Bobby The Antelope Was A British Army Mascot For Decades, But Now He's Gone
Britain has a reputation for eccentricity, and that’s certainly true when it comes to its miltary. Take, for example, the tradition of the regimental mascot. They’re normally animals like goats and ponies. But for the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, the animal in question was a much-loved antelope, who would nearly always be named Bobby. After generations, though, 2005 saw a sad end to the custom.
A good-luck charm
A regimental mascot is regarded as something of a good-luck charm. The concept has existed in Britain for centuries, and often provides a major morale boost to soldiers when they face harsh conditions while far from home. As far as the rest of the regiment is concerned, the mascot is just another one of the troops — yes, with its own rank and uniform. They’ll go on parade and be treated as part of the family.
Hundreds of years of service
Even older than the concept of the regimental mascot was the Royal Warwickshire Regiment itself. It was established in 1674 as England helped the Dutch fight the French, then came home in 1685 to help King James II defeat the Monmouth Rebellion. In 1688 it was there to help William III overthrow James II. For more than 300 years since, it has served monarchs and country throughout countless wars and conflicts.
The Royal Warwickshires didn’t just see trouble on the battlefield. They had to contend restructuring, such as when they became the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers in 1963. By 1968 they’d been amalgamated with other fusiliers from Northumberland, London and Lancashire into something of a supergroup called the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Through it all, though, they had Bobby.
An unusual mascot
Well, not the same Bobby, of course. Each time one generation died another would replace them at the head of the regiment. It all stemmed back to the regimental badge, which depicted a proud antelope image. When the Warwickshires were stationed in India between 1825 and 1841 and they saw the local blackbuck antelopes — Antilope cervicapra to be precise — it was only natural that they’d be moved to adopt them as mascots.