The 14th/20th King’s Hussars (1420H) have been a massive part of my life starting from my birth when my father served within the ranks from about 1952 till 1976. He left service whilst we were in Bovington, Dorset and moved on graciously to other things, though after all those years it hurt – no doubt!
I decided I wanted to follow in his footsteps and after a considerable amount of discussion with my dad I badged up with the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment (3RTR) why them, they recruited from Dorset at the time and it just seemed to be logical.
So in 1978 I joined intake number 78/13 in Catterick and did my training, struggled initially on fitness and a couple of other things but I got through reasonably well and towards November of 1978 I joined up with the regiment in Hohne.
But 3RTR were not in Hohne I hear some of you scream, very true! During my training I met up with a fella called Mitch Metcalfe who was a friend of my dads whilst he was serving. Mitch kept coming to see me, asking me to rebadge to dads former regiment, and eventually I succumbed, Mitch did what ever he had to do, I went to the clothing store and was reissued my ‘correct’ clothing in readiness for my time with the 14th/20th King’s Hussars.
I have to say my time with the regiment was great up until 1989 when I left, my reasons for leaving are known by some, reasons when I look back are rather petty and regretful, but all the same I left the army and started my new life in Civvy street with the Royal British Legion associates (security on Furzy Island), with Cranleigh Aerials as an installation engineer for SKY TV in the Bournemouth area and then with Granada installing BSB later BSKYB when BSB sold out to SKY.
But the itch was always there, the day I left the army I regretted it and applied to rejoin 2 years later, I was successful and after much consideration I decided not to return to the 14th/20th King’s Hussars, something I will always regret!
Saying that I joined the Royal Hussars (PWO) (RH) who were in the camp next door, I had been told by the recruiting staff that the 1420H and the RH were to amalgamate at some point, it just seemed logical. Why didn’t I go back to 1420H was because I had a disagreement with a senior officer within the regiment and my stubbornness could not let that go!
My time with the Royal Hussars was great to be fair, I had my share of problems but in all it went well. I was retrained in all trades and eventually returned to the tank park as a Challenger 1 driver Mech, a trade I already had on my discharge and went up through the ranks to Sergeant. The main point was a made some really great lifelong friends and although my time was short within their ranks I really did enjoy it.
In 1992 on the 4th December the two regiments amalgamated and formed the King’s Royal Hussars and I actually served longer as a soldier of the King’s Royal Hussars than I did with the other two put together, but it was never the same again! Why? Sentimental I suppose, thing were run and done differently and the conversations I had with my dad about the regiment died as he didn’t know the new regiment, The King’s Royal Hussars that was sad! I did take him into camp about 1995 when he came out to Germany, his old friend Drac even offered him a night in the Mess but dad declined the offer.
So far so good, when we amalgamated I knew just about everyone whilst others were getting to know each other so I was sort of in comfortable place and in my opinion the amalgamation went OK, but I was never back in the 14th/20th King’s Hussars, but then some Royal Hussars would say they were never in the Royal Hussars, though if they were honest they’d say it was just like carrying on. The influence from the Royal Hussars was massive, everything changed to the way it was done in the Royal Hussars and all reference of the 14th/20th King’s Hussars was removed bit by bit and that brings me on to the reason behind this post.
The 14th/20th King’s Hussars have always had a Home Headquarters in Fulwood Barracks in Preston, that small body of men was there to look after and help former members of the regiment once they left the forces in any way, be that falling on hard times to committing a criminal offence the Regiment has always (ALWAYS) been there to help, and for many it has been a god send. Thankfully not too many have needed their help but it has always been in the back of their minds, ‘if I need it I can go there, knock on the door and get help’.
I hear all the readers that have never served saying why do they need help?? Well you work in a formation like the army you are looked after always, they did everything for you, pay, meals, laundry, clothing, accommodation you name it it was done for you so you could concentrate on you job! So after 12, 15, 22 or more years you decide to leave and you now have to find out how to do these things yourself, your mates that have been there all you adult life have gone its just hard, painful like having a limb torn off you. Not everyone struggles of course not but some, a few do.
Anyway that small office will soon be gone, the army, regiment or an individual has decided it has to close and it has to be merged with the one in Warminster. Now I can understand the financial implications of having the two open at the same time but what of the men that served in the ranks? You can not tell me that the men that have settled up north would be best served from an office in Winchester? Is it that nobody cares anymore, I mean it is not like we are getting any younger is it! The Regiment (14th/20th King’s Hussars) ceased to exist 23 years ago so everyone is now over 40 years of age with injuries a civilian wouldn’t sustain until there 60’s.
I find the lack of care in this country for their veterans contemptible at best although things have improved since the 60s, 70’s and 80’s we still have a long way to go to catch up with the United States which is where we as a nation should be. No one is expecting to be pampered or be wrapped in cotton wool, but in their hour of need why can’t somebody be there for them if they need it? After all they were there for their Country when the Country needed them!