An enduring tradition - HMAS Cerberus Divisions

Published on SBLT Kat Mulheron (author), ABIS Dove Smithett (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Cerberus, VIC

Topic(s): HMAS Cerberus, Ceremonial Divisions

Ship's company of HMAS Cerberus on parade during HMAS Cerberus Winter Ceremonial Divisions. (photo: ABIS Dove Smithett)
Ship's company of HMAS Cerberus on parade during HMAS Cerberus Winter Ceremonial Divisions.

More than 500 sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen of HMAS Cerberus formed up on the Main Parade Ground for inspection by Commanding Officer, Captain Katherine Richards, RAN. In doing so, they carried out a time honoured tradition of showing pride in themselves and their service through their dress and bearing.

Parade and Ceremonial Officer, Petty Officer Boatswain (POB) John Hawthorne says, “Like everything we do in the Navy, Ceremonial Divisions has a long history and is a tradition that has stood the test of time.”

Ceremonial Divisions musters the ship's company for inspection in their best uniforms, however, in true Naval fashion it’s not just the parade that’s traditional, but the components of drill that make the ceremony historically fascinating.

“Few would know the many traditions that make up Ceremonial Divisions, or that the history of those traditions form the foundations of our values today,” said POB Hawthorne.

Ship's company of HMAS Cerberus offer an 'eyes right' as a sign of respect to Commanding Officer HMAS Cerberus, Captain Katherine Richards RAN, during HMAS Cerberus Winter Ceremonial Divisions.

Ship's company of HMAS Cerberus offer an 'eyes right' as a sign of respect to Commanding Officer HMAS Cerberus, Captain Katherine Richards RAN, during HMAS Cerberus Winter Ceremonial Divisions.

A good parade showcases the characteristics of a well-disciplined person. Ask a Boatswains Mate and they’ll tell you it requires immediate obedience, steadiness, smart personal appearance and mental alertness. It instils a sense of pride and those who witness it are invariably touched by the importance of the occasion.

Parades are steeped in military tradition with commands that date back to feudal England, such as the Eyes Right Salute when Marching Past; the custom when only freemen were allowed to look Knights in the face but which now signifies equality in the Queen’s service.

The tradition of Advance in Review Order originates from the British Infantry and a series of 18 manoeuvres designed to combat both the offensive and defensive tactics of an enemy. Presenting Arms to the Reviewing Officer is attributed to the actions of the Cold Stream Guards offering allegiance to King Charles II on his return to the throne, by holding up their weapons in a harmless position. The act of Inspection by the Reviewing Officer is also from the same period where it is believed that on King Charles II return to England, soldiers were inspected by the King personally so that he could determine their attitude and sincerity to serve him by looking at their facial expressions.

When combined, the many traditions making up Ceremonial Divisions tell a story for those willing to listen. The next time you witness a Ceremonial Parade and are impressed or simply stoic, understand that the men and women standing tall and proud before you are there to honour significant moments in history, showing their loyalty and integrity to those who have served and those that still do.

Additional imagery is available at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20130825.