Farewell, brave rid­ers

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

DE­SCEN­DANTS of the dar­ing despatch rid­ers of the First World War, the Bri­tish Army’s White Hel­mets, founded in 1927, will dis­band in this, its 90th year. Pre­vi­ously known as the Red Devils and the Mad Sig­nals, they’re just as good at leap­ing through rings of fire and form­ing 21-man pyra­mids atop a string of Tri­umph mo­tor­cy­cles as they ever were, but the rid­ers’ skills are, sadly, no longer re­quired.

‘Mes­sages haven’t been de­liv­ered in this way for a very long time,’ says OC Capt Jonathan Mclel­land. ‘With the move to­wards cut­ting-edge ca­pa­bil­i­ties, the Royal Sig­nals is now mod­ernising its im­age to show it’s truly a leader in a dig­i­tal age.’

The 22-strong team of Royal Sig­nals vol­un­teers will go out with a bang—its penul­ti­mate per­for­mance will take place in the Grand Ring of the Chatsworth Coun­try Fair (Septem­ber 1–3, www.chatsworth.org), which will also fea­ture the com­pa­ra­bly bal­letic Cos­sack War­riors, per­form­ing the death-de­fy­ing eques­trian art of dzhig­i­tovka for the first time at the event. Leap­ing from a horse at full gal­lop, slid­ing un­der its belly, bal­anc­ing in a hand­stand atop a sad­dle at high speed or charg­ing atop a string of horses, they’re de­scended from orig­i­nal Cos­sack war­riors of three cen­turies ago, for whom dzhig­i­tovka was a mil­i­tary tech­nique used for dodg­ing bul­lets or ar­rows.

The White Hel­mets’ fi­nal pub­lic per­for­mance will take place at the Pre­ston Mil­i­tary Show at Ful­wood Bar­racks, Lan­cashire, on Satur­day, Septem­ber 16. For fur­ther de­tails, visit www. face­book.com/pre­ston­mil­i­taryshow

Dare­dev­ils: the White Hel­mets (top) and the Cos­sack War­riors

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