Hooky died on 14 March 2003 aged 88 years.

Sgt FGW Wheeler
Sgt FGW Wheeler

He enlisted in London on 22 February 1932, into ‘The Cavalry of the Line’, having been a motor driver and serving for a while in the East Surreys (TA), joining The 4th Queens Own Hussars at Colchester.

In 1934 The 4th Hussars moved to Aldershot. He married Vera on Christmas Day 1934 at Colchester. During this time (1935) he took part in the mounted parade to celebrate the King’s silver jubilee, including the parade to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Regimental birth.

The Regiment on this day was reviewed by King George V. Their daughter Dawn was born in 1936.

In 1936 the sad time came to lose the horses and take on lorries to represent light tanks. He took his discharge in February 1938 and went on to the Reserve. Their son was born in 1939.

He was recalled on 1 September 1939, rejoining The 4th Hussars at Tidworth. In November 1939 the Regiment moved to the Market Weighton area in Yorkshire, with the task to deal with German parachutists, defend Hull and to protect the widely scattered aerodromes. Training also continued. In August 1940 the Regiment moved to Newmarket.

On 18 November 1940, the Regiment sailed from Liverpool on The Orcades for Port Said and spent four days in Durban on the way. The Regiment moved into a camp near Tel-el-Kebir and commenced familiarisation and tactical training. On 10 March 1941, the Regiment sailed from Alexandria for Greece (Piraeus).

After a few days, the Regiment moved 200 miles north to Janita. On 13 April 1941 Hooky took part in the Battle of Proateion.

He was also involved in the destruction of the bridge over the Corinth Canal. The Regiment conducted a fighting withdrawal to Kalamata. Hooky was captured on the 27 April and remained a prisoner of war until being freed on 1 June 1945.

He took his release on 13 March 1946, Glenda having been born the day before. He re-enlisted at Barnard Castle on 16 January 1947. He was initially posted to the RAC Depot, but soon rejoined The 4th Hussars, who was then at Colchester.

He did not sail with the Regiment to Malaya, but in November 1948 was posted to the RAC depot sailing to Singapore on 14 January 1949 to rejoin The 4th Hussars in Malaya. He was promoted to sergeant on 11 February 1949.

He remained with them until returning home on 1 September 1949. Shortly afterwards he was again posted to the RAC Depot.

He took his discharge on 26 May 1950 and returned to Colchester, where he became a representative for a wine merchant. He then had his own fruit and vegetable business, first in Colchester then Clacton-On-Sea, returning to Colchester with Vera on his retirement.

A friend from their time together in Colchester and Tidworth (Dicky Bird) ex WO2 4H then retired lieutenant colonel RMP, also in later years came to live in Colchester, and the pair often met to chat over old times.

Early on during his service Hooky made it plain to anyone who saw him stripped to the waist that he was a 4th Hussar by the massive 4H cap badge tattooed on his chest; the crown started just below his Adam’s apple with the motto well below his navel!

It was a work of art from a presumed Egyptian tattooist.

During his service with the Regiment in Malaya where working dress in camp tended to be beret, shorts, boots, hose tops and puttees Hooky’s chest was on display to all and sundry as in his capacity as provost sergeant he supervised miscreant soldiers working beneath the tropical sun under punishment.

This utter loyalty to his Regiment was manifested in many other ways throughout his life. He and Vera were invariably present at Regimental Association functions at home and in Germany and they were always in a joyful frame of mind.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. Middle East (Greece and Crete) timeline