HAC Journal Article, Spring 2005
It is much more
desirable to employ cavalry for the purposes of policing than infantry.
For this reason, cavalry inspires more terror, whilst at the same time it does less mischief.
Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington
As good soldiers we know the importance of keeping secrets, and in these troubled times we must give nothing away to the Axis of Evil. So it was understandable that a ‘D’ notice was slapped on an apparently unconfirmed report that ‘One of Our Light Cavalry Ties is missing.’ This rumour was dismissed and rejected by all in higher authority - mainly on the grounds that it would cause coronaries in the hard working and excellent members of the Court of Assistants, who are well known for their concern when it comes to matters relating the Light Cavalry.
All this became rather embarrassing when a letter purporting to come from No 10 Downing Street, arrived on the Chief Executive’s desk, thanking for the gift of the tie. No Names, No Pack Drill, but I can assure you the officer who ‘gave’ it away is currently in a cage at Guantanamo Bay. However, it is suggested that he might be innocent; as the tie in question, red and silver /blue, is a dead ringer for one the man, whose name I must not mention, is entitled to wear.
He went to a school in Scotland called Fettes, no secret there, and they have a joint Old Boys Sports Club with another Edinburgh school, Loretto, a far finer place. So as long as he has paid his membership of that one, he, whoever he is, and we, are in the clear, as pigs will probably have to hover over the Artillery Ground before he becomes a member of the HAC. Can we have our officer back please.
The letter is on display in the Light Cavalry Quarters. It seems the Regiment, via the help of the Arme Blanche, has again got this Government out of a hole!
The autumn produced an open day at Flemish Farm, with show jumping and other horse related activities. This was a rehearsal for next year, when we hope to have a proper do for the whole Regiment and their families.
An amusing duty occurred early of a Friday morning in September. We provided a guard for the Butchers Company, starting at their Hall. We were then supposed to march with the Court of Aldermen, or was it the Court of Common Council, the short distance to Smithfield Market where was being celebrated ‘50 years since Meat Rationing’.
Not having the HAC Regimental Sergeant Major to help out on this occasion, the marching/walking party wandered off without us, somewhat early. We sort of followed. One or two drunks got in the way, as did one or two pensioners - buying their steak ration, I suppose. Anyhow we caught up with the Court; and the Lord Mayor, whom we had left, eventually came trotting on behind.
What would the Pikes have said to us if anything had happened to him? Anyhow he was later gracious enough to inspect the Guard, and spoke to every man. We also received a message from our very own Lady Mayoress, who said we were very fine men. After the speeches we got beer, wine, whisky, and bacon butties for our breakfast.
The HAC Uniformed Services Jumping Competition on the 9th October produced some exciting equestrian spills and thrills. The most serious being a fall by a member of the Army Air Corp, who won’t be flying his helicopter for a bit having sustained a broken collar bone.
This event is now organised by the Light Cavalry and it would be nice to see more people from the Regiment supporting what is really a proper HAC occasion. Our thanks to the King’s Troop RHA for supplying the venue, and the bulk of the horses.
The overall winners were the RAF (one way and another it was a ‘fly boys’ benefit) who managed two fine rounds. They even beat scores of 740 and 780 points by our own Sgt. Allison, firstly riding Troop Horse ‘Prince’, who had also been competing at a rather higher level earlier in the week at the Horse of the Year Show, and then beating himself on his own ‘William’. Well, not surprising really, as one assumes that he has plenty of time to practice at Flemish Farm while he runs things there. Must also be something to do with his training with the Household Cavalry!
Sadly Paul is giving up running Flemish Farm for us to become a full time saddler, but we shall still be benefiting from his experience with future instruction in Skill at Arms and Military Equitation. We welcome Caroline Quested as the new yard manager, coming to us via the Royal Engineers Saddle Club.
For the Lord Mayor’s Show we produced 20 horses from our own resources - a fine and smart turnout including the presence of the Vice President, wearing his cocked hat in his new role as ‘the Surgeon’. All went splendidly, except when it didn’t.
The new management was so efficient that we were ready to move 15 minutes earlier than the ordered time. And we did. To the astonishment of the Pikes, who knew we were coming and were getting ready to be nice to us, we bore down on them four abreast. ‘Prepare to Receive Cavalry’. We just squeezed past them, nearly treading on the soft brown shoes of their officers. However, somehow we paid compliments to each other, and no one was spiked, or trod on. ‘Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition’
All went much as usual thereafter, and the horses took the noise and cheers in their stride. We raised our profile somewhat when the Lady Mayoress stopped at St Paul’s to pray. Here, to pass the time, Trooper Simon Bennett and Troop Horse (now Remount) Amos gave a fine and impromptu display of Haute Ecole ‘Airs above the Ground- the Levade’ . This fine combination of mount and man are being transferred to the Spanish Riding School until further notice.
The Mounted Band of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, the architects of our misfortune, admired our equestrian skills at rather close quarters. The whole things was, apparently, still causing kindly concern for our wellbeing at the War Memorial the following day, among Chiefs of Staff, Gold and Silver Sticks, and other brass. Such is our fame . . .
On return to Armoury House, one of our number, Lt. Col Simon Garrett who was also somewhere else on the parade, was good enough to come and watch the ‘Regimental Dismount’, which is improving, amazingly! Thank you Colonel.
The newly donated Turnout Trophy was won for the ‘Best Mount and Man’ by Keith O’Callaghan , and for the ‘Best Dismounted Trooper’ by Bob Richardson. One or two of the new remounts were on parade, and as they seemed to have all behaved well we understand the Remount Officer has passed them ‘Quiet to Parade’. Well done the boys, and the mare.
Earlier that week we had our most popular event of the year; the Supporting Riders Party. This is for those who are not members of the Regiment, but who are allowed to exercise our horses and have instruction at Flemish Farm. They are an integral part of keeping the horses going, keeping them fit and in use, and allowing us to discount riding costs to members of the Active Unit. Surprisingly the majority of these are ladies.
It is a great pleasure to entertain them, and show them Armoury House, and perhaps eventually pick up a recruit for the Active Unit from any of their friends or relatives. It is such a popular event that most members manage to leave their wives at home, so that they can devote their entire energies to be being nice to the visitors. One or two members (No Names…) were seen being particularly helpful on departure, each giving a lady a ‘lift’ - presumably to a railway station. Such fine manners in the Arme Blanche!
The North Cotswold Foxhounds met at Guiting Hill on the 4th December, and a party of young gentlemen from the Active Unit of the HAC, two mounted and four running with the hounds, were guests of the Masters. Organised by Tpr Henry Farrow (3 Sqn), also a Light Cavalryman, they enjoyed an excellent day with hounds under the watchful eye and tutorage of the Remount Officer. They apparently had an even better time at the Hunt Ball that evening!
There are plans afoot to form an Active Unit Team Chase Team, so that they can take on the geriatrics in The Slashing Sabres, the Light Cavalry Team. However they will have to go a bit to beat them, as the Sabres took on all Military competition at the Cotswold Hunt’s Team Chase in September, winning the Military Trophy. They were well ahead in time to the King’s Troop RHA, 2nd, and the Adjutant General’s Corps, 3rd. With an overall placing of 10th, this was a commendable achievement, particularly as at least one participant was carrying his bus pass as a talisman.
We had our AGM at Armoury House in December, which passed off without too many blows being given or taken. We also held our Christmas Party at the Bisley Hut, which was better fun, as usual, and over subscribed. Here the food and company were excellent, but the singing atrocious. Nothing changes.
We now have nine members from the Active unit, with several other applications ‘going through the usual channels’ via the Adjutant, who has ‘broken his back’ vaulting onto a horse..……….they shall grow not old, age shall not weary them……
We wish him a speedy recovery and a quick return to the saddle, and to his desk.
The OC has now become a Devon farmer and it is rumoured that future drill nights will form at Tiverton Parkway, as he finds the travelling somewhat irksome.
The year ended on a sad note, with the death of John Cattermole, following a short illness. A strong contingent turned out to see him off at Ditteridge Church, near Bath, on the last day of the year. This included a fourteen strong Guard in full dress, arms reversed, together with the officers in plain clothes.
John joined the HAC in 1997 following active service with the RAF Regiment in the Canal Zone during the Suez Crisis and more latterly Volunteer service with the Sharpshooters (County of London Yeomanry). A heavy horseman and ploughman with a national reputation, John will be greatly missed, and particularly as it was hoped to draw on his skills for our new Driving Section. Sadly that will not be possible. Our deepest sympathy to Pat, and all his family.
Make much of your horses
SartoriusNote: Pictures of some of these activities can be found in the Photo Galleries on the Light Cavalry website.