NZDF

Whanganui Connection in French Military Parade on Bastille Day

Warrant Officer Class One Mario Ropitini
Warrant Officer Class One Mario Ropitini

11 July 2016

The Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles will be marching in the French military parade on Bastille Day, in Paris, this month.

The unit, part of the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps, holds a charter with the city of Whanganui. The charter allows the unit to parade through its streets with “drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed”.

The Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2014, is one of the oldest standing units in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). It has a close relationship with Whanganui, says Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) Mario Ropitini, the unit’s Regimental Sergeant Major.

“We’re incredibly proud of our close relationship with the city of Whanganui, especially since re-establishing our ties during our 150th anniversary in 2014.

“When we parade the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles guidon in Paris on 14 July, we’re honouring our special connection with the people of Whanganui,” says WO1 Ropitini.

Guidons are swallow-tailed flags that symbolise the spirit of a mounted unit or regiment. They include honours and badges granted for battles that a unit has participated in. WO1 Ropitini is the guardian of the guidon.

Although the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles guidon does not carry battle honours from service in France in World War 1, the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles have a special connection to France. The Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps day is the anniversary of the Battle of Cambrai, the first major tank engagement of World War 1, on 20 November.

The French Bastille Day military parade is one of the oldest and largest military parades in the world. Bastille Day is a French national holiday and is commemorated across the country with military parades and celebratory activities.

Regimental colours and banners representing New Zealand units that served in World War 1 will be paraded by 86 NZDF personnel on the Champs-Élysèes during the parade. This is the first time that these flags have been paraded together outside of New Zealand.

ENDS

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This page was last reviewed on 11 July 2016, and is current.