Wrexham County Borough 86 - The Armed Forces Parade/the ceremonial pony and Billy the Goat /should kids dress up as soldiers ? /is it a Spitfire or a Hurricane ?

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June 27th 2022
Published: June 27th 2022
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We were driving into town talking amongst ourselves as we drove . What have we done since we have lived here ? Had we realised we have been here 15 months ? We came down to rain, a flooded garage , a family who would not move out and Covid almost instant lockdown . Life had drifted along under Covid. Gabby had stood unused and stored . It is fair to say she has not travelled far in the last 15 months nor in the months that preceded the move . We have struggled getting workmen to come and do the jobs we are not allowed to do . We saw prices of materials rise. Life was very different to 2 years ago . Would we have driven into Chesterfield for Arms Forces Day? No probably not . There were parades - a May Day Labour parade, a medieval market and not once did we go and join them . Neither did we go to the cafes in town nor the museum . Things had changed and so had we. Blogs - I had written and complained about Covid , about the lack of walks in the immediate neighbourhood . 1066 blogs. A strange number to come up and stir up historical memories . Nearly 6000 photographs .

We parked up , stopped reminiscing and discussing what was better about our life in North Wales and walked down quiet Charles Street towards the town centre . It is a lovely street . Quite narrow but full of trees and flowers . I remembered Bumbles cafe and shop. That was lovely but now closed and boarded up. Along High Street with the crowds starting to find places to sit . That was Martins Bank , Barclays over there and Commercial Bank of Wales . All lovely buildings but all converted to pubs or wine bars . We stopped on the corner of Regent Street and Hope Street - Susie Q dress shop used to be there and MacFisheries . I was on a roll remembering all the old shops that used to line the streets . We moved on to Queens Square where a field hospital had been set up , a tank was the centre of attention for the children who climbed on it and in it. The recruiting offices for the Armed Forces were busy . Handing out leaflets . Youngsters who already were members of the Air Training Corps or the Army Cadets formed a barrier to keep the roads clear .

The parade had started from the back of Llwyn Isaf . We could see flashes of brass in the distance . We could hear the music . We cut along the streets and occaisionally we saw the red of the uniforms . Eventually we stopped back on Regent Street . The sound of the band came closer . A young girl came round the corner leading the band or more likely clearing the way through . Photographers hung out of street corners . Leaning over to take photographs . The Regimental Sergeant Major with his shining boots and silver baton led the small regimental pony. It seemed a little nervous and we heard later it was its first outing and they were pleased with the performance . They were letting the pony get used to crowds and noise and she performed well . She was followed by the Billy the regimental goat resplendant with silver horn adornments and the rather unwelcome silver badge on its head . The Prince of Wales feathers and the motto Ich Dien - I serve . An English fashion with the german motto. Not welcomed in Wales even though it is the badge of the regiment . Following behind was the brass band who were followed by a pipe and drum band . The Airforce personnel came next and then a large contingent of the British Legion . We followed the motorbikes on their way back to the Guildhall where a group with guitars and drums were setting up under the bandstand . Following the group would be the Ifton Colliery Brass Band and the Rhos Male Voice Choir .

Gazebos were set up with army demonstrations and items from the first and second world wars on display . A nurse in a wartime outfit . There was so much going on all day .

A fly past was sadly cancelled due to the weather but men and women on stilts wandered around and a small child led a parade . They were proudly wearing a copy of a uniform complete with busby . We loved it and the child loved it too . But the rumblings like the thunder were heard . Should a child be dressed like that ? Would it encourage them to war ? No that little boy or girl was probably copying dad and loving every minute of being part of the parade .

Where to next ? Coffee at Gerrards and then on to Ty Pawb where there was an exhibition of photographs and stories about the 1940 Battle of Britain . This was on tour for one week only in North Wales . There were cuttings from the local newspapers telling the story of the devastation to South Walian towns and cities . There were photographs of the pilots who survived the Battle of Britain and those who sadly did not . Colour photographs of the airplanes . Did I know which was which from the photographs ? We learnt the story of the airfields local to us and the story of the local boy made good . He went to the local grammar school and joined the air force reaching the rank of Air Marshall . He was Equerry to the Queen and was knighted . I never had heard of him before reading the story on the walls . And yes I know the difference between a spitfire and a Hurricane now . One has a hump behind its cockpit and the other is straight . You learn a lot new every day if you go out and listen.


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