Friday 2 January 2015

Edwin Mole - The King's Hussar

The King's Hussar - Troop Sergeant Major Edwin Mole

When, some thirty-four years ago, I started building my library of First World War literature, I did so by using the bibliography in Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory as my starting point. It was a wise strategy and I still have most of those books that I acquired from various booksellers in the UK.

These days, despite the advent of the internet, I still favour the bibliographic approach and recently acquired The King's Hussar by Edwin Mole who served with the 14th (King's) Hussars and latterly the Suffolk Yeomanry between 1865 and 1888. I came across Edwin Mole thanks to the Marquess of Anglesey who quotes him extensively in volume three of his A History of the British Cavalry. I haven't finished reading Mole's account yet but it starts off promisingly enough and includes an account of Mole and some school chums attempting to re-enact actions from the recently ended Crimean War.

According to the author, a pupil at the Latymer School, Hammersmith, it was his idea to re-enact the blowing up of the Redan at the newly constructed Church of St John the Evangelist. Not for Mole and his chums simple play-acting, rather each of them saving their pocket money to buy gun-powder and ultimately an explosion that fortunately did not cause long-lasting damage to life and limb (or St John's church).

Edwin Mole's papers survive in the army pension series WO 97 (accessible on Findmypast) but the richness of his military career is contained within the pages of The King's Hussar. After attempting to blow up the local church, the army was probably the best place for him to go.

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