Shining Parades, Swabbing and Losing Your Name!

There are certain words that stick in the memory from days at the Depot. These words are unified in their existence by all, they have deep memories from days gone by but turned us into the men we are today.

Shining Parades:

At the end of each day at the Depot came the dreaded ‘shining parade’, the purpose of which was to dedicate time to improving the standard of personal equipment.

We can all remember those ‘magic circles’ (bulling) on our drill boots whilst a little Regimental History was thrown in for good will.

Shining Parade, Caterham 1958

These ‘shining parades’ were mostly carried out in complete silence, with each man (normally in coveralls at Pirbright) sat astride his bed to clean his equipment.

The ‘trained soldier’ (or instructor) would then ask questions on the History of the Regiment, Victoria Cross Winners and other information that was ‘formally’ taught during the training day, usually with no indication that it would become a test subject later that evening.


Whilst most of the evening at the Depot was spent cleaning and polishing kit, there was also the matter of keeping the Barrack Room and Ablutions clean, this was called ‘swabbing’.

Many hours were spent on hands and knees scrubbing floors, polishing copper pipes/plaques and ‘bumpering’ floors with the bumper (not the electric type but the hand held bumper that must be swing left and right to create friction, polishing the surface).

The Bonza Bumper, thanks Bonza for inventing such a fantastic bit of kit ……. said no Guards Depot Recruit – ever!

Everyone was taught how it was necessary to present equipment in your bed space for inspection and any man that had their kit out of place risked ‘losing their name’ (see below).

Each and every item had its own position on the bed, shelves or locker, and uniformity was essential when what seemed like each morning bringing an inspection where every part of the room (and kit) was scrutinised.

Losing Your Name:

If an individual was found to not meet the required standard then they could expect serious reprisals from the ‘trained soldier’ or Inspecting Officer.

This would often result in the person ‘losing their name’, meaning that their name was taken down and they should expect ‘extras’ or some kind of punishment.

The term ‘losing your name’ dates back to all recruits being issued a brass plate bearing their Regimental Details, which would hang above their bed-space.

If an individual was found to be in ‘bad order’ (things not quite right) then abuse would be screamed, things would be thrown from a boot to a mattress (sometimes out of the window) and the bed plate was removed and the name noted for disciplinary action.

A Bed Plate belonging to a Scots Guards Recruit

There is also reports that some platoons at the Depot were required to have the word ‘Duty’ inscribed on rear. If a recruit was away for the inspection due to a duty then the brass plate would be turned around to reflect this.

This action then became known as ‘losing your name’, an experience that would be repeated many times over the time at the Depot.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sorry, please do not copy!