From the Palace to the Jungle

You don’t have to have been to London to know what The Household Cavalry look like.  With their bright red uniforms, highly polish breastplates and distinctive tasseled helmets.   Their traditions date back to 1680 and are the personal mounted escort of The Queen and to a degree, the public face of the Army to the world.

You might have seen them around Whitehall or on television in Horseguards Parade where I took this photo.

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Unlike many other guards who ‘protect’ buildings and officials in cities around the world, the soldiers in London are all fighting soldiers.  Their time on public display hopefully on one of their easier duty rotas compared to fighting in Afghanistan for instance.

They aren’t there for tourists, tourists just happen to love them and London no doubt makes lots of money from them but they are there for one reason and that is to protect The Queen and be ready to do their duty

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I don’t know about you but I haven’t been in many tropical jungles.  Perhaps one just about cuts it, in Aswan at the very southern tip of Egypt.  Whilst I was wondering around, I could see the odd goat, tropical fruit and keeping my eye out for more deadly jungle animals…. I do deserts well but not jungles.

However looking at the photo above, what do you see?   A pretty serene view at first glance in the jungles of Brunel in SE. Asia.   What if I say there are actually 12 members of the Household Cavalry in full view.  How many can you spot?

Brunel might seem an unusual place to have a large military base but there are few places better to master jungle warfare.

There cannot be many environments in the world where it is considered a physical achievement for an infantry soldier to cover five kilometres of ground in a day.

But with dense vegetation, deep rivers, humidity levels of up to 90% and enough harmful insects to put even the most battle-hardened fighter on high alert, Brunei’s wilderness is one such place.

Here, the Jungle Warfare Instructors’ Course uses the unforgiving climate of South East Asia to teach Service personnel how to live in tropical conditions with only their wits and the contents of their soaking wet Bergens for support.

“Covering five kilometers per day out here means you are making good headway, whereas you could jog that distance in just 20 minutes back home,” explained Maj Pete Houlton-Hart (RGR), the officer commanding Training Team Brunei.

“The terrain is difficult and you can’t see for more than ten metres ahead of you.

“It’s sweaty, uncomfortable and easy to become disorientated.

“Just the effect of being in the jungle can be enough to lose your sense of direction – and that’s before you fight a simulated enemy.”

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So next time when a tourist thinks it’s being clever to shout or mock them at their posts, maybe they should remember that the soldier could likely kill them without them even knowing they were there.

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Thankfully, all my tourists are always on their best behaviour!

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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3 Responses to From the Palace to the Jungle

  1. Mel & Suan says:

    Oh no! This reminds Mel of his time in Brunei too! The Singapore army puts all infantry troops through jungle training in Brunei as part of the 2 years’ national service. Leeches, stinging ants etc…sigh…

    Liked by 1 person

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