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Captain D D Horn
Late Grenadier Guards
by Colonel A T W Duncan LVO OBE
formerly Grenadier Guards


David Horn, who has died aged 77, was born on 11th August 1939. His maternal grandfather served in the Boer War with the Inniskilling Fusiliers. His father and his paternal grandfather both served in what became the Royal Army Medical Corps. He intended to become a silversmith and training for this profession delayed his call up for National Service until 1960, when he was summoned to the local Recruiting Office.

He discovered that if he signed on for three years instead of two he would be able to join the regiment of his choice. As an accomplished horseman, he opted for the Household Cavalry until he was informed, untruthfully, by a Grenadier recruiter this would mean signing on for nine years. He was also informed that the Grenadiers had horses without being told that these were very few and ridden only by officers. However, David fell for the bait and signed on as a Grenadier.

Unlike most of his fellow recruits, he enjoyed his recruit training at the Guards Depot at Pirbright. Towards the end of his training he injured one of his hands and was put on light duties in the Depot Stables cleaning tack. It is possible that this brief period began his interest in saddlery and horse furniture in which he became such an expert later in life. On completion of his training he was posted to 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards at Tidworth.

Due to his immaculate handwriting, he was given an employed job as the Quartermaster’s Clerk. Although he did well and was promoted to Corporal, to his mind it was not proper soldiering. When asked if he would sign on at the end of his conscription he replied ‘Not as a clerk’. He was immediately cross posted to The Queen’s Company. He rose steadily through the ranks, serving on operational tours in the British Cameroons, Sharjah and Northern Ireland. On promotion to Warrant Officer he was posted first to the Guards Depot as Company Sergeant Major of 14 Company and then to Sandhurst as Company Sergeant Major of Rhine Company.

He returned to 1st Battalion two years later and was appointed a Drill Sergeant. On promotion to Warrant Officer Class One, he was selected to be the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Infantry Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company. This began an association which lasted throughout his life. At the end of his tour he was selected for a Short Service Commission and posted to 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards in BAOR as Families Officer. He coped well with responsibility for some 350 wives and children and found time to run a very successful Saddle Club. The Battalion returned to Chelsea Barracks and having successfully re-housed the families in the London area, David handed over and moved to a new job as Camp Commandant Wellington Barracks.

The Barracks was just completing a major rebuild, including a purpose-built Guards Museum. David joined the Guards Museum Committee. It quickly became obvious with his interest and expertise in the Militaria and Regimental Artefacts of the Foot Guards that he would be ideally suited to become the first curator. He was appointed as such before the completion of his Short Service Commission. As Curator, he proved to be an excellent choice. Through his enthusiasm, knowledge and vision he gathered a superb collection of regimental items displaying the history of the five Regiments from their founding to the present day and showing their close link to the Sovereign.

He made the Guards Museum one of the finest regimental museums in the country. Under his stewardship, it became the first to be awarded Registered Status under the Museums Libraries and Archives Professional Standards Scheme. He masterminded six major exhibitions in the Museum, including one to mark the 350th anniversary of the Grenadier Guards, and he played a major role in fundraising events including two Massed Band Concerts in the Festival Hall in the presence of members of the Royal Family. He also advised the major television companies for several years on The Queen’s Birthday Parade and on numerous military and ceremonial events.

On his return from Germany, he had renewed his association with the HAC. He joined the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers and rose to command it as Captain of Pikes. In this capacity, he would lead the Company on horseback, wearing armour and a helmet, when it took part in the Lord Mayor’s Show. In 2006, he led the Company when it went to Rome to participate in the 500th Anniversary Celebrations of the Papal Guard, the Swiss Guard in the Vatican. The Pikemen were the first foreign contingent ever to parade with the Swiss Guard. The Pikemen also found the Bearer Party at David’s funeral.
David retired as Curator in 2005 after 22 years and handed over to Andrew Wallis, who built on the framework that David created and has given the Museum an international reputation. David remained actively involved as a consultant. In retirement at Amport in Hampshire, David became involved with Riding for the Disabled, teaching others less fortunate than himself to ride. He also took part in other community activities until failing health made this impossible.

He is survived by his son Chris and daughter Sarah. He was so proud when Sarah accompanied him when he rode out from Knightsbridge and equally proud when Chris served in the King’s Troop RHA. David had a wonderful sense of humour which never deserted him even during the last sad days of his illness. Every visit brought a smile and reminiscences often brought much laughter. He was a man of delightful personality and many talents who will be much missed by his family and his many friends.

© Crown Copyright