Royal Marines Association North Devon


Articles published in the Globe and Laurel 2017 - most recent first.








John Peel writes:  It is firstly my sad duty to report the passing of to of our Veterans – Derek Killner and Bill Fowler. Two years ago on one of his shopping trips to Tesco’s, Ilfracombe he met Royal Marines Association members who were out collecting for Royal Marine Charities.  Like any Royal he saw the cap badge and he stopped to chat.  Although Derek said he was OK contact details were exchanged.  Derek never asked for anything nor wanted any help – a typical Bootneck “I can do it” attitude. With no known family and few friends the word went out to give Derek the send off any Royal would hope for.  This happened with 17 RMA members including from 1 from Plymouth, Tavistock and Bude and 14 serving personnel from RMB Chivenor attending. His small group of friends were majorly impressed with the turnout from the Corps.  Bill Fowler was a branch member for many years but as ill health took over he found it difficult to attend but still requested the branch newsletter.  Eventually he moved into Residential Care in Minehead where the Taunton Branch got in touch.  Sadly he passed away at the end of September and his NOK didn’t get in touch until the day before his funeral.  However, he had requested a quiet none military funeral.  Our thoughts are with his family.

On return from annual leave in September the CLR WO&SNCO’s Mess held their annual Beerfest.  6 branch members attended a brilliant day and were made very welcome. They indulged in all the beer and cider tasting, BBQ, Bands and an engraved keepsake tankard, which got good use on the day.


We have held 2 branch meetings since the last issue which, as usual, were well attended.  Sodexo have now provided the branch with a “Specials” menu – so we have more variety to choose from for our pre-meeting supper.  At the September meeting our Chairman talked about his time working in the Offshore Diving Industry.  The October meeting was held as a social evening.  The raffles, as usual, were well supported.


The main event of September was, of course, the Reunion at CTC.  The branch had 14 members attending and it the feedback was very positive regarding the change of format.  It was disappointing not to have had the Shooting Competition but this was out of the control of the RMA.  Hopefully this will be reinstated next year.  However the Branch Quiz did go ahead and at last after 4 years as runners up North Devon ran out victors.  I must say our main adversaries, Exeter Branch, succumbed to the overwhelming pressure of not wanting to be beaten and didn’t enter a team this year.  A great event, great company, great band concert, outstanding participation by the RM Cadets and excellent parade on the Sunday.


Back in North Devon we were invited to a village fete in Braunton to honour the 100th birthday of Leonard Cheshire (if he had still be alive).  Although not a military style event it was good to be represented and be able to talk to those who wanted to know about the RMA and the RM Charities.  Not wanting to miss an opportunity we had our stand and “gizzits” available and collected £32.31 on the day with many of the youngsters running around the site with Commando Green Berets on.  It is always good to be able to support local Community Events like this.


Late September a combined team of RMA and CLR ranks provided marshalling for the annual Barnstaple Marathon.  For this year’s event the route was changed with the airfield section being from mile 7 or 8 rather than 17 or 18.  Still it is a lonely part of the course running around a windswept airfield with no spectators.  However, there were many comments about the support the marshalling teams gave and the Ladies at the Water Station.  The cheque presentation to CLR in support of the Memorial Garden and Branch to support the work we do was made the following week with the announcement of next year’s event.


The last activity of September was to relocate the branch stand and exercise bike to B&M Homestore, Barnstaple to fulfil a request to set up a challenge for the staff.  The challenge was a combined effort of staff and RMA branch members taking turns to cycle.  The virtual route was the distance around B&M stores in North Devon.  A total of 220km was covered in the 7 hours with £521.99 being collected from the shoppers.  A great event with feedback from the staff they want to do it all again.  It is hoped to make this an annual event and again with the RMA Charity tins on the cheque outs maintains a valuable link with businesses and the public here in North Devon.


The branch was represented at the Corps Birthday Dinner held in the WO & SNCO’s Mess at RMB Chivenor.  This was a combined Mess event with around 170 Officers, WO’s & SNCO’s who enjoyed Mess Beatings, an excellent dinner and, of course, liberal liquid refreshments with considerable Port fines. The Convening Order was ably recited from memory but the young Captain RM was “Port Find” for point his musket at the CO! It is a privilege for branch members to be included in the invitations and underpins the unique relationship between the serving Corps here in North Devon and the RMA.


Coming up is our Christmas Appeal for RM Charities, Remembrance at RMB Chivenor, Mess Ball and Branch Party – so busy couple of months ahead.


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John Peel writes:  Firstly it is my sad duty to report the passing of Evelyn Coates on the 3rd July.  Evelyn had been unwell for quite a while but always put a brave face on it.  Unable to attend many branch meetings Evelyn still made the effort to do what she could and her last branch outing was to attend the Seniors Post Christmas Lunch.  Her funeral was held on the 17th July at Barnstaple Crematorium where there was an Honour Guard of RMA and serving RM’s and the standard paraded to give Evelyn the send off she deserved, a fitting tribute to a lovely lady and founder member of the branch.  Our thoughts are with Cliff and Jennifer and the family at this sad time.


The branch has been very active during July.  First up was our annual trip to Sainsbury’s for the week.  Manning 4 Watt bikes over 12.5 hours a day for 5 days with support of 120 ranks from CLR working 3 – 4 hour shifts, 5 ranks for 11ATTRM and 35 ranks from the branch we cycled around 8000km and raised £6224 for The RMC.  An outstanding effort by all and a massive thanks to Sainsbury’s again for allowing us to take over their foyer for the week – and we get to do it all again next year!


Joiners and Leavers in the WO&SNCO’s Mess was held on the 12th July. On the Friday the branch held it’s annual BBQ at the Water Sports Centre on the airfield.  35 members attended this outdoor evening.  Col Shearsby was I/C and he also ran the £1 bar.  There was plenty of scran and the weather stayed dry.  As usual the Chairman stole a few minutes of everyone’s time to give his report and as usual he was barracked from start to finish.  However, taking the hint he handed over to Roli who did some field craft demos and soon all the important information the Chair had tried to get over was forgotten.  An excellent uptake on the raffle with £95 raised for the branch.


Having supported Commando Logs with their contribution to the Global Challenge the word spread to 24 Cdo Royal Engineers who wanted similar help with their days on the 19th and 20th July.  So mustering our resident piper, in fact two pipers we set up in Barnstaple and did a couple of up and downs of the High Street as well as piping the runners to the finish.  On the 20th we went out to Braunton to do the same thing and then dashed back into Barnstaple where there was rumours of the attendance of a VIP.  On arrival we were advised that HRH Prince Charles and Camilla, were visiting the Pannier Market.  On hearing the pipes their press secretary thought it would be good to pipe a welcome to the Prince. Although he didn’t know it wasn’t planned, the Prince seemed very please to have such a welcome. Another successful 2 days with around £440 raised for The RMC.


On the 22nd July a table of 10 enjoyed the hospitality of SNCO’s Mess Summer Ball, a Latin night.  No not togas but sombreros and maracas.  A great night with good food and bucket of drinks and great music.


On the 29th and 30th it was the turn of 11 ATTRM, Instow to host a Families Day and support the local community Fun Day on the beach.  The branch was asked to attend and as usual supporting all our serving people in North Deon we didn’t hesitate.  On the Saturday there were displays on base.  We had our branch stand and RMA shop. At 1700 the activities ceased and the BBQ started.  There was a live band and a very cheap bar.  We continued with our stand and the shop in the hope that as more beer was consumed more people would donate or spend at the shop.  This seemed to work quite well, particularly when it started raining and everyone can under cover.  On the Sunday the weather cleared nicely for us to set up on the beach for the Community Day.  Neither day was specifically for fund raising, but buckets were available and as such we raised £170 for RM Charities and the shop took £296.


On 11th August the branch held it’s meeting in Bideford Rugby Club where 35 members enjoyed a buffet followed by a few games - a quiz and a game of bingo.  The raffle raised around £100.


On the 13th August the Chairman, John Peel, completed his 1664 challenge by swimming 14 miles across Bideford Bay with an Ex RAF veteran, James Lapish in a 2-man relay doing 1 hour stints each.  However, James was a little seasick during his 2nd 1 hour stint – so Royal stepped into the breach.  After having already swam for 2 x 1 hour stints, JP did a 2.5 hr stint but now suffering from a shoulder strain and with only 500m to go James took to the water.  Both swimmers swam the last 100m arriving at Clovelly Harbour after setting off from Croyde Bay 6 hrs 45 minutes before.  It is hoped the RMC will be better off by £1000. You can still donate at:


Our last outing for August was the holding of the 2nd Family Fun Day at the Mariners Arms in Braunton. The weather held and a fun day was had by all with £404 raised for RM Charities.



John Peel writes:  Firstly it is my sad duty to report the loss of a long-standing branch members from our Naval Division.  Ex RN WW2 veteran and Torpedo man Tommy Baddick crossed the bar on the 7th May after struggling with his health for some time.  Tommy and is wife May have been long standing branch members and the last members of the North Devon Naval Association before it was disbanded.  They were also active members of Braunton British Legion.  As branch members of the RMA they attended every meeting, helped with the raffles and at events as mush as possible.  It was only in the last year as Tommy’s health started to deteriorate they had to ration attendance.  As fitting to a stalwart of the branch the turnout to see Tommy safely “Across the bar” was outstanding.  RN and RM personnel from RMB Chivenor, along with the Braunton RBL and North Devon Branch standards and branch members formed an Honour Guard to say farewell to a lovely man.  The bugler sounded Last Post in the church and Sunset as Tommy was laid to rest. Tommy will be sadly missed by all in the branch.  Our thoughts are with the family at this sad time.


In May we had a good turn out for our AGM with all Committee Members being re-elected and we welcomed Roger Staines onto the Committee.  Following the usual scran in the Mess, all sat down to listen to the Chairman report on the branch year.  The accounts were submitted and approved and the President, Derek Sargent addressed the group, outlining how the branch fulfils the objectives of the RMA very well.  Derek also gave an overview of the operation at Central Office and what the future holds regarding Convergence and the Reunion.  He emphasised that Road Shows were being planned throughout the country to explain how the Convergence of the RMA and RMC may work and all were welcome to attend the Road Show scheduled for the Southwest Region to held in Exeter in June.  


Also in May branch members took the branch display to 11 ATT at Arromanches Camp, Instow where they opened their gates to 40 local school children for the day.


June’s meeting was held again at the WO&SNCO’s Mess with the usual suspects attending. Following scran and branch business as it is the 75th Anniversary of Operation Frankton there was an archive DVD on the Cockleshell Hero’s.


The branch supported Commando Logs Global Challenge commitment over 4 of the 6 days.  With the aid of the trusted Bagpipes we were able to drum up public support on the legs from CLR to Bideford with ES Squadron and CLR to Ilfracombe with HQ Squadron on our own patch.  We then infiltrated Somerset to support a route around Bridgewater with LFSS and finally a route around Weston-Super-Mare with Med Squadron.  4 excellent days with the total raised around £2600.00 for the RMC.  In each location we managed to have the Mayor “Meet and Greet” along with other dignitaries who were very pleased to see us.  We even had the Town Crier out “Oh Yahying” in Ilfracombe.  On two of the legs the finish point was strategically situated by a local pub – The Kings Arms in Bideford and Ship and Pilot in Ilfracombe – where free wets and sandwiches were laid on for the team.


In June we held our annual Regimental Dinner in the WO&SNCO’s Mess at RMB Chivenor.  84 guests enjoyed a 4 course meal, wine and port.  Our VIP guests included Brigadier Charlie Hobson OBE and Trish, Lt Col Dave Nicholson RM – CO at CLR and Sarah, WO1 Corps RSM Phil Gilby MBE RM and Anita and WO1 RSM Tim Jukes RM, RSM at CLR.  Mess beating was performed, as usual, by Bideford Youth Pipe Band and the “Candle to Absent Friends” was lit by C/Sgt Jacko Jackson.  Carrying on the custom of Port fines we had started last year – these were adjudicated with a certain liberal justice by WO2 Col Shearsby.  Quaicks were presented to our Rafflettes Fran Rivenberg and Jacky Peel, naturally after they downed the contents and commendations presented to our unsung heroes Bob Fergi and Bob Martin.  The RSM’s were offered and accepted the “Cup of Friendship” and Jacky Peel received a Marksman’s Badge as RMA Ladies Champion.   With a late bar and disco the last guests stumbled off to their pits well after 0200.


Also in June Armed Forces Week was a busy time for the branch.  First up the branch supported the Flag Raising Ceremony carried out by Torridge District Council in Victory Park, Bideford.  There was a detachment of serving personnel 11 ATT, Instow.  The service was carried out by the Rev Paul Brice, Padre at RMB Chivenor and. Following the ceremony all retreated to Bideford Rugby Club for a reception and a few wets.  On the Wednesday the branch and CLR hosted the presentation of the Legion d’Honneur to 9 veterans by the Honorary French Consul to the Southwest, of which 3 were former RM’s.  At the end of the week the branch supported the North Devon Veterans who put on an Expo each year for the public.  This year CLR wanted to expand this event to a full on Military Open Day for Schools, Families and the public on the airfield at RMB Chivenor.  For the first time we had merchandise delivered from the RM shop and set up for business.  All in all a successful venture which we plan to repeat at other events this year.


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Firstly it is my sad duty to report the loss of two loyal branch members from our Naval Division.  Ex Jenny Wren and branch member Sybil Rowland passed away at 0400 on the 23rd February.  We send our condolences to Ex Matelot branch member David, Sybil’s husband and branch members daughter Barbara and Ex RAF Son-in-Law Ian Harris. Dave “Tilley” Tyzack died suddenly on the 29th March.  Tilley joined the branch a few years ago having moved to North Devon after his first wife passed away.  On seeing us collecting he ask for the nearest British Legion or RNA.  Not wanting to miss a new recruit he was hijacked into the RMA.  It turned out he had worked very closely with Bootnecks in the diving world and took Commander Buster Crabb on a training dive in Pompey. Over the time he has been with us Tilley has supported the branch tirelessly, attending nearly every branch meeting and helping our fund raising efforts.  Our good friend will be sadly missed.  Our thoughts are with the family at this sad time.


Support for the branch meeting in March was excellent with a high turnout of 28.  April’s was also good for the branch with 18 coming along.  In March the usual format of scran and branch business was followed by some more of the Chairman’s black and white DVD’s of SBS training, include the art of falling out of a plane.  It was noted as interesting that the “Old and Bold” dits about parachuting contrasted with what the new generations of jumpers experience.  In April due to CLR taking leave the branch decamped to the Mariners Arms, Braunton for a buffet and skittles evening – pleasant change of venue.  As usual the raffle for both meeetings raised around £100 for branch funds.


Now in it’s 3rd year the branch arranged a “Seniors Lunch” for our more senior veterans and the branch widows.  This was a lunchtime affair as it had been noted that our evening monthly meetings were way past some of their bedtimes.  Anyway the Chairman, the President and their wives entertained 24 members.  It should be noted that the Chairman and President managed to bring the average age down to around 85yrs.  We had 4 Legion d’Honneur recipients in attendance and everyone seemed to enjoy a good quality roast beef dinner and posh duff.  As is normal Mrs Rafflette – Jacky Peel managed to recoup some of the branch subsidies with a raffle, which was well supported by the gathering with both prize donations and ticket purchase.


This years MFM weekend started on Friday night when 10 members were invited by the Corps RSM to attend the Ceremony of the Keys at the tower of London.  This was a rare privilege as part of the evening was spent in the Yeoman Warden’s private Mess.  An excellent evening and our thanks to Mr Gilby and Yeoman Warden Andy for being our host and keeping us entertained with some lesser know facts about what went on at the Tower.


For the 3rd year running the branch have been invited to attend the RHS Rosemoors Wilderness Weekend.  This was not a fund raising event but more of a PR activity.  The Corps and branch was well represented with 4 static displays.  The branch stand was on show, highlighting what training recruits have to endure to earn their Green Lid and where the public got to feel the weight of the current marching anf fighting order. In addition the public got to sample modern ration pack scran – a far cry from babies Heads and sausage and beans in tins! The main event, however took place in a wooded area where Med Squadron CLR had provided a field 1st Aid Station and ambulance, Roli brought his Roadshow to town with woodcraft demonstrations and branch friend Adrian Littlejohn had a selection of weaponry for the public to handle.


Coming up in May the branch are out and about supporting Commando Logistic Regiment support for the Global Challenge Team as they run around North Devon for 2 days,  Plans are also progressing nicely for branch support of the first Armed Forces Families Day to be held at RMB Chivenor in June.  Report of these and other activities in what is ramping up to be another full on year for North Devon in the next edition




This period is traditionally less busy for the branch.  However, we have been ticking over during the cold wet winter.


Our final total for the Christmas Appeal was £7201.37.  At our request donations were made to CLR Special Welfare Fund - £1400.00 and £700.00 each to BLESMA and the RNBT with the balance of £4401.37going to the RMA.


We have had 2 branch meetings.  January saw about 20 members attend our first meeting of the year.  After scran we went through the branch business.  During this session the Chairman read out a commendation from Central Office to JC Bowden on his sterling efforts in raising £331.00 for the RMA.  It should be said he also raised the same amount for the Devon Air Ambulance having carried out his own personal Commando Challenge on a Concept rower and in a swimming pool – without water wings – I might add.   Well done again JC.  Following branch business we retired to the bar where we had a Haggis piped in and drank a “Wee dram” to Robbie Burns.  Good friend of the branch, Mike Harper, recited the “Ode to the Haggis”.  As he was reciting it in Gaelic with a good Scottish accent with a Devon twang or “Ooh Arhh” he did brief us on what the words meant.  The Haggis was dually killed in front of us and enjoyed by all. 


In February meeting 28 members attended.  The Chairman made a concession – as we had a guest speaker the Chair promised to cut short his announcements.   This was received with a resounding cheer and “we should have guest speakers every month”!  However one member did keep the clock on the Chairman to verify he kept his promise. I am pleased to report it was the quickest Branch Business on record – but don’t get used to it. We then had the pleasure of listening a very interesting and motivational talk by Mark Ormrod – the “No Holds Barred” version.  He captivated the group who went away being truly thankful for their “Lot”!  Mark had travelled extensively that week so to fit us in was hoofing.  Our thanks to Mark for giving up some of his time to visit the branch.


At February’s Joiners and Leavers in the WO&SNCO’s Mess, RMB Chivenor, the RSM invited the Chairman (me) to give a briefing to his Mess members on the RMA- death by PowerPoint.  This seemed to go down well and it is intended that this briefing will be available to be rolled out to the Squadrons.  At the meeting 2 cheques were presented – the £1400.00 to the Specialist Welfare Team mentioned above which was received on their behalf by the RSM and £150.00 as a donation towards the Base Children’s Christmas Party 2016 - retrospectively.


Branch member, Brian Mulholland, has been part of a team who recently set up Barum Boxing Club and has been liaising with CLR to invite their boxers down to use the facilities.  This has been well received and from a branch perspective continues to forge links between the branch and CLR.  Branch member The Rev Phil Waites is also involved as he is a qualified referee.  He recently presided at the Corps Novice Championship at CTC.  The Branch Chairman popped in to wish the CLR and Army Logs team well in their up and coming fights.


The branch is gearing up for a number of events this year.  We have already secured our usual 5 day slot at Sainsbury’s for July for the RMC Support Appeal.  We have also been invited to Asda for a day, B&M store as their charity, RHS Rosemoor for a Wilderness weekend in March - to mention a few.  As the year develops reports on these events and more will be published.


The 1664 Challenge has sparked interest in the Branch and the Chairman has signed the Branch up to pledge £100.00 +.  A couple of branch members have also signed up as individuals.  One proposal is to do a Veterans Speed March in North Devon, similar to Cdo 999 in London.  Although there hasn’t been a start up meeting - if anyone in the area fancies getting involved please contact the Chairman – contact details on the Branch website –  As well as that the branch will be offereing their support to the 1664 team as they pass through the area and have already been pinged to help out in Bude (a little outside our patch, but – hey - we are up for a Banyan to sunny Cornwall).


This years North Devon Veterans Association Expo, which the branch takes part in each year as North Devon’s Armed Forces Week contribution in June, has been expanded to incorporate a Families event on the airfield at RMB Chivenor.  Planning on base is under way and it is hoped this will be a huge success.  The date is June 24th.  More details to follow.



It is with sadness that I have to report that branch member and D Day Landing veteran Dennis Small passed away on Friday 11th November.  Dennis was 91.  He joined the Corps on 25th May 1943 and served to 5th October 1946.  His service number was 112556.  He was a stalwart of the branch for many years and supported all the work we did.  Even though his sight became poor he came to meetings and used a magnifying glass to read the minutes.  He would listen intently to guest speakers not actually being able to see their presentations.  He always attended the Reunion parade, going down on the train on the Sunday.  More recently with failing sight along with mobility and other ageing issues he found it increasingly difficult to attend branch meetings, but always remained cheerful and upbeat when anyone spoke to him.  In April this year Dennis received his Legion d'Honneur at a presentation from the Honouree Council of France at RMB Chivenor. At his funeral there was a large detachment of serving RM’s from CLR and 11AT&T, WO1 RSM Dougie Davitt from 1 AGRM and branch members who lined the path leading into the church.  The branch standard lead Dennis in and the bugler sounded Last Post and Reveille. Dennis will be missed by all in the branch.


On a brighter note we had 24 members attending November’s branch meeting with 29 apologies. After the meal we reconvened to the Ajax Bay Room for branch business and then back to the bar for cash prize Bingo and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”. 


There was an excellent turnout of about 20 members for the Remembrance parade held at RMB Chivenor on the 11th.  Derek laid a wreath on behalf of the branch and the standard was present.  The new CO, Col Dave Nicholson and RSM Tim Jukes came over to speak to many of the members after the parade.  We were then invited back to the Mess for a wet and brunch.  On the Sunday the standard and a number of members attended the Bideford parade.  Derek laid the wreath on behalf of the branch.  Wreaths were also laid at Torrington (Rodney Oke), Marwood (Bruce White) and Barnstaple (John Davis).


I can report that the RM Poppy quilt, made by friends of the branch, which was passed to Jonathan B, CEO of The RMC, at our Regimental Dinner in June 2016 with a challenge to use it to raise as much as possible for the Royal Marines Charity was carefully transported halfway round the world to Hong Kong (unfortunately not by me!).  There it was auctioned off at an RMC Charity dinner the night before Armistice Day.  It now resides in Senior Lawyer Peter O’Brien’s residence, who’s successful bid of £5,500 secured it’s ownership.


At Joiners and Leavers at RMB Chivenor in November we took the opportunity to give recognition to branch member Bill Baverstock who has recently received his WW2 campaign medals – yes 71 years late.  Bill also has just received his Legion d’Honneur for the part he played in the D Day Landings.  Congratulations to Bill and thanks to Bruce who worked tirelessly in researching and applying for these medals on Bill’s behalf. Thanks also to the RSM and Mess for their hospitality.


At November’s branch meeting C/Sgt Jacko Jackson raised the news of the accident at a Bonfire Party to the daughter of a work colleague REME Sgt Roe. Those attending decided that we should do something to brighten up life at this time.  Not forgetting the rest of the family it was agreed we should buy some appropriate gifts for each of the family and send a Christmas card from the branch. 


December was party season with branch members attending the WO&SNCO’s Christmas Ball and 49 members and guest attending our own Christmas Party in the Officers Mess.  We had a variety of participation games at our party, a picture quiz provided by our President, Derek Sargent, during the Christmas carvery, Irish bingo won by the Mayor of Northam who donated his winnings to the branch, Guess the number of sweets in the jar and “Play Your Cards Right”.  The Genga was placed strategically in the bar and was well used during the evening.  As usual the rafflettes did a sterling job with the raffle.


We also held our annual Christmas Appeal for RM Charities with branch members and serving personnel manning the buckets at various supermarkets around North Devon.  Although to be confirmed, I can report a total of £6588.00 was raised and will be split between a number of charities benefitting Royal Marines, with nothing coming back to the branch.


Finally congratulations to branch member Mike Durrans.  Mike is a keen rambler and this year decided to complete 1000 miles and persuade his friends and family to sponsor his efforts.  In late November Mike exceeded his target and presented £270.00 to the branch.  This money will be passed on to the RMC.  Well done and thank you, Mike.