Cavan, Soldier and Fox Hunter, by Local Author – Dr Mike Senior

Dr Mike Senior is now a familiar name on the pages of Wendover News. He is a military historian who now lives in Wendover, formerly The Lee. His expertise is matched well with that of local social historian Val Moir to bring us insights national, international and local into the First World War, month by month as we marked the centenary from the outbreak in August 2014 to the signing of the Peace Treaty in June 2019.  All these articles are easily found at Appropriately, his publishers Pen and Sword, republished his book Fromelles in 2022, see This explained the fate of several men honoured on the War Memorial of The Lee. His overview of the development of the British Army, Victory on the Western Front and The Soldiers’ Peace described the experiences of the soldiers coming back from the Great War. His first foray into Biography was Hacking, a Dutiful Soldier, looking at one of those generals of the First World War described as boneheads, bunglers and donkeys. 

Now Dr Senior gives us Cavan, Soldier and Fox Hunter, an unexpected juxtaposition of adjectives. Lord Cavan started as a subaltern in the Grenadier Guards (1885), despite being only five feet four inches tall, nicknamed “fatty” because the uniform he was given was too large for him, but he had risen gently to the rank of colonel by 1912. ‘It was in the ten peaceful years between 1902–1912 that Cavan was first inspired to try and acquire something of the real Art of Soldiering.’ Cavan’s immediate contribution to the War Effort in August 1914 was to organise a supply of horses for the army but by 22 August he was appointed a temporary brigadier general and was soon in Flanders. In The Great War, his rise to Field Marshall was meteroic and he was connected with many of the major battles we Brits remember from the Western Front:

1914 First Battle of Ypres

1915 Neuve Chapelle

1915 Loos

1916 The Somme

1917 Passchendaele

He was then sent to Italy where he was fighting until the Armistice was declared..

It was Cavan’s cousin, ‘Tubby’ Clayton, who in 1916 opened Talbot House in Poperinghe. This developed into TocH, a charity whose headquarters were in Forest Close, Wendover, now Clarence Court. 

Following his retirement in 1926, Rudolph accompanied the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) on their tour of Australia and New Zealand. During his retirement in the late 1920s, Cavan ensured that his holidays were spent ‘where he could play golf daily’. But his greatest passion was riding to hounds.