Armed Forces Day 26th June 2022

The first Drumhead Service for two years was held at Deal Pier apron as usual to celebrate Armed Forces Day however this year to include celebrating the Queens Platinum Jubilee.

Organised by Downs Branch Royal British Legion and conducted by our branch Padre Rev John Lines MBE the service included three hymns, prayers and a very poignant address from our Padre.

Town Mayors, Councillors, Veterans and a good attendance of members of the public along with local clubs supported the event

Reviewing officer Oliver Richardson Major Welsh Guards Rtd. took the salute, inspected the Standards and the 25 strong contingents of Army and Air Force Cadet units based in Deal, Parade Marshal Julian de Zille taking charge.

Last Post and Reveille were sounded by Mike Scurfield RM Rtd., Exhortation said by Chairman Edward Barkway and the Kohima Epitaph by Malcolm Gibbons Friends of Burma Star.

Music was provided by Deal Brass Academy Band directed by Chris Berryman, hymn singing lead by Carol Kewley who sang “The white cliffs of Dover” solo as a tribute to The Queen.

Many more Photographs by kind permission of Bob Davies at



Choral Evensong Canterbury Cathedral

Chairman Edward Barkway and Vice Chair Malcolm Gibbons attended this Choral Evensong Service held in Canterbury Cathedral 26th June 2022, ten Standards were paraded under the command of County Parade Marshal Geoff Lees.

After the opening hymn a fitting introduction by County Chairman Richard Cast was followed by Old and New Testament readings, prayers and wonderful pieces by the choir.

A two minute Act of Remembrance was observed which included the sounding of HMS Canterbury’s Bell.

A very enjoyable and fitting event celebrating Kent’s RBL 100th anniversary.

Photo’s from James Castle Kent Standard bearers.

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Flag Raising at the start of Armed Forces Week 20th June

Attended by approx. 30 persons this year Sandwich Town Council hosted this short but meaningful service at their Guildhall, Deputy Lieutenant of Kent Lord Northbourne along with local Town Mayors, representatives of the Armed Forces and members of Downs and White Cliffs Royal British Legions Branches.

The service was lead by Revd Canon Mark Roberts and included meaningful speeches by the Chairman of DDC Cllr Mike Conolly and Sandwich Town Mayor Cllr Jeffrey Franklin who thanked everyone for supporting the event and invited all for refreshments in the Town Council main hall.

General Salute was played by Bugler

Downs Branch Armed Forces Day 10.50 at Deal Pier Sunday 26th June. 

L-R Cllr Mike Conolly, Revd Canon Mark Roberts, Lord Northbourne  

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Jubilee Tree planting 8th June.

Downs Branch, affiliated to Sandown School, were invited by the school to a tree planting in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Anniversary, Branch Secretary Sue Andrews, Chair Edward and his wife Janet Barkway were delighted to attend. 

The reason for the planting was fully explained to the children who were selected to represent each class, I am pleased to say the Royal British Legion was mentioned with several of the pupils showing that they understood what the RBL stands for.

As can be seen from the photographs we were warmly welcomed by the pupils and staff to witness and help take part in the planting assisted by many small hands! 

Children’s photo’s by parents consent.

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VE Day Dover 8th June 2022

For more photo’s go to

Bob Davies & Malcolm Gibbons attended on behalf of the Downs Branch.


Zeebrugge Day 23rd April

Because of Covid caution this moving ceremony was restricted this year to a parade of Standards, sounding of the Zeebrugge Bell and the reading of The Zeebrugge Citation at Dover Town Hall and the close by Dover War Memorial.

In attendance were Downs branch were President John Elms, Remembrance Sec & Vice Chair Malcolm Gibbons with his wife and committee member Jennie.

Branch member Bob Davies took the photographs, Brian Walton of White Cliffs branch carried our Standard.

Last Post was sounded, the Exhortation and Kohima Epitaph read followed by the laying of wreaths to the fallen.

The ceremony remembers the daring raid by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines on St George’s Day 1918 to block the port of Zeebrugge to prevent German vessels being put to sea, training for the raid was carried out at Deal.

Eight Victoria Crosses were recommended but only four actually awarded, for more info and the full story of the raid see

Pictures kindly supplied by Bob Davies.



Falkland’s 40th Anniversary Dover War Memorial 3rd April 2022

Nine Standards, including four from local RBL Branches, were paraded at this important service organised by Dover White Cliffs Branch.

Padre Flt.Lt. Malcolm Sawyer led the service to remember all those that took part in the Falklands War 2nd April to 14th June 1982, “Abide with me” being the very fitting hymn.

Branch Chairman Garry Gunner said the Exhortation and Kohima Epitaph.

Parade Marshall was Frank Thompson and Bugler Robert Cole.

Downs Branch Chair Edward Barkway carried our Standard, member Bob Davies laid our branch wreath. Sue Andrew’s our secretary and husband John also attended.

Many more Photo’s by kind permission of Bob Davies at


  Dates for 2022 will be published under “DIARY” when confirmed.


Operation Fuller, “Channel Dash” 80th Anniversary 12th Feb 2022

The 80th and final Drum Head Service was held in No 3 Hanger at Manston aerodrome this being the air field the Swordfish biplanes took off from 80yrs to the day in their do-or die attempt to stop the German Warships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen returning to their home ports in Germany via the English Channel.

This service remembers this day in 1942 when a Tri-Service operation was launched to intercept and destroy a well protected German Battle fleet which was attempting to ‘Dash’ up the Channel from Brest to reach their home ports in Germany. We especially remember the eighteen young men of 825 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) from RAF Manston here in Kent, who flew six Fairy Swordfish aircraft, known as ‘Stringbags’ in a brave but futile attempt to stop and sink the main Battleships of the fleet. The action was unsuccessful, all the aircraft were shot down and only five of the aircrew were rescued from the Channel waters. Their leader that day was Lt Commander Eugene Esmond who was also lost and was granted a posthumous VC. Other awards and mentioned in dispatches (MIDs) were granted to all the airmen.

Vice Chairman Malcolm Gibbons carried our Branch Standard, Malcolm’s wife Jennie along with our Padre Rev John Lines MBE and Chairman Edward Barkway and his wife Janet were proud to attend on behalf of our branch.

19 Standards were paraded under the command of County Parade Marshal Geoff Lees.

There are two permanent memorials to the event sited at Ramsgate Harbour and Dover sea front, these have been passed into the care of the respective Local Authorities, it is the Downs Branch intention to see that a service continues to be held in Dover every February 12th.

The full incredible story can be found at

There is a very interesting display about the operation in the Spitfire Museum at Manston aerodrome.

Many more photo’s at



Holocaust Day 28th January 11.00

Holocaust Day 27th January was remembered at the Holocaust Memorial Stone in St George’s Church front garden in Deal, approximately 30 people attended.

Chris Spencer Vicar of St George’s led a short but meaningful service of prayers and readings, culminating with an appropriate traditional Jewish poem.

A wreath was laid by President John Elms on behalf of the Downs Branch, he was supported by six members of the committee.

Cllr Chris Turner Mayor of Deal with his Air Cadet escort laid a wreath for our Town, Nick Tomaszewski laid his wreath on behalf of The Cinque Ports Mayors Association, several more tributes were laid by relatives in memory of victims, other tributes were laid by local organisations attending the ceremony.

The customary meeting and exhibition in the Town Hall was not held due to Covid precautions.                                        

Many More Pictures at




Holocaust Day 28th January 11.00

A short service will be held at the Memorial Stone St Georges Church Garden High Street Deal, there will be NO reception or exhibition in the Town Hall.

A wreath will be laid on behalf of Downs Branch RBL.



Nic our Poppy Appeal Organiser (PAO) tells me the “final” total of monies collected was £21,200 – £21,300 a fabulous result given all the challenges of Covid. 

Nic says a big “THANK YOU” to all her collectors with a special thanks to Mary & Lydia, not forgetting Adrian the gazebo man!

If you can spare an hour or two a year, yes a year, to raise money for our service men & women and their families contact Nic NOW for all the info. OR 01304 363111

Thank you!




Remembrance Sunday Photo’s from Bob Davies

Approx 300 people attended the ceremony led by our Padre Rev John Lines MBE on Sunday 14th November, President John Elms said the Exaltation and Malcolm Gibbons the Kohima Epitaph, Cllr Chris Turner Worshipful Mayor of Deal read the lesson. Jennie Gibbons read a moving  poem by a soldier Steve Stephen. Edward laid the branch wreath. Nine Standards were paraded including Downs Branch carried by Mick Coote and two from local Scout groups, Parade Marshal was Julian de Zille. Music was provided by Snowdown Colliery Band, the Last Post sounded by WO1 Andy Cornish RM.

Lots more photo’s at



Armistices Day Photo’s from Sandown School.

These charming photographs of children from Sandown School at Hamilton Road Cemetery on Armistices Day have been kindly supplied by Shilpa Uppal, the children behaved impeccably, made and laid some moving tributes and were a great credit to their school. We as a branch are affiliated to the school and we are delighted that they attended the ceremony. Appropriate permission has been given to publish the photographs.

Shilpa is a Year 5 class teacher, Science Lead and Lead Mentor.


Armistices Day 

The link to the photographs here has been deleted as it felt was inappropriate to promote the work of the photographer for commercial gain. 



Dover Cruise Terminal 8th November

Branch Vice Chair Malcolm Gibbons and Secretary Sue Andrews attended a much scaled down Service of Remembrance at Dover Cruise Terminal held in conjunction with The British Torch of Remembrance Delegation of British Ex-Servicemen.

Sue laid a wreath on behalf of the Downs Branch along with seventeen others including Dover Town Mayor and the Chairman of Dover Council. Malcolm laid a wreath on behalf of the Friends of Burma Star.

The service was conducted by Chaplains from Port of Dover, the Railway Mission and the Royal British Legion as always under the shadow of the impressive monument to the railway men lost in both the Great War and World War 2.

Lots more pictures at



RBL Central Band with David Cole at Maidstone

Last Chance to Book!

Cost £27 per person coach fair and entry ticket.

Depart Deal South St 17.15 Quarter past Five pm

Payment by Cheque made out to “Friends Account” or cash to Jennie Gibbons at 14 Lister Close Deal CT14 9AN by Saturday 13th November PLEASE!


WW2 Memorial Dedication Ceremony Sunday 31st October

Malcolm Gibbons Branch Vice Chair carried our Standard at this unique ceremony in Nonington Church, Barry Rampton, Staple Branch, was inspired to create this memorial as the WW1 memorial only had a simple plaque added to honour WW2 casualties.

Barry’s memorial not only commemorates the military victims but also the civilian victims so often overlooked on War Memorials from the village.

Barry also created a potted history of all victims from WW1 & WW2 listing their Regiments, cause of death and place of burial a wonderful tribute from Barry to those who gave so much. 

Lots more photo’s at



RBL Central Band with David Cole at Maidstone see below!

If we can fill a 29 seat coach it will cost £15PP plus the Concert Ticket of £12 (£27 total) PLEASE contact Edward on ASAP if you would like to go. Thank You!



Walmer Railway Station Tragedy.

Last year Sunday 12th September 2020 was the 75th Anniversary of the tragic explosion at Walmer Railway Station Goods Shed killing four members of the American Port Battalion and severely burning six others.

On Sunday 12th September this year, 2021, approximately150 persons witnessed the dedication of a Memorial Plaque to commemorate the disaster, the programme of events closely following the original service of remembrance held back in 1945.

Mary Gough and Keith Shorten who as children witnessed the tragedy gave moving accounts of their memories of the event. The plaque was unveiled by David Goodban, songs by Thanet Gospel Choir and Taps (USA Last Post) by bugler Christopher Shea. Rev Seth Cooper led the ceremony.

Five Downs Branch members attended, the branch Standard paraded, and a wreath laid, photographs kindly supplied by branch member Bob Davies RM.

A comprehensive illustrated booklet written by Phil Eyden is available for £3, all monies going to charity.

Many more photographs at



Merchant Navy Day 3rd September

Because of Covid DDC did not organise a ceremony this year, however Vice Chair Malcolm Gibbons and Jennie his wife and committee member laid a wreath on behalf of Downs Branch RBL.

Today is officially known as Merchant Navy Day and remembers the cost of the lifeline they brought to this country during WW2. The cost was high, 2,627 ships were sunk, 30,248 seamen were killed, 4,654 are missing, 4,701 were wounded, and 5,720 were made prisoners of war. WE REMEMBER THEM and all those who served under the ‘Red Duster’ and have lost their lives since.

Information provided by Bob Davies RM



Armed Forces Day Deal 2021

Armed Forces Day Deal 2021, because of Covid was held in the grounds of the Burma Star Memorial and not the Deal Pier Apron as usual.

Among the 30 invited guests was Local MP Cllr Natalie Elphicke OBE, Cllr Chris Turner Town Mayor of Deal and the Mayors of Sandwich and Dover Cllr’s Paul Graham and Gordon Cowan. Representing RBL White Cliffs Branch was Secretary Christine Walton.

The service was conducted by Rev John Lines MBE Padre of RBL Downs Branch, music provided by Chris Berryman.

sssStandards from Downs Branch, Royal Marines, Royal Airforce, Staple and Dover Branches, TS Lynx and Assoc Men of Kent were paraded under the control of Julian de Zille Downs Branch Parade Marshal. A good contingent of WRNS and Naval officers and cadets from TS Lynx were also on parade

Drums kindly supplied by TS Lynx, bugle calls by WO1 Pastie Cornish RM, Exhortation said by Edward Barkway, Kohima Epitaph by Malcolm Gibbons. After the service guests retired to the RMA Club where a tasty buffet was provided.

Lots more photo’s kindly supplied by Bob Davies at



Celebration of Royal British legion Centenary 1921 -2021 held at the RAF Memorial Capel.

Downs Branch Chairman Edward Barkway carried their Standard, Malcolm & Jennie Gibbons also attended the event jointly organised by Christine Walton and members of White Cliffs Branch with Dover DC.

Eight Standards including the County Colour Party were paraded under the guidance of County Parade Marshal Geoff Lees.

Town Mayors from Dover, Deal and Sandwich attended with many members and general public suitably “distanced”

More pictures at



RBL White Cliffs Branch Dover Armed Forces Day 26th June

Downs Branch Chairman Edward Barkway carried the Downs Standard accompanied by Malcolm Gibbons Vice Chair and Remembrance Sec.  Branch member Bob Davies kindly took the photographs.                                Also click for more photographs.


See many more pictures at



The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) are inviting you to “see who lived in your street” as their “Week to remember project” Click the link to find out more!


To celebrate Royal British Legion’s 100th Birthday 15th May 2021 our President John Elms placed a wreath at the Deal War Memorial Hospital Cross


The Exhortation was said by our President John Elms and the Kohima Epitaph by  Vice Chairman Malcolm Gibbons.



See also, click the link.

D-Day 77: The Official Opening Of The British Normandy Memorial

Veterans and relatives of the Normandy fallen are invited to witness a long-awaited historic moment as the British Normandy Memorial is officially opened on 6 June 2021, the 77th anniversary of D-Day. 

As Covid-19 restrictions prevent travel to Normandy, the Normandy Memorial Trust and the Royal British Legion are together hosting a commemorative event at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Guests will watch a live broadcast of the official opening of the newly completed British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, presided over by the British Ambassador to France, Lord Edward Llewellyn, accompanied by senior French guests. Normandy Veterans and relatives of the fallen may apply for a place at

The general public will be able to follow the entire event live via this link

The official opening is the culmination of nearly six years of work by the Normandy Memorial Trust. The idea for the Memorial originated with the Trust’s Normandy Veteran Patron, George Batts MBE, Leg d’Hon and was taken up by many other Veterans, including the Trust’s Veteran Ambassador and Fundraiser, Harry Billinge, MBE, Leg d’Hon.

The Memorial features the ‘D-Day Sculpture’ by British sculptor David Williams-Ellis, the D-Day Wall featuring the names of those who fell on D-Day itself and, on 160 stone columns, the names of those others who lost their lives between D-Day and the Liberation of Paris at the end of August 1944. The site also includes a French Memorial, dedicated to the memory of French civilians who died during this time.


V E Day 8th May 11.00

This annual ceremony could not be held this year due to Covid restrictions, however despite the cold wind and rain Branch President John Elms accompanied by Chairman Edward Barkway and Vice Chairman Malcolm Gibbons laid a RBL wreath at the Cross of Remembrance in Hamilton Road Cemetery. John said the Exhortation and inscribed the wreath label.                Also see



Zeebrugge Ceremony

This annual ceremony cannot be held this year due to Covid restrictions, however Dover District Council have produced a pre recorded video which can be viewed by clicking one of the links below



Because of Covid this important ceremony was cancelled this year, however our Branch Secretary Sue Andrews laid a Poppy wreath on our behalf at the Channel Dash Memorial on Dover sea front, more properly known as Operation Fuller the memorial commemorates the brave efforts of six Fairy Swordfish aeroplanes to stop the German fleet returning to their home ports in 1942. Further reading at  


Photo’s from Sue & John Andrews



Holocaust Day 27th January

The traditional prayers and laying of wreaths and tokens could not be carried out because of Covid restrictions, however at separate times during the morning Branch Vice Chairman Malcolm Gibbons laid a wreath on behalf of the Downs Branch, Secretary Sue Andrews and member Janet Barkway laid tokens in memory of loved ones.                        

Photo’s from Janet & Malcolm.



Armistices Day Hamilton Rd Cemetery 2020


Pictures kindly supplied by Bob Davies


Remembrance Sunday 7th November 2020 Deal War Memorial Hospital

Photo’s by kind permission of Bob Davies.

More pictures….



Poppy Table Pictures!

Latest pictures of the “Poppy Gang at work” and local shops window displays.


Chris Howe Jewellers 

Teresa’s Hair Fashions

Merry Gardens Florist

Maxted’s Pet & Garden Centre

Beautiful Homes


Masks made by Masheeda


Amazing Idea! see 


Poppy Appeal WILL go ahead!

Poppy Appeal Organiser (PAO) Mary Eldridge tells me that despite the limitations imposed by Covid-19 she is determined to make this years total the best ever, YOU can help!

The Poppy Table will as usual be in the High Street outside St George’s Church from Saturday 24th October to  Saturday 7th November, 9AM to 3PM every day, stock is limited so make your donation ASAP!

Need more options? the following shops will have poppies and a collection box

  • Outlets in Deal:
  • Ropers Stationery & Books 
  • Maxteds Pet & Garden Centre
  • Merry Gardens Florist
  • Downs Social Club Market St
  • Co-op Funeral Services
  • London Road Garage
  • Outlets in Walmer
  • Gillivers News Agent
  • Wale & Son The Strand
  • Royal Marines Club (RMA) The Strand
  • Strand Pharmacy
  • Goose on the Green Cafe’
  • SEE


Malayan Emergency Remembered 

Today at 1100hrs, John Elms laid a wreath at the Memorial Cross at St Andrews Church to mark the 60th Anniversary of the end of the Malayan Emergency, 1948-1960, and where John had served with the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment during his National Service. I laid a cross to Remember the twenty-six Royal Marines who lost their lives there whilst serving with 3 Commando Brigade 1950-1952. WE WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER THEM.

 Report and photographs by kind permission of Bob Davies.


Dover Patrol 19th July

This important ceremony to remember the the crews of the patrol boats that guarded the English Channel in both WW1 & WW2 was marked by the laying of wreaths only and not a full ceremony due to the Covid restrictions. Branch Padre Rev John Lines MBE conducted the ceremony and wreaths were laid by local town Mayors and representatives from local RBL branches. Branch President John Elms said the Exaltation, Branch Vice Chair and Remembrance Secretary Malcolm Gibbons organised the ceremony in conjunction with the Memorial trustees.

Photographs kindly provided by Bob Davies.


Show your respect for our Armed Forces 22nd to 29th June.


These pictures are a selection of “projects” from some of the children at Sandown School, Golf Rd, Deal.The Downs Branch and the school are Affiliated and we are delighted to see these wonderful words and pictures and tea and cake, so WELL DONE! everyone involved and Thank You for sending them to us.

Many Thanks again!




Despite the dreaded virus VE Day was celebrated “at home” as you can see from the following photo’s, recognise anywhere?  If you have any similar photo’s please send them to me @ 



Thank You everyone and “Well Done”


Page Turning at Deal Hospital is on hold however…….

Lockdown page turning at Deal Hospital. Today was to be the Deal WRNS second go at doing the page turning. Jayne Gollop, one of our number works there. She was a little apprehensive because it is quite an emotional experience and she wanted to do it the justice it deserves. Here she is completing the task with the receptionist taking the photograph at a safe distance. Mission Accomplished and well done Jayne!
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor 

What a star!



Operation Fuller affectionately known as “The Channel Dash” 

February 12th, the 78th Anniversary, was commemorated despite the gale force winds on Dover sea front,  six Standards were in attendance, Downs Branch carried by Edward Barkway, the Branch wreath was laid by Bob Davies and Malcolm Gibbons laid a wreath on behalf of the Burma Star Assoc.                                                                               

On 12 February 1942, 18 young men of the Fleet Air Arm flew 6 fabric-covered Fairey Swordfish Torpedo Bombers from RAF Manston in Kent, at little more than 100mph to attack in the Straits of Dover, the largest German Battle Fleet ever assembled.

The fleet included the Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the Cruiser Prinz Eugen, protected by 6 Destroyers, 40 Flak Ships and more than 200 fighter aircraft. All of the Fairey Swordfish were destroyed and only 5 of the aircrew were rescued alive from the cold, dark waters of the Straits.                                        Rev John Lines MBE led the service with Malcolm Godfrey.                                                                                                          Admiral of the Fleet Michael Cecil Boyce, KG, GCB, OBE, KStJ, DL               
Bob Davies and Malcolm Gibbons Edward and Malcolm Photographs by kind permission of Bob Davies.                                                Many more of Bob’s photo’s below.                                                                                                                                  



Holocaust Day Deal 27th January

75th Anniversary of the liberation of the extermination camp at Auschwitz 

This annual commemoration to remember the Jews that were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis starts with an exhibition and talk with poetry readings organised by Deal Town Council in the Town Hall building, followed by a short service and wreath laying at the Holocaust Memorial in St George’s Church garden.


Downs Branch President John Elms (facing)

                                                      Deal Town Mayor Cllr. Eileen Rowbotham on behalf of the town.    Former town Mayor Nick Tomaszewski.

Secretary Sue Andrews lays the Downs Branch RBL wreath.  Branch Secretary Malcolm Gibbons lays a wreath for Burma Star Assoc.  Janet Barkway remembers a very close friends family. Committee Member Jennie Gibbons lays a remembrance token.                             More pictures follow.




Armistices Day Monday 11th November

Despite the freezing weather this short but meaningful service at Hamilton Road Cemetery was well supported by six Standards including our own carried by Army Cadet Gemma Atkins marched on under the direction of Parade Marshal Jullian de Zille, bugle calls from WO1 Andy Cornish RM and music by The Victory War Time Band. The Service being conducted by Branch Padre John Lines MBE. Town Mayor Cllr. Eileen Robotham laid a wreath along with other service and civilian groups, Linwood Under 5’s children laid their home made wreath as did approx fifty year 6 pupils from Sandown School, a marvellous and moving sight to see the children being involved and respecting the occasion. 

There are 189 casualties remembered in the cemetery.                                                                                            Photographs by kind permission of Bob Davies   


Remembrance Sunday 10th November

500 hundred Order of Services were handed out at the Deal War Memorial Hospital for this years Remembrance Sunday Service led by Rev John Lines MBE, Kent Deputy Lieutenant Bill Fawcus was the Reviewing Officer. Joe de Zille the Parade Marshal. Deal Town Mayor Cllr Eileen Rowbotham and Walmer Parish Council Chairman Cllr Sue Le Chevalier were in attendance. Snowdown Colliery Band provided the music. Army Cadet Gemma Atkins carried our Branch Standard.                                                                                 

                                                                                          Photographs by kind permission of Bob Davies                                    



Branch members attending Dover Western Docks for the Torch of Remembrance Ceremony Friday 8th November.


Terrific photo’s with thanks to Bob Davies (above)



Four young WRNS on duty for their first Page Turning in the Book of Remembrance in Deal War Memorial Hospital Monday 4th November.

Carried out with due ceremony and respect, well done Ladies!

I might have seen a little tear or two but probably best not say! 

The page turning rota for 2020 will be published shortly.



Quick Reminder for Remembrance Sunday and Armistices Day.
Sunday 10th November 11.00 Deal War Memorial Hospital.
Monday 11th November 11.00 Hamilton Road Cemetery





This years Festival will be very significant for the Downs branch.


Our Chaplain Rev. John Lines MBE who has made an amazing recovery from cancer and is still not fully recovered, will lead the service at the Thanet Festival of Remembrance, John has also arranged to give tributes to Aussie Walker MBE our branch President that sadly passed away in May this year and his wife June predeceasing him in December 2018.

Not only is our branch Standard bearer Richard Purton having the honour of being the events Parade Marshal I am proud to say our regular carrier Army Cadet Gemma Atkins will be parading our Downs Branch Standard so a very special occasion indeed. We as branch members should do our very best to attend and show our support for the time, effort and dedication given by Gemma, John and Richard on behalf of our branch.




Merchant Navy Day Tuesday 3rd September in Dover Town Hall and afterwards at the Memorial on Dover sea front was very well supported by a good crowd, thirteen Standards including Downs Branch carried by Gemma Atkins in her usual professional way, a great credit to our Branch. In support were Mum & Dad Marie and Paul, other Branch members there  were Lydia O’Connor, Gwen Boucher, Mary Eldridge, Alan & Sheila Watson along with John Elms, Bob Davies and Edward Barkway.

Officiated by Rev Dr John Walker the address was given by Rev Mandy Reynolds with Dover Port Chaplain David Slater and Mr Roger Round of the HMT Lancastria Assoc taking part.

Photo’s by kind permission of Bob Davies.

At the Royal Norwegian Garden Of Remembrance adjacent to the MN Memorial Col John Andreas Olsen Defence Attache to the UK & Ireland gave very moving address in which he acknowledged the important part the UK played during WW2 relative to Norway.

This plaque is in St Paul’s Co Cathedral Malta kindly submitted by Bob Davies.



Sunday 22nd July at Leathercote Point St Margaret’s saw 15 Ex Service Standards paraded in honour of the crews of the Dover Patrol Boat Service.

Branch Vice Chairman John Elms oversaw the parade which was lead by Rev’d Stephen Young. Reviewing Officer RSM Bill Howie RM Ret. Parade Marshal was Joe de Zille.

Downs Branch Vice Chairman John Elms

Rev’d Dr Stephen Young Deputy Priest in Ordinary to H.M.Queen.

Cadet from TS Lynx reads Nelson’s Prayer.

Reviewing Officer RSM Bill Howie RM Ret. & Parade Marshal  Joe de Zille.

The Band of TS Lynx

Deal Town Mayor Cllr. Eileen Rowbotham and Mayors cadet escort.

Music and Last Post & Reveille Played by The Victory War Time Band  

All Photographs provided with many thanks by Bob Davies RM Ret. Many more follow below.                                                                                                       

Bob Davies Photographer extraordinaire!


Sunday 30th June saw 13 Ex Service and our Downs RBL Standard on parade at Deal Pier to Celebrate the men and women of our Armed Forces. 

The following photos from Bob Davies demonstrate the commitment and respect we have for our troops who are prepared at a moments notice to protect our Queen, our Country and our Culture from those who try to destroy our democracy.

Branch Chairman Edward Barkway welcomes everyone present.

Deal Regatta girls

Standards Proudly carried to represent the organisations on parade.

Branch youth member Ryan Atkins carried the National and Gemma Atkins  the Branch Standard with very professionally and with great pride.

Deal Army Cadet Force out in strength

WO1 “Pastie” Cornish sounded the Last Post and Reveille 

Branch Parade Marshal Joe de Zille ensures everything goes to plan!

A contingent of WRENS proudly on parade

Royal Navy Band leads the parade.

Ryan Atkins just in shot followed by Gemma Atkins

CPO Alan Watson taking the salute

Royal Marines as proud as ever!


24th June saw many members attend the Flag Raising ceremony at Dover Town Hall to mark the start of Armed Forces Week, Downs Branch will be marking the occasion with a ceremony at Deal Pier on Sunday 30th June all welcome. Photographs by Bob Davies.


Just a few of the many pictures taken at Dover on 2nd June when the D Day Veterans departed for their 75th Anniversary trip. Photo’s from Janet Barkway & Paul Atkins.


Merchant Navy Association Report

On Saturday 25th May, the 30th Anniversary of the formation of the Merchant Navy Association, a commemoration took place in Dover starting with a Service in St Mary the Virgin Church followed by a reception and entertainment in Dover Town Hall.

Jemma Atkins proudly carried our Downs Branch Standard, also in attendance were Jemma’s Mum Marie, “Charlie” Robinson, Malcolm Gibbons and Edward Barkway.

Piper preparing to “pipe us aboard” at the Church.

Standards prepare to march into the Church.

Jemma looking very smart indeed.

The congregation begins to arrive, the Town Mayors of Dover, Folkestone & Hythe seated.

…including our “Charlie” Robinson!

Steve Shaw of Kent Branch Merchant Navy Association leads the march in.

Steve Shaw welcomes us with an explanation of the work that the MNA do for seafarers.

Bible Reading by David Slater Lead Chaplain Port of Dover.

Address by Revd. Sean Sheffield, St Mary’s

Piper and Standards prepare to leave the church.

Jemma following the MNA Standard carried by Steve Shaw Kent Branch MNA.

Jemma as part of The Guard of Honour.

Steve welcoming us all to Dover Town Hall.

Wonderful singing by Shorncliffe Barracks Military Wives Choir.

Marie and jemma at the tasty buffet, tea & coffee available and a pay-bar open.

The Merchant Navy Flag the “Red Duster”


Walmer Aerodrome

To mark the 100 years since the closing of the aerodrome an Evensong Service organised by Walmer Parish Councillor Marguerite Beard-Gould was held at St Mary’s Church Walmer 19th May 2019. Vicar of Walmer The Rev’d Seth Cooper assisted by The Rev’d Canon (Sqn Ldr) Mathew Buchan conducted the service, the regular Choir being joined by the Choir of St John the Baptist Church, Barham led by Choirmaster Rod Spencer.

Mark Spratt RM Bugler (retd) sounded Last Post and Reveille.

The full congregation included The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports Admiral of the Fleet The Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL, Leyland Ridings MBE County President of the Royal British Legion, other legion members and members of our Downs branch.

Joe de Zille was Parade Marshal to the Standards carried by ex RAF and RAF Cadet members with their newly appointed officer Stuart Gemmell.

Refreshments provided by Walmer Parish staff rounded off a very pleasant and uplifting evening.

Musical accompaniment by “Old Bones” trombone ensemble.

Parade Marshal Joe de Zille with new RAF Officer Branch Youth Liaison officer  Stuart Gemmell.

RBL County President Leyland Ridings MBE (R)

L-R Tony Eldridge, John & Anny Elms and Adrian Friend.

L-R Lydia O’Connor, Jennie & Malcolm Gibbons.

Walmer Parish Councillor Marguerite Beard-Gould (R) organiser of the event.

Joe de Zille and Mrs Muriel Tomaszewski

Mary Eldridge Poppy Area Organiser (PAO)

Janet Barkway & Branch Vice Chairman John Elms.

Marguerite being duly congratulated for all her hard work organising the service.


yZeebrugge Raid 23rd April 1918

This year’s annual service to commemorate and remember the lives lost in the WW1 raid on the Belgium port of Zeebrugge in 1918, took place as always on St George’s Day 23th April 2019. Downs Branch RBL Standard was carried by Barry Rampton of Staple Branch, our wreath laid by John Elms Downs Branch Vice Chairman also in attendance were Malcolm Gibbons Secretary and members Bob Davies, Alan and Sheila Watson.

The RMA Branch was represented at the event by ‘Dusty’ Miller parading the RMA Standard, with Bob Davies laying a wreath on behalf of the RMA President and members. Also in attendance was Ben Stones. 

The first part of the Remembrance service took place at the Cross of Sacrifice in St James’ cemetery in Dover, where so many of those lost that day are laid to rest. Our MP Mr Charlie Elphicke, many dignitaries, including members of the town of Zeebrugge, and members of the Belgium Armed Forces were in attendance. The raid was to sink blockships across the canal entrances to prevent German submarines  being able to leave their Pens. The raid was successful, although some 200 of the 1700 who took part were killed, some 400 were wounded and many more taken prisoner. Of a total of eleven VCs awarded that day, two were awarded to Royal Marines (RMLI)

On completion of this service and wreath laying a further short service took place in front of Dover’s Town Hall, where the town Mayor sounded ‘Eight Bells’ on the commemorative bell which used to hang at the end of the Mole in Zeebrugge, it was  gifted to Dover from the people of that town as a memorial to all those lost.

     Photograph’s and report by kind permission of Bob Davies (L)                                


Stokes Mortar Bomb Tragedy

At 1020hrs on 1 April 2019 a short but moving service of Remembrance was held by  the gate that leads onto the former RM Rifle Range in Kingsdown.

The service was held to mark the 101st anniversary of the incident that happened on this day in 1918 when four Royal Marine Artillery Gunners were killed instantly with many more seriously injured when a bomb exploded in the barrel of the Stokes Mortar they were firing. A further Royal died of his wounds in hospital on 3 April.

The service started with an introduction by Bill Butler of the RMHT to explain the circumstances of the incident and how it came about that it was being remembered today, and the service was then led by the Reverend John Lines MBE.

‘Dusty’ Miller paraded the Branch Standard, and the Chairman of the Downs Branch RBL Edward Barkway carried their Standard.

Also present were Mike Scurfield who sounded the Last Post and Reveille, Bob Davies who read the Royal Marines Prayer, John Elms who gave the Exultation and our President Col David Storrie OBE who gave the Kohima Epitaph. Also attending were Tony Eldridge and John ‘JC’ Puddle.

Some thirty people had gathered for the occasion, wreaths were laid and Bob fixed a Branch Remembrance Cross to the gate.

Those that lost their lives that day long ago were:

Bombardier Fred Belfield 19

Gunner Samuel Houchen 26

Gunner Albert Aldridge    22     We Will Remember Them

Gunner Arthur Large         26

Gunner Ernest Caffey        23

My Thanks to Bob Davies for this report, his photo’s and to others who submitted photo’s.

Bill Butler welcomes all present.

Rev. John Lines MBE Downs RBL Padre conducting the service.

Col David Storrie RM nearest to camera.

John Elms Downs RBL Vice Chairman nearest to camera.



This years ‘Operation Fuller’ Remembrance Service, but more wildly known as ‘The Channel Dash’ was held at their fine Memorial on Dover seafront on Tuesday 12 February at 1400hrs.

This service remembers this day in 1942 when a Tri-Service operation was launched to intercept and destroy a well protected German Battle fleet which was attempting to ‘Dash’ up the Channel from Brest to reach their home ports in Germany. We especially remember the eighteen young men of 825 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) from RAF Manston here in Kent, who flew six Fairy Swordfish aircraft, known as ‘Stringbags’ in a brave but futile attempt to stop and sink the main Battleships of the fleet. The action was unsuccessful, all the aircraft were shot down and only five of the aircrew were rescued from the Channel waters. Their leader that day was Lt Commander Eugene Esmond who was also lost, and was granted a posthumous VC. Other awards and mentioned in dispatches (MIDs) were granted to all the airmen.

The service was conducted by the Reverend John Lines MBE, Chaplin to the Downs Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL), and Bob Davies attended to represent our RMA Branch, with Ron Williams from the Thanet Branch parading their Standard alongside five other Regimental and Association Standards including Downs Branch Royal British Legion.

On completion of the event a buffet reception was held in the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club (RCPYC) and we thank them for their hospitality.

My thanks to Bob Davies for kindly allowing me to use his report.


  My thanks to Bob Davies for his excellent photographs

RMChannel Dash




The names in the Book of Remembrance at Deal Hospital were read by Army Cadet Officer Paul Atkins, the Exhortation was said by Vice Chair John Elms, the Kohima Epitaph by Secretary Malcolm Gibbons and the Standard carried by Edward Barkway.

Also attending were Anny Elms, Jennie Gibbons, Lydia O’Connor, Mary Eldridge and Ray Clutton.

The 2019 Rota can be found under “DIARY”


Dear all just a quick reminder that at 11.00 next Monday 3rd December we will be at Deal Hospital to carry out the ceremony of remembering those local people recorded in the Book Of Remembrance, this simple but important ceremony lasts approx 10 minutes so please support us if you can!

PS Don’t forget the last Branch meeting of 2018 is in the evening!


Armistices Day And Remembrance Sunday

Armistices Day was commemorated on Saturday 10th November at Hamilton Road Cemetery as the 11th falls on Remembrance Sunday, it would be impractical to have the Cemetery and the Hospital on the same day so having Armistices Day (11th Nov.) on the 10th seemed the best option.

All photographs kindly supplied by Bob Davies

Armistices Day Saturday 10th

Standards gather for the march up to the Cross of Sacrifice under the watchful eye of Joe de Zille Branch Parade Marshal.

Union Flag and Branch Standard proudly carried by cadets from Deal Army Cadet Corps

Waiting in the the rain that never stopped!

Wreaths are laid

Showing just two of the eight Standards at “Wet weather” dip.

Watching over us all the “There But Not There” soldier’

Remembrance Sunday 11th November

Standard Bearers await their first command.

Two Deal Army Cadet Corp Branch Members with the Union Flag and our Branch Standard.

Parade Marshal Joe de Zille checking the running order.

From the right Malcolm Gibbons Branch & Remembrance Secretary, Branch President Austin “Aussie” Walker MBE saying the Exhortation, Rev John Lines MBE lead the service flanked by MP for Dover & Deal Charlie Elphicke.

Deal Town Mayor Cllr Nick Tomaszewski reads the Lesson from Micah Ch4 Vs 1to5


Wreath are laid.

Lovely tributes from local schools and Churches were laid.

Malcolm & Jennies Grandson Joseph reads from “Lest we forget”

Vice Chairman John reads the reply from “Lest we Forget” Reviewing Officer Rt Hon Sir Hugh Robertson KC MG DL in the camel coat behind Joseph.

Joe seeks permission from the reviewing officer to form up the parade for the march past.

Scouts with their Cross and Poppy token of respect, jolly well done!

Cadets from Deal Army Cadet Corp Deal Detachment “out in force”

Two young ladies Georgina and Anny just two of the approx 700 who attended.

All photographs kindly supplied by Bob Davies



This years Poppy Appeal weeks run from Saturday 28th October to Saturday 10th November, if you would like to spare an hour or two for this very worthy cause contact Mary Eldridge NOW at  OR 07754 204002 OR 01304 382235 and join her merry “gang”! 

 Yours truly and Janet.

Kath always a willing volunteer every year.

Bob another of our regular helpers.

“Young” Edward

Another keen helper Paul

“Tea Ladies” Tina and Sharron from Merrygardens Florist bring welcome refreshment to Rosemary & Lydia, thank you girls for the countless tea and biscuits you have supplied free every day for many many years!

Lance gives Rosemary a crafty cuddle, as her sister Lydia runs the stall.

“Young” Bert, long standing member of our Downs Branch manning the Sainsbury’s table to “clock-up” his 50 years service as a Poppy Collector.                                                                           Bert is proudly wearing his collectors medal with 35, 40 & 45 year bars, Bert your a gem!!

Knitted poppies, wreath and “Chelsea Pensioners” in the Deal Centre window.


Vice Chairman John and another happy “customer”!

Niki another one of our stalwart collectors, keep ’em smiling Niki!

Lydia & Mary with one of our Army Cadet members “standing guard” in Sainsbury’s.

Lydia and Janet in Sainsbury’s with Poppy man on patrol!


Janet and Jenny with last years PAO Kelly,far left, joining in the fun.

Malcolm and Jenny “manning” the High Street table outside St George’s Church.

George and Kate another of our “regulars”

Sisters Rosemary and Lydia two of our valuable regular helpers.

John and his Officers Staff car with two “recruits” proudly wearing their Poppies.

Brothers John and Brian with their jeep and collection of weapons always draw a crowd.

Merrygards Florist Shop display by Sharron and Tina who kindly supply refreshments to the St George’s Table crew, thank you girls very much appreciated!

Pat from Maxted’s Pets and Garden shop takes a “rest” from running his shop!

Maxted’s window display and family message, see below.

Maxted’s window display with its special family message from Donna.

Last but by no means least Adrian who sets up the Gazebo and stock every morning and packs it all away again every afternoon largely single handed every day!

This years Poppy Appeal weeks run from Saturday 28th October to Saturday 10th November, if you would like to spare an hour or two for this very worthy cause contact Mary Eldridge NOW at  OR 07754 204002 OR 01304 382235 and join her merry “gang”!




Poppy Appeal Malta.                                                                            

On holiday with Ken & Lindsay Thacker in Malta in October we contacted some good friends we see every year in April when attending our George Cross Island Association reunion and were kindly invited to the Poppy Launch Dinner at San Antonio Hotel Qawra hosted by the Malta Branch RBL. Our host RBL Chairman Peter Robinson MBE and wife Mary along with many other “April” friends made us very warmly welcomed to enjoy a splendid dinner and entertainment by the Pipes & Drums Band of Hamrun.

Guest of honour UK High Commissioner for Malta Stuart Gill OBE third from left.


A few days later we were at the Presidents Palace to hear Malta President H E Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca launch the islands Poppy Appeal, introduced by Peter, the President gave an inspiring talk and spent time talking to many of those present.                                                       

Photo’s kindly supplied by Lindsay Thacker.


This year 2018 Armistices Day & Remembrance Sunday fall on the same date ie Sunday 11th November, therefor

Armistices Day will be commemorated 11.00 at Hamilton Rd Cemetery on Saturday 10th November.

Remembrance Sunday will be commemorated 11.00 at Deal War Memorial Hospital on Sunday 11th November.


22yrs ago at 08.22 on 22nd September 1989 the IRA carried out the cowardly bombing of innocent musicians at The Royal Marines School of Music in the RM Barracks at Deal in Kent.                                                                                                The people of Deal will never forget this unforgivable deed carried out by the underhanded miserable apology of so called men, too frightened to express their distorted views legally and openly, who murdered eleven young bandsmen in cold blood.

Every year We Remember and honour them.

Photo’s with many thanks from Bob Davies.

Bob has respectfully requested that these photos are not copied and circulated, ie face book, but can be downloaded for personal use/collections.


Saturday 15th September was THE night to remember, a fantastic evening of music from the 36 members of Central Band of The Royal British Legion led by David Cole MVO MMus ARAM RM with his usual style and panache.

Rev Canon Seth Cooper and Branch Padre John Lines MBE officiated at the short service of remembrance at the start of the evening followed by joy and celebration to mark the end of WW1 The Great War.

St Mary’s Church was bursting at the seems with a congregation of approx 200 determined to enjoy the evening to the full…  and enjoy it we certainly did as the pictures below show!

     John and Chelsea pensioner Ted

 Local schools wrote very touching tributes to remember the fallen and those that returned mounted on boards by Lydia and her brother.

Lydia, Mary and Anny resting after helping to get everything ready.

John, setter upper, washer upper and wine pourer extrordinair at the interval.


Gwen and her Granddaughter……

 …..provided and prepared high tea for the Legion Band.

Yours truly giving heartfelt thanks to the Band, our generous sponsors and all who attended, especially my committee for all their hard work to make the event such a great success.    Thanks also to Janet for her photographs.

Thank You Paul for these four pictures.


4 yrs ago in 2014 we commemorated the outbreak of WW1 The Great War, now we are going to celebrate the ending of that horrendous conflict. Celebration is appropriate for that is what we are going to do, as the people of this country did, 100 yrs ago in 1918. However we will have a short service to reflect and remember those that never returned, those that did return broken mentally and physically, disfigured beyond imagination, and those that only have a name on a memorial, not even their own headstone.

However the evening will be one of joy and celebration, the RBL Band led in his own inimitable way by  DAVID COLE!       

Further info from Edward at


DOVER PATROL DAY Sunday 29th July report & photo’s.

The Downs Branch Royal British Legion organised the annual Dover Patrol Memorial Service and Parade at the Memorial, Lethercote Point, Granville Road, St Margaret’s at Cliffe, held on Sunday 29th July 2018,with all assembled at 10.30am for the Service to commence at 10.45 am

The Memorial obelisk was dedicated during this month in 1921 and was erected to remember all those who served to keep the Channel waters safe during the Great War 1914-1918, and an additional plaque remembers those members of the Dover Patrol who served during WW2.

The Service commenced by the Padre saying the bidding and prayers, the singing of the Hymn Eternal Father, followed by prayers to those who work in shipping, serve in the Navies of the world and our own Merchant Navy seafarers and their families, this was then followed by all saying the Lord’s Prayer.

The Service was officiated by the Downs Branch Padre the Rev John Lines MBE, the music for the service was provided by The Victory Wartime Band under the leadership of Steve Griffiths, their vocalist Lucy Gove sang some traditional war time songs to start the proceedings.

The civic guests invited were the representative for the Member of Parliament Charlie Elphicke Dover & Deal Councillor Keith Lee, the Chairman of Dover District Council Councillor Sue Chandler, St Margaret’s at Cliffe Parish Councillor Rebecca Simcox, Mayor & Mayoress of Deal Nick & Muriel Tomaszewska. Representing the Mayor of Dover was Councillor Pamela Brivio, Worshipful Town Mayor of Sandwich Councillor Veronica Liote, Walmer Parish Council Chairman Sue Le Chevalier, and representatives from the The Dover Patrol Memorial Trustees.

A total of 12 Standards from Ex service organizations and Legion Branches paraded in front of the Memorial, Officers and Cadets from Dover & Deal Sea Cadets TS Lynx formed up to receive the wreaths due to the adverse weather conditions.

Reviewing officer for the day was the Lt Col David Storrie OBE RM who spoke to every Standard Bearer on the parade.

Ex Wren Shirly Heatlie recited Nelson’s Prayer followed by all present singing the National Anthem, the Blessing to close the service was said by the Padre.

The Last Post and Reveille were sounded by CSgt Andy Cornish Serving Royal Marine Bugler, The Exhortation said by Mr John Elms Vice Chairman of the Downs Branch RBL, The Kohima Epitaph said by Dover & Deal Branch Chairman Burma Star Association Mr Peter Wood, followed by the Laying of the Wreaths.

All were invited afterwards to St Margaret’s Village Hall, Reach Road, St Margaret’s for light refreshments kindly provided by St Margaret’s Parish Council.

My special thanks to Malcolm Gibbons for his report and Bob Davies for the photographs also many thanks to Mike Sturba Chairman of Staple RBL Branch for his help on the day.

Windy?? ….just a little coastal breeze!!


ARMED FORCES DAY  24th June Report & Photographs

Sixteen Ex Service and Cadet Forces Standards were proudly paraded on Deal Pier’s apron for this annual celebration and recognition of our men and women serving in today’s armed forces.

 After a short welcome by Remembrance Secretary Malcolm Gibbons the service was conducted by Rev John Lines MBE our branch Chaplain.

  The Exhortation was given by Branch President Austin “Aussie” Walker MBE.

The Kohima Epitaph was given by Burma Star veteran Peter Woods Local Assoc. branch Chairman.

 Bugle calls were given by RM Colour Sgt Andy “Pastie” Cornish

 Parade Marshall Richard Purton, former County Parade Marshall.

 John Elms “passes muster”

 The salute was taken by Worshipful Town Mayor of Deal Cllr. Nick Tomaszewski

 The National Standard was carried by Branch Vice Chairman John Elms and the Downs Branch Standard by Army Cadet Force (KACF Deal Detachment) member Cadet Cpl. Ryan Atkins.

 Music very ably provided by Deal Brass Academy Band.

More pictures follow

 Very many thanks to Bob Davies for his superb photographs (He is the handsome on on the left!)




Invite you to join with them in Celebrating our Armed Forces men and women on Deal Pier apron at 10.30 for 11.00                                                                                                                                                 Reviewing Officer Worshipful Town Mayor of Deal Cllr Nick Tomaszewski.

Parade Marshall for the day Former County Parade Marshal Richard Purton.

Branch Padre Rev John Lines MBE will lead the service.

TS Lynx Cadet Band & Deal Brass Academy Band will the provide the music.

Please come and show your support for our Service Personell

Followed by a buffet & pay bar at the RMA Club


Urgent Request Re GP90!

Swanley, Crockenhill & Hextable Branch are in need of a Wreath Layer to go to GP90.

The person we were going to send has sustained an injury which prevents them from doing so and we have exhausted any other possibility locally.

If there is anyone out there who would like to come along, please contact our Secretary as soon as possible so we can get you registered before the cut off date at the end of this month. The trip is FREE as all costs have already been met.

PLEASE Contact the Secretary DIRECT- Harry Chapman – or 01322 662548 NOW for full details.


Branch Members Uncle Remembered

On Monday 14th May at the 11.00AM Deal Hospital page turning ceremony it was the turn of the Green Beret Association to carry out this short but important ceremony.                                                                                                         Downs Branch member Lindsay Thacker’s Uncle is commemorated on the honours board, he is James Reginald Bullen Young a 17yr old apprentice crewman on the SS Marmion who lost his life when the vessel was torpedoed North of Bilbao in the Bay of Biscay 26th August 1917.

He is also commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial, Tower Hill, London.                                                                                                                   Seventeen other crewmen also perished, interestingly one website quotes the vessel sank “after striking an unknown object”

Bob Davies read the names from the Book of Remembrance and paid due respect to James.

“Dusty” Miller carried the GBA Standard, members Bob Davies, Jack McNulty, Lindsay’s husband Ken and Edward Barkway attended.


A touching tribute to a well loved family man Mr Joseph Morris, placed alongside the Dover/Deal Road. Can anyone tell me more?


On Thursday 26th April a memorial plaque dedicated to Lt Col Augustus Charles Newman VC OBE TD DL Ld’H was unveiled at St Peter’s Church Sandwich in the presence of several of his family members and members of his regiment the Royal Anglican’s.

Newman was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at the attack on St Nazaire March 28th 1942 he lived in Sandwich until his death 26th April 1972. Four other men on the raid were also awarded the VC.

  Twelve Standard Bearers prepare to lead the parade.

  Including Joe & Malcolm Gibbons Burma Star.

  Parade Marshall Simon Leith explains the running order

  The St Nazaire’s Society Public Relations Officer David Tate.

  Lt Col I M Torbica MBE TD.

  Richard Caste acting RBL County Chairman.

  Jennifer Westcott senior member of the family.

                                         Two members of the Royal Anglican Regt unveil the memorial plaque.

  Cllr Paul Graeme Sandwich Town Mayor and Rev Cannon Mark Roberts.

  Family members.

  The Memorial Plaque situated outside St Peter’s Church main door for all to see.

  Members of the Bancroft’s School Cadets.

 Downs & White Cliffs RBL Branch members.
















After a short visit to their twin village eight members of the Minster/Armbouts Cappel Twinning Association visited Ypres 11th / 12th March.

They laid wreaths at the Menin Gate on behalf of Minster Twinning Assoc., Minster Parish Council and the Downs Branch RBL.

Those who attended were Malcolm and Carol Bubb, John and Barbara Quittenden, Roy and Pat Burden and Downs members Ken and Lindsay Thacker.

The wreaths were kindly purchased by Lindsay from Kelly our PAO.

The following day they visited Ypres Cathedral and the Hooge crater and trenches.

Photo’s kindly supplied by Lindsay Thacker Downs Branch member.


On Sunday 25th March at the one time RM School of Music Depot the Union Flag will be ceremoniously raised at 11.00                                                                      A bugler will be in attendance, all are welcome to witness this short but important event.


Remembrance isn’t just for November 11th, I saw these on Dover Cliff top Sunday 16th Feb


Operation Fuller also known as Channel Dash 

channel dash - operation fuller

This daring WW2 operation was launched on 12th February 1942 to prevent the main German Warships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugan returning to their safe base in Germany. Detailed report follows the  photo’s.

 Reverend John Lines MBE  conducted the Service

Malcolm Gibbons carried the Down Branch Standard.                                                                                                                                                                  Eight Standards were paraded

        Janet Barkway laid the Downs Branch wreath

Two widows of men from Operation Fuller laying their tribute Valerie Sayer and Carole Lee.

More Photographs following this report on the operation.

In March 1941, following many successful attacks on the Atlantic Convoys that were so vital to Britain’s survival, the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau entered the port of Brest for repairs.  They were shortly joined by Prinz Eugen.  With the ships under constant Allied air strikes and Hitler demanding increased protection for occupied Norway, the German Naval War Command decided to bring all three vessels home to Germany by way of a heavily protected daylight dash up the English Channel and through the Dover Straits – code named Operation Cerberus.

Aware this run for home might take place, the Royal Navy set up Operation Fuller to deal with the threat and Coastal Command flew air patrols over Brest and the English Channel both day and night to monitor the situation.  Their plans were based on the assumption the German ships would leave Brest by day and complete the most dangerous part of their journey, the narrow waters of the Dover Straits, by night.   This was the first of an almost unbelievable catalogue of errors that would have disastrous consequences.

The German battle group of 66 ships, with continuous air cover provided by 250 day and night fighter aircraft, left Brest at night on 11 February 1942 and reached the Dover Straits, virtually undetected, at about 11.00am on 12 February.  The Fleet Air Arm’s 825 Squadron, led by Lieutenant Commander Eugene Esmonde and comprising six Swordfish aircraft and aircrews, were based at RAF Manston where they had been preparing for a night attack on the German ships.  Promised fighter cover of five squadrons of Spitfires, Esmonde agreed to lead his squadron in a daylight attack. Just one squadron, No 72 Squadron RAF led by Squadron Leader Brian Kingcombe, rendezvoused with Esmonde’s squadron and so with fighter cover of only 10 Spitfires, 825 Squadron attacked the mighty Germany battle group.  Against the guns of the big ships and the power of the Luftwaffe, the slow, out-dated Swordfish stood little chance.  All the Swordfish were shot down and only five of the eighteen men who set out survived.

Although more than 30 torpedo attacks were launched against the German battle group, not a single hit was achieved.  As a last resort, in the largest Bomber Command daylight operation of the war so far, 242 British aircraft were sent out against the German battle squadron but all to no avail.  The only damage inflicted was by mines hit by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau but even that was minimal.

All members of 825 Squadron were honoured after the Channel Dash.  Lt Cdr Esmonde was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, gallantry awards were given to those who survived and a Mention in Despatches was given to those who died, the highest award possible as no gallantry award other than the Victoria Cross could be given posthumously.

  These items along with many others are on display in the Spitfire & Hurricane Museum at Manston Airport.

All photographs very kindly supplied by Branch member Bob Davies pictured below.

  Many Thanks Bob!



Holocaust Day 27th January 2018

This important annual day of remembrance has an exhibition and short service in Deal Town Hall followed by the laying of tributes at the Holocaust Memorial in St Georges Church Garden.
Not only the Jew’s, Gypsy’s, handicapped, mentally ill, Masons and anyone else the Nazis hated are remembered but also subsequent genocides such Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur and some taking place even to this day. The services were led by Rev Chris Spencer, readings  by Cllr’ Ben Bano and Nick Tomaszewski both who’s family were effected by the Holocaust.
A very moving presentation and family history given by the Granddaughter of a victim Kay Sharpe.
Candles of remembrance were lit.
The Branch wreath was laid by Vice Chair John Elms, Mary Eldridge, Jennie & Malcolm Gibbons, Edward & Janet Barkway were among the other Legion members present.

Deal Town Mayor Cllr David Cronk

Vice Chair John Elms lays the RBL Downs Branch wreath.

Two young people lay their personal tributes.

The memorial stone and tree lie to the far right side of the front of St Georges garden.


Six brave souls saw in the New Year 2017/2018 with a Rhine River Cruise.

En-route to the vessel we stopped off at Ypres and attended the daily 20.00 Service at the Menin Gate to lay a wreath on behalf of Downs Branch, as you can see Jennie Gibbons laid the wreath escorted by Lindsay Thacker & Janet Barkway each laying their personal tribute.

 There were approx 500 persons attending including many young children to witness the ceremony and listen to a lament beautifully played after the 2 minutes silence.