The Hertfordshire Yeomanry as a fighting unit found its roots back in the 1790s as a county-based Cavalry unit tasked with civil defence at a time of considerable unrest both at home and abroad. It underwent various changes throughout the 19th Century, including being disbanded and re-raised twice before finding its first battle honour in the Boer War of 1899 - 1902.
The Hertfordshire Yeomanry, a volunteer unit at the time of the Boer War, supplied troops to the newly raised Imperial Yeomanry who saw service in South Africa from 1900 onwards, taking part in many campaigns now synonymous with the conflict, such as; LadySmith, Mafeking and Operations in the Orange Free State.
The Yeomanry's involvement in The Great War came about through a reorganisation of the United Kingdom's Territorial Forces in 1914. Upon the outbreak of war, many men serving in the Yeomanry (a home service unit) volunteered for 'Imperial Service' overseas, and as a result, the Herts Yeomanry, like many other Territorial Force units was split into two; the 1/1 and 2/1 Hertfordshire Yeomanry.
The 1/1 was the fighting arm, it comprised of men who had volunteered to serve overseas. The 2/1 remained a 'home service' unit and did so throughout the war.
The 1/1 Hertfordshire Yeomanry was mobilised in August 1914 as part of the Eastern Mounted Brigade. In January 1915 the Yeomanry embarked for service in Egypt where it was absorbed into the Yeomanry Mounted Brigade.
As a fighting unit, the Yeomanry first saw action in the infamous Gallipoli campaign, where they acted as dismounted cavalry through most of the campaign. Remaining in theatre until the withdrawal of British and Commonwealth Forces, they returned to Egypt in December of 1915, having suffered significant numbers of casualties.
In 1916 the 1/1 Hertfordshire Yeomanry was split up into its constituent Squadrons. 'A Squadron' would go on to serve in Palestine as part of the British 54th Division's mounted troops. 'B Squadron' would return to the UK with the 11th Division before later seeing service again in Egypt and later with their 'A Squadron' comrades in Palestine. 'D Squadron' were employed for much of the war in the 'Mesopotamia' theatre of Operations and spent time with the North Persia Force (in modern day Iraq) as part of the 13th Division Cavalry.
The Herts Yeomanry were able to boast a proud and diverse war record in the Great War, serving in many theatres over a four-year period. Suffering heavy casualties on many occasions, the Yeomanry were just one of many county Yeomanry Regiments to answer their country's call. They later went on to serve with distinction in WW2 and still have a descendant unit in the British Army today.
More information on the Hertfordshire Yeomanry's contribution in the Great War can be found at Herts Memories, a book by J.D. Sainsbury - ‘The Hertfordshire Yeomanry – An Illustrated history 1794-1920’ (Hart books 1994)’ and another of his books the 'Hertfordshire Yeomanry and Artillery Honours and Awards'