David Pipe had the unique distinction for a Queen’s Own Hussar commanding a Battalion of the Ulster Defence Regiment during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
David was commissioned into 3rd The King’s Own Hussars in 1955, three years prior to amalgamation. As a young officer, he had a natural interest in the workings of the tank; he was often seen head down in the engine compartment with spanner in hand.
During his time with the regiment, he competed successfully twice, with regimental SNCOs, in the Devizes to Westminster canoe race, achieving very creditable placings in the top third of the entry.
As a junior officer, he led the Army Youth Team in Birmingham, in his spare time there running an ad hoc pop group called The Cavaliers, charging £15 “a gig”. In 1964 he was part of the Demonstration Squadron when he met and married Patricia.
He undertook further regimental duty in UK and Germany before the deployment of ‘C’ Squadron to Sheik Othman and Al-Mansoura as armoured car support to the infantry.
In 1971 he assumed command of ‘C’ Squadron and is well remembered for organising football matches with local Germans to help relieve the routine of soldiering in Germany. His plan was that his soldiers would meet local girls through this activity; sadly, this didn’t work and the strength of the squadron football team led the local mayor to concede victory. To recognise this result a rather large and malodorous ram was presented as a mascot which spent some time grazing outside the Squadron offices before it disappeared!
In 1978, following a number of appointments at ERE where David successfully organised and rode in various three-day events, he was selected to command the 3rd Battalion UDR at Ballykinler. Very much a hands-on commanding officer he frequently went on patrol with his soldiers. His wife Patricia wanted to play her part and enlisted in his Battalion as a “Greenfinch” and was promoted to Corporal in the Intelligence Cell!
The highlight of his command was a visit by Margaret Thatcher, who was so impressed with what she saw of the UDR, it helped to convince her that there was a need for a pay rise for all factions of the Services if she became Prime Minister – she was true to her word.
Following command, David moved back into the Public Relations/ Information world with jobs in Northern Ireland and SHAPE before leaving to embark on his civilian career based on the skills he honed during his last five years of military service.
Following two years at Cancer Research he joined the Jockey Club where he worked for ten years. During his tenure as Head of Public Relations, he had to handle the emotive matter of excessive use of the whip, a major doping scandal, the disaster of the 1993 Grand National when one of the jockeys became tangled in the starting tape and, four years later, the postponement following a coded bomb threat from PIRA. Throughout David was recognised as a calming and credible face of the racing world.
David was a keen horseman who ran local military saddle clubs wherever he was posted, as well as helping organise cross-country events. In retirement he was President of the Surrey Branch of the Royal British Legion, being recognised with its Gold Award.
Throughout his service David was wonderfully supported by his wife; they had a son and daughter. David’s son, Marcus followed him into the regiment.
Lt Col D. Pipe died on the 6th of June 2022. He served with 3H/QOH from 1956-85.