The Pembroke Yeomanry
LT-COL. R. L. HOWELL, M.B.E., T.D.
Part 7 – Post War to 1966
The Territorial Army was reconstituted on May 1st, 1947, the Pembroke Yeomanry being designated 302nd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, and forming part of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division. Two Batteries were raised in Pembrokeshire and one in Cardiganshire: later it absorbed other Territorial Army units which became redundant in those Counties. At the beginning recruiting was slow, and the need for a strong Reserve Army so imperative that in 1951 Mr. Attlee’s Government recalled Reservists to bring regiments up to strength for the duration of annual camp. The Pembroke Yeomanry was selected to demonstrate reception methods to all artillery regiments in Western Command, and after this rehearsal received 400 Reservists for the 1951 camp and 60 for the camp in 1952. At the same time all National Servicemen were required to attend training for a total of 60 days in the 3½ years following their release from whole-time service. This increased the active strength of the regiment during a critical period, although adding considerably to the problems of administration and training. It was discontinued as the international tension diminished, the regiment reverting to its original volunteer status.
In the period since the 1939-45 War the Pembroke Yeomanry has earned for itself a reputation for sound and imaginative training, recognised by the appointment of three officers and one warrant officer to the Order of the British Empire. Probably the most noteworthy summer was that of 1959, when the Yeomanry marched over 500 miles in 14 days with their guns, moving across England as far as Perham Down, taking part in separate exercises with the Fleet Air Arm, a Royal Marine Commando and the Hereford Light Infantry, then driving past the Mayors of Aberystwyth, Cardigan and Haverfordwest on their return. Contingents have been sent to the two Royal Reviews in Hyde Park and to the Coronation of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, and representatives have attended the unveiling of the War Memorials at s’Hertogenbosch, Medjez el Bab and Brookwood. During the Queen’s visit to West Wales in 1955, 21-gun salutes were fired at Haverfordwest and Aberystwyth, the Royal Standard flying over Regimental Headquarters on the afternoon of August 6th.
There have, however, been more changes. In 1961, after a happy affiliation to 3rd Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, the Yeomanry became involved in yet another reorganisation and was transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps. Reduced from a full regiment to a single Reconnaissance Squadron, affiliated to the Queen’s Dragoon Guards and brigaded with the Shropshire Yeomanry, it continued to retain separate identity and came nearer in size and role to what it had been in the beginning. To-day, with further reductions forecast, it seems possible the wheel has turned again to 1827 and the Yeomanry will be ordered to disband.
Since the reign of King George III, the Pembroke Yeomanry has had a continuous existence. In those 172 years the First Line Regiment (i.e. that which has always been reformed in peace-time) has had 32 Commanding Officers, of whom only 8 have been seconded from the Regular Army. The longest period in command was that of Major George Bowling, lasting for 28 years. At first, for 134 years, the horse provided the most common link with the people of a County justly famous for their horses and since then that link has been maintained in other ways-by taking part in motoring, sailing and boxing events, as well as by the assistance willingly given to many local organisations.
For those 172 years the Yeomanry has been very much a part of life in Pembrokeshire and worthily upheld the aspirations of Lord Milford and those gentlemen who met in London on April 19th, 1794.
Writing the foreword to their history, the Commander of the Welsh Division was to say
“Despite the many changes which have taken place during its existence, this famous corps has guarded jealously its status and position as Yeomanry. Still manned largely by members of the same families, its officers and yeomen maintain the same high standards, the same efficiency and keenness, and the same Yeomanry spirit as has always traditionally been theirs.”
Should they go, as so many of the old voluntary services are vanishing in this modern age, their passing will be long regretted.