The Ayrshire Yeomanry is the senior yeomanry regiment in Scotland and the seventh yeomanry regiment in Great Britain. It was formed in 1793, at the onset of the French Revolutionary Wars, by Archibald, Lord Kennedy. The regiment was then known as the Ayrshire Yeomanry Cavalry. In 1838, there was a general disbandment of yeomanry regiments throughout the UK. Only two - the Ayrshire Yeomanry and the Lanarkshire Yeomanry - were retained in Scotland. But the revival of enthusiasm for volunteer military service, which was inspired by the Crimean War, regularised the yeomanry structure in the UK.
During the South African War (2nd Boer War) of 1899-1902, for the first time volunteers and yeomanry units contributed to British offensive operations overseas. The volunteers from the Ayrshire and Lanarkshire Yeomanries served in the campaign as the 17th Company of the 6th (Scottish) Battalion of Imperial Yeomanry. It was awarded the South African battle honour: "South Africa 1900-1902".
First World War
In the Great War of 1914-1918, the Ayrshire Yeomanry was mobilised in August 1914 as part of the Lowland Mounted Brigade, remaining in Scotland until September 1915, when it sailed for Gallipoli. It saw active service in Gallipoli, landing at Helles Beach on 11 October 1915 as part of the 52nd (Lowland) Division. In January 1916 it was withdrawn to Mudros and then to Egypt as part of the 1st Dismounted Brigade. In January 1917, the Ayrshire Yeomanry and the Lanarkshire Yeomanry were formed into the 12th (Ayr and Lanark Yeomanry) Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. The 74th Division to which the battalion was then attached was composed mainly of dismounted yeomanry units and was popularly known as the "Broken Spurs". This battalion took part in operations in Palestine and thereafter served in France and Flanders on the Western Front.
The regiment formed a second tier and later a third lone regiment which were numbered the 2/1st Ayrshire Yeomanry and the 3/1st Ayrshire Yeomanry respectively. The 2/1st remained in Scotland and in July 1916 was converted to a cyclist battalion. It was deployed to Ireland in May 1918 as part of the 9th Cyclist Brigade and was stationed in Omagh until the end of hostilities in November 1918. The 3/1st Ayrshire Yeomanry was formed in 1915 and was part of the reserve cavalry stationed in Aldershot and then Perth. The 3/1st was disbanded early in 1917 with the personnel going to the 2/1st and to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion The Royal Scots Fusiliers.
The Ayrshire Yeomanry was awarded the First World War battle honours:
"Gallipoli 1915; Rumani, Egypt 1916-1917; Gaza, Jerusalem, Tell 'Asur, Palestine 1917-1918; Ypres 1918; France and Flanders 1918."
Second World War
After World War I, the regiment reformed as a cavalry regiment. But as WWII approached it underwent another change of role as field artillery. During the Second World War of 1939 - 1945, the regiment formed the 151st and 152nd (Ayrshire Yeomanry) Field Regiments, Royal Artillery, and was on active service in North Africa, Italy and North-West Europe.
Post War Reorganisation
By 1949, the regiment had been re-formed as a unit of the Royal Armoured Corps. In 1971, as part of the Queen's Own Yeomanry, it became the only armoured corps unit permanently stationed in Scotland, when it was equipped with Saladin and Ferret wheeled armoured vehicles and then later Fox armoured cars.
In 1992, the regiment again underwent considerable change when under British Army post Cold War restructuring it ceased to be a part of the Queen's Own Yeomanry, and became the founder member of the Scottish Yeomanry. The Scottish Yeomanry was a four-squadron, long-range reconnaissance regiment equipped with communications Land Rovers, having responsibility for national defence Scotland-wide. The regiment had Squadrons in Ayr, East Kilbride, Edinburgh and Cupar.
Following on the latest Strategic Defence Review announced in November 1998, The Scottish Yeomanry was disbanded on 1 July 1999. But two of its Squadrons, the Ayrshire Yeomanry in Ayr and The Fife & Forfar Yeomanry in Cupar became Squadrons in the newly constituted "The Queen's Own Yeomanry". This Regiment comprises, as from 1st July 1999, Headquarters in Newcastle with Squadrons in Ayr, Cupar, York and Belfast. It is equipped with light tracked vehicles and its role is Armoured Reconnaissance training. The Ayrshire Yeomanry Squadron is now equipped with Sabre, a tracked recce vehicle with a 30mm Rarden cannon.
The Ayrshire Yeomanry Squadron may be seen on parade in early November each year outside the County buildings in Ayr, marking their annual Remembrance parade on "Yeomanry Sunday".
The Ayrshire Yeomanry Museum, Rozelle House, Monument Road, Ayr KA7 4NQ, Scotland; Telephone:= 44 (0)1292 445447.
In 1974 the museum moved to its current position within the Rozelle Mansion House. It is administered through the District Council. The exhibits comprise uniformed figures, medals, weapons and memorabilia from various campaigns as well as paintings. There are plans to extend the museum and to interpret the period from 1945 to the present day. The museum reopened on 1 July 1999 after refurbishment. The museum is accessible all year - Monday to Saturday, 10.00 am to 17.00 pm. Sundays from 14.00 pm to 17.00 pm between 1st April and 30th October only. Note: access facilities limited.
"The Proud Trooper"; by Major W. Steel Brownlie; published in London by Collins in 1964.
"A Short History of the Ayrshire Yeomanry (Earl of Carrick's Own) 151st Field Regiment, Royal Artillery 1939-1946"; by Major I.A. Graham Young and Capt R.I. Gray; published by Ayr Observer Office, 1947.
"Brief Historical Notes on Ayrshire Yeomanry (Earl of Carrick's Own) 152nd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery 1939-45": by Major B M Knox MC; published by Stephen & Pollock, Ayr 1946.