King’s Troop: Historic day as Troop leaves St John’s Wood

Thousands of schoolchildren, war veterans, residents and shopkeepers lined St John’s Wood High Street on Monday to bid a fond farewell to the King’s Troop.

Primary school pupils sang a selection of First World War songs as the Troop took an emotional ride through St John’s Wood for the final time.

The Royal Horse Artillery unit has been based at the St John’s Wood Barracks since its formation by King George VI in 1947 but it will now be stationed in Woolwich.

The Troop’s departure brings to an end more than 200 years of military occupation at the barracks which have been sold and will be turned into luxury housing.

Mounted on his horse in the middle of the High Street, Commanding Officer Mark Edward addressed the well-wishers, which included 400 former King’s Troop soldiers.

He told them: “This is a historic day. Today marks the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen’s accession to the throne.

“It is also a fitting occasion to open a new chapter in the history of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.”

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He added: “We are very lucky given our role that we are able to engage with the community every day by exercising our horses out on the streets.

“Where we have been extremely lucky is having a community in St John’s Wood that is so willing to share it with us.

“The fact that we have so many people out here today is an indication of that. It’s a truly humbling experience for us all.”

Earlier, hundreds of people gathered at the barracks to watch the regiment’s 109 horses being groomed, shaved and mucked out.

Victor “Tiffy” Amaira, 66, served from 1980 to 1987. He said: “We were more like brothers than anything else. I’ve got very fond memories of all the lads here.

“I’m going to miss the place because of the tradition. To shut it down for the sake of money is very sad.”

Event organiser and Norfolk Road resident Clive Beecham said: “I was amazed at how many people turned up. It proves the high street really can be a community.

“You never really miss something until it has gone and now the community will miss The Troop.”