“……will DEPLOY to
The words of the OC the
Light Cavalry caused a chilly silence as they rang out to the assembled ‘O
group’ sitting listening intently in the Medal Room on Tuesday 30th
May. “On 7th June, eight days from now, The Light Cavalry Battle
Group will deploy on operations to Wadebridge,
The well-kept secret
was now out. Only eight days to go!
The well oiled machinery slipped effortlessly into gear. Heronden Transport,
the preferred choice of both the Household Cavalry and ourselves, with the
splendid driver Jock in attendance, was called up to transport horses from
Flemish Farm. O
For some time now the
word was that something was up. We
always train hard to fight easy, and we had been training…very hard. But as no
word came from above, we were in a sea of doubt and uncertainty. We knew it
could not be
Now, at last, we knew, and the training intensified. Eight days! Oh dear! Panic!
The real reason for going,
it was explained to us, was that very large crowds, some said over 40,000 a
day, were expected to converge on Wadebridge for some
ancient festival or other, and we were needed to ‘Keep the Peace’. Moreover,
our own Lady Mayoress wanted to go and see for herself. As we are sworn to
protect her there was no option. The Light Cavalry Battle Group was to
consist of Mounted Troop, Transport Troop and Dismounted Troop; the Flemish
Farm stable staff, Caroline, Jonathon and Carly,
helped by Su Burrows, and also Ashish Singh, who is about
to become a recruit to the
Because this was a
security operation, we were all to be billeted at RAF St.Mawgan,
with the exception of a twenty-four hour guard on our compound, Baldrick Lines at
Wednesday came all too soon; tunics that had languished unloved and crumpled at
the bottom of cupboards were dusted off, and other vital items of equipment found, or hastily borrowed.
At 10.00hrs from several secret locations all over the southern part of
The movement to
The Pikes, when they display, have it fairly easy. Clamber into the coach, endless pit stops to refresh, a little parading, and go home (one does get that impression. Ed). Moving a dozen or more horses, their rations for five days, and equipment, including a wagonette, the Wagon GS, and two sets of heavy horse harness, with all the attendant helpers and their requirements is a logistical nightmare, and takes time, and money. We were told we caused a tailback as far as the M4!
A few particular
memories come to mind. The Lord Mayor of
Provost Cpl, to recently admonished idle trooper, “Come ‘ere you!”
“What are you?”
“You said I was a horrible idle dirty trooper, Corporal.”
“No you are not – you are now the Lord Mayor of
Get outside that gate and come in like a Lord Mayor.”
“HALT – state your name and business.”
the Lord Mayor of
Cpl to the Orderly
Officer: “It’s the Lord Mayor of
Harassed Orderly Officer: “Oh for God’s sake let him in then….”
Same group, a day later:
“Enjoy the party, Corporal?”
“Oh yes, Sir. I met a very nice young lady. Said she had been in Camp all the time. Never seen her before though.”
“In a pink dress?”
“Yes, that‘s the one.”
“You idiot, I heard you giving her a telling off, yesterday, for idle sword drill.”
“Oh dear. A trooper. Mmmm . They do look different with their clothes on, Sir!”
Some of the ‘civilians’ with us found the custom of wearing headdress in the Mess Hall apparently hilarious; at least, for some reason or other, they screamed with girlish glee and delight. As the old sweats know, of course, if you are ‘On Duty’, you may, and strictly speaking are entitled to, push your way to the front of the Mess Hall queue, fully accoutred, armed, with your hat on, so you may get back on duty. It also can mean that you wish to be left alone with your thoughts, and not spoken to, unless, of course, you are dining formally in the Mess. It is also worth mentioning that there were ‘No Complaints’ to the Orderly Officer’s question as to the quality of the food. Indeed the ‘Master’ cook, a boy aged about 19 years, was summoned, trembling, and told it was “Excellent. Carry On”.
Our Mounted Musical Ride is really quite good, but we had an attack of the Cornish gremlins. On the first day, the Ride Officer had to explain to the Nobleman, the Show President, who was taking the salute, that the clever trick of the unravelling horse leg bandages was not meant to be quite the same as the Red Arrows coloured smoke trails, but it seemed to heighten the crowd’s interest! We managed better when it came to the tent pegging, with Antony Doggett and Paul Allison successfully lifting the final pegs with the coloured streamers attached, although the crowd had more amusement with a display of Cossack riding by Sgt. Doggett, whose girth could have been just a teeny weeny bit tighter. Fred Southey, who had only taken up the sport four days earlier, proved a dab hand with the lance, and scored several strikes. Jonathan Elliott, on a horse he had never ridden before, proved skilful with the sword, jumping the fence and spearing the peg simultaneously. All this seemed to please the friendly and cheerful crowd.
The ‘Lord Mayor’s
Procession’, a re-creation of the November City of London activity well known
to the Regiment, was demonstrated but once on the Friday, in the Main Ring, to
mark the visit of the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor, Alderman
David Brewer, who was bread and buttered in Cornwall. This was well done, well
organised, and well received. Well, it
would be: it was run totally by the
It should be mentioned that Cornwall made us welcome, and particularly General Sir Richard Trant, a former Colonel Commandant, who entertained us, the Pikemen, and notable locals, most royally, in company with Jonathan Treffry, a member, whose magical home at Foy - The Place - where the party was, had only recently been occupied by his family. 1130 AD or thereabouts, I think it was! A number of ‘old West Country Comrades’ were in evidence, and came and visited us, including Bill Hebblethwaite, Gordon Cumming, Richard Haslam Hopwood, to name but a few.
It is probably better to say little more, in words, as it will only be edited out (you’re not kidding. Ed), but one hopes that the space left will allow for a plethora of photos showing what a fine thing it was.