The Princesses Louise

PLP-Sign-photo-Dorothy-StewartIs Princess Louise Park in Sussex NB named for a British Royal or a horse?  I’ve heard both answers. The person was daughter of Queen Victoria and patron of the 8th Hussars Regiment. The horse was the 8th Hussars Regimental Mascot.

Princess Louise, the horse, was an Italian-born WWII refugee. She later was naturalized as a Canadian citizen, made a Freewoman of the Village of Hampton and a member of the Canadian Legion #28 Hampton Branch.

Princess-Louise-marker-photo-D-StewartShe and her daughter, both members of the 8th Hussars, are commemorated with their own marker close to the Cenotaph  in Hampton’s Veterans Park.

A foal found wounded beside her dead mother in Coriano, Italy, Princess Louise was rescued by 8th Hussars men from the Hampton and Sussex area.  She then traveled with them for the rest of the war – to Regimental mascot Princess Louise and 8th Hussars in ItalyFrance, Belgium and Holland. It took considerable ingenuity to pull that off.

When the men moved by ship to France, they were not allowed to take animals. So they modified a truck that was being transported, building a stall behind a false wall in it. Two of them went AWOL for a short period of time during loading. Afterwards, the charges were quietly dropped. Perhaps the machinations went quite a way up the chain of command?

8th Hussars Regimental Mascot

Princess Louise and the regiment were in Holland at the end of the war. When it came Camp-Sussex-Mural-with regimental mascot Princess Louise photo-D-Stewarttime for the men to come home, they couldn’t bring her back on the troopship.* They left her with the British Army Veterinary Corps, asking them to get her on a ship as soon as possible.

She arrived in New York a few months later. From there, she travelled by train to Saint John where she was given the keys to the city.  She then traveled in style to Camp Sussex in the town of Sussex and served there for 27 years as Regimental Mascot.  Her duties included Sgt-Bickerton-Princesses-Louise-Sussex-1954representing the regiment in Remembrance Day services and most civic events in Sussex.  She greeted officials and was a favourite in parades around the province.  H. Thad Stevens was her first handler and Sgt. Gordon Bickerton took over care of her and her daughter.

Legacy

Princess Louise gave birth to three foals.  After she died in 1973, a daughter named Princess Louise II served as mascot until she died at the age of 27 in 1981.

Regimental Mascot Princess Louise Legion-application-photo-D-StewartPrincess Louise’s horseshoes, framed, hang in the Hampton Legion. Also there is her application for Legion membership. Her hoofprint is on the signature line. In answer to “number of dependants” is typed “3420 (total Regt’l enlistment)”.

LCol. R. S. McLeod wrote her story. You can read it here. Ana Dearborn-Watts later wrote a children’s book about her, The Pony Princess. The Hampton Legion published it and gave copies to area school libraries.

The President of the Hampton Legion told me that usually every Remembrance Day, “somebody writes something Dearborn-The Pony Princess-photo-Dorothy-Stewartabout her.” Indeed a story this lovely, of horses and men, should not be lost to us.

I borrowed the photos of Princess Louise from the Saint John Telegraph-Journal’s 2011 Remembrance Day story, here. You can read more about the 8th Canadian Hussars here.

*US WWII veteran Bill Wynne, in his book Yorkie Doodle Dandy, tells how Princess-Louise-shoes-photo-D-Stewarthe successfully smuggled Smoky, his Yorkshire Terrier, back. He laments, however, that others were not so lucky with their adopted dogs, monkeys and other pets. But he doesn’t mention any serviceman trying to sneak a horse on board!

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4 thoughts on “The Princesses Louise”

  1. joined 8th hussars 1957 she had all her battle honers and was paid captains one monthly salery onceayear in 1959 we took her to germany by liner acc by rsm smokey shaw and art fletcher she attended regmlt prades marched on just befor co rsm smokey had aspecial trailer built in germany when they landed in halifax he andhis wife towed her to petawawa 1963 she was bred and the cutest female colt named princess lousie the 2nd theprincess died in1973 and was buried in hampton nb

    1. Thank you, Mr. Tingley, for adding to Princess Louise’s story. Sussex and Hampton have good reason to be proud of her and all those who served with her and looked after her so well. She and her daughter were part of the community, military and civilian, for such a long time.

  2. I loved the story about Princess Louise. Thanks for sharing it with everyone. I have Bill Wynn’s book about Smoky and I admire the men that had such deep feelings for their animals. Thank you Bill and all the servicemen for your wonderful dedication and service to your country. My Grandson was in Iraq and came home in one piece, thank God, but I feel for the ones that didn’t.

    1. Hi Cookie, so glad you enjoyed Princess Louise’s story. And isn’t Mr. Wynne’s book wonderful! I am so glad your grandson came home from Iraq safely. Please pass on my thanks to him for his service. And thank you for writing.

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