Thousands of people gathered on historic Plymouth Hoe to pay tribute and show their support for the military at the national Armed Forces Day event.
Prime Minister David Cameron, the Earl of Wessex and the First Sea Lord were among the dignitaries who witnessed fly and sail pasts, plus a parade by 1,200 personnel from across the Armed Forces past and present.
A swirl of smoke – and a sizeable flock of assorted birdlife – surrounds HMS Argyll as she fires her saluting gun in Plymouth Sound as national Armed Forces Day celebrations reach their climax.
Thousands of people crammed Plymouth Hoe to cheer all three Services during a memorable day in Devon reaffirming the bond between the public and the men and women of the Armed Forces who put their lives on the line daily to safeguard our nation.
The people of Plymouth and beyond turned out in force to show their support – and they were joined by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Earl of Wessex, who took the salute at a parade by 1,200 serving personnel, veterans and cadets, and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope.
All were treated to air displays from an RAF Typhoon – to kick-start proceedings – and the Red Arrows, bringing the curtain down on the day.
And as Plymouth is very much a Naval city – home to the largest naval base in Western Europe as well as the bulk of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines – the Senior Service wasn’t to be outdone.
Argyll led the four-ship sail-past – a gun of 29 Regiment Royal Artillery, the Army’s commando gunners based in Plymouth’s Citadel responded to her 21-gun salute – which included her younger sister Monmouth, patrol boat HMS Raider and amphibious support ship RFA Mounts Bay.
Monmouth’s 180 sailors lined her decks as she sailed close to the world-famous Hoe in line astern formation.
The celebrations were a welcome break for the Black Duke, which was taking a short break from operational sea training off Plymouth to thank the gathered crowds for their show of support to the Armed Forces before turning around and returning to sea.
“It was a pleasure to see so many members of the public gathered at Plymouth Hoe in support of the Armed Forces,” said Cdr Gordon Ruddock, Monmouth’s Commanding Officer.
“The men and women of HMS Monmouth will be deploying on operations later this year and the sail past also provided a welcome opportunity for local families and loved ones to see the ship looking her best.”
As for the overall event in Plymouth, Mr Cameron said it was an opportunity for the British people “to come out and say how much we revere and support our Armed Forces.
“This is about celebrating the enormous contribution that the armed forces make every day of the year.”
Naval Today Staff , July 4, 2012; Image: Royal Navy