From Tudor times The Militia was controlled by the Lord Lieutenant of the County with several Deputy Lieutenants to assist him. It was financed by the rates and unlike the standing Army was never unpopular probably because it was raised to defend the local people. Recruits were drawn by ballot but a substitute could be financed.
In 1808 the yeomanry cavalry became known as the Hertfordshire Yeomanry whilst the infantry was called the Hertfordshire Rifle Volunteers.
Those volunteering for the Yeomanry were only paid when embodied but were required to attend exercises “mounted on a serviceable gelding or mare” not less than 14½ hands.
In 1900 the Yeomanry Regiment went on active service in South Africa. It landed in Cape Town on 28th March 1900 and was often in action although in none of the major battles of the campaign. During this 2nd Boer War Pte Arthur Martin Leake gained the first of his two V.C.s and Capt. Gilliat and Lt. S.G. Sheppard were each awarded a DSO. There is a plaque commemorating the men who went to South Africa on the side of the old library building in Old Cross, Hertford.
As a result of the lessons learned in the Boer Wars there was a complete reorganisation of the military forces. The Territorial Force came into being in 1908 and was responsible for County militias.
On 4th August, 1914 the Yeomanry regiment was mobilized and sailed for Egypt under the command of Lt-Col. T.E. Harrison. There it formed part of the defence force of Suez Canal and captured a small Turkish convoy in February, 1915.
In August, 1915 the Regiment became part of the 2nd Mounted Division of IX Corps and leaving its horses in Egypt it disembarked at Suvla Bay on 17th August under the command of Lt-Col. S.G. Sheppard, D.S.O.
The aim was to capture the high ground overlooking Anzac Cove & Suvla Bay to free them from artillery fire. The first objective was to capture Scimitar Hill and W. Hill. The attack began on 21st August with the mounted division marching across Anafarta Plain. Unfortunately the troops immediately came under heavy shell fire and the Regiment suffered 50 casualties including Lt-Col. Sheppard who was killed. Partial objective was achieved but heavy rifle and machine-gun fire caused a general withdrawal. The Regiment spent the rest of its time on the peninsula holding the trenches of Chocolate Hill until, as part of the evacuation of Gallipoli it re-embarked on 1st November with approximately 60 men left.
Almost immediately after landing in Egypt the Regiment was sent to Senussi in the Western Desert. In February, 1916 the Regiment was split into three squadrons which joined different divisions as Divisional Cavalry: ‘A’ Squadron to Palestine; ‘B’ Squadron to France and ‘D; Squadron to Mesopotamia. After a short spell on the Western Front, ‘B’ Squadron returned to Palestine. The men fought in these two theatres of war until the surrender of the Ottoman empire with the Armistice of Mudros being signed on 30th October, 1918.
Thurstan Holland-Hibbert (19th June 1888 - 17th February 1976) seems to have written a diary during his experiences in the yeomanry which he then re-wrote in 1969 and deposited it with Hertfordshire Archives. This, re-written edition, is the one presented here. HALS reference: D/EYO/2/131. It records his experiences from joining the yeomanry in 1912 through life in Egypt in late 1914 into 1915 and finally his brief time in Gallipoli before he was invalided home suffering from dysentery. He was born in 1888 and died in 1976.
Thurstan's father Arthur Henry Holland-Hibbert, 3rd Viscount Knutsford became county director in charge of VAD hospitals in Hertfordshire during the First World War. Thurstan who became 4th Viscount Knutsford, was responsible for Church Farm convalescent hospital on the Wall Hall estate during WW2.
The family home was Munden House, Watford which is still owned by the Holland-Hibbert family. This was used as a civil defence workers' rest house during WW2.
The diary was not easy to read. A word which could not be deciphered is enclosed in [ ] A best guess at a word is followed by [?]
Biographical information has been taken from "A Biographical List of Officers of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry, 1794 - 1920 complied by Colonel J. D. Sainsbury, O.B.E, T.D, F.S.A. ISBN: 0-948527-07-2
Some information has also been obtained from the website Find My Past