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Divisional Cavalry

CHAPTER 26 — The Spirit of the Regiment

page 424

The Spirit of the Regiment

The story of the Divisional Cavalry is a difficult one to close, and we shall end it with the regiment in the hands of Colonel Worsnop when he took over command on 28 June 1946. Under him, and later under Ralph McQueen, the regiment remained as a unit of the Occupation Force for another year.

There was certainly a last regimental parade, on 5 August 1947, when Last Post was sounded as the regimental flag was lowered for all time. And it was most fitting that this parade should be under the command of one of the original subalterns, now Lieutenant-Colonel R. B. McQueen. It was fitting, too, that almost the regiment's last official visitor should have been ‘Harry Kaitaia’, now Senior Chaplain to the Forces, Lieutenant- Colonel H. G. Taylor, DSO.

Officially the regiment was disbanded on 1 September 1947, but that is only an entry on a piece of paper. The last lowering of the flag was merely a formality. In effect it still flies very high, held there by the Spirit of the Regiment.

What is this spirit? It is something which was planted by the first Commanding Officer, and was tended for him by his successors and flourished in the fertile ground of their command. And why did it grow so strongly? As the strength of a nation lies in the strength of the family ties within it, so in the Divisional Cavalry was there a great comradeship welling from many small ones; one to each crew, each troop, each squadron. What was the nature of it? It was the dread in every man of being unable to contribute to that precious comradeship. For much of its life the regiment's vehicle casualties were most difficult to replace, so there developed shrewdness and teamwork in handling them, care in their maintenance, and ingenuity in their repair. When replacements did become readily available—in Italy a new car could always be had the very next day—then, replaced by a bubbling gayness, this dread was gone. By now this spirit had become indelibly an integral characteristic of each man. The days from Cassino to Florence marked the peak of their cavalry career.

page 425

But again: what was this spirit? It was something which will endure in the coming years so long as the last survivor shall draw breath; it will survive him, indeed us all, because we have passed it on already to new units. There it now lies, as dormant in peace as it was animated in war. It was inherited from the blood of our forbears. May it thrive for ever in the seed of our progeny.