Hard Fighting - A History of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1900-1946, Jonathan Hunt

Hard Fighting - A History of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1900-1946, Jonathan Hunt

The first part of this history of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry covered the period when they were a home defence unit, with some law enforcement duties, and never actually saw combat. That changed during the Boar War, when the need for extra cavalry triggered the formation of the Imperial Yeomanry, based on the old county Yeomanry units. The Sherwood Rangers went on to serve as cavalry in the Boer War and First World War and as an armoured unit during the Second World War.

I must admit I found the Boer War section a bit dry. Thinks liven up during the First World War section, although I would have liked more details from the units time in Macedonia, where they operated in a more traditional cavalry scouting role. They also took part in the victorious campaign in Palestine (although they do seem to have been 'almost' involved in many of the more famous incidents). I'm not convinced by the author's arguments in favour of cavalry, which was able to perform well in the less densely packed battlefields of Macedonia or Palestine, but struggled on the Western Front. The Germans and French both had large cavalry forces, and yet were unable to take advantage of them to win a clear victory in 1914, and one can’t help think that a larger British mounted arm would have fared no better.

The Second World War section is the most interesting. The unit moved to the Middle East still equipped as cavalry, becoming a coastal artillery unit before converting to tanks while in the Middle East. It then served in North Africa, fighting at El Alamein, before returning to Britain to take part in the D-Day landings. The unit operated DD tanks on D-Day, and there is a fascinating account of the training with that unique weapon, and how effective it was on the day. The unit also served alongside the US 82nd Airborne during Market Garden and the US 84th Infantry Division during the advance to the Rhine, so we get an interesting account of the experiences of a British unit under US command.

Part I: The Boer War, 1899-1902
Part II: Haldane and the Territorial Force, 1900-1914
Part III: The Great War, 1914-191
Part IV: Inter War Years, 1919-1939
Part V: The Second World War, 1939-42 - The Beginning
Part VI: The End of the Beginning, 1942-43
Part VII: The Beginning of the End, 1944
Part VIII: The End, 1944-45

Author: Jonathan Hunt
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2016

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