Films

The Leicester Yeomanry



Archive: Media Archive for Central England
ID No.: n/a
Title: The Leicester Yeomanry
Date: ca. 1939
Film-maker: Gore-Browne family
Colour: Black & White and Colour
Sound: Silent
Duration of complete item: 35 min. 43 sec.
Themes: Pre-War Build-Up


Summary:

A record of the Leicester (Prince Albert’s Own) Imperial Yeomanry at a number of its annual camps in the years before World War II.

Description:

The film begins with scenes of members of the Leicester Yeomanry performing a variety of drills and exercises on horseback in front of a large civilian crowd. They include jumping over traditional jumps as well as umbrellas and deckchairs. There is also footage of Yeomen on horseback stabbing a dummy with sabres and others collecting hoops with lances. Yeomen dressed as Arabs attack and ‘kill’ a patrol from the Leicester Yeomanry. The ‘Arabs’ celebrate but are shot by a machine gun unit from the Leicester Yeomanry using a Vickers .303 machine gun. Soldiers perform a dressage display. A blacksmith shapes a horseshoe on an anvil then fits it to a horse’s hoof. There is hand to hand combat on horseback for the enjoyment of the civilian crowd, including shots of spectators.

Crowds of children follow a soldier on to the display area as sweets are thrown in the air. Troopers negotiate a series of jumps without holding the reins. Troopers are then seen saddling horses at camp. An entire regiment is filmed leaving campsite on horseback. A military exercise then takes place on the rural roads and fields around the campsite. This includes: officers looking at maps; troopers on foot firing rifles and running; a section of the regiment crossing a field on horseback; military personnel carriers carrying troopers, one of which contains a radio operator. Spectators watch on at one of the Leicester Yeomanry’s annual camps. Children pursue a soldier who is throwing sweets in the air, a military band plays and there is a dressage performance.

A sign reads: ‘Lt Colonel E Gore-Browne DSO TD’. This is followed by shots of the man in uniform at an annual camp and a Trooper with hounds of the Quorn hunt. Officers pose for a photograph. The regiment are seen on parade and marching along the footpath of a road. They march into Stamford in Lincolnshire and up to Saint Mary’s Church for a church parade. Further scenes show them marching away from Saint Mary’s and under the George Hotel sign. They march past “Bottle Lodges”, the entrance to Burleigh House/Burghley House, Stamford where a number of officers are standing.

A bell is rung by hand, seen in silhouette. This is followed by close ups of troopers asleep in the sunshine and horses drinking at a trough. Troopers fill net bags with hay and nose bags with horse feed. The Troopers sit outside tents polishing saddles and sabres and cleaning rifles. The Regimental flag is seen flying. Troopers groom their horses. The regiment on horseback march out of camp. Three corporals drink beer. Motorbikes and military vehicles drive along a dusty path. Nose bags are fitted to horse’s bridles and there are shots of horses feeding. Troopers then perform on horseback in front of a civilian audience. Two troopers sit on a gate and kiss their female partners.

Context:

This title is on loan to the MACE from the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland. It was acquired by the Record Office from the Northamptonshire Film Archive Trust as part of a collection of 16mm film that was shot by members of the Gore-Browne family. The Gore-Browne’s link with the Leicester Yeomanry is not only demonstrated by the fact that Lt Colonel E Gore-Browne features but also that Lt JGC Gore-Browne was a troop leader in “A” Squadron of the Leicester Yeomanry in 1939.

The Leicester (Prince Albert’s Own) Imperial Yeomanry was a Territorial Army cavalry regiment that was established in April 1794. Every May the regiment held its annual camp: eighteen days of military training that ended on Whit-Monday with the celebration of the “Feast of the Yeomanry Sports”, which was intended to attract a large audience to raise funds to augment its official training grant. In his book There’s an Honour Likewise GE Bouskell-Wade suggests that camps were held in May because it was a quiet time of year for farmers and they would therefore be available for military exercises. He goes on to describe the suggestion that all Yeoman were farmers as “fiction”.

It is likely that the last section of the film was shot in 1939. In that year the camp, the last before the outbreak of war in September, was based at Burleigh/Burghley Park and that year they also visited nearby Stamford. This would have been a particularly important camp as the Leicester Yeomanry had been instructed to expand to ‘Full War Establishment’ earlier in the year in preparation for war and they had actually achieved this through a hard recruitment drive.

Unlike other cavalry regiments in the Cavalry Division of the army the Leicester Yeomanry were not destined to be converted to a mechanised cavalry regiment in the form of tanks, signals or lorried infantry. Instead, at the end of 1939 they were split in two to form artillery units: 153rd and 154th (Leicester Yeomanry) Field Regiment RA (TA). In other words, this film is the last time that the Leicester (Prince Albert’s Own) Imperial Yeomanry were seen in camp in this form.

For further information see: GE Bouskell-Wade, There is an Honour Likewise (Edgar Backus, Leicester, 1948)

The Leicester Yeomanry (ca.1939)

The Leicester Yeomanry (ca.1939)

The Leicester Yeomanry (ca.1939)

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