The Regimental Mascot
and
Badge of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment
“BOBBY”
an Indian Black Buck Antelope

in 1968
he became the mascot of
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers




The origins of the Regiment using the antelope as a badge are lost in the mists of time. An official digest compiled in 1830 stated that it was derived from a standard bearing the image of an antelope, which was captured at Almanza in 1707. However, if there is any truth in this legend, it is more likely that the standard was that of a Moorish regiment, using the Antelope to denote its African roots, and was captured at Saragossa in 1710.
Another theory suggests that the device is linked to Sir Walter Vane, sometimes described as the first Colonel of the Sixth Foot. Although a branch of Vanes family did use the antelope in its Arms, there is no direct link to Vane himself. It is more probable that the badge was chosen for no more reason than it was a badge of the Royal Family, and the Regiment wished to show its allegiance. The badge of the Sixth Foot is referred to in the Royal Warrant of 1743. The Antelope is not mentioned by name, but it appears in Colonel Napier’s drawing of the Colours, 1747. The emblem also appears on a Regimental drum dating from the time of the “Forty-Five” rebellion, and was probably painted shortly after the 1743 Warrant.
The Regiment kept live antelope mascots for around two hundred years. In 1963 the Royal Warwickshire Regiment became the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers, and on 23rdApril 1968 it merged with three other English Fusilier regiments to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. The new regiment adopted the mascot, maintaining the tradition through until 2005 when the last Bobby sadly died. His head is now on the wall of the Montgomery room at St Johns House in Warwick. Although the Regiment no longer keeps a mascot, the image of Bobby can still be found on the buttons of every Fusilier’s No1 and No2 dress uniforms.
The first antelope mascot was probably acquired by the Royal Warwickshire Regiment somewhere between 1825 and 1841, while serving in India continuously for sixteen years. By 1868 the 1st Battalion was back in India, and there is a record of them having acquired an antelope in 1871 which they named Billy. A Maharajah presented them with another Billy in 1877; this one returned home with the Battalion in 1880, accompanied them to Ireland and died there in 1888. Back in1857 the British army had been increased, and this saw the permanent establishment of a 2nd battalion within the Regiment. At some point it seems to have become tradition for the 1st Battalion to call their mascot Bobby, and if the 2nd Battalion had one he was usually called Billy. Though for some reason there was also one named Charlie, his head is now on loan to RHQ. HM Tower of London. Obtaining these animals in India was not a problem, back home however, it was a different matter. They had to be obtained from a zoo, and they had to be male. At the end of World War II in 1945, the 2nd Battalion “liberated” one from Hamburg zoo. He accompanied them on their tour to Egypt and Palistine.
The mascot was looked after by two handlers chosen from the battalion, they would make sure that he was fed and watered and exercised. When on parade they kept him under control by means of two white ropes attached to his collar which was also white, and was emblazoned with a large silver badge. On his back he wore a coat of royal blue, embroidered with the regimental crest, and his horns were tipped with silver cones. After becoming a Fusilier, the colour of his coat was changed to scarlet, the last Bobby also wore a Lance Corporal’s stripe and a GSM with the Northern Ireland Clasp.

Usually quite well behaved on parade, a few of the antelopes have had a mind of their own giving rise to one or two anecdotes. During a military review at Aldershot, the then Bobby chose to lie down as he was being led past King George V and proceeded to nibble the grass, thus bringing the parade to a halt.


Bobby in Hong Kong 1962
Bobby on Parade in front of Monty on theVesting Day 1968 at Watchet Summerset with 2RRF



On another occasion, the Drum Major made the mistake of walking too close in front of him during a tattoo performance, and paid for his error with a sore behind and a pair of torn trousers. Another Bobby, who was a Corporal, and obviously had a cunning streak, on church parade one Sunday at Tidworth, he developed a limp. He was removed from the parade and taken back to his pen where he made a speedy recovery. After three Sunday parades at which he put on a similar performance, it was decided to ignore him and press on with the parade. The limp stopped after about a quarter of a mile, and never re-occurred. One of the mascots had his military service recognized at the Tower of London on the 24th June 1997, with a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.


This was taken in 1982

This Bobby had been born at London Zoo in 1982 and joined the Regiment at the age of one month. The normal life expectancy of these antelopes is about nine years; this one had butted his way to fifteen. He had been promoted to Corporal on his thirteenth birthday, and lived at the head-quarters of the 5th (Warwickshire) Battalion in Coventry. His principal handler was Sergeant Martin.
Shortly after the next Bobby came along in the year 2000, the 5th (Warwickshire) Battalion was disbanded and so he went to the 2nd Battalion. However, he got posted to HM Tower of London, the Regimental Headquarters, when the Battalion left for a tour of duty in Germany. He was due to return to the 2nd Battalion’s barracks in April 2001, but because of an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease, which restricted the movement of animals, he stayed at the Tower for fifteen months before returning to the barracks in North Luffenham, Leicestershire. His pen was a converted tennis court with plenty of grass; his regular diet was horse nuts along with the odd biscuit, to which he was very partial. His life was brief, and when he died in 2005, little did anyone realise that he may be the last in a long line of mascots.
Royal Warwickshire Regiment Handlers that I have been told about are: Fred Whittle, Raymond Johns, Mat Hardy, Ian (Spud) Spooner, Dixie Dean, Eddie Gunn, Al Hubbicks and Dave Spears.
Fusilier Handlers that I have been told of are: 1963, Tommy Craige. Andrew Newton, 22, from Oldham, Michael Griffin, 29, from Erdington and Sergeant Martin.
I am awaiting photographs from Tommy Nolan (1947).

Ian (Spud) Spooner and Dixie Dean with Bobby in Gibalter



Bobby 7th arriving in Gib, I believe 69 ,with Cpl Dixie Dean and Iain 'Spud" Spooner

I understand he did two tours in Gibalter with 3RRF 1969 to 1971 and 1RRF 1971 to 1973
The 1RRF handlers where
Raymond Johns and Matty Hardy in Gib.nearly lost me man hood one monday morning on convent guard.

Comments by passed Handlers
Raymond Johns. “I nearly lost me manhood one Monday morning on Convent Guard”!
Eddie Gunn. “I just found it strange that he had his own fag ration, two a day, plain not tipped. When I was short of cash I used to share it with him, half for Bobby and half for me. You was always in danger of losing your manhood, as the height he was, as he lifted his head to butt you it came in an upward stroke. Many a time I had to jump out of the way”.

Ian Spooner “I was Bobby’s Keeper from 1967 to 1972, taking him on in Donnaford Camp Watchet, going over to Gibraltar in 1968 until my demob in 1972. This Bobby was born at Regents Park Zoo and Cpl Ricky Drummond along with Pte Dave Wrigh had the job of going to the zoo to pick him up. Dave did not stay as a handler for long, so I asked for the job and got it. Ricky and I took it in turns to feed him, and that had to be done every 2 hours for 8 weeks, then every 3 hours for about a month, and so on until he was weaned off and onto a solid diet of feed pellets and hay. He liked some vegetables too, but that was a treat. I lived on camp, so spent all my time with Bobby and was able to walk him on my own. I think he looked on me as his mate, because when anyone else came near he would butt them and he had a fine pair of horns, even at six months old. Bobby’s first parade was when Field Marshal Montgomery attended the change over from Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers to Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. After the parade Montgomery came over and had a chat, telling us that he started his army service as a mascot handler. With that he put out his hand towards Bobby and got a good old butt, he did laugh it off though.
It was not long after this that Ricky came into the run one day and Bobby gave him a hell of a butt on his bad leg. He never came back as the antelope handler; it was too dangerous for him as he had a plate in his leg. I was put in charge of Bobby and Pte Dave Gregg became the other handler. When we were told we were going to Gibraltar, he bought himself out of the army and went back to Newcastle. Then Pte Terry Gibson became a handler, he was married to a Gibraltarian girl so wanted to go back to Gibraltar. He proved to be very good at the job; he was also very useful as he was an MT trained driver.
The move to Gibraltar had to be done quickly due to an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in England. Bobby had a special crate built that we mounted on a trailer in Gibraltar in order to move him around. He got better on parade, not pulling so much and standing still, until he got bored. He liked to eat cigarettes, and I got him a ration of 200 a week while in Gibraltar. He also had to have his hay flown in from England, he couldn’t be bedded down on straw because he would eat his bed, straw could give him a straw ball which could cause a blockage and kill him. He was a good boy; it was the one thing that almost kept me in the army. But I had a job lined up working in a zoo, so I handed over responsibility and never saw or heard anything of him after I left the army. It was a lovely job, one I enjoyed so much and I got very attached to Bobby”.
Comments from David John Wright
On looking at the Bobby history just thought I,d add that after picking up Bobby myself and Ricky bottle fed him every 4hrs . I lived out at the time and had to bike it in. My rank was Drummer at the time not ( private , how dare they hhaa) Then in the Sept of that year we went Gib. So I looked after him for several months ie April - Aug. On On return Gib I joined Mt. Dont mean to upset whats been written however history can get things awry sometimes .


Canterbury 1989
Bobby, the antelope army mascot, has rejoined his regiment after a 15-month stay in the Tower of London.

The Indian black buck antelope is the mascot of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
He was sent to The Tower, the Fusiliers regimental headquarters, when 2nd Battalion went on a tour of Germany.
He was forced into a longer stay when foot-and-mouth restrictions prevented him from returning to the battalion's barracks in North Luffenham, Rutland, Leicestershire.

Life on the outside
Bobby was welcomed back to the barracks by his handlers, Fusiliers Andrew Newton, 22, from Oldham, and Michael Griffin, 29, from Erdington, Birmingham on Friday.
He will now be housed in a converted tennis court, although he is still confined to the barracks under current foot-and-mouth regulations.

Bobby was escorted from the Tower
Major Peter Clarke, of 2nd Battalion, said: "We turned one of the tennis courts into a home for Bobby, and of course there is plenty of grass for him to graze on.
"He certainly seems to be enjoying the wide open spaces and has settled down well to life on the outside."
The tradition of antelope mascots dates back 150 years, when the Royal Warwickshire regiment, later the Fusiliers, adopted an antelope in India.
Bobby took up his posting as mascot last year.
He is said to like football and Nice biscuits and hour-long walks.
Bobby's handlers are delighted that he managed to find sanctuary from the livestock cull in a place more known for sending people to their deaths the Tower.



Written
by
Harry Morton,
Warwickshire Fusiliers Museum Volunteer




The Mascot of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment dates back to 1871 when the first one was brought back from China. It is an Indian Black Buck antelope called Bobby, escorted by two drummers. They wear dress tunics and blue field service caps. Their tunics are scarlet with blue collars and blue jam-pot cuffs.
Behind Bobby are the men of the Colour party, two officers and a Colour sergeant. The sergeant-drummer is behind them, wearing a special pattern tunic with shoulder wings like the drummers' but with gold lace instead of white, and gold lace along the top of the collar. The officers' helmets have pointed peaks with a gilt edge while the other ranks have rounded peaks edged in black.


The bandsmen wear the plain full dress tunic with the addition of red and white shoulder wings. They have a gold embroidered band badge on their right arm. The peaked forage caps have replaced the field service cap that was worn up to c1902 Regimental mascot and Colour Party c1898 and the Broderick cap that was worn from c1902 to c1905 Sergeants 1904. The smarter forage cap had a red cap band which was the pattern for Royal regiments.