The Change of Command Ceremony marks the transition from the outgoing to the incoming commander of a military unit. In this case it is my hubby taking over from the previous Commanding Officer of CFLAWC.
CFLAWC is a relatively small unit in comparison with some units in the Army but there are enough troops to have a marching parade and they are reviewed by a senior officer.
Taking over command of a unit is a pretty big deal. Invitations are sent to family members and colleagues to come and watch. The senior officers on the Base are also invited as a courtesy. Even the Colonel of the Regiment was there, MGen Forand.
So, let me start at the beginning…
The evening before the Ceremony, we had all of my husband’s family come for dinner (10 guests) and 8 stayed overnight (of the 8 people, 4 were children under 10).
Now you can’t just show up at the Ceremony in whatever clothes you wish. There is a dress code; in this case it was “tenue de ville” or business attire. That means jacket & tie for men, dress or business suit (skirt) for women. Dresses are acceptable but must be conservative, like what you would wear to a business luncheon.
So, just in saying that, you can imagine what was going on in the house for all of us to be seated at the parade square by 10h15. My sisters & brother-in-law were great at getting all of the kids’ hair done and helping them stay neat & tidy until we all got there.
On arriving we were given programs then escorted to our seats. I’ve been to a number of these ceremonies and they are all basically the same. Here is what happened during this ceremony…
The troops marched out onto the (improvised indoor) parade square to the playing of the 8 Wing Pipes & Drums detachment. There was a lot of shouting of commands by senior NCOs directing the troops. Most of the time I really can’t figure out what the commands are and since this is a bilingual unit, half the time they shout in English, the other half French. In the end, the troops were in a lovely set of three lines standing at attention.
The General arrived and took his seat. All the guests must stand until the General is seated. (It is a respect the rank thing.)
We also had to stand for the arrival of the Reviewing officer, escorted by the incoming and outgoing commanders. After receiving his “General Salute” he reviewed the troops on parade while the pipes & drums played. A “review” is where the senior officers and their most senior NCO walk up and down each line of troops. Sometimes the Reviewing officer stops and talks to some of the soldiers, other times (like when there are a lot of soldiers and the weather is too hot or too cold) he will only speak to one or two and complete the review quickly.
After the Review, they took the time to present a few honours and awards to different members of the unit in appreciation for their outstanding service or special accomplishments over the past year.
This was followed by a few speeches; one from the outgoing commander, one from the Reviewing Officer and one from the incoming commander (my hubby!). I was also presented with flowers from the outgoing commander while my hubby presented the outgoing commander’s wife with flowers.
The ceremony ended with O Canada. BUT you can’t just get up and leave after that. You must stand for the General’s departure then be seated while the troops leave the parade square.
Then you can get up and enjoy the reception afterwards.