A walk down Talbot Road, towards the Cemetery at Layton will provide a sample of the gentle decline of Blackpool in recent years. To the left on the way, you come across a once imposing building, 221 Talbot Road, the Drill Hall built for The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Imperial Yeomanry, a Cavalry Unit. The building appears on ‘Blackpool’s list of buildings of local architectural and or historic interest’. ‘D’ Squadron of The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry are inextricably linked to the building.
The Drill Hall was opened with great ‘Pomp & Circumstance’ and press coverage on 17 July 1903. It was opened by Field Marshal Earl Roberts, Commander in Chief of the Army and The Honourable, Lord Chesham, the Inspector General of Yeomanry. A Guard of Honour was formed by The Troop in ‘Dismounted Order’. The building was described as a ‘…building of National importance by Lord Roberts in his Opening speech in fullness of tribute to Corporation of Blackpool for their generosity.
Until the Drill Hall was opened, the Troop camped where ever they could, with a small office, provided courtesy of the Winter Gardens; Foot Drill and training took place in the Ballroom of Raikes Hall Gardens. Raising the profile of the unhelpful conditions, Colonel Hargreaves and The Earl of Ellesmere persuaded and cajoled the authorities into providing a custom built base. The Corporation leased the site, and much of the work was done by the Troopers, supervised by two of there number acting a Clerks of Works, Sgt J.C. Derham (later to become chief Architect at the Winter Gardens) and Sgt F.M. Wilding.
The DLOY Drill Hall, 221 New Road (now Talbot Road),
A review of the Council Minutes relating to the development of the Drill Hall, provide a glimpse as to its progress:
24 Sep 1902 Read: A letter of 18 September 1902 from Dr Molloy, asking the Committee to lease at a nominal rent to the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Imperial Yeomanry (Blackpool Troop), sufficient land adjoining the road leading from New Road to the Public Abattoirs for the erection of a Drill Shed.
08 Oct 1902 Considered the Letter from Dr Molloy….then proceeded to the proposed site
15 Oct 1902 Resolved: That the land referred to in preceding Minutes be let to the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Imperial Yeomanry for the term of 99 years subject to an annual ground rent of 23s 1d.
25 Mar 1908 Resolved: to hand over the Drill Hall to the TA Council for West Lancashire.
22 Apr 1908 Considered a letter from Capt Leonard Molloy requesting land for Drill.
20 Jul 1908 Considered a letter from Maj Topping for use of land for Riding Drill. Resolved: Permission given for Riding and Driving Drill
27 Jul 1908 Resolved: land between Rigby Road and the Gas works to be used for Riding and Driving Drill.
24 Mar 1909 Resolved: permission given to use the field behind the Drill Shed.
29 May 1909 Concerns arose regarding insurance on the mortgaged Drill Hall
30 Jun 1909 Resolved: to accept that the premiums for insurance should be paid by the Corporation.
22 Nov 1909 Resolved: to provide a crossing of the footpath on New Road for the movement of horses and vehicles.
The Drill Hall maintained its link with DLOY until 1991 and was finally closed 1992 when the Troop was disbanded and Blackpool Units moved to a new Centre in South Blackpool. The building, sadly, now lies partly derelict.
This piece attempts to uncover the heritage of this building and its occupants.
What about the ‘Yeomanry’
We cannot consider the history of the Blackpool Squadron without considering the wider story of ‘Yeomanry’.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines Yeomanry as:
A group of men who held and cultivated small landed estates. A volunteer cavalry force raised from the yeomanry (1794–1908).
Traditionally, Yeomanry were mounted units of a volunteer, part time Cavalry, established in 1908, but having a heritage in militia and volunteer units dating back many decades. In the 1790s, there was a widespread perceived threat of invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte. To improve the country’s defences, Volunteer Units were raised in many counties from Yeomen. These Units became known collectively as the ‘Yeomanry’. Designed for home defence, Yeomanry were not expected to serve overseas unless they gave personal consent to do so.
In absence of a widespread Police Force, the early 1800’s saw Yeomen used in support of civil authority to respond to civil unrest prevalent at the time; ‘Peterloo’ features in the history of the Salford & Manchester Yeomanry.
By1827 and in spite of continuing unrest, Yeomanry Units were reduced in number by amalgamation and disbandment, mainly for financial reasons. These changes led to the formation of just 22 Corps or Regiments receiving funding and a further 12 serving as Volunteers, without pay.
Because of concerns over effectiveness of the Yeomanry, in 1870, measures were put in place to increase both recruitment and effectiveness. The measures required members to attend regular training in return for what is still called a ‘Bounty’, or financial benefit. The introduction of Yeomanry Officers, permanent Military skills instructors and a new School of Instruction, together with the Secretary of State for War assuming responsibility for the force, improved the professionalism of the Yeomanry Force, However, numbers remained relatively low at 10,617 in 1881; the use of Yeomanry in quelling Civil unrest, no doubt having an impact in the North.
In 1876 the role of the Yeomanry Force was moved to that of ‘Light Cavalry’.
Yeomanry in Lancashire
Read (1992) traces the origins of Lancashire Yeomanry to the late 18th Century, to the time of the ‘Revolutionary War’ with France. 1794 saw the Volunteer Act, encouraging men to ‘voluntarily enrol themselves for the defence of their Counties, town and coasts, or for the general defence of the Kingdom’. With the following peace from around 1802, many Lancashire Yeomanry Regiments were disbanded, changed names and were revived as necessary. The picture at that time is confusing. Read goes on to show that amongst those surviving in 1804 was the Bolton Le Moors Cavalry and he states that the DLOY was derived from that Regiment, raised by Bolton businessman John Pilkington, its first Commandant, in 1798. However
In 1827 Mounted Volunteer units from Bolton, Furness and Wigan joined forces to become the ‘Lancashire Corps of Cavalry’. 1834 saw King William IV declare that the Corps should take the title ‘The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Corps of Yeomanry Cavalry’. The Regiment was now made up of three Troops. By 1849, with no shortage of Volunteers, the number of Troops grew steadily, so that by the end of the Century the Regiment boasted eight Troops in 4 Squadrons, with its HQ in Worsley and with a strength of around 500.
‘A’ Sqn: Oldham (1872) & Rochdale (pre 1849) Troops
‘B’ Sqn: Liverpool (1899) and Bolton (pre 1849)
‘C’ Sqn: Broughton 1877) & Worsley (Pre 1849)
‘D’ Sqn: Blackburn (1880) & Blackpool (pre 1849)
So, mixing experience, older Troops with new ones.
Interestingly, The Blackpool Troop claimed its heritage directly from Furness, (see below). Although its direct lineage can be taken from the Bolton Light Horse Volunteers in 1798 (Read, 1992)
As the 1899 reforms and ‘Imperial Yeomanry’ gathered pace, the Lancashire contingents formed the 23rd (The Duke of Lancaster’s Own) Company of Imperial Yeomanry. Recruits were kitted out, armed and supplied with fresh horses; moving to Blackpool for training. Accommodation was found in the Guest Houses and preparations made for a move to the Cape and war with the Boers. The Gazette reported:
‘…training in science of musketry, the art of riding and the wiles of associated with mounted infantry. …. The sands at South Shore have been occupied by khaki clad horsemen galloping, curvetting and manoeuvring in picturesque, yet methodical evolutions. Their operations have been keenly watched by crowds of pedestrians…’
Patriotic entertainment at the Grand Theatre and a departure Dinner was organised at the Alhambra, supplemented by free access to the Music Halls and Opera House provided off duty pastimes during the four weeks to prepare for departure to South Africa,.
In January of 1900, the Mayor of Blackpool gave permission for 10 horses to be billeted in Corporation stables. The Council approved the action ‘… for a fortnight prior to the Yeomanry proceeding to the seat of the Transvaal War’.
Service in South Africa was eventful. Within 8 weeks of arriving (March 1900) and following acclimatisation for men and horses, they moved to join General Sir Charles Warren to support the British Counter attack against the Boers. Arriving at Faber’s Put, a small camp at a Farmstead in May 1900. Perhaps the most serious action for the Dukes Own occurred here. The Camp was attacked in the early morning of 30 May 1900, 22 were killed, 32 wounded. The incident at Faber’s Put was followed by skirmishes in and around Hoopstad until December when the 23rd moved back to the South and in April 1901 returned home, although some decided to stay and build new lives in South Africa.
Council Minutes of 16 June 1900 record the discussions to provide a permanent record of those from Blackpool who fought in South Africa:
‘That the names of all the men who have gone from Blackpool to take part in the War in South Africa as volunteers, whether Yeomanry, Artillery or Ambulance men, be inscribed upon a permanent Roll of honour in the Town Hall, and that the selection of the position and design be left in the hands of the Offices Sub-Committee, with power to carry out the work.’
That Roll of Honour still stands in the Entrance hall to the Town Hall. Passed by many, seen by few.
Yeomanry of Blackpool
What follows is a transcription from a souvenir booklet for a fund raising ‘Military Bazaar’ in September/October 1904. The Military Bazaar was held Victoria Hall, Winter Gardens, Blackpool. (See ‘Sources’)
A ‘Short History of the Blackpool Troop of
The Duke of Lancashire’s Own Imperial Yeomanry’
DUKE OF LANCASTER‘S OWN IMPERIAL YEOMANRY, BLACKPOOL TROOP
WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY,
VICTORIA HALL, WINTER GARDENS, BLACKPOOL
SEPT. 28th, 29th, 30th, & Oct. 1st.
The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Imperial Yeomanry
A Short History of the Regiment
The Duke of Lancaster Own Imperial Yeomanry, as the Regiment is now designated, has existed since October 1819. when a Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry, under the command of Col. Braddyll being its Captain. Of Conishead Priory, was raised by that gentleman at Furness; Col Braddyll being its Captain. A few days later a Troop was raised at Wigan, and in April 1820, a third came into existence at Bolton-le-Moors.
Until April, 1828, these three troops of Yeomanry were managed independently. On that date, however, the Government ordered them to be united under one command; Capt. Braddyll being placed in charge with rank of Major. The unit was then known as the ‘Lancashire Yeomanry Cavalry’.
The first training of the Regiment, lasting 10 days, was held at Lancaster in June, 1828.
In October, 1834, at a private audience granted to Col. Braddyll at St. James’s Palace, H.M. King William IV directed that in future the Regiment should be known as ‘The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry Cavalry’ and that the uniform should be scarlet with blue facings and gold lace.
Col. Braddyll was succeeded in the command in 1841 by Lord Francis Egerton.
For over 20 years the Regiment consisted of the three above-mentioned troops, but in February, 1844, a troop was raised at Rochdale; in March, 1846, another at Worsley; in 1873, another at Oldham ; and 1877, another at Broughton, near Manchester. In 1873, after an existence of 54 years, the Furness troop was disbanded, and in 1880 the same fate overtook the Wigan troop after 61 years’ service.
The Blackburn troop was raised by Captain Herbert Shepherd-Cross, in November, 1880; and the Blackpool troop by his son, Capt. (now Major) T. A. Shepherd-Cross, in 1899. The Liverpool troop was raised in the same year by Capt. (now Major) R. H. Tilney.
The Regiment now consists of 4 Squadrons, designated A, B, C, and D, each Squadron consisting of 2 troops, viz:
A Squadron Rochdale & Oldham Troops.
B ,, Liverpool & Bolton ,,
*C ,, 2 Manchester ,,
D ,, Blackburn & Blackpool ,,
*This Squadron, until recently, consisted of the Broughton and Worsley troops, which have now been absorbed into the Manchester troops.
The strength of the Regiment is 25 Officers and 487 Rank and File, i.e. some 50 men above establishment.
The title of the Regiment is now ‘The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry’, the change having been made during the reorganisation of the Yeomanry Forces during the late South African Campaign.
The Hon. Colonel is the Earl of Ellesmere, and the Regiment is commanded by Col. Percy Hargreaves
The Regiment has been closely associated with many stirring events in the County Palatine, having been utilised in assisting the Civil Power in the troublous times in 1826, 1839, 1840, 1842 and 184S, at various industrial centres.
Detachments escorted the Queen-Dowager to Bowness in July, 1840; Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort at Worsley, in October, 1851 ; Queen Victoria, at the Opening of the Manchester Ship Canal, in May, 1894 ; The Prince of Wales (then Duke of York) at Manchester, in July, 1897 ; and on the occasion of the recent visit of Their Gracious Majesties, the King and Queen, to Liverpool, on July 19th, 1904, the entire Regiment, 350 strong, under the Command of Col. Percy Hargreaves, Formed two Guards of Honour—A. & B. Squadrons being posted outside the Lime Street Station, and C & D. Squadrons at St. James’ Mount, where the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the New Liverpool Cathedral took place.
Detachments also took part in the Jubilee Procession, June 22nd, 1897 ; the Funeral Ceremonies of Her late Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, February 2nd, 1901 ; the visit of T.R.H. the Prince and Princess of Wales to Manchester to open the Whitworth Hall, on March 12th, 1902; the visit of H.R.H. Princess Louise at Manchester, on the same date.
Squadrons took part in the Royal Review, held on Laffan’s Plain, Aldershot, on June 12th, 1902 ; and in the Coronation Procession in London, on August 9th, 1902.
During the late South African Campaign, 6 Officers of the Regiment, one permanent Staff Sergeant, and 127 Non-Commissioned Officers and men served either in the 23rd Company Imperial Yeomanry or in other Corps.
The 23rd Company was officered entirely from the Regiment, the names of those serving being as follows:
Capt. George Kemp (now Colonel George Kemp, M.P.) in Command;
Capt. H. M. Hardcastle, now Major Hardcastle;
Capt. A. W. Huntington, now Major Hunting-ton, D.S.O. ;
2nd Lieut. C. H. Bibby-Hesketh, now Capt. Bibby-Hesketh ;
2nd Lieut. J. A. B. Heap, now Capt. Heap;
2nd Lieut. T. B. Forwood, now Lieut. Forwood.
Capt. Kemp was rewarded by receiving the rank of Hon. Colonel in the Army, and Major A. W. Huntington, who was wounded at Faber’s Spruit, on May 30th, 1900, received the decoration of the Distinguished Service Order. Several members of the 23rd Company received commissions, and several were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
The following were killed at the engagement at Faber’s Spruit:—Lance-Sergeant G. Barry, of the Blackburn Troop; Corporal W. Coulston, of the Blackpool Troop; Pte. D. Rew, Worsley Troop; Pte. J. W. Derbyshire, Broughton Troop; and in addition to Major Huntington, the following were wounded: Lance-Corpl. E. Poole and Pte. R. P. B. Carter. Pte. J. W. Dransfield died from Enteric, at Kimberley.
The Story of the ‘Blackpool Troop’.
Since 1887 the Duke of Lancaster’s Own, have been resident in Blackpool and the Fylde, at that time attached to the Blackburn Troop, and depending for their drills and instruction upon the Officers and Instructor of that Troop.
When it became necessary to enlarge the Regiment to eight Troops (1899), it was decided to locate one of the new Troops at Blackpool, the men resident there to form the nucleus, as it was felt there was plenty of good material to be recruited from ; Accordingly, Capt. T. A. Shepherd-Cross undertook to raise a Troop, and between January, 1899, and the Annual Training in the following June, he had succeeded in securing nearly 50 excellent recruits For the first two years of the Troop’s existence, Capt. T. A. Shepherd-Cross was its only Officer, and consequently all the hard work of organising it and installing it on a firm basis fell upon his shoulders, the burthen being increased by the fact that during the War he was obliged to supervise the work of three other Troops whose Commanders were absent in South Africa,
Mr. L. G. S. Molloy joined the Regiment as Surgeon-Lieutenant in 1900: resigning his commission in 1901, he was appointed to the combatant rank of Lieutenant, since which time he has seconded Capt. T. A. Shepherd-Cross’s efforts in bringing the Troop to as high a pitch of efficiency as possible.
For the first four and a half years the Troop laboured under the disadvantage of having no permanent Head-quarters. The office work had to be done in a small store, at the top of the Empress Buildings, rented from the Winter Gardens Co., and the dismounted drills took place in the old Ballroom, at the Raikes Hall Gardens, while the Sgt Major Instructor had to be supplied with a house in another part of the town. The men had very little opportunity of meeting together except at drills, and the various manoeuvres had to be carried out under conditions that were neither comfortable nor suitable.
It was decided to endeavour to obtain within the town, a permanent Head-quarters, in which the Sergt-Major Instructor could live, where the valuable stores and equipment could be safely stored and the men drilled under the best conditions, and in which they could meet for recreation, etc., in the winter months.
The Corporation of Blackpool allowed the Officers to have a site on the north side of New Road, on which to erect the building, on very generous terms, and Mr. R. B. Mather gave them, free of all costs, the plans and specifications, and supervised the work from the laying of the foundation-stone to its completion in every detail.
Mr. Alfred Ascroft gratuitously acted as Legal adviser in all matters connected with the transfer of the property, &c
Mr. R. B. Mather also permitted Sergt. Fred M. Wilding and Lance-Corpl. J. C Derham, both of whom are in the office, to act as Clerks of the Works, &, &. The work done by these Non-Commissioned Officers in connection with the entire scheme has been most valuable.
The Troop has, therefore, every reason to be grateful for the generous treatment it has received.
The Headquarters have a frontage to New Road of fifty feet and are substantially built of red brick throughout. The front elevation is treated with Accrington bricks and stone dressing. It has a Battlement Coping with a gable in the centre surmounted by a flagstaff.
The buildings contain a complete residence for the Sergt. Major Instructor, an Armoury, an Officers House, a Non-Commissioned Officer’s Room, a Recreation and Lecture Room, and ample Lavatory accommodation. The Drill Hall is about ninety feet long by forty eight feet wide and is a lofty and well-lighted building ; the floor is laid with asphalt, and the roof is of corrugated iron. The Hall contains a miniature rage for rifle practice, the apparatus being the gift of Col. P. Hargreaves
The Officers Room has been furnished and decorated by Capt. L.G. Molloy.
The Non-Commissioned Officers Room, Recreation and Lecture Room, &c have been furnished by members of the Troop.
The floors of the rooms have been covered with oilcloth, generously given by Thomas Bannister, Esq.
The Recreation Room was decorated by Trooper Beaumont at his own expense.
On July 17th, 1903, the Head-quarters were formally opened by Field-Marshal the Right Hon. Earl Roberts, K.G., O.M., P.C, &c, Commander-in-Chief, who was accompanied by the Right Hon. Lord Chesham, K.C.B., Inspector-General of Yeomanry; Major-General Hallam Parr, General Officer commanding the North Western District; Colonel Courtenay, Chief Staff Officer, North Western District ; the Mayor of Blackpool (Aid. James Heyes), the Honorary Architect (Aid. R. B. Mather, J.P.), the Town Clerk (Mr. T. Loftos), the Borough Surveyor (Mr. J. S. Brodie), and other members of the Corporation. Lord Roberts was received by a Guard of Honour composed of the Blackpool Troop, Col Percy Hargreaves, commanding the Regiment; Major A. W. Huntington, D.S.O., commanding ” D” Squadron, and the Adjutant, Capt. N. D. H. Campbell, 7th Dragoon Guards.
Lord Roberts was pleased to express himself as perfectly satisfied with the buildings, and congratulated the Hon. Architect, Mr. R. B. Mather, on having designed such suitable Headquarters. He also expressed his appreciation of the generous way in which the Corporation of Blackpool had assisted an object of such national importance.
During the time the Head-quarters have been in existence, in addition to the necessary drills and exercises, the men have been instructed in gymnastics, physical drill, boxing, &c, by P. C. Wilkinson (who has since been appointed Instructor at the Municipal Gymnasium). Lectures on Military subjects have also been given during the winter evenings, and it is intended in the future to make the building a place of healthful instruction and recreation for the members of the Troop; a considerable sum of money has already been expended in procuring the needful apparatus.
With a view to helping to defray the cost of the buildings and their equipment, various entertainments have been held.
On Monday, May 4th, 1903, Mrs. T. A. Shepherd-Cross and a party of ladies and gentle men gave a Dramatic Performance at the Grand Theatre, (most generously lent for the occasion by Thos. Sergenson, Esq.,) which resulted in the sum of over £100 being placed to the credit of the fund. This sum was further increased by a handsome donation of £200 from Col. Percy Hargreaves, and £25 from Major A. W Huntington, D.S.O.
The profits of the Troop Ball, for the last two years have been credited to the fund.
In connection with one of the Stalls for this Bazaar, Miss Nellie Pollitt arranged a Dramatic Performance at the Grand Theatre, on Friday, April 22nd, 1904, which produced a profit of £106.
As the buildings cost £1,600, and its equipment £200, a total of £2,000 is needed in order that a small capital sum for up-keep and repairs may be established.
The Officers of the Troop are personally responsible for the debts upon the undertaking.
As showing the efficiency of the Troop, it should be known that during the training of 1003, the “D” Squadron (Blackburn and Blackpool Troop) carried off the “Colonel Kemp Cup,” in a competition designed to discover which was the smartest Squadron in the Regiment. On June 6th, of the present year, the Storey Inter-squadron Challenge Cup, shot for by teams of six from , each Squadron, was won by ” D” Squadron, who had been runners-up the previous two years. The Blackpool Troop supplied five out of six of the winning team. (End of Booklet Text.)
The Booklet contains lists of the ‘Key Personalities’ of the Blackpool Troop and those involved in the 1903 Bazaar, along with the ‘Programme’, are transcribed at Annexe ‘A’.
The Yeomanry at War
During the Second Boer War, 1899-1902 the decision to allow and enable Volunteer forces to serve abroad was taken, under pressure to support the Regular Army. So, ‘Imperial Yeomanry’ was formed and from 1901 all yeomanry regiments were re-designated as such, and reorganised. In 1908 the Imperial Yeomanry was amalgamated with the Volunteer Force to form the cavalry arm of the Territorial Force, the “Imperial” title was dropped at the same time.
The Yeomanry regiments went on to serve in World War 1 as part of the Territorial Force, although the Territorial Force was disbanded to become the Territorial Army (TA) after WW1. Many of the regiments were re-roled as Armoured Reconnaissance, Artillery, Engineers or Signals. The Regiment gained Battle Honours to add to those of South Africa, in Middle East Egypt and Europe. In fact the Regiment was split: A & B Squadrons to Egypt and Palestine and C & D Squadrons with Headquarters to France and Flanders. ‘D’ Sqn from Blackpool saw action with 14 Div, fighting dismounted, in trenches alongside the Infantry at Ypres, Belgium.
Rather than serving as a unit the DLOY Companies were split and Sections were tasked to their particular skills, usually as Snipers or Observers in FOPs; or guarding prisoners or burying the dead.
A review of the War Diary for ‘D’ Squadron between May 1915 when they arrived ‘in Theatre’ and May 1916 gives details of the Squadrons diverse activities, Sections usually on detachment of about 30 men with a Officer. Trenching, labouring and later, acting in a mounted Policing role. A List of key locations D Squadron can be found at Annexe ‘B’. Personnel referred to in the War Diary are at Annexe ‘C’ and a Nominal Roll at Annexe ‘D’.
In 1916, Companies reunited and were attached to the Surrey Yeomanry to form the ‘Corps Composite Cavalry Regiment’, to provide support to the Somme offensive. However, failure to make progress in the offensive brought the Companies back supporting the infantry in the trenches. The Corps was disbanded and the DLOY Companies absorbed into 12 Battalion, The Manchester Regiment and some of the bitterest fighting of the war.
At this time too, two new DLOY Battalions were forming as 2/1st and 3/1st Bn for home defence and recruitment and training. The latter serving in Ireland in time to contribute to the suppression of Easter rising.
A list of casualties from World War 1, extracted from Commonwealth War Graves Commission data can be found at Annexe’E’.
Post war: The Blackpool Squadron like many others awaited their fate of disbandment or amalgamation. In 1921 the DLOY were re-roled as a Field Artillery Regiment of just 3 Squadrons, although a couple of months later the decision was reversed and the DLOY reverted to mounted Cavalry. Life continued with a standard routine of Drill nights and annual camps, until September 1939 and a further, major re-role. 221 Talbot road remained the focus for the Blackpool members of ‘D’ Squadron.
In World War II, the TA was dramatically expanded, with many of the old ‘Yeomanry’ Units serving again with great distinction. In 1940, the DLOY were to become two Medium Artillery Regiments, 77th & 78th.
The Blackpool Squadron became ‘B’ Battery, 78 (DLOY) Medium Artillery Regiment (TA). In January 1943 DLOY were deployed to the Middle East in time for the planning for the invasion of the soft under belly of Europe. After a period of ‘quiet’ time, guarding and escorting German Prisoners of War from the Western Desert, they were redeployed, landing in Taranto in November 1943, moving north to Barletta, north of Bari and then on to Andria. The first couple of months were uneventful, other than training and inspections. In January 1944 they moved to the battle area between San Eusanio and Castel Frentano, re-designated as 105 Battery and 106 Battery. Both were in action almost immediately. On 28 April a shell landed on the Cookhouse and killed two Gunners and wounded another.
March 1944 saw the attempts to take and pass the almost unassailable Monastery at Monte Cassino. 78 Regiment was now under control of the Americans, with a major offensive on the Monastery to take place on 11 May at 23.00, from a vantage point on the slopes of Mt Trocchio. The OP group (Observation Post group directing fire from close to the target) moved with the Infantry attack on the Monastery. Casualties in this assault were high as they were for 78’s Guns on Trocchio. One gun team suffered a direct hit, with nine killed outright. The taking of Mte Cassino claimed the lives of 45,000 allied soldiers.
By May the 78th had moved to Trieste via Padua and Treviso and although initially tense, they were again re-designated in January 1946 as a ‘Mounted’ Military Police Force, to keep law and order, becoming ’78 Regiment (DLOY) (Auxiliary Police)’. By March 1946 it was all over for 78 Regt, they were disbanded and sent home
After the War, the TA reduced in size and role, mainly supporting Regular units with which some were twinned. The Regiment was not yet dead! Despite being in ‘suspended animation’ (Brereton, 1994) the Officers and Men of 78 formed an Association of Old Comrades, with a branch in Blackpool, at the same time the Atlee Government was reforming and reducing in number the Yeomanry Regiments to accommodate National Service. The Blackpool ‘Sabre’ Squadron of 78 Regt, was in business again. Its heritage as a pre-war Cavalry Unit it meant it was absorbed into the Divisional Armoured Regiment of 42nd (East Lancs) Division, with HQ in Manchester.
In June 1953, the London Gazette announced that like her predecessors since 1834, ‘Her Majesty was graciously pleased to assume the appointment of Honorary Colonel of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry’ In September of that year, a revised statement appeared in the London Gazette Supplement which said: ‘Her Majesty was graciously pleased to assume the appointment of Honorary Colonel of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry (T.A.)’….’ The previous announcement… is cancelled.’
Post war life for the 78th and the Blackpool Squadron was mainly routine and uneventful made up of training; weekly drill nights; weekend and annual camps; inspections; VIP Visits and Events. Although in 1955 the Annual Camp at Thetford was ‘attacked’ from the air by a 78 Regt Squadron Officer, a qualified Pilot, who managed to load up a small aircraft from nearby airfield with Toilet Rolls, ‘bombing’ the Squadron Lines causing some consternation on the ground. However, the attack was short lived when the men retaliated with Very pistols, putting a hole in one of the aircraft’s wings!
A number of further re-roling and reforming exercises have taken place since the War (Read, 1992):
1947 Royal Armoured Corps (TA)
1967 Royal Tank Regt (TA)
1969 202 (DLOY) Fd Sqn Royal Engineers
1971 DLOY (TAVR) (Infantry Home Defence Regt)
1979 HQ moved to Chorley
1981 Blackpool Troop was reduced to a detachment of ‘D’ Squadron based in Preston
1983 DLOY (RAC TA) (Home Defence Reconnaissance Regt)
In 1967 the TA was reformed into the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve (TAVR) and all existing Yeomanry regiments were reduced to squadron, company or battery sub-units.
At the end of the ‘Cold War’, in 1991 the Government embarked on another restructuring of the British armed services, with more amalgamation and disbandment. DLOY ceased to exist, replaced by a ‘conglomerate’ ‘The Royal Mercian & Lancastrian Yeomanry (Brereton, 1994). Blackpool’s ‘D’ Squadron moved to Wigan. DLOY’s presence in Blackpool was limited to an old Drill Hall, closed in 1992, bearing the inscription: The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Imperial Yeomanry’.
Sources & Bibliography:
Read, F., (1992) The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry: A short history compiled from regimental and other records, Lancashire County Books
Brereton, J., (1994) Chain Mail: The History of The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry 1798 – 1991, Picton Publishing (Chippenham) Ltd.
Booklet: Souvenir Programme of The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Imperial Yeomanry, Grand Military Bazaar, 1904, at Local History Dept, Blackpool Central Library, Ref LP15(P)
First World War and Army of Occupation War Diary (France, Belgium & Germany), 14 Divisional Troops D Squadron Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry, 23 May 1915 – 31 May 1916 (First World War, War Diary, WO95/1886/1), (2015), The Naval and Military Press Ltd.,
Archives of the DLO Yeomanry at:
Scrapbook of ‘D’ DLOY at:
Handlist 72: Sources for the history of the militia and volunteer regiments in Lancashire (Lancashire Record Office)
Mills, T.F (2007) The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry at: regiments.org.
Wikipedia entry at:
DLOY Cap Badge courtesy of Andrew Butler Insignia, Search ‘old_club_badges’ accessed 20/06/2016
Others by the Author. Copyright of Michael P Coyle
Annexe ‘A’ Key Personalities..
Annexe ‘D’ Nominal Roll as at 20/12/1915.
Annexe ‘E’ DLOY WW1 Casualties
Annexe ‘F’ Annual Camp Locations for ‘D’ Sqn DLOY.
Annexe ‘G’ Key Dates: The Blackpool Troop.