Tuesday, 15 March 2016

We have arrived somewhere…

HMT Haverford
On 3 March 1916, 25 Officers and 451 other ranks of the Cheshire Yeomanry departed from Devonport on board HMT Haverford. The ship arrived safely at Alexandria, Egypt, on 14 March 1916, where the men remained on board until the following day.

For those remaining at home, the safety of the men had been of great concern due to a persistent rumour. On this point the Mayor of Chester (Alderman J.M. Frost) wired to the Secretary of the Admiralty, Whitehall saying:
“Persistent rumours in Chester that Haverford, with Cheshire Yeomanry on board, has been torpedoed, and is causing widespread anxiety. Will you authorise contradiction of statement?” (Liverpool Echo, Tuesday 14 March 1916)
The happy reply was: “Mayor, Chester – Latest news: “All’s well” – Admiralty.”

This official news was supported by a further report, no doubt to the relief of those with loved ones overseas:

Liverpool Echo - Wednesday 15 March 1916 

THE CHESHIRE YEOMANRY CANARD

In reference to rumours about the Cheshire Yeomanry, the town-clerk of Chester has asked us to state that Mr. Arthur Boumphrey, of Lymm, Cheshire, has received a cablegram from his son, who is with the First Cheshire Yeomanry, stating that they have arrived safely at a port “somewhere”.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Voyage to Egypt

Since September 1914 Cheshire Yeomanry had been stationed in Norfolk on defence duties. They had experienced coastal bombardment and Zeppelin bombing raids and completed much training. In November 1915 the Regiment received their orders to go abroad dismounted. All cavalry equipment had to be handed in and changed for infantry. November orders were cancelled and the Yeomanry continued to do dismounted training. Such infantry training included route marches, bayonet exercises, bomb throwing and rifle shooting.

Finally, in February 1916 orders were again received that the Regiment were to go abroad and that they would sail on 3 March 1916.

The last parade of the Regiment in Norfolk took place at 7:30pm on the evening of 2 March before marching to Lowestoft Station. The train finally left Lowestoft at 8:45pm bound for Devonport.

It is at this time that the Cheshire Yeomanry War Diary commences. A War Diary is a daily record of operations, intelligence reports and other events, kept for each battalion by an appointed officer. It is not a personal diary. Specialist units, such as military hospitals, also kept war diaries.

The War Diary of Cheshire Yeomanry for this period is concise, recording just the barest of facts:


Place Date Hour Summary of Events
Lowestoft 1/3/16 Regiment in billets at Lowestoft
2/3/16 8.45pm Regiment entrained at Lowestoft
3/3/16 9.30am Arrived at Devonport & embarked on HMT Haverford
6pm Left Devonport. Strength 25 Officers. Other Ranks 451

HMT Haverford

HMT Haverford was a 12,000 ton troop ship, originally a passenger cargo vessel, built in 1901. Some brief information on the ship can be found on the web site of the Clydebuilt Ships Database, from where the picture above is extracted.