Dick Chilcott was commissioned from the RMA Sandhurst on 26 March 1940 as a second lieutenant in the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and with his Regiment joined the British Expeditionary Force in France early after the outbreak of the second world war. There he took part in the retreat to Dunkirk bearing his share of the actions in which the 4th/7th DG were involved.
It is no exaggeration to say that he was probably among the finest types of regular cavalry officers of his time and in turn, his regard for his chosen profession ran very deep under a veneer of the casual and the amusing.
He joined the 3rd Hussars in the Middle East in 1942 in time to take part in the tail end of the Battle of El Alamein. Thus he was one of the few who emerged from there to help reform the Regiment for the battles that lay ahead.
His natural qualities were soon recognized by Colonel Sir Peter Farquhar who appointed him to command the Recce Troop, a coveted honour and carrying the rank of Captain.
Shortly after arrival in Italy he rejoined ‘B’ Squadron under Major Michael Eveleigh and fought with gallantry and efficiency throughout the Italian campaign, being appointed to command the Squadron in the late summer of 1944.
He was to remain as ‘B’ Squadron Leader until 1948, including a period as a detached Squadron at Perham Down while the rest of the Regiment remained in Palestine; a task which particularly suited both his independent mind and his determination to achieve and maintain the highest standards.
He earned the respect and devotion of the officers and men who served with him in a period which included many changes of role and equipment, in a variety of contrasting countries; in war, in peace and in the uncertain twilight of internal security His forte was always that of organisation which reached its peak when, after the war, he took on the role of adjutant under Colonel Charles Peel at a time when the Regiment was shaking out from wartime to peacetime – a transition less easy than in fact it sounds.
He was at his happiest when at Regimental duty and was always glad to get back after a spell on the staff or at ERE. He did however have an enjoyable and successful tour of duty as the British representative at Saumur, the French Army’s cavalry centre where he made numerous friends. His smart appearance and natural soldierly qualities earned him the reputation of ‘un chic officier’ a tribute not often awarded by the French and perhaps most loosely yet accurately translated as a hell of a good guy’ something which we who served with him already had the privilege of knowing.
It was during service in the Palestine campaign immediately after the second world war that Dick’s distinguished conduct earned him a Mention in Despatches.
He retired in August 1958 and joined the steel industry for a while before going into business on his own but this venture, through no fault of his own, was not destined to flourish. He had married shortly after retiring but this marriage was eventually dissolved.
He later joined Associated Press on the distributive side which gave him scope for busing his organising ability, a quality generously remembered by his colleagues. His job entailed considerable travel which he took in his stride. He felt he could accomplish his job better by basing himself in Münster, which he had also known in his regimental days.
Whilst living in Münster he met and married his second wife, Gisela, who survives him and to whom we extend our every sympathy in her tragic and sudden loss on 13 April 1982.
The Regiment was represented at Dick’s funeral but the many of us who were unable to attend know that we have lost a great friend and a brother officer who was always such excellent company.