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53rd (Worcester Yeomanry) Air-Landing Regiment, Royal Artillery.





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Pre-Second World War

In 1794 the 53rd Worcester Yeomanry (Worcs. Yeo.) was formed as a mounted militia to defend against Napoleonic invasion.  By 1827, after the defeat of Napoleon, it was disbanded in post-war retrenchment.  The regiment was however reformed four years later in 1831 to protect the mining interests of its patron and Colonel, Lord Dudley, from strikes and civil unrest.   It was then last called out in 1842, following which it settled into its role as a Victorian institution - Summer camps, cricket, and garden parties.

By the time of the second Boer War in 1899, the regiment saw its first overseas service.  Each yeomanry regiment were asked for volunteers, the Worcs. Yeo. were asked for 126.  Within days, 3021 men had come forward.  Over £50,000 was raised to by horses and equipment.  During this was over 300 men served in two deployments as the 16th (Worcestershire) Company of the 5th Imperial Yeomanry.  Of these men, 16 were killed in action and 20 were wounded.

In the First World War, the Worcs. Yeo. took its horses to war once again.  Sent to Gallipoli they however fought dismounted at the beachhead and trenches.  After withdrawal from the Dardenelles - Egypt through Palestine and onto what is now Syria - the Suez Canal to Damascus, the regiment participated in one of the most successful campaigns of the war under General Edmund Allenby.  It was here, in the desert at Huj, in November 1917 less than 200 Yeoman charged eleven Austrian field guns and over two-hundred Turkish infantry, swords drawn, and won.  It was one of the last charges of a British cavalry unit.

At the end of First World War, the regiment returned home to another period of retrenchment.  As with many other Cavalry units, the regiment was un-horsed, and in 1920 it was given the option to become a unit of the Royal Artillery or be disbanded.  The regiment chose the former and the inter-war period saw the regiment trained on a variety of artillery pieces, now being known as the 100th (Worcestershire & Oxfordshire Yeomanry) Field Brigade, RA.

Second World War

By the start of the Second World War in 1939, the 53rd Worcs. Yeo. had been trained as an anti-tank regiment (now known as the 53rd (Worcester Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment, RA.), consisting of four batteries, with 6-pounder (6lb) anti-tank guns.  

In 1943, at the establishment of the 6th Airborne Division, Lt-Col. Tony Teacher, the regiment's commanding officer, was asked if the Worcs. Yeo. would consider becoming the glider-borne field artillery for this newly formed airborne division.  The regiment said yes, and the title changed yet again to the 53rd (Worcester Yeomanry) Air-landing Light Regiment, RA.  The regiment now proudly wore the Maroon (or 'Red') Beret and Denison Smock of the Airborne Forces; its officers the “pear blossom” cap badge of the Worcs. Yeo., the NCOs and Other Ranks - the Royal Artillery gun.

Not only did the regiment now need to contend with airborne training, and the higher levels of physical fitness required, but also the change from anti-tank artillery to the more skilled and complex world of indirect fire with their new weapon the Mk1/8 75mm Pack Howitzer

The 53rd Worcs. Yeo. comprised a regimental headquarters and three batteries:

210th Airlanding Light Battery, under Maj. The Honourable Charles Russell;
211th Airlanding Light Battery, under Maj. Jim Craigie;
212th Airlanding Light Battery, under Maj. Matt Gubbins.

Each of these batteries consisted of a battery headquarters and two troops, each with four US M8 75mm pack Howitzers.

US M8 75mm Pack Howitzers

Overall length: 12 ft 0 in (3.7 m)
Width: 3 ft 11 in (1.2 m)
Height: 2 ft 10 in (864 mm)
Weight: 1339 lb (607 kg)
Elevation: -5° to +45°

Maximum range : 9,760 yd (8920 m)

The gun itself was designed as so it could break down into constituent parts.  However it was British practise to carry the gun whole, transported in to the field by an Airspeed Horsa glider

Once in the field, the Howitzer was towed behind the ubiquitous Jeep, with a specially strengthened trailer acting as a limber; the Jeep itself had containers with 75mm rounds as so it could be virtually out into operation almost immediately upon landing.  Additional ammunition came by the larger Hamilcar glider.

By end of January 1944, full operational readiness was achieved, and in one particular exercise the whole Regiment became “airborne” at once, taking 80 aircraft.  

Next ... Operation: Overlord.  D-Day, 6th June 1944


75-2K&Q.JPG (14021 bytes)

Inspection by HM King George VI & HM Queen Elizabeth

75-3212V.JPG (105588 bytes)

Sgts Clark & Hardy,
 "F" Troop, 212 Bty, 
53rd Worcs. Yeo.

75mm abn gun.jpg (29419 bytes)

On Display! A gun detachment with a 75mm Howitzer

Air_artill.jpg (39211 bytes)

Airborne Artillery in action

QOWH May 44.jpg (67341 bytes)

53rd Worcs. Yeo.
Officers Mess, May 1944

Brownlow-Wray.jpg (72981 bytes)

Capt. Brownlow-Wray
53rd Worcester Yeomanry
Note: Maroon Beret with "Pear-Blossom" cap badge


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