Big bang practice for The Square
Some 300 years ago, May 26, 1716, British King George I issued a Royal Warrant to form the first Royal Regiment of Artillery (RA). Ever since then, tradition and custom decrees that Commonwealth artillery regiments acknowledge May 26 as their common birthday.
Tomorrow, Palmerston North gets to host the first of the worldwide 300th celebrations with Linton Camp’s 16 Field Regiment in town to add a whole new dimension to the term, ‘squarebashing’.
From 10am to 1pm, the regiment will have a display in The Square of its equipment and systems based around the 119 British light gun, the 105mm howitzer that is its mainstay.
Event organiser RSM WO I Richard Theodore says the display of armaments will include weaponry dating back to World War II, including guns used in Korea and Vietnam, a ‘gun run’, and the firing of three blank rounds.
A gun run is a traditional part of the celebrations.
‘‘As a Commonwealth artillery regiment allied to the Royal Artillery, we recognise their customs and traditions.
‘‘The public are welcome to turn up to watch and to compare the older guns alongside the current weapons systems.’’
At midday, 1200hrs, with its muzzle pointed skyward, a single blank round will be fired, alerting everyone within earshot that the gun run will be getting underway at 1215hrs on The Square’s library quadrant.
‘‘Two gun teams will get to manhandle their gun around a slalom type course and over one or two obstacles. It’ll be challenging if the grass is a bit soft. The guns weigh just under two tonnes, and require a bit of effort to lift and push.’’
The two crews of seven will be competing for bragging rights.
‘‘It’s a big pride thing and a longstanding tradition in the artillery. By taking RA Day public, we’ll hopefully get the public along in support.’’
Both crews get to fire their guns at the course completion. Richard says the noise will be on a par with the Speedway fireworks display.
Defence Force personnel will be handing out industrial strength earplugs before the firing, and everyone is welcome to bring along their own earmuffs.
A 16 Field Regiment gun crew practicing with 105mm howitzers for the 100 gun salute to commemorate the beginning of WW1 last year. Two gun crews will be put through their paces, including blank firing for Gunners’ Day in The Square tomorrow.