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Armed Forces Day celebrated across the UK

From Stirling to Southampton, more than 100 events were held across the United Kingdom on Saturday to celebrate Armed Forces Day.

Now in its 15th year, Armed Forces Day, with parades, salutes, fayres and flypasts, is the finale of a week of events which celebrate the entire Armed Forces community.

It is an annual opportunity to thank service personnel, veterans, cadets and their families, while recognising the service and sacrifice made by the families of serving personnel.

This year’s National Event was held in Falmouth, Cornwall where over 1,000 military personnel, veterans and cadets took part in a tri-service parade.

Around 100,000 visitors from all corners of the UK attended the National Event.

In Edinburgh, the Armed Forces Day event was hosted by Legion Scotland. A parade was led by The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland with over 400 Legionnaires following.

In Glasgow, all three Services were represented by regulars, reserves, veterans and cadets with The Royal Marines Band leading the parade.

Armed Forces Day was celebrated in Ayrshire with a wreath laying ceremony and a two-minute silence at the Cenotaph.

The day was also a celebration of the 225th Anniversary of the Ayrshire Yeomanry’s formation. Marchers and riders on horseback paraded through the streets of the town supported by musicians from the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry Pipes and Drums.

In Stirling, The Royal Regiment of Scotland exercised their Freedom of the City by stepping off from Stirling Castle and marching to the Stirling Smith Museum, with the regimental mascot, Corporal Cruachan IV, a black Shetland pony, also joining the parade. 

Armed Forces Day recognises the commitment and resilience demonstrated by our entire Armed Forces community every day of the year. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace

In typical Northern Ireland fashion, the heavens opened during the Armed Forces Day event in Larne, held a week earlier on 17 June, but a fantastic day was still enjoyed by all.

James Cartlidge MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, attended the event which began with a tri-service military parade, led by the Band, Bugles, Pipes and Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment.

Irish wolfhound Seamus, the Irish Guards mascot, dazzling in his scarlet coat, put in a guest appearance.

The crowds in Larne watched 206 (Ulster) Battery, 105 Royal Artillery fire a 21 Royal Gun Salute for His Majesty The King’s Birthday.

Thousands then flocked to a Military Village that included military displays, STEM activities, music workshops for potential buglers and drummers, and sports competitions. 

Young people especially enjoyed getting hands on with a Gazelle helicopter, climbing into Army trucks, dressing up in helmets and camouflage kit and being put through their paces by instructors from the Royal Army Physical Training Corps.

The day in County Antrim concluded with a Beating Retreat by the Band, Bugles, Pipes and drums of the Royal Irish Regiment. 

In Wales, Newport hosted the Wales National Armed Forces Day with The Royal Welsh Regimental Goat, Lance Corporal Shenkin IV, and Corporal Emrys Forlan Jones, the Regimental Welsh mountain pony from 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, leading the parade. 

The musical march featured members of all three Services, veterans, Royal British Legion standard bearers and youngsters from the Combined Cadet Forces across Wales, who all paraded to the tune of The Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Welsh.

A packed programme of activity also featured a Red Arrows flypast.

The Riverfront Theatre hosted an exhibition of artwork by Armed Forces children, while Newport Museum and Art Gallery displayed Home Front sketches as part of a World War One display. 

Regular and Reserve units from across Wales were on hand to chat to visitors about their roles and recent deployments across the world. 

The Band of the Prince of Wales, the Gwent and Powys Army Cadet Force Band and Cardiff Military Wives Choir entertained the crowds at Rodney Parade.

Presentations of Armed Forces in Wales awards also took place at the stadium. These awards were organised by 160th (Welsh) Brigade to recognise outstanding achievements over the last year. 

The evening ended with a handover from Newport to Swansea, who will host next year’s Wales National Armed Forces Day, and a final performance from The Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of the Royal Welsh, which included the 1812 Overture and the firing of guns by soldiers from 104 Regiment Royal Artillery.

In England, hundreds of well-wishers lined the streets of Doncaster to watch the city’s spectacular Armed Forces Day parade led by the Band of the Coldstream Guards who also played at the recent Coronation of His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen.

Joining them on parade were members of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, based in Windsor and made up of over 500 soldiers and officers. The battalion’s primary role is light role infantry, capable of deploying anywhere in the world at short notice.

The Coldstream Guards were granted the Freedom of Entry in 2021. This ceremonial decree allows the regiment to march through Doncaster in full splendour, with bayonets fixed, drums beating, band playing and colours flying.  

Armed Forces Day films have been broadcast at train stations around the UK this week, paying tribute to the military community.

His Majesty The King hailed the “immense and dedicated” contribution of UK service personnel.

In a message of support, His Majesty recognised “the selfless service and sacrifice” the Armed Forces make and thanked the wider Armed Forces community, including military families and veterans, for the role they play in allowing service personnel to fulfil their duties.

On Saturday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:  

“Armed Forces Day recognises the commitment and resilience demonstrated by our entire Armed Forces community every day of the year.

“I hope the entire nation will join me today in paying tribute to this community and recognise all those who make so many sacrifices to uphold the freedoms and rights of the British people.”

The UK Armed Forces protect the UK and promote our interests around the world every day of the year.

On Armed Forces Day 2023, more than 14,000 soldiers, sailors, marines, and aviators will be based overseas and deployed around the world, serving on 33 operations in 28 countries.

Since last year’s Armed Forces Day, UK military personnel have been at the forefront of international efforts to support Ukraine, supported the evacuation of British citizens from Sudan and led the nation in high-profile ceremonial roles at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and His Majesty King Charles III’s Coronation.

The Army is recruiting.

Now and always.