Page 114 - MBS 2022/23
P. 114

  On 17 April 2023, under the direction of Sgt (SI) Lawrence RAPTC, 31 RAPTCIs formed up on Corps
Sergeant Major Square feeling very vulnerable as they were about start Mission Specific Training (MST) 1 for Operation GOLDEN ORB. MST 1 was a 2-day package designed to ensure that the Marching Contingents from every cap badge across the British Army were at the start standard to move to the concentration areas and begin 10-days of drill practice and rehearsals. It was pleasing that after just 2 days, the standard of drill was very good and everyone was excited for what was to come.
Throughout the 10 days of drill practice and rehearsing, morale was always high. Although accommodation wasn’t ideal, the days were long and, on some days, we were recording over 35,000 steps it was so enjoyable. From the RAPTC Contingent, there was always laughter, jokes and banter (it’s kind of what’s expected from our Corps) and some friendships were being formed amongst RAPTCIs whom had never met. The journey to get to the Coronation was a memorable experience by itself and one that none of us will forget.
On 6 May 23, the day had arrived. We had to form up in Pirbright at 0345 dressed in full No.1 Dress. We were coached to Farnborough Train Station and along with hundreds of others, boarded our own train direct to London Waterloo. We arrived in London Waterloo at 0640, departed the train in our order of march, fully aware that we were live on National TV, and made our way to our first form up point. We formed up on York Road in our Procession and, with bands playing, marched through the streets of London to Wellington Barracks which was our administrative area. In Wellington Barracks, RAPTCIs who were supporting Op GOLDEN ORB came to provide us with drinks, snacks and to offer their support. We were very grateful.
At exactly 1110 under a cloudy and rainy sky, we were off. We left Wellington Barracks and headed to Victoria Memorial Statue; there we headed straight up The Mall. What a site! There were thousands of people with flags waving. The coronation had started at 1100 and was being played across a speaker system, all we could hear was the beat of the drum keeping us in step and the cheers of the crowds. We marched under Admiralty Arch to Trafalgar Square and turned right onto Whitehall. As soon as we got to our markers on the floor (chalk marks indicating where to stop) we
WO1 (Corps SM) D Southern-Naylor RAPTC
halted, about turned, covered off and then stood at ease. It was 1134, we were all set and ready for the dreaded long wait. Every 15 minutes, WO2 (QMSI) Taylor checked on everyone to make sure they were ok, this was well received as it helped pass the time, as was the opportunity to people watch, although phones were constantly pointing at you!
At 1300 we were ready, “CORONATION PROCESSION......BY THE CENTRE...... QUICK MARCH” Using click track (a system which made sure every band out of all 19 played the same song at the same time) all 4000 Service Personnel stepped off. That was it, we had made it through the long stand, and we were now off, marching the same route we had just done. Interestingly, Lt Col (Retd) Gelder reflected on his experience at the 1953 Coronation that due to the rain, the horse muck flicked up the back of everyone’s trousers. The exact same thing happened to all of us on that day!
The feeling of marching down the Mall was incredible, the view of Buckingham palace and Victoria Memorial Statue at the end as well as the thousands of spectators was just breath taking. I think we all tried to soak it up the best we can. Towards the end of the Mall, we carried out a new drill move, which we had rehearsed many times ‘12s to 6s.’ On the word of command “Contingent will form sixes......FORM SIXES”. A few had to mark time for 6 steps and others marched inward. Seamlessly, we went from being 12 abreast to 6. We then marched into the Buckingham Palace forecourt and around to the back garden. Here, all 4000 Service Personnel formed up and waited for His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen.
Their Majesties came out onto the Terrace and the National Anthem was played. We then gave three cheers. A VERY special moment. Once their Majesties left, we then marched back to London Waterloo which meant we missed the flypast. At the train station, crowds were gathered, and we made our way back up cab road, via a portaloo to collect our packed lunch and get back onto the train.
At 1721 we were all back in our Accommodation. We each received a Coronation coin that was purchased by the Association as a token of thanks and then made our way to the STREET PARTY. Essentially this was an hour-long cue for food which was the same that we had all week except the hall had a few balloons
and a union flag. Then a 30 min cue to get our 2 cans of lager or soft drinks (that we had to pay for). A somewhat sad end to a special day really but we all laughed about it and just shrugged it off in the end. The Catterick band played some great songs though for entertainment (not the marching band but a sort of rock band). They were very good!
After what was an incredibly long day, everyone was knackered but my god there was a real sense of pride and achievement. What a fantastic journey, with great people who all achieved something quite remarkable together. We were the Coronation team.
The RAPTC Marching Contingent
Lt Col (MAA) G Field RAPTC
Maj (MAA) R Roberts RAPTC
Capt (MAA) L Kinsley RAPTC
Capt (MAA) G Maslin RAPTC
WO1 (Corps SM) D Southern-Naylor RAPTC WO2 (QMSI) C Armstrong RAPTC
WO2 (QMSI) R Blake RAPTC WO2 (QMSI) C Taylor RAPTC SSgt (SSI) C Carter RAPTC SSgt (SSI) N Davison RAPTC SSgt (SSI) T Hansmeyer RAPTC SSgt (SSI) M Henshaw RAPTC SSgt (SSI) N Jones RAPTC SSgt (SSI) Y Kemp RAPTC
SSgt (SSI) N Lockey RAPTC SSgt (SSI) J Miller RAPTC
SSgt (SSI) D Smith RAPTC
Sgt (SI) D Boachie-Ansah RAPTC Sgt (SI) P Brown RAPTC
Sgt (SI) A Dyson RAPTC
Sgt (SI) L Evans RAPTC
Sgt (SI) A Farr RAPTC
Sgt (SI) S Harris RAPTC
Sgt (SI) W Jones RAPTC
Sgt (SI) C Mangan RAPTC
Sgt (SI) M Paynter-Hetherington RAPTC Sgt (SI) J Tait RAPTC
Sgt (SI) F Walker RAPTC Sgt (SI) L Ward RAPTC
RAPTCIs who supported
Lt Col (MAA) L Neville RAPTC Capt (MAA) K Haley RAPTC WO1 (SMI) D Farrugia RAPTC WO2 (QMSI) K Pitcairn RAPTC SSgt (SSI) L Barrigan RAPTC SSgt (SSI) M Qasim RAPTC Sgt (SI) D Charmer RAPTC
Sgt (SI) S King RAPTC
Sgt (SI) C Lawrence RAPTC Sgt (SI) M Quinn RAPTC
Sgt (SI) S Osborn RAPTC
Sgt (SI) R Mothersdale RAPTC

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