Personnel from Wiltshire-based 14 Regiment Royal Artillery’s (14 Regt RA) 34 Seringapatam Battery had the honour of firing a 21-gun salute at the historic site of Stonehenge to mark the Coronation of King Charles III on, Saturday, 6th May.
As well as being one of the most famous monuments in the world, Stonehenge stood at the heart of the world’s largest military training camp during the First World War. Around 1,000,000 men from across the Commonwealth trained for war there between 1914 and 1918.
Today, the British Army still trains on nearby Salisbury Plain and the home of The Royal Artillery sits only a stone’s throw from this world heritage site.
It is, therefore, only fitting that in recent years the location has been used, with kind invitation from English Heritage, for gun salutes to mark the nation’s most important occasions, including those of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and the accession of His Majesty King Charles.
Gun salutes are customarily fired, both on land and at sea, as a sign of respect or welcome. Today, gun salutes mark special occasions on certain days of the year, many of them with royal associations.
Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Andrew McDermott, Commanding Officer of 14 Regt RA said: “14th Regiment Royal Artillery were delighted to have been asked by the team at English Heritage to fire a gun salute at Stonehenge on the occasion of His Majesty’s Coronation. To fire from this globally recognisable World Heritage Site is an incredible privilege.”
He added: “I am incredibly proud of both those firing the salute and those who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make today happen. It has been, as with everything we do in the Army, a team effort; and today the team has been superb.”
Major (Maj) Glyn Forster-Haig, Battery Commander and Parade Officer, has led on several gun Salutes at the historic site and until recently, along with his Battery, has been training the Ukrainian Armed Forces, he said: “Whenever you are doing a salute, you are stepping a million miles away from what is your day job, which is being an artilleryman providing support for either training or in preparation for war fighting.
“I think it speaks volumes to the quality of my people, when you consider that a few short weeks ago we were in the field training Ukrainian men and women to become artillery gunners for the ongoing conflict.
“Here the Battery are now standing in ceremonial uniform and immensely proud to be celebrating this wonderful occasion, but next week they will be back in the field to resume that training.”
Warrant Officer First (WO1) Class Gemma Begley has recently been promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major of
14 Regt RA and is a veteran of these occasions, but her role is slightly different now: “I was the parade Warrant Officer for the Queen’s death salute and the proclamation of the new King.
“This time, I am accompanying the Commanding Officer as he inspects the troops on parade. It has been amazing to participate in this historic event. It is a generational change for both the Army and the country, and I am so proud.”
Lance Bombardier (LBdr) Samuel Reed, who has been in the Army for five years, was loading one of the three L118 Light Guns involved in the event, he said:
“It was a bit nerve wracking with all eyes on you and I’m from a regiment that doesn’t do a lot of ceremonial duties, so it is a bit different, but we got it done.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m so proud, it will be something I can tell my grandchildren one day.”