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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo was launched yesterday to a vibrant display of cultural diversity from around the globe.
 
This summer’s ‘East Meets West’ themed event is set to be one of the most impressive ever staged: a celebration of the richness of international culture and the creative spirit of human endeavour.  
 
Making a first visit to Edinburgh, the impressive Changxing Lotus Dragon Dance Folklore Group will tell a story - through dance and music - of a great dragon emerging from a pond covered in beautiful lotus flowers. The legend has been presented in China for many years to help promote the prospect of good crops and wider prosperity.
 
The Dragon Dancers are joined by other Tattoo first-timers, the United States Air Force Honour Guard, marking the special relationship between the US and the UK, with a dynamic display of precision drill.
 
Amongst all the acts recruited and brought together for this year, the perennial highlight remains the traditional march across Edinburgh Castle drawbridge by the Massed Pipes & Drums. Stirring sounds from 14 Regimental and Commonwealth bands, comprising 250 pipers & drummers.
 
Chief Executive and Producer, Brigadier David Allfrey said: “The Pipes and Drums are special. Everyone waits for their moment and you can feel the sense of expectation across the stands.  We have added an extra set again this year and are bringing the pipers together with dancers, fiddle players, traditional instruments and Gaelic song.  It is stunning!” 
 
“We are particularly proud to present ‘The Pipers Trail’ again with a composite international pipes and drums drawn from the piping family on several continents.  They have their own tartan and their own style,” he continued.
 
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D-Day veteran Trooper Ernest Payne, 101 years old from Brighton, was recently recognised for his bravery by being awarded the Legion d’Honneur from the French government.
 
The award was given in recognition of his role during the D-Day landings in 1944, 71 years ago, when he drove his Sherman Tank with the 24th Lancers ashore on the French beaches.
 
In front of family, friends and other residents at Pilgrim Homes in Brighton, Ernest was honoured to be presented with his Legion d’Honneur medal by Captain Ed Aitken, 29, who is a serving member of The Royal Lancers. To be presented the award by an Officer of his former regiment was Ernest’s greatest wish, apart from receiving a card from Her Majesty the Queen on his 100th Birthday.
 
Upon receiving his medal Ernest said: “It’s wonderful. Couldn’t be better. I am very happy, I feel very privileged that Ed has come to give this to me. It’s beautiful.”
 
In exchange Ernest gave Capt Aitken a book of all his memoirs, which he had written upon turning 90 years old and he asked that they be taken back to the regiment for all to read. 
 
Capt Aitken said, “To have Ernest here today as living proof of our heritage and the extraordinary times during the D-Day landings is absolutely fantastic and to be here to make him realise the excellent name of his Regiment of the 24th Lancers still lives on in The Royal Lancers today. It is an enormous privilege and pleasure to be giving him the award and to see him chirpy, healthy and clearly delighted is a total joy.”
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Many thanks to you for your service and sacrifice. 
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In front of family and friends Army Reserve recruits who have been taking part in an intensive three-week basic training package had their ‘passing out’ parade as fully trained Phase One soldiers at Redford Barracks, Edinburgh.
 
Gunner Christopher Harris-Jones, with 212 Battery, 105th Regiment Royal Artillery, took part in the parade. He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise. I joined the Reserves to better myself, and ultimately get myself ready to join the Regulars.”

Officer Commanding the exercise, Major Richard Barker explained: “Members of the Army Reserve are ready and willing to volunteer and share the same risks as the Regulars.
 
“The recruits have been taking part in military skills training which concentrates on key soldiering skills such as fitness, handling and firing a weapon, foot drill, first aid, navigation, and living in the field.
 
“It is all about learning by doing, so the recruits took part in a number of exercises that have tested them in realistic conditions. It was hard work, but they worked as part of a team, and were trained to encourage and support each other.”
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Well done all!!!!!!!! Thank you!!!!!!
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The Apache Display Team have been displaying the might of the gunship at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) last weekend.

The display used two attack helicopters to show how they would mutually support each other in the air and engage ground targets with their formidable arsenal.

The display used pyrotechnics to simulate some of the weapons the helicopter utilises whilst on operations. The finale to the demonstration was the wall of fire as the helicopters hover in front of the packed crowd at RIAT.
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Corporal Simon Brown, 36, from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, who was injured in Iraq, recently met US Marine Corps colleague, Marine Ken Swartz, from the 5th Marines.
 
The world famous Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews, treated 12 wounded and injured soldiers to a Grand Day Out at The Open, Golf’s most prestigious competition.
 
The soldiers, who have all been either injured on operations or in training, were hosted by the Royal and Ancient’s Royal Patron, His Royal Highness The Duke of York, for a day of world class sport. They arrived in time for breakfast and had a chance to meet the players, watch the action and were then treated to a luxurious afternoon’s VIP package, followed by a dinner in their honour.
 
During their visit, the troops were presented with two Grand Day Out gold bags, signed by the world’s most famous golfing stars, to take away and auction for service charities.
 
The soldiers were all nominated by their unit, the Personnel Recovery Unit in Edinburgh, which looks after them when they leave hospital, until they are either fit enough to go back to their jobs in the Army or can be safely discharged.
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King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery took over from the Household Cavalry to provide the Queen’s Life Guard at Horse Guards at the beginning of July. This year, for the first time, they are using Knightsbridge Barracks, the home of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, for the period of their duty.  

Work started early at the barracks in Knightsbridge with the final preparations to mount the guard. These soldiers spent up to eight hours the previous day getting all their equipment cleaned to the highest standard. On the morning of the guard, while the soldiers groom and prepare their horses the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the guard inspects their boots, sword and tack. Not only is she ensuring that they are up to the basic standard required for the guard, but also assessing them to see who gets which guard duty. Those who do well get to choose which they do. She then inspects the horses. Just before they set off to take up their duties there is a final mounted parade where they are inspected by the Adjutant. 

Yesterday the Queen was in residence at Buckingham Palace, so the guard is what is known as a “Long Guard”, which means that it is commanded by an officer attended by a trumpeter. Traditionally the method of issuing orders in the cavalry and horse artillery was by trumpet call and thus officers always had a trumpeter with them to relay their orders. Officers can be identified by their larger busbies and bigger plumes as well as ornate saddle cloths. If the Queen is not in residence it is a “Short Guard” with no officer or trumpeter.

Find out more about The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery: http://bit.ly/1Smwjlc
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The Army Air Corps closed a chapter of its history today as it bid farewell to the Lynx Mk7 aircraft and the last Lynx students were awarded their graduation certificates. It was day of sadness and celebrations as Lynx Mk7 crews past and present gathered to say goodbye to the much loved aircraft and also to mark the 70th Anniversary of 671 Lynx Conversion Squadron.

The event opened with a six Lynx Mk7 flypast including the last backflip, a move the Lynx is famous for. The fin...al backflip was performed by Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) Mick Kildea and Captain Neil Posthumus, the AAC’s award winning 2014 display pilots. WO1 Kildea said: “I am very proud to have been a part of the formation today; it’s a great privilege to be the final person to fly the final aerobatic backflip for the British Army. The Mk7 doing the backflip today, XZ184, was converted from a Mk1 airframe which was the first Lynx to do a backflip so it is fitting that she also did the last.”

During the ceremony, the students were presented with their graduation certificates by the Guest of Honour Jonathan Hayward, son of Sir Jack Hayward who was a founder member of 671 Sqn.
The Wildcat AH1 will eventually replace all the Lynx helicopters in the AAC service when the Lynx Mk9A retires in 2018. It has a lot of the fine qualities of the Lynx but takes the original basic design to new levels of capability.
 
Read the full story: http://bit.ly/1OFqNJg
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The Desert Rats, more formally known as 7 Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East, have marched proudly onto the parade square to formally recognise reaching Full Operating Capability.

Over 130 soldiers representing the Brigade’s six units were on parade in front of an audience of invited guests and dignitaries. The parade included a Drum Head Service led by the Reverend Philip Bosher, the Brigade Senior Chaplain. Music was provided by the Band of the Royal Armoured Corps.

The Brigade was formed this year from the merger of 7 Armoured Brigade and 49(East) Brigade as part of the structural changes made under Army 2020. 

Read the full story and find out more about The Desert Rats: http://bit.ly/1M0RcUz
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New 9ft (with bearskin) Garrison Sergeant Major WO1 Vern Stokes takes over ceremonial and public duties in London.
 
Warrant Officer Class 1 Andrew (Vern) Stokes (43), from Telford, Shropshire, is a commanding presence at 6ft 4” (standing 9ft tall in his Coldstream Guards red tunic and bearskin cap). And he needs to be, as he is the public face responsible for perfection at the heart of the nation’s military ceremonial events. 
 
The Garrison Sergeant Major is a Senior Warrant Officer in the British Army. He must possess an all-seeing eye, an obsessive attention to detail, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of military drill and presentation. Troops in the Household Division are icons of Britain and the Garrison Sergeant Major is responsible for ensuring that they look and perform to the highest standard every day as well as during historic national State commemorations.
 
WO1 Stokes’ new role extends beyond London to encompass State Ceremonial across the UK and wherever our troops are based overseas. He will also be responsible for passing on his skills to our allies’ armed forces as part of the UK’s Defence Overseas Engagement.
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Army’s top chefs, both Regular and Reserve, showed their skills and talents in a one-day cooking event. This included formal and improvised cooking, testing the chefs’ creativity, adaptability and timings.

The competition was organised by 167 Catering Support Regiment RLC. It included an Improvised Field Catering Challenge that saw teams of three chefs tasked to cook a two-course meal for twenty soldiers using ingredients from operational ration packs, but only after they had built a stove from materials including an empty medal drum, a metal grid and bricks.

A team of Army Reservist Chefs from the Grantham-based 167 Catering Support Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps served up a Chicken and Rabbit Fricassee with Mediterranean vegetables, cabbage and sauté potatoes. Dessert was a choice of sable biscuits with a lemon syllabub served with raspberry coulis or a pear tart with custard.

Lance Corporal Neil Pidgeon who works as a head chef at Aston Martin in civilian life, said: “We were given the box of ingredients 15-minutes before we started cooking. We just had to crack on, plan the menu and build a kitchen.”

Read the full story: http://bit.ly/1edWRYf
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Images of the day: Snipers from the First Fusiliers Battlegroup conducting training on the BATUS (British Army Training Unit Suffield) training area in Alberta, Canada during exercise Prairie Storm.
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Reservists from The Royal Yeomanry have been sharpening their military skills on a recent weekend training exercise.
                                                                                                      
Friday evening saw the soldiers descend onto Stamford (STANTA) Training area in Norfolk at the start of the two-day exercise that saw them practise their infantry skills and living in the field.
 
On operations the Royal Yeomanry will deploy in front of other friendly forces to gather intelligence on the enemy and the environment. The weekend exercise saw the soldiers testing their ability to do just that.
 
Trooper Daniel Bunce (21) was one of 120 soldiers that took part in the Exercise. He works as a Barman in his day job but as a soldier in Dudley based B Squadron he is a Gunner. His dad, Mark, also serves in the Regiment.
 
Daniel said: “I really enjoy coming out on Exercise spending time with the guys and my dad. It does sound clichéd but we do have a strong bond of friendship in the Squadron and the Regiment.  We train together, but we also socialise outside of training nights. Most weekends if we aren’t training, we will all go out together socially.”
 
The weekend training saw the Army Reservists use the agile Land Rover R-WMIKs (Revised Weapon Installation Kit) which are equipped with a General Purpose Machine Gun and the Browning .50 Heavy Machine gun. It also has the latest digital battlefield communications systems and surveillance optics, including thermal imaging, to see at night.
 
The Royal Yeomanry Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Simon McMenemy said: “The training this weekend has been an opportunity for the soldiers to practice their infantry and reconnaissance skills, both on foot and mounted in R-WMIKS. It is a role some of our Reservists would have been doing for real in Afghanistan.”
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Very limited utility for those Landrovers these days.
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