Bob Davies writes;
We start the New Year by sadly reporting the crossing of the bar of two former Royal Marines who had made their home in our town. Unfortunately neither were members of our Branch, but both will be known to many who read this magazine.
James Joseph Hogan, but always known as ‘Mick’ because of his Irish roots, passed away on 10 December 2018 aged 80. He served for nine years from the age of twenty and his postings included Aden, Singapore and Borneo. The Branch paid their respects by providing a Guard of Honour and Dusty paraded our Standard.
We have also marked the passing of Gordon Edward Ward, known as ‘Ernie’ who died on 20 January aged 83. Ernie was a former Bandmaster who had served at Deal. Many of our members attended his funeral and our Standard was again present. A wake was held in the club.
We send our condolences to their families and say to both, ‘Rest in peace Royal, your duty’s done’.
January has been the month for the Branch to carry out the important duty of turning the page in the Book of Remembrance kept on display in the foyer of Deal War Memorial Hospital. This book records all those servicemen from the district who lost their lives during WW2. Members are requested to check the noticeboard in the club for the months in 2019 during which this duty is performed and contact Dusty for the date, as more support is needed to keep this twice yearly act continuing.
The annual Sgts’ Mess Pantomime completed its run of twelve shows on Saturday 19 January. As usual every performance in the Astor Theatre was packed out and this year raised the magnificent sum of £27,400 for charity. At the end of the last night of ‘Bonjur Bonjur’ our Chairman Paul Richardson, who played the part of ‘La Trine’, presented a cheque for £10,000 to Mr Jonathan Ball, the CE of the RM Charity. Another cheque for £500 was presented to the Corps RSM David Mason towards the fund for the new RM Museum. Also present that night were Lt Col Jon Ridley PDM RM, Lt Col Jason Burcham RM, WO1 Simon Tripp and WO2 Ian Davies MBE RM.
On Saturday 26 January a further special evening took place in the club to present cheques to a large number of local good causes, associations and Cadet Units. Can Brian Short come up with another idea for a pantomime next year? Can he recruit another ‘Corps de Ballet’? We certainly hope so!
The following day the club held the annual ‘Burns Lunch’, always held on the nearest Sunday to his birthday on 25 January. A piper summoned the thirty-one members attending to take their seats before the haggis was piped in, carried on a silver platter by our stewardess Sue. Graham Dear gave another dramatic address before plunging the knife into the ‘great chieftain o’ the pudding race’. The excellent three-course meal was the traditional Scottish fare with a glass of scotch to wash it down, and coffee and mints to finish. Our thanks go to all involved for a splendid afternoon.
Bob represented the Branch at the annual Operation Fuller service at 1400hrs on Tuesday 12 February, held at their superb memorial on the seafront in Dover. Ron Williams from the Isle of Thanet Branch paraded their Standard alongside five other Regimental Standards. More commonly known as ‘The Channel Dash’ it remembers this day in 1942 when as part of a Tri-Service operation eighteen young airmen flew in six Fairey Swordfish aircraft from RAF Manston here in Kent, in an attempt to stop a well protected German battle fleet from making a ‘Dash’ through the Channel from Brest to their home ports in Germany. The attempt was unsuccessful, all the aircraft where shot down and only five of the airmen were rescued from the channel waters. Their leader, Lt Commander Eugene Esmond, was granted a Posthumous VC. A total of 147 servicemen were lost that day. On completion of the event a buffet reception was held in the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club.
We take this opportunity at the beginning of a new year of Branch attendances to send our thanks, particularly to our regular Standard Bearer, ‘Dusty’ Miller for his commitment to the Branch in carrying out this duty, but also to his reliefs over several years, Jimmy Green, ‘Timber’ Wood and Gerry Bowers.
Finally we report that Steve Byrne one of our long- standing and popular social members passed away on 17 February aged 68 after a long illness bravely borne. We send our condolences to Sue and son Andrew.