Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Ceremony to mark cadets joining forces with Guards

A HUNDRED members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards took part in a parade at the Oratory School in Woodcote.

A HUNDRED members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards took part in a parade at the Oratory School in Woodcote.

The 20-minute ceremony marked the start of a partnership between the school’s combined cadet force, which is celebrating its centenary, and the infantry regiment.

It was attended by the Guards’ adjutant Colonel Tom Bonas, a former Oratory school captain, and commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Dino Bossi.

Wing Commander Laurie Dunn, of the Royal Air Force, whose 18-year-old son Charlie is school captain and an under-officer, was also a guest.

A marching band of 40 guardsmen in ceremonial regalia launched the proceedings by parading around the square outside the main entrance.

They were followed by 230 of the Oratory’s army, navy and air cadets who formed lines three deep and stood to attention before being inspected by the diginitaries.

The Guards played traditional marching music and popular tunes, including John Williams’ Indiana Jones theme and Imperial March from Star Wars. In a speech to the boys, Col Bonas said: “It is a real honour and privilege to be your inspecting officer on this unique occasion.

“First, may I commend and congratulate you all on your smart turnout and your drill. These things do not just happen — it takes hard work and commitment and you have showed this in buckets today.

“I believe it reflects the high standing and quality and success of the corps as well as the enthusiasm and dedication of its cadets.”

After the ceremony, guardsmen talked to pupils about their experiences in the army and showed some of their weapons including an anti-tank missile launcher.

The boys also tried on the soldiers’ bearskin hats which they wear on Royal guard duties.

Freddie Woodward, 18, the cadets’ regimental sergeant major, said: “We’ve worked really hard on this over the past few weeks and it really paid off.” The partnership’s foundations were laid by headmaster Clive Dytor, a former Royal Marines captain who holds a Military Cross for heroism in the Falklands War.

Preparations for the ceremony started two months ago and the cadets spent several hours a week practising drill.

The Oratory is the only school in England to be affiliated with the Welsh Guards and the cadets’ cap badges have been changed to incorporate a leek, which is the regiment’s official symbol.

The boys will train with the Guards on field days and watch them take part in ceremonies such as the Trooping of the Colour in Whitehall.

Mr Dytor said: “The affiliation ceremony was a glorious family occasion.

“The sound and sight of the band, the boys in their new Household Division berets and the officers in frock coats with swords were a truly memorable event in the life of the school.”

Marland Green, the school’s contingent commander, said: “We have been drilling the boys for months because we wanted to do the best job we could when the Guards got here. We wanted to show them that the Oratory does it with a certain panache, which is something the Welsh Guards are renowned for.”

Also taking part in the ceremony was old Oratorian Lt James Marsden, 24, who joined the Army in 2007 and was commissioned into the Welsh Guards last year.

He said: “It’s lovely to return to the old school, see some of my old teachers and engage with the pupils and, hopefully, inspire them.

You learn lots of things in the cadets — leadership, discipline and teamwork and various other skills that apply in life. It stood me in good stead for when I joined the Welsh Guards.”

Col Bonas, who attended the Oratory from 1966 to 1971, said: “I was hugely proud of the cadets. Given the amount of time they had to rehearse, bearing in mind that they’ve got sport, exams, classes and other things, to produce that level of quality was really quite exceptional.”

Lt-Col Bossi said: “The work the boys had put into producing a very impressive parade was very obvious.

“We’re enormously privileged to have been invited here and are very happy to be affiliated with the school.”

The Welsh Guards are part of the army’s Household Division and are one of five units who guard the Queen’s residences. They have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia.

More News:

POLL: Have your say