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Branch Standard Bearer. He was Orderly Room Sergeant at the Worcestershire Regiment Depot, Norton Barracks, and he served on D-Day. He writes an ex-Service column for the Coventry and Bedworth Echo, he is Vice Chairman of Coventry’s No 4 Branch of The Royal British Legion and he is much involved in all that is ex-Service in Coventry. We congratulate him on his tireless work for the Regiment in particular and for the Services in general. Can anyone match or beat Peter’s amazing and commendable record?

It is extremely difficult to recruit new younger members to our ex-service Association and Royal British Legion branches in the city of which there are 24. There are now fewer ex-servicemen from World War II and, in particular Burma Star veterans, and we appeal to the former National Servicemen to come forward to ensure continuity of comradeship. Relatives of deceased ex-servicemen in Coventry, following cremation, have expressed thanks to me and Geoff Wells (Chairman, Coventry REME branch) for having a Veterans Plot at the City Crematorium at which ashes may be laid. Poppy Wreaths are also laid by Royal British Legion branches. Coventry Standard Bearers were on stage for the Finale of the St George’s Day concert at the Belgrade Theatre; we had a total of twelve and the annual concert is produced by Brian Walker, a National Service veteran who served in REME. Another is planned during the November Remembrance week. Standards will be on parade on 8th November at the Coventry Memorial Park and at the Holy Trinity Church on 11th November. Bedworth will see the annual parade and service, the second largest in the Country after the London Cenotaph. Ex-service Standards and ex-service personnel countrywide attend the Bedworth ceremony.

Sad to relate, we cannot recruit new members in the branch but our small number will retain our identity as long as is possible. We cannot understand why the present day servicemen will not take an interest in Regimental Association branches following completion of service: comradeship is the password! The branch was represented at the annual Crich Memorial and our attendance was worth the 80 mile round trip. It is pleasing to learn The Mercian Regiment will uphold this tradition and organise the ceremony. We regret to record the passing of two former Worcestershire Regiment veterans: Stan Mannion, a member of our branch, died in December and Coventry Standard Bearers presented a Guard of Honour at his funeral with the cortège led into the Church by our Standard. Tom Fellows served in The Worcestershire Regiment and the Royal Military Police from 1938 to 1954. His funeral took place at West Bromwich and Jim Ramsey BEM, Chairman of the Coventry branch RMP, attended with Standard representing both service

The Mercian Eagle

units. With Winter upon us, best wishes are conveyed to our serving Regiment and to members of all our ex-service Association branches.


We start these notes with the sad news that two stalwart members of the Branch recently passed away - Victory (Vic) Williams and George Wright; both were long-serving comrades who died within days of each other. Vic was a gentleman and a man of quiet disposition behind which lay a strong and independent character. George, fondly known as Little George, was a bundle of energy and he will be remembered for his running of our monthly coffee morning raffles and his endurance on many parades and marches. Both will be sadly missed by their friends at the Branch and our sincere condolences go to their families.

At the Branch AGM, the Committee members were again re-elected en bloc so they must be doing something right - well, that’s what they like to think! We continue to grow in strength with our membership now standing at 39 members. It must be said, however, that some of our older members and a couple of the younger ones are on sick parade. Our best wishes go to John (Les) Baghurst who, at 96, is still soldiering on: we hope he recovers quickly from his ailments. Two younger members both suffered self- induced injuries. In Ronnie Smith, our Wee Scotsman, we have a contender for “Dancing on Ice” but he must learn to use an ice rink as his escapade of skating on the pavement led to a fractured ankle. Tanky Harrison decided to go exploring in the snow, slipped and fell onto a stone block which resulted in cracked ribs, earning himself the new nickname of “Don’t make me laugh it hurts Harrison”. In typical military fashion, they received little sympathy from their so-called “friends”; did they expect anything less? Thankfully, they are both on the mend and, by the time these notes are published, should be ready for their annual combat fitness test! The Branch attended a number of parades - Crich Pilgrimage in July, Remembrance Sunday at Soldiers’ Corner on 11 November 2008 and the Remembrance Parade held at Chaddesden Park by local schools. Martyn Roe, Branch Standard Bearer, has certainly earned his pay this year having represented the Branch at many events. The Derby Branch again attended and enjoyed the Crich Buffet Supper at Foresters House, thirty five members and their ladies making the journey. We gathered on Crich Sunday at lunchtime at our watering hole, “The Sherwood Forester” pub, for a buffet lunch, a raffle, and a few jars before proceeding to Crich. Numbers attending our annual Coffee Morning were a little down on previous years but we still managed to make a good return from the Raffle and Tombola. The Mayor of

Derby, Councillor Barbara Jackson, visited and spent some time talking to members and visitors. We would like to thank our volunteers, Brian Smith and his wife Lesley, Ivan Gascoigne and his wife Ronnie, Wendy Ward, Martyn Roe and Ina, wife of the late George Wright, for organising this very pleasant event.

The highlight of the year must be the Branch Annual Dinner, held this year at a new venue. With an attendance of 88 persons this surely reflects the success of the Branch. Our guest of honour was Maj Paul Gilby from the 2nd Battalion. He kindly agreed to give a short talk about the Battalion and it was gratifying to hear how the support offered by the Regimental Association was appreciated by the serving soldiers. Maj Desmond Page, former Company Commander C Company 3 WFR, made the journey from far flung Lincolnshire to attend and meet old comrades. Also, a presentation was made to Ronnie Smith who has been Secretary of the Branch for 24 years: he was taken completely by surprise when called forward to receive a gift from the Branch of a decanter and six glasses, suitably inscribed with the Regimental Badge, as a token of appreciation for his hard work and dedication to the Branch and Association. Maj Gilby made the presentation and it must be the first time Ronnie has been lost for words. He was observed later “introducing” the glasses to his favourite tipple, an amber coloured liquid called Whisky! Keeping secret the presentation from Ronnie would have gained applause from the planners of the D-Day Landings! We thank George Godfrey for his endeavours in obtaining the gift. The Dinner was extremely well organised due to the efforts of Tony Cooper and Gordon Carran. Tony must have lost count how many times he changed the seating plan! Well done, Tony; we look forward to taking advantage of your excellent organisational skills for the 2009 Dinner. Ronnie Smith carried out his annual duty of collecting, cleaning and arranging the Branch silver. This year, for the first time, we had our own place mats courtesy of Roy Crump and his son Darren. The place mats, coupled with the silver, really set off the tables and gained congratulatory comments from Maj Gilby. Members showed their generosity in providing numerous prizes for the raffle. Brian Smith took the lead in running the raffle helped by our Treasurer John Pottinger.

We extend our thanks to our ladies who give such excellent support to their husbands and the Branch. Henry Scott, another long-serving member, continues to make the journey up from Surrey to attend our monthly meetings and parades. Henry, thank you for your dedication. Last, but not least, we thank Andy McDougall and the staff at RHQ Foresters House for their assistance during the past year. The Derby Branch

October 2009 145

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