Royal Horse Guards Cyprus Veterans
Donation to RBL Kyrenia Branch
By Margaret Sheard….
We had the pleasure of meeting 2 veterans from the Royal Horse Guards, Les Smith and Brian Worthy, when they journeyed to Cyprus for the Remembrance event in Kyrenia in November and they accompanied us on a trip to Wayne’s Keep with our ex-servicemen friends from the Suffolk Regiment and Royal Corps of Signals. The RHG have 5 of their comrades buried at Wayne’s Keep and Les and Brian laid wreaths on their graves at the time of our visit. Les had also arranged for poppy wreaths to be laid on the graves of their three comrades whose bodies were repatriated to the UK, as near as possible to 11am on the 11th of the 11th.
Les had told me that he had contacted veteran friends to raise some funds for a memorial bench to be placed in the Old British Cemetery in Kyrenia and poppy wreaths to be laid on the graves of their comrades at Wayne’s Keep and while he thought what was raised would probably be sufficient for this purpose, he was amazed that the total was an amount of £990, plus a further £100 which was donated later, giving a grand total of £1,090. After deducting the costs for the bench and the wreaths, there was a decision to be made on what to do with the remainder. This was put to the RHG veterans and Les has given us the outcome of the decision which includes a donation to RBL Kyrenia Branch in Cyprus for the upkeep of the bench which was donated by the Royal Horse Guards and for the purchase of a wreath on behalf of the Royal Horse Guards Cyprus Veterans to be laid at the memorial in the Old British Cemetery in Kyrenia for the next 5 years.
Les has told us that from the balance of the exceptional amount raised it has been agreed to use this as follows:-
It was agreed to hold back £120 to pay for wreaths for the next 5 years to be laid at the memorial in Combermere Barracks.
I have also received a generous donation of £50 from Mrs. Eileen Raybould in memory of her late husband Peter, who served in “B” Squadron 4 troop 1957 to 1959 and died in September of this year. I, along with Cyril Wheeler and Maurice Lane, had the honour to be one of the bearers at his funeral. Peter enjoyed the 3 reunions that were held at The National Memorial Arboretum very much, so Eileen knows that he would have appreciated the donation going towards the upkeep of the Blues and Royals plot. I have therefore contacted The North Staffs Household Cavalry Association, who look after the plot, on behalf of Eileen and have sent them a cheque for £50.
I have also received another generous donation of £50 now making our donation to the Kyrenia branch of The RBL £410. My thoughts have now turned to the best way of getting our donation to Cyprus without cost.
I have contact with Clive Seager who served with the Blues and then the Blues and Royals. Clive and his wife are moving from Wales to live about six miles out of Kyrenia on the 20th January 2016 and they have kindly agreed to take our donation in sterling and give it to Major Brian Thomas, Chairman of the RBL.
What a wonderful gesture by the Royal Horse Guards veterans who still enjoy the camaraderie of their early years spent together in Cyprus and who still try to make the journey to Cyprus to pay their respects to their fallen comrades.
Les now has contact with 160 RHG Veterans and has arranged a total of three reunions at The National Memorial Arboretum and three visits to their barracks in Windsor. He has also arranged a visit to Knightsbridge Barracks (where the Mounted Regiment are located) for next June.
It is interesting to know how this has all been possible and why Les has put so much effort into making contact with old comrades and he has answered this question with the information below:-
One dark cold night in March 2010 with nothing on television, I was looking at my Cyprus photo album. My thoughts turned to old comrades of those times long ago.
One name that has always been with me was Joe Stratford. Joe and his parents were very kind to me when I was doing my basic training in Windsor, as I lived in Lancashire and it was too far for me to travel home on a 48 hour leave. Joe who lived in the Wembley, Acton area of North London was good enough to take me to his home.
After serving In Cyprus I arranged to pay my own fare home, because I had 13 days of seasickness on The Dunera on my way out.
When I arrived by Comet in London Joe’s parents were there to meet me and take me to their home, give me a meal, then drive me to Euston Station so that I could catch the train home.
After all this time I thought that it was about time to thank Joe for the kindness shown to me by his parents.
I had about 45 old photos taken in Cyprus and thought that if I could contact some other Cyprus Veterans they may have a few photos that they could e-mail to me and I could put onto a video disc and then send copy discs to all who sent photos. I hoped that someone who sent photos may be in contact with Joe.
I only had names of 2 ex-comrades and where they lived 52 years ago. So with the help of Forces Reunited and trawling through telephone books on the internet I now have a data base of over 160 RHG Cyprus Veterans and 700 photos, about 500 are on web albums. So far I have arranged 3 reunions at The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. I cannot recommend a visit highly enough it is of interest to all both military and none military.
I am sorry to say that I still have not been able to contact my old friend Joe.
If you are or if you know any RHG Cyprus Veterans (ex Officers included) or you would like to view the albums. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Les Smith – RHG Cyprus Veteran