Wattisham beat a retreat in ceremony

A CENTURIES old military ceremony will be on show today when Suffolk dignitaries visit Wattisham Airfield.A 'beating retreat' ceremony is due to form part of the annual Wattisham Airfield cocktail party.

A CENTURIES old military ceremony will be on show today when Suffolk dignitaries visit Wattisham Airfield.

A 'beating retreat' ceremony is due to form part of the annual Wattisham Airfield cocktail party.

The ceremony will be followed by a flypast of helicopters, including 2 Apache from 4 Regiment Army Air Corps and a Sea King from the RAF Search and Rescue team, both based at Wattisham.

Music will be provided by The Band of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

Colonel Neil Hutton, Wattisham station commander, said: “The Wattisham cocktail party is an important event in the calendar.

“The aim is to continue to foster and build on the strong relationships that the airfield has with the local community whiles continuing to observe one of the oldest military traditions.

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“This has been another busy year at Wattisham with the continued fielding of the Apache attack helicopter and the provision of support to operational commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The goodwill of the local community in support of training and other work is fundamental to the success of these operations.”

Beating retreat has its origins in the early years of organised warfare when the beating of drums and the parading of post guards heralded the closing of camp gates and the lowering of flags at the end of the day.

Retreat once formed part of a soldier's daily routine and the term comes from the French 'retraite' meaning retire, as in to bed in the evening, rather than the battlefield meaning of withdrawal from the enemy.

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