The Wildgoose Chase

I met Chelsea Pensioner Walter Wildgoose in 1977 when he was 87 and I was 26. Through a series of letters written over the last year of his life, he passed along his life story - the workhouse children's home, a life in the British Army witnessing the opening battles of World War I and life in India, a remarkable family surviving the bombs of World War II London. This blog will document my research and progress on the novel I'm writing about this amazing man.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Walter's honor guard duties

In addition to celebrating Edward's coronation in 1902, Walter participated in two other events for the King. The first was in 1905, when Walter was on the training ship Clio. According to his letters:

During 1905, King Edward VII visited Bangor to open Bangor University and the boys from the Clio formed a Guard of Honour, and it was a proud moment for me, as I saw the King pass along together with our Captain, Captain Langdon, asking him about the boys and where did they come from. It was quite a pleasant interlude to the daily duties on board ship.

Walter's Lincolnshire regiment also served as a part of the honor guard at Edward's funeral:

The year 1909 saw the passing of our King Edward VII. Our regiment left Aldershot for London to take part in lining the streets for the funeral. We were responsible for the Pall Mall. We were in our review order scarlet tunics, helmets with all the brass facings. Other regiments also were arranged around the line of route. This ceremony was a stirring experience for me, as it is the first time I have attended a ceremonial parade, of course. I had only one year’s service. When the cortege came along in the distance, we heard the Dead March being played by the Guards’ band, and then the hearse bearing the body of our late King arrived, and behind it rode the Duke of Connaught, King George V, and Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. (see photo above) (He looked an austere individual.) The crowds of spectators behind the troops were carried away with emotion. The King’s favourite dog Caesar was led along by the drummer of the Guards.

For whatever reason - his military career or other circumstances of his life - Walter had an incredible collection of events he witnessed first-hand, sort of like a Forrest Gump or Zelig character.
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posted by MaryB @ 11:30 AM  


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