Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Doubt and Despondency

Initial excitement for Cheshire Yeomanry who early experienced the coastal bombardment of Yarmouth and Zeppelin bombing raids over Norfolk, largely gave way in 1915 to a period of many months with little to report.

Zeppelin raids became more common through 1915. There was thought that they were guided by signal lights from land, possibly vehicle head lights. Several times road blocks were set up in an attempt to catch the offending car, but to no avail. No such vehicle was ever seen.

The Regiment remained at Langley Park until 26 July 1915. At this time, they moved to Somerleyton Park and took over a new sector of coast at Lowestoft, about four miles from camp.

News circulated in September that more Yeomanry regiments were to go abroad dismounted, however for some reason this did not include the Cheshire Yeomanry. In Lt.-Col. Verdin’s history of the regiment he notes that “by the end of October the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade, and the South Wales Mounted Brigade in the same Division, contained between them the only six Yeomanries still left in the country.”

Yeomanry Regiments within these Brigades comprised:

Welsh Border Mounted Brigade
  • Shropshire Yeomanry
  • Cheshire Yeomanry
  • Denbighshire Yeomanry
South Wales Mounted Brigade
  • Pembroke Yeomanry
  • Montgomery Yeomanry
  • Glamorganshire Yeomanry 

Pictured right are Cheshire Yeomanry during 1915 on Buckenham Ferry on the River Yare in Norfolk. Thomas Minshall can be seen at the front, fourth from the right. For more information regarding the ferry see: Buckenham Ferry during the First World War (on the Broadland Memories Blog)

On 5 November 1915 the Cheshire Yeomanry received their orders to go abroad dismounted. All cavalry equipment had to be handed in and changed for infantry. All ranks too, had to be allowed a short visit home to say goodbye to their families. The excitement of being ordered abroad however gave way to doubt and despondency late in November as it appeared that the orders had been cancelled. It is likely that the original intention had been to send the Regiment to Salonika.

The Yeomanry continued to do dismounted training and to hope for the best. Air raids also continued and on occasion the Regiment was instructed to be especially vigilant. Whilst threat of enemy raid remained there would be a need for coastal defence, and it seemed the Regiment would never get away.

In February 1916 orders were again received that the Regiment were to go abroad. The last parade of the Regiment in Norfolk took place on the evening of 2 March before marching to Lowestoft Station for a journey to Devonport. The following evening the Regiment embarked on board HMT Haverford.

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