York’s position meant that it was often at the heart of any military conflict in the north of England. It sits on the River Ouse, and could easily be accessed from the sea, and in the gap between the Pennines in the west and the North York Moors in the east, in the middle of a flat north-south corridor that was one of the main routes between England and Scotland. Its location meant that it also became significant as a military target in its own right – it was the site of two of the key battles of 1066, while key battles of the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War took place close to the city.
A key thing to remember here is that this is an examination of events that took place in and around York, and not a history of the involvement of York based military units in over-seas wars. There is thus very little on the Great War, while for the Second World War the content is limited to a look at the German bombing, and details of the various RAF airfields that were built on the flat lands around the city. York’s direct involvement in military affairs effectively stops with the Civil War – the main events of the Jacobite Rebellions largely bypassed the city, with the main Jacobite army chosing to follow the alternative, western, route into England.
The city’s wider involvement in military affairs is recongised in chapter nine, which looks at the military honours held by the regiments associated with the city when it was written, and the VCs won by York or local men during the Great War. Chapter Ten, on the military heritage, looks at the various barracks and other military buildings in the city, which also gives some idea of how many units have been based in the area over the years.
The result is an interesting introduction to York’s role in English military history, as long as you remember that it really does focus on events that took place close to the city, and not the activities of units raised around the city.
1 – Introduction
2 – Early History
3 – Local Conflict up to the Norman Conquest
4 – Harrying of the North
5 – Post-Conquest York & England at War
6 – The English Civil War
7 – The Jacobite Rebellion
8 – The Second World War & The Cold War
9 – Service, Honours and Awards
10 – The Military Heritage
11 – The Walls & Other Defences
Author: Ian D. Rotherham
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military