Army cadets were up in arms today being banned from carrying rifles on a Remembrance Day parade – amid fears the weapons might ‘upset’ onlookers.
The young cadets have proudly marched with rifles for decades and around 100 had spent months fine-tuning the drill where the youngsters would showcase their skills.
But the cadets were left ”gutted” just days before the big day when military top brass cut the rifles from the display following complaints from members of the public.
They were warned the rifle display during the march in Plymouth, Devon, could be deemed as ”glamourising” weapons.
Cadets were left ”bitterly disappointed” by the late change, which organisers today branded ”political correctness gone mad”.
Basil Downing-Waite, chairman of the Federation of Plymouth and District Ex Services Associations, which organised the event, said: ”I am bitterly disappointed”.
He added: ”It’s political correctness gone mad. I feel bitterly disappointed because it gives the young people a sense of responsibility. They are delighted to do these displays.”
More than 100 cadets from across Plymouth spent months preparing for the annual event which is the highlight in their calendar.
The Remembrance Day march was still due to go ahead tonight but with the rifle aspect withdrawn.
A senior cadet instructor said the children had been left ”very upset” by the ruling.
Police Chief Inspector Brendan Brookshaw said his son Henry and daughter Rosie re ”very disappointed” at the late change.
He added: ”This week the commanding officer for Plymouth cadets told them they couldn’t do it any more because some member of the public complained about cadets marching with rifles.
”They have been doing it forever. My children have been doing rifle drill displays for the past four years and I did it when I was a cadet.”
Chief Inspector Brookshaw added that his son was one many Plymouth cadets who marched carrying rifles as part of a Freedom of the City parade in September.
But Devon Cadet Executive Officer Major David Waterworth put an end to the tradition after he ruled the carrying weapons was ”not good for the image” of cadets.
He said: ”There is no need for children to appear in public with weapons. It does upset some members of the public.
”There is no need for it. It doesn’t reflect our aims and ethos in the Army Cadet Force. We are not soldiers.
‘People say it’s traditional at Remembrance parades, but there is no need to carry a weapon to remember the dead.
”I stopped it as soon as I heard they were doing it. It’s not good for our image to have children carrying weapons in public.
”We are not members of the Armed Forces – we are a youth movement sponsored by the Ministry of Defence.”
He added that a ruling against children carrying rifles had been in place for ten years, but had not been enforced until now.