Bob Davies writes:
Another busy period for the Branch, keeping our Association and Corps regularly in the public eye.
Our first attendance was the annual Merchant Navy (MN) Day service held in Dover town hall on 1 September. Fifteen Association Standards were on parade with our Branch Standard carried by ‘Dusty’ and the GBA Standard by Jimmy. Light refreshments were served after the service before all attending reassembled at the MN Memorial on the seafront where a wreath laying ceremony took place. This memorial remembers the 35,000 merchant seamen who lost their lives during WW2.
The Battle of Britain was remembered on 15 September with a service at the War Memorial in Sandwich. This day was chosen as it was the day when the Battle had reached its climax, and after heavy losses convinced the Luftwaffe that they could not achieve the air supremacy they needed for an invasion to take place. Five Association Standards were on parade with former RM Albert Tweedle carrying the Canterbury RBL Standard. Bob attended to represent the Branch, and on completion of the event a drinks reception was held in the Guildhall.
The 28th Anniversary service of the day in 1989 when the IRA murdered eleven talented young musicians at the RM School of Music in Deal took place in the early morning of 22 September. Musicians from the Portsmouth Royal Band attended in the Garden of Remembrance to play the music and supplied the two Buglers for the ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’. Many members, friends and families of those lost that terrible day were present. Lt. Col Nick Grace OBE RM read out the Roll of Honour, and wreaths were laid, including one by the Corps Bandmaster WO1 Simon Tripp RM and the Corps RSM, WO1 (RSM) Phil Gilby MBE RM on behalf of the serving Corps. Deal’s Mayor laid a wreath on behalf of the town and the Branch wreath was laid by our chairman Paul ‘Riggo’ Richardson. After the service, coffee, tea and bacon rolls were available in the Club from where the Memorial Bandstand can be seen on Walmer Green and where floral tributes had been laid above the nameplates. We Will Always Remember Them.
Our AGM was held on 25 September, chaired by our President, Col David Storrie which confirmed that the Branch is doing well with seven new members joining in the past 12 months. The club membership also continues to grow. All management posts have been filled, with our new Secretary, Archie Houston, taking over from ‘Pastie’Cornish.
On the evening of 9 October, Bob represented the Branch at Deal Town Hall where a short ceremony took place with our Mayor signing the Armed Forces Covenant on behalf of the town council. This was counter signed by Captain Paul Atkins from the Kent Army Cadet Force. A reception was held on completion.
A service of commemoration was held in St Andrew’s Church on Saturday 21 October to mark Trafalgar Day. This yearly service is organised by our local Branch of the Association of Men of Kent and Kentish Men. This event was well attended by Branch and club members with our two Standards, Branch and GBA paraded by ‘Dusty’ and Jimmy once again. Bill Howie acted as the Parade Marshall, with Bob laying a wreath on behalf of the Branch. Owing to the inclement weather wreaths were laid at the Altar and not as usual at the tombstone of Lord Nelson’s favourite officer Captain Edward Parker who was wounded in battle off Boulogne and died in Deal in 1801. Also attending this popular service was the Deputy Lord Lt of Kent, Brigadier John Meardon DL. Retd. A buffet reception was held afterwards in the club and we thank our stewardess Sue for another excellent spread.
We now look forward to our Corps Birthday Dinner which we will report on next time.