Howard Robinson joined the Queen’s Own Hussars in July 1979 and after basic training in Catterick went to Detmold and soon became a Regimental character.
Nicknamed ‘Robbo’, he went to ‘D’ Squadron and his support for the ‘Black Pig’ squadron was shown the ‘Black’ in many ways.
In 1983 the Regiment moved to Catterick apart from ‘D’ Squadron which went to Berlin as the Independent Armoured Squadron. It was here that I met Robbo and for a while kept my distance like all ‘Nigs’ did when it came to meeting the senior troopers.
Before long our similar sense of humour became apparent and we ended up being placed in the same room when the Regiment reformed in Hohne. There are many stories of our antics still spoken about today by those who lived in at that time, so there is no need to write about them, and if I did they would need to be censored. Single life with Robbo was amusing and adventurous and there was never a dull moment it was almost sad to see him get married.
Squadron bars were never the same and the Regimental restaurant reduced its orders for rations. By the time he got married Robbo had won best student on the cadre, been promoted and completed a tour of Northern Ireland where as an NCO he had shown true professionalism.
Robbo soon became a responsible and loyal husband to Annette but his sense of humour and character never changed. He had calmed down slightly and had broken all his previous BFT records – however, as the Regimental rugby team captain he still showed his true colours, particularly when it came to the ‘third halves’. On the pitch, both sides feared the Robbo charge particularly when it collapsed the scrum, and he led a successful tour to the West Midlands.
From December 1990 to June 1991 the Regiment went to Cyprus on a United Nations tour and by this time Robbo was a proud father of Ben. A daughter Rosie soon followed and Robbo became a real family man. Regimental life was very busy, Robbo was now a tank commander but he decided to put family first and went on a posting back to Catterick to be near Annette’s relatives.
He was attached to the Battle Group trainer where he was made very welcome and he really enjoyed his time there. Although originally from Oxford, Robbo had become a true Northerner and decided to settle here and took phase 2 redundancy (1993) despite all the phone calls from the Regiment to try and persuade him to change his mind.
The family moved to Doncaster and Robbo toured the country as a lorry driver. It was while he was on the road less than a year ago that he phoned me and casually told me that he had cancer. On 25 August this year, I was with him when he passed away. There was a reunion of all the old faces at his funeral and all had a sociable night, which is what he wanted.
No one will forget what a character Robbo was and he will always want to be remembered for this, but, while we enjoy these memories, please spare a thought for his son Ben who is now tragically suffering from the same illness.