Red Devils and Tigers wow crowds

DROPPING IN The PWRR 'Tigers' Freefall Display Team landing on Southsea Common with a large crowd watching.     (112371-20)
DROPPING IN The PWRR 'Tigers' Freefall Display Team landing on Southsea Common with a large crowd watching. (112371-20)
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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The crowd roared as five tiny specs suddenly came into view and the parachutes flew open above Southsea Common.

Thousands of people turned out to watch parachutists from the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment – known as the Tigers –- descend, streaking red, white and blue across the sky.

SCOTS The parade with the Rose and Thistle Pipes and Drums band leading (112371-7)

SCOTS The parade with the Rose and Thistle Pipes and Drums band leading (112371-7)

It was one of the highlights of the fantastic Armed Forces Weekend on Southsea Common.

All the services were represented at the fourth annual event with yesterday dedicated to the airborne services.

There were parades, demonstrations and information stands and games for the children.

Bus driver Daniel Paprocki came from Watford for the day with his young family.

The father of three said: ‘We wanted to take the children on a day out to enjoy the sunshine and when we got here we found out about this.

‘We’ve never seen anything like it and certainly never been able to get so close to such amazing military equipment. The children are loving it and climbing all over tanks and have held rifles. It’s not the sort of thing you get to do every day and it’s been really, really enjoyable.’

Among the stands was the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust. Trustee Sarah Bryant said it was a fantastic opportunity to get the charity out there.

‘There are a lot of naval families in the city, and also a lot of people who haven’t heard of us before or know what we do,’ said Mrs Bryant. ‘So this has been very beneficial to use because people will talk about us when they get home and the word will spread.’

The highlights of the two days were the parachute jumps, which on Sunday was carried out by the Red Devils Freefall Display Team.

The weekend’s events raised money for the Airborne Forces Security Fund and the British Legion.

Money will also be given to a third charity which has yet to be decided upon.

John Newman, the secretary of Pompey Paras which organised the weekend, said: ‘You can sit at home watching a war on television or hearing about Afghanistan on the radio but coming here makes it real.

‘We support veterans, regular troops and cadets and we know that one day those cadets will be serving and the current soldiers will be veterans. Because of the cuts we have austerity but the people still give to the heroes.’