Museum Hassar,, the next open door.
This weekend the doors were opened to Londonâ€™s heritage, people and groups of interest, her stories. Funny what you find behind doors.Â My first encounter introduced me to the term Hassar. If you are like me, you may think a Hassar could be anything from a new brand of running shoe to a previously unchartered planet outside of the habitable zone. On River St next to an imposing castle structure was located a small stone museum lightly tendrilled vines , green changing to reds. Â There I learned of the light cavalry or Hassars.Â What an interesting group.Â They often carried swords and later rifles from on top of the most majestic muscular horses. Since a man on a mount is no real match for a bullet they often were used for reconnaissance over front end battle, especially in the later years.Â Of course horse and men in light gear: leather guards, spurs, horse hair whip, bridle, saddles, stirrups and Â flat pedals, sabre ..later rifle ,Â Â may travel faster and more easily, snaking in and around obstacles and monitoring borders. They guarded the border during the threat of Fennian raids from the US. They went overseas to push back the invasion of Europe in 1939-1945. Â Â
One of the heros of the Hassar troop is a man by the name ofÂ Angus Macdonald. During the Boer war the mounted man, 22 years old at the time, Â took a bullet to the head. Left for dead on the battlefield by his own company , he was later picked up ,, alive by the enemy. The bullet had passed through the skin of his ear, slowing, and out his eyebrow without penetrating his skull.Â Even with the bullet to the head, not a particularly comforting feel, he was able to steal a horse and escape from enemy lines back to his own group.Â They thought they were seeing a ghost when he rode in all smiles though rather bloodied. He survived continued to fight for some time in South Africa. At the end of the war he moved home to become a farmer after the war though he suffered from terrible headaches as a result of his wound.Â Â
Billy Bishop also took a turn in the Hassars enjoying the challenges of fighting from atop a steed. Later , when sent to England he traded his horse for an airplane and we all know of his heroism in the skies as a fighter pilot.Â Once a high flyer , whether on top of a horse or in the skies you always have that appreciation for that particular challenge.
Militia Act brought pay for military volunteers, 1856. Â Weapons, horses and ten days pay provided while they were responsible for the purchase of their own uniform. Â Funny to think that the military, prior to this, defended BNA for free.
When the Tanks came rolling in , both Amphibians and other types, the horses took a back seat naturally and the Hassars had their first taste of technology. Apparently the German version performed miserably out in the field and water while the allies amphibs swam and landed like a ghecko,, only bigger, much bigger. The long sword of the earlier times, hoofs and spurs were no match for rolling tonnes of steal with significant fire power and so they were kept back from the fighting or replaced.
Me driving an imaginary tank from the comfort (?) of a real tank seat. a Quilt depicting the symbol , one that once stood for piece, twisted by the Nazis and Hitler into a horror sign. Here it is reframed for peace.
The mounted unit today does re-enactments of the war years and they were part of the initiative in Afghanistan. Â Peacekeeping was on their roster of duties and they do maintain a light infantry but motorized.
Here is a letter penned by one of the soldiers, Enjoy.
The Crew are on board and readyâ€¦i got the bracelet and a card a week ago that is all. I am wearing the bracelet and know it will bring me good luck. All the men are in very high spirits and very anxious to get started on the job. We have all the best equipment…
Other stops along the way included the London Life building, a curiosity shop ( fun for the imaginative)
all the way from London Ontario and the Banting Museum.
The Museum Hack , Zak ,all the way from NEw York ,breathed new life into museum treks as he scoped out the history with humour adding a touch of the interactive and a good funky vibe. Great way to engage with the old Banting stomping ground and the idea of HOPe. Great thanks to Museum Hacks and I hope to join their type of tour for enjoying other Museums around the world.
One of the most interesting facts was the story of Bantings’ attempts to make a living after coming home from the war,,,especially when his first and pretty much only patient was a guy who needed a prescription for alcohol ( back in the day). He made 4 dollars. The rest of the time his office was pretty empty until he began work at the University. They asked him to move beyond his area of expertise, bones, into soft tissue ,,pancreas. Since he had no expertise in this area it was time to break out the books and find someone who did know all about this,, that is when he hired Charles Best. This lead to insulin discovery and yes, the Nobel prize. Unfortunately , it was not his right hand man that shared in the prize with him ,, though Banting insisted. Gave half the money to his assistant, it was Banting and a Dr who was the money and helped find and fund a wider distribution for the insulin. hmm, This pissed off Banting and he threatened to decline the award all together as he thought Best had been the real talent behind the discovery. Needless to say the Canadians begged and pleaded with him to take one for the team and elevate Canadian status in the Medical field for our nation. He did. Eventually he did award the contract for production to a company that had been with him from the start, In this he was very much of the people for the people. He kept the costs low and affordable this way too. Hurray Banting and the emblems of HOPE> Light that flame. Banting was also known to paint. I thought his early work was the best although he was told to stick to medicine. Later on he rubbed brushes with the Group of seven and became less original,, and not a better painter in my opinion. What a multitalented man. He was known to pour a little mustard gas on his skin so that he could solve for the cure,, bizarre and dedicated to helping people, He died in a plant crash while at the height of his fame. Some say he was murdered. OH my,, and really truly how sad to lose such a great man so early.
Busy day..then home to the roommate to share our days adventures for a Sunday.