The heart of London’s financial district echoed to the sounds of gunfire and the whirl of rotor blades last night as the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), the oldest regiment in the British Army, held its tenth annual open evening.
HAC Honourable Colonel Prince Michael of Kent joined thousands of Londoners visiting displays from a wide variety of London’s Army Reserve and Regular units.
Ian Sivyer, HAC Senior Major, was delighted by the public response to the event at Finsbury Barracks
“There has been a wonderful attendance this evening with over 2,000 people through the gates by 6.30pm alone and the line is still down to Old Street Station. There has also been a great turnout from London’s Reserve units, ably supported by Regulars from the Welsh Guards, Grenadier Guards, and the Army Air Corps.”
The evening got underway with a demonstration by the City of London Police dog team and included a gun salute from the HAC’s 105mm light guns, and a mock engagement featuring an HAC reconnaissance squadron supported by A (London Scottish) Company, The London Regiment.
The event is a chance for Londoners to get an insight into what life is like in the British Army in general and Reserve units in particular. Ryan Hoare from the HAC is in the second phase of his Reserve training, he says the open evening was instrumental in his decision to join the Reserves.
“I always wanted to be in the Army but never did get around to joining the Regulars. Two years ago I came to this event and it peeked my interest in the Reserves. It’s a great second career, it’s not only fun and enjoyable but I’ve lost 2 ½ stone since joining, when they say join the Army and get fit they’re not kidding.”
“This year it’s been fascinating to see how the open evening comes together from the inside, plus meeting people who are interested in what we are doing and keen to see if it’s something for them.”
The evening concluded with a demonstration of 17th century drill by the Company of Pikemen & Musketeers followed by a Beating Retreat and Sunset Ceremony by the Band and Corps of Drums of the HAC. The final flourish was provided by two Army Air Corps Apache helicopters taking off into the darkening sky.