Yeomanry

Medals and awards

Chapter 8

Introduction

For Yeomen who served overseas, the medal cards and medal rolls (originals at the National Archives) can give useful information on which theatres a man served in and other regiments he may have transferred to/from. Sometimes (mostly for officers) there are also addresses for correspondence. Ranks, dates of discharge and casualty information can also be obtained from these sources.

Service records and newspaper reports can give additional information on medal awards. The East Riding Yeomanry's war diary also notes major medal awards and these can be cross referenced with the official notices in the London Gazette (see searchable website for the latter source).

The East Riding Museum collection contains a few actual Yeomanry medals (campaign/Territorial Army medals only, no gallantry awards), as do some other local museum collections. The majority probably remain in private collections.

Please note: The online exhibitions are best viewed on desktop PC or laptop. Some images have been removed for mobile and tablet devices.

parade

Parade of ERY veterans, about 1950. Image courtesy of Hedon Museum & the Estate of Mr W. Palmer.

Edward Ling

Edward Ling's Victory and British War medals. Image in private collection.

Campaign medals

These were awarded to servicemen (and women) who served abroad, the precise qualifying criteria varying from medal to medal.

Campaign medal awards can be traced via the medal cards and medal rolls, (available online at a number of subscription websites). Service / pension records (where they survive) may include information on medals awarded, including the address they were posted to, or in the case of soldiers killed, the name of the next of kin they were sent to.

The vast majority of those who volunteered for foreign service with the 1/1st ERY, sailed from England on 27th October 1915, arriving in Egypt on 10th November 1915. They therefore qualified for three of the standard WWI campaign medals - the 1914-1915 star, the British War medal and the Victory medal. Note that for brevity, these have been abbreviated in the accompanying database to VM / BM / 15 star.

Smaller groups of ERY men joined the 1/1st ERY in the Middle East in 1916/1917, or were transferred from the UK to other regiments (typically in France, sometimes in Salonika) or only joined the ERY when it reached France (as a machine gun battalion). These men would have qualified for the VM/BWM only.

Those who died in the sinking of the HMT Arcadian in the Aegean (15th April 1917) on route to the Middle East only qualified for the BWM as they had not technically entered an area of active combat.

The ERY's war diary only lists the number of reinforcements received in 1916 / 1917, rather than naming them (officers are usually named). Likewise, many medal cards do not list what theatre a man first served in, or the date he arrived in it. Where an ERY man subsequently transferred to another unit, it is usually possible to work out which theatre(s) he served in; otherwise, we are reliant on any surviving family memoirs/diaries/letters. We can say with reasonable certainty, that if no medal card can be traced, then either the ERY soldier did not serve abroad, or his service ended before the war began.

There are a very small number of ERY men, who having transferred to other units, continued to serve into 1919, 1920 or beyond. Their service took them to such places as Iraq and northern Russia. In some cases, they therefore became eligible for additional medals.

For example, Private Percy Fletcher Brown served at Archangel with the Durham Light Infantry as part of the force that Britain sent to North Russia, Private Thomas Charles Bussey also served there with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in the summer of 1919. Private Herbert Webster was in Siberia during the Russian civil war, possibly also with the RAOC. Privates Harold Gillam Gale and Albert Edward Stuffins qualified for the General Service medal and Iraq clasp by virtue of service in that country.

A large proportion of the 2/1st and 3/1st men never served abroad (Ireland did not count as foreign service) and therefore generally did not qualify for any medals. They therefore have to be traced through other sources.

Territorial medals

Because the ERY were a Territorial regiment, some of its men would have been eligible for other medals. This is especially true of Yeoman who joined the ERY early and continued service into the war years. These medals were as follows:-

  • Imperial Yeomanry Long Service medal - from 1904. There are only nine known holders of this medal within the ERY. They were: - Sergeant W. Belt, Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant W. Bouch, SSM T. Crowe, RQMS W. Fenwick, Sgt. J.C. Hall, Sgt. J.O. Pickering. SSM E.R. Tesseyman, SQMS Tomlinson and RSM Ullyott.
  • Territorial Force Efficiency medal (TFEM) - from 1908, replacing the above
  • Territorial Force War Medal 1914-1919 (TFWM) - within the ERY, only Lt. H.D. Kidd, Lt. Frank Wood and Major (later Captain) Gerald Herbert Woodhouse are known to have been awarded this medal whilst still serving with the regiment.
Harry Duffield

Harry Duffield. Image in ERYC Museums collection.

oswald silver

Oswald Darneley's Silver War badge. Image in private collection.

Other awards

The silver war badge (instituted in September 1916) was available to anyone who was honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness. Its purpose, whilst the war lasted, was to ensure discharged men were not harassed e.g. by being presented with a white feather (a symbol of cowardice). This award is abbreviated to SWB in the Yeomanry database.

Good conduct stripes were worn on the lower left sleeve, point upwards (otherwise resembling NCO's stripes).

Overseas service chevrons were introduced in 1917 and were again worn point upwards - but on the lower right sleeve - one per year, with the first one being red and the later ones being blue.

Gallantry awards

Individual awards for acts of bravery or other outstanding actions. Many of these were awarded to former ERY men during later service with other regiments. The records detailing the specific acts for which gallantry medals were awarded generally no longer survive. A few ERY gallantry awards are noted here (this is not intended as a comprehensive list):

Featherstone

Sgt Walter Featherstone. Image in ERYC Museums collection.

Corporal Harold Beverley
Corporal Harold Beverley, awarded the Military Medal (hereafter MM) for gallantry in action (ERY war diary 23/12/1918).
SSM Thomas Henry Duffield
SSM Thomas Henry Duffield (later 2nd Lt.) received the Distinguished Conduct Medal (hereafter DCM) for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He rendered able assistance to his squadron leader and set a splendid example to his men.
SSM Walter Featherstone
SSM Walter Featherstone (later 2nd Lt.) was awarded the Military Cross (MC) on 27th December 1918, for gallantry in the field.
Lance Corporal Arthur Oldfield
Lance Corporal Arthur Oldfield, awarded the DCM for gallantry in action (ERY war diary, 23/12/1918).
Captain J.F. Robinson
Captain J.F. Robinson was awarded the MC for gallantry in action on 27th August 1917 – extracting a man under fire. He led the ERY's charge at El Mughar in November 1917.
Private William Sherwood and Lance Corporal Fred Smales
Private William Sherwood and Lance Corporal Fred Smales were both awarded the DCM on 16th August 1917. This joint award was for rescuing a pilot whose plane had come down in the sea. This involved swimming out to him for a distance of over 300 yards, whilst under heavy rifle fire from Turkish forces. The Hull Daily Mail of 5th September 1917 applauded their exploits, pointing out the usefulness of an ability to swim and arguing that in a great port like Hull it was desirable that every adult should know how to swim. The newspaper argued that there was no excuse for not taking advantage of the various facilities for learning to swim provided by the local authority!
Acting Corporal Cecil Victor Tesseyman
Acting Corporal Cecil Victor Tesseyman is recorded in the regiment's war diary on 19th December 1917 as having been awarded the DCM. The citation states that while on a reconnaissance with his section, he came under heavy machine gun and rifle fire at close range. He sent his men back from the only available cover one man at a time and remained out himself for over an hour, under heavy fire, trying to locate a missing man. His courage and coolness undoubtedly saved a number of his men.
Acting Sergeant Sydney Thompson
Acting Sergeant Sydney Thompson was awarded the MM for gallantry in action (ERY war diary 23/12/1918).
Others
A number of ERY soldiers were also mentioned in despatches, that is to say, their names were included in a report produced by a superior officer and sent on to higher command – probably someone of general rank or above. Whilst not in itself a medal, a mention in despatches (abbreviated to MID in the database) would imply some level of official praise or approval for an action carried out by the soldier. ERY soldiers so mentioned included the following:
  • Lt. Colonel Guy Wilson (who was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order)
  • Major Edward Duke Moore
  • Captain N.C.M. Sykes (who also received the MC in connection with the Palestine campaign)
  • Lieutenant H.D.P. Francis
  • Lieutenant J.F. Rolland
  • SSM T.H. Duffield
  • Sergeant Major T. Rickaby (or Rickerby)
  • Company Sergeant Major Edgar Dunning
  • Sergeant A. Skillbeck

For a fuller explanation of the different types of gallantry medals, see the Imperial War Museum's website.
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