A DULL and overcast day did not detract from the enthusiastic welcome that the Princess Royal received as she arrived at Bulford to inspect soldiers of the newly reformed 249 (Gurkha) Signal Squadron on Wednesday.

230 soldiers and officers from the Regiment formed up on parade at Picton Barracks in the presence of their Colonel-in-Chief, marking the reformation of the Gurkha Signal Squadron and Her Royal Highness’s longstanding association with The Royal Corps of Signals.

The Princess inspected the soldiers on parade and then took the salute at a march past. She then inspected equipment and met soldiers who explained the roles, equipment and capabilities of the Regiment.

She was then briefed on the annual Kiwi Trophy competition by Lieutenant Marcus Robertson, Corporals Stephen Bennett and Shem Limbu and inspected the trophies that will be presented on Thursday at the end of the 14-mile March and Shoot competition.

Later, at a private ceremony, Princess Anne was given a traditional Maori greeting and watched a Gurkha Kukri dance performed by members of the squadron before presenting operational medals to those who had recently returned from Afghanistan and meeting families.

The occasion acknowledged the Centenary of the Kiwi Monument and the Regiment’s association as custodians of the enormous chalk carving above Bulford Camp.

The emblem cut out of the hillside by the New Zealand Expeditionary Force has led to a strong relationship with the New Zealand Defence Force and its only Signal Regiment, 1 Command Support Regiment who were invited to the parade.

The new commander of 249 Squadron, Major James Cornes, said he was very proud to be selected to command the squadron and was conscious of its history as guardians of the Bulford Kiwi.

“The Squadron will be part of 3 (UK) Division Signal Regiment and their role will be to build Command Post and establish command networks.” Said James. “The squadron is 120 strong and still include British soldiers which will transition to Gurkhas over the next 18 months.”

“We have Gurkha wives and children here and there is a growing sense of a family community within the Regiment.”

The event was also attended by Lieutenant General Nick Pope who double-hatted as Master of Signals and Colonel Commandant Brigade of Gurkhas, New Zealand High Commissioner, The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, The New Zealand Defence Attaché, Brigadier Chris Parsons, serving personnel from the British and New Zealand Signals, their families and veterans.

Music was provided by the Pipes and Drums of The Queen’s Gurkha Signals.