Paddy died on the 26th of October 2021 as a result of injuries sustained in an e-bike accident 27 days previously.
Paddy was known as Spartacus within the Regiment on account of his apparent indestructibility. He had, in a varied and colourful life, survived many hard knocks, but at the age of 76 this time it was not to be.
Paddy enlisted in the Army in 1962 as a Junior Musician in the Life Guards. He joined the Irish Hussars in Wolfenbuttel in the autumn of 1965 from a Sandhurst that had only just survived Hartigan’s colourful and irreverent progress.
At the time in the regiment, it was the custom in the Officers’ Mess for new Cornets to be hardly seen and definitely not heard for at least six weeks. In Paddy’s case, this was difficult on both counts. At well over six foot tall, Irish and an extrovert, his presence and natural bonhomie were hard to subdue. These characteristics remained an integral part of him throughout his military career.
He managed the many challenges in life with infectious optimism, which resulted in easy friendships with a variety of officers and soldiers alike.
After a period of troop leading in the then-armoured reconnaissance role of the regiment, Paddy was dispatched to the RAC Parachute Squadron. He had successfully completed the Edward Bear parachute course at Sandhurst, so he was the obvious choice to fill a regimental commitment.
Whilst completing the training he sustained his first knock and after an extended period of treatment at Headley Court, he was posted to 8 Infantry Brigade at Chester with a brief spell in Londonderry.
In 1969 the regiment, which had been the first RAC Centre Regiment at Bovington, reformed in Paderborn with Paddy as the Regimental Signals Officer.
In 1972, after marriage to Cherry (nee Holmes, sister of a QDG officer), Paddy took up the Regiment’s exchange post with the 8th Canadian Hussars in Petawawa Ontario.
An unfortunate coincidence was that both his RMA College Commander and the Commandant RMAS were serving or visiting Canada at that time. “I remember you Hartigan” was all that Paddy could recall them saying to him.
He returned to Paderborn in 1974 as second-in-command of Command & Support Squadron in time to be part of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus following the Turkish invasion. A brief stay in London was followed by two years on the staff of Headquarters Wales at Brecon where he resumed his interest in religious choral music at Brecon Cathedral.
He returned to the Regiment (now at Tidworth) to lead ‘D’ Squadron whose diverse roles saw troops deployed to six different parts of the world, a command that Paddy considered to be the most rewarding appointment of his military career.
Further Ministry of Defence postings was interspersed with two years with the Royal Air Force at Cranwell, culminating in his presentation to the Officers Mess of a portrait of Air Marshal Sir John Baldwin, once Colonel of the 8th Hussars – a portrait that still hangs prominently at the College.
His final job in the MOD was concerned with the selection of individual overseas appointments that enabled Paddy to find himself one in Hong Kong during the turbulent last years of the colony’s existence. There he was able to secure for himself a penthouse on the top floor of the Royal Navy’s headquarters, formerly occupied by an Admiral, generously allowing the American Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Fleet to stay, to be rewarded by the Admiral’s baseball cap heavily weighed down with gold braid.
He returned to the United Kingdom in 1996 and then followed a series of desk jobs before resigning to take up a retired officer’s appointment as a recruiter with offices in Gloucester, Bournemouth, Weymouth and Salisbury, visiting each on a BMW motorcycle. Finally, he served as a civilian in Defence Estates conveniently situated in Salisbury where he and his family were now settled.
His memorial service in the city was particularly notable for the huge turnout of retired Irish Hussars of all ranks – a tribute to the extent that his professional life had touched so many.
Spartacus will be sadly missed, and our sympathy goes out to Cherry, their sons, Thomas and Edward and their grandchildren, one of whom was born on the day of his tragic accident.