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luncheon. Guests this year were from Wirral Borough Council to thank them for all their efforts in organising the veterans’ events at both Blackpool and Birkenhead. We were also joined by members of the Wirral branch of the WRAC Association, a pleasure to have their company.


by John Fairbanks It was great to see the 1st Battalion safely back from Iraq. It was even better to see them marching proudly through Chester to a truly excellent reception from the public. The weather was not good but, at the Cathedral Saluting Base, many an ageing heart beat faster on hearing the Regimental March once again and seeing the troops swing proudly by. We are all now looking forward to an invitation to Catterick in order to get acquainted with members of the Battalion. In early June we held a D-Day party: it was a well attended evening and the entertainment was first class. Members who were lucky enough to be there had a truly wonderful evening during which they witnessed a very rare sight involving an ex-RSM, a ventriloquist and a puppy called Shirley. The laws of libel make it dangerous to make further comment except to say roll on the repeat performance!!! The 4th of July was celebrated in style and so many members turned up in fancy dress it looked like a remake of “Blazing Saddles”! Indeed, Dan Bly, our American member, confessed to feeling quite homesick! Dave and Kath Beech worked wonders in cooking and serving supper and Iggy kept the supplies of drink flowing with his usual efficiency.

The Branch Annual Dinner was a sell-out. The tickets vanished extremely quickly and the fifty-two lucky people who sat down enjoyed a marvellous meal, copious amounts of Regimental Wine and good company. Even the speeches were well received, not surprising seeing that the longest one lasted just 3 minutes! It was a truly memorable evening and one which we hope to repeat in the near future. There was also a large attendance in the Regimental Club after the Remembrance Day Parade and Service. The numbers seeking warmth and shelter from the atrocious weather were swelled by the presence of several members of the 1st Battalion led by the Commanding Officer, Lt Col Hadfield and RSM Gough. Thanks to miracles performed by Henry Dodds (who managed to feed everyone) and Alan Jones (who made sure there was an adequate supply of liquid warmth readily available), everyone went home warmed and happy. We were privileged to be able to entertain the men and some families from the 1st Battalion and were delighted with the interest shown by them in the activities of the CRA. We held another raffle in aid of

140 October 2009

St Dunstan’s which raised £110. Judging by the success of the occasion, it is evident that the Regimental family is alive, well and thriving. Long may it do so! The pace of life didn’t slow as, in early December, we had the Annual Christmas Draw, followed the next weekend by Christmas Lunch and, finally, just before Christmas, we enjoyed a Festive Fun Night with mulled wine and home made mince pies. Once again, we sang Christmas Carols to the accompaniment of a brass trio led by Eddie Pickering (he says two of them were in the 22nd and two were in the RTR!) and then enjoyed a quiz and some dancing before the parting of the ways until the New Year.

At the Branch AGM in the middle of January, we elected a new Chairman, Andre Kujawinski, and a new Vice Chairman, Mike Smith, both bringing much needed younger blood to the committee; Terry Finlay and Denis Rochell also volunteered to serve. Following the AGM, we held a social and invited a representative from St Dunstan’s to receive a cheque for over £1400 which had been raised from all corners of the Branch, from ladies knitting Easter Chicks and Christmas Snowmen to Henry Dodd’s ability to conjure up a raffle at short notice whenever there were enough people on the premises.

Ellesmere Port

by Gordon Kipps Our major event this period was the Service of Commemoration at the plinth at the Boat Museum and the Regimental Memorial in Whitby Park on 13 July which was attended by some eighty CRA members and eight branch Standards. Thanks, also, to Captain Rick Tate of The Church Army who officiated and for his moving words of address and to bugler Bill Osbourne for a faultless rendering of The Last Post; in addition, we were grateful to the Mayor and Mayoress of Ellesmere Port and we were particularly pleased to see the family of the late Bob Davies. It was due to the donation made to the branch in Bob’s memory that we were able to re-furbish the memorial in Whitby Park. Once the long hot summer had passed (!), we assembled in the Town Centre to watch the Freedom of the Borough being given to The Mercian Regiment. The sight of the 1st Battalion parading brought a great sense of pride to us all. The townspeople showed overwhelming support by lining the route of the march and packing the Civic Centre to capacity to witness the march past. The Branch was well represented and, after the ceremony, we adjourned to the Civic Hall for the grand Reception. There we all had the privilege of mixing with and talking to the soldiers. One thing that impressed me was a conversation I had with a young soldier whilst outside having a “gasper” break.

When I asked him why he insisted on calling me “sir”, he replied “Because you are older than me and I see from your badge that you are ex-Cheshire”. This show of respect speaks volumes for the standards instilled in our soldiers and it is a pity that their civilian counterparts cannot follow suit.

The weather for Remembrance Sunday was typical of what we have endured all year. Once again the Branch was well represented and our Standard Bearer, Tom Palmer, did a sterling “Carry” despite the atrocious conditions. After the Church Service, we were invited to Stanney Lane TA Centre for lunch and just a little beverage. Christmas was celebrated in style with 50 of us sitting down to dinner followed by entertainment from a local star, Steve Corcoran. At the AGM, the committee was re-elected unopposed and unanimously. I wonder why that was?


by Frank Worrall There was a full coach for the excursion to Chester on 14 June. About half the members and wives enjoyed an excellent lunch at the Regimental Club while the rest opted to find a café or restaurant in town (CRA Sub- editor’s comment: “Shame”). It was a fine day and the old city was crowded with many visitors of all nationalities, especially the Japanese, festooned as always with the latest art of camera technology. The small group of members I was with decided to pay a visit to the large indoor market; the military badge and regalia shop was of particular interest. Afterwards a visit to the military museum and a walk to the river and the park completed a very enjoyable day.

The branch was well represented at the Suez Reunion; we all thought it was brilliant and the entertainment first class. One of the girl singers took a fancy to one of our members who shall remain anonymous but whose comment was “There’s life in the old dog yet”. At the beginning of August, we were invited to the St Julien Service at St George’s Church, Stockport, but, unfortunately, only two members were able to go. Andy Wood carried our Branch Standard, one of seven on parade. Afterwards, we enjoyed a superb lunch: well done and thank you, Stockport Branch. One Saturday in the middle of the month, fourteen members had a most enjoyable day at the National Memorial Arboretum followed by a visit to Lichfield: happy memories for those who served there. The East Cheshire Reunion on 25 October proved to be a very good night. Many old friendships were renewed and our oldest member, 92 year old Jack Downing, was reunited with an old pal from the 7th Battalion whom he hadn’t seen for many years. The Corps of Drums of the 1st Battalion gave an excellent display that

The Mercian Eagle

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