Tales from the Great War – Essex Yeomanry

“A letter has been received from Capt. Percy Holt, Porter’s Hall, Stebbing, who is serving with the Essex Yeomanry at the front, stating that the Yeomanry have received their baptism of fire in Flanders, and did credit to themselves and their regiment. On Sunday the Essex Yeomanry were in action in the trenches east of Ypres. The “A” Squadron lost one man and had fourteen wounded.

essex yeomary

Sergt.-Major Driver, of the Essex Yeomanry, son of Councillor Driver, writing to his wife at Chelmsford, tells how his regiment got up into the firing line. “We left our billets,” he says, “in motor ‘buses for the trenches. When within three miles of the firing line we alighted and had to march. It was very dark, especially on going through some woods. Shrapnel was flying about all round. I slept that night in a dug-out, which I shared with Mr Gilbey. We felt like cave dwellers, but the dug-out, being on a hill, was dry, and, having a fire in it, we were fairly comfortable. We had to be careful, however, of the enemy’s snipers, who get very lively at daylight and pick off anybody they can. They are sometimes located by periscope, but on this occasion we had no luck. Next night we spent in the reserve trenches. We were all right till some men carried ammunition to the firing line, when several were wounded by shrapnel, two seriously. I am quite all right.””

The articles were published in The Essex Newsman on 20 February 1915.

The 1/1st Essex Yeomanry formed part of 8th Cavalry Brigade of 3rd Cavalry Division, together with the Royal Horse Guards and the 10th (Prince of Wales’s) Royal Hussars. “A” Squadron were the first element of the regiment to deploy in the trenches near Zillebeke on 3 February, under the command of the Royal Horse Guards. “B” Squadron relieved “A” on the night of 8/9 February, who were in turn relieved by “C” Squadron at 3 o’clock on the morning on 12 February. All elements of the regiment returned to their billets at Blaringhem by 14 February.

Information courtesy of Andy Smerdon

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