THIS CORONATION day brought back happy memories for a veteran serviceman of when he was part of the Queen’s crowning parade.

David Amas, a former RAF technician, watched this weekend’s parade on television at his Charleton home, near Torcross, but his mind on events 70 years ago when remembering taking part in Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation.

He was chosen to be part of the enormous military contribution to the street parade in London when he was in the RAF, by virtue of his height.

David, 90, said: ‘I remember being part of the parade for the Queen’s Coronation — you don’t forget something like that ever. It’s stayed with me all my life and given me a lift each time I think of it.

‘Everyone was cheering, clapping and waving at us, especially loudly and enthusiastically at Trafagar Square. At the time I felt ten feet tall and very important at the thought that so many thousands of people camne out to see the Quuen and us. I think we made quite a spectacle.

‘I was so proud to be part of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation Parade. The only drawback was that I couldn’t see her or any of the royals, simply because I was taking part. But it was an historic moment which I was lucky to be part of.

‘The only regret I have is that I never received my Coronation medal for the Service personnel taking part. I was supposed to collect it, but that never happened.’

He remembers small incidents, even after this long time span: ‘It wasn’t funny for the chap involved, but one of the Royal Navy lads on street liner duties along the parade route at Marble Arch, had white streaks down his face and dark blue uniform because the white dubbing they used to refresh the sparking white cap was washed out by the rain at the time.

‘Luckily we used white gloss paint in the RAF which resisted the rain and we stayed smart. Also, a lad marching in front of me fainted and I had to help him up with others. But the rifle with fixed bayonet made that quite awkward to do. It was usually me fainting on parade after standing for so long!’

David, who was 20 at the time of the 1953 Coronation, qualified for the special duty when he was serving in the RAF maintaining the radio communications equipment at Number 1 School at RAF Debden:

‘One of the main criterion was being between five feet 11 and six feet one, which was taller than average at that time. We were issued with speciually made uniforms for the Coronation, with smooth wool fabric which were normally given to officers, instead of the usual rough stuff and peaked caps which were also only usually for officers. So this special treatment made us feel very important as normal personnel.’

He recalled: ‘We then trained in March and April with some PT and a lot of parade ground marching and rifle drill. We were then sent to RAF Northolt near London to have our technique polished for the big occasion. I was used to it anyway because I belonged to my school Army Cadets. I was representing the RAF Technical Training Command and we marched in a block 12 by 12 personnel. It was a long day and we started off at White City.’

David has either met or seen most of the Royal Family. He later belonged to the now disbanded volunteer civil defence Royal Observer Corps when he shook hands with the Duke of Edinburgh and was introduced to Princess Anne when he worked at Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth where he ran the Post Office on site for the staff and cadets. He missed out on seeing the then young Prince Charles training at Dartmouth.

‘I really like Charles, he’ll make a really good King. He’s a really great bloke and has done a lot for youngsters. I think he’ll do his mother proud.’

He worked for the Civil Service in London as an Air Ministry Clerk when he lived in Tonbridge Wells (where he was born) as an insurance company motor claims investigator and has lived in the Kingsbridge area for 40 years.

See Coronation pages 14-21