Rehearsal for Remembrance

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STANDING stock still in the cold for two hours would seem like a punishment for some.

But for every one of the sailors standing on the parade ground at HMS Excellent on Whale Island, the task is nothing but an honour.

Sailors from combined naval units parade in preparation for the remembrance day services this Sunday.''PICTURE:Malcolm Wells (123608 -1)

Sailors from combined naval units parade in preparation for the remembrance day services this Sunday.''PICTURE:Malcolm Wells (123608 -1)

More than 100 servicemen and women have spent the past couple of weeks rehearsing for their role in the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in London.

And today marked the last day of their training.

Petty Officer Tom Davis, 30, is a marine engineer at Portsmouth Naval Base.

He said: ‘It’s great to get to the point where we are all marching around as a team.

‘It’s quite difficult. It’s been a while since I’ve marched with a gun but it’s been good.

‘The instructors soon knock you into shape.’

For those taking part in the ceremony, the most difficult part is standing completely still for two hours.

The sailors have been practising standing like statues on the parade ground from 15 minutes up to two hours.

‘You stick out like a sore thumb if you move even a little bit,’ added PO Davis.

‘It’s important that we show ourselves well.’

Warrant Officer Paul Barker has been the navy’s state ceremonial training officer for the last seven years.

Whipping the group into shape is one of his last jobs as he retires from the Royal Navy next week.

He said: ‘To me, doing this last job is the icing on a very large cake.

‘This job has been a big part of my life and I love it to bits.’

Taking part in marching training were 111 members of the 
Royal Navy, eight members of Queen 
Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service, 10 Royal Fleet Auxiliary members and 48 Royal Marines.

As well as taking part in the ceremony at the Cenotaph, the group will be present at the Royal Albert Hall and the Lord Mayor’s Parade in London at the weekend.