09:48 Thursday 12 December 2013

Final farewell after sad passing of Watchman IV

Written byJENNY MOODY

Promotion of Private Watchman V to Lance Corporal....Lance Corporal Watchman V Promotion of Private Watchman V to Lance Corporal....Lance Corporal Watchman V

A CANINE regimental mascot who formerly served Staffordshire has died after a long and storied service.

Colour Sergeant Watchman IV, who was first appointed mascot of the Staffordshire Regiment in March 1999 and later regimental mascot to the Staffordshire Regiment Association, died on December 5 at the grand age of 15.

The mascot tradition in the regiments of Staffordshire stretches back to the 19th century and in 1882, the South Staffordshire Regiment was ordered to the relief of General Gordon, who was besieged in Khaartoum.

As they made their way there, the regiment’s Staffordshire bull terrier Boxer leapt from the moving train and was seen lying unconscious at the side of the tracks.

It seemed he was lost forever, but a few days later, as the regiment awaited orders for the final phase of their march when they were encamped at Asiut, a very thin and bedraggled Boxer staggered into the camp and collapsed.

He had walked 200 miles along the scorching desert railway track to rejoin his regiment. The tradition of having a mascot continued until after the Second World War.

Watchman I was presented to the regiment in 1949, and was received by the Queen when she came to visit Burton in March 1957.

He was the first to be interred in the town hall lawns in 1959.

Secretary of the Staffordshire Regiment Association Jim Massey said: “Watchman IV was a very, very patient dog. He would go to functions where he was surrounded by children petting and stroking him and he never rose or got cross with it.

“He was 15, which is old for a dog and even older for a Staffie, who usually live until they are 10 or 12.”

His handler, Colour Sergeant Malcolm Bower died before him and his widow, Coral looked after him for his four years spent in retirement after handing over duties to Watchman V.

His predecessors are all buried at Burton Town Hall and Watchman IV’s funeral will be held at the town hall from noon on Wednesday.

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