Mascots Of The Royal Welsh.

Mascots Of The Royal Welsh.

Did you know it costs the British Army £40,000 per year to keep their mascots?

1st Battalion (formerly The Royal Welsh Fusiliers) – Goat named Billy
The tradition of goat mascots in the military dates back 200 years, from at least 1775. The history of the regimental goat dates back to the American War of Independence in 1775 when a wild goat wandered onto a battlefield in Boston, and ended up leading the Welsh regimental Colours off the battlefield at the end of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Since then a goat has served with the Battalion. In 1884, Queen Victoria presented the regiment, then called the Royal Welch Fusiliers, with a Kashmir goat from her royal herd, and a tradition was started. The British Monarchy has presented an unbroken series of Kashmir goats to the Royal Welch Fusiliers from the Crown’s own royal herd. The royal goat herd was originally obtained from Mohammad Shah Qajar, Shah of Persia from 1834 to 1848, when he presented them to Queen Victoria as a gift in 1837 upon her accession to the throne.

All the goats are called William (anglicised version of Gwylim) Windsor or Billy for short. Their primary duty is to march at the head of the battalion on all ceremonial event. The present goat mascot, Fusilier William Windsor, was chosen from a herd of goats living on the Great Orme in Llandudno on 13 June 2009. After his selection, months of work followed to get him used to his fellow soldiers and to make him learn what is expected of him. As the goat progressed, he was taught to get used to sounds and noises coming from marching soldiers.

The predecessor mascot, Lance Corporal William Windsor, a Kashmir goat from the royal herd at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, was presented to the Regiment by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001. Following eight years of distinguished military service, he retired on 20 May 2009 due to his age. As he left Dale Barracks, Chester for the last time, hundreds of soldiers from the Battalion lined the route from his pen to the trailer to say farewell and thank you for his many years of good service. He was led into the trailer by the battalion’s Goat Major in full ceremonial dress that included a silver headdress which was a gift from the Queen in 1955. He was taken to Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire where he is spending his honourable retirement. Zoo keepers say he is having an easy life at the Children’s Farm.

The goat is more than a mascot. It is a full member of the battalion and in the days gone by, when it was a 1,000-strong unit, it was 999 men plus the goat. As a soldier, the goat can move up the ranks. It starts as a fusilier and if it is well behaved and does well on parades, quite often it is promoted to lance corporal, a non-commissioned officer rank. As a full member of the battalion, he is accorded the full status and privileges of the rank.

There are perks to the job of regimental mascot. Billy gets a two-a-day cigarette ration (He eats them, as traditionally, the tobacco is thought to be good for the goat.) and Guinness to drink when he is older “to keep the iron up”.

2nd Battalion (formerly The Royal Regiment of Wales) – Goat named Taffy
The Regimental goat mascot was first mentioned in 1775. It was officially known as “His Majesty’s Goat”. During the Crimean War in 1855, the story goes that on one particularly cold night, a Private Gwilym Jenkins was on sentry duty. To keep himself warm, he placed a kid goat inside his greatcoat. However, Jenkins fell asleep. Fortunately, goats have very good hearing and the kid goat bleated when it heard movements of the enemy. Pte Jenkins was awakened by the agitated bleating of the kid goat and espied an advancing Russian patrol. He was able to warn the forward picket and the enemy was driven off. From then on, every time the 41st (Welsh) Regiment of Foot, a predecessor of the Royal Regiment of Wales, went into battle, a goat led the way as good luck.

After the Crimean War, a review at Aldershot on 29 July 1856 by Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, of regiments that had returned from the Crimea was held. One of the regiments present was the 41st (Welsh) Regiment of Foot, which brought along their Russian goat mascot. On that occasion, the Queen learned of the goat mascot tradition of the Regiment, to which she promised that upon the death of the present mascot, she will replace it with one from the Royal Herd in Great Windsor Park. In 1862, the first official goat from the royal herd at Windsor was presented to the Regiment and a tradition was started. The goat is officially recorded on the battalion ration roll as Gwylim Jenkins, but he is called by his nickname, Taffy. He is also officially recorded as the regimental goat.

The present battalion mascot is Taffy V who holds the rank of Lance Corporal. He lives in Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth, Wiltshire. Replacements for the goat mascot are traditionally selected from the royal herd kept at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire and are always named Taffy plus a Roman numeral to show succession. The soldier who looks after the goat is known as the Goat Major, who actually has the rank of a Corporal.

3rd Battalion (formerly The Royal Welsh Regiment) – Goat named Shenkin
The present battalion mascot is a Kashmir white goat, named Shenkin III, which was selected from the Queen’s own herd of Royal Windsor Whites, on the Great Orme in Llandudno, North Wales on 8 September 2009. He is a direct descendant of the original mascot given to the 3rd Royal Welsh Regiment by Queen Victoria after the Crimean War. Shenkin III is residing at the Maindy Barracks in Cardiff.

The predecessor goat mascot, Lance Corporal Shenkin II, died of old age at the Maindy Barracks on 14 July 2009. He has been the battalion mascot since September 1997. The Queen sent her private condolences following Shenkin’s death and Buckingham Palace gave permission for the regiment to pick out a successor. Plans were also discussed for a memorial at Maindy Barracks. LCpl Shenkin II first began service at age 18 months and served for the next 12 years. During his long service, Shenkin II met the Queen, visited Prince Charles Gloucestershire home, Highgrove and had been to 10 Downing Street where he was tethered in the rear garden. He replaced Shenkin I, who died on the same day that Princess Diana died.

The name Shenkin is the Welsh pronunciation of Jenkins. The first Shenkin was actually named Sospan before 1994.

During the Zulu War, the first known and adopted mascot name was Gwilym Jenkins. It was named by the Royal Welsh Fusilliers for rationing purposes. Because putting a ‘GOAT’ down for rations would not happen, the name Gwilym was given to the goat in order to obtain his rations. Brecon war museum in South Wales records “Gwilyn Jenkins one Bail of Hay”.

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