Yorkshire Post
  • YPLI Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
  • 15 star 1914-1915 star
Early transportation

Image: The East Riding Yeomanry's running fox emblem and motto

Parade

A brief history of the East Riding Yeomanry

An overview of the East Riding Yeomanry, where recruitment took place and the main travels of the units.

Go to Chapter 1

Image: Anniversary parade, Beverley Westwood. Courtesy of Hedon Museum & the Estate of Mr W.Palmer

The Officers

The ERY was one of a number of units formed in the wake of the 2nd Boer War to remedy a perceived weakness in the British Army's structure - the shortage of quality mounted troops. Initial recruitment was by public meetings at Hull, Beverley and other places within the East Riding. The intention was to create a 4 squadron regiment of around 600 officers and men.

Go to Chapter 2

Image: General Baden-Power, with Lord Wenlock, founder of the ERY, and his staff, probably 1903. Image courtesy of Hedon Museum & the Estate of Mr W. Palmer

Officers in 1903
Prentice executed

Non-commissioned Officers

In the British Army then and now, the Non-Commissioned officers (Corporals, Sergeants and Sergeant Majors) were very much the backbone of any regiment. They were responsible for much of the administration and the day-to-day training. They were the link between the other ranks and the officers of the regiment, thus ensuring (hopefully) discipline and order in the ranks.

Go to Chapter 3

Image: Corporal Charles Alvara Lofthouse, 1912, with the C squadron Challenge Cup awarded for shooting. Image from ERYC collection.

Rank and File

A look into the recruitment to the East Yorkshire Yeomanry and where recruits came from. Including the initial set up to wartime recruitment and transfers, as well as servants to officers.

Go to Chapter 4

Image: Practice trench digging, summer 1915. Image from ERYC collection.

Trench digging
Wilson Brothers

Professions and Social Background

In studying the men of the East Riding Yeomanry, much information has been gathered on the jobs that the men did prior to (and occasionally also after) their military service.

Go to Chapter 5

Image: Clive and Guy Wilson in hunting dress. Image courtesy of Hedon Museum and the Estate of Mr W. Palmer.

Religions

The available data on religious affiliation within the East Riding Yeomanry, the breakdown between members and the provision within the regiment.

Go to Chapter 6

Image: Sunday service at a pre-war Yeomanry camp. Courtesy of Hedon Museum & the Estate of Mr W. Palmer

Sunday Service
Throssell's Grave

Casualties

A look into the tragic loss of life in the East Riding Yeomanry and the soldiers that were wounded in action.

Go to Chapter 7

Grave of Saddler R.B. Throssell. Image in ERYC Museums collection.

Medals and Awards

For Yeomen who served overseas, the medal cards and medal rolls (originals at the National Archives) can give useful information on which theatres a man served in and other regiments he may have transferred to/from. Sometimes (mostly for officers) there are also addresses for correspondence. Ranks, dates of discharge and casualty information can also be obtained from these sources.

Go to Chapter 8

Image: Parade of ERY veterans, about 1950. Image courtesy of Hedon Museum & the Estate of Mr W. Palmer.

Early transportation
Ambulance

Sickness and the unfit

Particularly in wartime, the British Army had a vigorous set of regulations relating to the early discharge of soldiers from their service due to ill health or other physical issues. Read about the illness, soldiers who tried to avoid service through faking sickness, reasons logged for discharge and the mental impact of war.

Go to Chapter 9

Image: Ambulance, Egypt, 1917. Image from ERYC Archives Service, album of Robert S. Stephenson.

Disciplinary issues

Inevitably, the East Riding Yeomanry had its share of disciplinary problems, mainly amongst the enlisted men and junior NCO's. Though punishments are sometimes mentioned in private memoirs, the best sources for these are service/pension records, along with court martial proceedings. Where offences were committed that came under civilian jurisdiction, we can trace proceedings through the newspapers.

Go to Chapter 10

Image: Guard duty, July 1915. Image in private collection.

Guard Duty

Conclusion

The previous chapters have tried to give a picture of how the East Riding Yeomanry was recruited and its social composition. What though can our sources tell us about the personal relationships between the officers, non-commissioned officers and men? Read the final chapter of the East Riding Yeomanry online exhibition for a round up of the overall research.

Go to Chapter 11

Sources

Military
The starting point for research on any First World War soldier has to be the medal cards / medal rolls, as these have survived intact, unlike some other military records which were destroyed during the Second World War. Medal cards record names, ranks, service numbers, the medals awarded and sometimes the theatre of war that the soldier served in (using a number code system). Occasionally (mostly only for officers) an address might also be included.

There is a particular issue with medal cards and Territorial Army soldiers such as the ERY. Even for men of the 1/1st ERY who did serve overseas, if they subsequently transferred to a regular army regiment, the medal card/roll does not always record service in the ERY. Many soldiers who were in the reserve 2/1st and 3/1st ERY never served abroad (service in Ireland was seen as Home service) and therefore did not receive any medals. For these soldiers you need to consult other military records, including:
Service/pension records
Around 585 records have been consulted, representing about 23% of the names on the database. Whilst these can have a wealth of information on a soldier's service, they range from only a single page to a couple of dozen pages and are often partly illegible. Indexing of these in online subscription sites such as ancestry and findmypast does not necessarily include the ERY, so careful searching is required. There are multiple records for some individuals, where they enlisted more than once.

A selection of officer service records have also been consulted - these are held at the National Archives and are not currently available online. These are less uniform in their composition and variable in their usefulness.
Silver war badge records.
Useful for soldiers who were discharged early due to being unfit for service, sickness etc. Also include the man's enlistment date.
Soldiers Died in the Great War database
Very useful for details of ERY soldiers who transferred to other units (large numbers subsequently served in the East Yorkshire Regiment and the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) as prior service in the ERY is often recorded on SDGW even if not on the medal cards.
Go to Ancestry Database
The ERY's war diaries
(Stored at the National Archives) These provide not only details on the units movements, but also information on medals, postings for officers and occasionally notifications that batches of reinforcements had arrived. Other ranks are generally not named in the diaries.
War memorials and rolls of honour
ERY soldiers are recorded on many memorials and rolls of honour (ROH) around the East Riding and occasionally further afield. These do not always include names of regiments, so a certain amount of detective work may be required. ROH's / memorials consulted included many for individual towns or villages, particular streets, companies and other organisations.

The ERY's own roll of honour compiled after the war is a useful starting point, but contains a number of errors and evidence for some men even having been in the regiment is lacking. It is also apparent that despite appearing on the ROH, not all of these men had actually died - presumably there were some instances where men were declared missing but subsequently they turned up.
Archives and local museums
The East Riding Archives at the Treasure House contains the records of the East Riding Old Comrades Association set up after the First World War, along with some diaries, albums and other material. The annual Green's Almanacs for Beverley in 1914-1918 contain images of a number of ERY soldiers.

ERY material is also to be found at the Queen's Own Yorkshire Yeomanry Museum, Fulford, York Castle Museum, Hornsea Museum and Hedon Museum amongst others.
Other sources
On the civilian side, local and regional newspapers have also proved invaluable, as they often provide names of soldiers not otherwise known. Occasionally images are also included.

Diaries, memoirs, letters and photographs in private collections, along with face to face interviews with relatives of ERY have also been a rich mine of information.

Finally, an extensive internet research has uncovered a number of additional sources.
Acknowledgements
This project would not have been possible without the considerable help provided by a large number of people. We would like to thank in particular:
  • Colleagues in East Riding Museums, Archives and Local Studies Library
  • Martin Dawson of the Queen's Own Yeomanry Museum, Fulford
  • Hedon Museum and the Estate of Mr. W. Palmer
  • Neil Hutty, for invaluable assistance with many sources of information
  • Mrs Catherine Walker, Hornsea Museum
  • Numerous relatives of serving East Riding Yeoman for access to their family archives
.