The Warwickshire Regiment

The Indian Black Buck Antelope

This photo of 'Bobby II' was published in the Cavalry Journal in April 1940 but was probably taken some time in the mid-1930s by the look of the uniforms. The text explains that the first black buck was originally acquired in India in 1871 and was named Billy. The name was given to its successors in the 1st Battalion for many years. Since then the names Bobby and Charlie have come into use. The second 'Billy' was presented to the 1st Battalion about the time of the Delhi Durbar of 1877 by a well-known Maharajah. It came home with the battalion in 1880 and died in Ireland in 1888.

There were two sources of supply of these animals, the battalion serving in India usually received them as gifts from the Maharajahs, while the home battalion were given theirs by the London Zoo. The antelope was delivered in a wooden box and let loose in a big pen with a straw-lined hut in the corner. There was always water and rock salt in the pen and he was fed daily at 8.45am on two handfuls of crushed oats and bran, and about 2lbs of clover hay. Bobby II was partial to biscuits and sugar, and as a special treat..a cigarette (eaten, not smoked).

Two men were chosen from amongst the battalion drummers to be in charge of the antelope, a Buck Leader and Assistant Buck Leader. When on parade these two men held white cords attached to the buck's white collar which had a large silver badge on it. On the animal's back was a coat of royal blue on which was emblazoned the regimental badge although a cigarette card of 1912 depicts the mascot as wearing a red coat. The horns were tipped with silver cones.

Being a wild animal, there were times when Bobby II misbehaved. At a Tattoo performance the drum-major made the mistake of walking in front of the mascot and paid for his error with a sore behind and ripped trousers. On another occasion he was paraded before King George V and disgraced himself by lying down and nibbling the grass. Bobby III proved to be more cunning. On church parades at Tidworth he developed a limp. At first they would remove him from the parade and return him to his pen where he quickly recovered. After three Sundays of limping and quick recovery it was decided to ignore it and press on. After a quarter of a mile the limp stopped and never re-occurred.

Regimental details

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by Stephen Luscombe