Every soldier has a good story, indeed,
there's a bit of a fisherman in all of us. Below are just a few of the more
believable and printable ones, that have been volunteered for your entertainment by The
both currently serving and on the exempt list. Ninety-nine point nine
percent of the time things work out without a hitch; but it's that point-one
percent that makes a routine duty turn into a darn good yarn.
|One's Escort is
Queen's Golden Jubilee march from Buckingham Palace to St Paul's
Cathedral was a long and arduous one and the finest four Yeomen were chosen
to march alongside the wheels of the
For some weeks before the big day Yeomen John Lloyd and Tom Lee walked the
route many times for endurance and to ensure that they would be in-step.
John and Tom would be on the right side (off-side) of the coach; Yeomen
Chris Sayer and Bob Daysmith would be on the left side (near-side).
Preparation and rehearsal are vital and so two days prior, and in the
very early hours of the morning, the parade marched along the route to
establish the pace and timings. The rehearsal went without hitch
and the exact pace was known to get Her Majesty from Buckingham Palace
to St Paul's at the precise time.
The rest of the story is
courtesy of Yeo John Eric Lloyd (The knackered escort):
The four wheelmen marched from St James' Palace to Buckingham Palace
carrying partisans and swords. The crowds were amazing, cheering
anything in a uniform, but at this moment all eyes seemed to be on The
Body Guard. We collected our Sovereign, Coach and Household
Cavalry escort and marched from Buckingham Palace to the sound of Zadok
The Priest. Around Queen Victoria's Monument (the Wedding Cake)
and up the Mall we marched to cheers and waves at what seemed like a
quicker march than I remembered at the rehearsal, but I felt sure that
it would slow a little as we entered Whitehall and down to Temple Bar.
A few hundred yards more and no slowing of pace but, in true Guard
style, I thought 'no probs'. But then I felt a tremendous stabbing
pain from my right foot that shot almost immediately up my leg.
The pain got worse as I marched... marched? it was almost a semi-run.
We temporarily halted as planned at Temple Bar. My distress was
obvious and two kind police officers came to my rescue offering me
water, pouring a little down my neck. The inside of my shoe by
this time seemed quite wet and warm and I knew that it wasn't the
refreshing water causing it. Off again, and the pain was constant
and I had no option but to fall back. I was determined to finish
although a little further back than the rest, in any case what option
did I have, I would never have lived it down back at St James' dressing room. As I saw the Abbey approach it felt as though I was
marching on broken glass and worryingly the left foot began to pinch.
Just around the corner now and I could re-join my colleagues who had
arrived by this time; hopefully none of the millions watching on TV would notice my tardiness as I slipped
into place. After a few minutes we marched off to the waiting
Windsorian coach. The driver took pity on me and offered me a cup
of coffee. Never did a cup of coffee from a thermos taste so good, it might
have been ambrosia. The others? They were in bad shape too, and all
we could do is collapse into our seats. The proudest moment of my
Body Guard career was over. On my return to St James' I discovered
the cause of all my woes, a three inch split had developed on the ball
of my right foot and a very large blister was about to burst on my left.
The several millilitres of blood has stained the leather in my shoe and
acts as a lasting reminder.
We soon discovered that we had arrived at St Paul's too early and that
it was the faster pace that had been the cause. Indeed, as it
happens I had been the only one on parade that had marched at the
correct pace and I actually...... arrived on time.
Yeoman John Lloyd
The Knackered One
|My Gawd There's a
Palace Garden Parties are special to The Body Guard because it's the
only occasion that we are allowed to engage with the public whilst on
duty. You might say that on these occasions we are a little
hands-on, unfortunately at a Garden party in 2003, Yeoman Ray Duffy
became a little too hands-on. During Garden Parties Her Majesty
walks slowly along a corridor of guests, stopping to speak to many, and
enters the Royal enclosure housing marquees for invited guests,
diplomats etc. This enclosure is cordoned off and during Her
Majesty's well-earned refreshment break The Body Guard stand in pairs at
each entry point. Yeo Ray Duffy (a very cruel, but fair,
caricature of Ray can be found in the bottom right hand corner of the
above sketch) was on guard at the enclosure when the 17 year old son of
one of the guests allowed the occasion to get the better of him and he
ran semi-naked into the enclosure and headed for the Royal marquee
shouting 'wahey' and 'yahoo'. Ray, a former Warrant Officer in the
Royal Corps of Signals Regiment and currently a Captain with Territorial
Army, sped into action and before a startled but cheering crowd rugby
tackled the trespasser, placed him in an arm-lock and marched him off to
the 'waiting' police. Ray made two columns in his local
paper, The Yorkshire Evening Press, and the young man made bail.
Ray also received appreciation letters from the Royal Household and just
a little admiration from his colleagues who to a man wished that he had
been in Ray's shoes.
If there's one word that a military career will teach, it's - adapt
- because there isn't always a plan to cater
for the odd cock-up. For instance, there are twenty-two
investitures at Buckingham Palace each year. These are indeed well
rehearsed because we do them so often. Four Yeomen and a Sergeant
Major are required for the duty and are transported from St James'
Palace to Buckingham Palace from Friary Court, Marlborough Road, The
Mall and into the gates of Buckingham Palace. At 1050hrs on the
dot we slow march into the Great Hall to the sounds of Men of Harlech
and position ourselves on the dais for The Queen's entry at 1100hrs
prompt. We are by tradition transported to the Palace by a gharry, an
enclosed black-canvas topped carriage drawn by two horses. As
mentioned, this is a routine duty but on the 8 December 1987 the plan
didn't quite come together. For whatever reason the gharry
didn't arrive and there was no time to order fresh transport because by now
it was 1035hrs and The Queen enters the Great Hall at 1100hrs sharp and
expects to have her Body Guard on the same dais. Time was pressing,
and so with partisans in hand they went out of Friary Court,
Marlborough Road and flagged down two taxis for the five guards and their
partisans; by coincidence both of the taxis were maroon thus colour
co-ordinated with the tunics. The partisans are approximately
eight feet long and cumbersome at the best of times. But, with partisans protruding out of the windows
of each taxi they were delivered by the skin of their teeth to the main door of the Palace Quadrangle.
Barely had the taxis halted, when the five bailed out from both sides,
formed up and slow marched up the main staircase. Two perplexed taxi drivers were
last heard asking footmen "Who's paying for
this then lads?" I don't think we ever received an invoice for
that! And yes, they formed on the dais on time.
Shaun Longsdon, Sarrr!!
normal sized, highly decorated, Field Marshal Sir John Harding CIGS
stands in front of an extremely tall student in his final year at Eton
College. The 18 year old chosen for special attention was Cadet Sergeant
Shaun Longsdon (SL) with Enfield Rifle in hand. The conversation
went like this.....
CIGS.. "What do you have to do as a Sergeant?"
SL....... "Not very much, Sir"
CIGS.. "Are you going to joint the Army?"
SL....... "Not if I can help it, Sir"
.......a year later, a 19 year old Shaun Longsdon was commission
into the 17th/21st Lancers and retires in December 2006 after 51 years
service in the Army and Queen's Body Guard.
He retires as Lieutenant (Commanding Officer) of The Yeomen of the
Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard
This picture was taken at Eton College on the 6 July 1954 and published
in the Daily Telegraph and Morning Post next day.
|Whose hat is that?
Yeo Tex Howarth was on duty at a Royal Garden Party and positioned
at the side of a corridor that is created for Her Majesty to walk along.
As Her Majesty approached, a lady behind Tex required a better view and
requested, "Excuse me Mr Howarth, would you mind moving to the left a
little bit?" Tex was amazed and didn't recognise the lady's voice.
Intrigued, but still standing to attention he asked, "How do you know my
name's Howarth?" Through a suppressed giggled she replied,
"It's on a little sticker that's hanging down from the inside of your
|Ensign. Ensign, Present
During one particular State Opening of
Parliament the spectators in the Royal Gallery did not have seats, and
were crowded in, shoulder to shoulder. Standing immediately behind, and
extremely close to, the Ensign, who at time
was Major Bruce Shand MC, was a
lady. The unsuspecting lady, quite rightly had no cause for concern
that her handbag should be anything but safe on the floor in front of
her. However, when the time came for Maj Shand to lower the
Standard, as The Queen passed in procession through the Gallery, the
lady's handbag was caught on the but of the Standard, and hoisted high
into the air. The Queen, who misses nothing, still tells the tale when
she receives officers of the Body Guard in audience.
|Sergeant Major, My Leg's
MSM Cyril 'Phil' Phillips
was a very fine Sergeant Major, a character (as his short biography will
testify) and a gentleman. But, like most of the Non-Commissioned
Officers in the British Armed Forces, he had an excellent, often very
wicked, sense of humour. For example, just minutes away from being
collected for a royal ceremony, a luckless yeoman in full uniform, and
in a little distress, approached MSM Phillips. He lifted his leg
onto a bench and showed the Sergeant Major a hole in his scarlet-red
woollen stocking that he had accidentally created some minutes earlier.
"I can't go on parade like this! What can I do?" Phil Phillips looked at
him, looked at the holed stocking, turned and went into his office where
he kept many thing including a mending kit and several pairs of new
stockings. Literally seconds later Mr Phillips returned......with
a red felt-tipped pen in hand. "Give us your leg young man". The
bewildered yeoman obeyed, and Mr Phillips began to ink-out the pink
patch that quite clearly stood out in the red stockings.
I (your webmaster) was one of four Yeomen and Sergeant Major Len Davies,
now Messenger Sergeant Major no less, tasked for duty as Ushers
at the Parade for The Queen's Golden Jubilee in July 2002 held in the
grounds of Buckingham Palace. As usual we dressed at St James'
Palace in our Ceremonial Dress, minus partisans.
Now, whether by design or because the coach hadn't turned up, it was
decided to march from St James' Palace to Buckingham Palace. For those
not too familiar with London the Palaces are, as the crow flies,
approximately 400 yards apart. However, one has to approach via
The Mall and across Constitution Hill (a road) and into the Palace.
We set off at a quick march. I had only been a member of The Guard
since January 2002 and, as now, so proud marching along The Mall to the
clicking of cameras and the pointing of fingers. Now, if you've
never been to the Buckingham Palace you'll not know that at anytime
during the day there are crowds four deep at the gates and literally
non-stop traffic along Constitution Hill. As we approached
Constitution Hill I began to wonder how we were going to get across the
road without being felled by a black-cab. We are used to police
escorts to and from our duties but on this occasion we had no escort.
"Queen's body guard. Queen's body guard. Halt!" Ordered the
Sergeant Major as we came to a halt at the pelican crossing. With all
the dignity and ceremony he could put into such a gesture he pressed the
wait-button on the pedestrian crossing and we waiting for what seemed an age
for the green-man to appear. A small lad stood next to me, looked
us up and down in a way that said
'Well, you don't see that too often do ya'. "Queen's body guard. Queen's
body guard. Quick, march!" Ordered the Sergeant Major who himself
had received a direct order from the crossing's green-man.
Yeo John Hook's first duty was a
Royal Garden Party in 1976. He was briefed to be courteous and friendly to
the attending guests as it was a big day for many of them and a once in
a lifetime event for most. He was standing on point duty and
attempting to keep the guests in line along the corridor along which Her
Majesty was slowly walking. He began to chat to a lady from
Australia who wished to know the Body Guard's history and was genuinely
interested. She eventually asked John how long he had been a
Yeoman of the Guard to which he informed her it was his first duty.
"Golly!" she said, "You must be extremely nervous!" He told her "No, I'm
not nervous but I'm slightly apprehensive about one thing" Concerned,
she enquired "What's that?" "Well", John said, "This is the first
time I've ever worn stockings and I'm wondering if my seams are
straight" Without further ado, she bent down, gave John the once
over and said "No, they look okay to me young man"
for the buddy-buddy system!
servicemen can survive on their own, but on some occasions one needs the support of colleagues. This system is called
'buddy-buddy'. The system being, you dress yourself
and the people adjacent to you check you over afterwards. If one's
uniform hasn't been fitted correctly, it should be found during the
buddy-buddy check and
corrected. This is especially important in battle but is used in the
dressing rooms of St James' Palace too, mainly because the uniform is so difficult
to put by oneself; knights-of-old had a page or squire for this
very reason. So, look at the picture (click to enlarge)
and ask yourself....how did that happen?
Thanks to YBH David
Froggatt for the picture
On completion of their military service all Yeomen of the Queen's
Body Guard are at the very least of Sergeant rank and the majority are
Sergeant Major. At some stage in their career they have completed
a drill-sergeant course or indeed have been drill instructors. I
feel that it is because of this, that it is assumed that we by instinct
know exactly what to do and how we should do it. Yeo Tex Howarth
was on duty at a particular State visit where, unusually, the visiting
Head of State was to attend the Houses of Parliament and The Body Guard
was in attendance. The Divisional Sergeant Major who, unlike Tex,
knew what was going on beckoned Tex to him and said with all sincerity
"Right - Stay there - Stand at Ease and Follow me". We have a
saying in The Body Guard - If you mess up during a ceremony, make
it look good and as if it was meant to happen that way, and
above-all-else, do it with style and dignity.
rabble, sorry, group of fine upstanding men have just entered St James'
Park and heading for The Palace of Westminster. Once again, there had
been a problem with transport and we had to take
Each man was in step, albeit his own, and unlike the coach, arrived on
time for the 2004 State Opening of Parliament rehearsal.
By the way, none of these men were
posing for this picture (courtesy of Yeo Ray Duffy) it just so happened
that they were looking this way. The Body Guard would never take an
opportunity to pose for a photograph...never...ever.
|Does my bum look big in
An embarrassing incident happened to YBH
David Froggatt whilst on an Investiture. Dressed and ready for the
off from Friary Court, St James’ Palace, he placed his foot on the step
of the horse drawn gharry to heave myself up. Unfortunately, due to
shrinkage of the material of the breeches it made for a very snug fit
(does the term “Does my bum look big in this?” mean anything David?) The
strain was too much for the material and to his horror the breeches were
split along the central seam in the gusset area. Messenger Sergeant
Major Phillips made a clandestine inspected of the breeches (David knew
of course) and it was
decided that the damage was not obvious. David was assured that nothing
was “amiss” and that the tunic hid the damage and in any case there
was no time to change.
David was not looking forward to appearing on the dais that day,
especially as he still had to slow-march onto the dais before an
audience of recipients and guests seated lower than he. Of course
he imagined the
worst and thought his predicament (I’ve never heard it called that, but it
will do!) would be revealed to all. The
Investiture was completed with dignity and without The Queen being aware
that one of her guards was in an embarrassed stated. Needless to say
a new pair of breeches was required, so was membership to a local
gymnasium. He was doubly careful on further Investitures, taking it a
little easier when mounting the step into the gharry.
|Good on ya' Dame Kelly
of the special advantages of being a member of The Guard is the opportunity to meet famous people, none more
so than The
Queen of course. Picture opportunities are best after an
Investiture Ceremony at
Buckingham Palace. Once the Body Guard have lunched in the Palace
dining room, taken with the traditional ration of beer, we head for the
Quadrangle and the awaiting gharry (carriage drawn by two horses).
this time the recipients of the awards and their families are already in the
Quadrangle posing for
photographs. It's at this time that we have
to endure the well-deserved and famous rushing over to us begging for a
photograph....well, something like that! In reality, it's always a privilege
to have our photo taken with the recipients knowing that our
uniform, of which we are so proud, lives on for generations in that
On this occasion we were proud to pose with Dame Kelly Holmes (a
former Army Senior Non-Commissioned Officer) on her great day.
However, sometimes it can backfire. See
Photograph courtesy of Hello Magazine April 2005
|Good on ya' Daily Sport
The Daily Sport published their own, and very amusing, photo next day.
The Body Guard are proud to have
been involved in the wedding ceremony of Charles, The Prince of Wales
and Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral in July 1981. Before
any ceremony we rehearse mercilessly beforehand at the venue,
and in the final rehearsal in real-time. The full and final
rehearsal was on the eve of the wedding and Yeo Drummond "Spike" Window
was one of those lucky enough to be on guard inside. The choir
sang like angels and the pipes of the cathedral's organ-pipes roared to
the sound of hymns as local dignities and Palace household filled the
parts of The Prince, his bride to-be and other principle players.
The wedding procession walked slowly along the nave stopping before the
Arch-Bishop of Canterbury upon the hour. The choir and organ
silenced in unison and as the Arch-Bishop looked up to begin the
service, Spike's watch reminded him that it was 1700hrs to the sound of
"Jesus Joy of Man's Desire". Now, I don't know if you've been
around St Paul's but the acoustics are fantastic and the slightest sound
is amplified. The rehearsal resumed unfazed following the
obligatory look around for the idiot with the watch; Spike also looked
around for the idiot of cause, whilst discretely turning off the alarm before the
Messenger Sergeant Major caught his eye.
I would like to say here and now, that this was the first and very only
time that modern technology has interrupted a
ceremony .................. but I can't. A mobile phone rang in the breeches pocket of a Guard whilst he stood on
the dais behind Her Majesty at an Investiture. All I can say about
this particular incident is... how embarrassing!
On another occasion The Body Guard itself was being honoured in Her
Majesty's Chapel Royal at St James' Palace. The Body Guard,
past and present, assembled in this very small Chapel that has been
witness to many weddings and too many funerals. During the service
the mobile phone of a Yeoman on the Exempt List, whose name I will not
mention, activated to the tune of "Scotland the Brave". As though
wearing boxing gloves, he fumbled for the off-key which he eventually found after
many, many.......many seconds and the assistance of his neighbours
before the tune stopped. Amid wide grins from the rest of us,
almost to a man, we made a double check of our own mobiles lest we fell
pray to the same mistake. This was already one of those 'do you remember
when...' moments, when heavens above, the same phone activated not three
minutes later. Being more agile with the boxing gloves and only
proving that practice does indeed make perfect, the tune ceased only to
be replaced with a recording of an American woman with a monotone and slightly annoying
voice stating, "We have been unable to connect to your voice mail right
now, please try again later", not once...but twice. We all looked
towards Messenger Sergeant Major Lennard Davies who one could only imagine
was mentally rehearsing a good 'talking too' and wishing he had the authority to
award the villain five-extra duties and fine him a bottle of good
quality port at the next Roger Monk Dinner. God Bless modern
technology hey? Not likely!
picture shows an
advertisment placed in the Toronto Times in 1999 regarding British
fares. Needless-to-say the little tinkers had superimposed the
billboards onto an innocent picture of Yeomen of the Guard standing
outside Portsmouth Cathedral after the 1998 Maundy Service.
We are also free for weddings, parties and bar mitzvahs.
Thanks to Yeo Ray Duffy
for the picture.
Do I Know You?
photos only go to prove
that the Army is a very small world.
In 1966 an informal moment on the Hohne Ranges, Germany, is shared
between Major Shaun Longsdon and Squadron Sergeant Major Dennis Tomlin,
both 17th/21st Lancers.
And in 1986, Colonel Shaun Longsdon, Exon,
shares a posed moment in Friary Court, St James' Palace, London, with
Yeomen Dennis Tomlin. The Col exchanges his riding crop for a
sword and Yeo Tomlin his muddy DMS boots for a shiny pair of Loakes Monk
to Spot the Error. It was the cross-belt of the Yeoman third
from the right. It's being worn incorrectly right-to-left instead
left-to-right. The offender is Yeo John Jones (34 Jones) and
apparently he was dressed by a certain Mel Thompson! back