Standing just outside of the entrance to the Staffordshire Regiment Museum is a grave marker dedicated to 'Toddy', "a faithful bull dog". The grey stone slab also acts as a memorial to 'Mack', 'Spider', 'Patty the Pony' and 'Sheila', animals no doubt once regarded with great fondness by the khaki clad soldiers of the regiment.
The Staffordshire Regiment has a long tradition of animal mascots, all carrying a name, rank and number - the first of their number was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier named 'Boxer'. In 1882 The South Staffordshire Regiment was ordered to march with Lord Wolseley to the relief of General Gordon who was besieged in Khartoum. Unfortunately Boxer leapt from a moving train during the march and was seen lying unconscious or dead at the side of the track. A few days later when the Regiment encamped at Assiut awaiting orders for the final phase of their journey, a very thin; bedraggled dog staggered into their camp and collapsed. Boxer had walked for over 200 miles along the scorching desert railway track to rejoin his regiment. From then on the tradition of having a Bull Terrier as a mascot continued with the battalions until after the Second World War.
In 1949 the 6th Battalion the North Staffordshire Regiment were presented with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Over the next decade 'Watchman I' attended every parade in which the battalion took part and was presented to Her Majesty The Queen on her visit to Burton-on-Trent on 28th March 1957. He passed away in 1959 and was laid to rest in the lawns opposite the Town Hall in King Edward Square Burton-on-Trent.
Such was the tradition, interest and good feeling of the people of Burton towards this most popular mascot that in September 1960 'Watchman II' was presented to the Regiment by the town at a civic parade. Like his predecessor he was to march at the head of the Battalion throughout the next six years of his life. His last parade was the Honorary Colonels Parade held at St Martins Camp in 1966. The following year the County TA Regiments were reformed and 'Watchman II' went into retirement until his death in 1974 at the age of fourteen. He was laid to rest alongside his predecessor at Burton where both are remembered on a commemorative plaque.
The 3rd Battalion The Staffordshire Regiment was raised in 1988 and it was felt that the time-honoured tradition of having a mascot should continue. As an indication of the depth of feeling within the County for the mascot, the people of Burton presented the Regiment with 'Watchman III' in 1988. He served until his death in 1998 and was interred alongside his two predecessors. 'Watchman IV' was presented to the Regiment as a puppy in August 1998 by the Friends of the Regiment.
Folowing the formation of the Mercian Regiment in 2007, from the Staffords, Cheshires and the Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters Regiment, 'Private Derby', a Swaledale ram, became the mascot of the new formation and marches at the head of all its full regimental parades. 'Watchman IV' now only marches at events featuring the regiment’s 3rd (Staffords) Battalion.
The Staffordshire Regiment Museum - staffordshireregimentmuseum.com
For an account of a 1944 rain of frogs that occured outside the Whittington Barracks follow this LINK.