History

The Parade Ground

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There are many stories and myths associated with the significance and evolution of Parade Grounds, the truth can often be the simpler.

In Britain, the military practice in the 17th and 18th Century has it that when a regiment marched into a town or any location where they were going to be quartered, a place of assembly was decided upon which may have been a market square, the street outside the senior officer’s lodgings or any convenient open patch of ground.  If the unit was on active operations and camping in the field, the regiment would form up in front of their tents.  This area would be used to draw everyone together in a parade, but it would not necessarily be used as a Drill Square. 

Mounted band of the Household Cavalry at Trooping the Colour 2007. The rider of the piebald (black-and-white) drum horse, working the reins with his feet, crosses drumsticks above his head in salute.

Once barracks became common in the United Kingdom, which was not until the very late 18th to early 19th Century, the army’s buildings were normally arranged around a square. This open space, which was conveniently situated in the middle of the dwellings, would be used for parades of all sorts, for instance, fatigues, drill, pay, punishment, and the assembly of the guards.

Australian Defence Force Academy. The parade ground is one of the most sacred locations in the Academy. The parade ground historically represents the place of fallen soldiers, marking their sacrifice to war.
At ADFA, the parade ground is used specifically for ceremonial purposes such as parades and other special events #ADFA Source

Within the Australian Army, the Parade Ground holds a symbolic representation of a sanctuary of a unit’s fallen soldiers and in line with this symbolism it is deemed hallowed ground and is respected as such.

Carabinieri Cavalry Regiment at the military parade of Festa della Repubblica 2007

A term used in line with the Parade Ground is ‘holding ground’ and by definition are ‘troops keeping the ground’. On selected unit ceremonial occasions troops are positioned at the corners of a parade ground to ‘hold ground’. These troops are equipped with weapons which range from lances to mortars through to guns.  This symbolism is to afford protection to the unit parading in order to permit it to carry out its ceremonial duties safely.

Holding ground should not be confused with the placement of old Artillery pieces at the corners of a parade ground.  These pieces are placed in these positions more as a decoration than as some historic symbol; therefore their position has no meaning either historically or by tradition. Source

The Queen’s Birthday Parade also known as Trooping the Colour, Horse Guards Parade, London, June 2013. More than a thousand soldiers and horses from the Household Division paraded in front of their Colonel in Chief, Her Majesty The Queen, 15th June 2013, with the immaculate precision, colour and pageantry that marks them as truly World Class. Later as the last shot of a 41 gun Royal Salute was fired from The Green Park to mark The Queen’s Official Birthday, the skies roared with an impressive fly past from the RAF featuring 32 aircraft of 13 different types. The centuries old tradition of Trooping The Colour has been held on Horse Guards Parade to honour the Sovereign’s Birthday almost annually since 1805. Each year the Five Foot Guards Regiments take it in turns to Troop their Colour in front of the Sovereign. Colour is the name given to regimental flags of the British Army, and were used as rallying points as long ago as the Kings of Babylon. In the Middle Ages, each Lord or Baron flew his banner as a sign by which his followers could distinguish him in battle. Colours were last carried into action by the 58th Foot in South Africa in 1881. Up to that time they participated in all the varying fortunes of their Regiment; were often torn by enemy fire and acquired an almost religious significance. Even today, uncased Colours are invariably carried by an officer and accompanied by an armed escort. This year, the Colour being trooped in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen, was that of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. The Welsh Guards have recently returned from operational service in Afghanistan where they worked as part of the Afghan Police Advisory Team assisting the country to achieve self governance. The Field Officer in Brigade Waiting, Lieutenant Colonel Dino Bossi, Welsh Guards, commanded the Parade.

Legionaries singing The Bridegroom of Death – Holy Week in Malaga 2016

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