This page will be for used for “Sue’s Quiz’s” and “Items of interest” until the virus has been crushed.
John & Sue’s Quiz No 38
1. Saffron comes from the stamen of what flower?
2. What are the pickled flower buds of a Mediterranean plant?
3. From which country do we get a tagine?
4. What were originally called splitspoons?
5. Fois Gras is the liver of what animal?
6. What year was the Great Fire of London?
7. Who did John Rolfe famously marry in 1613?
8. The Charge of the Light Brigade happened in what war?
9. How many years (50 either side) did the Romans occupy Britain?
10. What House(Dynasty) did Elizabeth I belong?
11. He died recently, who was the first pilot to break the sound barrier?
12. In which Bond film does he first drive the Aston Martin DB5?
13. Who first built boats made from papyrus?
14. What initials describe SCNF French high speed train?
15. In the film Back to the Future what is the time machine?Answer to No 37 1. Gill
4. Worlds hottest chilli
5. Chris Packham
1. Jingle Bells…astronauts practical joke
3. X…it is chi or Christ so Christmas can be Xmas
4. A Victorian mulled drink
5. Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
1. Joe Biden
2. Aretha Franklin
3. Dave Prowse….voiced by James Earl Jones
4. Peter Alliss
5. Margaret Thatcher
Part 2 Malcolm & Jennies Arboretum visit
As to my last article where I mentioned the nine zones in which three are illustrated on the guild and are colour coded in Red, Purple and Blue these also give estimated time to walk to them and the average working space, and this is also the route that the land train takes around the whole site.
The six zones indicated on the guild of which these consist of Garden Zone, Navel Review, RAF Zone, Far East Zone, Poppy Zone and Woodland Zone.
The Garden Zone this area is closest area to the Remembrance Centre, in this you can walk between a few inter- joined formal gardens including The Artillery Garden the Fire and Rescue Services Memorial and the General Post Office, others include the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity Memorial.
Also, in the Garden Zone include Bevin Boys Memorial, BLESMA The Limbless Veterans Garden, Ex-National Servicemen’s Memorial, Sikh Memorial, Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps.
We had a keen interest to visit the Bevin Boys Memorial as one of Jennie’s late uncles was called up to be a Bevin Boy and sent up to one of many mines in and around Newcastle Upon Tyne and was sent to mine called North Fenham Pit No 4310 Cowgate and was billeted with a mining family for short period of the war. The Town of Cowgate is in The Northwest of Newcastle Upon Tyne, it lies 2.8 miles Northwest of the City Centre.
The Bevin Boys were for young British Men conscripted to work in the coal mines of the United Kingdom, between December 1943 to March 1948, in order to increase the rate of coal production, which had declined due to all mines being called up to go into the Armed Forces through the early years o
The other Memorial we were hoping to see was the Women’s Land Army. But we were informed when we went round on the land train that it had been taken away for some repair’s, as Jennie was hoping to see this Memorial as her late Mum volunteered and to join The Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS often pronounced as an acronym). This was the women’s branch of British Army during the second world war. It was formed on the 9th September 1938 initially as the Women’s Voluntary Service and existed until 1st February 1949, when it was merged into The Women’s Royal Army Corps. She was based in many Army Barrack’s around England such Towns as Colchester, Dorchester, and Northampton, she was chiefly involved on the catering side.
More information on our visit and Photographs, and more details regarding the other Zones next time.
Sue & John’s Quiz No 37
1. What is the respiratory organ of a fish?
2. Found in New Zealand but almost extinct, what animal is a Kakapo?
3. The Asian, the Forest and the African, are the only breeds of what?
4. What is a Carolina Reaper?
5. Who presented the kids TV nature programme “The Really Wild Show”?
Getting near Christmas.
1. In 1965, what was the first song transmitted from space?
2. What fast food do many Japanese queue to buy for their Christmas dinner?
3. There is a festive connection..what is the 22nd and last letter of the Greek alphabet?
4. Referred to by Dickins in A Christmas Carol, what is stinking Bishop?
5. Marketed by a US store in 1939, what became a seasonal regular?
1. In the news often. Whose middle name is Robinette?
2. Who is the Queen of Soul?
3. Recently died, who played Darth Vader in Star Wars?
4. Also died this week, who was known as “The Voice of Golf”?
5. Who became Baroness Kesteven?
The Fall Of Malaya & Singapore Part 2 By President John Elms.
The first part of the story ended with the two battle ships The Prince of Wales and The Repulse stationed off the North East coast of Malaya to oppose a Japanese landing. Unfortunately they had no air cover and were attacked by Japanese planes on 10th December 1941 and both sunk. (On the last leg of my flight to Malaya in September 1956 we flew down the East coast and our pilot pointed out where they had been sunk). The sinking’s left the invasion of Southern Thailand (Siam) and Northern Malaya almost unopposed. Allied forces were in general without adequate air cover and with little armour and in many cases under trained for this type of warfare.
The Japanese swept down from the North mainly along the lower ground to the West of the central mountain range. Although not up to the standard of later tanks the Japanese were well equipped with lighter versions and many of their infantry used bicycles. The terrain was difficult to defend with jungle either side of the access. Defensive positions were mainly along this access strip and in many cases the Japanese infantry was able to bypass them by using the jungle to the sides.
By the end of January 1942 allied forces had withdrawn all the way down the peninsular to the island of Singapore at the Southern end. The island is separated from the mainland by a narrow strip of water (the Johore Strait) but linked by a causeway near the town of Johore Baharu.
Being surrounded by sea the majority of the defensive gun positions were pointing out to sea and could not be turned towards the mainland. On the night of 8 -9th February the Japanese surged over the causeway and straits and quickly pushed the defenders back to the edges of the city. General Percival decided to capitulate though his troops, recently reinforced, out numbered their attackers. In the whole Malayan campaign, the Japanese lost fewer than 10,000 casualties. The Allies had a similar number but some 130,000 went into Japanese captivity and many did not survive.
The fall of Malaya and Singapore was not quite the end, however. A guerrilla unit known as Force 136 continued to harass the Japanese in Malaya. This force a South East Asian variant of The Special Operations Executive was mainly supplied by submarine. After the Japanese conquest, the Communist Party of Malaya formed the Malayan Peoples Anti- Japanese army and they linked up with and were armed and trained by Force 136. The leader of the MPA JA was a Chinese named Chin Peng.
After the end of the war the Communists hid the majority of the weapons only to turn them against the British when the “Emergency” started in June 1948. Towards the end of the Emergency Chin Peng took refuge in Southern Thailand before going to China in 1960. He died there on 16th September 2013 aged nearly 90 years. See https://www.facebook.com/Royal-British-Legion-Downs-Branch-553666901369172/
A very interesting piece by Stuart Gemmell
Royal Engineer Recipients of the Victoria Cross
Thomas Frank Durrant VC, born 17 October 1918 Farnborough, London, was a soldier in the British Army during the Second World War and a posthumous English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. His award of the Victoria Cross was unique in that it is the only award given to a soldier in a naval action and it was on the recommendation of the enemy commander.
Durrant enlisted in the Corps of Royal Engineers prior to the Second World War on 1 February 1937. His service number was 1874047. In 1940 the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered the formation of units of specially trained troops that would “develop a reign of terror down the enemy coast”. Durrant volunteered for service with the Special Service Independent Companies and was posted to No. 2 Special Independent Company. It was when serving with No. 2 Independent Company in the Norwegian Campaign that he was promoted in the field to Sergeant. When his company returned from Norway all the independent companies were formed into battalion sized units known as Commandos. Durrant then became a member of No. 1 Commando.
The St Nazaire Raid (Operation Chariot) was a seaborne attack on the heavily defended docks of St. Nazaire in occupied France on the night of 28 March 1942. This was a combined operation undertaken by Royal Navy and Commando units. The main commando force was provided by No. 2 Commando with supporting demolition parties from other commando units, including Durrant’s No. 1 Commando. The intention of the raid was to destroy the dry dock which would force any large German warship in need of repairs, such as the Tirpitz, to return to home waters rather than seek safe haven in the Atlantic coast. Of the 600 men who left the port of Falmouth, Cornwall, England on the raid only 225 would return.
During the raid Sergeant Durrant was in charge of a twin Lewis gun on board H.M. Motor Launch 306. As it came up the River Loire to the port of St Nazaire ML306 came under heavy fire from the shore and was unable to land its troops at the Old Mole and it is during its withdrawal that it came head-to-head with a pursuing German destroyer of the Mowe class, the Jaguar. In the battle with the German destroyer Durrant was wounded numerous times, in the head, both arms, legs, chest and stomach. After the battle Durrant died of his wounds in a German military hospital in St Nazaire. Following his death, he was buried in La Baule-Escoublac War Cemetery, 7 mi (11 km) from Saint-Nazaire, in Plot I, Row D, Grave 11. A week later the commander of the German destroyer, Kapitänleutnant F. K. Paul, met the Commando commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Newman, in a prisoner of war camp in Rennes. Bringing the action to Newman’s attention, Paul suggested that the colonel might wish to recommend Durrant for a high award.
Victoria Cross citation The official citation read:
For great gallantry, skill and devotion to duty when in charge of a Lewis gun in HM Motor Launch 306 in the St Nazaire raid on 28 March 1942. Motor Launch 306 came under heavy fire while proceeding up the River Loire towards the port. Sergeant Durrant, in his position abaft the bridge, where he had no cover or protection, engaged enemy gun positions and searchlights ashore. During this engagement he was severely wounded in the arm but refused to leave his gun. The Motor Launch subsequently went down the river and was attacked by a German destroyer at 50 to 60 yards range, and often closer. In this action Sergeant Durrant continued to fire at the destroyer’s bridge with the greatest of coolness and with complete disregard of the enemy’s fire. The Motor Launch was illuminated by the enemy searchlight, and Sergeant Durrant drew on himself the individual attention of the enemy guns and was again wounded in many places. Despite these further wounds he stayed in his exposed position, still firing his gun, although after a time only able to support himself by holding on to the gun mounting. After a running fight, the Commander of the German destroyer called on the Motor Launch to surrender. Sergeant Durrant’s answer was a further burst of fire at the destroyer’s bridge. Although now very weak, he went on firing, using drums of ammunition as fast as they could be replaced. A renewed attack by the enemy vessel eventually silenced the fire of the Motor Launch, but Sergeant Durrant refused to give up until the destroyer came alongside, grappled the Motor Launch and took prisoner those who remained alive. Sergeant Durrant’s gallant fight was commended by the German officers on boarding the Motor Launch. This very gallant non-commissioned officer later died of the many wounds received in action.
Aftermath Durrant is buried in La Baule-Escoublac War Cemetery, France in Plot I, Row D, Grave 11. The award of the Victoria Cross to Durrant was announced in the London Gazette on 15 June 1945, at the same time it was announced the Commando commander during the raid Lieutenant Colonel Augustus Charles Newman had also been awarded the Victoria Cross. On 29 October 1946 Durrant’s Victoria Cross was presented to his mother at an investiture at Buckingham Palace by King George VI. Durrant’s Victoria Cross is now on display at the Royal Engineers Museum Prince Arthur Road, Gillingham, Kent, England.
Medway Queen (Cont’d)
From 1966 Medway Queen was used as a marina clubhouse and nightclub at Island Harbour on the Isle of Wight. The club opened for business on Saturday 14th May of that year and annual membership was 3 guineas (£3.15) for one person or 4 guineas (£4.20) for a married couple. Temporary membership, presumably aimed at holiday makers, was 5 shillings (25p) per week.The club made full use of the ship’s 4 saloons with a restaurant, music and dancing including live music and discos, casino and a meeting/function room. It must have been a very successful place as it is fondly remembered by very many people some 50 years on. The live bands included the “Steamboat” blue grass group and the late Richard Manuel of Bob Dylan’s backing group visited from the music festival and sat in with the resident musicians Doug Watson and Ernie Hayles. Regular visitors remember that dancing became “more of a challenge” when the tide went out and the ship settled on the mud, heeling gently to one side!
The proprietors, Alan and Colin Ridett, produced a selection of promotional material, examples of which have survived. There are many photographs of the ship at that time and even some interior shots. The society would be interested to hear from anyone who remembers the club and especially copies of any photographs taken below decks. The interior of the ship at that time is well illustrated by two of the postcards published by J. Arthur Dixon of Newport. There were 4 cards in all, the other two showing the ship’s exterior. the club featured in a BBC program in 1967 and the society is fortunate to have a copy which can be shown on board and in the Visitor Centre. The ship was a clubhouse and restaurant for the marina with more of a disco/nightclub emphasis in the evenings. Wedding receptions were catered for and played a significant role. In due course the business outgrew the ship’s accommodation and a larger vessel was purchased.
In 1970 PS Ryde was purchased to operate alongside Medway Queen. She started trading in 1972 as the “Ryde Queen Boatel”. The two ships operated alongside one another at first with Ryde Queen becoming the restaurant and offering hotel accommodation and Medway Queen concentrating on the nightclub and disco side. Management of the two ships passed to Reynolds and Gaywood Associates. Medway Queen was refurbished after the opening of the Ryde Queen and her part in the business continued until the end of 1974 when the “Medway Queen Club” closed for the last time.
In 2016 the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Medway Queen Club was celebrated at the Island Harbour Marina, with a fund-raising day including illustrated talks on the ship’s history, a book launch (right) and an evening buffet. In 1978 a trio of Kent business men, led by Jim Ashton with Eddie Dunlop and Lionel Lovesey purchased the ship. They spent much time and money patching her up for a move and restoration attempt. Among other methods, the inside of the hull was sprayed with concrete to strengthen and seal it but there was a particularly troublesome leak at the bow that could not be accessed because of a built in freezer installed for the restaurant. Jim and his colleagues negotiated permission to breach the marina wall into the river and move Medway Queen out. This was accomplished but the bow leak caused the ship to sink and a further hole was made – this time below the boiler and equally inaccessible. On Friday June 20th 1980 the Isle of Wight Weekly Post published a sad picture of the ship and a gloomy forecast of the future. The project was plagued by continuing deterioration of the ship and repeated theft of fittings and equipment but they eventually managed to re-float Medway Queen at considerable cost in time and money and in 1984 she was moved down to Cowes at the river’s mouth. There she was placed on a submersible salvage barge and towed back to Chatham in Kent. Medway Queen was moored just outside the naval dockyard and kept afloat by continuous pumping. Jim Ashton formed the Medway Queen Trust Ltd to give the team a measure of financial protection and the Medway Queen Preservation Society was formed to support the Trust. Work continued on mud removal and hull patching with yet more concrete but this attempt at saving the ship eventually failed through lack of funds and after lengthy legal and financial negotiations with the Official Receiver the Preservation Society purchased the ship and began looking for a new home for her.
To be continued, Edward.
In my last epistle I let you know something of my service in what I consider to be the greatest police force in the world! Now would I be biased!! However, I think I promised that I would talk about my time in the ministry so settle down in your chairs ready for a nap!!
Having retired from the Metropolitan Police I was soon on my way to Queens Theological College in Birmingham to undergo training for the ministry. While I was there I made two close friends, one an ex Royal Air Force officer and the other an inspector for Dunlop, we were usually known as the gruesome threesome because we’re usually together. The college course was enjoyable by quite challenging but eventually it was decided that I was good enough to be unleashed on a congregation somewhere and I was duly told that I would be going to Slough in Berkshire. Now to me the only things I knew about Slough was that it had a huge trading estate and Mars bars were made there! How lacking was my education!
I was due to be the minister to three congregations, one in Slough, one in Eton Wick and one in Burnham and would be living in a manse in Slough itself. When Christine and I visited to meet the folk I was surprised to find out that the Slough Church was mainly comprised of folk from the Caribbean, the islands of Anguilla and St. Kitts. A history lesson for you now! Heavy handed politicians had tried to join Anguilla with St Kitts and another island back in the 1960’s and the Anguillians would not have it and rebelled declaring their indepence! Negotiations went on for some time, eventually the British Government decided that it had to be dealt with and sent some British troops and Metropolitan police officers to bri8ng order back to the island. I fancied a Caribbean holiday but was unable to go as they were sending single men and woman, I am not sure Christine would have agreed to a divorce at that time! So some twenty years later I end up sharing with an Anguillian congregation and making two trips to the island bliss on earth!
I was moved on from Slough to Whitechapel in the East End of London where Christine and I together with a full time warden and a number of volunteers had some eight hundred plus street homeless folk to provide for. That meant raising some £3,000 per week to keep the Mission open, which meant I was all around the country begging and acquiring clothing, money and food for the folk. I also had a probation hostel for around forty youngsters at a place called Windyridge near Colchester so life was rather busy to say the least! On top of that I was a Chaplain to the London Hospital as it was then and responsible for what are now called contract funerals but I always knew as ‘paupers’ funerals. I was privileged to conduct service for all faiths and none! My MBE was presented to me by her Majesty as a result of our time at the Mission, the street folk were so proud when Christine and I returned from the palace with my award which, in all honesty, I think Christine should have had!
After five years I moved on from there to Uxbridge where I had congregations in Harefield, North Hillingdon and Uxbridge itself. Two of the Churches had Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade Companies; in fact I was acting captain of one of the Girls’ Brigade Companies to save it being closed down, which was an immense and wonderful privilege! On top of that I was chaplain to Harefield Heart Hospital where, as a traffic police officer, I had conveyed hearts for transplants! Another great privilege!
Time came to move on and Christine and I came to Dover to share with two congregations in Dover itself and Tower Hamlets, wonderful times with some really lovely people which I look back on with great joy. Then I retired or so I thought but God had other ideas and I was asked to share with a Church in Deal for around four years in total, again wonderful times with some really loving people. I also worked as Chaplain to the Prison Service at the Dover Immigration Removal Centre, for a period, where I found my police background to be useful and much appreciated by the officers, On top of that a few years as a Chaplain to Kent Police and the real icing on the cake as they say – Padre to Downs Branch of the Royal British Legio0n! What a lucky chap I am! Blessings to you all. John Lines.
The Poppy as a symbol of Remembrance
By Branch Standard Bearer Richard Purton
Our red poppy is a symbol of both Remembrance and hope for a peaceful future, as well as an important fundraising tool. The Poppy is used all over the world in this way. But why the poppy? What was the inspiration behind it becoming a symbol of Remembrance?
In 1921 Earl Haig noticed some French widows – inspired by Lt Col John McCrae’s iconic poem “In Flanders Fields” – selling silk poppies to raise funds for disabled ex-Servicemen. The poppy, which is central to the poem, was one of the few plants that survived in the churned up battlefields Flanders, growing by the thousands amidst chaos and destruction.
Lt Col John McCrae was a Canadian army doctor working as a field hospital surgeon when he wrote ‘In Flanders Field’ in 1915, inspired after the funeral and burial of a friend killed in the Second Battle of Ypres. First published in Punch on 8th December 1915 it quickly became one of the most popular poems of the war. As a result of its popularity, parts of the poem were used in propaganda efforts, appeals to recruit soldiers and in raising money selling war bonds.
Sadly, McCrae died of pneumonia on January 28, 1918, while still commanding No. 3 Canadian General Hospital at Boulogne. His poem has had a huge impact, influencing the way we remember those who died in conflict and his memory lives on today. The poem inspired an American academic named Moina Michael to adopt the poppy in memory of those who had fallen in the war. She campaigned to get it adopted as an official symbol of Remembrance across the United States and worked with others who were trying to do the same in Canada, Australia, and the UK.
Also involved with those efforts was a French woman, Anna Guérin who was in the UK in 1921 where she planned to sell the poppies in London. There she met Earl Haig, founder of the Royal British Legion, who was persuaded to adopt the poppy as an emblem for the Legion in the UK. The Legion, which had been formed in 1921, ordered nine million poppies and sold them on 11 November that year. Haig recognised the potential of these poppies to become both a symbol of Remembrance and also as a means to support the welfare of ex-Servicemen, so he ordered nine million poppies which were sold on 11th November 1921. The Poppy Appeal was born!
Poppy factories Earl Haig’s first poppy factory was in Richmond in1922 but demand for poppies was so high that few reached Scotland. In 1926, Lady Haig established a factory in Edinburgh to produce poppies exclusively for Scotland.
Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory is still there today and a team of disabled veterans produces over 4 million poppies for the Scottish Poppy Appeal each year. Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh employs around 40 disabled veterans to hand-assemble over four million poppies and 14,000 wreaths every year for the Scottish Poppy Appeal.
The factory was founded in 1926 by Lady Haig, wife of the Field Marshal, and the first poppies were made by two ex-Servicemen and a pair of scissors. Today, the factory team continues to make poppies for the whole of Scotland and between them they have seen service from Korea to the first Gulf War. They make two varieties of Poppies for our street collections, a plastic-stemmed Poppy and a stick-on Poppy. Both types are still produced by hand, although a machine now cuts out the petal shape! They also produce wreaths, long-stemmed poppies, Remembrance crosses and other Remembrance items.
The Scottish Poppy
Lady Haig designed a botanically correct poppy with four petals and no leaf, whereas the version produced in Richmond had two petals and a leaf. This difference remains today.
Since then the poppy has become a symbol of Remembrance and of the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces, both at times of war and in their peacekeeping duties. For nearly 100 years it has raised millions of pounds to support the needs of veterans and their families living in Scotland.
In Flanders Fields
The poem by John McCrae
In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields.
Information soured from The Royal British Legion website and the Poppy Scotland website.
Our Visit to The National Arboretum Staffordshire on 14th September 2020.
Our visit to the Arboretum was for a shot visit and stay in the City of Derby, we commenced our journey on Friday 11th September and made our way by Train to St Pancras Station to pick the Midland region service to Derby. On arrival at Derby station we made our way to short walk to our Hotel, the idea of stay in Derby for Jennie was to trace find the street her late father lived before and after the 2nd WW, this proved to be successful and rewarding visit of which Jennie has already written an article a few weeks ago about this with pictures of York Street.
We made our way to Derby Station on the Sunday morning to catch the train to Tamworth where we would have make a change to pick up the train for Lichfield on Trent Station where I had arranged for a Taxi to take us to the National Arboretum, as this is fair distance away from the station.
Once we arrived at the Arboretum Remembrance Centre, we checked in at the reception desk as when I booked, I was given a booking refence number we were also advised to book the land train and book a slot for restaurant of which we did.
We made our way to start point for the land train were our ticket was allocated to seat safely screen protected and all sanitized, our land train tour was for a 50 minute trip around the whole site with three main routes Red, Purple and Blue with a full audio commentary given with a brief description about the memorials as we passed.
There are around 30,000 trees in the grounds of the Arboretum most of all these are British Native species, as well as several Foreign variates which are symbolically chosen to represent the stories they tell. The British species are Hornbeam, Willow, Oak, Redwoods and Plane.
The National Memorial Arboretum is open all year-round centre for Remembrance and first opened in 2001 and contains more than 370 memorials for the military and civilian organisations and associations, together with tributes for individuals.
The Grounds of the Arboretum are expansive, encompassing more than 150 acres of formal gardens, wildflower meadows and maturing woodland areas, it also comprises of Picnic Areas, Children’s Play Areas and small shelters. To explore the entire site, it can take more than a day to visit, with amazing stores and symbolism to be discovered in every glade and around every corner. A guide of the site can be obtained from the main remembrance reception centre for a small fee of £3.00, this is showing the grounds being divided into nine zones, five of these have memorials that have been identified in each area for you to discover at your leisure. More information on our visit and Photographs, and about the Zones next time.
Malcolm and Jennie Gibbons
The Fall of Malaya and Singapore to the Japanese 8th December 1941 to February 1942 by ourPresident John Elms.https://www.facebook.com/Royal-British-Legion-Downs-Branch-553666901369172/
Japans attack on Pearl Harbour began six months of military triumphs in the Far East and Pacific. They were desperate for access to natural resources and wanted to create a defensive perimeter in the Far East and Pacific that could be defended. Part of these conquests included Malaya and the island of Singapore.
In those days Malaya consisted of a peninsular surrounded on three sides by sea and stretching from the then Siam (now Thailand Border) some 370 miles South to the island of Singapore. Down the centre of the country a range of mountains ran from North to South rising to over 7000 feet in places. Either side were areas of lower land including rubber plantations and tin mines. Eighty per cent of the country was covered in jungle with areas of swamp on the lower land. The island of Singapore at the Southern end was already a rich trading centre.
The Japanese landings began at 0100 hrs on 8th December 1941.This was actually shortly before the raid on Pearl Harbour because of the effect of the International Date Line. The 65000 strong Twenty Fifth Army led by General Yamashita Tomoyuki began the invasion of Malaya with landings on the East coast of Northern Malaya and Southern Siam. They were opposed by nearly 90000 British, Indian and Australian troops under the overall command of Air Marshall Robert Brooke-Poplam with General Arthur Percival land Commander.
Although the allied forces were numerically stronger many of the Japanese troops were battle hardened veterans of the war in China. Contrary to popular belief they had no jungle training.
Facing them the allied forces had little armour and air cover and were mostly badly trained with many being members of the Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces and the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force also the allies had little air cover, what there was consisted of mainly dated aircraft.
There were however two battle ships The Prince of Wales and Repulse off the North East coast of Malaya but again they had no air cover.
The scene was set for what was to be one of the worst defeats in British Military history.
To be continued.
Medway Queen after WW2 https://www.facebook.com/Royal-British-Legion-Downs-Branch-553666901369172/
The Medway Queen was thoroughly refitted by Thornycrofts of Southampton in time for the 1947 summer season. The hull was stripped back to bare metal and she was returned to her former excursion steamer glory. She re-entered service across the Thames Estuary to Southend on 24th May 1947. The Captain was Leonard Horsham who had previously served on the ship in the 1920s. Apart from the traditional “Bucket ‘n’ Spade” trips to Southend, Medway Queen took part in the 1953 Spithead Coronation Naval Review running an excursion from Southampton docks for a party brought by train from London and then taking her place in the official line-up for the review. Over the years she also appeared in a number of movies including the 1958 “Dunkirk” film.
By the early sixties the paddle steamer was no longer pleasing the holiday maker due to competition from the sky; the cheap option of visiting the Costa del Sol. Also the craze for the motor car contributed to the decline in passenger numbers. The Medway Queen outlasted most of the Thames and Medway steamers by some fifteen years until an annual inspection which identified a need for extensive repairs. The ship made her last voyage from Southend back to the Medway on 9th September, 1963 and the company offered her for sale.
The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society had been aware of the ship’s imminent withdrawal and was taking steps to preserve her. Meetings were held and a trust formed. The PSPS lobbied various interested (or possibly interested) parties including the National Trust and Fortes but a further survey (undertaken by John Graves, her 1st Lieutenant at Dunkirk) confirmed that serious work would be needed to keep her sailing. The National Trusts idea of running trips with her was not viable but Fortes were interested in making her a floating venue on the Thames. Planning restrictions and local objections prevented this scheme coming to fruition and Medway Queen was sold to a Belgian ship breaker.
The Daily Mail was at the forefront of the campaign to save the ship and an Isle of Wight businessman, Alan Ridett thought she would make a suitable clubhouse for his marina development near Newport. The Medway Queen was subsequently purchased by Alan and his associates and towed to the River Medina on the Isle of Wight in 1965 where she became a clubhouse, restaurant and night club.
Jennie visits Derby
Earlier this month Malcolm and I went in search of the street in the City of Derby where my father was born and brought up. My mother and father met and married during the last world war. My mother was in the Women’s Land Army, my father in the Camaronians regiment, though not Scottish, he went where he was sent. After the war ended, my father sadly passed away from Tuberculosis, caught whilst in a barracks in Germany. I did manage to find York Street, Derby. As you can imagine this was very nostalgic, but also satisfying. York Street was typical of its time, containing red brick small terraced houses.
Jennie Gibbons. Downs Branch Committee Member Deal.
Incredible story of bravery by Ex RE Stuart Gemmell our Youth Liasion Officer
Royal Engineer Recipients of the Victoria Cross Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Brett Mackay Cloutman VC, MC & KC
Brett Mackay Cloutman Born 7 November 1891, Muswell, London, was a British Army officer who was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Brett Cloutman was educated at Berkhamsted School, Bishop’s Stortford College and London University where he was a member of the Royal Engineers contingent of the university’s Officers’ Training Corps.
At the outbreak of World War I Cloutman enlisted as a Rifleman in the Rangers (12th Battalion, London Regiment), reached the rank of Lance-Corporal, and in 1915 was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Kent (Fortress) Engineers, a Territorial Force unit.
Military Cross citation:
Cloutman, by then Acting Major in command of the 59th Field Company, Royal Engineers, was awarded the Military Cross for an action in September 1918:
For conspicuous gallantly and devotion to duty at Banteux on the morning of 30th September 1918, when he made a personal reconnaissance under heavy machine-gun fire to ascertain the possibilities of bridging the Canal de L’Escaut.
Victoria Cross citation:
A few weeks later the action took place for which Cloutman won his VC. The official citation read:
For most conspicuous bravery on the 6th November 1918, at Pont-sur-Sambre. Maj. Cloutman, after reconnoitring the river crossings, found the Quartes Bridge almost intact but prepared for demolition. Leaving his party under cover he went forward alone, swam across the river, and, having cut the “leads” from the charges, returned the same way, despite the fact that the bridge and all approaches thereto were swept by enemy shells and machine-gun fire at close range. Although the bridge was blown up later in the day by other means, the abutments remained intact.
The bridge had been prepared for demolition by the Germans and was well defended. By cutting the wires, Cloutman prevented the enemy from blowing it up at the time. He was seen at the bridge, however, and escaped under an intense fire from its guards. The fact that the abutments were not destroyed later meant that the bridge could be more quickly replaced by the Allies. This was the last act to win a VC in the First World War.
Later career: After the war Cloutman became a lawyer and was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn in 1926. In World War II he served again in the Royal Engineers and received a mention in despatches. He became a King’s Counsel in 1946 and in 1947 he was appointed Senior Chairman of the War Pensions Tribunal. He was Senior Official Referee of the Supreme Court of Judicature (now the Senior Courts of England and Wales) 1954-63. He was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 1957. He was Master of the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers 1939–40 and 1965–66.
Following his death in 1971, his ashes were interred at Norfolk Cemetery, in the Somme department, in the grave of his brother, an officer of No. 178 Tunnelling Company who was killed on 22 August 1915.
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham, Kent
A lovely piece of our Padre’s history written in his own inimitable way!
I wonder how I got there or even here?! John Lines. https://www.facebook.com/Royal-British-Legion-Downs-Branch-553666901369172/
Well I am sorry but it is my time to bore you all again, so hang onto your seats we are off! Like a good many people I never expected to be living in Deal, so I thought I would give you all a flavour of some of the events that led to me being here! Life is a funny old thing; it seems to serve up some very funny cards sometimes! The more I reflect on my life, the more I see I emerged into this world before the Second World War, thus I grew up with my Mother and did not see my Father until after the war. I still recall this man in what I thought was a green suit kissing my Mother and me hitting him! How was I to know that this strange man was my Father?!
My Father had joined the army before the war, he always said he saw it coming and if they wanted him they were going to have to pay for him!! He went into the RAOC and became a Sub-Conductor which I understand was equal to a Company Sergeant Major. When Airborne was formed my Father transferred and I guess saw some pretty horrible sights on some of his drops. I still have a picture of him with his purple beret with the RAOC badge on it and the ‘Pegasus’ symbol on his tunic arm. Like most of the soldiers of that time my Father would never ever speak of the war, it was almost as if he had blotted all the memories out, something I have noted with some other Second World War veterans that I have had the privilege to share with.
I really wanted to be a full time soldier to make my Father proud of me, but by the time I was old enough my Father had his own accountancy practise and wanted me, as the oldest son, to follow him into the practise. Yes I loved figures at that time, but apparently 36 – 24 – 36 would not be much use in that profession and, in all honesty, I really did not fancy being shut up in an office all day! So I applied to join both the Kent and Metropolitan Police Forces and got accepted for both of them. My Mother by that time was breeding Golden Retriever dogs so I fancied myself as a police dog handler! With that in mind I decided to join the Metropolitan Police and after a really gruelling training period was stationed to Southwark Police Station (MD in police parlance.) Now if I had died and gone to a garage full of Guy buses I could not have been in a better place, a really busy area with the wharfs along the River Thames, London Bridge Station, Borough Market, Waterloo, Blackfriars, Southwark and London Bridges plus the Elephant and Castle it was a truly wonderful place to be! However, the love bug struck, yes I fell in love with the most wonderful woman in the world, and indeed we will have been married sixty year in 2021 if we are spared! One problem we found a flat in South Norwood which was eleven miles from Southward and the rule was you could only live up to seven miles from the station so I was transferred after our marriage to Penge Police Station (PG in police parlance.) What a difference, far fewer police officers per shift and a great many sudden deaths and suicides to be dealt with! It really was not my cup of teas as they say and I looked around for an escape route! My escape route was presented to me in applications being called for Traffic Patrol officers. Now at the time I had a Triumph 500cc Speed Twin motorcycle and really fancied being an elite police motor cyclist and car driver. I attended a interview board and was selected for, in my opinion at least, the best job in the police and I spent the rest of my service there involved in escort duties of heavy loads, Royalty, VIP’s, the removal of illegally parked vehicles, Road Traffic Act enforcement and accident and car pound duties – in honesty I thought I had died and gone to Heaven!!
As they say, all good things come to an end and having done the full service time I was ready to be pensioned off (sounds awful!) and decided that I would start my own bus and coach company called ‘Lines’ Liners’ with the monogram ‘Get with the times travel by Lines’ on the boot! I think God had other ideas in a rather strange way! My Father in Law died, he was a most wonderful; East Ender a great man who I adored, he and his wife had retired to Walmer and he really loved it there. Christine and I came down for the funeral at Barham and it was really awful, no mention of Dad’s name, honestly we could have been cremating the station cat! I was really angry and hurt for Christine and her Mother and said that if I had done something like that in the police I would have received a complaint!
If I am allowed, and not sued for libel, I will do the second half when I am next due to bore you all to tears!!!
Well done John certainly not boring quite the reverse!
From Richard Purton our Standard Bearer.
RICHARD’S RANDOM AND INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE BRITISH ARMED FORCES For centuries, the British military has existed to defend the kingdom from threats. From the Spanish Armada to the armies of Napoleon and the Nazi Luftwaffe, the Army, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Marines serve the crown and protect the realm. Today, the military works to stop terrorist threats abroad so they cannot cause destruction at home. Below here you’ll find some interesting tidbits about the British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, and Royal Marines.
GET OUT OF GULAG FREE During World War II, many POW escapes from Nazi prison camps were the result of playing Monopoly. The British Secret Service sent special Monopoly boxes marked with a red dot on the Free Parking space to let prisoners know. In the game box, the Secret Service hid German marks amongst the monopoly money, a compass in the dog counter, a metal file in the board itself, and silk maps of the prison inside hollow hotel pieces.
BRING THE FAMILY During the American Revolution, many British soldiers serving in the colonies actually brought their wives and children along. Women in the army at this time served as nurses, washer women, and sutlers (merchants who sell items to soldiers), or took jobs to support their families. Approximately 20% of soldiers serving in America had their wives and children with them.
NO WASHERS NEARBY In 2005, the Ministry of Defence issued soldiers special antimicrobial underwear that can be worn up to three months at a time without needing a change.
FORMATION The first British “standing army” was formed in 1661. Before that point, armies had only been raised when they were needed.
KEEP YOUR WIG ON The regiment known as the Blues and Royals has a tradition of saluting even when not wearing a cover (hat). The origin of this act comes from the Marquis of Granby, who led a cavalry charge in the Battle of Warburg during the Seven Years War. His wig blew off as he led the charge, which originated the phrase “Going at it bare-headed.”
NEVER AGAIN VOLUNTEER YOURSELF Contrary to popular belief, after the formation of the standing army in 1661, the army was a volunteer force until conscription was first introduced in 1916 during World War I. Conscription was reintroduced in 1939 for World War II. Following the second war, conscription became known as “National Service” and required all men ages 17 to 21 to serve in the military for 18 months. National Service ended in 1963 and conscription has not returned to Britain since.
SOME THINGS IN LIFE ARE BAD… During the Falklands War, HMS Sheffield was hit by an Argentinian anti-ship missile and slowly began to sink. As the sailors awaited rescue, they began to sing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. During the first Gulf War, RAF pilots would often sing it on their missions.
BRIDGE OF THE RIVER KWAI In 1943, the Japanese military utilised 60,000 Allied POWs and 180,000 Asian prisoners to complete the Thailand-Burma Railway. Thanks to horrible prison conditions and cruelty of guards, approximately 12,399 POWs and 90,000 Asians died during construction. Roughly 6,318 of the POWs who died were British.
SCRAP MEDAL In 1863, Queen Victorian commissioned the Victoria Cross during the Crimean War. It is the highest honour that can be awarded to a member of the British Armed Forces and is actually made from scrap metal taken from a Russian cannon captured during the war. Due to its rarity, the medal is a highly sought collectors’ item, and once fetched £400,000 at auction.
COST PER SOLDIER According to the Ministry of Defence, it costs £30,000 to train a soldier. The selection process costs £7,000, while Basic Training and the Combat Infantry Course cost £23,000.
Malcolm’s Report on Mountbatten Memorial & Field Marshal Slim Memorial.
About this time of year usually around about 2nd or 3rd September members of The Council, Trustees, Veterans and friend of the Burma Star Association attend this annual Wreath lay Ceremony at the Memorials.
The ceremony usually commences at 11.30 sharp, where gates to the memorial are opened and a small group of Veterans and a number Branch Burma Star Standards and some RBL Branch Standards also attend.
A short dedication to Earl Mountbatten is officiated by The Chairman of the Burma Star Council and Trustee and several wreaths are laid on behalf of the Association.
After the Wreath lay is completed everyone makes their way across Horse Guards Parade ground escorted by the Metropolitan Police over to White Hall, Raleigh Green outside the M O D Headquarter to Field Marshall William Slims statue ( also known as Bill Slim) who lead the 14th Army, they were so called the ” Forgotten Army “ in the Burma campaign.
Again, everybody assembles around the Memorial with all the Standards at present, a short address is given by Council of the Association a Bugle sounds the Last Post and Revile and silence followed by the saying of the Exhortation and the Kohima Epitaph.
This concludes the end of the wreath lay ceremonies where all meet in a local public house a catch up with everyone and refreshments. I have attended this ceremony on several occasions with our late Chairman Mr Peter Wood and my late Father Sid Gibbons who always carried the Branch Standard at this event.
Also, on one occasion our Branch Chairman Edward has attend this ceremony with my late Father Sid Gibbons as I was unable to attend with him due to work comments. Unfortunately, this year this has not taken place due to current Corvid Virus crisis and government restrictions, it was decided to cancel the event due to most of the veterans and members are all vulnerable age.
John is threatened with having his head cut off!
South Holland Internal Drainage Board Lincolnshire
At the end of my last article I stated that I worked for the above Drainage Board full time and part time for a total of nearly fifty years. After leaving the army one of the assistant engineers was moving to take up another post and I was offered his job. Initially I became an assistant engineer, later moving up to district engineer and finally senior engineer. After retirement I worked for more than another ten years on a free lance basis.
The Board was formed during the reign of George 111 in 1793 and was reconstituted to include four smaller Boards in 1974 to serve an area of 38440 hectares (95000 acres) sandwiched between the rivers Welland and Nene in South Lincolnshire. The majority of this area is valuable farmland. The Board is the lineal descendant of Holland Elloe Court of Sewers dating back over 500 years. When we moved to Kent in 2007 the Board maintained 703 kilometeres (436 miles) of water course, 15 pumping stations and 5 gravity sluices. Quite a network to look after. At that time nearly all of the maintenance works and most of the capital improvement were undertaken by direct plant and labour. The Board had its own offices, workshops, plant and labour although I understand at the present time more contract work is undertaken. Staff duties included planning and organizing maintenance works, surveying for possible improvement works, plotting surveys, designing improvements, pricing both maintenance and capital works, writing reports for Board meetings and monitoring progress of both maintenance and capital works. In addition, in my later years I inherited the task of designing a Health and Safety plan and undertaking the preparation of COSH records(Control of substances hazardous to health). Also of course there was consultation with ratepayers i.e. farmers, businesses and home owners. Not always an easy task. I was once threatened by a farmer with a shot gun and on another occasion I caught youths vandalizing Boards property and when I told them to stop they threatened to cut my head off with a spade. Fortunately I had a radio telephone in my car and when I told them I would call the police they thought better of it.
The job was never dull for long, during adverse weather we could be out all night in rough conditions (mostly alone), probably not allowed now for H & S. Although we had a basic working week this meant nothing during bad weather. No extra pay but if I wanted to play in a mid week cricket match nothing would be said!
Towards the end of my time things began to change. Environmentalists began to get more say, computerisation began to take over and of course health and safety became more restrictive. By the time I fully retired I think I had had the more interesting and productive years. We in general had a conscientious and hard working work force who were good at the variegated tasks they were given. In all those years I can only recall one instance when someone failed to do what he was told to and he came along afterwards and apologised. One final item I would like to mention , we had as far as I am concerned the best excavator driver I have ever seen. His work was always perfect and to make it better he had served with me in the Royal Lincolns in Malaya, his name was Barry Dawson and he now lives at Uppingham in Rutland.
Part 4 of Edward’s story of the Medway Queen Post WW2
By the early sixties the paddle steamer was no longer pleasing the holiday maker due to competition from the sky; the cheap option of visiting the Costa del Sol. Also the craze for the motor car contributed to the decline in passenger numbers.The Medway Queen outlasted most of the Thames and Medway steamers by some fifteen years until an annual inspection which identified a need for extensive repairs.The ship made her last voyage from Southend back to the Medway on 9th September, 1963 and the company offered her for sale.
The Daily Mail was at the forefront of the campaign to save the ship and an Isle of Wight businessman, Alan Ridett thought she would make a suitable clubhouse for his marina development near Newport. The Medway Queen was subsequently purchased by Alan and his associates and towed to the River Medina on the Isle of Wight in 1965 where she became a clubhouse, restaurant and night club.
Amazing Grace, Amazing Band, Amazing Jennie! watch this stunning virtual performance here, look for Jennie bottom row third from the left!
Our Youth Liaison Officer Stuart Gemmell tells of the Engineer who became a highly decorated pilot.
Royal Engineer Recipients of the Victoria Cross Edward Corringham “Mick” Mannock VC, DSO (Two Bars), MC & Bar
Edward Mannock was born on 24 May 1887 to Julia (née Sullivan) and Edward Mannock, of English, Irish and Scottish descent. Edward was the youngest of three; sister Jessie and Patrick. Edward senior was from a wealthy family. His father was a newspaper editor on Fleet Street and his uncle George Mannock was a friend of the British Royal Family. According to family legend, George had taught the Prince of Wales to play Billiards. Edward senior was a Corporal in the British Army and distinguished himself in the Anglo-Egyptian War at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir in 1882.
Royal Engineers and Royal Army Medical Corps
On 22 May 1915 Mannock reported for duty with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and by July he was sufficiently recovered to join the at his pre-war rank of sergeant. On 25 May he was assigned to the 3rd company, second battalion Home Countries Field Ambulance Service. Upon joining, he found he must attend German wounded as well as British and French; something which he found distasteful. Mannock immediately detected apathy in his old service. In his opinion the men lacked enthusiasm for the job of winning the war. He complained bitterly at their half-hearted efforts during practice drills. While there, Mannock attempted to start a branch of the Wellingborough Parliament to instil some patriotism, pride and professionalism but failed. While tending to some wounded soldiers, Mannock sought an audience with his commanding officer. He refused to continue driving ambulances or tending the sick while thousands died in battle and requested a transfer to the Royal Engineers (RE) as an officer cadet. Mannock waited for months and his rank rose from Sergeant to Sergeant Major. Finally, in March 1916 he was finally granted his transfer after an interview at the local recruitment office in Fenny Stratford. Mannock was conscious his poor education and lower-class background would put him at a considerable disadvantage in the well-educated and higher-class surroundings of the RE. Mannock’s solution to his problem was to throw himself into his work. The method was practical, but his insular behaviour was construed as odd. Mannock despised his peers who were uninterested in the war and seemed concerned only with the uniforms, quality tailoring and how it would improve their chances with women. Tired of the banal conversations and lethargy of his comrades, Mannock wanted to leave the RE but realised a second resignation would damage his chances of becoming a commissioned officer.
At the suggestion of a friend — Eric Tomkins — Mannock decided to join the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Mannock was initially reticent, concerned his age and physical condition would hinder him. His early departure from two other services may also have encouraged questions about his reliability. Mannock acquired all the newspapers he could for information on the air war. In so doing, he came across an article on the man who was to have a profound effect on him: Albert Ball. Ball was the first fighter pilot to be given any publicity and his exploits inspired Mannock to transfer. In June Mannock was promoted to second lieutenant and on 14 August 1916 he arrived at the No. 1 School of Military Aeronautics in Reading.
Royal Flying Corps Mannock’s training began immediately. He received instruction on aerial gunnery, aircraft-rigging, map reading and flight theory. He passed with honours and was sent to Hendon for elementary flying instruction. On 28 November 1916 he received Royal Aero Club (RAeC) certificate 3895. On 5 December he moved to Hounslow to begin training with No. 19 Training Squadron flying the Henry Farman. After completing his course, he was moved to the Hythe School of Gunnery on 1 February 1917 for two weeks and then to No. 10 Reserve Squadron at Joyce Green for advanced training. Mannock’s instructor, Captain Chapman said of him, ” he made his first solo flight with but a few hours’ instruction, for he seemed to master the rudiments of flying with his first hour in the air and from then on threw the machine about as he pleased”. At Joyce Green Mannock met Captain James McCudden. McCudden taught Mannock about air fighting. McCudden stressed team tactics and offensive use of the aeroplane. McCudden said of Mannock, “The pupils here during the period of which I write were very good. One I particularly remember was named Mannock. Mannock was a typical example of the impetuous young Irishman, and I always thought he was of the type to do or die.” Meredith Thomas also met Mannock at Joyce Green in February 1917. Thomas recalled how they were told not to turn below 2,000 feet in an Airco DH.2 pusher. Mannock did so and got into a spin at 1,000 feet (300 m), deliberately. He was keen to see if he could recover the aircraft from such an attitude. Mannock stalled the aircraft, purposely, and followed McCudden’s advice; allow it to come out of the stall and centralise the controls, apply opposite rudder in the spin and as the spin slows ease the nose down. Mannock had discovered that air combat was a science and could be perfected. Regardless, his actions earned him a rebuke from his commanding officer.
Mannock was somewhat older than his peers in the RFC and had experienced the brutality of war first-hand. Meredith Thomas remembered this earned him a reputation as a serious-minded man. Mannock was inclined to be reserved, but was a good conversationalist, patient and willing to assist others but quick to anger. He masked his hatred of the Turks but the intensity with which he carried out his training was sometimes misunderstood.
Military Cross citation T./2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) Edward Mannock, R.E. & R.F.C For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. In the course of many combats he has driven off a large number of enemy machines, and has forced down three balloons, showing a very fine offensive spirit and great fearlessness in attacking the enemy at close range and low altitudes under heavy fire from the ground.
Distinguished Service Order citation: T./2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) Edward Mannock, M.C., R.E., attd. R.A.F. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during recent operations. In seven days, while leading patrols and in general engagements, he destroyed seven enemy machines, bringing his total in all to thirty. His leadership, dash and courage were of the highest order.
Distinguished Service Order citation to First Bar: T./2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) Edward Mannock, D.S.O., R.E., and R.A.F. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. In company with one other scout this officer attacked eight enemy aeroplanes, shooting down one in flames. The next day, when leading his flight, he engaged eight enemy aeroplanes, destroying three himself. The same week he led his patrol against six enemy aeroplanes, shooting down the rear machine, which broke in pieces in the air. The following day he shot down an Albatross two-seater in flames, but later, meeting five scouts, had great difficulty in getting back, his machine being much shot about, but he destroyed one. Two days later, he shot down another two-seater in flames. Eight machines in five days—a fine feat of marksmanship and determination to get to close quarters. As a patrol leader he is unequalled. (D.S.O. gazetted in this Gazette.)
Distinguished Service Order citation to Second Bar: Lt. (T./Capt.) Edward Mannock, D.S.O., M.C. (formerly Royal Engineers). Air Ministry, 3rd August 1918. His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to confer the undermentioned rewards on Officers of the Royal Air Force, in recognition of gallantry in flying operations against the enemy:
Awarded a Second Bar to The Distinguished Service Order. This officer has now accounted for 48 enemy machines. His success is due to wonderful shooting and a determination to get to close quarters; to attain this he displays most skilful leadership and unfailing courage. These characteristics were markedly shown on a recent occasion when he attacked six hostile scouts, three of which he brought down. Later on the same day he attacked a two-seater, which crashed into a tree.
(The announcement of award of Distinguished Service Order, and First Bar thereto, will be published in a later Gazette.)
Victoria Cross citation: Capt (Acting Maj) Edward Mannock, D.S.O., M.C., 85th Squadron Royal Air Force. Air Ministry, Hotel Cecil, Strand, W.C.2., 18th July 1919. His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the late Captain (acting Major) Edward Mannock, D.S.O., M.C., 85th Squadron Royal Air Force, in recognition of bravery of the first order in Aerial Combat: —
On 17 June 1918, he attacked a Halberstadt machine near Armentieres and destroyed it from a height of 8,000 feet (2,400 m). On 7 July 1918, near Doulieu, he attacked and destroyed one Fokker (red-bodied) machine, which went vertically into the ground from a height of 1,500 feet (460 m). Shortly afterwards he ascended 1,000 feet (300 m) and attacked another Fokker biplane, firing 60 rounds into it, which produced an immediate spin, resulting, it is believed, in a crash.
On 14 July 1918, near Merville, he attacked and crashed a Fokker from 7,000 feet, and brought a two-seater down damaged.
On 19 July 1918, near Merville, he fired 80 rounds into an Albatross two-seater, which went to the ground in flames.
On 20 July 1918, East of La Bassee, he attacked and crashed an enemy two-seater from a height of 10,000 feet (3,000 m).
About an hour afterwards he attacked at 8,000 feet (2,400 m) a Fokker biplane near Steenwercke and drove it down out of control, emitting smoke.
On 22 July 1918, near Armentieres, he destroyed an enemy triplane from a height of 10,000 feet (3,000 m).
Major Mannock was awarded the undermentioned distinctions for his previous combats in the air in France and Flanders:
Military Cross. Gazetted 17 September 1917.
Bar to Military Cross. Gazetted 18 October 1917.
Distinguished Service Order. Gazetted 16 September 1918.
Bar to Distinguished Service Order (1st). Gazetted 16 September 1918.
Bar to Distinguished Service Order (2nd). Gazetted 3 August 1918. The officers of No. 85 Squadron, including Major Mannock, in front of their S.E.5a scouts at Saint-Omer aerodrome.
How Padre John Lines MBE discovered a local Treasure!
I have always liked old things, I said that to my lovely wife and she threatened me with violence – I cannot think why!! However to be serious, which is not always easy for me I want to write about a treasure in our area which not too many people seem to be aware of, that is the Dover Transport Museum at Whitfield!
When the Church moved me to Dover from London I wondered what I would do with the little personal time that I had. Well that was solved one evening when I took Christine to Tesco’s at Whitfield and went for a wonder around the area! As I strolled around I noticed what I thought was the roof of a bus through a gap in some buildings so thought that I would investigate. After some searching I found myself in the old Old Park army barracks site by a small sign that said Dover Transport Museum. While I was standing looking at it, a chap approached me and invited me to look around with him and I was hooked! The premises were fairly small but they were trying to purchase them from the Dover Harbour Board who owned the site and so I threw my hat into the ring as they say. We were being supported by a lot of local businesses and eventually were able to purchase the former gymnasium and swimming pool areas of the barracks.
Over the past twenty years a small group of really enthusiastic men and women have achieved a great deal and the museum is now regarded very highly by a great many people. We have a far bigger site than the one I first saw and have two main exhibition halls, a large number of ancillary rooms with varied displays, a model railway, a large East Kent Road Car exhibition of their artefacts and uniforms and a large display of shops which try to bring to mind local sights and scenes of Dover and area. Sadly like so many attractions at present we are shut, but we are still working during the shutdown to make the museum even mo0re interesting. I have loaned both my ex police Triumph motorcycles, one of which I regularly rode, to the Museum and, when I depart this mortal coil, my two ex East Kent buses will go to the museum. I hope in a few words, I have given you some idea of a local treasure! John Lines. https://www.dovertransportmuseum.org.uk/
The Standard – A Tribute to Mr. Reg Burton by Richard Purton Branch Standard Bearer.
Last week I received very sad news of the passing of one of our past National Parade Marshals and my friend, Mr. Reg Burton. Reg was a big influence in my Standard Bearing career and later my Parade Marshalling.
I first met Reg when I carried the Margate Branch Standard at his mother’s funeral some 20 years ago. I would have been around 18 years old and just starting out in Standard Bearing. Fortunately, I did not know who Reg was at the time as my nerves might have got the better of me.
Reg always had extra time for youth in the Legion because he knew that one day we would take over the reins. He made a point of talking to me that day and over many years Reg would train, advise and help me and eventually call on my assistance for events that he organised himself. That was a very proud day for me I can tell you.
Reg was born around the 1940’s and joined the Grenadier Guards with which he served a full career. He then went on to join the Royal British Legion and became a formidable character that all in the ceremonial side of the Legion knew, loved and if I’m honest a little bit feared.
His career in the Guards had given him impeccable standards. No matter the occasion he was always immaculately turned out. He had an air of high standard about him with his straight back and gleaming Oxford shoes. He would pull the rest of us up when our standards slipped but always in a polite respectful way. Reg was a true old fashioned gentleman and a stickler for manners and politeness. This of course made him perfect for Standard Bearing and Parade Marshalling. Everything had to be perfect. He was renowned for his exacting standards and everybody loved and respected him for it.
Why? You may ask. What gives Reg and people like Reg the drive to have and maintain these standards. You may say it is what those standards represent. Reg learned his standards in the Grenadier Guards and carried them through to the Legion. Many of you reading this will be ex-service and will need no explanation. What do we represent? For Reg, the Guards and the Legion, both full of history, pride and ethos. The driving force of standards. Standards to uphold in what we believe in and represent.
The word ‘Standard’ in the Legion may make you think of what some people call a flag. But it is not a flag. It is a Standard. It means something more. It represents something. It represents the history and the ethos and the people of the Legion. So where did it come from? What is it? Why did it come to mean so much?
Standards, Colours, Banners, Guidons. These are all honourable insignia associated with military organisations. They tend to be encompassed into the term ‘Colours’. Corps, Regiments, Battalions, Units will all have theirs in some way shape or form. When we think of the term ‘colours’, we might think of a kit or a uniform with a badge or a symbol again representing something, just like in team sports. Associated with something that has meaning to someone.
Colours were carried into battle and were the rallying point during times of chaos and confusion. The men could see the Colours over everything and could regroup. Even if the commander had been killed, all was not lost if the Colours were still flying. On the verge of defeat, the men would congregate around the Colours and defend them to the death. That is how much the Colours meant and still do to this day. Although Colours are still taken to war zones they are no longer carried into battle but they still represent exactly the same things nevertheless.
Colours are emblazoned with the badges and symbols of the unit and in many cases with battle honours and distinctions of years of honourable service. They represent everything the unit has gone through and stands for. The sight of the Colours would fill the men with pride and still does when a person leaves their Unit. It means just the same to serving as ex-service. Away from battle, Colours would be paraded and still are. No more evident than Trooping the Colour for the Queen’s birthday each year where the Guards take it in turn to Troop their Colour in front of Her Majesty. The act of Trooping is to parade the Colour in front of the troops so they know what it looks like so they can distinguish it during battle.
What does the Legion Standard mean? What does it represent? In many ways they mean much the same. An association, a belonging, a proud history. I’m sure many Legion members will transfer their feelings and meanings from their own serving Colours to the Standard of their Branch. The Legion Standard displays the name of the Branch it belongs to just like a corps or a regiment and it may also display certain awards that the Branch has won, just like battle honours.
As well as this, there is a much deeper more poignant meaning. These words are taken from the Legion Ceremonial Handbook: –
‘The Standard is a constant symbolic reminder to members of the Legion’s motto ‘Service not self’. The crosses of St George, St Andrew and St Patrick symbolise unity, chivalry and our loyalty to our Sovereign, community and nation. The blue indicates loyalty and fidelity and the gold signifies service – “as gold is tried by fire” – and reminds us of all those who gave their lives for our country. Standards are dedicated before being taken into use, and are laid-up in sacred or public buildings after service.’
A perfect example of everything mentioned.
The Standard Bearer has the honour and responsibility of caring for and carrying the Standard. The Standards will be carried at parades of commemoration, remembrance and funerals to show last respects to our fallen. It of course will also be carried for the first time at its dedication where it will be Trooped outside the church afterwards for all to see the new Standard.
With so much history, honour, pride and ethos at stake, it is no wonder that our Colours and Standards mean so much and drive people like Reg to promote and maintain all that they mean and live by those standards. Mr. Reg Burton’s duty is now over. He is now rallied around the big Standard in the sky. It is up to us to take up the Standard and honour the Colours and men Like Reg.
1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Queens Colour
Parade Marshal Mr. Reg Burton with Standards of the Royal British Legion
Rest easy Reg. Your duty is done. Thank you for everything. I will miss you. Richard Purton Branch Standard Bearer.
Burma, Veterans Remembered by Malcolm Gibbons
In 39 you got the call, to serve to fight and give your all. On boats and planes to far flung lands, to Burma where you made your stand.
Through jungle, mountains,hills and valley, the death toll and sacrifice a terrible tally. From Kohima, Imphal, Mandalay and Rangoon , you fought through heat, the dust, and monsoon.
Mud and leaches, the stench of death, you still kept giving, you were the best. The war crimes witnessed, the screams and cries, waiting for rescue under Burma skies.
Medals and honours in plentiful supply, testament to those who would live and die. Years and miles separating family, friend, never knowing when war would
And when it came, you brave brave men, returned to city, village, hill and glen. Rarely to speak of those Burma days, too proud your souls to bare or praise. You mourned the loss of mates far away, for those who sacrificed and gave their today. Those men you left so far behind and those who died on the railway line.
But we know you also suffered, the nightmares and the pain, recurrent bouts of malaria and the demons of mental strain.
So now it is our time to honour you, and this is our solemn vow. We WiLL remember you always, as we remember you now.
Burma 1942 – 1945
“England is as dependant as Holland upon drainage systems”
Read John Elms fascinating piece here!
Part 3 of Edward’s story of the Medway Queen
On 27th May 1940 HMS Medway Queen received orders to head to the beaches of Dunkirk to embark some troops that would be waiting there. The crew of HMS Medway Queen had no idea of the enormous operation known as “Operation Dynamo” that was building up. After taking on additional stores Medway Queen departed for Dunkirk along with the HMS Sandown, HMS Thames Queen, HMS Gracie Fields, HMS Queen of Thanet, HMS Princess Elizabeth, HMS Laguna Belle and HMS Brighton Belle. As they approached the beaches at La Panne they could see the lines of soldiers in the water, some of whom were up to their necks. Using the lifeboats the crew of the Medway Queen ferried the soldiers from the beach to the paddle steamer and all the while this was happening the AA cruiser HMS Calcutta gave covering fire. Fully loaded, Medway Queen headed back to Dover unscathed. As they approached the Goodwin Sands an air-raid developed and the little paddle steamer claimed her first kill in shooting down one of the enemy aircraft. But while all those on board celebrated the near-by Brighton Belle tore out her bottom as she drifted over a submerged wreck.
As she began to sink (right) the Medway Queen went alongside and took off all her soldiers and crew resulting in no loss of life. The Medway Queen, so heavily overloaded, managed to get into Ramsgate and moored alongside.This was the first of seven crossings that the Medway Queen was to make in the course of the operation.
That evening the Medway Queen headed back to the Dunkirk beaches. The ships now operated independently in order to maximise the number of soldiers that could be picked up. During the second night the Straits of Dover were particularly calm and the double wake from the paddle steamers were easily spotted from enemy aircraft. Therefore to prevent detection the Medway Queen’s crew devised a system of oily bags lowered over the side to break up the waves. This time Medway Queen sailed to Dunkirk Harbour and berthed alongside the East Mole, a concrete breakwater reaching out into the Channel. The harbour was extensively damaged but use of the mole sped up loading and about two thirds of the soldiers saved throughout the 9 days of the evacuation embarked from the mole. Medway Queen made crossings to the mole or beaches as circumstances required. On most trips she disembarked her troops at Ramsgate but used Margate on May 30th and Dover on 2nd of June. During the day, between trips, the crew had to clean the ship, take on ammunition and provisions and refuel before departing again. It was her 1938 conversion to oil firing that made her seven round trips possible.
Our committee member “musical” Jennie Gibbons has sent me this interesting item
The Royal Engineers and the Victoria Cross by our Youth Liaison Officer Stuart Gemmell
Royal Engineer Recipients of the Victoria Cross The Victoria Cross (VC) is a military decoration that may be bestowed upon members of the British or Commonwealth armed forces for acts of valour or gallantry performed in the face of the enemy. Within the British honours system and those of many Commonwealth nations it is the highest award a soldier can receive for actions in combat. It was established in 1856 and since then has been awarded 1,356 times, including three service personnel who were awarded the VC twice.
The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to reward acts of valour during the Crimean War. The traditional explanation of the source of the gunmetal from which the medals are struck is that it derives from Russian cannon captured at the siege of Sevastopol.
The Corps of Royal Engineers can trace its origins back 900 years, during which time they have been involved in every major conflict the British Army has fought in. The Royal Flying Corps – the forerunner of the Royal Air Force – and the present-day Royal Signals were originally part of the Corps. Their first recipient of the Victoria Cross received the award for actions performed during the Crimean War, while the last came during the Second World War. In total, thirty-six Royal Engineers have been awarded the Victoria Cross, across ten different conflicts or campaigns.
Colonel John Rouse Merriot Card VC was a British Army officer who received the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration for valour “in the face of the enemy” that can be awarded to members of the British armed forces. He earned the decoration for his role in the defence of Rorke’s Drift in January 1879 where he commanded a small British garrison of 139 soldiers that successfully repulsed an assault by some 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors. The battle was recreated in the film Zulu in which Chard was portrayed by Stanley Baker.
On 14 July 1868 Chard received a commission as a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers and continued his training at Chatham for the next two years. He was posted to Bermuda, along with Lieutenant HP Knacker, in 1870 to construct fortifications at the Naval Dockyard near Hamilton.mm He was then sent to Malta to assist with the improvement of the island’s sea defences. He returned to England in 1876 where he was based at Aldershot and Chatham and was assigned to the 5th Company Royal Engineers.
On 2 December 1878, the 5th Company Royal Engineers were sent to the Colony of Natal in response to a request from Lord Chelmsford, commander of the British forces in southern Africa, for an additional unit of engineers to assist with preparations for the invasion of the Zulu Kingdom. After their arrival on 5 January, Chard was dispatched with a small group of sappers to repair and maintain the ponts at one of the few crossings of the Buffalo River which ran along the border of Natal and the Zulu Kingdom. A short distance downstream was Rorke’s Drift, an isolated mission station used as a staging post for the British invasion force. It consisted of two thatched bungalows about 30 metres (98 ft) apart—the western building was used as a hospital, and the eastern building had been converted into a storehouse. Garrisoned at the Drift were Chelmsford’s quartermaster general, Major Henry Spalding, a company of the 2nd Battalion 24th Regiment of Foot commanded by Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead, and a large company of the 3rd Natal Native Contingent (NNC).
Chard’s group arrived on 19 January and set up camp near the crossing. On the morning of 22 January, he received an order that his sappers were required at Isandlwana 10 miles (16 km) to the east, where Chelmsford had set up an advanced camp for his main invasion column which had marched into Zulu territory two weeks before. However, when he arrived Chard was informed that only his men were required and that he should return to Rorke’s Drift. While at Isandlwana, Chard had witnessed a Zulu army approaching the camp in the distance and upon his return to the Drift at about 1 pm, he informed Spalding of the situation. Spalding decided to depart the Drift to hurry British reinforcements en route from Helpmekaar, but before he left, he checked a copy of the Army List which confirmed that Chard was senior to Bromhead. Therefore, Chard, a “notoriously relaxed” man with no combat experience, was unexpectedly placed in command of the small garrison.
Unconcerned by the presence of the Zulus nearby, Chard returned to his tent by the river crossing, but he was soon after disturbed by two NNC officers on horseback who informed him that the camp at Isandlwana had been overwhelmed and annihilated by the Zulus. Returning to the station, Chard found Bromhead and Assistant Commissary James Dalton had already instructed the troops to use mealie bags to construct a defensive perimeter between the storehouse and hospital. Chard consented and by 4 pm the hastily constructed perimeter was complete. Soon afterwards, the Zulu impi, which contained some 3,000–4,000 men, was sighted advancing on their position. This caused the NNC troops to panic and desert the station, reducing the number of defenders from around 350 to approximately 140 (including 30 sick and wounded). Chard immediately ordered an additional barricade of biscuit boxes to be built across the inner perimeter to provide a smaller fall-back area should the Zulus overwhelm a part of the thinly manned perimeter.
The first waves of Zulu assault were repulsed by British volley fire, but the attackers pushed on relentlessly, particularly along a vulnerable section of the British perimeter by the hospital which became the centre of fierce hand-to-hand combat. With British casualties mounting, Chard ordered his troops to withdraw behind the biscuit boxes, which left the western half of the station in Zulu hands, including the hospital, which was subsequently set alight by the attackers. Once inside, Chard ordered the construction of a redoubt made from a tall pyramid of mealie bags to provide shelter to the wounded and form the last line of defence. The Zulus continued to attack in intermittent waves during the night, but they were illuminated by the burning thatch, which enabled the defenders to spot their advances. By 5 am, the exhausted Zulus had abandoned the attack, and British reinforcements arrived later that morning. Chard counted 351 dead Zulus scattered around the perimeter. The British suffered 17 killed and 10 wounded.
Chard remained at Rorke’s Drift for several weeks after the battle and assisted with the construction of a new stone perimeter wall. However, conditions at the camp were poor; Chard became ill with fever and was taken to Ladysmith for treatment. Once recovered he was attached to Colonel Evelyn Wood’s column for the second invasion of the Zulu Kingdom. Meanwhile, Chard’s report of the battle had been dispatched to England and received with enthusiasm by the British press and public. The War Office subsequently promoted Chard to captain and brevet major and awarded him and 10 other defenders of the station with Victoria Crosses, the highest decoration for gallantry that could be awarded to British troops. The citation for the award was published in the London Gazette on 2 May 1879:
THE Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers and Soldiers of Her Majesty’s Army, whose claims have been submitted for Her Majesty’s approval, for their gallant conduct in the defence of Rorke’s Drift, on the occasion of the attack by the Zulus, as recorded against their names, viz.:—
For their gallant conduct at the defence of Rorke’s Drift, on the occasion of the attack by the Zulus on the 22nd and 23rd January 1879.
Royal Engineers Lieutenant (now Captain and Brevet Major) J. R. M. Chard
2nd Battalion 24th Regiment Lieutenant (now Captain and Brevet Major) G. Bromhead
The Lieutenant-General commanding the troops reports that, had it not been for the fine example and excellent behaviour of these two Officers under the most trying circumstances, the defence of Rorke’s Drift post would not have been conducted with that intelligence and tenacity which so essentially characterised it.
The Lieutenant-General adds, that its success must, in a great degree, be attributable to the two young Officers who exercised the Chief Command on the occasion in question.
Part 2 of our Branch Padre’s “love of his bus” by Rev John Lines MBE
The fun begins!
My last jottings finished with me becoming the owner of a Guy double deck bus ex London Transport G 351 and Burton Corporation number 70. Great you may be thinking, well now the fun began! I had cancelled a life insurance policy and had the princely sum of £122 to spend on my acquisition so you can imagine that I was delighted when the general manager said I could have the bus for £50. Sounds good? Well yes and no, he then dropped the bombshell that the bus had no engine! It shows you how naive I was as I was not put out, rather I started to search for a Gardner 5LW diesel engine and eventually found a breaker in Sherburn in Elmet who had one for sale for £50. Those of you who are doing the sums will realise my £122 is decreasing fast. I was living in Croydon, the bus was in Burton and the engine in Sherburn in Elmet, so how do I could get them together? I had a mark ll Land Rover at the time and had the mad idea of getting the engine put into it so I could transport it to the bus! Two problems at that point, one no way would the Land Rover have carried the weight and two the general manager would not allow a colleague and I to fit the engine at their garage! Oh well, back to the drawing board!
Thankfully both problems were solved when the breaker offered to transport the engine to Burton for a £5 tip for his driver and the general manager said he would get two of his fitters to put the engine in for me at a cost of £16, great news but work out the maths! I now had the sum of £1 left in my funds! Then the great day arrived, the bus had an engine and all was well. No not really, the general manager then asked me what I was going to do about tyres? I never gave a thought to the fact that bus companies rent their tyres from the tyre makers and seeing the bus was standing with tyres on it I thought they were part of the purchase price! Now if I tell you the I needed eight 900 x 20 tyres ( front wheels are a different dish to the rear, so really needed three wheels for the front and five for the back to enable me to have spare wheels in case of emergencies) which were £35 each then new. Obviously beyond my meagre means and the general manager was not too happy about keeping the bus in his garage and really wanted it out. Thankfully he pulled out all the stops and found me eight slave tyres (thank goodness it was before the tyre regulations) at £1 each. Mind you they were really bald and no way could I drive on them after the initial journey from Burton to Croydon, so for the next few weeks I haunted scrap yards looking for eight 900 x 20 tyres. Most Church ministers want to go to Rome or the Holy Land on pilgrimage, but my intention at this time was to go on pilgrimage to Fallings Park in Wolverhampton where Guy Motors had their factory. That was something I managed to do, maybe it will come up in another of my jottings! You have been warned! Please keep safe!¬
The London Marathon for Aussie and June and the Legion by Richard Purton.
The London Marathon was founded in 1981 by Olympic champion and journalist Chris Brasher and athlete John Disley. It is currently organised by Chris’s son Hugh. The first London Marathon was held on 29 March 1981 with more than 20,000 applying to run. 6,747 were accepted and 6,255 crossed the finish line on Constitution Hill. This year’s event should have taken place in April but due to Covid-19 did not. It has been rescheduled for October 4th but there is still uncertainty and regular updates are being issued. 457,861 applied for this year and around 42,000 will hopefully cross the finish line in October. 1,083,261 people have crossed the finish line since it started in 1981.
With more that 75% of entrants running for charity the event generates a massive income including for the Royal British Legion. Last year’s event raised £66 million so with the uncertainty of this year’s event taking place it has caused crisis for many charities. There are a number of ways to get a place to run in the London Marathon. The ballot (names out of the hat) is where most people start but with over 450,000 applying for around 45,000 places the odds are stacked. A slightly more certain way to get in is to sign up with a charity and commit to raise a minimum amount of money. Many runners who get a ballot place still choose to run for a charity and that is what I have done this year. Whenever it takes place I will be running for the Royal British Legion in memory of my dear friends and our past Branch President Austin Walker MBE and his wife June.
It will not be my first marathon. I took up running in 2015 as a rather overweight 34 year old and have continued to run loosing around 8 stones in weight and running all number of distances from 5 kilometres to full marathons and ultra-marathons. A marathon is 26.2 miles. It doesn’t matter which marathon it is the distance is always the same. An ultra-marathon is anything further than that.
Austin, affectionately known as Aussie was the reason I joined the Legion. Aussie became my mentor and supporter. Not just in the Legion but in life. June was Aussies biggest supporter. They were a formidable team giving the best part of their life to the Legion. They both became very dear friends to me. I became involved with the Legion at the age of 10 when I joined the Sea Cadet Corps in Margate. Aussie was the Unit Chairman for many years. A strong link formed between the unit and the Legion and a personal link for me even more so. Aussie had served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and joined the Legion in 1978 becoming the Margate Branch Chairman in 1988. A position he held for 20 years. I was a bugler in the cadets and with Aussie and his wife June would travel all over the county of Kent playing the Last Post and Reveille at events like the annual Poppy Appeal Launch.
In 1998 at the age of 17, Aussie asked me if I would like to join the Legion as a youth member. I believe I was the first in Kent. I went on to become the County Standard Bearer which took me to many events all over the county but most notable for me, the Queens Golden Jubilee parade and the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. At branch level I joined the committee and over the years took on roles like Treasurer, Vice Chairman and Conference Delegate. All the time being nurtured and supported by Aussie At remembrance tide Aussie and I would distribute and collect poppy boxes. He lost a leg as a young man in a motorcycle accident. He would do the driving around and I would do the running around. We would stand together on the streets collecting during the two week period.
In 2010 Aussie became the Kent County Chairman and very quickly turned the County into one of the best performing in the country. I became his County Parade Marshal. He travelled many miles visiting branches and groups and continually sought ways to improve. His knowledge of the Legion was second to none in Kent. Aussie stood down as Kent County Chairman in 2015 and became a County Life Vice President in recognition of his services to the County. His Legion work continued in the roles of President of our Branch and also Chairman of the County Awards Committee. Aussie was the director of the Isle of Thanet Festival of Remembrance for 17 years retiring in 2018. A small festival in comparison to the Royal Albert Hall but replicated as closely as he could achieve. Always with a military band and involving the local cadet forces and raising on average at least £5000 for the Poppy Appeal each year. I was involved as a cadet providing displays and later went on to join the committee and act as Parade Marshal.
His work for the Legion was recognised in 1998 when he was awarded National Life Membership and again in 2005 when he was awarded the Legion’s highest honour – the National Certificate of Appreciation. The ultimate recognition came in 2017 when Aussie was awarded an MBE from the Queen. He phoned me with the wonderful news and informed me that he would probably opt to have it presented locally by the Lord Lieutenant as his health was not really up to the journey to London. I replied, Aussie, I will drive you to the Queens front door. And I did. With June and Mary Eldridge we had a wonderful trip to Buckingham Palace and proudly watch Aussie receive his MBE from the Queen herself. That memory will live with me forever.
In December 2018 June passed away through ill health. Four months later sadly Aussie had a fall at home and passed away soon after. They were together again. I have tried for a number of years to get a place in the London Marathon and when Aussie passed away I vowed I would run it for the Legion and run in memory of Aussie and June.
Being involved with the Legion and then becoming a member at such a young age has developed me and given me opportunities in many areas of my life. All of this was made possible by Aussie and his wife June. Aussie was not just my chairman, but along with June, very very dear friends. It is going to be an absolute honour to run the London Marathon in their memory and raise as much money as I can for the cause that they dedicated the best part of their lives to.
I would like to thank the Branch for a very generous donation from the friends account. My total so far is £310. I am aiming for £1000. If anybody would like to donate it can be done here https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RichardPurton2
Thank you, I hope you are all safe and well
Richard Purton Branch Standard Bearer
Part 2 of Malcolm’s history of the Burma Star Association
Part 2 of John Elms our President’s history of the Malayan Emergency
The Malayan ‘Emergency’ 1948 – 1960 Part 2
A brief history of a British Infantry Regiments tour of Malaya from 1955 to 1958. On 19th July 1955 the main party of the 1st Battalion Royal Lincolnshire Regiment boarded the Empire Clyde at Liverpool bound for Malaya. An advance party including the CO. Lt. Col. Goulson was to leave by air for Singapore twelve days later. The Empire Clyde arrived in Singapore on 11th August with the advance party already there to welcome it.
Following a weeks acclimatisation at Singapore the battalion moved to Kata Tinggi in Jahore State for three weeks jungle training. Upon completion the battalion took over duties from the 1st Bn. Somerset Light Infantry in Pahang State forming part of the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade which at that time also included the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the 2nd Royal Australian Regiment. Operations commenced against the communist terrorists otherwise known as CT’s. By February 1956 the battalion strength had risen to nearly 1200 some 75 per cent being National Servicemen. It was noted “It was no small demand to ask a young man of 19 or 20 to take a patrol into the jungle, patrol a difficult and possibly dangerous area and navigate his way back.”
During April 1956 B, C, D and Support Companies moved to Negri Sembilan HQ and A Companies remaining in Pahang. The four Companies now formed part of then 26 Gurkha Brigade together with the 2/2nd and 2/6th Gurkhas. Up to November 56 the Battalion was credited with 13 CT’s killed and 9 captured, 2 members of the Battalion were listed as wounded. On the night of 7th/8th November a party of local Home Guard, pig hunting, entered one of A Companies ambush positions and were mistaken for CT’s. Two of the Home Guard were killed. Unfortunately 2/Lt R. D. Ogden (a member of the tobacco family) was killed.
At the end of November 56 the Bn. Moved north to Perak state leaving B and C Companies behind to join them in December. At this time three members of the Bn. received Queens permission to receive three Negri Sembilan awards, Sgt G. L. Bench the N S state Meritorious Service Medal with L/Cpl G. J. Henson and Pte . R. C. Powell receiving the N S State Conspicuous Gallantry Medals.
The state of Perak included areas of tin mines, rubber and tea estates with jungle covered mountains and extended north some forty miles north of Kuala Lumpur right up to the Thailand border. Operations were soon underway with the first success going to D Company with a kill near Sungei Siput where the conflict first started on 16th June 1948. Between 2nd February to 2nd April the battalion was based around Taiping for a period of rest and retraining. This also provided the opportunity of leave for most of the men.
Operations resumed after 2nd April and carried on in the area until the end of February 1958 when the final move took place to west Johore in the south of the peninsula. Once again considerable success had been achieved in Perak. Accurate figures were impossible due to the nature of operations but a considerable number of CT’s had been eliminated or captured.
On 31st August 1957 Malaya was granted total independence which was known as ‘Merdeka’. B Company obtained ‘a kill’ two hours before Merdeka and on 3rd September C Company obtained two more. These were the last in the old regime and the first under the new one.
As a little aside an interesting event occurred on 13th March 1957. A three story rubber factory collapsed near Taiping. Sheets of latex approximately 2.5 metres long and 1.5 metres wide were hung over wooden poles to ‘cure and dry’. The whole lot collapsed burying workers. We were called in to attempt a rescue. It was dark and flood lighting had been set up. I was in the first party. We climbed on top of the collapse and formed a chain gang passing along the sheets of latex . We did a four hour shift and by the time mine was over hands were ‘raw’ with handling the latex. Protective clothing not yet invented! Eventually five bodies were recovered but no survivors. The event made the national press as did several of the operational successes.
The Battalion made its final move to Johore at the end of 1958. The area consisted of jungle covered hills to the west and swamp and rubber plantation to the east. Numbers were now being run down ready for departure later in the year. The last engagement was on 10th May when 2 CT’s were killed and six more wounded and captured. This decimated the last CT fighting platoon in the area. It also brought to an end a very successful tour by the Battalion operations ceasing 16th July. The Battalion lost 10 men on the tour plus one Iban tracker a member of the Sarawak Rangers who was attached. There was also a small number of wounded.
Apart from the three Malayan awards listed above members of the Battalion were awarded four Military Crosses, two Military Medals, two MBE’s , two OBE’s and 30 mentioned in Dispatches. Some 2000 men were involved over the period with in the region of 75% being National Servicemen. Some 500 men embarked at Singapore in the Empire Fowey on 25th July reaching Mombasa Kenya on 5th August. Instead of continuing home it was diverted to Aden where trouble was commencing and an infantry unit was needed. Here it remained until 10th September when replacement infantry was available. The date of the eventual arrival in the UK was unrecorded. The remainder of the journey was completed in the troopship Devonshire.
John was serving with the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment during this period.
Medway Queen Part 2
In the early part of the 20th century a trip on a paddle steamer was a high-spot of a family’s summer with the Medway Queen’s decks often being full of holidaymakers. During these times most seaside resorts had their own pier where many paddle steamers disembarked their passengers. The Medway Queen mainly operated between Strood, Southend and Herne Bay; calling at Sun Pier (Chatham) and Sheerness. Additional trips to
destinations such as Clacton and occasionally Margate were also advertised. She would normally leave Strood Pier at around 9am and call at Sun Pier (Chatham) shortly after. The Medway Queen carried many people on her various excursions from the Medway Towns during the 1920s and into the 1930s. Special events such as Chatham Navy Days generated extra traffic and in 1937 Medway Queen ran an excursion to the Spithead Naval Review, meeting up with a train load of passengers from London Victoria.
In September 1939 the ship assisted in the evacuation of children from her home county of Kent to East Anglia as part of an operation contracted to General Steam Navigation of which the New Medway Steam Packet Co. was a part. Embarkation was from the Ford Jetty at Dagenham on the 1st and 2nd of the month and from Gravesend on the 3rd.
Medway Queen was requisitioned for war service on 9th September 1939 and taken to the shipyard of the General Steam Navigation Company in Deptford Creek where she was transformed from her black, white and cream peacetime livery to battleship grey. The refit included considerable modification to her aft end where part of the saloon was cut away to accommodate the mine-sweeping gear. Additional items were fitted such as a 12pdr gun and anti-aircraft machine guns. The bridge was extended and enclosed. She went into the yard as a pleasure steamer but came out as HMS Medway Queen with her pennant number N48 which later became J48. The commissioning ceremony took place in November and sea trials commenced.
Her first wartime captain was Sub-Lieutenant R.D.C.Cooke, RNVR. He was a veteran of the first world war. The other officers included Sub-Lieutenant J.D. Graves RNR and Lieutenant Jolly RN. who was a peacetime yachtsman. The navigator of HMS Medway Queen was Lieutenant Keilly who, despite being of pensionable age, managed to persuade the Captain to take him on as a Junior Officer because of his long deep sea experience. Other crew members included Petty Officer Crossley who was to become the Coxswain and also Petty Officer McAllister who became the designated Bo’sun of the upper deck.
After gun trials at Sheerness adjustments were made in Chatham Dockyard. HMS Medway Queen was then posted to Harwich in January 1939, initially as an independent ship and later as part of the 9th Minesweeping Flotilla. During the winter of 1939 parts of the Medway and Thames estuaries were frozen over but the Flotilla continued their daily sweeps for mines with the assistance of a tug to break any patches of ice that lay ahead of them. The harshness of the cold winters took their toll on the Medway Queen with faults appearing in the ship’s structure. This lead to her being ordered into Chatham dockyard in February 1940 for repairs and installation of de-gaussing equipment as protection against magnetic mines.
In March 1940 HMS Medway Queen joined the 10th Paddle Mine-sweeping Flotilla in Dover The flotilla was commanded by Commander Greig RN. of HMS Sandown (another paddle steamer, originally from the Isle of Wight). At about this time the Commanding Officer changed to Lt. A. T. Cook RNR. when his predecessor retired through ill health. Lt. A. T. Cook commanded Medway Queen throughout the Dunkirk Evacuation and for some time afterwards. HMS Medway Queen patrolled the Straits of Dover acting as sub-divisional leader. Often the paddle steamer would anchor in pre-arranged locations in order to act as lookout. It was when the Medway Queen was fulfilling this duty on 27th May 1940 that she received orders to head to the beaches of Dunkirk to embark some troops that would be waiting there. Even then the crew of HMS Medway Queen had no idea of the enormous operation known as “Operation Dynamo”.
To be continued
Committee member Jennie Gibbons and her music.
Here is a little item which may be of interest to some of our members.
I first started to play a tenor horn, which is held and shaped like a very small euphonium, in Snowdown Colliery Brass Band, well over twenty years ago. This band plays every year at the Deal Hospital Remembrance Day Service, it also played for several years at the Armed Forces Day Celebration at Deal Pier. I now play for the Deal Brass Academy Band. You will see this band playing at Armed Forces Day on Deal Pier. We also play at several fetes, summer and winter activities, though not at the moment due to Lockdown! Members, including myself, play outside our homes, amid the clapping, patriotic tunes at 8pm on Thursday evenings. Among these tunes are: Over The Rainbow, Ode To Joy, There’ll Always Be An England and We’ll Meet Again. All very much enjoyed by our neighbours and a pleasure to play.
Very interesting item from our Youth Liaison Office Stuart Gemmell.
Hello to you all. I hope you are all keeping safe and well during this unusual time. I understand that lockdown has probably posed more of a challenge for some, than others, but to me, it feels like I am on operations again with the Army.
Some of you may know that I served with the Royal Engineers for over 21 years. I was lucky to deploy on many operations around the world. Almost 20 years ago to the day, I was sent to Kenya, providing support to a Kenyan National Park, repairing roads and building a bridge that had been swept away during the previous year’s monsoon season.
A young Sapper Gemmell (L) and friend in Kenya (Jan 2000)
Camp living Nakuru National Park Kenya (Jan 2000)
Living was basic in the African bush, as you can see from the photos above, but as Royal Engineer’s we made the best of what we had to hand, which was often not a lot.
The Royal Engineers – A brief history
The Corps of Royal Engineers was formed in May 1716 after a Royal Warrant of King George I authorised the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Corps of Engineers as separate entities. In 1787 they were granted the title Royal and Engineer officers and were styled Royal Engineer. Commissions were awarded on merit, unlike the cavalry or infantry, where they could be purchased. The Royal Engineers has no battle honours. Its regimental motto, awarded by King William IV in 1832, Ubique (Everywhere) & Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt (Where Right and Glory Lead) signify that the Corps had seen action in all the major conflicts of the British Army.
The Royal Engineers were responsible for the introduction of much new technology to the Army – telegraphy during the Crimean War of 1854 – 1856. In 1870, the Telegraph Troop, Royal Engineers was founded the first formal professional body of signallers in the British Army charged with providing communications for a field army by means of visual signalling, mounted orderlies and telegraph.
The Royal Engineers also introduced photography in the Abyssinian Campaign of 1867 and steam road traction in the Ashanti Campaign of 1873.The Royal Engineers were responsible for the introduction of much new technology to the Army – telegraphy during the Crimean War of 1854 – 1856. In 1870, the Telegraph Troop, Royal Engineers was founded the first formal professional body of signallers in the British Army charged with providing communications for a field army by means of visual signalling, mounted orderlies and telegraph.
With their expertise of firing explosive charges underwater the Royal Engineers became responsible for harbour defences, using submarine mines in conjunction with searchlights. Indeed, the Submarine Mining Service grew into a major specialization and was not handed over to the Royal Navy until 1905.
The Royal Engineers interest in aeronautics began in the 1860’s when they explored the possibilities of using air balloons for aerial observation purposes. This developed into an interest in fixed wing aircraft and on 13 April 1912, when King George V signed a royal warrant establishing the Royal Flying Corps. The Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers became the Military Wing of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) a month later on 13 May.
On 1st April 1918, the Royal Air Force (RAF) is formed with the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). The RAF took its place beside the British navy and army as a separate military service with its own ministry.
The RFC’s motto was Per ardua ad astra (Through adversity to the stars). This remains the motto of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and other Commonwealth air forces.
The Royal Engineers (Postal Service) was formed in 1913 from the Army Post Office Corps, this came about as a result of the connection between the Royal Engineers (Signal Service) and the General Post Office. The postal service left the Royal Engineers in 1993 to join the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC).
Todays Ordnance Survey was developed from the early Royal Engineers survey activities. Britain having acquired an Empire, it fell to the Royal Engineers to conduct some of the most significant “civil” engineering schemes around the world. The Royal Engineers, Columbia Detachment, was responsible for the foundation and settlement of British Columbia as the Colony of British Columbia. They also had a hand in the following structures:
- The Royal Albert Hall
- Much of the British colonial era infrastructure of India
- The construction of the Rideau Canal
- The Western Heights of Dover
- Pentonville Prison
- Royal Naval Dockyards across the world, including Chatham Dockyard
Members of the Corps have determined boundaries on behalf of the British as well as foreign governments; some notable boundary commissions include:
- 1839 – Canada-United States
- 1858 – Canada-United States (General John Hawkins RE)
- 1856 and 1857 – Russo-Turkish (Sir Edward Stanton RE)
- 1857 – Russo-Turkish (Field Marshal Lintorn Simmons RE)
- 1878 – Bulgarian
- 1880 – Græco-Turkish (Major General John Ardagh RE)
- 1884 – Russo-Afghan (Colonel Thomas Holdich RE)
- 1894 – India-Afghanistan (Colonel Thomas Holdich RE)
- 1902 – Chile-Argentine (Colonel Sir Delme Radcliffe RE)
- 1911 – Peru-Bolivia (Major A. J. Woodroffe RE)
As you can see from our history, the Royal Engineers has had a busy 300 years!
Item of interest from our Branch Padre “In Love” Rev John Lines MBE
Towards the end of the war, I was living with my mother in West Norwood near Crystal Palace in South London. Like most men of that time my father was away fighting in our armed services. My mother’s mother lived in Chorleywood in Hertfordshire and for some reason we were going to visit, why I cannot recall but it may have been because my grandfather was seriously ill. However back to my tale! To start the journey we caught a London Transport LT class bus up to Victoria, the LT class buses were AEC six wheel vehicles and this particular one had an outside staircase at the rear to reach the top deck. I know my mother was not too keen on the top deck, especially with all the cigarette smoke, but she kindly indulged my plea and we went up to the top deck. On our arrival at the bus stands outside Victoria Railway Station I was to see a sight that changed my life forever! Standing in the bus station was a grey painted bus, don’t forget that London bus were usually red, which made a funny tinkling noise as it ticked over. I was in love, a love affair that has lasted to this very day! I can imagine my poor mother on the rest of the journey, firstly to Baker Street tube station and then train to Chorleywood, as I went on about that bus!!!
My enquiries eventually got me the facts that the bus was a wartime Utility bus with a chassis built by Guy Motors of Wolverhampton and London Transport had around 435 of them. The grey paint, and several other colours, was used because no red was available during the war. As I grew I started to research the Utility buses, especially those of London Transport. I set myself the task of acquiring a view of all 435 of them, either with LT or sold to other operators. Sadly I now have between two and two and a half thousand views of the London Guys, but not all 435, mind you I am not giving up, and the collection is still growing. (Poor Christine having to put up with it!)
Sometime in the 1960 I was on the telephone to a friend who was part owner of a London Transport bus and he suggested that I ought to buy a bus! I well recall replying that I did not want an AEC or a Leyland bus, I wanted a Guy! In my innocence I thought that they had all gone long before our conversation! I was rather surprised when he said that Burton Corporation in the Midlands was still running ex London Guys! Now I have been a non-drinker all my life so really had no idea that Burton was renowned for its breweries! However, a call to directory enquiries and I was given the number of Burton Corporation Transport Department and when I telephoned I was put through to the general manager. Result? Ten minutes later I was the owner of an ex London Transport Guy Utility bus fleet number G 351! Maybe, if I am allowed, I can continue this story at another time. Keep safe John Lines.
John we look forward to your next episode in a few weeks time.
“Item of interest” from Richard Purton our proud Standard Bearer.
A Festival of Togetherness.
At a time where we are keeping ourselves apart to save the lives of our family, friends and loved ones, being together has never been more important. Usually free to go where we want, when we want, we are all adapting how we come together in these difficult and unprecedented times. From phone calls and text messages we wouldn’t normally make so regularly to increased use of social media to standing at least 2 metres from our vulnerable loved ones front door dropping off food or medicines. In these last few weeks we find ourselves perhaps coming together more closely than ever before and at a time when in fact our freedom has been heavily restricted.
As Legion members, togetherness is at the heart of our ethos. We show this in the many ways the Legion operates. The list is endless. Each year during remembrance tide, members come together at The Royal Albert Hall for The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance. I had the honour of carrying our branch Standard at the festival last year. An honour I have been privileged with twice before with the Margate and Kent County Standards.
Inspired by the success of The Great Exhibition in 1851, The Royal Albert Hall was designed by civil engineers Captain Francis Fowke and Major-General Henry Y. D. Scott of the Royal Engineers and opened by Queen Victoria in 1871. The project was part of a series of permanent facilities to benefit the public driven by Prince Albert. Passing away in 1861 the Prince did not get to see the completion of his ideas but is honoured and remembered by his memorial opposite the ‘Great Hall’.
The first festival was held at the Royal Albert hall in 1923 on 11th November and was entitled ‘In Memory 1914-1918 – A Cenotaph In Sound, in aid of The British Legion, Field Marshal Earl Haig’s Appeal for Ex-Service Men of all Ranks’. It was renamed in 1927 as the ‘Remembrance Festival’ and in 1971 took the name we know today after the British Legion received its Royal Charter. The Queen first attended on 8th November 1952 and has regularly attended ever since.
The festival has evolved over the years from a sing song with remembrance service and Last Post to the extravaganza we know and love today. It was first publicly broadcast on BBC Radio in 1927 and of course is now a firm favourite on the schedule of BBC TV.
In these testing and unusual times, embrace the many different ways in which we find to come together, however far apart we are. Many of us will be worried and overwhelmed but we are all doing our best. Remember, you are not on your own. We are in this together. Embrace this Festival of Togetherness and we will make it through to be together again.
References : – www.royalalberthall.com Wikipedia
“Item of interest” from our Vice Chairman Malcolm Gibbons.
THE BURMA STAR ASSOCIATION ITS PAST AND ITS FUTURE
Having begun life as an informal club after the war, the Burma Star Association was formed in 1951. The following year the Burma Star Relief Fund was established by Trust Deed and registered as a charity under the War Charities’ Act 1940. In 1995 a new charity was formed, with The Burma Star Association combining the membership of the old Association with the benevolence work of relief fund.
Over the years, approximately 56,000Burma Star holders- or holders of the Pacific Star with the “Burma clasp”— joined the Association. Nevertheless, the Association’s benevolence work encompasses all veterans, whether or not they joined the Association, together with their widows or widowers.
The record cards have recently been digitised and will very soon be available to view on our new website www.burmastarmemorial.org
Although the records indicate that Association membership now stands at some 1,700, the actual figures is certainly lower, since the office is often not informed of members’ deaths. In theory, there are 32 Association branches although many of these are inactive, without having formally closed.
Furthermore, over the last number of months has seen the deaths of key Association officers, mostly notably our President, Viscount Slim, and our Vice Chairman Vic Knibb. It was only but two years ago, we reduced the quorum of voting members at the AGM from 20 to 10.
As well as dwindling and increasingly immobile numbers, the Trustees are also extremely conscious of the fact that the Association’s overheads now exceed welfare distributions, a gap that can only widen.
Against that background, the Trustees are extremely keen that the Association should plan in order to close at a time of its own choosing.
VJ Day was commemorated by the Government, under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence, in 2005,2010 and 2015. There is every prospect that there will be commemorations – quite possible for the last time – on 15th August this year. Our proposal is that the Burma Star Association should therefore seize the opportunity to close ‘on a high’, on an anniversary of national significance. In perhaps his most – quoted line, T S Eliot wrote in The Hollow Men: ‘Not with a bang but a whimper.’ A bang would be altogether better…
In accordance with Section 18 — Closure and Winding – up of the Association’s Constitution (2014 Revision) – the Trustees have the authority to close the Association: ‘ When the Trustees consider that the number of existing and potential beneficiaries qualifying for relief in accordance with clause 3 hereof is so small that the separate administration of the Association is no longer justifiable …. and transfer its assets … to another charity … with priority for the benefit of persons who are at the time of the winding-up beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries of the Association.’
In 2005, the Burma Star Memorial Fund was established in order to perpetuate the memory of those who fought so gallantly with the ‘Forgotten Army’ in Burma. As well as creating and maintaining a memorial garden and grove here, at the National Memorial Arboretum, the memorial Fund Steering Group has been working hard on an ambitious campaign to raise funds to support post- graduate students at University College London.
Selection is currently taking place for the first scholar, who will be studying Engineering for International Development, a subject of particular relevance to the Burma Campaign. Future students will seek solutions to the continuing threat posed by epidemic diseases.
Through its carefully – phased Trust Deed, the Memorial Fund is able to assume the Association’s vital benevolence role, thus enabling the transfer of the Association’s remaining funds to the Memorial Fund.
On the 3rd April 2019, after very careful consideration, the Trustees therefore agreed that the Association should close on 15th August 2020, the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day.
Note : Jeremy Archer (A Trustee) put this message to the Annual General Meeting on 11th May 2019 and it was accepted.
The Kohima Epitaph.
When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today
“Item of interest” from our President John Elms.
Medway Queen PS (1)
I first met the Medway Queen as a delicate teenager in 1960 when, with my girl friend Jos’e, later to become my wife and mother of three, we took a trip on her down the river Medway to Sheerness, quite an adventure for a lad who had only ever been on boating lake in Gillingham Park!
Little did I know a good many years later I was to become a life member of her Preservation Society.
The Medway Queen was built at Troon in 1924 specifically for the New Medway Steam Packet Company Ltd. for operation on the River Medway. The ship was ordered in 1923 at a cost of £21,500 for completion in 1924. She was built by the Ailsa Ship Building Company of Troon on the river Clyde using a traditional frame on plate technique. The hull was flush riveted and the internal joints on bulkheads were secured using round head rivets. The engine was also constructed by Ailsa, being a compound diagonal steam engine (with two cylinders working at different steam pressure and set at an angle between vertical and horizontal). A bow rudder was later fitted, in 1936, to better enable the ship to manoeuvre in harbour and the boiler was replaced and converted to oil firing in 1938. The new boiler was constructed by Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Company in Newcastle and installed in Chatham Dockyard.
To be continued
A good crowd were there to witness the Union Flag being lowered from the Flag mast in the now closed RM Depot Deal.
The flag is raised with due ceremony when the clocks go forward and lowered when they go back, this simple but moving ceremony has been carried out over many years by a dedicated band now residing in the depot with good few “outsiders” in support!
Fancy a walk on Normandy Beach? click the link for all the info!
Did you serve in Malta? have you any connection with Malta? then the following may be of interest. (the link is dated 2018 but the report is for 2019)
“TIME MARCHES ON” a project to mark the 30th anniversary of the Bombing of the Royal Marine School of Music in Deal.
If you have served in HM Armed Forces please take a few minutes to complete the survey below. Thank You!
KENT COUNTY AUTUMN DINNER AND DANCE
Full details in the invitation letter below, please contact me for a booking form and menu. Last chance to book 30th August!
firstname.lastname@example.org OR 07885110384 OR 01304 363947
The Poppy Event on Walmer Green Saturday 29th June proved to be a great success as the photo’s go to prove!
Deal Army Cadets assemble the Branch marquee
“Spiv” Brian Walton of Dover Branch.
Downs committee member Lydia (L) with her “assistant”
Branch Vice Chairman John Elms with his fabulous paintings, John kindly donated a percentage of his sales to the Poppy Appeal
Poppy organiser Anne Hill and husband Peter
Err? branch member Lindsay Thacker??
Committee member Sue Andrews sells a cake or two to Sheila Watson
Deal Army Cadets set up camp!
Branch member Rosemary Baker on her book stall
Poppy Tombola with Branch member Kath Jarrett
Members Gwen Boucher and Sylvia Roberts
L-R members Sheila Watson, Jenny Gibbons & Anny Elms
Branch Chairman Edward Barkway trying to look useful!!
Branch Secretary Malcolm Gibbons makes an announcement.
Victory War Time Band in full swing
Royal Marines & Royal Navy Cadet Band marching display
Deal Army Cadets Drill Display
A few more photographs follow….
My thanks to Bob Davies & Janet Barkway for their photographs.
Poppy Event this coming Saturday 29th June see poster below NOW!
See you there for a great day out!
Fancy some excellent food at a good price, good company and a great venue? seek no further see below and book NOW!
Come to our meeting Monday 6th May and book your places with Lydia!
WW1 Walmer Aerodrome Evensong at St Mary’s Church Walmer, 19th May scroll down for full info on previously published poster.
“Cake Maker” Kaitlin does it again!
Committee member Sue Andrews with husband John were very proud Grand parents at a presentation evening last night Thursday 4th April, See Sue’s full report below.
Ruby 99! a deputy Lord lieutenant and Kaitlin.
Harry Chapman, branch Secretary, Kaitlin and Mayor of Swanley.
Our grand daughter Kaitlin was invited to the British Legion Swanley, Crockenhill and Hextable awards presentation last night.
The ceremony was held in Hextable village hall and was attended by the many Poppy sellers, Cadets and other volunteers who were awarded certificates.
We joined our grand daughter and her family for the presentation.
Kaitlin has for the past two years made ‘Poppy’ decorated cupcakes and sold them at her school to raise money for the Poppy appeal. Her school had given the money she raised to the local British Legion branch and told them of her efforts.
As a family we were made really welcome. Kaitlin especially!!! She was met by Harry Chapman branch secretary and he then introduced her to the Mayor of Swanley. They both chatted to her and thanked her for her efforts. The branch Chairperson and Poppy Appeal organiser both took time to chat with her too.
Kaitlin was presented with a certificate for her contribution to the Poppy Appeal and was also given a beautiful British Legion necklace, together with a British Legion Poppy Cake recipe book.!!!
Kaitlin had her photograph taken with Ruby, who is the Branches oldest Poppy seller aged 99!!!
It was a really lovely evening and wonderful to see her being really made a fuss of.
Flag Raising at former RM Depot
This short but meaningful ceremony to raise the Union Flag took place at 11.00 Sunday 31st March, it will fly proudly until the end of British Summer Time 27th October when it will be ceremonially lowered.
Colour Party L-R John Elms, Peter Hall, Dev Jennings and John Hardy.
Bob Davies RM (Far Left)
A good Job done!
My thanks to all for the photographs.
There will be a short ACT OF REMEMBRANCE at the entrance to the RM Rifle Range at Kingsdown, Monday 1st April Muster at 10.00 for 10.20 SCROLL down to see the full story below at……….
“Royal Marines Rifle Range Kingsdown”
See the open invitation poster below and the potted history of our local WW1 Fighter Defence Station that follows.
Walmer Aerodrome closed to flights in early summer of 1919.The last Squadron at Walmer (233 RAF) was disbanded on May 15th 1919, but it took some time to remove planes, personnel and equipment. It had been opened in Spring 1917 as a Royal Naval Air Service aerodrome and was one of the busiest aerodromes in this part of Kent. From an Aerodrome with only a flight of planes, usually six and seventy supporting staff, Walmer was to increase in size to accommodate a full Squadron of up to twenty four planes. The last German Aeroplane raid on England by daylight took place on 22nd August 1917. Three planes took off from Walmer mid-morning, along with planes from Dover and Manston to successfully engage the enemy. After this, German tactics changed with future air attacks on England taking place at night. On the first of April 1918 at the height of World War One the RNAS and the RFC were combined to form the Royal Air Force. RAF Walmer now had a new Fighter Defence Flight with Captain W.M. Alexander as Commanding Officer flying Sopwith Camels. Their primary mission was to engage enemy fighters originating from Belgium and by the 20th October 1918, the Belgium Coast was completely reoccupied by Allied Forces. After the signing of the Armistice there was a reduction in the necessity for air power in this part of the world and although the numbers of planes at Walmer was increased in March 1919 when all 233 Squadron arrived from the Guston Aerodrome the plans were already being considered to withdraw and within three months Walmer Aerodrome was closed. The last plane to fly out of RAF Walmer was the Airco DH.9
RAF Walmer was also open during WW2, but was not used operationally for aircraft.
Royal Marines Rifle Range Kingsdown
Please attend if you can.
Holocaust Day, see poster below for full details.
Our Parade Marshal Joe de Zille will be laying a wreath on behalf of the Downs Branch. Everyone welcome!
The Bingo regulars were out in force for the first session of 2019, the second Wednesday of every month in The Alma function room, everyone is welcome to join in the fun from 2pm to approx 4pm.
Thanks to the “crew” including John Elms, Mary Eldridge, Gwen Boucher and Lydia O’connor for all their help in ensuring everyone has a good time!
FREE trip to France for D Day Veterans!
This is a golden opportunity to visit the Normandy D Day landing sites in France, if YOU are a D Day Veteran OR you know someone that is then please click the link below.
World War One lost medal “miracle”
Click the link to read this amazing story!
Thursday 6th December at the RMA Club saw 33 members and friends tucking into a superb lunch prepared by Sue and her “girls” the tables were beautifully decorated to put us all into the true Christmas spirit.
Vice Chairman John Elms warmly thanked Sue and her staff for the wonderful meal and prompt friendly service.
Secretary Malcolm Gibbons proposed the toast to Absent Friends.
Chairman Edward Barkway warmly thanked John and Lydia O’Connor for organising the lunch and Lydia for running the raffle, he welcomed all present and wished each and everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year.
Our thanks to Bob Davies for his lovely photographs.
Don’t forget the Christmas Raffle with buffet on Wednesday 12th December in the function room of the Alma Pub at 18.30 for 19.00 tickets just 50p a go, over 50 prizes!
IMPORTANT! December’s Monthly Bingo (2nd Wed of every month) is on Wednesday 19th December 14.00 to 16.00 NOT Wed 12th.
Just a few of the lucky “winners” at last months games organised by Gwen Boucher tea maker & washer upper’er, Mary Eldridge card checker and dogs body with John Elms money taker, card issuer and all round good egg approaching Molly the caller!
Display at Deal Town Hall
A very interesting display at Deal Town Hall attracted a steady flow of visitors to see the exhibits arranged by Events Manager Jo Harper which included some 150 post cards written by pupils from Sandown School in memory of all WW1 soldiers.
Hosting the event and helping Jo to set up were members John & Anny Elms, Mary Eldridge and Lydia O’Connor.
Our Downs Branch RBL Poppy man welcomed the visitors.
The crosses supplied by Gwen have pictures of just some of the men from Deal & Walmer who died in the Great War.
Some very touching sentiments written by the pupils of Sandown School.
A fascinating history of the 1500 Belgian refugees who stayed in Deal during WW1 researched by Suzanne Green displayed along the LH wall.
Our magnificent Book of Remembrance inscribed and donated by John Elms in 2015 attracted a good deal of interest.
Mmmm! they look very tasty, well done and thank you Kaitlin.
(Scroll for three more new pictures)
A small part of the Poppy display in Kingsdown Church.
Well done “Bloody Mary’s” wine bar for flying this flag.
St Andrew’s Church West St Deal
Extend an open invitation to a short service at this lovely old church this Saturday10th November at 7.30pm where you are invited to lay flowers and tributes in memory of the end of WW1 at their War Memorial within the church.
The RBL Book of Remembrance that John Elms inscribed and presented to the branch will be re-blessed.
PARKING There is FREE parking on the Freedown for the very short Service at 09.00 on Sunday 11th November ONLY.
Please scroll for the poster below the poem.
Very Special Poem to Masheeda from her Sister-in-Law.
Sq. Leader Anthony Downing RIP 23 Dec 2011 aged 34 Died of wounds from an IED in Afganistan.
Programme from Walmer Parish Council, poster below.
Please support this concert if you possibly can as the organisers are very kindly donating some of the proceeds to our local Legion. Full info below!
Quick Reminder to ALL branch Members there is an open meeting Monday 24th 19.30 @ The Alma Pub in Deal, please come along and have your say!
This thought provoking image entitled “There but not There” was spotted by Bob Davies at the Military Odyssey Show at the Kent County Show Ground.
BINGO! These regular 2nd Wednesday of every month sessions held in the function room of the Alma Pub are proving very popular with daytime players!
Just a few of the regular 30 or so that come along, who at this session enjoyed a surprise buffet kindly donated anomalously, so many thanks indeed to whoever you are!
Many thanks to the organising crew, Mary, Gwen, Lydia & John.
Three pictures of the stalwarts manning the RBL Downs table at Deal Hospital Fete, well done to you all for “flying the flag”
Branch members will be manning a stall at Deal Hospital Fete this afternoon 4th August so please come along and say “hello” we will be very pleased to see you!
Canadian Armed Forces in Folkestone see poster below
Clean plates all round!
Thirty three Downs Branch members and friends enjoyed a very convivial lunch at the RMA Club Thursday 21st June, our President “Aussie” Walker and his wife June and Dover White Cliffs Branch members Chris and Brian Walton were warmly welcomed by chairman Edward Barkway.
The very generous and tasty two course meal with coffee and mints was prepared and served by Sue Cornish and her “girls” at an extremely reasonable cost of £12. no wonder there were “clean plates all round”
The raffle raised £88 so many thanks indeed to all who donated the prizes, thanks also to Lydia and Rosemary for selling the tickets, Aussie managing to draw out his own ticket! and Edward winning a pink Teddy Bear (no comments please!)
Many thanks to everyone that made the day possible, especially to Liz Larner and Lydia O’Connor that recorded the sales and payments and to John Elms for booking the venue.
A generous well deserved collection being presented by John to Sue and her staff not only for looking after us so well but also for the splendid table decorations, many thanks from us all!
When a vinyl record was mysteriously handed into the RAF Association’s Flowerdown House hotel in Weston-super-Mare, we didn’t expect to discover such a rare find: A 73-year-old wartime recording made by a serviceman to his wife for their first wedding anniversary. (see below picture)
Contact between the serviceman, identified as Rick, and his wife during the Second World War, likely would have been limited, and the recording demonstrates just one way families kept in touch.
To hear Rick’s message click the “start button” below..
…they didn’t have ecards or Facetime then!!
Many Thanks to member Brian Fawcett for sending me this. Edward
A poignant reminder kindly submitted by member Bob Davies.
Are you ex WRAC?
Mrs Mary Clark would love to hear from you, please contact her directly at email@example.com
Many Thanks, Edward
Free Holidays for WW2 Veterans!
LIBOR TOURS OF REMEMBRANCE
Remembrance Travel is trying to find all surviving veterans of WWII to participate in funded LIBOR Tours of Remembrance to where they served.
The Royal British Legion has been running LIBOR funded tours for Normandy veterans for the past four years and thanks to additional LIBOR funding is now able to widen the tours to all veterans of WWII.
The Treasury are enabling a series of tours which are being funded by the LIBOR fines, allowing a WWII veteran to return and pay their respects to fallen comrades. In addition, a family member and a carer would be able to accompany the veteran to support and share the experience.
The tours will take place from spring to autumn as numbers demand and will give WWII veterans – now mostly in their 90s – the chance to meet up with fellow veterans, visit significant battlefield sites, cemeteries and memorials. The tours will be led by an official Royal British Legion guide and the tours will include:
- Overnight B&B accommodation pre and post tour (as required)
- Accommodation on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis during the tour
- Air, rail, ferry or executive coach travel as per the itinerary
- Visits to war memorials, cemeteries and significant sites
- Entrance fees
- Up to £50 per person allowance for travel to and from the tour departure point
Tours do not include lunches, travel insurance and items of a personal nature.
These tours are also open to organisations and associations. If there is a group of 10 veterans (30 passengers) or more, we will operate a coach at no charge from a local departure point to join an existing tour or operate a separate tour. Please note the group would not qualify for the £50.00 travel allowance.
There is no database of veterans from WWII who are still alive today, therefore if you are a veteran or know of a veteran who would like to benefit from these tours, please contact us on 01473 660800 to register your interest or download the registration form and send it to Remembrance Travel, C/O Arena Travel, 2 Betts Ave, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP5 3RH.
CALL 01473 660800 TO REGISTER YOUR INTEREST
This annual event to raise the Union Flag on the flagpole situated in front of the former Officers Mess in the South barracks housing estate took place to-day Sunday 25th March at 1100hrs. Members of the Deal RMA Branch were on parade and a bugler was in attendance to sound the calls. This short ceremony reminds all who live on the estate of the long Royal Marine history of where they live.
A few of the residents ready to witness the event
Flag raising crew at the “ready”
Royal Marine Bugler calls for the colour party
Colour Party to attention
The Union Flag is ceremoniously raised.
Colour Party respond
The flag proudly flying outside the former Officers Mess.
Photo shoot of those in proud attendance at this special occasion.
It is with great sadness we announce the passing last Sunday 18th May of Rev Peggy Fishlock aged 89.
Peggy was a long time member and Padre of the Downs Branch and was loved and respected by us all.
Funeral 10th April 2.00pm at Barham Crematorium. Photo from Bob Davies.
If you know of a WW2 Veteran please tell them about the info below!
Drumhead Service September 2018
(Information Posted 30th January 2018)
For Downs Branch RBL Members ONLY!
Booking through Mary ONLY at firstname.lastname@example.org OR 01304 382235.
Provisional booking NOW please, confirmation will announced in June / July.
Transport depending on numbers interested may be arranged.
Please confirm if you have a wheelchair or a walking frame etc or need assistance.
Details on the poster below.
Our next Monthly Branch meeting is on Monday 5th February bookings will be taken then on a “first come first served” basis. Thank You.
Kent County Conference 20th January 2018
Arrival of the Colour Party and Branch Standards
Roll of Honour and Exhortation
Prayers from our County Padre Cannon Paul Kerr
L -R Tony West BEM County Membership & Secretary, Richard Cast Chairman, Leyland Ridings MBE President, Terry Whittles National Chairman, Stephan Gatward FAAT Treasurer & Richard Graham Vice Chairman
Members and Branch Delegates, Mary & Aussie for Downs Branch
Richard Cast investing Richard Graham as the new County Chairman.
Richard Graham Kent RBL County Chairman.
Mary Eldridge with her well deserved County Vice President Award
Joe DeZille Standard Bearers Competition Runner Up (again!) Certificate and shield.
Many worthy winners with their awards
Richard Cast (centre) presenting a new trophy in memory of his late wife Pauline with daughter Sammie Cast, The Pauline Cast Trophy was presented to the County by Richard Cast as an award for Branch Community Support (BCS). It will be presented each year to the Best BCS Branch, with the Swanley, Crockenhill and Hextable Branch being the first winners.
National Chairman Terry Whittles inspects the Standards
Standard Bearers raring to go!