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5 (Queens Own Oxfordshire Hussars) Signal Squadron

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Raised in 1798, by Lord Marlborough, to protect Oxfordshire, from the French naturally. In the event they spent the best part of the 19th Century protecting the landed types of Oxfordshire from the not so landed types.

In the meantime the French began to look a lot less threatening and the regiment's raison d'etre looked a little shaky, fortunately another group of treacherous Johnny Foreigners with misplaced colonial ambitions sprang to the rescue and the stout Oxfordshire yeoman headed South with the rest of the Imperial Yeomanry to show the Boers how it was really done.

Upon their return they had the pleasure of a young officer called Winston Churchill joining them, which came in particularly handy when war broke out in Europe. A group of overly keen officers, concerned that it would all be over by the second Sunday of Pentecost, or possibly just Christmas, decided that, if it was going on, they wanted a bit of it.

So with Winston, at the time a pretty big noise in the Admiralty, pulling the strings they found themselves the first Territorial unit to go to France, embarked aboard the SS Belphon they moved so quickly to France it took 20 days for their horses to catch up with them (Not the ideal circumstances for a cavalry unit).

The Western front saw the unit suffer casualties like many others, although happily not as devastating as some, including the Adjutant Guy Bonham-Carter, ancestor of the multi-talented and undoubtedly grubby-grubby posh bird actress Helena Bonham-Carter, whilst their title QOOH earned them the nickname 'Queer Objects On Horseback'.

After the end of the war to end all wars they lost the horses and got armoured cars, before becoming Gunners and as a result of the defence cutbacks that typified the 1930's found themselves lumped in with some other Yeomanry units.

The outbreak of World War 2 saw a belated realisation that there was some value in the Territorials, funny how that keeps happening. Various notables joined the QOOH before going on to other things including Ian Fleming and other SOE types (readers of the Telegraph obits will know this). Meanwhile, half the Regiment found themselves posted to Singapore, just in time for it's surrender to the Japanese and subsequent long years of incarceration.

The remainder were posted to NI as garrison troops until the invasion of D Day, when they were able to ply their trade as anti-tank Gunners once again, elements of the regiment were amongst those who liberated the Belsen concentration camp.

After the war the Oxfordshire Yeomanry continued, both in and out of combination with other Yeomanry units. The connection with Winston Churchill endured and at his state funeral, which he had lanned himself, a detachment of the QOOH formed part of the escort. As they formed up an irate Brigade Major of Guards approached them and informed them in less than polite terms that they were in the wrong formation, the officer in charge of the detachment replied that 'This is how we always do state funerals in the QOOH'. The irate party stalked away and the QOOH were left to get on with their first state funeral.

With the reforms of the TA in the '60s the QOOH became a company of the Oxfordshire Territorials before being reduced to cadre and virtually disappearing. The RGJ who succeeded the Oxfordshire Territorials have a proud history of their own and maintaining the traditions of the QOOH was not the most effective use of their resources. In 1975 the QOOH title passed to 5 Signal Sqn a Special Communicationss TA unit, and there it remains.

The regimental colour of the QOOH is Mantua Purple which nowadays is quite hard to match with the end result that maroon often stands in, this may cause offence to members of the airborne brotherhood, particularly those whose interests don't extend to 'Lesser known units of the British Army'.

This can be especially true when confronted by the sight of a bleep/scaly/insert dismissive term here in what for all the world looks to be a maroon unit t-shirt. It's not, it really is Mantua Purple. Promise.