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P.D. GRIFFIN
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BRITISH ARMY REGIMENTS

Candidates for pilot training have to pass RAF selection tests and army flying grading on fixed-wing aircraft before ground school, which deals with basic principles of flight, meteorology, navigation, and aeromedical and survival training. After nine weeks at the Defence Helicopter Flying School, trainee pilots go for operational training at the School of Army Aviation for eighteen weeks before converting to type. Helicopter types range from the general purpose Gazelle to the anti-tank Lynx and the sophisticated Apache attack.

Officers' mess dinner night at Middle Wallop

Officers' mess dinner night at Middle Wallop. Uniforms without Cambridge blue facings are guests from other corps. (MoD)

Helicopters' traditional use, in observation, troop lifts and casualty evacuation, now extends to aerial command posts, fire support and missile strikes on heavy targets. Their extensive use in the army has transformed the way it operates in all situations and the AAC may now be recognised as the new combat arm.

The regimental padre heads a service for three Staffords killed in Iraq, 2005

The regimental padre heads a service for three Staffords killed in Iraq, 2005

The corps' cavalry-style guidons are emblazoned with the badges of the Royal Artillery and the Glider Pilot Regiment, with battle honours for the Falkland Islands and the Gulf conflicts.

THE ROYAL ARMY CHAPLAINS' DEPARTMENT

An Army Chaplains' Department was set up in 1796 after an expedition to the West Indies had to leave without a single cleric on board to look after the soldiers' spiritual needs. Before this sudden decline in the support of civilian clergymen, British regiments had always sailed with a chaplain in the ranks. Presbyterian ministers were admitted to the department in 1827, followed by Roman Catholic in 1836, Wesleyan in 1881 and Jewish in 1892.

The 'Padres' lost 172 officers helping soldiers in the trenches during the First World War, and in 1919 the department was granted its Royal title.

DRESS DISTINCTIONS

The blue peaked cap is distinguished by a purple band and the RAChD badge, a Maltese cross on a crowned laurel and oak wreath with, in the centre, a voided quatrefoil with a circle inscribed IN THIS SIGN CONQUER, the exclamation of the Emperor Constantine who converted to Christianity after seeing a cross in the sky. Jewish chaplains wear a Star of David in place of the Maltese cross and no motto.

In service dress a white clerical collar is worn instead of shirt, and a black leather pouch belt with the badge is worn over the jacket. Buttons and rank pips are black. The blue mess dress has purple facings.

MUSIC

The RAChD march is Jeremiah Clark's Trumpet Voluntary or the Prince of Denmark's March, which is thought to have been written after he was appointed organist at St Paul's Cathedral in 1699.

TRADITIONS

Chaplains are appointed by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Armed Forces on the nomination of the named faiths. All members of the RAChD are commissioned officers ranked, since 1858, to a system where a Chaplain of the 1st Class is equal to Colonel, of the 2nd Class to Lieutenant Colonel, 3rd Class to Major and 4th Class to Captain. The senior officer is the Chaplain General.

These officers hold a unique position of approachability between the troubled soldier and the chain of command. On home stations padres give pastoral care and welfare to serving soldiers and their families. On active service they bring help and comfort to the wounded and the grieving, an essential support service to an army at war.

The Gurkha Brigade is exceptional and relies on its regimental pandits.

THE ROYAL LOGISTIC CORPS

The Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) was formed in 1993 by the amalgamation of four support corps, and elements of another, that kept the army moving, supplied, fed and operational. Put together their workload created a huge organisation that now embraces the largest single storage and haulage system in the country, a shipping line and a global post network. The title comes from the French logistique, which is 'the art of moving, lodging and supplying troops and equipment'.

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