The Role of the 2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry

The 2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry - its role through the war of 39/45

by
Lieutenant Dennis Randall

In the pre-war years The Derbyshire Yeomanry was an Armoured Car Regiment. Armoured Divisions each had an Armoured Car Regiment as its specialised reconnaissance unit. They were the eyes and ears (and nose?) of the Division, sent forward to find the enemy positions and to report back by radio with as much detailed information as possible. In practice, this meant individual Troops of Armoured Cars would advance on given lines until they found the enemy positions - usually the hidden and static enemy found the advancing cars first!

Armoured Car regiments were sometimes used for other specialised roles.

The 2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry saw a lot of action in the Middle East, but as I didn’t join them until early in 1943 I cannot give details. Not long after El Alamein the regiment was sent, now without combat vehicles, up into what we then called Palestine to train for an amphibious landing. We had become part of a specialised unit known as a BRICK. We were destined to attack one of the Dodecanese islands held by the Germans, but the first two were disastrous failures - landings on Cos and Leros. I believe we were to land on Samos, but the failure of the first two caused ours to be cancelled and not long afterwards we embarked for UK, coming back through the Med. to UK, landing about 3 Jan 44.

At this point 2DY was put into the 51st Highland Division as its reconnaissance unit. There was a Reconnaissance Corps which provided recce units to infantry divisions, so we were slightly odd as a Royal Armoured Corps unit becoming the recce unit to an infantry division.

There were those who would have called us 51 Recce, but not bloody likely - we were not Recce Corps, we were ROYAL ARMOURD CORPS AND LET NO-ONE FORGET IT!

2 DY remained part of the 51st right up to the last day of the war, and there developed an enormous mutual respect between the Scottish infantry regiments and the 2nd DY.

(Lt. Dennis ‘Jumbo’ Randall was Troop Commander of 5 Troop, A Squadron from about April 1944…after the war he was made Captain and then Major and commanded the whole interpreter services for Rhine Army).