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Proceeding into the Park again
as far as the Serpentine, we then broke up, having marched
at least seven miles in all, the lucky ones going to Knightsbridge
Barracks for tea, served by Coldstreamers in a huge building
which is normally a covered riding school. We were then
directed to the Royal Albert Hall.
On nearly reaching the Hall, in London's
black-out we met several sellers of programmes. "Great
'Ome Guard Stand-down Party - Getcher programmes - sixpence
each." (2.5p). Having
heard of London sharks before, I was immediately suspicious,
though they were obviously doing a roaring trade. On entering
and reaching our seats my suspicions were confirmed, for
there on each seat was the official programme; all for nothing!
And opening his 6d. programme in the brilliantly lighted
Hall, my neighbour showed it to be a real "sell".
There was practically nothing on it.
A regal entertainment then followed with
such stars as Tommy Trinder, Vera Lynn, Cicely Courtnidge,
George Robey, Elsie and Doris Waters, Robb Wilton, and many
others, with Louis Levy and his orchestra taking the musical
honours, and the whole show happily compered by Leslie Mitchell,
who was in Home Guard uniform, as was Dr. Douglas Hopkins
at the great organ and who played during the interval.
At 9 p.m. the King's broadcast was relayed
from the B.B.C. programme to a silent and loyal audience,
who rose and sang with great fervour "The King"
at the end of His Majesty's message.
All good things must come to an end, and
after a poignant Auld Lang Syne we returned to Kneller Hall,
where cocoa and sandwiches awaited us.
Next morning we made an early start and
left Paddington at 9.30, so promptly that about twenty of
the party, who had gone in search of newspapers and cigarettes,
were left behind, leaving their heavy equipment in the train.
I wondered whether this was not more by design than accident,
as, while very few of my friends had ever been to London
before, there had been no opportunity of seeing anything
of this great city. So perhaps these adventurers were determined
not to be done out of this opportunity.
Arriving once again at Snow Hill, our C.O.,
Major H. R. Cullwick, thanked us for our good behaviour
and general smartness to which we responded with three rousing
cheers. We were then dismissed. Was this for the last time,
one wondered, with somewhat mixed feelings. After taking
farewell of our many newly found friends of a grand week-end,
we parted and went our several ways.
Here, then, is a brief outline of the Stand-down.
So much more could be told, but all will be remembered for
ever and for aye.
(An onlooker's view of the London stand-down
parade can be read
here. For all references to stand-down parades within
this website, please use the Search