Officers and soldiers of 20th Armoured Brigade (The Iron Fist) who are based in Paderborn in north west Germany welcomed their hosts to a special Britfest extravaganza designed to show off the British way of life and the work of the Army.
The soldiers, who are more used to preparing for the rigours of operational life in Afghanistan than entertaining the locals, put on a show which started with a parade led by a double-decker bus and included Beefeaters from the Tower of London, ceremonial guards and ‘bobbies on the beat’.
The day’s events culminated in a joint British, German and Polish military tattoo.
The popular festival, now in its third year, is a way for the Army to thank their German hosts - who let them train at the nearby world class military training ranges in Sennelager - and to bring residents and military personnel from the region together in a display of friendliness and comradeship.
Welsh choir Cor y Gyrlais, the Pipes and Drums of the Royal British Legion, Welsh boy band 4th Street Traffic, and sword dancers the ‘Newcastle Kingsmen’ entertained thousands of locals. One of them, Carla Roberts, aged 39, said:
Having an event like this allows us all to appreciate and experience the best that each culture has to offer and helps us all get to know each other a little better.
The Germans and the military have become much friendlier and approachable and these kinds of festivals bring people closer.
The Guinness bar and whiskey-tasting proved a hit for the locals, while demand for curry and traditional fish and chips kept the military chefs busy in the mobile kitchens.
To reflect 20th Armoured Brigade’s Scottish links, Second-in-Command of 3 Close Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Major Jim Torbet, recited Robert Burns’ poetry dressed in full period clothing.
But it was the ultimate strong man competition organised by 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG) which proved one of the biggest hits.
Corporal Tony Lavelle, QDG, said:
Festivals like this are great for building relations, it’s important that we have a good relationship with our German hosts - we all live together here as part of the same community.
Major Jack Kemp of 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, who organised the joint military tattoo, added:
Along with the 21st Panzer Brigade and the Polish military band, we have managed to put on a great spectacle for lovers of military music. The concert part of the show was well-received and so was the Welsh choir.
The highlight was the marching bands which received the biggest applause.
Deputy Commander of 20th Armoured Brigade, Colonel Johnny Sernberg, opened the festival. He said:
The efforts from all the regiments and battalions as well as from the Paderborn Stadt are deeply appreciated.
The money raised by the event will go to a number of German charities as well as to Help for Heroes, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and the Royal British Legion, in support of Her Majesty’s Service personnel.