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Astronomical compendium

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Cucumber, cream cheese and dill sandwiches


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The Household Cavalry Regiment
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The Household Cavalry Regiment

A fighting force.

The collapse of the Soviet empire led to a major restructuring of Britain's armed forces. In 1992, huge cuts in the size of the army caused a reduction in size of The Household Cavalry. The Life Guards and The Blues and Royals joined together in a 'union' (not an amalgamation, as both regiments kept their separate identities) from which sprang a composite armoured reconnaissance regiment, The Household Cavalry Regiment (HCR). The regiment lives in barracks in Windsor on the site given to The Blues by King George III in 1804. The Household Cavalry now consists of only two entities - HCR and the ceremonial regiment in London.

The Household Cavalry Regiment

A Scimitar of the HCR in Iraq 2003.

HCR is equipped with lightly armoured vehicles used for reconnaissance or finding information on the enemy. Due to their light weight, speed and cross-country capability, they have proved highly effective on operations from the Falklands to Afghanistan.

Hardly had the dust settled from the union than HCR was heading to the Balkans, initially as part of the United Nations force and then with NATO, to keep the peace between Bosnians, Croats and Serbs in Bosnia and later between Serbs and Albanians in both Kosovo and Macedonia. Over eight years, HCR would spend a great deal of time in the Balkans - more than almost any other combat regiment.

The Household Cavalry Regiment

HCR troops returning from patrol in Iraq.

By the turn of the millennium, the widening operational opportunities for Household Cavalrymen saw some of them deployed to Afghanistan following the defeat of the Taliban in 2002. A year later, D Squadron (about 100 men) supported 16 Air Assault Brigade in the US-led invasion of Iraq. They distinguished themselves - at one time the squadron, consisting of only 20 lightly armoured vehicles, defeated an Iraqi armoured division, but in the process lost three soldiers killed and several wounded. A George Cross (GC) (see right), a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) and a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) were awarded to three of their number.

Between 2006 and 2010, HCR deployed independent squadrons and, twice, the whole regiment to Helmand Province in Afghanistan, where they were often involved in fierce fighting against the Taliban. In that time HCR lost five soldiers and several severely wounded. In recognition of their gallantry, another CGC and three Military Crosses (MCs) have been awarded to Household Cavalrymen.

HCR continues to be right at the heart of British Army operations across the globe, upholding a 350-year tradition of service and sacrifice to the nation.

The Household Cavalry Regiment

Spartan vehicle commander in Afghanistan.

Trooper Christopher Finney GC.

Trooper Christopher Finney, The Blues and Royals, was awarded the George Cross, which, with the Victoria Cross, is the UK's highest gallantry award, for his outstanding courage when attacked by US aircraft during a 'blue on blue' incident in Iraq in March 2003. His vehicle was hit and caught fire. Seeing the gunner trapped in the turret, he climbed on to the fiercely burning vehicle and, despite smoke, flames and exploding ammunition, hauled the injured man out, got him to safety and administered first aid. Though inexperienced, he climbed back on to a burning vehicle to send a radio report to his headquarters. Noticing the aircraft lining up for a second attack, he continued to help his injured comrade to safety. Both aircraft fired their cannon and Trooper Finney was wounded. Despite his wounds, seeing the driver of the second Scimitar still in the burning vehicle, he tried to rescue him, but was beaten back by the combination of heat, smoke and exploding ammunition. His citation concludes: 'his bravery was of the highest order throughout'.

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