Julian Sandys commanded a Sabre troop in ‘C’ Squadron, 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, as a National Service subaltern during 1955/56.
At that time Sir Winston Churchill, his grandfather, combined the two prestigious appointments as Colonel-of-the-Regiment and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – ‘the greatest Hussar of them all’ and arguably the greatest Prime Minister of all time. Julian’s father, Lord Duncan Sandys, was in the Churchill Cabinet as Minister for Defence.
By coincidence, 4H received official visits from both great men while Julian was serving with the Regiment. None of these circumstances fazed Ct Sandys, who was naturally diffident and never sought to take any advantage of his background.
Like most Cornets, he was born to trouble as the sparks fly upward’ – which they did frequently when he was around, because Julian (though shy) was simply imbued with the spirit of cavalry dash and, consequently, his sins were rarely those of omission. He was a remarkably astute, cheerful and good-humoured young man, with a strong sense of fun which occasionally strayed over the border into practical jokes.
As a troop leader, he was thorough and painstaking in his planning and administration; but his impetuosity and ‘press-on’ mentality sometimes led him into trouble in the field – even with ‘Loopy’ Kennard, who was as hard riding and unconventional a cavalry CO as anyone could wish to serve.
Loopy often quoted one of the maxims attributed to Col Winston; that you should buy the most expensive horse, which you could not possibly afford, and then ride it as though it had cost half a crown. There was also a prevalent ‘C’ Squadron tactical principle (first enunciated by the highly successful Gen Bedford Forrest of the American Confederate Army) that the prime circumstance, which would virtually ensure success in battle, was to get their firstest with the most men’.
With such exhortations ringing in his ears, Julian invariably raced his Centurions recklessly across the Luneburger Heide, with scant regard either for his own neck or the welfare of the spitfire engines which powered his tanks. Loopy informed him, succinctly, that while he cared not a fig for Sandy’s neck, a CO must perforce have some regard for the troops under his command and even for the infernal machines in his care.
It was a fact that, unfortunately, could not be ignored that a Centurion cost the taxpayer a trifle more than the Churchillian half-crown! Despite such strictures – or possibly because of them – Julian Sandys was a first-class troop leader who enjoyed the liking and respect of all ranks. For his part, although he had no wish to make his career in 4H, Julian nurtured a strong loyalty to the Regiment and joined the Reserve of Officers when his National Service was completed.
Years later, although the Regiment was not actively in the Falkland Islands campaign. It is clear that Julian never lost involved, he was chagrined to be told that he was too old to take part in the urge to have a go’; whether in the Army, the law, politics or in business life.
He will probably be remembered foremost as a QC, but two of his compelling interests were flying adventurously in light aircraft: and becoming an expert computer buff. Being who he lessons carries for the future. He also had a love of poetry and the was, and he naturally cherished a lifelong interest in history and the written word in general.
Nobody who served with him could have remained unaware of his uncritical regard for the works of Rudyard Kipling but, while the mind did not boggle unduly at the thought of Julian and Gunga Din being brothers under the skin; it was inconceivable that Sandys and the engineer McAndrew could ever have been soul-mates.
Probably few of his Regimental contemporaries foresaw clearly how the fledgeling Ct Sandys would develop into the mature, humorous, learned, successful and dedicated family man that he duly became. Of course, it was all there for the prescient to see. Everything was in place by 1956 except experience. Julian Sandys was a very proper 4th Hussar.