The Spring was a busy time for F Company, we took part in a full spectrum of events, as is often the norm in London District. February started with 38 members of the Company deploying to Les Contamines in France for the annual PDIC ski strip, where all participants passed the Ski Foundation Level 1 course. Not all members of the Company were fortunate enough to go skiing however, and 2 sections were sent to Brecon to support Infantry Battle School courses, supplying a section to both the Platoon Commanders’ and Platoon Se’geants’ Divisions.
Another few weeks of state ceremonial and public duties commitments back in London saw rehearsals and preparation for the State Visit of the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto. F Company provided two half companies for street lining. This prepared the Company well for the Major General’s Inspection, where the Company was congratulated for their immaculate turn out, and considered ready for ceremonial duties throughout the busy Summer Period.
F Company returned from Easter leave in mid-April, and was straight back into the London District routine; with a jam packed ceremonial season ahead, the company had to hit the ground running. A full timetable of Windsor and Queen’s Guards lay ahead until early May, including F Company leading the Army contingent for the Victory in Europe 70th anniversary parade in Whitehall.
This turned out to be over half the Company in the marching contingent, in front of the Royal Family, politicians and senior officers from all 3 services.
Troop training started soon afterwards, with the whole Company heading down to Pirbright on a daily basis to train with the Welsh Guards and the other incremental companies. Training this year was significantly cut down however, because of the timing of the General Election in May, the State Opening of Parliament awkwardly fell 3 days before the Major Generals Review, meaning there was limited time to practice for both. F Company provided 3 half-companies for the State Opening of Parliament, and the guardsmen showed they are able to take any amount of State Ceremonial duties in their stride.
With the State Opening of Parliament and all of the guard mounts from Horse Guards out of the way, the Company had two weeks of intensive training left before the Queen’s Birthday Parade, with a few Queen’s Guards and Windsor Castle Guards thrown in for good measure. Every man in the Company will agree that the hard work that is put in during the build up isn’t really appreciated until the actual day, with Her Majesty on Horse Guards and friends and family watching in the stands and on TV. The Company congregated for the post-Troop ball in one of the Army Reserve Centres in Mayfair to celebrate their achievements, followed by a week’s leave for the majority.
Some of the senior members of the Company and the colours travelled out to Hougoumont Farm in Belgium instead of heading home, to provide a colour party to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, and the opening of the refurbished Hougoumont Farm. For the few that travelled out there, this was a memorable experience celebrating one of our most famous battle honours.
Most recently, the Company as a whole has been to Newquay in Cornwall for a week of adventure training, including hill-walking, coasteering and surfing. The surfing was enjoyed by all, but the cliff jumps during the coasteering tested the mettle of those who struggle with heights. This period has also seen the Company say goodbye to Capt. Jones and Sgt. Wood, both of whom leave the army to forge new careers for themselves.