Manchester Military Tattoo - July 2007Jon Major
First it was lunch on the QEII, in its home port of Southampton with the survivors and families of HM Ships Ardent, Antelope and Coventry, then our own annual reunion weekend in Plymouth, followed by one of the greatest things I have ever had the pleasure to be part of, the ‘Falklands 25’ parade and march-past down The Mall, now to top it all off I have just taken part in the Manchester Military Tattoo, an annual event now in its 5th year, although it was not a great attendance the show itself was well planned and an honour to be part of, the highlight of the show was a ‘Falklands timeline’ in which every ship, unit and regiment that took part in The Falklands Conflict was remembered. For me to represent the very first ship I served on in the Royal Navy and to march out into one of the largest indoor arenas in the country carrying our new standard, which was being paraded for the first time in public, was a pleasure indeed, it was carried the full length of the arena through the assembled Falklands Veterans, which included ex-ARDENTS, the Scots Band Association and The Manchester Police Band up to its rightful place at the head of the parade to take the salute alongside the standard of SAMA 82 and another Falklands standard of the HMS Antrim Association.
What made this event even more special was to see the pride in the faces of the youngsters of our affiliated sea cadet unit TS ARDENT who played a key part in the proceedings. These youngsters have only touched the subject of The Falklands at school but to see the pride they have in representing our ships name is a pleasure to watch.
When I left the Royal Navy in 2002 I thought I had left behind all the drill, pomp and ceremony, it just hasn’t left me. I have now realised this year it is one of the things that makes our country the greatest in the world. We are not afraid to remember our past and those that made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
When asked by customers of the pub I now manage why I have spent so much time and money travelling to these events I always reply ‘not for one minute have I forgotten why I am doing it, one reason, well 22 reasons in fact, all those we left behind on HMS Ardent. I for one will never forget.