16th The Queen's Lancers - An Edwardian Cigarette Box, 1907
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11.3cm (4.4in) x 8.5cm (3.3in) x 4.2cm (1.6in)
Silver. The hinged lid inscribed ‘16th Lancers / Regimental Point To Point / Last Race ever Run without Flags or Artificial Fences / from Swindon to Wooten [sic] Bassett / On Milkmaid / 1890'. Maker’s mark of A. & J. Zimmerman, Birmingham. Hallmarked 1907. 11cm wide. Gross weight; 306g.
The present cigarette box commemorates the victory of Second Lieutenant (later General Sir) Hubert de la Poer Gough in the 16th Lancers regimental challenge cup race of four and half miles in March 1890. The 16th Lancers were then stationed at Aldershot and a special Great Western Railway train transported officers and their horses to Swindon for the race. Watched by railway workers perched signalling apparatus and a large crowd of onlookers including the local aristocracy at the Wotton Bassett finish line, the competitors set off from Toothill Farm led by one Mr Beaumont on ‘Bagpipes’ who soon came to grief and was overtaken by General Sir Evelyn Wood’s ADC Captain James Melville Babington. He and Captain Dugdale fell successively to amusement of the railwaymen, handing the lead to Gough who, piloting ‘Milkmaid’, romped home to win the Viscount St. Vincent Cup. Celebrations ensued with a champagne lunch in a tent erected in the yard of a local brewery.
Gough, who apparently often borrowed horses from more affluent officers, subsequently rose to become a favourite of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. He experienced a meteoric rise during the Great War and ultimately rose to become the commander of the British Fifth Army on the Western Front from 1916 to 1918.