THE LIGHT CAVALRY
There is at present a school of thought, unthoughtful in the main, which considers that the Cavalry ‘idea’ is part of an obsolete doctrine. Lt.Col J.F.C. Fuller Mobility in War 1920
This is the Chinese Year of the General. Which, I am told, like this column, starts its cycle in September. It must be so, or is it the Year of the Brass? I get confused, because we have had a flood of them, and they keep coming to look at us. Something is up.
Our saga must begin back on the first of our monthly training evenings of that month to start the new season, when we entertained a number of important people to an excellent dinner in the Queen’s Room for our Mess Night; if you haven’t been, do try hard to wangle an invitation. A stylish evening. We were honoured by the presence of the Aldemanic Sheriff John Stuttard, and more importantly Mrs Lesley Stuttard, then the Lady Mayoress to be, whom we would escort through the City on the Lord Mayor’s Show. More of that later. We also had a General or two, I forget who - one sees so many these days – and, to the excitement of the ‘Fly Boys’ in our number, even an Air Vice Marshal.
Then we had to cancel, tactfully, the old and senior General, who had volunteered to do our Annual Review and Inspection, as the GOC London District said that if we were something to do with him, he had better come and have a look at us! I think all these Generals must chat in the Generals Club about us. Anyhow……
On Saturday 16th September, after a week of rain, the sun shone on the Polo Ground at Flemish Farm, Windsor, as it usually does when the Light Cavalry parade. The Clerk of the Weather is obviously an honorary member; or perhaps under orders from higher authority, and he certainly pulled out all the stops that day for us.
At precisely one of
the clock, or perhaps just a little after, as he was not aware it was so far
from the stables, the GOC London District, Major General Sebastian Roberts,
rode down to the Polo Ground, together with his
A goodly crowd were in attendance; whether it was the presence of a real live serving General, or the beauty ‘of the men and the ‘osses what makes up the forces o’ Misses Victorier’s sons’ one cannot tell, but numerous ‘great and good’ from the military side of things could be seen making themselves rather visible in the serried ranks of spectators. We can but try to please everyone. Arma Pacis Fulcra.
It was welcome to see so many of our friends
in the Pikes, and others, with whom some of us had previously served, who were
all, hopefully, having a nice day out in the Country. Amongst the crowd were a number of excited,
and rather nervous, cadets - mostly aged about thirteen - from Bearwood College
The early morning
rehearsal was shambolic, but by a miracle, as usual, things resolved themselves
to a great extent, but the Remount Officer is being sent for further lessons as
he repeatedly failed to control his mount; to the annoyance of all others, and
his undying shame. We walked, trotted and cantered past, in Review, to splendid
music, supplied from the ether by Captain Lorraine Evanson Goddard
When we were finally addressed, and congratulated, by the General, at the end of the parade, he said that he was surprised that we attempted the Canter Past, with the result of which he was pleased, as another Regiment under his commanded (No Names, No Pack Drill) had decided against this tricky manoeuvre. However, it must be said that they, whoever they are, when attempting it, do it In Line’, and we do it, perhaps wisely, in ‘Column of Troops’.
Anyhow, we seemed to please everybody, got a terrific clapping (please, don’t do that again when I’m riding a young horse), and the General said he proposed to recommend to his successor that that gentleman should inspect us at least once in his tour of duty. He also was pleased to sign us off as ‘efficient’ . Well done, Gentlemen.
The less formal part of the day consisted of our now accredited County Show Level Musical Ride; a ‘Mirror Image’ Dressage demonstration by Gareth Thomas and Fred Southey, who are quite the business at this one and who both then went on with Paul Allison and Antony Doggett, joined by Lt Catherine Smith from Bearwood College CCF, to put on a magnificent display of Tent Pegging. Our good friends, and good supporters, from the Saddle Club then staged two Polo matches which kept the not inconsiderable crowd entertained well into the afternoon, playing against teams from RMA Sandhurst and the Adjutant General’s Corps.
There were a number of ‘comfort stations’ dispensing liquid refreshment, and many fine picnic hampers were in evidence. The GOC stayed a considerable part of the afternoon, and never seemed to have an empty Pimms glass in his hand – perhaps he does not drink!
It was much appreciated by all that a busy serving soldier, particularly in the present period of maximum military activity, had been prepared to give up his Saturday to come and look at us. He seemed to enjoy himself hugely. Thank you, Sir, for coming.
I do hope that you, Dear Reader, will avail yourself of the opportunity to observe ‘the Finest’ on parade next year. It is Free, and Fun! Come.
We provided nineteen horses this year for the Lord Mayor’s Show, all beautifully turned out, and either belonging to and ridden by members or their friends, or from Flemish Farm, whose staff and a large number of helpers had been up since 0430 hrs to get us on parade on time. It all went smoothly. One small incident caused muttered comment ‘that’s why we bring our own’ when we were ‘charged’ by the Inns of Court. As some of us horsemen know, riding a young horse is not much fun, and in the City with a vast crowd with flags and bands, and using only one hand, it can be testing. We sympathised with the wretched gentleman who lost his hat and sword. No doubt his Rough Rider Sergeant Instructor had a few words with him afterwards. There, but for the Grace of God, go we!
Having been dismissed by the Lady Mayoress, we marched back to Armoury House behind the Regiment, depositing the Master Baker, better known to us as Trooper Alan Willis, en route. He apparently had a pressing appointment with the Lord Mayor for lunch. Alan had been standing in for the Farrier Sergeant on this parade, and one can only hope he did not leave the Axe in the Mansion House afterwards. What he did with his troop horse is not recorded - did it go to lunch as well? We not only enjoyed the favourite tunes played by the Regimental Band, and the horses certainly pricked their ears up when The British Grenadiers was played, but also the variety of costumes of the Regiment’s ‘Sportsmen’, some of whom were well known to us, who were marching at the back of the column, and who had been giving out hundreds of recruiting leaflets all day to young people in the crowd! A good parade all round, no incidents and we got 90% of the troops back! As usual, our thanks to all the volunteer helpers for getting us ‘on’, and keeping an eye on us throughout; and being there at the end to get us ‘off’.
Our Cavalry Course, run at Flemish Farm, continues to be popular, particularly with some of the young Active Unit soldiers, as does the Novice Ride, and we welcome anyone interested in applying for these activities.
Our November Mess Night was the scene of merrymaking, much enjoyed by two young soldiers who came as someone’s guest. It appears that 50 years ago Tony Gray ‘signed on’. He produced several ‘old comrades in arms’, one of whom, from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, had brought his pipes. We were piped into dinner. Then, at the end of the proceedings, ‘the dram’ Tony generously provided was similarly marched in and distributed. ‘ Scots wa’ hae frae Wallace bled, Scots by Brucie oft times led……’ I don’t know why you need to know all this; but it was quite good fun.
This year’s Christmas party was certainly voted the best ever as to choral achievements, and as usual Tina and her staff put on a great spread at the Hut. Long may it continue.
Our thoughts now turn to the Presentation of new Colours to the Active Unit, in which we are delighted to be playing a small supporting role. By that time the new quarters we have been allotted will be up and running; so Stores will be again ‘for Storing’, and therefore completely unavailable, unless you have access to a good brand of Malt!
By the time these notes are published our Light Cavalry Recruits Course should be well advanced; but you will have to wait for the next instalment to hear those stories.
Make much of your horses