The night of Friday, 29th January 1965, was one of bitter rain and snow but that didn’t stop people taking up their positions for the following day’s state funeral.
While they were taking their places in the cold and wet the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl Marshal, was rehearsing the pallbearers duties inside St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Throughout that day and night there was a steady drumbeat, beating out the minutes in that day-long final flurry of rehearsals for the nation’s last tribute to Sir Winston Churchill.
The sound of 65 beats to the minute on a black-draped drum started in the pre-dawn darkness and echoed eerily through empty streets as 5,000 Servicemen escorted the heavy gun carriage and a lead-weighted coffin in a ghostly parade along the funeral route.
The troops left Westminster as Big Ben struck 4.45 a.m.