As each JOGLE Relay blog post appears its gradually dawning on me what I’ve signed up for. And how close we are to setting off. And yesterday the shirt and bib shorts arrived…
To be honest, I feel a bit of a fraud. I fully intended to do the whole ride – and told everyone that I would – but the dates have clashed with a long-standing commitment to an American group who I am taking to the first and second world battlefields (with a bit of Waterloo thrown in for good measure). This meant that I was always going to miss the last few days. But now, because of work commitments, I’m going to miss the first week too!
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My name is Dudley Giles. Those of you that rode the very early BBBRs may remember me as one of the Battlefield Historians. In fact, I was the original. I couldn’t get on to the very first BBBR because I was in Afghanistan when it was announced and, by the time I found out about it, it was already heavily over-subscribed. So I did the next best thing and suggested to Bryn and Emma that I organise a group of fellow battlefield guides to come and act as Battlefield Historians. That’s how the association between H4H and the International Guild of Battlefield Guides (IGBG) began and the IGBG has been supporting the event ever since.
I organised the guides for the first 7 years and then stepped back for a year or two to give someone else a chance. That was a big mistake. It’s a very popular ‘gig’ for the guides and there is never a shortage of accredited guides willing to give their time as volunteers to support the cause; I just found I couldn’t get my foot back in the door! I did, however, manage to ride the BBBR twice (once with one of my twin daughters) and will hopefully do so again.
In 2011, shortly before my retirement from the Army, I wanted to undertake one last, big, physical challenge. Sadly, during my 34 year service with RMP, 23 of my fellow Redcaps died on operations around the world. Many more were injured. So I decided that I would take off for a month on my bike and, unsupported, cycle to the graves and places of remembrance of each of these 23 men and women. The pilgrimage took me to all four of the Home Countries of the UK (as well as the Isle of Man) and I rode nearly 2,000 miles in the process. Along the way I was occasionally joined by other cyclists (a bit like the JOGLE Relay) and by very many more serving and retired members of the Corps who attended the small ceremonies we held with the families in remembrance of their loss.
In 2012 I set up www.battlefieldsbybike.co.uk and now spend my retirement as a full time *part-time* battlefield guide.
It had been my intention this year, exactly ten years later, to repeat the Redcap Remembrance ride this summer – but COVID put an end to that idea. I am, however, grateful that I’ve managed to persuade my fellow riders to make a few amendments to the route so that I can, once again, pay my respects to Cpls Si Miller (Washington – 4 Sep), Ben Hyde (Northallerton – 4 Sep), Russ Aston (Coton-in–the-Elms – 7 Sep) and Paul Long (Colchester – 11 Sep). They were all members of the RMP 6 murdered in Iraq. We will pay our respects, too, to all of the six in the Garden of Remembrance at Goojerat Barracks when we stay there on the night of 10 September.
If all goes according to plan there should be a few more Redcaps riding some of the legs on the Hero JOGLE Relay – but please don’t let that put you off. Why not sign up too?