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RAF College Remembrance Parade 2009

Ranks Of The Royal Air Force (RAF)

The Royal Air Force (RAF) introduced officer ranks in 1919. Prior to this, Army ranks were used. Interestingly, many ranks within the Royal Air Force do not correspond with the actual duties of an officer. For example, a pilot officer may not be trained to pilot an aircraft. The ranking for pilots actually starts at cadet officer and is then upgraded to flying officer on graduation. Commissioned ranks within the RAF wear rank insignia on the lower arm of their dress uniform. There are many ranks which exist across all three forces: Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army. Of the three, the Royal Air Force rank will most always be the junior – the Royal Navy has seniority over the Army and the RAF. The commissioned ranks for the Royal Air Force are shown here. Rank insignia, which was to be worn on the jacket cuff, was established for the force in 1918. The ranking insignia has similarities to the Royal Navy rings. In [...]

Horse Guards with Spurs

What is a Spur?

Spurs are usually worn in pairs on the heels of riding boots. Their purpose is to help direct the horse to move forward or laterally while riding. They help to refine commands but to also backup more natural riding aids such as the legs, hands and voice. The spur was first used by the Celts during the La Tène period which began in the 5th century BC. A medieval knight was said to have ‘earned his spurs’ and this phrase has continued in to the modern era as an honour given to individuals in organisations with military heritage. Members of the British Order of the Garter receive spurs from the Monarchy. Spur styles differ between disciplines. For instance, spurs used for western riding tend to be more decorated and heavier. Spurs used in English riding tend to be of a more conservative design and are very slim and sleek with a rounded or blunt end. When used in sports riding such as dressage, [...]

1940s weekend 2017

Haworth 1940s Weekend 2017

The annual Haworth 1940s weekend this year took place between Friday the 19th of May and Sunday the 21st of May. This famous annual event sees Haworth transformed into a traditional World War II version of itself with locals and visitors dressing in 1940s attire to celebrate and commemorate the war, but to also help raise money for Armed Forces and local charities. This year’s chosen charity was the Pilgrim Bandits Charity, which was formed by veterans of the Special Forces in order to inspire wounded soldiers to live life to its fullest, in spite of often dreadful injuries. To date, the 1940s weekend has raised almost £100,000 for charities. 2016’s focus was on the strategic importance of the airborne forces, while 2017’s theme was on the contribution made by Special Forces. The 1940s weekend attracts over 25,000 visitors a day but this year, however, due to the wet weather, the footfall on Saturday was significantly reduced. 2017 is the final year that [...]

Rope Walk

The Rope Walk

While in the modern industrial era rope is manufactured on a dedicated rope-making machine, traditionally it was made using what’s called a ropewalk. A ropewalk is a long straight narrow lane where long strands of material are laid out before being twisted together to make rope. The word walk comes from the fact that ropewalks were often extremely long and required that the workers literally walk up and down as they threaded each strand or ply on to the ropewalk machine’s spinning hooks. Some workers even used bikes if the rope walk was especially long. Ropewalks were notorious for being hard sweatshops but also a considerable fire hazard as the hemp dust generated was highly flammable and burned angrily. Rope used to be essential for sailing ships such as HMS Victory which required over 20 miles of rope. The ropewalk at Chatham Dockyard still produces rope and has an internal length of 346m. In 1790, when it was constructed, it was the longest [...]

Scots Grey Eagle

Flag of the 45th Line

Ensign Charles Ewart was a Scottish soldier of the Royal North British Dragoons and is most famous for capturing the regimental eagle of the 45th Regiment of the Line flag at the Battle of Waterloo. The French Imperial Eagle was gilded bronze and fixed to the top of a staff carrying the standard of the French 45th Infantry Regiment. The imperial eagle is one of the most iconic objects from the Napoleonic period and was a symbol of pride and loyalty among French troops who would form the backbone of Napoleon’s newly-formed regime. On June 10th 1815, the 45eme de la Ligne received its new eagle which was carried into the Battle of Waterloo by Pierre Guillot, where it would, after a bloody and brutal battle, be famously captured by Ewart. This symbolic victory made Ewart a hero and this captured eagle is now kept in Edinburgh Castle as one of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards most prized honours. So famous was this [...]

Lord Lieutenant

Lord Lieutenant

A Lord-Lieutenant is a personal representative for the British monarch in each county of the United Kingdom. Today Lord Lieutenancy is mostly a ceremonial position, but historically they were responsible for organising the county’s militia. The Lord Lieutenant is the highest rank of the lieutenants, followed by a Vice Lord Lieutenant and then Deputy Lieutenants. The Vice Lord Lieutenant takes over duties if the Lord Lieutenant is ill or unable to attend. There are usually between 30 to 40 Deputy Lieutenants appointed by the Lord Lieutenant depending on the county’s size. The main duties performed by a Lord Lieutenant are arranging visits for members of the royal family, as well as escorting royal visitors, presenting medals on behalf of the sovereign and participating in civic and social activities within the lieutenancy. The uniform worn by Lord Lieutenants is military in style and has many similarities with army uniforms. Currently Lord Lieutenants wear a dark blue uniform in the style of a General [...]

HMS Ocean

HMS Ocean

Did you watch the HMS Ocean documentary ‘Warship’ on Channel 4? The show captures Britain’s biggest warship as it sails to the Gulf to lead the US Naval Combined Task Force 50. HMS Ocean is now 20 years old and weighs up to 28,000 tons. The fleet flagship of the Royal Navy was launched into sea in October 1995 and has a capacity of 40 vehicles and 830 Marines. She is designed to support amphibious landing operations and to support the staff of Commander UK Amphibious Force and Commander UK Landing Force. The ship can carry up to six Apache AH1 helicopters operated by the Army Air Corps as well as helicopters for the RAF. HMS Ocean is also capable of limited anti-submarine warfare activities, supporting afloat training and acting as a base facility for other embarked forces including counter-terrorism units. HMS Ocean is described as a ‘floating village’ with a hospital, bank, gym, pubs and shops on board to accommodate its [...]

Tropping of the Colour 2016

Military Parade

A military parade is an organised formation of soldiers who restricted by close-order manoeuvring marching or ‘drilling’. Up until the late 19th century soldiers fought in formation, but in modern times the military parade is now entirely ceremonial. Sometimes a parade is performed to exhibit the military strength of a nation. The oldest and largest military parade in Europe is the Bastille Day Military Parade on the 14th of July in Paris during France’s national day celebrations. The terminology comes from close order formation combat where soldiers were held in strict formations to maximise their combat effectiveness. Military drills are performed to memorise certain actions, formations and movements. Recruits in modern armies are taught drills to show them how to work as a team while formations are also still used in riot control. There are four directions used in a parade: the Advance, the Retire, the Left and the Right. The Advance is the primary direction of movement and on a [...]

Women in the Military

International Women’s Day and the Military

International Women’s Day started in 1910 when Clara Zetkin (a famous German advocate for Women’s rights) suggested the day become an international day of celebration. America already celebrated a National Women’s Day in 1908 after 15,000 women marched through New York City in demanding the right to vote and better pay and this sowed the seeds for what later became International Women’s day. Every year on the 8th of March women celebrate how far women have come in society, politics and economics. In countries like Russia, the day is a national holiday, where the sales of flowers double. Women currently make up about 10% of British Army personnel. They are, for the first time ever, working alongside their male counterparts in such roles as engineers, mechanics, lawyers and educators. Today, International Women’s Day, celebrates the achievements of women all over the world. The British Army now seeks to promote equality throughout all ranks and trades. Although women have served alongside men on [...]

Royal Tank Regiment

The Royal Tank Regiment

The Royal Tank Regiment or RTR is the oldest tank regiment in the world. The RTR was formed as early as 1916 during the Great War by the British Army. Originally formed from the Machine Gun Corps, the pioneers of armoured warfare became the Tank Corps, who formed 8 battalions by the start of 1919. During the Second World War, the RTR, had 25 battalions fighting all over the world. Currently the regiment is based at Tidworth and is equipped with Challenger 2 tanks. Their official uniform is unique to the rest of the Royal Armoured Corps; instead of the standard-issue blue beret, the RTR wear a black one. Their uniform of black coveralls is also reserved especially for the Regiment. Soldiers in the RTR also wear a cap badge which shows an image of an early Royal Tank Regiment tank. Their motto is ‘Fear Naught’. During the First World War, walking sticks were often used by officers to probe the ground [...]