Farewell, brave riders: British Army’s White Helmets to disband after 90 years

Don't miss their final performances.

Descendants of the daring despatch riders of the First World War, the British Army’s White Helmets, founded in 1927, will disband in this, its 90th year. Previously known as the Red Devils and the Mad Signals, they’re just as good at leaping through rings of fire and forming 21-man pyramids atop a string of Triumph motorcycles as they ever were, but the riders’ skills are, sadly, no longer required.

white helmets

‘Messages haven’t been delivered in this way for a very long time,’ says OC Capt Jonathan McLelland. ‘With the move towards cutting-edge capabilities, the Royal Signals is now modernising its image to show it’s truly a leader in a digital age.’

The 22-strong team of Royal Signals volunteers will go out with a bang – its penultimate performance will take place in the Grand Ring of the Chatsworth Country Fair (September 1–3, www.chatsworth.org), which will also feature the comparably balletic Cossack Warriors, performing the death-defying equestrian art of dzhigitovka for the first time at the event. Leaping from a horse at full gallop, sliding under its belly, balancing in a handstand atop a saddle at high speed or charging atop a string of horses, they’re descended from original Cossack warriors of three centuries ago, for whom dzhigitovka was a military technique used for dodging bullets or arrows.

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The White Helmets’ final public performance will take place at the Preston Military Show
at Fulwood Barracks, Lancashire, on Saturday, September 16. For further details, visit www.facebook.com/prestonmilitaryshow

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