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Legendary explorer commemorated in York


12:00am 17th March 2012

The Royal Dragoon Guards are commemorating the bravery of one of their most famous members in York.

The soldiers, who are based in Catterick, will parade through the city centre in a tribute to Captain Lawrence Oates, the gallant English Antarctic explorer who knowingly walked to his death in the South Pole to try and save the lives of his comrades.

Captain Oates was on a return journey of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s historic expedition when he suffered near paralytic pain from frostbite to his feet and realised that he was becoming a handicap to his team mates. On the night of his 32nd birthday, 17 March 1912, Oates rose from his sleeping bag, went to the door of the tent and uttered the immortal words “I am just going outside and may be some time.” He was never seen again, laying down his own life to give his friends a better chance of survival.

The Royal Dragoon Guards have held annual memorial events since he passed away. Now 100 years on, a special presentation of shamrocks will be given to the troops after the parade by local civic dignitaries, including The Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Lord Crathorne, and the Lord Mayor of York, Councillor David Horton.

The ceremony and parade will be one of the final engagements of the guards before they deploy to Afghanistan later in the year.

Major Rupert Smith, from the RDG will march in the parade. He said:

“The Regiment is looking forward to spending Oates Day in York on the centenary anniversary of his death. We are unique in celebrating a man, not a battle honour, as our Regimental day. But Captain Oates remains an inspiration to soldiers to this day; his sacrifice is exemplary of the six core values that the Army holds dear: discipline, courage, selfless commitment, integrity, loyalty and respect for others.

“No matter where we are in the world we always celebrate Oates day.”

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