The Marquis of Granby

On this day, July 31st, a great military tradition attached to our regiment was born… and the heritage of a great many pubs founded.

The Battle of Warburg, July 31st 1760: Fighting in the Seven Years War rages on between an allied coalition of British and Hanoverian forces against a French army.

Whilst leading the Blues in battle, the regiment’s beloved Colonel John Manners, Marquis of Granby, loses his hat and wig in a gallant charge and carries on until the battle is won. As the dust settles the hero is forced to salute his commanding officer bareheaded...

Though unheard of at the time, this moment gave birth to a tradition that continues to this day: still now, non-commissioned officers and troopers of the Blues and Royals are the only soldiers in the British Army allowed to salute without headdress.

John Manners, Marquis of Granby

One of the many notable figures in the Household Cavalry’s history, John Manners, Marquis of Granby was a prominent figure, known not just in the regiment, but throughout the whole British Army.

Born 2nd January 1721, eldest son of the 3rd Duke of Rutland, by the tender age of 20 he was serving as an MP for the borough of Grantham, and aged just 25 received a military commission as Colonel of a regiment raised by his father to fight the Jacobite uprising under Bonnie Prince Charlie. Whilst the regiment remained at Newcastle, Granby volunteered to accompany the Duke of Cumberland on the final stages of a campaign into Scotland and was present at the Battle of Culloden, 16th April 1746.

When Manners’s regiment mutinied due to lack of payment, he paid them out of his own pocket before they were disbanded. He retained his rank and campaigned in Flanders in 1747, serving as an Intelligence Officer for Cumberland and gaining an even greater reputation as a soldier and a leader of men.

By 1752, Manners was suggested for the position of Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards (the Blues) but it took a further 6 years of parliamentary advancement before he gained the Royal support required for such a position. On 18th March 1755 he was promoted to Major-General and finally appointed Colonel of the Blues on 27th May 1758.

Granby was one of the first officers to not only recognise the importance of welfare and morale amongst troops, but to address the issue. The impact of his leadership changed the character of British soldiering and thus so improved, the properly led army proved unbeatable in war. As a sign of respect, nearly all portraits of Granby depict him mounting a horse, or helping the wounded.

To this day, Granby is particularly remembered in the military for his custom of helping old soldiers from his regiment retire into sustainable work, ensuring they were able to support both themselves and their families. Subsequently, and perhaps more widely appreciated, he is believed to have more public houses in Britain named after him than any other person!

The Household Battalion: Passchendaele

An excerpt from the Household Cavalry Regiment Battlefield Tour of the Salient: the Household Battalion.

By mid 1917 The Russian army had disintegrated in Revolution and gone home, the French battered by unreasonable calls on their courage and endurance had mutinied and effectively removed themselves from the fight, or at least from any thoughts of further attacks for the time being and the Americans, although now in the war, had not yet arrived in any numbers. The weight of the 1917 offensives fell, disproportionately, on the shoulders of the British Expeditionary Force and Imperial troops.

Passchendaele, the 3rd Battle of Ypres began on 31st July 1917 with the initial aim, rapidly proved to be impossible, of breaking through the German lines and heading in strength towards the channel coast. It is depressing but needs to be said at this stage, that 3rd Battle of Ypres, although neither as long nor as bloody as the Somme in 1916, killed and wounded more British soldiers per mile of territory gained: 8,200 as opposed to 5,000 on the Somme.

The Household Battalion was not involved in the early part of the battle as they were still recovering from their mauling at Arras. On 12th October they went back into action at Poelcappelle against a few pillboxes and blockhouse marked on the maps as Requette farm where fighting had been going on since 9th October. The battle, if it can be called such, was a shambles and men were lost by drowning in mud and flooded shell holes. The farm was taken by part of a company, held briefly and lost again as the remnants of the Battalion fell back under its last three remaining officers all of whom had started the day in the Support companies. The Battalion was utterly exhausted and not a single NCO above the rank of Corporal remained unwounded.
The Battalion was relieved that night by their own reserve under the command of the CO, the Adjutant and the Battalion Corporal Major.

The reckoning was the loss of over 400 casualties for a temporary advance of 600 yards of shell shattered swamp. The Battalion went back into rest at Arras where it received its final draft of 400 reinforcements from Windsor.

Read more about the Household Cavalry Regimental Associations’ Battlefield Tour to Ypres here.

In Memoriam, July 20th 1982

Today is a rather solemn occasion for the Household Cavalry. On this day 35 years ago, four members of the Regiment and seven horses lost their lives when the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated a car bomb at 10:40am in Hyde Park. The Blues and Royals, riding down from Knightsbridge Barracks to perform the Changing of the Guard at horse Guards Parade were hit by the explosion.

The blast was one of two such attacks that day in London (a second bomb blast at 12:55pm in Regent’s Park claimed the lives of seven members of the Royal Green Jackets).

Four members of the Blues and Royals (Lieutenant Anthony Daly, Corporal Major Roy Bright, Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young and Trooper Simon Tipper) were killed by the bomb, while seven of the Regiment’s horses (Cedric, Epaulette, Falcon, Rochester, Waterford, Yeastvite and Zara) either died in the blast or were put down due to the severity of their injuries.

The Museum has in its collection several items connected to this tragic event, including the helmet worn by Trooper Simon Tipper on that day, as well as the hoof and damaged bridle of horse Sefton.

Sefton wounds from bomb blast were so severe it was believed he would not survive. He endured 8 hours of surgery, a record in veterinary terms at that time, treating over 34 injuries, all of them potentially life threatening. After the surgery he was given a 50/50 chance of survival, but made an amazing recovery that turned him into a national symbol of defiance. He returned to active duty with the Regiment, being awarded Horse of the Year that October.

Sefton retired from active service on 29th August 1984 and lived out the remainder of his life at a rest home for horses in Buckinghamshire. He died at the age of 30 from health complications believed to be related to the injuries he sustained in the bombing.

Remembrance

Helmet of Trooper Simon Tipper of the Blues and Royals, who died 20th July 1982 in an IRA car bombing.