You are in [Events] [Second World War] [Derbyshire Yeomanry]

During the Second World War, the Derbyshire Yeomanry spent some months in and around Hungerford for training purposes.

(This text has kindly been provided (in Sep 2014) by Roland Whaite, who has also researched Stype).

Derbyshire Yeomanry in training 1940/41: (with quotes from '1st Debyshire Yeomanry Scrapbook 1939-1947' , privately published by the Regiment under the editorship of Major B Clowes, ca 1948) The Derbyshire Yeomanry had a history going back to 1794 as a volunteer cavalry unit, as a Territorial/Reserve force during the nineteenth century and then as a front line mounted unit during World War I. Disbanded at the end of that conflict, it re-emerged as a Territorial Army Regiment operating armoured cars in the inter-war period.

The DY was divided into two Regiments in 1938, with their last summer peacetime camp being made at Tidworth in 1939.

The 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry soon found itself training in Lincolnshire during the first twelve months of the Second World War, but was ordered to Hungerford in November 1940 coincidentally with being assigned to the Sixth Armoured Division, headquartered in Chippenham, Wiltshire.

The unit was mostly equipped with Humber scout cars, so the move to Hungerford had a local connection with William Rootes (whose Rootes' company made many Humber variants for the military) as he was living at Stype Grange at the time (see Great Estates/Stype). Hungerford Common provided a suitable terrain for cross-country driving instruction and other exercises.

The Regimental HQ was set up at Denford House; 'A' Squadron at Standen Manor; 'B'Squadron at Templeton House; and 'C' Squadron at Whatcombe on the Lambourn Downs, north of Hungerford. Clearly the estate houses were being used for billeting the military well before the arrival of the American 101st Airborne Division in 1943. There was a Wireless School set up in Denford Mill, and use was also made of a local 'egg factory'.

It was a freezing cold winter with continuous frost and mist and the conditions at Templeton House, necessarily in the outbuildings, were 'anything but desirable, with no lights, no water and no blackout, but not least the kitchen stove would not draw'. It was then discovered that 'a brand-new Service rifle was blocking the kitchen flue', the culprit being a member of the Unit who had lost his rifle, but 'because of his peacetime prowess for painting and decorating in Civvy Street, the threat of a Court martial was quietly dropped'.

There were accidents out on the Common, one ending up with a scout car 50 foot down a bank after encountering two Valentine tanks of a Lancer Regiment looming out of the mist. But equally, the Regiment took part in weekly dances at the Chequers Hotel in Newbury and social events in Hungerford Town Hall before they moved on to Cambridge late in February 1941.

See also:

- Stype

- Hungerford Common