HAC Journal article, Autumn 2004
Light Cavalry Appointments
Elsewhere is a report of the Review by the Captain‑General, which naturally took up most
of our time and thoughts in the earlier part of this year. Seldom has a sub‑unit
of any Regiment been inspected thus. The only other that springs to mind is the
Riding Troop RHA, now the King's Troop, when inspected by Her Majesty's father,
HM King George VI.
The turnout was impeccable. Dougie Mann would have won the prize for
'Best Turned Out Troop Horse' until it
was discovered that the horse had been produced for him by a professional
showing groom, and the bridle, which glowed, had been achieved by giving two
twenty‑pound notes to a young gunner at the King's Troop. Well tried, Dougie;
that's the spirit!
Two pairs of glass‑like riding boots particularly caught the eye: those of Alan
Willis, a mounted Light Cavalrymen, and in real life RSWO of the Sig Sqn; and
those of Cpl Mike Aston, which had a comparable shine, as you'd expect from an
ex-member of 3 RHA. It was commented that the shiny boot is something that
only the Orderly Officer sees early on in the day, and once the boots have been
banged against a neighbour's sword, sabretache or stirrup iron they are 'for
nothing'. Likewise, two full dress outings with only two days in between
somewhat test the re‑polishing endeavour; angry wives were heard to complain of
black and brown polish all over the kitchen table.
The Show season is now in full swing, with duties, both mounted and dismounted, at
the Windsor Horse Trials in May, and three polo guards at Smith's Lawn,
culminating in the Cartier Polo Championship in July. One or two horses need
more training in 'standing still', and the numbers turning out for the earliest
parade were disappointing. However, it was pleasing to be told by the announcer
that we were the oldest Cavalry unit in the British Army. Thank God the
Household Cavalry were not on parade that day.
The Cartier Championship at Smith’s Lawn produced a
good turnout of thirteen horses. Eight dismounted gentlemem, manning the Royal Box, did not go
unnoticed by members of the Royal Family, who were profuse in their thanks for their long and onerous duty.
We now have a new leader, Capt Reg Howe. Also a Royal Warrant, putting us on a
comparable footing with the Pikes. Meanwhile, Pikeman Roy Sanders has been
returned, as it were, to that august body "from
whence we have hath loan of his body, substance, and service these several
years past, thanks be to Almighty God" (I'm sure that is how they
would say it!).
Dismounted duties, lining entrances or staircases at Livery Halls and other City
functions, continue, and it is a pleasure to see increasing participation in
these events by those who more often prefer to sit on a horse. An hour of
gazing down the décolletage of the lady guests, some of whom are inclined to
give the immobile, grim-visaged warriors a conspiratorial wink, or even smile,
and occasionally a kindly word, does much to pass the time and heighten the
pleasure of doing duty for the Regiment. Likewise, generous refreshment
afterwards, if supplied, is of course always welcome.
A small duty finding a guard for visiting members of the legal profession at
Armoury House, organised by Col Brian Kay, a former Commander, was rather
larger than we expected. The presence of 'Explosive Dogs' and handlers and
several Armani‑suited gents with things in their ears told us that someone
important was coming. It was not the Captain‑General, who only has two minders.
Security does not allow me to reveal the identity, but a small boy, who told us
his name was Leo Blair, much enjoyed a visit to the Cavalry Stores, where he
handled a sword. Some of the guests failed the Armoury House dress code, and
the run on loaned Light Cavalry ties was considerable.
The Annual Dinner on 15th July was an outstanding success, with a large number of
distinguished guests and their ladies. Most importantly for us was the presence
of Alderman Michael Savory, the likely next Lord Mayor, and Fiona Savory, whose
carriage will be escorted by the Mounted Troop. Mrs Savory replied eloquently
on behalf of the guests, and we look forward to seeing her again in November.
At our rifle meeting at Bisley in August we fired the muzzle loading P52 replica,
a percussion cap weapon in service more than one hundred and fifty years ago,
generously supplied by Sandy Rogers. It is totally untrue that he was actually
issued with this or a similar weapon when he served on the North West Frontier.
The flintlock cavalry pistol was also fired; on the basis of the performance
shown, it is thought that duelling would have been pretty safe. The .303 No 3
service rifle, together with the 7.62 rifle, were the main weapons of the day
and good practice was made by all, the all‑round best shot being Keith
O'Callaghan. For those who have not attended these meetings, it is a rare opportunity
to fire live rounds from a variety of weapons. A pleasant day out was had by
all, and our thanks must go to David Jeffcoat for again organising the event.
The tent pegging team have been making names for themselves at various venues, and
the Cross Country Team will be risking their necks over the hedges at Foxcote,
just off the A40, on 31st October.
Recruiting goes on apace; we shall soon achieve our Royal Warrant quota if we are not
careful, with a lot of enquiries from the Active Unit. Our most distinguished
'recruit’, Maj Roy Sanders, Vice‑President of the Court, has rejoined as a Tpr.
Hasn't he had enough? Also, Lt Col Simon Garrett has been allowed to sign up as
a Tpr. We only take the very finest! Furthermore, the new Remount Officer seems
to have an endless supply of horses to be tested for parade‑worthiness and has
declared that “’A’ Squadron will be grey and 'B' Squadron will be bay".
The appointment seems to have gone to his head!
Make much of your horses.
Note: Pictures of some of these activities can be found in the Photo Galleries on the Light Cavalry website.
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||R G Howe
||J W M Page
||C H Robinson
||S H Waters