Mike Priestly is researching the 149th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (RHA cap badge pictured), also known as the Hoylake Horse, for a forthcoming biography of his father-in-law’s experiences. Mike writes:
My father-in-law, Dick Jones, a Wallasey man, whose biography I am in the process of writing, volunteered for the army at the outbreak of World War Two. In the spring of 1939 the 149th Royal Horse Artillery [Territorial Army] was founded in Hoylake in West Wirral. It became known as the Hoylake Horse. The chosen location was described by Eric Harvey, one of this group of close friends who all joined up at the same time. “The Hoylake HQ for the regiment was in a set of hutments built in a field off a lane to the rear of the railway station, which led nowhere except to the new golf club house [which became the officers’ mess] whilst the old club house became the base for the gas sentries – in which all three of us started our military careers.”
The day before war was declared, the regiment was mustered at 9.00 a.m. on Saturday 2nd September. The story of the regiment is told by E.W. Capleton in his book SHABASH, The War Story of the 149th Reg’ R.A. 1939-45, 1963, Tinling, ASIN B0014A14SW. In it, he even comments on Dick Jones’s prowess on the mouth organ. He had performed at regimental evening entertainments at Hoylake Parish Hall, like the one held in October 1939.
After the war the old comrades met at the cenotaph on Grange Hill each year on Remembrance Sunday, before marching into West Kirby. By the end of the century there were very few of them left so in June 2001 the remaining old soldiers said their official farewell to Hoylake. The Laying Up of the Standard Ceremony was followed by lunch at the King’s Gap Hotel in Hoylake, a few minutes walk from the parish hall and the Carr Lane regimental meeting place, where it had all started 62 years earlier. The regiment would also continue to be remembered on a plaque first unveiled at Hoylake Town Hall in 1951 and moved to the new West Kirby concourse in November 1981. Since March 1991, another plaque had been placed in St Hildeburgh’s Church.
What more do you know about the Hoylake Horse? Do you have any old documentation and/or photos that you can share? Were you or members of your family in the Hoylake Horse? Mike would love to hear from you via email: firstname.lastname@example.org