Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Christ0Stones, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. Christ0Stones

    Christ0Stones Member

    Hello all,

    Does anybody know anybody researching, or know anything about the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons prior to or during WW2? My Grandad served there but I have exhausted all possibilities with Internet searches. I have even been to the museum in York but I am waiting for the excellent curator there to forward me anything he has got.

    Not sure if this is in the correct forum as technically it was the Middle East.

    Thank you in advance,

  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Here's the pages from the last Yorkshire Dragoons war diary and the first 9 KOYLI war diary. I don't have any earlier Yorkshire Dragoon war diaries.

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  4. Christ0Stones

    Christ0Stones Member

    Thanks for that, both of you.
  5. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    There is very little in print relating to the Yorkshire Dragoons in the Second World War. Still horsed, with 5th Cavalry Brigade, they took part in the occupation of Syria and Lebanon, supposedly fighting the last mounted cavalry action of the British Army against French/Syrian Druze cavalry.

    There is some confusion at this time as the regiment seems to have been divided - part converting to an armoured car regiment, the other cadre utilised as a 'lines of communication' unit during the occupation of Syria and Lebanon - responsible for keeping roads and telegraph lines open.

    I was told an anecdote from this time by a former officer - Russia started releasing interned Poles to the Middle East via Iran/Iraq. These were not just PoW but civilians including women and children, all of whom were in a very sorry state. YD got an order to expect 10,000 Poles arriving by road in two days and to make arrangements. They pulled out all the stops, official and unofficial to get tentage, bedding, clothing and other facilities. They purloined funds and acquired all the fresh eggs in theater. They were ready. Apparently the drivers of the trucks bringing the 10,000 telegraph poles were very bemused at the welcome.

    The regiment emerged as an armoured car regiment in the Middle East Theatre until it was converted to the Lorried Infantry role and put into the KOYLI administration.

    There is certainly some work needed on the finer details of the Syria to conversion period.
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  6. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is my summary history of the Yorkshire Dragoons:

    The Yorkshire Dragoons (Queen’s Own)

    Danum Road, Doncaster
    Battle Honours
    Syria 1941, El Alamein, Tebaga Gap, El Hamma, El Kourzia, Tunis, North Africa 1942-43, Anzio, Rome, Coriano, Rimini Line, Ceriano Ridge, Italy 1944

    5th Cavalry Brigade – 3 September 1939 to 18 March 1942
    The regiment was mobilised on September 3rd, 1939. The 5th Cavalry Brigade first concentrated in the Malton area. In October 1939, the regiment moved to Louth in Lincolnshire and was brought up to strength. It was located in the United Kingdom until January 18th, 1940. After travelling to France, across France, and through the Mediterranean it arrived in Palesinte on January 29th, 1940. After Italy entered the war in June 1940, the regiment moved to the Plain of Esdraelon to protect the oil pipeline. It served in the Syrian campaign from June 28th. After it crossed the Syrian frontier, the regiment occupied Kuneitra. In July, it moved to Ezraa to contain the French Druse garrison of Jebel Druse. On July 10th, ‘C’ Squadron HQ with two troops fought a patrol skirmish with a French Druse cavalry unit. The armistice came on July 12th. It then remained in Syria until December 12th, 1941 in occupation of Jebel Druse, when it returned back to Palestine at Azib to train in mountain warfare. During the winter of 1941-42, Middle East Command designated that the 5th Cavalry Brigade should be converted to mounted commandos. If the British forces were forced to retreat from the Syria-Palestine area, the brigade would take to the hills and harass enemy line of communications. The brigade trained in this role through February 13th, 1942, when it was informed that it was to be dismounted and converted. It never formed part of the Royal Armoured Corps during the war. It gave up its horses on March 1st, 1942, having the distinction of being the last horsed regiment in the British Army.

    British Troops in Egypt (BTE) – 18 March 1942 to 24 August 1942
    After being dehorsed, the regiment moved to Mena, Egypt and reorganised on the basis of an armoured establishment to form part of ‘A’ Force. It trained for the conversion until May 1942, when it was sent to the Western Desert to man dummy tanks. The regiment was reunited in July 1942 and included in Delta Force for the defence of Egypt. Due to armour losses during the withdrawal to the Alamein Line, the regiment was not to become an armoured regiment. Instead it was converted to a motor battalion and equipped with Bren Carriers, 3-inch mortars, and 6-pounder anti-tank guns.

    2nd Armoured Brigade – 24 August 1942 to 18 December 1942
    It then served as a motor battalion under the brigade. It was located in Egypt until November 14th, 1942, then Libya. It fought at the Battle of El Alamein with ‘A’ Squadron under the Queen’s Bays, ‘B’ with the 9th Lancers and ‘C’ with the 10th Hussars. It was retited as the 9th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (The Yorkshire Dragoons (Queen’s Own)) on December 18th, 1942 and became an infantry battalion.

    Infantry Service
    The regiment was then re-titled 9th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (The Yorkshire Dragoons (Queen’s Own)) and remained with the 2nd Armoured Brigade until June 22nd, 1943. It moved into the line at Medenine at the end of January 1943 and fought in North Africa until the surrender on May 12th, 1943. It was in Libya until March 12th, 1943, in North Africa until May 28th, 1943, and then in Libya. It then served under the 7th Motor Brigade from June 22nd, 1943 until October 4th, 1944. It was re-titled as the18th Infantry Brigade on July 20th, 1943. It was in Libya until July 24th, 1943, in North Africa until February 17th, 1944, and in Italy from February 20th, 1944. It was disbanded for reinforcements and placed into suspended animation from September 1944. When the 18th Brigade was broken up, most of the men went to the 2nd/4th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. It then served under the 168th (London) Infantry Brigade from October 5th to 16th, 1944 and from October 23rd to December 31st, 1944 as a cadre.
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  7. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    There's also a short history of the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons during WW2 found here:


    I can't find much info on the unit between the wars. My uncle Frank was with them from the outbreak of WW2. Sometime in 1944 as a Sergeant he was attached to the Cyprus Regiment in Italy. I have one photo of the Yorkshire Dragoon's boxing team from 1941. He may have been with a mounted unit in the 1930s from the photos I have of him in England, Egypt and India which I still have to figure out.

    Regards ...

    Edit: date
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  8. Phil Camp

    Phil Camp New Member

    Dear Chris,

    my dad was a Cavalry reservist at the start of WW2 and was posted to the Yorkshire Dragoons. I too have looked for info and pics of activities from that period with no luck.

    Here is a link to the IWM Collection, that has recorded a veteran from the Yorkshire Dragoons talking about their deployment to Palestine and Syria, including the cavalry action against the Druse militia.


    Regards Phil
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  9. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Attached is a photo of the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons boxing team from 1941. My uncle Frank Aitkenhead is third from right front row. Seeing his size he must have had a time training some of the bruisers shown there.

    QOYD Boxing Team-1941-1.jpg QOYD Boxing Team-1941-2.jpg

    Frank's great niece by his second marriage sent some pages from his service books. One page from his 2nd Service and Pay Book shows his movements towards the middle of the page in a double column. In June, 1942 he returns to Syria from Egypt. Afterwards it gets quite confusing with a good deal of jumping around from place to place. This may be evidence of what ceolredmonger in post # 5 says about the regiment being divided.

    Frank Aitkenhead Service & Pay Book - 64 (2)_03.jpg Frank Aitkenhead Certificate of Army Service_02.jpg

    In Frank's case he was later attached to the Cyprus Regiment. While with them In Italy he was awarded the MM for his handling of an incident that occurred during the delivery of supplies by mules on the evening of May13/14 1944.

    Regards ...
    Guy Hudson likes this.
  10. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    The officer seated right in the boxing photo could very well be Major The Hon. Peter Wood who died in action in the Battle of Alamein, 26 October 1942. He was the middle son of the 1st Earl of Halifax, Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, who was British Ambassador to Washington at the time. Lord Halifax was also the honorary Colonel of the Yorkshire Dragoons.

    Major Peter Wood Compare.jpg

    The Officer on the left has intrigued me no end. I'm back and forth on him being the celebrated young jockey Bruce Hobbs.

    Regards ...
    Guy Hudson likes this.
  11. Jake Holliday

    Jake Holliday Member

    My Great Grandfather was in 4th Troop 'the Goole Lads', B Squadron of the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons, along with his brother. They were both in the TA before the war and went to Palestine in 1940. A member of the North Somerset Yeomanry, his best friend, saved his life by taking a bullet on the 10th July 1940. He ended up at El Alamein, where he was wounded, captured, freed, and then repatriated.
    Cee likes this.
  12. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    I thought 3 men sitting side by side in the front row of the boxing photo may have been "The Three Musketeers" who according to the book "No Secrets So Close" were good friends Tom Pettifer, Bill Payne and Bruce Hobbs. The Pettifer family has since cast doubt on that possibility so I removed the photo here to avoid confusion. See post # 18 below for more info on the trio.
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
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  13. Jake Holliday

    Jake Holliday Member

    That would be great to know! I am trying to collate as much as I can on the regiment. My great grandmother threw away all his letters and photographs in the 80s and his medals are lost somewhere in the family, which is an awful shame.
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  14. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Jake.

    Oh gosh I should have said welcome to you before jumping into the above. Any photos and documents you would wish to share of your great grandfather's war years I'm sure would be of interest to forum members.

    All the best ...
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2017
  15. Jake Holliday

    Jake Holliday Member

    Thank you Cee, no worries! I don't really have much, but I can see about putting some things up

  16. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    If your uncle Frank was attached to the Cyprus Regiment during his time in Italy, he would have had something to do with mule transport. The Cyprus Regiment were drafted in as muleteers.

  17. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Minden,

    Yes Frank (Frances) was attached to 621 Pack Transport company, Cyprus Regiment which to be honest I don't know a lot about. He was awarded the MM for his actions while running supplies by mule on the night of May 12/13, 1944. For some reason they had him down as John Aitkenhead which is actually the name of his older brother. I should probably add his citation to one of the threads on the Cyprus regiment.

    Regards ...
  18. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    The Three Musketeers

    In the Bruce Hobbs biography "No Secret So Close" there are few tales covering a trio of men known as The Three Musketeers. They knew each other as young jockeys before the war and later formed a strong bond during their Officers' training at Krakur. They were all later awarded medals for valour. A photo from the book shows them together at a reunion. From left to right - Tom Pettifer, Bruce Hobbs and Bill Payne.

    Three Musketeers-Pettifer, Hobbs & Payne.jpg

    Bruce Robertson Hobbs (1920-2005)

    Bruce Hobbs, the best known of the trio, was a celebrated young jockey with many riding victories in the late 30s. His most notable achievement was winning the 1938 Aintree Grand National on Battleship at 17, which still stands as the youngest winner of the acclaimed race. Though a willowy youth at the time it's still hard to envision him as a jockey at 6 foot, 1 inch tall. During the war he was awarded the Military Cross for actions in Tunis and was later injured in Italy, after which he was invalided out as a Captain. Like his father before him Bruce in his post war years, until retirement in 1985, was involved in the horse training business at various stables.

    Bruce Hobbs North Somerset Yeomanry .jpg Hobbs on Agility.jpg Montreal Gazette Nov 15 1944.jpg Bruce Hobbs former jockey and racehorse trainer.jpg

    William John Payne (1910- 2000)

    Bill Payne was another notable jockey during the inter-war period with numerous racing victories to his credit. He narrowly missed winning the 1928 Grand National when his saddle slipped in the closing moments of the race. During the war Bill, who was said to be a very good boxer, rose to the rank of Major with the Regiment. In Italy his war ended after a wounding which resulted in facial scarring. Like Bruce Hobbs he came from a family with a history in horse racing and continued as a trainer postwar.

    Bill Payne Palestine Race.JPG

    Thomas Robert Pettifer (1916-2013)

    Tom Pettifer I am still looking into. He is described in the Hobbs biography as the most mischievous of the group. He was awarded the Military Cross in North Africa for his involvement in the capture of 110 Italian prisoners and a fully functional German 88-millimetre gun. Postwar he emigrated to New Zealand and dies there in 2013.

    See post # 65 for more details on Tom Pettifer as provided by his grandson.


    They all knew each other prior to the war and as experienced jockeys took part in many wartime races in Palestine. The trio, however, cemented their close friendship during the rigorous Calvary OCTU training course at Krakur which began in May of 1940 and lasted 6 months. Hobbs came from the North Somerset Yeomanry, Payne was originally with the Staffordshire Yeomanry and Pettifer with the Warwicks. After their graduation they were allowed as group to join the Yorkshire Dragoons.

    The Bruce Hobbs biography, "No Secret So Close", gives a very good account of the dashing life of a Calvary Officer and sadly the end of an era for a horse mounted regiment. It also covers the actions of the Yorkshire Dragoons both before and after their conversion to a mechanized unit.

    Bruce Hobbs' pre-war life as a young jockey is well documented in the book, "Battleship: A Daring Heiress, a Teenage Jockey, and America's Horse" by Dorthy Ours

    Although not war related the 1938 Grand National win by Hobbs might be of interest. He can be seen at the 50 second mark mounting No. 5, Battleship.

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
  19. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Do post his citation on here. It would be good to see it.


  20. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Here you go and like previously explained they have his first name wrong. The transcription was provided by his niece.

    WO 373_7_530- Frank Aitkenhead MM--.jpg Frank Aitkenhead  MM.jpg

    Regards ...
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