Following the congestion experienced around the 60th anniversary in 2004, elaborate traffic controls were introduced and these, together with the need for all personnel and vehicles to have special passes caused the organisers considerable headaches in the lead up to departure. After a long wait, most, but not all, of the necessary passes, arrived about four days before we were due to leave. However, once there, the threatened controls were flexibly enforced so that, in the event, 6th June passed smoothly and we achieved all that we set out to do.
We deliberately avoided the big international ceremony at Ouistreham as we knew that it would be to much to try to get there after the Bayeux ceremony. Disregarding the instructions to move from one side of Bayeux to the other via a forming up point 30 km away in the middle of Caen, our coach proceeded direct to Bayeux cemetery unhindered. The ceremony, attended by the Queen, went off without a hitch and it was good to see the RY Band leading the service with their usual excellent playing.
A highlight of the day was the fact that the SRY Guidon had the honour of being the representative colour selected to parade at Bayeux cathedral and at the cemetery. Despite very short notice, the guidon party under the leadership of SSM Stone put on a first-class performance and were a credit to the Regiment. We were glad, too, that they were able to join us at the SRY ceremony at our memorial at Bayeux museum on the 7th. It would have been good if the serving members could have taken part in more of the tour, but their participation was put together in great haste and, in the event, this proved impossible to include in their programme.
HRH Prince Charles reads the lesson
The band of the Royal Yeomanry
The Guidon party and the Padre in the lunch tent
Another lesson that had been learned in 2004 was the time taken to get everyone away afterwards and this time the organisers provided a lunch tent with big TV screens next to the cemetery. There, we sat in comfort and had our lunch watching James Holland telling the world’s TV audience how the Sherwood Rangers won the war followed by the French President marching interminably up and down the red carpet as he welcomed the world’s leaders to Ouistreham. Our coach arrived just as he began his speech, so that seemed a good time to leave. We learned later that the tent was supposed to be “dry” but somehow the SRY tables were well provided with wine…
Cols. Astbury and Hunt with SSM Stone
Historic aircraft flypast