Resident marched behind the Queen’s coach at coronation

EASTBOURNE resident Peter Girling has some fascinating memories of the Queen’s Coronation in 1952.

Peter, also known as Gus, was in the Royal Navy contingent during Her Majesty’s coronation and was 18-years-old when he took part in the celebrations.

He writes, “We marched behind the Queen’s coach after the band and some horseriders. On the eve of the coronation we arrived by coach at Earls Court, where we spent the night.

“We slept on a pallet which was a stuffed canvas bag that we had to stuff with straw and this was put on the ground where we had to sleep.

“We were up at six in the morning dressed and got ready to be on parade. For breakfast we were given a bar of chocolate, a couple of biscuits and cup of tea. This was so our stomachs were not full and we would not need comfort breaks.

“We had a coach to Hyde Park where we formed up and got ready for the parade. I believe we marched a total of 13 miles that day.

“The crowds were amazing and an experience I will never forget.

“In those days our hats were made of white blanco material which, as it rained, the white blanco was running down our faces. Of course there was nothing we could do about it except smile.

“At the end of it all I arrived back home in Richmond Surrey, where my elder sister put my hat in the oven to dry off, and forgot all about it and it shrunk so much I could not get it back on my head.

“It looked like a pea on a drum. Good memories all round of the coronation.”