Three Mounted Troops were raised in Nottinghamshire in 1794 at Newark, Retford and Worksop as part time volunteer sub units, in response to a call from William Pitt to Lords-Lieutenant to raise Volunteer Troops of Cavalry to meet the threat of invasion from Napoleon. The Newark Troop survived the 1802 disbandments and in 1828 the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Cavalry was formed as a full Regiment, including the Newark Troop, for service in Nottinghamshire. It was called out in aid of Civil Power on several occasions and in 1848 the Newark Troop spent several weeks maintaining order in Mansfield during the Chartists Riots. To the present day, the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry have continued with unbroken service as a volunteer part time Territorial Unit, either as a Regiment or a Squadron, and rank fourth in seniority of Yeomanry regimental titles.
In 1900, during the Boer War in South Africa, all Yeomanry Regiments were asked to supply regiments of cavalry to support the Regular Army. A Service Squadron of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry was so quickly raised that it was the first Yeomanry ever to go into action overseas. The first squadron was replaced after a year by a second which served in South Africa until the war ended. “SOUTH AFRICA, 1900-1902” is the first Regimental Battle Honour, and the 25 Yeoman who lost their lives are commemorated in a memorial window in the Parish Church of Retford, the site of the Regimental Headquarters at the time.
In 1914, the Regiment mobilised and was sent to Eygpt after a period of training. In 1915, it was ordered to Gallipoli where it served dismounted for three months – the first time the Regiment had ever come into action as a whole. It was awarded a Kings Colour in recognition of its gallantry in the infantry role. It returned to Egypt and, mounted again, served in Macedonia for some time until it went to Palestine, where it played a leading part in the great cavalry advance from Gaza to Aleppo – being mentioned more often than any other unit in the Official History of General Allenby’s campaign.
In 1939, the Regiment was mobilised and went to Palestine as part of the 1 st Cavalry Division. In July 1940, it lost its horses on conversion to coastal artillery, and, in this role, it took part in the defence of Tobruk and Benghazi and in the battle of Crete.
Converted in 1941 to an armoured regiment, it formed part of the 8 th Armoured Brigade and saw action for the first time in tanks in the defensive battle of Alam el Halfa. On the 24 th October 1942, it headed the armoured attacks in the battle of El Alamein. Rommel later stated that the Sherwood Rangers were the only unit to breach his defences in the first 24 hours of battle.
The Regiment played a leading part in the long advance to Tunis, notably helping to outflank the Mareth Line at the bitterly fought battle of Tebaga Gap, and, having spent a few months in England, was the first Yeomanry ashore in France on D-Day, landing two minutes before H hour in DD Sherman Tanks. It took part in the liberation of Bayeux and was in the thick of the tank fighting around Caen.
The Regiment was part of the rapid advance which followed across Northern France, Belgium and Holland and in its Reconnaissance Troop was the first British unit to enter Germany. After more hard fighting around the Rhine, the Regiment, having ended the war beyond Bremen, was temporarily disembodied on the 1 st March 1946.
General Sir Brian Horrocks who had the Regiment under his command from August 1942 to May 1945 wrote on the occasion of the Regiment’s being disembodied : “I can hardly imagine a British Army without the Sherwood Rangers and there is no doubt no armoured regiment can show a finer record of hard fighting”. He later added, “I still maintain that the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry took part in more fighting than did any other armoured regiment during this period.”
Its success in the Second World War can be gauged by its 30 battle honours, its 159 awards including 78 for gallantry, and above all, the valour of the men, remembering particularly the 827 casualties killed, wounded and missing.
In 1947, it was re-formed in Nottinghamshire as an armoured regiment, equipped with Comet Tanks with squadrons at Newark, Retford, Worksop and Mansfield and a new Regimental Headquarters at Carlton, Nottingham, and continued in this role until 1961 when it was briefly converted into a reconnaissance regiment before being reconverted once again into an Armoured Regiment equipped with Centurion Tanks.
In 1967, the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry was reduced from a Regiment to a Squadron, one of only four Yeomanry Regiments at the time to retain a role as an armoured reconnaissance squadron, and for 25 years thereafter formed part of the Royal Yeomanry, then a NATO assigned armoured reconnaissance regiment equipped with Saladin and Fox. Since April 1992, it has served as “B” (Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry) Squadron of the Queens Own Yeomanry, an armoured reconnaissance regiment equipped with Scimitar, Fox and more recently with Sabre, and forming part of the Rapid Reaction Corps within NATO.
The Squadron is now believed to be the only element of the Territorial Army with unbroken service in armour since the Second World War.
The Sherwood Rangers Squadron is a unit of the Territorial Army, all of whose members are civilian volunteers who (save for periods of mobilisation during the Boer War and both World Wars) undertake one continuous period of 15 days training and about 20 other days at weekends each year. The Squadron is currently based in its Training Centre in Carlton, Nottingham.