JOHN KEMPSON writes:
The article in the RMA November Newsletter " Know your Colours" also mentioned the presentation of the Queens and Regimental Colours to units of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines in Malta. I know because I was there and On Parade!!! Having gained my coveted Green Beret at the Commando School, Bickleigh Barracks near Plymouth in 1952, I was drafted to 40 Commando in Malta. On arriving in Malta, I was told that I would be taking part in the presentation of colours by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on 29 November 1952. The venue would be the vast and historic ceremonial parade ground at Floriana, which could easily accommodate a parade of 1,000 Royal Marines.
As we marched out onto the parade ground, we were all conscious of the prestige and importance of the occasion as the colours were to be the first ever to be presented to the Royal Marines Commandos. We were all aware that we were on show with thousands of spectators present. Our esprit de corps made us determined to put on a good show and we thought we were the best and the smartest, with our Blue Suits, White Pith Helmets, White Gloves and Lee Enfield rifles, which were ideal for ceremonial drill compared to the modern SA80.
P-A-R-A-D-E- - - -SHUN !! followed by a sharp precision like crashing sound as a thousandmen brought their heels together and came up to attention. The stiring sound of the Massed Bands of the Mediterranean Fleet and 3rd Commando Brigade added to the magnificence of the occasion and filled us with a sense of pride as our heels hit the ground as one on the beat of the bass drum. The cacaphony of sound as the heel of our hands hit our rifles was tremendous following the order P-A-R-A-D-E- - - SHUN. ROY-AL SALUTE. P-R-E-S-E-N-T ARMS. HRH the Duke of Edinburgh had arrived. After the blessing of the colours and the presentation to the Colour Parties of 40, 42 and 45 Commandos, we marched passed a youthfull Prince Philip in Review Order in immaculate straight lines before we gave a sharp E-Y-E-S --RIGHT
After 58 years, I am justifiably proud to have taken part in the small part of Corps History in 1952. On more recent trips to Malta, I sat on the edge of the old Floriana Parade Ground, now sports pitches, and I swelled up with homour and pride and thought what a privelage it was to have taken part in the first Presentation of Colours to the Ropyal Marines Commandos.
I have included in this article a Programme of the Events of 1952, which we were each presented with and also some photographs of life in the Corps during my service during the 1950s.
John and comrade dressed in Green Beret, Denison Smock and holding Lee Enfield .303" Rifles.
John in No1 Dress, Corporal RMFVR.
3 Commando Brigade in Hollow Square. Presentation of Colours Malta 1952
Inspection by the Captain General, HRH Duke of Edinburgh
John holding Sten Gun as member of the PIAT anti Tank Team. The PIAT was a most ineffective weapon, in that the range of the weapon was about 25Metres and was not effective against an armoured vehicle. It wasOK fired at light skinned vehicles. It was superceded by 3.5" Rocket Launcher and then by 84 mm Carl Gustav.
Below. John in Battledress as member of the RMFVR, Browndown Camp, Gosport.
John in Walking out Dress outside the NAAFI, Browndown Camp, Gosport.