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August 11, 2005

Those Expats Forget Everything.

In the course of a post on multiculturalism our favourite Spurs fan who is also an expat medical student manages to write something that will get her a good slapping from her own father:

And although it should be noted that in Britain, black soldiers were incorporated into the Army as early as 1662, the elite Regiment of Guards, in which my father served as a Coldstream Guards officer, did not have a black Guardsman until the 1990's.

Beg pardon? The Regiment of Guards? Five of Foot and two of Cavalry to make the Household Division, surely?

The rest of it’s very good.

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Comments

How would anyone know whether a black man served in the Guards before recent years? There were a few blacks in Britain: would it necessarily be recorded if one served? It's only recently become widely known (i.e. known to me) that three of our PMs were partly of Indian descent, though it was no secret at the time, apparently.

Posted by: dearieme | Aug 11, 2005 11:37:47 AM

Correctly known as the Household Division, but traditionally known as the Brigade of Guards.

Posted by: fFreddy | Aug 11, 2005 1:58:21 PM

I have first hand knowledge, that the Household Cavalry had its first black soldier in 1969. This came about when the 1st Royal Dragoons amalgamated with the Royal Horse Guards. I know, because the man in question, issued me with my bedding when I first got to the regiment. If I recall correctly, he retired with the rank of CoH (Corporal of Horse)

Posted by: Anoneumouse | Aug 11, 2005 2:07:35 PM

It must be that 1969 pre-dated our introduction of a quasi-apartheid state in the UK.

Posted by: dearieme | Aug 11, 2005 2:51:24 PM

dearieme,
I didn't know the CRE was that old!

Posted by: Rob Read | Aug 11, 2005 3:20:17 PM

The first 'British-African' (!) since 1969 was Mark Campbell Life Guards. Nice chap but a few things against him; he was allowed to join at 28/29 ie OVER the age limit for Cavlary/Infantry which annoyed a lot of the lads in HCav, his instuctor at Windsor during Riding School was alleged to be a member of the BNP (he wasn't but he had some decidedly dodgy views...) and last but not least Mark's attitude was 'I'm special so I don't have to do two years in the troops - I can go straight to the Motor Transport Section at Knightsbridge and ride the motorbikes etc' Had they allowed him to go stright to the MT there would have been a flaming riot as it was a popular posting. He lasted about 7 months then got a medical discharge (due to the thing that a lot of Carribean lads have where their beards grown into their chins? whatever it is called) Since then they have had a black officer transferred from another mob to make up the numbers and at least one chap from Ghana who FAILED the Commissions Board (got a 4) yet Life Guards then appealed, wangled him through another RCB (got a 3), helped him through Sandhurst and he arrived at Knightsbridge and promptly disappeared playing polo all the time like many of the officers.

We had at least six cases of bullying etc whilst I was stationed in London to do with ethnic soldiers. One poor sod was rubbed red raw with a bash broom by some Guardsmen.

In summary, the Household Divison have always been terrible for this sort of thing, very insular and stick together. The QUEENS Regiment used to have loads of lads from ethnic minorities and the Royal Green Jackets had one of the first black RSMs way back in the 1980s. Still glad things have changed; my own mob has 47 Fijians! The 1st Bn PWRR (of VC and Iraq fame) have 112 Fijians as at last month! Best fighters and rugby players going - we keep thrashing the Navy now!

Posted by: Dave t | Aug 11, 2005 6:19:22 PM

And just to prove something about the Guards. Christmas Palace Guards about ten years ago. 2 Sigs Regt from York were to provide the Guard. They lined up and two black lads were rejected as being "too small" and my son and others were rejected as being 'too tall' (6 foot 5!). The attitude was that everyone had to look the same and be the same height, no funnies sticking out like sore thumbs!

Posted by: Dave t | Aug 11, 2005 6:24:41 PM

Thank you for your correction, Tim, everyone.

I will make a note of them on the post, although leave it as is otherwise. :)

However, as much as an old lover of militaria and 5th generation descendant of Coldstream Guards' officers as I am, likes that I have somehow sparked a conversation about the Brigade of Guards, I would be chuffed to bits if we could also comment on the topic at hand, as well.

So come on down back to my blog, and any suggestions, and commentaries would certainly not go amiss.

By the left! Hhhhh-at ease!

Cheers,
Victoria

("Come on you Spurs")

Tim adds: So, err, your father, gfather, gg father, gggfather and ggggfather will all be wanting a little word about that solecism?

Posted by: Victoria | Aug 11, 2005 6:40:17 PM

Ah, I just went to Dave's site, since his commentaries were the most interesting, and wouldn't you know it?

He makes the same observation about himself I was going to make in rebuttal to Tim's assertion I would get a damn good hiding from my dad.

My father has never lain a hand on me in anger (his only child?? Mind you, he's bit his hand to stay it on many an occasion), but he has a booming voice. A frightening voice. A parade-ground voice.

Yes, like many an ex-soldier, his hearing is shot.

That's why you can hear him a mile away when he speaks into the 'phone.

P.S.: Guards officers were (and I have no reason to believe this is not the case now unless someone pipes up to contradict it) enjoined never to be seen carrying packages or anything other than a proper brolly, whilst walking in the streets. If you were seen doing so, you'd be up before your CO, and in 'heaps lots trouble' as they say in old colonial-speak. (The inference is that only tradesmen and the like carry packages around -- not gentlemen). The point of course is, the Guards are not only insular and clubby as mentioned by Dave, but are extremely elitist as well. Not news to anyone here, to be sure.

Cheers,
Victoria

Posted by: Victoria | Aug 11, 2005 7:16:33 PM

Oh, Victoria thanks for explaining that. Mr McMuffin's father was in the Coldstream Guards and he never carries anything. I thought it was just him being an obnoxious git, but I'll have to reserve judgement now.

Posted by: mrs mcmuffin | Aug 11, 2005 8:15:59 PM

Don't be too hard on your father-in-law, Mrs. McMuffin.

As my old threadbare music tutor, Sister Margaret Rose, use to say:

Old habits die hard.

P.S.: Lovely site you two lovebirds have, Mr. & Mrs. Mc. It's got a very Nick and Nora Charles feel to it, and as anyone plainly knows, that's a good thing.

Cheers,
Victoria

Posted by: Victoria | Aug 12, 2005 2:23:14 AM