A soldier from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery who broke her neck trying to halt a runaway gun carriage has returned to the saddle to take part in the accession day gun salute in The Green Park, London.
Lance Bombadier Grace Gostelow was awarded a commendation for bravery following her actions in attempting to control the tonne-and-a-half 1904 gun carriage and team of six horses in the freak accident in Charlton Park in 2017.
The two other riders with the gun team were bucked off, leaving Lance Bombadier Gostelow battling to control all six animals from her pair in wheel. She managed to steer them to the outside of the park away from the public and the carriage was eventually halted when the leaders went either side of a tree.
No horses were hurt in the accident, but Lance Bombadier Gostelow — who could have opted to throw herself clear of the bolting team — sustained serious injuries that required lengthy rehabilitation.
The accession gun salute, on 6 February, marks the moment the throne was passed from King George VI to Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. This year, the 67th anniversary also marked Lance Bombadier Gostelow’s first ceremonial duties back with her team.
It was described as an emotional moment for the soldier and accomplished all-round horsewoman when she rode the team out of Wellington Barracks in front of the public.
“The accession gun salute is a big one for us,” she said. “My job is in the Army, I love the Army and it’s great to be back with the troop and the horses.
“The horses are the biggest thing for me. To get back on board is a milestone. It’s good to crack on and forget that it happened.”
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Major James Luck, commanding officer of KTRHA at the time of the accident, said when presenting the commendation last year that her bravery and courage had been “unexpectedly tested” on an “ordinary day”.
“As the horses galloped away, she repeatedly passed opportunities to leap clear of the runaway gun team to save herself,” he said.
“It must have crossed her mind that if she was thrown at that speed, she might have fallen under the wheels and been crushed by a tonne-and-a-half of First World War gun.”