Comrades meet again

It's an Army regiment with a proud tradition dating back nearly 300 years.And pride and nostalgia filled the air as old comrades who served with the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) gathered for a reunion on Saturday - and met a former colleague they had not seen for almost 55 years.

It's an Army regiment with a proud tradition dating back nearly 300 years.

And pride and nostalgia filled the air as old comrades who served with the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) gathered for a reunion on Saturday - and met a former colleague they had not seen for almost 55 years.

Pat “Paddy” O'Connor, now 74, was an armoured car driver in a troop headed by Sgt Ron Shaw and served during the three-year tour fighting terrorists in Malaya in the early 1950s.

Mr O'Connor returned home in 1954 and lost touch with his old pals and had not realised some had started meeting up at Mr Shaw's home at Litcham.


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But about a year ago Mr O'Connor's son Gary spotted the name of George Symes - another ex 11th Hussar - on the internet and after some detective work they made contact.

And more memories were rekindled - and plenty of banter shared - as he came face to face with Mr Shaw and other former comrades for the first time for more than half-a-century.

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“I made sure I cleaned my boots so I didn't get shouted at!” joked Mr O'Connor, of Leighton Buzzard.

“I hope you saluted the flag!” barked back “Sarg” Shaw, referring to the regiment colours which were put up on a pole at the back of his home.

“We have been having get-togethers for about 10 years,” said Mr Shaw.

“It is good to see Pat, but if he misbehaves I'll march him up and down the village. He was not a bad driver! The regiment is like a family so there is always a lot of comradeship.”

Ex-gunner Mr Symes said: “The last time I had seen Paddy was on the side of the airfield at Paroi camp in Malaya and I was cleaning the 2lb gun.” Among the others at the reunion on Saturday were Jack Sharp, of Great Dunmow in Essex, who is treasurer of the national 11th Hussars (PAO) Old Comrades Association

He said the association holds a national get-together in Telford and he said every one stirred up memories and gave the opportunity to meet old colleagues.

Harry McGrath, who lives in Peterborough, and a sergeant major with B Squadron, said: “It means a lot to meet old comrades.”

The 11th Hussars were first formed in 1715 and are known as the Cherry Pickers, due to the crimson colour of the trousers. The brown beret is also a distinctive part of the uniform.

The regiment was first raised up by Gen Phillip Honeywood in response to a call from George 1 as a result of the Jacobite rebellion.

The 11th Hussars won more battle honours than any other cavalry or tank regiment during the second world war and also played key roles in many other conflicts including the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava, Napoleonic Wars and the first world war.

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