Paul Johnson is a musician in the Band of the Irish Guards based at Wellington Barracks in central London. The Irish Guards band is one of the five foot Guards’ bands that form the Household Division.
Welcome to my second blog of the year! I would like to start this month with a parish notice. Since my last blog, the band said farewell to WO1 (BSM) Stuart Forgie after a distinguished career in the Micks. I would like to wish him all the best for the future!
This has been a rather interesting month for the band. One of the first gigs for the band was the Irish Guards Memorial Sunday (Black Sunday for the old and bold amongst us!). This is an annual parade for the past and present members of the Irish Guards to reflect and remember fallen comrades. The band marched the procession down to the Guards Memorial, for wreath laying, before marching back to the barracks.
St Patricks Day
On a more cheery note another date close to every Irishman’s heart is St Patrick’s Day. Last year the battalion were in Afghanistan on Operational duties, but happily this year we met them in Aldershot where HRH the Duchess of Cambridge presented us all with shamrocks.
Every spring the Foot Guards prepare for the summer season by brushing up on their personal drill – appropriately named ‘spring drills’. Throughout the year we attempt to achieve maximum pomp and ceremony with a stately pace of 116 beats per minute whilst marching. This dignified and elegant profile is certainly not maintained during spring drills when the Band regularly break the speed of sound and Einstein’s equations are fully tested as the Band become a blur or sweat and tears marching around without instruments!! This often leads to fits of giggles especially when someone turns the wrong way. Once this refresher training is complete the Regt Adjutant inspects the Band in their best ceremonial uniform. This is then followed by the Major General’s inspection a week later and this year he was particularly pleased with the turnout of the Band – well done the Micks!
Another interesting engagement this month occurred when we were invited to be part of the Foot Guards ‘Freedom of the City’ parade in Birmingham. This is an ancient honour given to regiments allowing them the privilege to march into the city “with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed”. Although this is now just a ceremonial honour, it still remains the oldest and one of the highest civic honours. So at 6am on a rather clear and crisp morning the Band took the trip up to Birmingham to march on the cobbled streets (with studded boots leading to much slipping and sliding around). After leading the parade through the city centre we were invited to a dinner with the Lord Mayor. It was a great event and supported well by many veterans and local people.