Friday, January 24, 2014

Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers)

My maternal Grandfather, Leslie Claude Snelling (b. 5 June 1892; d. 3 October 1960), was Private 904, Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers). This is dedicated to Private 904 Snelling.

Leslie volunteered, as a good Hampshire man, for the local Yeomanry, that is, the local mounted militia. I'm fairly sure this was a tradition within the Snelling family. He was an active yeoman cavalryman before the outbreak of WW1 and of course mobilized with his Regiment on August 4th, 1914 when War was declared. 

Here he is as a well-dressed young gentleman in civilian life.

Leslie Claude Snelling

This pre-1914 photograph shows Leslie's platoon in the beautiful dress blues of the Regiment, obviously on maneuvers.

Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers) Dress Uniform

Leslie was a handsome, sensitive young man as you can see in this close-up. He did not strike me, even when I knew him as mature man in his 60's, as a militarist or even warrior. He seemed like a remarkably gentle and gentile man. He was however very proud of his service to King and Country. I was very fortunate to be just old enough to hear some of his stories. Although he died before my eight birthday, I was deeply impressed by Grandad's wartime recollections and can trace my lifelong interest in military history to his storytelling.

Leslie Claude Snelling, Private 904, Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers)

Leslie Claude Snelling, Private 904, Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers)

Here is brief history of Leslie's Regiment and his part in the Great War of 1914-18.


During the Revolutionary and early Napoleonic Wars, between 1794 and 1803, volunteer cavalry units such as the North Hampshire Yeomanry Cavalry (1794), the New Forest Volunteer Cavalry, the Fawley Light Dragoons and the Southampton Cavalry were raised in southern England as independent yeomanry units.   

In 1834, they amalgamated as the North Hampshire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry. The title "North" was dropped by 1848. The Regiment adopted the title Carabiniers in 1884.

In 1908, after the formation of The Territorial Force, the Regiment became known as the Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers) with detachments in Winchester, Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Southampton.

The Victorian uniform was modeled on the regular, Imperial Army, 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers).  The steel helmet with white plume, blue uniform, etc are virtually identical. The main difference is the colour of the metal, steel for the Yeomanry, brass for the 6DG.

Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers)
Officer of the Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers)
6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers)

Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers) Officer 1885

Helmet, Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers) 

Guidon, Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers) 
Hampshire Yeomanry, 1895

Hampshire Yeomanry, 1898

Anglo-Boer War (11 October 1899 to 31 May 1902)

The Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers) raised the 41st Company, 12th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry for service in South Africa in 1900. In 1902 the Battalion transferred to the 41st Company, 4th Battalion. The Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers) also raised the 50th Company, 17th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry. The battle honour "South Africa" was awarded.

Imperial Yeomanry

World War One, the Great War (28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918)

The Hampshire Carabiniers won the following battle honours during WWI: 

'France and Flanders, 1916-17, 1918' 'Italy, 1917-18'.

Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabiniers) goes to War
Courtesy Phil Curme of

1/1st Hampshire Yeomanry, Territorial Force

Mobilized 4 August 1914 at Winchester as part of the 1st South-Western Mounted Brigade. Later in August it was deployed on Portsmouth Defences. In Oct 1914 the regiment was with its Brigade in the Forest Row area and at Eastbourne. In March 1916 the regiment split up and became Divisional Cavalry. The history of the Regiment from this point is the history of each of the component squadrons. I suspect Private Snelling was attached to A Squadron because his family lived in Portsmouth. 

A Squadron, Portsmouth

Attached to 58th Division (2/1st London) as Divisional Cavalry 

A Squadron joined the 58th (2/1st London) Division at Ipswich on 21 March 1916. In July 1916 it moved with Division to the Sutton Veny area. A Squadron moved independently to La Havre, France, on 20 January 1917, rejoining 58th Division, IX Corps, on 25 January 1917 at Bailleul. 

Attached to IX Corps as Corps Cavalry Regiment to 25 July 1917. 
25 August 1917 Regiment dismounted and went to be trained as infantry. I remember the sorrow with which Leslie remembered and recounted this awful event for a cavalryman.

27 September 1917 (2nd Portsmouth) Battalion, Hampshire Regiment amalgamated with the dismounted 1/1st Hampshire Yeomanry and were renamed 15th (Hampshire Yeomanry) Battalion, at Caestre. Leslie Snelling henceforth became Soldier Number: 204949, Hampshire Regiment.

In November as part of 41st Division, 122nd Brigade, the 15th was ordered to Italy to join the Italian Expeditionary Force (IEF), moving by train to Mantua. The Division took the front line near the River Piave, north west of Treviso. 
    In February the 41st Division returned to France and left Campo San Piero, travelling by train to concentrate near Doullens and Mondicourt. The Division took part in the following battles:

    The Battle of St Quentin (21-23 March) 

    The Battle of Bapaume (24–25 March)
    The First Battle of Arras (28 March)
    The Battles of the Lys (9-29 April)
    The Advance in Flanders
    The Fifth Battle of Ypres (28 September - 2 October)

    The Battle of Courtrai (14 October-22 October)

    The action of Ooteghem (25 October)

    The forward units of the Division were at Nederbrakel, Tenbosch and on the line of the River Dender near Grammont at the time of the Armistice of November 11, 1918. Selected to join the Army of Occupation, the Division began to move on 18 December, going via Enghien - Hal - Braine 'Alleud - Sombreffe - Temploux - north of Namur and Huy. On 6 January the move was completed by train and on 12 January the Division took over the left section of the Cologne bridgehead.

    Demobilisation began on 15 March 1919. The 41st Division was retitled as the London Division. I believe Leslie stayed with the Regiment throughout the War,  patrolling in England, moving to France and Italy, and probably participating in the Occupation. Family memory suggests he never rose beyond the rank of Corporal.

    My brother Clive has kindly collaborated with my mother, Leslie's daughter, Muriel June Davis nee Snelling, to add the following personal details of Leslie's service:

    "Ok read it in full - enjoyed it especially the pictures - obviously lost some of the personal touch as you didn't know exactly which Battalions Grandad Snelling served with so difficult to chart his individual progress over the four years. You obviously had to cover all the Hampshire Yeomanry movements which by its nature is a bit dry - never knew about the service in Italy. Mum spoke mostly of his time in Flanders where he was gassed - suffering badly with migranes for the rest of his life. One advance over the top he got stranded in a shell hole with his friend - they were in no man's land and under heavy artillery fire. His friend stated his intention to move forward to another hole and before Grandad could move to join him he took a direct hit and was blown to pieces - when Grandad did try to advance he was shot in the leg by a German sniper - his puttees kept his leg together and helped stem the bleeding- unable to move he waited for nightfall to crawl back to his own lines eventually toppling back into his own trench line he had left some 20 hours previously - he was hospitalised in England and later rejoined his Batallion - I don't know where - his brother Reggie was of course killed by shell fire And his body was never recovered - just part of the awful carnage and misery on the Western front. There are memorials to some of the men and officers of the Hampshire Yeomanry on the Menem Gate at Ypres - this memorial denotes their bodies were never found. Last post is sounded every day at the Gate at 8pm - very moving ongoing tribute and certainly brought a tear to my eyes when I was there. "

    Thanks Clive and Mum!

    The War history of the other component squadrons is given below.

    RHQ, Winchester

    B Squadron, Winchester

    Attached to  60th Division (2/2nd London) as Divisional Cavalry.
    Regimental HQ and B Squadron joined 60th (2/2nd London) Division at Warminster on 26 April 1916. 
    14 June 1916 sent advance parties to Le Havre and Boulogne to prepare for the Division to cross to France. The crossing was completed by 29 June 1916 and the Division concentrated in XVII Corps area. Left 60th Division on 8 July 1916

    RHQ Attached to IX Corps Cavalry

    B Squadron attached to XVII Corps Cavalry. 

    Both rejoined Regiment on 25 January 1917.

    C Squadron, Southampton

    Attached to  61st Division (2nd South Midland) as Divisional Cavalry.
    C Squadron joined 61st (2nd South Midland) Division at Ludgershall on 18 March 1916. Left the Division 7 June 1916. Rejoined Regiment 17 June 1916.

    D Squadron, Bournemouth

    Attached to 1st South Western Mounted Brigade, a Territorial Force brigade already in existence at the outbreak of the war. At the outbreak of the war it was based at Salisbury. The brigade appears to have broken up in 1915 and the Headquarters staff may have been used to form the 2/1st South Western Mounted Brigade.

    2/1st Hampshire Yeomanry, Territorial Force

    Formed at Winchester in Oct 1914. Joined the 2/1st South Western Mounted Brigade.

    The 2/1st Hampshire Yeomanry moved to Ireland and converted to a cyclist unit in 1916.

    3/1st Hampshire Yeomanry, Territorial Force

    Formed 1915. Joined the 11th Reserve Cavalry Regiment.

    3/1st Hampshire Yeomanry stayed in the United Kingdom and converted to infantry at the same time as the first regiment.

    Leslie Snelling's military service did not end in 1918. Like many of his generation, he served again from 1939 to 1945 to protect the Homeland as a Home Guardsman, the proverbial "Dad's Army". Here he is with his eldest son, my Uncle David, who himself served as an officer in the Royal Air Force.

    Home Guardsman Snelling, "still doing his bit"


    1. Hi Michael,

      I tried to post earlier but I don't think it went through. This is a fantastic tribute to your grandfather. Private Snelling must have been quite an influence and a very interesting fellow. I noticed in addition to his Victory Medal he had two British medals with different ribbon colors is there something significant about each color?

      Thank you for sharing this was really well done!


    2. Very interesting... Thank you for sharing!
      I am really impressed by all the images you were able to include and the extensive amount of information you found on Private Snelling's regiment. What resources did you use to conduct your research?


    3. Thank you Cate! I have a lot of documents obtained from the Hampshire Regiment Museum in Winchester which I visited and to which I made a donation in Grandad's name. Also, the Royal Army Museum and Imperial War Museum in London.

      The most important source deserves a specific reference:

      The Journal of the Military Historical Society "The Bulletin"
      Vol. XXVI no. 102 November 1975
      "A Short History of the Hampshire Carabiniers Yeomanry" by John Woods

      Images from the family and Internet.

    4. Hello,

      Its been great reading these anecdotes about your Grandfathers experiences as a Hampshire Yeoman. It might please you to know that not only is the unit still going, albeit as Artillery Gunners, but is expanding with a new Hampshire Yeomanry unit recently formed within the Army Reserve.

      457 (Hampshire Carabiniers Yeomanry) Battery RA was formed in 1999, inheriting the title form a Sapper unit which resurrected it a few years before, and is based in Southampton.

      295 (Hampshire Yeomanry) Battery RA is a recent addition to the Royal Regiment in the process of being formed in Portsmouth.

      Both are part of 106 (Yeomanry) Regt RA currently based in London, however if we could get RHQ to move to Winchester and form a Battery in Bournemouth, the we would in fact reform the old Regiment

    5. Sean
      Thank you for your very helpful post. Are you by any chance serving in any of these units? The Hampshire's Museum in Winchester was very helpful many years ago when I started my research.

    6. Hi Michael, thank you for putting up this photo of my dear Grandpa and his father. We have such fond memories of this wonderful, lively, irrepressible man. He was so caring and interested in all his myriads of grandchildren and we owe him such a debt for the faith and hope which he espoused and shared with us.
      Kathryn Eagle (Your cousin Julie's daughter)

      1. Dear Cousin Kathryn

        Thank you for your comments. Uncle David was indeed a very special man, as was his father, Grandad Leslie Snelling, who I had the pleasure to get to know. The Snelling's and the Hardham's are both fascinating families.

        Please give my love to Julie. Should you care to write further, my email is:

        Cousin Michael

    7. Thank you so much for this article, its such a pleasure to be able to learn more about the family history. I I feel extremely blessed to have known my Great Grandfather David Snelling!

    8. Dear Cousin Keturah

      I am very pleased you enjoyed my article. Uncle David was a remarkable man and always exciting to be around. His father, my grandad Leslie Snelling, was also a wonderful man, a kind, gentile man who everyone loved. I am very fond of your grandmother, my cousin Ruth. Love to all the family.

    9. Wonderful information and well presented. My heart skipped a beat when I came across it as my great GF was a private in the 6th Dragoon Guards, also from Portsmouth, but then of course I quickly realized this is a different regiment. He died in 1922 leaving my grandad and his brother orphans. The military history is all that we have.