C.C.F. Royal Centenary Parade, 1960

Remembered by T.H. Quayle L.VISc.

Two cadets, one from each section of the School C.C.F., were invited to attend the Cadet Royal Centenary Parade on the 22nd July, 1960. Corpral Price from the army section, and myself from the R.A.F. section, were the lucky ones.

We arrived, after an uneventful journey, at Woolwich Arsenal. We were immediately taken into a small room and our particulars were taken by several officers. I was handed a piece of paper with the mysterious formula “Con-naught, Room 38″ scrawled on it. This, I assumed, was my barrack block and room number. I was right ! I was separated from Cpl. Price, being an R.A.F. cadet, and taken to my room. Whilst I was settling in cadets from all over the country, from the Isle of Wight to Glasgow and from Bristol to London arrived one by one.

At about five o’clock we were told that it was time to go for tea, which was had in a Cookhouse about a quarter of a mile from our barracks. After tea we went to see a film show in the camp cinema.

The next morning we were allowed a lie in, and then, after breakfast, we were inspected by an R.A.F.V.R. officer, who told us that there would be two rehearsals, one in the afternoon and the other after tea.

The afternoon parade rehearsal was quite tiring because of the long waits while the organising officers discussed various points about the parade, and also whilst an officer directed us from a loudspeaker van. An army and a navy officer played the part of the Queen and Prince Philip in the rehearsals ; it was quite touching to see the short navy officer gallantly-helping the tall thin army man from the Land-Rover.

In the evening the barrack was a hive of activity. Never before had so many belts received such generous layers of bianco and boots so much “spit and polish.” Most people were in bed by nine-thirty as everyone knew that we should have to be up early for the great day.

After breakfast, all wearing our “best bib and tucker”, and knowing that we would not return to our barracks again, we packed our luggage and ourselves into our respective coaches and set off for Wellington Barracks. On the way we were put at our ease by the strains of “Housewives’ Choice” coming from the coach radio and also by chewing the barley sugars that we had been given. Arriving at Wellington Barracks we immediately fell in, and after a short pause marched off to Buckingham Palace to the accompaniment of the Band of the Junior Wing H.M. Royal Marines.

We entered the Palace through the back way, the highly-mysterious “Electricians’ Gate.” We had to wait about a quarter of an hour for the Queen to appear with Prince Phillip, and as she did so we were ordered to attention and then saluted. The Queen then inspected us, going round on a Land-Rover. When Her Majesty returned to the dais we were again called to attention while General Sir Oliver Leese presented the C.C.F. Commemoration Book. Three hearty cheers were given and then the banners moved forward to their positions near the Terrace Steps. Then we all took part in a march past the Queen to music appropriate to whichever section was passing the dais. We marched out of the main Palace gates and back to Wellington Barracks, where we had a packed lunch.

After lunch we marched to Westminster Abbey for a service, and then back to the barracks for tea. When tea was over we boarded buses for our respective stations.

At St. Pancras station I rejoined Cpl. Price and we entered our reserved compartment back to Burton. On the way we noticed several people reading newspaper articles of the parade of the “Soldiers who never go to war.”


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