Topper died on 24 September 1996, aged 84.

He enlisted into the Cavalry of the Line on 1 June 1932, at Workington, Cumbria. He joined the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars and was promoted to Lance Corporal in August 1934. During this time he was an actor in a training film, explaining the use of the then-new ZGB gun.

He was posted to the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars in November 1935 and joined them at Main Barracks, Abbassia, Cairo just prior to the last mounted parade on 11 November 1935.

Topper served with the Regiment in Palestine from June 1936 until November. He took his discharge in May 1938, having completed his six years of service. He was recalled from the Reserve on 1 September 1939 and rejoined the 8th Hussars in Egypt, at the end of the month, being promoted to Sergeant in November 1940.

He took part in the desert battles up to May 1942, including the Sidi Rezegh in November 1941, when his tank was one of only six to have escaped from the leaguer. He was taken prisoner at Bir Hacheim. He was in camps in Italy, Austria and Germany and was released in May 1945.

He was discharged on Boxing Day 1945, being unfit for further service.

With Dorrie and Clarence, he moved to and later bought a small dairy farm at Wilton in West Cumbria. They later had two more children, Bill and Janice. Topper retired at 65 but stayed on the farm with Janice and her family.

He started a small stud using his homebred grey stallion ‘Dentside Irish Hussar’ (Stable name Topper, a thoroughbred/Irish draught) in order that his granddaughter Lucie had a suitable animal to event on, He taught her to ride the ‘Army way’ and he enjoyed watching her competing successfully, especially at dressage and eventing.

He never lost his spirit, love for life, his family, horses and racing. An old friend travelled from Australia to be one of his pallbearers. John Muir with the Pipe Major, who piped Topper out of the village to the grave, also attended.

Topper was a loyal and supportive member of the Regimental Association; he was also a member of the 1st Durham Troop. He was ably supported at Regimental events by Dorrie and Janice. His son followed him into the 8th Hussars but did not serve as long as his father.

Topper was a gentleman and an 8th Hussar of the Old School. Our condolences and sympathy go to Dorrie and the family.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars
  2. Timeline: Middle East (Egypt and Libya)