The historic HMS Caroline in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter provided a stunning setting recently for a ceremonial Beating Retreat by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth.

Defence Relationship Management, the organisation which manages the interface between national employers and the Ministry of Defence, invited representatives of influential public and private sector organisations across Northern Ireland to attend a reception on board HMS Caroline before enjoying the spectacle of the Beating Retreat played out on the quayside.

Pictured enjoying the occasion in the company of Athene Gordon, Regional Employer Engagement Director of Defence Relationship Management in Northern Ireland (left) are East Belfast couple William and Debbie Vance.

Guests witnessed a ceremony dating back to the sixteenth century when it was used to recall patrolling units to the castle they were defending. Originally the ceremony was known as ‘Watch Setting’ and the original call was beaten by drummers alone, with fifes, bugles, pipes and other instruments added in later years. Today the Beating Retreat is played out in ceremonial form only and is a showcase for the military musicians and personnel who take part. 

On this occasion the honour of lowering the flag at sunset went to members of The Royal Naval Reserve, HMS Hibernia.  Northern Ireland’s Royal Naval Reservists have long enjoyed close associations with HMS Caroline.  Having seen service in both World Wars, this celebrated ship was for a time the static headquarters and training ship for the Royal Naval Reserve based at Alexandra Dock in Belfast.

Today the now decommissioned light cruiser, the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland, has been sensitively and fully restored and is enjoying a new lease of life as a jewel in the crown of the National Museum of the Royal Navy and an important visitor attraction for Belfast.

Athene Gordon, Regional Employer Engagement Director of Defence Relationship Management in Northern Ireland, said, “The atmospheric Beating Retreat and Ceremonial Sunset at HMS Caroline provided us with a wonderful demonstration of the professionalism of our Reserve Forces, as well as illustrating how the Reserve and Regular Forces work seamlessly together. It was a pleasure to welcome so many guests on board and to take this opportunity publicly to employers for the important ongoing support they give to Reservists.  We continue to work with employers to develop mutually beneficial partnerships and occasion such as this, while enjoyable in themselves, provide valuable platforms for exchanges of views.”