The York and Lancaster Regiment was formed from an amalgamation of two Regiments of Foot, the 65th and 84th of Foot. The 65th Foot.
The 12th Regiment of Foot raised a second battalion in 1756 which in turn became a separate regiment in 1758 and was named the 65th Regiment of Foot. In 1782 the 65th was given the secondary title of 2nd North Yorkshire with the intention for the regiment to recruit in Yorkshire. The regiment became the 65th (2nd North Yorkshire) Regiment of Foot.The 84th Foot.
The 84th was raised on three separate occasions. The first raising in 1759 was as a response to a request from the East India Company for additional military support. It was disbanded in 1763. The second raising of the regiment was during the American War of Independence when in 1775, the 84th Foot was known as the Royal Highland Emigrants having drawn its soldiers from Scottish settlers. The regiment was disbanded in 1783 when the war ended but was raised for a third and final time 10 years later in 1793.
In 1809 the 84th of Foot was given a secondary title of York and Lancaster to reflect the fact that the 84th had raised a battalion at York in Yorkshire and a battalion in Preston in Lancashire.
The regiment became 84th (York and Lancaster) Regiment of Foot.
The Cardwell Reforms.
The 1881 Cardwell Reforms led to a wholesale restructuring of the army which involved the merging of numbered regiments, in this case the 65th with the 84th. The intention was to create regiments of 2 regular battalions with county affiliations, recruiting areas, a shared regimental depot and for one of the battalions to serve overseas whilst the other would be based at home. In addition, the reforms linked the local militia with the regular battalions. In 1883, the local volunteer units known as Rifle Volunteer Corps (RVC) were also added to the regimental family.
So by 1883, the Regimental family was as follows:
- The 65th of Foot had become the 1st Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment.
- The 84th of Foot had become the 2nd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment.
- The 3rd West Yorkshire Militia had become the 3rd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment.
- The 2nd Yorkshire, West Riding, (Hallamshire) Rifle Volunteer Corps had become the 1st Volunteer (Hallamshire) Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment.
- The 8th Yorkshire West Riding RVC had become the 2nd Volunteer Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment.
Interestingly, the title of the new regiment was originally to be the Hallamshire Regiment to reflect the link to a part of the regimental area in the West Riding known as Hallamshire. This proposed title proved to be unpopular with the units due to be amalgamated and they looked for an appropriate title that would identify the new regiment with its main recruiting area in the county of Yorkshire. A vote was taken by Officers of the battalions concerned and the new title chosen, The York and Lancaster Regiment, was taken from the 84th of Foot.
The regiment raised 22 battalions during World War 1 and had some 57,000 men serve in its ranks. After 1919, the regiment returned to its pre war state of 1st and 2nd Battalions being regular, 3rd Battalion being the depot battalion and the 4th and 5th Battalions being Territorial’s.
The York and Lancaster Regiment raised 10 battalions during World War 2 which were the 1st, 2nd, 3rd (Depot), Hallamshires, 67th (Y&L) HAA Regiment RA, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Battalions. All except the 1st, 2nd and Hallamshire Battalions were disbanded at the end of the war. Due to post war army reorganisations, in 1947 the 2nd Battalion was disbanded and amalgamated with the 1st Battalion.
The 1st Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment became part of the Yorkshire Brigade in 1958 along with the West Yorkshire Regiment, the East Yorkshire Regiment, the Green Howards and the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. The Brigade adopted a common cap badge which depicted a white rose with a crown above it and a scroll inscribed with the word ‘Yorkshire’. However, each regiment retained its own collar badges.
Further army reorganisations led to the 1st Battalion being disbanded in 1968 leaving just the very much reduced Hallamshire Battalion and a handful of local army cadet units still wearing the Tiger and Rose badge of the York and Lancaster Regiment.