William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

THE FAREWELL MESS DINNER

The picture of Lady P was on the mess dinner cake
It was a fine Thrifty’s Foods; Decorate Portrait
Under Lady Patricia’s arm was a wee dog too,
Named after our song and flag; the Rica-dam-doo!

Lady Patricia in years is still a spry eighty three
She came to say goodbye to her beloved double PP’s
General Stewart described Lady P as an exceptional Colonel in Chief
Who long served her lads of the red flag maple leaf!

As Lady P goes to retirement all of the lads wished her well
With a standing ovation and a hip-hip-cheer yell!
And we now welcome Adrienne, who’s now a Patricia at heart,
As our new Regimental Patron: Lady P did a Regal Depart!

Author’s Note: Inspired by the Times Colonist Tue March the 20th 2007: Farewell Mess Dinner at the Gorge Legion, Victoria, B.C. (reproduced below)

Lady Patricia Bids Farewell to Members of Storied Regiment

By Judith Lavoie: Timer Colonist staff

Lady Patricia Countess Mountbatten of Burma
Lady Patricia Countess Mountbatten of Burma, comments on medals worn by 89-year-old veteran George Wilkinson, who joined Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in ‘Victoria in 1935. Lady Patricia was the guest of honour at a luncheon yesterday at the Trafalgar/Pro Patricia Royal Canadian Legion Branch to mark her stepping down as the regiment’s Colonel-In-Chief. John McKay/Times Colonist
The sight of the cake, decorated in regimental colours of red, gold and royal blue, stopped Lady Patricia, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, in her tracks.

In the centre of the cake was a portrait of herself, when she was younger, and tucked under her arm was a small dog.

“That’s Rica, a miniature long-haired dachshund who was given to me by the regiment to replace my dog who was blown up with me on the boat,” she said, with a trace of emotion creeping into her voice.

Lady Patricia, 83, who was in Victoria yesterday to bid farewell to members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry as she steps down as the regiment’s colonel-in-chief, was given Rica after the 1979 Irish Republican Army bomb attack on her family’s boat

The bomb killed her father, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, her 14-year-old son Nicholas, her mother-in-law, the Dowager Baroness Brabourne and Paul Maxwell, a 15-year-old Irish boat hand.

The dachshund was named Rica after the Rica-Dam-Doo, the regiment’s first colours, carried into battle during the First World War

“I had another little black dog I called Doo, but I didn’t have a third one because I didn’t want to call it Dam,” she said as she looked at the cake.

The official handover of the colonel-in-chief title to former governor general Adrienne Clarkson took place Saturday in Edmonton.
Lady Patricia then headed to Victoria, the home base of 3PPCLI until 1994, where more than 150 current and retired soldiers swapped memories and gave her a standing ovation as she explained it was time to step down because she felt she was getting too old to keep up with the soldiers.

“Like most octogenarians, there are disabilities which will not improve,” she said. “Jumping in and out of APCs (armoured personnel carriers) and sleeping in tents are really not options.”

Lady Patricia has visited the regiment 45 times, in Canada, Cyprus. Germany, Croatia and Bosnia: in the 33 years she has served as the regiment’s colonel-in-chief.

“Of course this is sad after 33 years, but I feel it is the right decision,” she said in an interview.

She plans to keep in contact by serving as honorary patron of the Patricia Association, the organisation for veterans.

“Definitely, I will keep in contact. The old saying is once a Patricia, always a Patricia,” she said.

The appointment of Clarkson as her successor is a good choice, Lady Patricia said.

“I think she will be excellent at looking after my precious Patricias.”

Maj.-Gen. Bob Stewart, former colonel of the regiment, said Lady Patricia has been an exceptional Colonel-In-Chief.

“She is the matriarch of the regiment and she has bound us together for 33 years,” he said.