This year marks the 75th Anniversary of VE, or Victory in Europe Day. On 8th May 1945, Winston Churchill made an announcement on the radio at 3pm after enemy forces had surrendered the previous day. He said, “My dear friends, this is your house.” This year on the 8th May 2020 it will be 75 years since the guns fell silent and marked the end of World War II. To commemorate the event, this year’s May Day Bank Holiday has been moved. Usually the May Day Bank Holiday is the first Monday of May, however this year the date has been moved to Friday 8th May to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Events will take place around the country over weekend from the 8th May to the 10th May 2020 to mark the enormous sacrifice, courage and determination shown by those who served and the millions who lost their loved ones in the conflict. If you wish to find out more information on how you can take part in celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day click here. Ensure your uniform is ready to take part in the parades and remembrance duties. You can find all your uniform accessories on our website.
On Sunday the 11th of November 2018 at 11am the country will fall silent to remember those who fought for our country. This year Armistice Day and Remembrance Day fall on the same day, sometimes this day is also known more informally as Poppy Day. Each year veterans participate in the Cenotaph March Past at the Parade in Whitehall. The red poppy has become the symbol for Remembrance Sunday with poppy wreaths being laid at cenotaphs all over the country to commemorate Britain’s war dead. In more recent years there has been an increased appearance of the white poppy, a pacifist symbol of remembrance. White poppies, according to the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) represent remembrance for all victims of war, commitment to peace and a challenge to the glamorisation of conflict. The white poppy was produced in 1933 by the Women’s Co-operative Guild to symbolise ‘no more war’ and represents all victims of all wars. The red poppy appeal is organised by the Royal British Legion (RBL) and specifically represents remembrance associated with the British Armed Forces. There has been a long standing opposition to the white poppy, with critics suggesting that it undermines the message of remembrance around Armistice Day. However, St John’s Ambulance has changed its dress code policy to allow volunteers to wear the white poppy as an alternative. During the war when the soil was churned up by endless fighting, poppies still managed to flourish leading the red poppy to become a symbol of remembrance of the First World War. The poppy is also seen as a symbol to honour the millions of current servicemen and women who fight in our Armed Forces. Charities such as Blesma The Limbless Veterans also provide support to amputees from the Armed Forces. They currently help 1873 amputees who lost limbs in the line of duty. Every year a member of Wyedean attends the local service in Haworth to lay a wreath to honour those who have fallen. Which service will you be attending this year? Will you hold a two minutes silence at 11am? Listen out on Sunday for the half muffled church bells. To make a donation to the Poppy Appeal visit the British Legion website here: http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/
The Household Cavalry (HCav) is made up of the Life Guards and the Blue and Royals - the most senior regiments of the British Army. These two regiments are the Queen’s official bodyguard and are divided into two with the Armoured Regiment (HCR) being stationed at the Combermere Barracks in Windsor and the Mounted Regiment (HCMR) at Hyde Park Barracks in London. The Household Cavalry is classed as a corps and dates back to the 1660s. With the Life Guards being formed by King Charles II in 1660 and the Blues and Royals both being formed in 1661. The Blues and Royals were amalgamated into one unit in 1969. The two units of the Household Cavalry have very different roles: The first is the Household Cavalry regiment (HCR). This has an active operational role and serves using armoured fighting vehicles meaning the HCR are often at the forefront of the nation’s conflicts. The Household Division have been required to take part in special tasks as the Sovereign’s personal troops. The second unit is the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR). As the name suggests they are a mounted troop and carry out ceremonial duties on Royal occasions. They are most commonly known for the Trooping of the Colour ceremony on the Queen’s birthday. The regiment has been based at Hyde Park Barracks since 1795. Before World War II, recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 10 inches tall but could be no taller than 6 feet 1 inch. Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and warrant officers (WOs) in the Household Cavalry do not wear rank insignia on their full dress uniforms. Rank is indicated by the style of the aiguillettes. The ceremonial uniform for the Household Cavalry is different to that of other soldiers. They wear a shiny silver helmet with a long horsehair plume. When they are on mounted guard duty they also wear metal chest armour called a cuirass. The two regiments can be distinguished between by their jackets and the plumes on their helmets. The Life Guards wear red tunics or jackets with a white plume. The Blues and Royals wear blue tunics and have red plumes to their helmets. The Household Cavalry is regarded as the most prestigious unit in the British Army. Officers and soldiers were often drawn from the British aristocracy as they were in such close proximity to the reigning sovereign. The Household Cavalry still maintains a connection with the Royal Family and in recent years both Prince William and Prince Harry were commissioned into the Blues and Royals.
Women serving in the military has always been a controversial topic. As increasing numbers of countries begin to expand the role of women in their militaries, the debate continues. In order to be on the front line, women have been known to cross dress. The Royal Navy were the first to employ women in 1969 allowing a few to be nurses and laundresses on hospital ships. This was a controversial move and by the 19th century both roles had been eliminated. The Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Service began in 1902 and is still in operation today. During World War II Britain established a uniformed service for women. This combined with the small units of nurses which had been in operation for a while meant that about 600,000 women served in the military. Most were working in units close to London where there was no risk of being captured by the enemy. The first woman was killed in the military in April 1942. It wasn’t until 1949 that women were officially recognised as a permanent part of the British armed forces. During that year the Women’s Royal Army Corps was created and the ranks were normalised in line with the ranks of men serving in the British Army. In 1989 women became eligible to pilot Royal Air Force combat aircrafts and the following year were allowed to serve on Royal Navy warships. It is only in recent years that women have been given a more prominent role in the armed forces. Female personnel currently make up 9% of the British armed forces. A ban on women serving in close combat units in the British military has been lifted by Prime Minister David Cameron, allowing them to enter the cavalry, infantry and armoured corps. In order for them to enter into the infantry they would still need to pass the fitness test, as do all males. The Army’s research shows that less than 5% of the 7,000 women serving in the British Army would pass the current tests to join the infantry. The lift of this ban, puts the UK in line with many of its allies, including the US. Are you a woman who has served in the British Military? What do you think about the ban being lifted?