Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Green Howards

There is great sadness in North Yorshire, today, with the anouncement that the 2nd Battalion the Yorshire Regiment (the Green Howards) is to be 'absorbed' into the wider Regiment in the most radical army re-organisation for 100 years. The Battalion is part of the Yorkshire Regiment which currently has four battalions and it is one of several infantry battalions to be cut or re-oganised in today's Army 20/20 review. The three remaining Yorkshire battalions will be merged with a Territorial Army Battalion to form a newly structured Yorkshire Regiment. The re-orgainisation will mean cuts and changes in deployment. Overall the number of regular soldiers will drop from 102,000 to 82,000 and the number of Reservists will double, rising to 30,000.

The Green Howards have a long and proud history, dating back over 300 years. They have fought in many campaigns including at the battle of Boyne in 1690, the American War of Independence (1775), the Crimean War (1854-56), the Boer War (1899-1902), World War I (during which members of the battalion won 12 VC's), World War II (where a member of the battalion, Sargeant Major Stan Hollis, was awarded the only D-Day VC). In more recent times, they have served in Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands, Bosnia, the Gulf and Afghanistan. Five of their number where killed in Helmand province in March. general Sir Richard Dannatt GCb CBE MC DL was commissioned into the Green Howards in 1971. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the service given by the battalion.

The Green Howards have a special place in the hearts of the people of Richmond. Many who serve are drawn from the area around Richmond and Teesside and their families live there and their children attend local schools; many acts of commemoration and remembrance take place in Richmond town, where the Green Howards' Museum is situated in the market square; St Mary's Richmond contains the regimental Chapel and a prayer is said for the men and women of the Green Howards at the start of worship every Sunday. People are sad that this personal and historic link will be severed and determined that the long history of the battalion will continue to be remembered and told in the town.  Nearby Catterick Garrison is the largest garrison in Europe and the lives of people across the whole area are deeply intertwined with the Army, so there is a real sense of loss. The impact of the re-organisation is bound to have serious consequences for the area which already has high levels of unemployment. 

Our thoughts and prayers go to all those affected or saddened by the loss of one of the greatly loved institutions of North Yorkshire. There have been assurances from senior army officers today that the traditions of the battalion will be incorporated into the on-going life of the regiment, but that isn't quite that same as the life of the battalion continuing. 

To read more about the history and life of the battalion, and to see today's message from Major General Farquahar CBE DL, go to


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