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Omdurman to Madame Toussauds

I have contributed these military buttons in memory of my grandfather,
Wade Rix (1875-1963). 


Born in Dagenham, Wade remembered, aged fifteen, delivering cartloads of hay to the Haymarket in London. Sometimes he would fall asleep, but the horse always found the way unaided.

At the age of sixteen he joined the 21st Lancers, much to his mother’s displeasure as he was under aged! He remembered spending his 17th birthday stoking the fires of a troop ship in the Red Sea bound for India. In 1898 the 21st Lancers were recalled to Britain. However, when they stopped off in Egypt the regiment was attached to General Kitchener’s expedition to the Soudan to quell the Mahdi’s rebellion.

Now a corporal, Wade was present at the Battle of Omdurman.
On the morning of the 2nd September 1898, the day of the battle, he was ordered by his Colonel to take a five man patrol out to locate Winston Churchill, a second lieutenant in the 4th Hussars attached to the 21st Lancers, who had ridden out to observe the approaching Dervish Army.
He located him on a bluff overlooking the advancing enemy force.

‘What an amazing sight!’ Churchill said.  Wade replied.

‘With the Colonels’ complements, he would like to see you back in the Zariba (military encampment) immediately!’

Later that day Wade took part in the famous charge of the 21st Lancers against the retreating Dervish Army. He emerged unscathed, but the next day found himself in a hospital in Khartoum laid low with enteric fever.

Because of his sickness he was unable to return to Britain with the 21st Lancers. But once recovered he was seconded into the 16th Hussars on their way south to the Boer War. Present at the Battles of Paardeburg and Diamond Hill he was invalided from the Army after being wounded.

Returning to Britain in 1901 Wade joined the Metropolitan Mounted Police. In 1915 he joined the Mounted Military Police in France for the duration of the 1st World War. Mounted on his grey horse, Jock (blind in one eye), he took part in many London parades and events including the 25th Jubilee procession for George V.

Wade retired from the Met in 1935 to become a commissionaire at Madame Toussauds, where he acquired a reputation for standing still like a waxwork before stunning the amazed onlookers! The famous Gilbert Harding even interviewed Wade in 1941 for the BBC.

Roger Rix

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