The day of the Diamond Jubilee Thames Flotilla dawned blustery and cloudy, so the troops stayed boxed up safely in the dry. No Parade Today. Monday was fitfully squally with a wet parade ground. It was beginning to look rather like the run-up to D-Day. Tuesday morning opened with low grey clouds skittering across the sky and no rain due until lunchtime. The Parade was on at 08:00hrs!
By 08:40 the first troops lined up at the head of the parade: From front to rear, Royal Horse Artillery, Royal Engineers and anti-tank guns form next to despatch riders for the inspection party. Three Commonwealth infantry brigades, 4.5″ field artillery batteries and anti-aircraft guns. A Royal Naval shore party can be seen towards the right rear. The NQM Order of Seniority is somewhat different to the British Army.
Below, the second parade square forms: 6pdr anti-tank batteries RA, Household Cavalry and the 11th Hussars, Royal Tank and Yeomanry regiments. Further back are Guards Armoured, Parachute and County regiments.
The reason for previous sounds of hilarity from the Italian boxes is now apparent; they have wangled their way into the third echelon of the parade ahead of the Americans, Soviets and Germans. Hand-me-down French and converted diecast equipment feature heavily in the front ranks. The San Marco Marine Division stand proudly and loosely to attention with the experimental Titan Terror Tank belching smoke (the first T-28 conversion that was so bad it lives in my collection of AK47 Munchkin tanks ). Behind are Ariete and Centauro armoured divisions. An American Marine division has made it to this side of The Pond for the parade. At the front right of this parade square, the Duke of Plaza-Toro proudly stands in an unaccustomed position at the front of his regiment.
“In enterprise of martial kind, When there was any fighting, He led his regiment from behind (He found it less exciting). But when away his regiment ran, His place was at the fore, O – That celebrated, Cultivated, Underrated Nobleman, The Duke of Plaza-Toro!”
The last Italians march out on the fourth parade square: a Colonial infantry division flanked by a Hungarian Division, and behind, a ceremonial Romanian contingent. The partially-painted Romanians became quite huffy when they found out they were going to be behind their traditional enemy, so half of them stayed at home. At the back of this square the first Soviet artillery comes on.
…to be continued.