During the Napoleonic Wars the Gentlemen of Uxbridge sought permission from the Government to form a Military Association to maintain law and order when the Regular Forces were sent to the coast to protect the country against invasion by the French. A Cavalry Troop was raised in 1797 and titled the 'Uxbridge Volunteer Cavalry' and its first Captain Commandant was Christopher Baynes Esq' (later Sir Christopher),
The role of the Uxbridge Volunteer Cavalry was to act as armed police and support the Civil Powers in maintaining law and order in the local parishes.
A second troop was raised in 1798 with the change of title to 'Uxbridge Yeomanry Cavalry'. Captain-Commandant Christopher Baynes was appointed Major-Commandant and the UYC was given a wider sphere of operation. The volunteers provided their own clothes and horses, and received no payment if called out to quell a disturbance,
At the end of the war with France the number of Yeomanry units was reduced and it was not until 1830 that the Uxbridge Yeomanry Cavalry was reformed to maintain the peace during a period of extreme poverty, when rioters terrorised the inhabitants and destroyed machinery which was being introduced into the agriculture and cotton industries.
The uniform worn by the Uxbridge Yeomanry Cavalry was of the Light Dragoon pattern with a broad-topped shako of dark green, ornamented with a brass Maltese Cross with the Arms of the County of Middlesex placed in the centre, and the motto adopted was 'Pro Aris et Focis', which can be loosely interpreted as 'For Hearth and Home'.
In 1856 the badge was changed to a gilt metal six-pointed star, surmounted by the Royal Crown, and a circle bearing the regimental motto 'Pro Aris et Focis' enclosing the Royal Cypher 'VR',
There were variations to the uniform until 1871 when the Uxbridge Yeomanry Cavalry was ordered to raise a fourth troop and to change its title to 'Middlesex Yeomanry Cavalry'. The Commanding Officer adopted the Hussar uniform, keeping the green Hussar tunic with black collars and cuffs; yellow Hussar lace on the collars, cuffs, and back, with three across the breast. Blue black overalls with double red Hussar stripes; a Hussar busby with dark green bag, and a red-under-green brush, with yellow lines, trimmings and bosses,
In April 1884 the Queen graciously honoured the Regiment with the title 'Middlesex (Duke of Cambridge's) Yeomanry Cavalry'.
There were many changes in the Yeomanry Force during the later years of the 19th century. The Squadron became the official unit. The Middlesex Yeomanry was formed of two squadrons, each with two troops, and the regiment was brigaded with the Berkshire Yeomanry, which formed the 1st Yeomanry Brigade.
Soon after the reverses in Natal the Government found that the only way to raise a large number of mounted men was to call upon the Yeomanry for volunteers to serve overseas. There was an immediate response from the regiment and by the end of January 1900 the Middlesex Yeomanry had raised three Companies, the 34th, the 35th (2nd Middlesex Yeomanry), and the 62nd (3rd Middlesex Yeomanry) plus a maxim-gun detachment. The 34th and 35th Companies together with two Companies raised in Kent formed the 11th Battalion under command of Colonel Kenyon Mitford, the Commanding Officer of the Middlesex Yeomanry. The 62nd was placed under command of the 14th Battalion.
In January 1901 a second contingent of Yeomanry was raised to replace the original 34th, 35th and 62nd Companies, and with a fourth Company, the 112th, formed the 112th (Kent and Middlesex) Battalion under command of Colonel R.B. Firman (Middlesex Yeomanry).
'Few Yeomanry Regiments have such proud memories of daring in South Africa as the two fights against such heavy odds which occurred at Senekel and Tweefonteen'. (Historical Records of The Middlesex Yeomanry 1797-1927).
With the end of the South African War in 1902 there was a general re-organisation of the Yeomanry. The title of the whole force was changed to 'Imperial Yeomanry' and the name of the regiment changed to 'Middlesex (Duke of Cambridge's Hussars) Imperial Yeomanry'.
The regiment was increased to four squadrons totalling 596 all ranks, which included a machine-gun detachment. At the time there were four new Yeomanry regiments being recruited in London, so it was not an easy task to increase the strength of the regiment from 200 to about 600 all ranks.
On 1 April 1908 the regiment became part of the Territorial Force being recruited in London. The title then changed to the 1st County of London Yeomanry (Middlesex, Duke of Cambridge's Hussars) and with the other London Yeomanry Units formed the London Mounted Brigade.
In accordance with the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw. 7, c.9) which brought the Territorial Force into being, the TF was intended to be a home defence force for service during wartime and members could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, on the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, many members volunteered for Imperial Service. Therefore, TF units were split in August and September 1914 into 1st Line (liable for overseas service) and 2nd Line (home service for those unable or unwilling to serve overseas) units. Later, a 3rd Line was formed to act as a reserve, providing trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line regiments.
In the summer of 1914 the regiment was in camp at Moulsford Berkshire when the declaration of war with Germany interrupted the inter regimental sports planned to take place on the Bank Holiday. Instead the regiment returned to headquarters and by 5 August was ready to mobilize.
The Middlesex Yeomanry together with the 1st City of London Yeomanry (Rough Riders) and the 3rd County of London Yeomanry (The Sharpshooters) formed the 8th Mounted Brigade of the Yeomanry Mounted Division.
It was the Yeomanry Regiments of this Division, which were used as detached regiments and brigades on the Egyptian, Gallipoli and Salonica fronts and with the Desert Column under General Allenby, took part in the advance from the Suez Canal culminating in the Battles of Gaza in 1917. During this campaign, Alexander Malins Lafone was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Lt Col Oliver Cyril Spencer Watson, another Middlesex Yeoman, was detached from the Regiment to the 2nd/5th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1917. He ultimately assumed command of this infantry Regiment and was awarded the Victoria Cross on 28 March 1918 at Rossignol Wood, north of Hebuterne, France. The Middlesex Yeomanry consequently lays claim to two of the three Victoria Crosses awarded to the Yeomanry as a whole.
The 2nd Line regiment was formed at Chelsea in 1914 and in November 1914 it was at Ranelagh Park. By June 1915 it was with 2/1st London Mounted Brigade in 2/2nd Mounted Division and was at Bylaugh Park (north east of East Dereham) in Norfolk. In October it was at Blickling Hall. On 31 March 1916, the remaining Mounted Brigades were ordered to be numbered in a single sequence; the brigade was numbered as 12th Mounted Brigade and the division as 3rd Mounted Division.
In July 1916, the regiment was converted to a cyclist unit in 4th Cyclist Brigade, 1st Cyclist Division in the North Walsham area. In November 1916, the division was broken up and regiment was merged with the 2/3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) to form 6th (1st and 3rd County of London) Yeomanry Cyclist Regiment in 2nd Cyclist Brigade, probably at Reepham. In March 1917 it resumed its identity as 2/1st County of London Yeomanry and moved to Overstrand; in the autumn it moved to Melton Constable. In May 1918 the regiment moved to Ireland and was stationed at The Curragh, still in 2nd Cyclist Brigade, until the end of the war.
The 3rd Line regiment was formed in April 1915 at Ranelagh and in the summer it was affiliated to a Reserve Cavalry Regiment in Eastern Command. In the summer of 1916 it was affiliated to the 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment at The Curragh. Early in 1917 it was absorbed into the 2nd Reserve Cavalry Regiment at The Curragh.
After the war there was a reduction in the number of cavalry regiments and the Middlesex Yeomanry selected to re-role as Cavalry Signals to the 2nd Cavalry Division, and recruiting started on 20 May 1920. The 2nd Cavalry Divisional Signals (Middlesex Yeomanry) was integrated with the newly formed Royal Corps of Signals in June of that year, becoming the first unit formally established into the Corps.
The regiment fought hard to retain its old title, privileges, cap badge, motto and uniform, including the ancient custom of NCO's wearing a crown above their stripes, and the Quarter-master wearing four stripes with a crown, The shoulder title worn by the men changed to 'Royal Corps of Signals' with the concession of a 'Y' above it.
The years between the wars had seen the cavalry regiments gradually change from mounted to mechanised regiments, although the 2nd Cavalry Division had retained some of its horses at the outbreak of war in 1939.
Following the Munich crisis in 1938, and the subsequent threat of war, thousands of young men and women volunteered to join the armed forces.
In December 1938 the title of the regiment changed to Mobile Divisional Signals (Middlesex Yeomanry) T.A., until a second regiment was formed in 1939 and the title changed to 1st (Middlesex Yeomanry) Cavalry Divisional Signals.
The regiment was re-formed in 1947 and became the 16th Airborne Divisional Signals (Middlesex Yeomanry) T.A., and continued as such until the T.A., Airborne Division was reduced to a Parachute Brigade Group in 1956.
The Middlesex Yeomanry Signal Regiment became 40 Signal Regiment (Middlesex Yeomanry) T.A., until 1961 when it was amalgamated with 47 (London) Signal Regiment T.A. and the newly formed regiment became known as 47 Signal Regiment (Middlesex Yeomanry) T.A.
The new regiment was given the role of SHAPE Troops (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe). No.3 Squadron, 40 Signal Regiment, 305 (Parachute Brigade) Signal Squadron T.A., did not become part of 47 Signal Regiment (Middlesex Yeomanry) T.A. but continued in its role as the Signal Squadron to 44 Parachute Brigade, retaining its Middlesex Yeomanry cap badge and badges of rank. It was subsequently reduced to become Airhead Signal Troop, still in support of 44 Para bde but now part of 55 Signal Sqn, which also had troops in Cardiff (Port Troop) and Liverpool (Nobody knew what this troop was for). 55 Sqn was not parachute minded but the arrangement continued - including an eventful exercise in Cyprus - until 1978 when 44 Para Bde was broken up into three separate Parachute battalions: 4, 10, and 15 (Scottish). The remnants of the Airhead Troop merged with the Signal Platoon of 10 PARA (V). The CO of 10 PARA, a charming Cameronian, greeted the former OC of the Airhead Troop with the suggestion that, as he was to take over the Signal Platoon, he would need to do a training course. The former OC whose career had started in a Signals regiment in Wales and had declined through 305 Sqn to Airhead Tp, replied "Yes Sir" (always a good answer) "What should I teach?" It remains a mystery why he was not then sacked.
When the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve was formed in 1967 the Middlesex Yeomanry retained its title, but like so many other yeomanry' regiments was reduced to squadron establishment and became 47 (Middlesex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron., 31st (Greater London) Signal Regiment TAVR.
In accordance with historical precedence all Yeomanry and Militia units, including the Honourable Artillery Company, do not adopt the suffix (Volunteers) as Yeomanry and Militia can and have only ever been volunteer units/formations. This is reflected in policy of the Royal Armoured Corps, who retain responsibility for the continued use of Yeomanry titles, and within the Signal Officer in Chief's Policy Directive.
Following the 1967 reorganisation the Squadron was permitted to continue the ancient custom of NCO's wearing a crown above their stripes, and the SQMS wearing four stripes and a crown, and Middlesex Yeomanry collar badges continued to be worn on regulation uniform, but the Middlesex Yeomanry cap badge was replaced for the Royal Signals 'Mercury' cap badge which is worn on all headress less side hat.
The coloured side hat of scarlet, piped with gold, and rifle green flaps piped with gold with scarlet tipped peak and two buttons, worn by officers and soldiers off duty, was retained and continues to be listed in the Army's Dress Regulations. Officers caps have an embroidered cap badge, in gold on rifle green cloth, of an oval strap bearing the motto Pro Aris et Focis, in the centre the cypher MYC, and the whole ensigned by St Edward's crown.
On Service and No.2 Dress members of the Squadron wear a metal Middlesex Yeomanry collar badge and the khaki/green woven lanyard representing the rigging line of an army parachute commemorating the previous airborne role rather than the standard blue of the Royal Signals. The Squadron's webbing stable belt comprises crimson over, gold, and green with black edging, fastened by two nickel-plated buckles and black leather straps. (Headdress,Badges & Embellishments, of the Royal Corps of Signals by Major A. G. Harfield BEM., Picton Publishing Chippenham).
With recent changes in combat and barrack uniform styles, Squadron dress has also evolved. However all NCOs continue to wear a crown above their stripes, a throwback to the days when they would escort the 'Widow at Windsor'. To distinguish Sgts (three stripes AND a crown remember) from SSgts, the Staffies get to wear FOUR stripes and a crown. Rank slides, for all ranks (including officers) have the abbreviation 'Mx Yeo' below the rank insignia and soldiers who have completed trade training are entitled to wear a slide solely with the Squadron's abbreviated title.
Recent reorganisations within the Territorial Army and TA Royal Signals has seen 47 (Middlesex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron move, in 1995, to come under command of the 39th (Skinners) Signal Regiment (Volunteers). In 2006 47 (Middlesex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron came under the command of 71 (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment. The Sqn took command of 831 Troop based at Southfields on 1 October 2009. At this stage the Sqn become the lead sabre Sqn for 71 (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment because of the number of trained soldiers when compared to the other sarbre Sqn in the Regt.
The Squadron is loosely associated with the USMC due to previous members attending joint exercises on the US/UK exchange and the long-standing relationship with the USMC London Embassy detachment quartered in west London.
The Squadron is currently commanded by Major Michael Curtis-Rouse and the Squadron Sergeant Major is Staff Sergeant Claire Goodwin. It holds the Freedom of the London Borough of Hillingdon and it also has an active Regimental Association which is affiliated to the Royal Signals Association.
Former commanders of the Squadron currently dominate the R SIGNALS Reserves hierarchy (2014) with Brigadier Steve Potter serving as Assistant Commander Support Command, Colonel Paul Willmott as Colonel Reserves R SIGNALS/Assistant Director Reserves in the Capability Directorate Information in the Army HQ, Colonel Carla Lankester as Assistant Commander 11 Signal Brigade and Lieutenant Colonel Mike Smith as the SO1 at RHQ R SIGNALS. All continue to wear 'Mx Yeo' rank slides.