Garrison Sergeant Majors, HQ London District

GSM A G 'Perry' Mason MVO MBE directing a rehearsal for Trooping the Colour

Garrison Sergeant Majors have been appointed to military districts in the UK and abroad since the mid 19th Century. Since the Second World War they have become increasingly prominent in London District due to its association with ceremonial in London, particularly with the ceremony of Trooping the Colour, held on His Majesty the King's Official Birthday.

The Garrison Sergeant Major is a Senior Warrant Officer in the British Army and his word is law. Soldiers regard the incumbant equally with fear, dread and respect. He must possess an all seeing eye, an obsessive attention to finite detail, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of military drill and presentation. Troops in the Household Division are icons of Britain and the Garrison Sergeant Major is responsible for ensuring that they look and perform to the highest standard every day as well as during historic national State commemorations. The role extends beyond London to encompass State Ceremonial across the UK and wherever our troops are based overseas. He is also responsible for passing on his skills to our allies’ armed forces as part of the UK’s Defence Overseas Engagement.

The change from purely garrison administrational duties to the present ceremonial specialist has been a gradual one. The original administrational appointment bore the title London Garrison Sergeant Major. The appointment in 1952 of GSM George Stone, Irish Guards saw a change of title to Garrison Sergeant Major, HQ London District and It is since his appointment that the duties have become almost wholly associated with ceremonial.

London Garrison Sergeant Majors 1894 to 1952:
1894-1895 WO1 (GSM) F G Dickenson, Coldstream Guards
1921-1927 WO1 (GSM) E J Wadham, Scots Guards
1927-1935 WO1 (GSM) C E Harradine DCM, Irish Guards
1935-1940 WO1 (GSM) J N Paterson, Grenadier Guards
1940-1950 WO1 (GSM) Thomas Courtney, Coldstream Guards
1950-1951 WO1 (GSM) George Howe, Irish Guards
1951-1952 WO1 (GSM) Frederick Thomas Aylen, Coldstream Guards
Garrison Sergeant Majors, Headquarters London District since 1952:
1952-1965 WO1 (GSM) George Stone MVO MBE, Irish Guards
1965-1977 WO1 (GSM) Tom Taylor MVO MBE, Grenadier Guards
1977-1987 WO1 (GSM) Alexander Dumon MVO MBE, Coldstream Guards
1987-2002 WO1 (GSM) Alan G 'Perry' Mason MVO MBE, Coldstream Guards
2002-2015 WO1 (GSM) William 'Billy' Mott OBE MVO, Welsh Guards
2015-present WO1 (GSM) Andrew 'Vern' Stokes OBE MVO, Coldstream Guards

Some of the London ceremonial events during the year for which the GSM takes military ceremonial responsibility are:

Trooping the Colour, Horse Guards Parade
The Garter Ceremony, Windsor Castle
Beating Retreat, Horse Guards Parade
The State Opening of Parliament, Westminster
The British Legion Festival of Remembrance, Royal Albert Hall
Remembrance Parade, Whitehall
and other special events such as
Royal Weddings, State Funerals, and of course Coronations!

London's pageantry is admired throughout the world and the magnificent Trooping of the Colour, to celebrate our Monarch's birthday, forms a vital part of our national heritage. The above GSMs have all played a prominent part in maintaining the unique ceremonial life of London. The role of the GSM is critical to the successful and world class execution of state ceremonial and Public Duties. He is widely recognised as the expert on the drill of all Arms.

Bibliography: On the Word of Command, A Pictorial History of the Regimental Sergeant Major, Richard Alford, Spellmount Ltd, 1990, ISBN 0-946771-65-0

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Please note: This is not an official website. Please check official sources for up to date information about military events.
The HQ London District official webpage is at:

British Military Ceremonial
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