Under glorious sunny Cornish skies, Friday, October 6, saw Royal Navy veterans return to HMS Raleigh as part of an organised visit, to witness a passing-out parade for the latest recruits joining the fleet.

As part of an initiative to support veterans and enhance community relations, the Captain of HMS Raleigh, Captain Jane Roe ADC Royal Navy, extended the invitation via social media and her team were quickly receiving the first enquiries to attend.

Witnessing the passing-out parade of the Cunningham 23/11 Class at the end of their initial naval training, 24 veterans re-entered the hallowed gates and were treated to an exposure of the modern naval training delivered in the west country.

Among the group was Mr Gordon White from just outside Cardiff; the centurion trained at HMS Raleigh in 1942 and told of his service in landing craft at the anzio landings to the parade’s VIP, Captain Marcus Hember Royal Navy, the Commanding Officer of the Amphibious Assault Ship HMS Albion, who offered Gordon a place on one of his landing craft saying: “We always could do with experienced Coxswains!”

“It’s surreal to be back here, 60 years and six days since I entered HMS Raleigh myself,” said Mr Bruce Pavier who served between 1963-1988, including as parade staff at HMS Raleigh between 1981-1983.

“Walking on the Parade Ground again, I saw a lot of ghosts and memories but thoroughly enjoyed the experience,” he added.

Mr Graham Lloyd said: “I’m privileged to be invited back here 24 years since I left the RN.

“I served between 1966-1999 including 5 years at HMS Raleigh, where my last job in uniform was as a Phase 1 instructor,” he added, concluding “I’m delighted to see the Royal Navy is in good hands with these new sailors, who are about to go off and have the adventures of their lives.”

Mr Eddie Stead, who was in the RN between 1973-1996, reflected: “On the 50th anniversary of me joining up at HMS Raleigh, witnessing a passing-out parade is special and I can see the same sense of pride in today’s sailors as I had all those years ago.”

Chris Cleary, the public relations officer at HMS Raleigh said: “As a veteran myself, I know how important it is to keep the memories going within that community, and it’s brilliant to see so many here today reflecting of their own personal journeys.”