Twelve members of the Home Guard traveled
to London to participate in the Victory March on June 8th. 1946
marking the end of W.W.II hostilities.
It was first decided by Lieutenant
Colonel Jack Turner, C.B.E., M.C., Officer Commanding the Forestry Unit,
that a detachment of twelve
men from the Forestry Unit
would take part in the Victory March on 8th. June, 1946. Major Curran,
second in command of the Unit, was
appointed to select the men
for this Parade, subject to the approval of the Officer-in-Charge Forestry
Brendan Davis, Lieutenant John Mercer, 2nd. Lieutenant
Ivan Shea, C.Q.M.S. Ken Crowell, Sergeant Louis Coloumbe, Sergeant Larry
Ryan, Corporal Steve Pike
Jack Barker, Corporal Pat Moriarty, Private Ray Tilley, Private William
As this was a very special parade and as all were most anxious to attain
a high degree of perfection, it was decided that special training in arms
drill and marching should commence and for that purpose the Officer Commanding
24 Command R.E.M.E. Workshops, by request, place a drill instructor at
our disposal, and a considerable amount of training was put in at Carrbridge
prior to going to London. Reservations were made for two compartments for
the journey to London, the detachment entrained at Aviemore on Sunday,
2nd. June, and after a very pleasant journey detrained at London on 3d.June.
Having arrived in London, the detachment proceeded to the Trade
Office, 58 Victoria Street, where they were met by Colonel Turner and where
they were given cigarettes, socks and sweaters. After lunching at
a restaurant quite near the office they proceeded to "D" Lines, Kensington
Gardens, where they were to be accommodated for the duration of their stay
It was a
vast encampment but we quickly settled down and by early evening of Monday,
3d. June, having been issued with camp equipment and dress for the Victory
March, all were quite happy in their new environment. Everybody was free
to do as they wished in the evenings and as there were troops from all
the Allies and the whole Empire, full advantage was taken of the opportunity
to wander about the camp and chat with our gallant comrades from other
for the comfort of troops was provided and this immense administrative
task was allotted to the Brigade of Guards. Marshaling Officers were attached
to each individual Contingent and were most courteous and helpful to everybody.
The food was excellent and there was abundance. In each camp lines, one
found canteens both wet and dry; Welfare tents where various tours were
arranged; Post Office, Public Telephones, both for UK and overseas calls;
Currency Exchange service; medical and dental services; shower baths and,
in fact, part of the serpentine boarding "D" lines was reserved for swimming;
tailors, hairdressers, boot repairers, were also laid on.
for the good things which, unfortunately, must meantime come to an end
and now we come to the hard part of it, i.e. training preparatory to the
march and the Victory March itself. Commencing on Tuesday, 4th. June, a
Drill Sergeant (C.S.M.) Irish Guards, put us through our paces on the Parade
Ground and from then until Friday, the day preceding the Victory March,
an average of three hours a day was punched in doing drill. The whole contingent,
although at times feeling a bit browned off from such rigid exercise, always
realized that they had a great reputation to live up to and spared no effort
to attain the highest standard of efficiency. Throughout the short period
of drill all acted, and one may say felt, like Guardsmen.
Saturday, 8th.June, the great day having arrived the whole contingent was
on Parade spit and polish at 8:35am. After an inspection by the O/C, we
were marched off to the starting point at Tyburn Gates, the two most westerly
gates out of Hyde Park at the Marble Arch. The head of the marching
column passed this starting point at 1035 hours.
The route for the Marching
Column was as follows:
Charing Cross Road
Parliament Square (arr.) 1125 hours
Parliament Square (del) 1145 hours
Hyde Park Corner
of the route from Parliament Square to Hyde Park Corner was common to both
Mechanized Column and Marching Column. The only part of the lined by troops
was from the junction Whitehall and Trafalgar Square along the Mall to
just past Buckingham Palace in Constitution Hill. Literally millions of
people lined the entire route waving flags and shouting greetings as we
passed by. Assistance to the police in keeping the route clear was given
by Army and R.A.P. at certain key points.
All contingents marched in
ranks of twelve abreast at 116 paces to the minute by the centre except
between Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace when contingents marched by
the left. All along Oxford Street and New Oxford Street, however, the number
of islands necessitated marching continuously in two halves of six.
were carried by a Naval Officer accompanied by an Army Officer and an R.A.F.
Officer. Major Sheppard, M.B.E., was Officer in Charge and marched alone
at the head of the contingent. The Foresters made up the first rank with
Major Black forming the left file; the Navy consisting of seven ratings
formed the centre rank and the rear rank was made up of Army and R.A.F.
with Major Davis forming the left file.
point was in the Mall opposite Marlborough Gate and the command given at
this point was "Eyes Left". Two bands of the Brigade of Guards were stationed
immediately opposite the Saluting Point and played all troops past His
Majesty. On the Saluting Base also was Her Majesty the Queen, Their Royal
Highnesses Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret and Queen Mary. Also
directly underneath the Saluting Base and on either side were Chiefs of
Staff and Supreme Commanders and Dominions and U.K. Prime Ministers, not
forgetting Mr. Winston Churchill who was very much in the forefront. Various
other important personages from all over the
world were also at the Saluting
marched to attention along the whole route ( which I think was somewhere
about six or seven miles from start to finish). Rifles were carried at
the slope by our contingent and arms were not changes once, which is definitely
a record. It was learned afterwards that some contingents changed arms
ten times during the march. The only compliments paid during the march
were on passing the Cenotaph in Whitehall and when passing the Saluting
Point on the Mall, when the appropriate commands were given.
back in our lines at Kensington gardens, the Contingent was complimented
by Major Sheppard on their performance and before dismissing us he
announced that Mr. Reg Harvey Had very kindly arranged with the N.A.A.F.I.
to supply us with and eighteen gallon barrel of beer and two hundred cigarettes
per man. At night, London was floodlit and it was indeed a wonderful spectacle.
The whole thing was so wonderful that one could never attempt to describe
celebrations commenced immediately after the Parade and continued until
after midnight. Buckingham Palace was completely ablaze with floodlighting
and was the centre of attraction for everybody. One joined the mass at
the Admiralty Arch and all up the Mall to and beyond Buckingham Palace
was a solid block of people. The Royal Family cam on to the balcony at
Buckingham Palace at 10.00pm and again at midnight; the applause was terrific.
Parade, some of us traversed the route over which we had marched and as
we were particularly interested in the section known as the Mall from the
Admiralty Arch to Buckingham Palace, we walked along here taking note of
the various flags on either side and to our surprise we discovered that
the good old Newfoundland Flag had a most honoured position, as it was
flying in all its splendour nearest to the Union Jack at the Saluting Base
on His Majesty's right. On the left it was noted that the flag of Soviet
Russia was nearest the Saluting Base.
5th.June, an informal inspection of all the Dominion and Colonial Troops
by the King, Queen and Royal Princesses took place in Kensington Gardens.
The troops were spread out in such a way to give everyone a good view of
Their Majesties. The position of the Newfoundland Contingent was at the
end of the lines and this afforded us a splendid opportunity of watching
Their Majesties as they slowly moves towards us. The King came down on
the right side of the drive and the Queen on the left, both stopping here
and there to speak to the troops, while the Princesses walked down the
centre of the drive smiling and looking very charming. It was a great moment
in our lives when finally Their Majesties cam into our lines. Mr. Murphy,
acting trade commissioner for Newfoundland and Major Sheppard M.B.E.,Officer
in Charge of the Contingent were presented to the King and Queen and Royal
Princesses; Major Black, Major Davis and 2nd. Lieutenant Shea were presented
to the Queen; The King spoke to Lieutenant Mercer and Lieutenant Garland,
R.N. The King was very much interested in the Forestry Badge and commented
upon it. Rear Admiral Sir Arthur Bromley accompanied the Royal Family and
put the Forestry Unit very much in the forefront. After the inspection
Their Majesties back through the lines waving and smiling as they passed
On the 6th.June,
Dominion and Colonial Troops were invited to a Victory Garden Party given
by H.Q.Eastern Command where we met and shook hands with General Sir Oliver
Lees and wife. The troops were comfortably seated in a huge tent where
the stage was effectively decorated by flags from the different Dominions.
The programme opened up with the Trumpeters of the Royal Artillery followed
by music and Highland Dancing by the Pipers of the Scots Guards. Then came
Ellen Lauder, "Scotland's Gift to Variety." Next the Beverly Sisters, the
famous broadcasting trio, followed by Bonar Colleno and Frances Day. Community
Singing by the choir of the Royal Netherlands Forces, accompanied by pipes
and drums brought the indoor part of the programme to a close. Between
five and six o'clock, tea was served on the lawn. After tea, we were treated
to a circus performance by two of the world's most wonderful riders, Mroozkowski
and Hoarce, with their magnificent Arab Stallions; also Margaret and Clown
George, bareback riding, from Chessington Zoo and Circus. The afternoon
was brought to a successful conclusion by a retreat played by the Coldstream
Guards and the Pipers of the Scots Guards.
7th.June, the Newfoundland Office in London extended invitations to the
Contingent to attend a luncheon in Stewart's Restaurant. The party was
received by Mr. Murphy, Acting Trade Commissioner for Newfoundland, and
Commander Ryan, R.N. Before the luncheon we were treated to refreshment
and introductions were made all round.
acting as Chairman at the Luncheon, in a very able and jovial manner welcomed
everybody present. Rev. Dr. Foley then addressed the gathering and referred
to the exploits of all three services and the Forestry Unit during the
Minister for Finance in the Commission of Government, then spoke and praised
the work of the services and the Forestry Unit and told everybody that
everything was being done back home to improve conditions in Newfoundland.
Major Sheppard, Officer Commanding the Contingent, gave a brief outline
of his branch of the service and referred to his old comrades of the last
war as well as this. He apologized for not knowing more about the Forestry
boys but joined with the preceding in
extending thanks for all the
good work they had accomplished.
Lieutenant Jack Mercer of the Forestry Unit was called upon by the Chairman
to say a few words. Mr. Mercer thanked all present for organizing
such a wonderful luncheon and expressed his pleasure at being present.
7th.June, a motor coach conveyed the men from Kensington Gardens to the
Houses of Parliament. Luncheon was served, after which they were conducted
through the various historic rooms and lobbies. They were given the opportunity
of visiting for a short while the House of Lords where they listened with
great interest to the subject under discussion. Before leaving,
some of the men had the pleasure of meeting Lady Megan Lloyd George and
of seeing Mr. Bevin and other
members of the Cabinet.
of visiting the zoo was also taken, where an enjoyable and very interesting
couple of hours were spent. A visit to Madame
Tussaud's Wax Works provided another interesting evening. Life-like wax
models of personnel dating back from many years
ago to the present day were very impressive.
from the BBC were extended to the men to attend a Variety Bank Box Concert,
under Conductor Ray Jenkins, at the Camberwell
Palace Theater on June 9th. Many availed themselves of the opportunity
of seeing the concert which they thoroughly enjoyed.
were made by Miss Margot Davies, M.B.E., Newfoundland Office, Victoria
Street, for the Foresters to send greetings
messages to their parents and
relatives at home. We are extremely grateful to Miss Davies for making
all the arrangements and
we are also most grateful to
Miss Peggie Broadhead of the North American Service B.B.C. to whose credit
we owe success of the
The above narrative
and picture were provided to us by Larry Gladney of Clarenville, and we
do not know the writers name at this time
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