THE WHITE HELMETS
The following article is taken from the programme of 1970
The Royal Signals performed the first recorded motor cycle display in 1928 and, except for a break during World war II, they have thrilled crowds around the world ever since. As one of the most famous and oldest motor cycle display teams the 'White Helmets' are ever conscious of the high standards set by the early despatch riders who produced a display that never failed to delight King George V and received acclaim from every corner of the globe.
Although the Team are always trying something new and are continuously changing and improving the display, some of the tricks seen today were shown to the public for the first time on that unforgettable day in the Summer of 1928 when the crowd first experienced the magic of the Royal Signals Display Team. Other motor cycle display teams have been formed in many countries and a continuous stream of advice is sent from us to them with the result that every known team now enacts at least one of the tricks first seen at Tidworth in 1928.
In those days all the members of the Team were experienced despatch riders but today's 'White Helmets' are selected from every trade in the Royal Signals. Volunteers assemble at Catterick annually in November for a three-week selection course. Catterick, in Yorkshire, is specially chosen as the home of the 'White Helmets' because its rugged windswept moors provide excellent training grounds for the high standards we demand. The course is designed to bring out the qualities required in a 'White Helmet' - courage, determination, split second timing and physical fitness. The course is hard; each day wet, weary riders can be seen encouraging their complaining motor cycles up steep and muddy hills in the failing light trying to make home before dark.
At the end of the course, twenty men are selected to continue training with the Team. Men who thought the course was hard, now find that worse is to come - hours and hours spent on frozen moors through deep snowdrifts and muddy streams, up impossible hills and down suicidal slopes! In heavy snowstorms, biting blizzards and blinding fog, nothing stops the 'White Helmets.'
By the end of January wind chapped and rugged riders are hardly recognisable as the men who joined in November and they are ready for the hardest part of all - show training. This starts on Tarmac Square and many are the bruises received as riders learn the difficult tricks that are to be seen in the world's arenas. Watching the display performed with casual ease it is difficult to believe that hours of painful training go into producing just one trick or ride.
Slowly the show begins to take shape and the faithful Army triumph motor cycles are exchanged for the magnificent, gleaming Triumph Tiger100s. For months new members have been seen creeping away just to stand and admire the neat functional lines of the twenty two, twin cylinder, 100 m.p.h flyers and now they are actually allowed to ride them! Not on the hard square, on the grass of Catterick airfield.
Very soon the team are ready for the road and excitement mounts as the first show draws near. At last the rewards of the hard training, the late or missing meals in November, the chilblains in January, the cuts and bruises in February and the patient perseverance in March are seen. The appreciation of the crowds, the happy cries of the children, the friendly and helpful organisers and the admiring glances from beautiful girls make it worthwhile being a 'White Helmet.'
Where are they now??
'White Helmets' 1970 Team Members
Captain B.H. Rowe Royal Signals
Captain Barry Rowe was selected to command the 'White Helmets in September, 1969 and he assumed his appointment in January, 1970. Since he was 17 years old motor cycles have been his absorbing interest and over the years he has acquired much skill both as a rider and mechanic. As the leader of the 'White helmets' he must be able to take part in most of the Team rides but he also leads his men through the fire jump - the most hazardous ride of all.
Barry Rowe was born in Kings Lynn, Norfolk where his family still reside and he was educated at Taunton School, Somerset. He was commissioned into the Royal Signals in 1964 and has since led a varied and interesting life. During the last six years he has served with the R.A.F and Armoured Engineers in B.A.O.R., he was in Aden during the emergency and more recently he saw service with the Strategic Command.
He has also travelled extensively in his own time since joining the services. He has trekked through Scandinavia and has paid many visits to most Western European Countries. Since joining the 'White Helmets' he has spent ten weeks touring the United States and Canada.
When he is not motor cycling he is a keen sporting man and is very fond of rugby, athletics and riding. He has successfully completed an Army equestrian course and he is also a qualified Army canoe instructor - a qualification which he gained at an Outward Bound School in Norway.
Footnote:- Keith Drummond last saw Barry Howe at Waterbeach in the Mid 1970's, Barry was then attached to the Royal Engineers at Waterbeach, (39 Engineer Regiment Airfields) living with his family at Haverhill in Suffolk. After many months of contact he just disappeared off the scene
Second Lieutenant S.D Campbell Woman's Royal Army Corps
Second Lieutenant Suzanne Campbell is the Team Adjutant. As such she is responsible for publicity, team engagements, routine correspondence and for ensuring the efficiency of the base while the Team is on tour.
Suzanne is a much-travelled young lady. Most of her life has been spent with her parents in either Germany or Bahrain,: consequently she has visited much of Europe and has a particular good knowledge of the Middle East from Alexandria to the Muscat Coast.
Apart from her love of travelling, Suzanne has many other interests. She combines a love of the arts with great enthusiasm for the more active persuits of car rallying, riding and .22 rifle shooting at which she is a crack shot.
Commission in August, 1969 she was specially selected for the 'White Helmets' where the work is absorbingly interesting and where the she finds many outlets for her love of travelling and sense of adventure.
Sergeant Geoffrey Biggs
Is now in his sixth and last year with the team. During his years with the 'White Helmets' he has done much of the behind-the-scenes work passing his motor cycling experience to the younger riders. Before joining the Team he was a driving instructor and examiner and he has brought with him patience, calmness and perseverance. He supervises the training of new members and encourages and coaches the more experienced members. It is his time spent on the icy Yorkshire moors on winter training and his personal attention to all the Team Members that has helped to make this successful Team.
He has had an extremely interesting and varied military career. His trade as a Driver Royal Signals has taken him all over the world. During the War with the Lovatt Scouts, he served behind enemy lines with the partisans in Yugoslavia and Greece and since then he has travelled and served in Egypt, Germany, Austria and Berlin. With the Team he has travelled to Australia, the United States of America, Canada, France, Germany and the Low Countries.
Sergeant George Garside
Rejoins the Team this year as Team Sergeant having previously been Team Corporal from 1962 to 1964. He is a very keen motor cyclist himself and has a vast knowledge of motor cycle mechanics. His previous experience with the Team and his wealth of knowledge of motor cycling is invaluable. His main task as team Sergeant is to train new members each winter and to coach and encourage the experienced team Members. It is a long and arduous task training the 'White Helmets' during the winter months, but the summer successes make it all worthwhile.
You will notice sergeant Garside when he rides along careering through brick wall.
He comes from Derby, where his family still live, and spends any free time with his own machines or, in the summer, skin diving which he learnt whilst serving in the Middle East. His military career has been most successful. He served as a Driver Royal Signals in the Far East, Aden and Belgium and he toured Australia with the 'White Helmets in 1963.
Corporal Hank Hancock
Is the Team Corporal. He comes from Portsmouth and has served as a Driver Royal Signals in Ireland, Germany, Brunei, North Borneo and Singapore. This is his second season with the Team and already he has visited the United States and Canada on tour with the 'White Helmets' and is looking forward to adding a tour of Western Germany to his list of achievements. As Team Corporal in America he was responsible for the complicated movement and loading of all the team equipment - quite a job! Especially when it has to be done to a tight time table.
Despite a broken shoulder last season, he is still one of the Team's leading riders and is one of the men who ride through the blazing inferno called 'the leap of death.' In his free time he is a keen sportsman and enjoys volley ball as well as a good game of rugby. His hobby is model aircraft and he has gathered quite a collection, most of which he has built himself.
Corporal Tony Button
Felt he was not seeing enough of the world as a painter and decorator in Norwich so he joined the Army in 1964. Since then he has been to Hong Kong, Belgium and last year he toured the United States and Canada with the Team. He was a keen speedway fan before joining the Royal Signals as a Communications Centre Operator. If you notice his standing today you will realise the hard work he has done since joining us in 1968. Unfortunately he cannot play his favourite game of Cricket very often while on tour.
Corporal Dick Brown
Comes from Wandsworth, London. He joined the Army in 1959 and has since served as a Driver Royal Signals in Kenya, Cyprus, Libya and Germany. This is his second season with the 'White Helmets' and he is still renowned for trying out new tricks - and carrying them out well! He is also a keen sportsman and joins in Gliding, Hockey, Badminton, Football, Swimming, Canoeing and Cricket. In the Team he is responsible for the Team Stores which at times can be complicated and time consuming.
Corporal Clicky' Lloyd
Comes from Kimbolton, Hertfordshire. He is an Electrician Driver by trade and he is also the Team's senior mechanic. Motor mechanics is the major interest in his life and is always to be found in the pits repairing and servicing the Team machines. He is an experienced and exceptionally good cyclist and was a member of the Royal Signals Motor Cycle team which won many cycle trials throughout Europe. This is his second season with the 'White Helmets' and already he has been to North America and Canada on tour last year.
Corporal Fred Biddle
Has joined the Team this year for a one-year tour before he trains to be a Class I radio technician next winter. He is a very keen motor cyclist and owns two scrambling bikes which he uses for training on the Yorkshire moors. During his service in the Royal Signals he has served in the Middle East, Germany and the United Kingdom. He is a keen sportsman playing rugby when he has the time but his second love is fishing which he does in the famous river Swale which runs near Catterick.
Lance Corporal Lenny Brunsdon
Has been with the Team for two years. Last year his motorcycling came to a rather abrupt end as a result of a broken arm but he gallantly stayed on tour with the Team running the office and keeping the accounts. This season sees him fit and well and he is back with the 'White Helmets and able to ride again. Since he joined the Royal Signals in 1963 his trade as a Driver Royal Signals has taken him as far away as Bahrain and Germany. Lance Corporal Brunsdon is still responsible for the sales and accounting whilst the Team is on tour - a job which takes much of his personal time and attention. His home is in Wallasay, Cheshire where his family still live
Lance Corporal Roger Purden
Comes from the Channel Islands of Jersey. He joined the Army as a cadet when he was 15 and then became a Royal Signals Communications Centre Operator. He tool up motor cycling seriously after he joined the Army and he is now one of the teams' most experienced key riders. He is an excellent motor cycle mechanic and he also enters motor cycling trials in his free time. Away from his team interests he is very fond of horses and riding.
Lance Corporal 'Cheesy' Launder
Was born a Cockney but now lives in Chatham, Kent. He is one of the most experienced riders in the team and it is he who jumps the Triumph GT-6 sports car in such splendid style. He is very keen on motor cycles and spends much of his free time working on his own machine. He successfully completed a Triumph Mechanics course and is a Team Mechanic maintaining the Triumph Tiger 100 Cycles. He is a Driver Royal Signals by trade and joined the Army in 1966.
lance Corporal Roy Coffill
Is a Cockney but now lives in Ealing where he worked as an apprentice wood machinist before joining the Royal Signals in 1964. One of his favourite jobs since then was hi time spent as a Despatch Rider at Buckingham Palace but he also enjoys performing on the Penny-Farthing. In his spare time he is very fond of fishing and he also enjoys playing Badminton and Hockey. In the Team he is responsible for the control and issue of all the Triumph spares for the motor cycles and for keeping the spares ordered well in advance.
Lance Corporal Mick Wedeman
Joined the Army in 1965 and joined the Team in 1966. During his five years with the 'White Helmets' he has gained a wealth of experience and is now one of the Team's leading riders. His skill is shown in the 'backwards ride,' 'jump ride,' and, most of all, in his daring jumps through the brick wall and blazing inferno called 'the leap of death.' In the Team he is a mechanic and is often to be found late at night servicing the triumph Tiger 100 motor cycles ready for the next day's performance. His home town is Southampton.
lance Corporal 'Duke' Foster
Joined the 'White Helmets' last November after serving with the Royal Signals as an Electrician Driver in Aden and Cyprus. A keen sportsman, he has represented his Regiment in Hockey and Football and he is a skilled performer on the Trampoline. His home is South Shields, County Durham where his family still live. In the Team he is responsible for the ordering and issue of spares for motorcycles.
Signalman Bill Billam
Comes from Sheffield. He joined the Army when he was 15 and has served in Devon and with two regiments in Germany. An excellent sportsman, he has represented his Regiments at Rugby, Basketball, Gymnastics and on the Trampoline. Having taken part in the rigorous 'Nijmegen Marches' he is quite used to the glamour as well as the rigorous training and hard work required before any public show. Because of his size he tends to be given some of the heavy tricks where his strength comes in useful.
Lance Corporal Tommy Walker
Is a Scotsman from New Cumnock, Ayrshire. He joined the Royal Signals in 1964 as a Driver Royal Signals and has since served in Herford and Bielefeld, both in Germany. His duties as a driver have taken him all over Europe, often carrying VIPs. He joined the 'White Helmets' in November, last year. He is a keen sportsman and is fond of football when he has the time to play. Another activity which he thoroughly enjoys but rarely finds the time or those days, is Sailing.
Lance Corporal Dave Rebel
Was a keen motor cyclist long before he joined the 'White Helmets' in November 1969. Since then his trade as a Driver Royal Signals has taken him all over Europe. He was born in Huddersfield but has lived the greater part of his life in Brighouse, Yorkshire where his family still live. His team duties includes checking and inspecting the motor cycles before use and, as a Team mechanic, he is also responsible for maintenance and repairs. He finds that his experience as an apprentice mechanic vehicle electrician before joining Royal Signals has been most valuable.
Lance Corporal Barry Wauby>
Was unable to ride a motor cycle before joining the 'White Helmets' in November 1969, but he adapted exceptionally well and is now a competent rider and is a key man for several tricks. He was born in Southend-on-Sea where his family still live. He joined the Royal Signals in 1965 and has since served as an Electrician driver in Germany from where, with a party of friends, he followed an old smugglers route through Adorra and the Pyrenees to France.
Signalman Vince Borda
Comes from an Army family and was born in Malta. At 20 he is already qualified as a regional instructor trampolinist and is an army finalist Gymnast. All this training comes in very handy in the 'White Helmets' where team tricks require expert skill and balance. An Electrician Driver by trade his Team duties include maintaining equipment and charging Team batteries. In his spare time he is very fond of Football and Hockey.
Signalman John Milburn
Was born in Darlington, County Durham. He joined the Army straight from school in 1962 and has since served with the Brigade of Guards in Germany before joining the 'White Helmets' in 1968. He is an experienced motor cyclist and performs in most of the rides including the spectacular and dangerous 'jump ride.' A Royal Signals Clerk Technical by trade, he has the added responsibility of being team storeman and also keeps the store's ledgers. Now in hi second season with the 'White Helmets' he can look back on a tremendously successful year including a ten week tour of the United States and Canada.
Signalman Mick Hanlon
Is a West of England man. He learnt to ride a motor cycle when he was a messenger boy with the G.P.O. in his hometown of Plymouth where he became South West Region Messenger of the year in 1966. He attended Art College and the results of his talents are to be seen on most of the Team props. He keeps the 'White Helmet's' press cuttings and scrap books up to date as well as his own detailed account of his life in the Team. He is an Electrician Driver by trade having joined the Royal Signals in 1967. Since then he has served in Germany and was able to travel extensively through most of Europe.
Signalman Shaun Moynan
Comes from an Army family and spent his childhood in Accra. Ghana as befits a soldier with several relatives in the Army, he passed out of recruit training as Best Soldier. He then trained as a Radio Operator. In his spare time he is very keen on motor cycle scrambling and he has represented his Regiment in cross-country running competitions. He successfully completed a mechanics course at Triumph last year and he is now one of the team mechanics keeping the Triumph Tiger 100 motor cycles in trim for each performance.
Signalman 'Rocky' Hudson
Was a lathe operator before he joined the Royal Signals in 1967. He has since trained as an Electrician Driver and served in Germany where he took up motor cycling seriously. Later he qualified to join the 'White Helmets' and joined the Team in 1968. He is one of the smallest men in the Team and this usually sees him to the top of most of the tricks. This is his second season and he looks back on a successful year including a ten-week tour of the United States and Canada. In the Team he is responsible for the Paint Shop which keeps him very busy maintaining props and motor cycles.
Signalman Mick Perks
Joined the Royal Signals in 1966 and has since spent two years as a radio Operator in Germany. He joined the 'White Helmets' in 1968 and he is now an experienced and key rider showing off his talent best of all in the 'back wards ride.' This requires a good sense of balance and a delicate touch of skill. His home town is Middleton near Manchester.
Signalman Lofty Price
Joined the Army in 1956 as a National Serviceman but decided to stay. He has served in Singapore, Malaya and Germany. His trade as a Driver Royal Signals has been varied and his duties have included driving a staff car and he has also been a Motor Cycle Despatch Rider. In the Team he is responsible for the handling and issue of all fuel.
Signalman Chris Bend
Joined the Army in 1964 and joined the 'White Helmets in November, 1969. His trade as an Electrician Driver has already taken him to Verden and Minden in Germany and he expects to travel even further whilst he is with the 'White Helmets.' His home is in Whitwell, Derbyshire where his family still live. In his free time he is a keen fisherman and he enjoys Squash and Cricket.
Signalman Robby Robinson
Is a Driver Royal Signals and he has won several safe-driving awards since joining the Army. He has been riding motor cycles for many years and is a keen and experienced mechanic. In the team he is responsible for all technical equipment which keeps him very busy when he is not riding. His service in the Army has taken him as far away as Singapore and he has also served in Germany. His home is near Nuneaton where his family still live. When he's not spending his spare time servicing and repairing motor cycles he enjoys relaxing with a book or swimming.
Signalman John Dunstan
Is the only Cornishman in the 'White Helmets' and is also the youngest member of the Team. He was a G.P.O. messenger before joining the Royal Signals in 1969. His Team nickname is 'Gofor' adapted from his Team job which is Despatch Rider requiring him to 'go for this' and 'go for that!' He enjoys travelling very much and he is keen on swimming and, of course, motor cycling.
Signalman Tom Weeks
Joined the 'White Helmets' in 1968 and is now an experienced Team member. He is very keen on motor cycles and was named best soldier in resent Army Trials. His performance in the arena includes the 'ladder trick' requiring tremendous balance and ability - one of the most difficult of the individual acts. A Driver Royal Signals by trade he has driven through France, Belgium and Holland. His home is in Crumpsall Manchester.
Signalman Bill Goodall
Joined the Royal Signals in 1965 and came to the 'White helmets' last November. He comes from Scotland where he spent ten months as a cadet in Junior Tradesman's Regiment. His trade as a driver Royal Signals has taken him as far away as Bahrain where he represented his Regiment in Football, a sport which he played well for many a year. In the team he is responsible for all the motor cycle documents.
Signalman John Gorst
Was already an experienced motor cyclist before he joined the 'White Helmets' in November last year, but he has still had to learn the skills and art of show riding which requires tremendous balance and nerve. Since joining the Royal Signals as a Driver in 1965 he has been a Despatch Rider in York and has also served in Germany. He is keen on sport and plays squash when he has the time. He is a native of Liverpool where he has lived for most of his life although his family now live in Halifax, Yorkshire.
Signalman Dick Linney
Joined the Royal Signals as a Radio Relay man in 1968 and has since served in Bunde and Herford, both in Germany. He joined the 'White helmets in November, 1969 and soon established himself as a team clown keeping everyone in good humour with quick witted joking. He is an active sportsman and has represented his regiment in Cross Country running and Football. He is also a keen amateur photographer in his spare time. His home is in Redbourne, near St. Albans, Hertfordshire.
Signalman Kenneth Johnson
Joined the Royal Signals in 1966 as a Radio Relayman and after serving in Herford Germany, he joined the 'White Helmets last November. He first rode a motor cycle when he was nine and progressed through scooters and 350cc motor cycles upto his present 500cc. Triumph Tiger 100. During his service in Germany he took part in the Hereford Motor Cycle Trials and other Regimental and local events. He also found time to be coached in his second sport, shooting. His home town is Harrogate, Yorkshire where his family still live.
Signalman Dave Pauley
Comes from Glasgow and joined the 'White Helmets' in November, last year. Since joining the Royal Signals he has been posted to Laarbruch in Germany where he worked with the R.A.F. and from where he was able to visit Holland, Belgium, France, Denmark and Austria. While he was in Germany he learnt to speak fluent German. He has represented his Regiment in Cross-Country running and has also become proficient in fencing since he joined the Army. He is a Clerk by trade and he applies his knowledge to his team duties in the office.
Signalman Peter Kingston
Joined the 'White Helmets last November. An Electrician Driver by trade, he joined the Royal Signals in 1966 and has since served at Bunde in Germany. He is a keen motor cyclist and has been an active member of the North East London Motor Cycle Club for some years. Another of his favourite pastimes is badminton. His team job is the Carpenter's Shop which he handles extremely well making use of his pre-army skill of vaneer presser.
Signalman Raymond Upton
Joined the 'White Helmets' in November, 1969 after serving with the Royal Signals in Germany, Malaya and Singapore. His trade as a Radio Operator has also taken him on detachments to units in Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. Since joining the Army he has also tried skiing and canoeing while stationed in Germany. His home town is Glasgow where his family still live.