This page is to notify all members of Suffolk & Norfolk Yeomanry Association of Yeoman that have gone to rest
Please advise committee members of errors or omissions
Sergeant John “Ikie” Chilvers passed away on the 8th April 2020, aged 87. John was a member of the Swaffham, Norwich and later the Bury St Edmunds Detachment for many years. Serving as a Gun Number One and latterly with the Battery as an Exercise Damage Control Section Commander. John saw action in the United Nations Campaign in Korea, suffering injuries which he carried always.
The funeral for John will be held on Monday the 27th April 2020 at 12:15hrs. Due to the COVID-19 crisis the Service will be accessible via a webcast only. The Order of Service and Log In Details have been sent out to the Association email list. Please contact the Association Secretary if you require further details.
The Association left early on Friday morning, the 16th November for the long drive down to Mons, Belgium, to start the Kaiserschlacht & 100 day Offensive Tour.
After a rapid channel tunnel crossing, the weather deteriorated with heavy rain making the last few kilometers interesting. However everyone arrived at the hotel Le Monte Cristo in good spirits. The party then dined in Mons town centre, cooking their own steaks on a hot stone slab, whilst enjoying the local beers.
One of the highlights of the evening was the presence of the Christmas Fair, where members of the tour demonstrated their Archery skills and Yeomanry Horsemanship.
Saturday morning saw a sharp frost and an early start, heading for the famous Nimy Bridge, Mons, to discuss the formative and concluding days of the Great War.
From the Nimy Bridge we moved onto to the Saint Symphorien Military Cemetery and visited the Grave of Lt Dease VC and the first and last British soldiers killed in action during WW1 – this site was visited the week before by the British Prime Minister.
The next phase of the Tour saw us move into France only to be held up for sometime on the motorway, by the very start of the Yellow Vest Protests.
Eventually we made our way to the Templeaux Le Guerard Miltary Cemetery which holds the graves of 3 Suffolk Yeoman, belonging to the 15Bn Suffolk (Yeomanry) Regiment which saw their largest and most significant action of the 100 day Offensive on the 18th September 1918.
The part played by the Suffolk Yeoman was the prelude to the famous assault on the Hindenburg Line a few days later by the British, Australian and United States Troops, which resulted in the formal collapse of the German Army in France and Belgium.
A short service of remembrance took part at this location and a wreath was laid at the Cross of Sacrifice and individual wooden crosses at the Graves of CSM Chambers, Pte A Gray & Pte R Scott.
We then visited the impressive American Military Cemetery and Memorial at Bony, marking the US Army’s most significant action in this area.
Then onto the Wellington Quarry, Arras, where we once again ran the gauntlet of the Yellow Vest Brigade. We just made the entrance to the Tunnels due to the delay and the group donned their PPE before descending into to the subterranean world of the tunnels.
“Say no more”
After the tunnel adventure, it was back to the hotel, for refreshments and the tour dinner.
The final day saw us visit the sites of Neuve Chappelle and the Indian and Portuguese memorials.
The afternoon once again saw us trapped by the Yellow Vest Brigade, but undeterred we pressed onto Auber’s Ridge and Fromelles, where both the Suffolk & Norfolk Yeoman passed on their routes north in 1918. We were able to see and explore the formidable remains of the Hindenburg Line.
Our final stop of the day before departing for the Tunnel, was to pay our respects to the 32 men of the 12Bn Norfolk (Yeomanry) Regiment, buried in the Outtersteene Military Cemetery, This was the most significant action by the Norfolk Yeomanry in Northern France on the 19 August 1918, which resulted in the loss of 35 dead. This action saw 6 x Military Medals, 1 x DCM and a Military Cross awarded for gallantry.
Once again we conduced a service of remembrance, laying a wreath and placing 32 individual crosses to the fallen.
The tour finally returned home without any further interruptions by the Yellow Vest Mob, having been enjoyed as much by the guides as by the guests.
The Association wishes to thank the Suffolk & Norfolk Yeomanry Trust for their generous donation which allowed us to purchase wreaths and wooden crosses to pay our respects to the fallen Suffolk & Norfolk Yeoman of WW1.
The Suffolk & Norfolk Yeomanry Association were proud to have laid a wreath on behalf of the Suffolk & Norfolk Yeomanry Trust and Association at the Menin Gate, Ypres, on the eve of the Centenary commemoration on Saturday the 10th November 2018.
The Wreath was kindly donated by the Suffolk & Norfolk Yeomanry Trust
677 (Suffolk & Norfolk Yeomanry) Squadron AAC(R) follow the Battles of Messines and Passchendaele 1917.
The Squadron invited the Association to organise a Battlefield Tour following the key battles of Messines and Passchendaele in 1917. On the 14th July, the Squadron left Bury St Edmunds ARC along with Brian Greengrass and Trevor Jones and departed for Ypres, Belgium.
On arrival at the Hotel in Ypres the Sqn held an informal dinner with refreshments. Saturday morning started early, with the Sqn receiving a presentation on the Battles of Messines and Passchendaele from the tour guides, Trevor and Brian, to set the scene for the next two days.
The group arrived at the first location, Ploegsteert Wood Memorial and museum, where a short service of remembrance was held for 3 fallen Norfolk Yeoman, commemorated on the memorial stone.
The group then moved to the Irish Tower Memorial Park, which dominates the Messines Ridge, where an explanation of the Battle of Messines was given.
The next stop was Hill 60 and the Caterpillar Crater , where evidence of the underground war can still be seen today.
Then the party moved up to the Gheluvelt Plateau, where and explanation of the Battles for the Menin Road and Hooge were given.
After a brief bite to eat at Hooge, the group moved on the 1917 Memorial Museum Passchendaele, Zonnebeke where time was spent exploring this major historical collection, before walking in the footsteps of the British soldier up to the front line at Tyne Cot.
This concluded the first part of the tour, but was not the conclusion of the day’s activities for the Sqn.
The Squadron then paraded at the Menin Gate Ceremony as the principle military presence, paying their respects by laying a wreath at the memorial.
An early start on Sunday, took us to the Canadian Memorial at Crest Farm, where the final phases, capture and conclusion of the Third Ypres were discussed.
From Crest Farm we made our way along the Passchendaele Ridge which allowed the group to study the topography and reflect on the immense struggle by the British and Canadian Divisions as they moved up toward the village of Passchendaele, the focus of so much death and destruction.
The Langemark German Cemetery was the last stop on the tour, prior to departing to Calais for the return the UK. The sombre contrast between British and German cemeteries was explained to the group.
The tour turned into a personal pilgrimage for one Squadron member who had learnt that his Great Great Uncle was buried in the area but did know where, Brian and Trevor were able to research the location of his missing relative and provide time for the tour to visit his relatives final resting place in the Wytschaete Cemetery.
“Good morning I’m contacting the association as I recently visited Ypres with my squadron 677. I’d like to thank Brian Greengrass and Trevor Jones for a great trip and also for helping me in locating my Great Great uncles grave near Ypres. Since we have returned I’ve managed to get copies of his unit diary from the day he left Southampton to the day he was killed. It explains how he was killed and I have the grid ref for the point of death and initial burial. It’s interesting to see what and where his unit was working and billeted at this time. Once again a huge thanks”
Airtrooper James Atkinson 677 Squadron.
Beyond The Battlefield Tours – Annual Suffolk & Norfolk Yeomanry Association Battlefield Tour took place over the weekend 30th September to 2nd October 2016 to the Somme, Northern France.
This tour turned into a personal pilgrimage for one of the guests who had recently discovered that her Great Grandfather fought and was killed in the Battle of the Somme and his remains interred in the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery in Arras.
The Tour party left for France via the Euro Tunnel on a clear, bright and warm autumnal day, arriving at Arras in the early afternoon, allowing enough time to visit local attractions in the City and a stop for refreshments.
A guided tour of the Arras tunnels was followed by a walk around the two main city squares, with overnight accommodation at the Hotel Mecure, Arras Centre.
Up early on the Saturday and after a hearty breakfast, the party visited a number of memorials and cemeteries, whilst tracing the line of the Somme Valley north from the City.
First stop was at the Polish and Czechoslovakian Memorial at Neuville-Saint-Vasst, just outside the City limits, which afforded a superb view of a landscape fought over in both World Wars. This vantage point allowed a panoramic view, stretching back from Arras towards the ridges surrouning the valley.
Visible from this spot, was the French Cemetery at Notre Dame Lorrette, Vimy Ridge, The Abbey, De la Vielle, at St Elmo and the sight of the first Tank Battle by British Forces at Flers-Courcelette . We then moved on to visit the haunting French Military Cemetery at Notre Dame Lorrette. There is a new memorial to all soldiers of all the belligerent nations known to have fallen between 1914 -1918 in the area.
Next stop was the “Pals” memorial at Serre and walk around the battle ground, noting the recent commemoration of 100 years since the first Battle of the Somme by the placing of a Poppy for each British soldier to have fallen there.
Moving on, we visited the Ulster Tower Memorial and the awe inspiring Thiepval Memorial which lists 72,000 names of the missing, before spending time in the Thiepval Visitors Centre.
The last stop of the day was to the excellent Wellington Quarry Museum, Arras to discover how the British and Commonwealth forces fought a subterranean war. Walking through parts of the 20 km of tunnels we discovered that the purpose was to allow 24,000 men to emerge and attack the German Lines on the 9th April 1917, at the same time as the Canadian Corp launched their successful assault on the vaunted Vimy Ridge.
The pace slowed a little on the Sunday morning, as after a leisurely breakfast, the group made its way to the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery to pay their respects at the grave of Private Frank Herbert Massingham, the Great Grandfather of one of our party. Interestingly the Cemetery also holds the national memorial to the Royal Flying Corp and the fallen of the newly emerging RAF.
Following this sombre moment, the group return to Arras city centre to climb the Town Hall Belfry to take in the Battlefield vista before leaving for the return journey via Tunnel.
2017 Battlefield Tour Passchendaele – 100 Years On.
The Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry Association will be organising the annual Remembrance events at Norwich Cathedral and St Mary’s Church in Bury St Edmunds. All are welcome to attend either of the events. They will take place at 12:30hrs on Saturday 7 November 2015. Further details will follow.
CORRECTION TO DATE SATURDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2015
The annual Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry Association Armistice Dinner is planned for Saturday 14 November 2015 at the George Hotel in Swaffham. Menu choices and costs along with booking details will be confirmed in due course.
Our latest personal account come from Major Martin Long who joined the Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry (as 202 Battery) in 1970 and was subsequently to become Battery Commander. Here is the first part of his memories which are of when he joined the Battery.
“I joined the Battery in February 1970 as a result of a advertisement placed in the East Anglian Daily Times. I went to the Drill Hall at Bury and was interviewed by Capt Bowden. I subsequently was attested by Major Makin.
At the time the Battery was still shaking down following the mergers of the various regiments to a single unit. There was seemingly a huge number of soldiers in the battery and places on gun crews were keenly sought. There was a large pool of spare bodies for all the other tasks that the unit had and some of the tasks were none too pleasant! At that time the battery also had elements of the Essex Yeomanry attached who seemed to provide an extra OP party when deployed. The Drill Halls were Norwich, Swaffham, Ipswich and HQ was at Bury in the Kings Road old Cavalry Barracks which were very well equipped though the narrow entrance archway meant that drivers of the gun tractors had to be careful going through.
The battery was equipped with 5.5 inch medium guns which fired an 82 pound shell with a range of 15 kilometres at maximum. The gun towers were Leyland 6×6 Artillery tractors which had a crew of 10 with two drivers. The battery also had a Leyland Cargo wagon and a Thornycroft 10 tonner as spare hooks/ammunition carriers. The stores had three Bedford QL’s , one of which was used by the attached REME gun fitter team which were based at Regimental Headquarters at Grove Park in London. The seemed to come
out on every firing weekend and had a team of gun fitters and vehicle mechanics. Two further QL’s were used as the command post vehicles. These had banks of batteries to support the radio sets they carried. The rest of the vehicles were Land Rovers of the long and short wheelbase varieties.
I joined at the time that Major Makin was due to take command of the regiment being one of the first TA CO’s of the then new TAVR. Major Bowden took over as BC. The other officers at the time were: Captain A Collins, Captain G Suter (Forward Observation Officers); Captain C Appleby (Battery Captain); Lt N Ridley (GunPosition Officer); Lt C Snelling, Lt B Moulton, Lt C Pugsley (Command Post Officers). The Battery Sergeant Major was WO2 M Head and the Troop Sergeant Major was WO2 G Smith. The Gun Sergeants were: A Sub (Ipswich) Sgt Rumsby; B Sub ( Bury) Sgt Simmonds; C Sub (Norwich) I can’t recall [Editors note: does anybody know who this was at the time?]; D Sub (Bury) Sgt Darling; E Sub (Swaffham) Sgt Williamson; F Sub (Swaffham) Sgt White. Other SNCOS at the time were: Sgt T Smith Battery Commanders Assistant; Sgt R. Younger Technical Assistant Royal Artillery; Sgt W. Wrigley Signals; Sgt Bowman MT; S/Sgt B. Cook Stores; Sgt B. Kidd Pay Sgt Allen; Sgt B Emmerson. The senior PSI was WO2 Gay and there was a Sgt PSI whose name escapes me. Both came from 49 Regt RA which was the Battery’s a
ssociated regiment as it recruited from East Anglia. In time of war, 202 role was to provide an addition battery to 49 Regiment and to augment the regiment’s shortfall to full the orbat and that is perhaps the reason why the Battery was able to recruit and retain numbers well above the established needs. The Admin Officer based at Bury was Col. J Wilson and the Clerk was Mrs J Galvin.
Initial training was done at weekends at Bury covering Drill and weapons and army basic training. This was done by the Battery SNCO’s. It was on one of these weekends that I first met Gunner Gary Walker from Swaffham. The combat issue was plain khaki (the DPM was only then being issued to the regulars) and we also proudly had green neckscarfs to distinguish us from 200 Battery (Red) and 201 Battery (Maroon). Headquarter Battery (the unspeakable) wore Blue scarves and the LAD wore Yellow.
Though living in Ipswich, there was no room to join the detachment there so I was allocated to Bury on D Sub. Sgt Darling, the number 1, was seemingly always away working. (He installed radars on airfields for Marconi at Chelmsford) so the coverer Bdr Chris Coady looked after the gun and crew. Drill nights were spent on gun drill and cleaning the gun. Drill was deployment and recovery procedures and duties in action. It was important that every member of the crew could do each job on the detachment including laying the gun. QA lot of time was spent training on the various elements including basic maintenance of the weapon. The Bury gun was of the welded trail type which made cleaning it a great deal easier than the other battery guns which had the riveted trails which had lots of nooks and crannies for the dirt to gather.. The Bury gun is now displayed at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, though incorrectly deployed! The gun was also a bit heavier as a result of the trail, a small price to pay for the ease of cleaning.
Weekends were at that time rather leisurely affairs with parade at the drill halls at 12. and move out to the Stanford area at 13.00. On arrival at Wretham , West Tofts or Bodney camp, there would be a full sight test and maintenance possibly followed by a couple of dry deployments. It was then back to camp for tea. The battery always fed very well and was well know for this in the Regiment. Sunday would see an early start for deployment and live firing would commence as soon as possible after 9 when the range opened. Firing would finish typically by midday whereupon lunch was served and the Battery was sent back to drill halls at 3 which meant you could be home and washed by 5! It was all very civilised.”
Thanks Martin for your account and we look forward to hearing more of your memories about your career in the Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry.
If anybody has pictures or personal accounts of their own service in the Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry or that of a relative that you would like to share us please get in touch.