Annual Inspection Parades


Sometime in the late 1960s the CCF went to one day a week but with a rather longer parade.  When I first started the big event of the year was the Annul inspection in the Summer – usually before Exhibition in the later years.  When I started the major event was the Parade on the Match ground.  All the cadets in the CCF except the first year, paraded on the bounds and then marched to the sound of the Band down the hill.  The Band was traditionally the job of St. Aidans’ House who used to train before classes in the morning when the other inner houses got some fresh air by walking up and down the lower walk outside the old house – St. Oswalds.  The upper penance walk had gone out of fashion for penances by the 1960s.  As the companies and sections got on parade in three ranks, and were inspected – the ranks were marked out on the ground with white paint, and a saluting stand with flag was erected on the half way line.   The officers would stand in front of their companies, sections in Service dress – and swords. (My RAF sword was such a valuable and rare item in the North of England being full of gilt and braid that it had to be specially booked and was sent over to me in a special car from the nearest air field).  As the General arrived we drew swords and everyone presented arms.  After this the officers marched forward and stood with the inspecting officer.  The ranks were inspected and presented o the General, Then all turned South and marched to their positions facing up the hill towards the school.  The CSM, Henessy, Baxter,( and later Major Vic McLean replaced Fred Baxter but by his time the big parade was well and truly dead), then gave the order to march and everyone marched past in review order with the lines beings about 30 boys across so the inspecting officer could look down the lines and see how straight they were.  The march continued until they all got back to the position they were at the beginning.  Then there was a march forward , halt, salute, and this brought an end to the inspection.  Prizes were then given out in the Theatre.

At time went on the army became less concerned with drill an parades and more interested in other things – outward bound, naval boats and jackstays, escape an rescue, signals,  The standard signals procedure was to set up an HQ of HF radios with outstations and mobile VHF radios. All rather static, but there was a signaller with the General for effect. I contributed on a low level of activity with the Signals for some years.  I was given the CCF medal (with miniature) by the Queen for 15 years service – this had replaced the Territorial Decoration and could not be added after the name !  But there was a sliding scale of action, and being in the Junior House I began to see that the time might be at hand to retire.  The moment came after my period of recuperation following the Embolism which was caused by the varicose vein operation on my legs which took place under Mr. Hall in York District hospital.   The first operation had happened in the 1970s when Fr. Hubert was dying in the Purey Custe nursing home.  This was a private nursing home which had funds and was much used by the school and community especially as the matron was a great friend of Matron Houlihan who presided over the Infirmary for many years.  Matron Houlihan finally retired to a small house in Kirkbymoorside and when she suffered from cancer she returned to Ireland to die there – she was a noted refuge for tea and biscuits to  headmasters when she was in the infirmary.  So when I returned to JH it was decided that I should leave the CCF and my job in the Signals section was carried out by Mrs Helen Dean.