This page provides a brief history of Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry from their formation to the present day. It is our intention to develop the information here to provide a more detailed history.
The Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry can trace it’s history back as far as 1782 when Viscount Townshend of Raynham raised the Norfolk Rangers a clear 12 years before the Yeomanry Cavalry came into being as a nationally organised force, though it was subsequently disbanded again in 1783 following the signing of the Peace of Versailles which brought the American War of Independence to an official end.
The formation of the Suffolk Yeomanry is popularly supposed to have been 1793, following the outbreak of war with France. Whilst there may be some truth in this on the basis of independent cavalry troops similarly formed by landed Gentry there is no primary evidence to support this though the date 1793 was certainly later adopted on the cap-badge. What is certain that the Government gave the task of raising units of volunteer Yeomanry to augment the existing county militias to the Lords Lieutenant, including Lord Euston, later the Duke of Grafton, then Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk. Thus the Suffolk Yeomanry, and the re-formed Norfolk Yeomanry under the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, then Field Marshal The Marquess Townshend were formally brought into existence in 1794 for the purpose of defending the nation against a possible French invasion.
The Yeomanry units underwent numerous changes and re-organisations over the course of the subsequent decades as the threat of war and civil unrest waxed and waned, as did the state of the public finances. The Norfolk Yeomanry actually disbanded and reformed a number of times and between 1867 and 1901 existed as a Troop of the Loyal Suffolk Hussars, as the Suffolk Yeomanry officially became known in 1883. Subsequently the Duke of York, later to become King George V was the Honorary Colonel of the Loyal Suffolk Hussars and it was to become the “Duke of York’s Own Loyal Suffolk Hussars”.
Up until the turn of the 20th Century the Yeomanry had only been a force for home defence. On 24 December 1899 a Royal Warrant was issued for the formation of an “Imperial Yeomanry” to fight in South Africa. The Loyal Suffolk Hussars recruited two Squadrons – the 43rd and 44th with men recruited from both Suffolk and Norfolk. The 43rd was deployed to Cape Town in January 1900, with the 44th following in March. They were not to return to England until July 1901, however in May 1901 His Majesty King Edward VII made it known that he wished a Regiment of Yeomanry to be formed in Norfolk and that he would be it’s Honorary Colonel. Thus the “King’s Own Royal Regiment Norfolk Imperial Yeomanry” was formed in September 1901. Subsequently in June 1902 HRH Prince Frederic Charles of Denmark (later King Haakon of Norway) was appointed Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Norfolk Yeomanry, and association with the Yeomanry that lasted with his son, King Olav V until his death in 1991.
Following the Haldane reforms of 1907-08 the Yeomanry was brought into the newly formed Territorial Force, and both the Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry saw deployment to Gallipoli, the Middle East and France throughout the Great War between 1915 and 1918. In 1920 a further re-organisation of the Territorial Force saw all but the senior 14 Yeomanry Regiments either re-roled to Artillery or Signals, or disbanded within 2 years. The Suffolk Yeomanry chose to become Artillery as part of the 1st East Anglian Brigade Royal Field Artillery whereas the Norfolk Yeomanry resisted but were subsequently merged, with the Suffolk Yeomanry in 1923 to form 108th (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Field Brigade, Royal Artillery, and arrangement that proved more suitable to the natural affiliations of the two county Yeomanry units.
In 1938 with war looming the 108th were converted to the Anti-tank role as the 55th (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery though the Norfolk Yeomanry was to be split off to form it’s own Regiment, the 65th in 1939. The 65th were to deploy with the British Expeditionary Force, fighting in Arras in May 1940 before evacuation through Dunkirk, then to North Africa in 1941 through to Alamein and Tunis in May 1943. In September 1943 they were shipped to Italy landing at Salerno before returning to England in January 1944. The Suffolk Yeomanry by contrast were denied active service until both Regiments were landed in Normandy in 1944 subsequently to become part of the allied occupying force until de-mobilisation in 1946.
Both Regiments saw several further re-organisations and mergers with other artillery units in the years that followed though the separate Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry identities remained until in 1961 the two were merged to form the 308th (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Regiment Artillery, which subsequently contributed 202 (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Battery to the newly formed 100th Medium Regiment Royal Artillery where it was to remain, serving a range of different artillery types including the 5.5″, L118 Light Gun and latterly the FH70.
1999 saw the transfer of 202 Battery to the newly formed 106th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery in the Air Defence role, the Battery being equipped with the High Velocity Missile (HVM). In 2004 the Battery contributed personnel for Operation TELIC IV in Iraq as part of a composite force designated as 220 Battery, ironically a designation previously held by the Suffolk Yeomanry.
In 2005 is was announced that the Battery would be facing another change, this time of role and cap-badge and in July 2006, 202 (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Battery Royal Artillery (Volunteers) exercised its Freedom of the Borough of St Edmundsbury for the last time and 677 (Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry) Squadron Army Air Corps became the first sub-unit of 6 Regiment AAC(V), training to re-fuel and re-arm the Apache helicopters based at Wattisham airfield near Ipswich and now regularly contributing personnel to Operations in Afghanistan.