I first met Vyvyan John in November 1941 when I joined the 7th Hussars in Abbassia; he was senior subaltern of “C” Squadron, to which I was posted, and I was very often grateful for the helping hand he gave to a very green 2nd Lt.

We served together again in “A” Squadron in Italy; he was 2nd Captain and when the Squadron Leader and Second-in-Command were wounded on the same day he took over and commanded the Squadron during a very tricky part of the Gothic Line Battle with a sure touch. He was recommended for the M.C. and got a Mention.

It was while the Regiment was resting near Rome after that battle that Vyvyan received the injury in a traffic accident from which he never fully recovered.

He was given a Regular Commission and commanded “C” Squadron after the war, but he was never quite the same. We were together again at H.Q. B.A.O.R. in 1948, where we were both Staff Captains, and later my wife and I stayed with him when he worked with the Danish Brigade.

Later we met regularly at Regimental dinners, but I never thought that we would serve together again; in fact, when I brought the Regiment home from Germany to Catterick, there was Vyvyan, working in the Training Regiment as a Retired Officer and for the first and only time under my command. He took this reversal of roles with the good humour that his friends would expect.

Latterly he lived on the Wiltshire borders and battled gamely with ill health and near-poverty.

He did his best to conceal both, and when he stayed with us at Camberley only 18 months before he died, neither my wife nor I realised how ill he was.

Vyvyan was a gay and gallant soldier in war; he was enormous fun to have around and I suppose I have laughed longer and louder with him than anyone else. He died on 3rd June 1975, aged 59. There were few of us at his funeral, which perhaps is what he would have wished. He would rather we remembered him as he was when I first met him-tall and brown and young and full of life. He was a true friend and a devoted 7th Hussar.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 7th Hussars
  2. Timeline: Italy 1943-5