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The Volunteer Army

Behind the regular army has always stood the volunteer movement, consisting of part time soldiers whose prime role was home defence.  During the Napoleonic Wars, in particular, the movement was very active.  A Halifax Volunteer Corps was raised in 1794 "for the defence of the town, parish and neighbourhood of Halifax".  It was disbanded in 1802 when peace was declared with France.  The peace was short lived and another volunteer regiment was raised in 1803 which lasted until 1808 when it was transferred to the Halifax Local Militia.  From 1815 to 1852 there were practically no volunteer forces.

In 1859, when war appeared to threaten, three new volunteer units were raised, namely the 4th, 5th and 9th West Riding of Yorkshire Volunteers, which in 1881 became the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Volunteer Battalions of The Duke of Wellington's Regiment.

In 1908 the volunteers, as such, ceased to exist; but they were invited to transfer to the newly formed Territorial Force.  The 1st Battalion of the Volunteers became the 4th Battalion The Duke of Wellington's Regiment, at Halifax.  The 2nd became the 5th and 7th Battalions DWR based in Huddersfield and the 3rd Battalion became 6th DWR based in the Craven Valley.  During the Great War each raised a second and third battalion and all served with distinction.

In 1921 the Territorial Force became the Territorial Army, but otherwise matters remained unchanged until 1936 when the threat of another war resulted in the 4th and 5th being converted to Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers respectively.  Only the l/6th, 2/6th, l/7th and 2/7th fought as infantry during World War II.  Since the war there have been numerous changes.  The overall effect has been to steadily reduce the numbers of volunteers associated with the Regiment so that by 1987 they consisted only of 'C' (DWR) Company 1st Yorkshire Volunteers and 'C' (DWR) Company 3rd Yorkshire Volunteers.  Both companies became part of 3 Yorks from 1988.  In 1993 the 3rd Battalion DWR was formed by the redesignation of 3rd/4th Battalion Yorkshire Volunteers with its HQ at Sheffield.  The Battalion was disbanded in 1999 on formation of the East and West Riding Regiment, though Ypres and Fontenay companies based in West and South Yorkshire continue to wear the Dukes cap badge and represent the regiment.

Although not volunteers, mention must also be made of the militia, who were conscripted by ballot and had an obligation for overseas service.  Reference has been made to the Halifax Local Militia, which has no direct link with the Regiment.  However the 6th West Yorks Militia became the 3rd Militia Battalion of DWR under the 1881 reorganisation and saw active service in South Africa from 1900 to 1902.  The Militia was disbanded in 1908 when it became the Special Reserve.