Monday, April 18, 2005


Old soldiers never die - they only smell that way

Another war story from the aged infantryman sitting by the fire in his twilight years – Swing the lamp son. Well back in the days when men were men and sheep on Dartmoor were worried, The old Wessex Brigade was formed of several Regiments including mine The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire)(49th and 62nd,66th and 99th of foot) . One of our claims to fame was a small red triangular patch which we wore sewn on our berets, behind the cap badge. This was known as the “Brandywine” patch. Its origins were in the American War of Independence and apparently what happened was that the light companies – (best soldiers usually with better kit) were taken from the standard infantry regiments and formed into a special unit which carried out an unprecedented night attack on the American forces at Brandywine Creek. This at the time was considered extremely bad form, unsporting and beyond the pale !
I mean at 4pm everything stopped for tea, and resumed after breakfast the next morning – that was the way wars were fought. Anyway the special force won the battle – one of the few they did – and the story goes that the soldiers dipped their “hackles”(the white plume of feathers that infantry wore in their hats,) into the blood of the fallen turning them red. The Americans were pretty upset about this non sporting tactic and vowed revenge.The reply was “If you want to know who did it – look for the soldiers with the red hackles in their hats”. No one ever said what happened after that but the upshot was the descendents of the 49th and 66th always wore the Brandywine patch. Mid 20th century (1970 to be exact) two infantry corporals, posted to British Honduras, decide to hitch hike back to UK, up through Mexico and into the States. Unofficially we wore our uniforms as it made getting lifts a cinch (first time into California we join a large gathering of Hitch Hikers “Take a seat man – we been here three days” – we are in our rip stop junglies, berets and A frame Pack – large union flag on outside of Pack – Car screetchs to a halt – “Hey guys – you English” “Yes”, “Hop in” – total time waiting 2 mins !!!) Any way we roll through the states – just going up the West coast then across the middle and up and down the East coast.
We see a Sign for Brandywine – and Washington’s Headquarters – Large museum and lo and behold the site of the battle of Brandywine Creek We speak to lots of people – historians and local press etc and it turns out we are the first from our regiment to return to the battlefield since the battle – Just for a moment there – but the Americans, being a great hearted and in the main simple people thought it was a great laugh and there we were – set up for the week ! – I could tell you some war stories about that but decency prevails
Put out that light

Isn't there the Fusiliers with hackles half dipped in blood, but this time of the French?

Mine was the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment. A combination of the Queens and the Royal Hampshires. But they originate from the 1st of foot being one of the first units for somthing?? cant quite remember...was some time ago... We got assimilated by the Green Jackets and now the whole London area for the TA is called the London Regiment with PWRR, London Scotish, London Irish, RGJ and London Fusiliers all bungled into one..

I do miss it. If only I wasn't a knacker...
BTW, your links on the RHS are not working. You need to change each link e.g.

Policemans Blog

To (With the relevant link):
Policemans Blog
yes, you're right as well- the Fuzzy ears were part of the glorious night attack
It was the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters (Woofers) - they kept the red/white hackle and we went to the brandywine patch - am not good with I.T. so will get my guru to change the links - will try and link your blog too - Its nice to see a special giving it some !
I spent most of my time as an ABO (village Bobby) and would not have survived without my specials - Every weekend rain or shine at least two would turn out to help me in the square -
They got the respect of the pop heads - after a short sharp lesson ! - Its funny how easy it is when they are drunk and you are sober ! - And a short (vertically challenged) middle aged female special can flatten and cuff a drunken 6ft,18 stone plough boy with no probs - after that first time the others became indistinguishable from the regulars ! - great bunch - keep up the good work !
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