WATCH: Proud ex-Paras parade through naval base to mark Airborne Day

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DOZENS of veterans and their families marked Airborne Forces Day with a parade.

The ex-servicemen gathered at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth on Saturday to reunite with former comrades and reminisce about their careers in the Parachute Regiment.

John Newman, organiser of the annual event, led the parade through the naval base in the basking hot sunshine.

He said: ‘The parade was very good this year. This is all to celebrate everything that the parachute regiment has done.

‘We have three people here in their 90s and there may be people from the regiment who are even older than that.

‘They come here because of the pride in being in the Paras. They don’t want to let anyone down and certainly not themselves.’

This is the day all the old stories come out, because they don’t forget them.

John Newman, event organiser

After the parade through the base, the veterans were given a rousing speech by Lieutenant General Chip Chapman.

He spoke about the 77th anniversary of the regiment being founded in 1940, and its role in conflicts including World War Two, the Falkland Islands, and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He also paid tribute to servicemen who had lost their lives both in service and afterwards.

After the speeches the veterans enjoyed food, drinks and live music.

Among the parade were also representatives of regiment branches in Belgium and Germany.

Mr Newman, 74, of Hayling Island, said: ‘We had a special dinner on Friday and we will always have a drink to our absent friends.

‘This is the day all the old stories come out, because they don’t forget them.’

D-Day veteran Arthur Bailey turns out for the parade each year.

The 93-year-old, of Cosham, took part in the Battle of Arnhem and landed on Gold beach.

He said: ‘People have come from all parts of the country to be here.

‘Everyone has had a good time and hopefully the event will continue every year.’

The Parachute Regiment was formed in 1940 by Sir Winston Churchill, who had called for the formation of an elite corps of troops.

A specialist training school was set up at Ringway Airport near Manchester.

The regiment’s first successful raid came in 1942, with C Company of the 2nd Battalion’s drop on an enemy radar station at Bruneval in France.