Saturday 15 July 2023

Armed Forces Day, Scarborough

 In June, 2022, we heard that Scarborough was to host an Armed Forces Day. We saw signs posted all along the North and South Drives (about three miles!) saying “If your vehicle is parked here early Saturday morning it will not get a ticket - it will get REMOVED!”

One of our students had risen through the ranks in the Navy and when I asked him if he would be there he replied that he now had a role setting up a display trailer - and would actually be located on the West Pier. Since this was about 300m from our house in the Old Town we were able to go down and visit him. He is very tall and looks great in his uniform. He had been given a stunning king-cab pickup with a big boxy trailer that opens out into a very smart display area. All done up in a smart dark navy blue with very elegant legend and graphics!! He was standing on the trailer looking towards the lifeboat station and didn’t see us approach. I stood below him and said “Permission to come aboard sir?” He lit up and was delighted to see us. We had a great chat and he told his crew that we were the best teachers!!!

I then spotted an armoured car. It was exactly the same model that I had been on (and died in) in the movie “Sheena, Queen of the jungle”! I got my phone out and showed the troopers a zoomed-in picture of me in uniform on it. They were VERY impressed. “Where did you serve sir?” “Africa!” Confusion appeared on their faces. I explained that I had never served in an active sphere - and that I had had something they never would have. “What’s that sir?” “A blonde in a leather bikini with a bow and arrow on her back, sat on an elephant!” At which point I zoomed the photo out so they could see her - and they were even more impressed!

The day was amazing. The whole length of both drives was full of marching bands, display vehicles, stands, etc. There were dramatic parachutists dropping onto the south beach with flags and coloured smoke. And a half-hour display from the Red Arrows! Later a single Typhoon fighter zoomed in very low from behind the castle. It dived down towards the surface of the south bay and pulled up so sharply it blew a hole in the sea. It then shot up and up and up - into the sun! Then, when it appeared to have reached the sun, it turned its engine off! And fell like a leaf - until we thought it would land in the sea - when it re-ignited and soared all the way up again! This plane is so powerful it screams through the air.

In 2023 I was really excited to hear there was to be another Armed Forces Day. However, this year they only roped off 100m of one lane of the south drive! There were no regular forces at all - each service was represented by their territorial units and/or cadets. There were displays along the front and quite a crowd attended. There were three flying displays (but no Red Arrows or Typhoons!) - they were well done - and one of them was an auto-gyro! We were attempting to get to the one area of the beach where dogs can run and I aimed to get through the crowd near the VIP area. I was wearing my combat trousers and a camouflage hat - and a very enthusiastic young cadet raised the red rope and waved us in!!We sort of instinctively obeyed but then spotted a bunch of very VIPs - and my Mrs was not amused. “Get us out of here!” she hissed! I led her - and our dog - through the area - and then spotted an ancient chap in a wheelchair - sort of isolated at the far end. He had a para regiment beret and some campaign ribbons. I went down on one knee next to him, took his hand and said “Thank you for your service sir!” He gave me a lovely smile. His companion said “He can’t speak but I can tell you he is grateful for your words. He is 104! And he was dropped into Arnhem during WWII. He was captured - but escaped and made it to Dunkirk. He managed to get on a boat but as it was pulling away he spotted 18 nurses on the jetty. He dove off the boat, swam over to them, managed to find an abandoned craft, get its engine going and got them back to Dover.” I said it was an honour to meet a true hero! And in my humble opinion the VIPs should have all been saluting him!!



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