Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Falklands 25 - London June 16/17 2007 - Victory Parade

A glorious June day in London and 1000's of veterans, families and spectators turned up at Horse Guards to march on the Victory Parade down The Mall to Buckingham Palace.

The photo on the left is of the Paymaster of 1st Battalion Scots Guards in 1982. The rest are Denis O'Keefe, Kieth Foley, myself and Paul Ackerman. All of us are wearing our medals.

The photo on the right is of myself, Paul and Terry Anderson, Paymaster of the Gurkhas. In fact we have a representative of each of the infantry battalions of 5 Brigade.

Why is my damn tie crooked!! And why the hell have I got my medals the wrong way around!! I got the wrong answer when I asked which way around they should be. In fact they should be in the order you received them going left to right. So according to my medals I went to Ireland first and then Falklands, doh!!

We formed up and I got to march next to the commanding officer Major General MIE Scott, MBE. Quite a character even if he raised a few eyebrows among the veterans by saluting while wearing civilian clothes :)

Strange to realise that this man is a genuine hero as far as I am concerned. He took one look at the plan that Brigade had for the Scots Guards and said we weren't going to do it that way and instead came up with the alternative plan that we eventually put into action. The original plan called for a frontal daylight assault along the main Stanley track, something that would have been a massacre. The reason this was supposed to be the plan was because Brigade didn't think we were capable of anything else! Talk about lions led by donkeys!

Quite a few laughs were had as various Guard Drill Sergeants tried to get some semblance of order among us before we marched onto Horse Guards. A few "say please" were muttered from the ranks that bought many a smile to the guys and give them their due even the Drill Sergeants say the funny side. The ceremony itself was very tasteful with some tear jerking moments. I think the one that got most people was the wonderful singing of Kathryn Nutbeem.

One of the highlights of the day was meeting Tom and his family. They all came up for the day from Essex to attend the parade and Tom wore his Navy blues and looked very dashing (and so young though I had to remind myself I was younger than him when I went South). We all had a terrific day and the atmosphere was just electric. The crowds cheered and waved flags, relatives called out for their loved ones and the veterans all had smiles on their faces.

I think for me the most poignant moment was hours later in Chinatown. Susie, Fredrik and I were having a meal in a quiet restaurant and I noticed another veteran with 2 ladies. We bumped into each other and I remarked that I had been at the parade and just wanted to ask him how it had went for him. He mentioned he was with 9 Para engineers and I commented that we had lost one his unit with us on Tumbledown. "That would have been Pash" he replied, "Aye that's the guy" was my reply. A firm handshake and we were on our way both knowing that 25 years ago a comrade died but it could have just as easily been either of us. A time to feel grateful that chance had smiled upon us and a time to reflect on the 100's who did not come back.

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