Royal Marines Association North Devon

ONCE A MARINE ALWAYS A MARINE

2019

April to June

January to March

2018

October to December

July to September



More information about what we do and our fund raising exploits can be found in the Monthly Bulletin and Charitable Donations pages.

April – June 

We held branch meetings in April and May with the usual scran to kick the evenings off. In April RM Matt Mason brought his Ocean Rower along and gave a brief on his planned challenge to row the Northern Atlantic from Brooklyn Bridge, New York to Tower Bridge, London in 2020 with 3 former RM’s. The branch is helping with his fund raising pledge for the Royal Marines Charity to raise £30,000. Also in April we held a Meat Draw, which is something new for the branch. Bob Winslow had procured the rations, which were raffled off by Mrs Chair and Mrs Rafflette. May’s meeting was taken up by the AGM where we had a briefing on the branch year, the Presidents address and the voting in of our branch officers. We welcomed Bob Martin, Jimmy Headrick and Bob Winslow to the Committee and said our farewells to Colin and Sue Shearsby. Jacko Jackson, who has resisted the title of Vice Cahir succumbed to the inevitable and is now Mr Vice as well as Unit Liaison Officer.


This year a group of 19 members, friends and family attended the Mountbatten Festival of Music. Arriving on the Friday afternoon we split up with some going to the “Ceremony of the Keys” at the Tower of London – always an excellent evening, while others explored the nightlife of China Town. On the Saturday again the group split up to do their own thing. As Mrs Sec – Sue Shearsby – had a birthday celebration – her family treated her to a day at the London Aquarium along with other exciting surprises. At around 1630 the group expanded to 25 for pre concert dinner at the now favourite French Restaurant – a stones throw from the Royal Albert Hall. Of we had a few scoops to set the evening off. Arriving in our 4 boxes prior to the commencement a quick foray to the bar for replenishments and we then all sat to enjoy another outstanding concert by the Massed Bands and then back to the Tara Copthorne to enjoy a nightcap or two or three in the main bar, which was, as usual, taken over by the Corps.


Our fund raising season started with a trip to Wilko’s Barnstaple for a days cycling on two static bikes. This is the third year we have done this, including a cycle challenge between BHS and Wilkos 3 years ago. A great day where we interacted with customers and staff, had staff support taking turns to pedal and great branch support. Not a huge event but very worthwhile. We covered 328 miles in 7 hours across the two bikes and collected £909.52. Wilko’s were really pleased to be able to have us in store and have asked us back again later in the year and again next year.


On the 1st April the Chairman visited the local Sea Cadet Detachment in Bideford and gave the first of hopefully a number of presentations to the Cadets. This one was on what it takes to become a RM. Although there were no RM cadets in the detachment those listening appeared to enjoy the evening and a number of questions were raised at the end. As said it is hoped that there will be more visits to try to establish a relationship between the branch and the cadets. This might lead to a helping hand with our events and maybe further down the line establish an RM detachment here in North Devon.


On the 2nd April we ventured into enemy territory – around the Bristol/Bath area for our second Track Day outing. This started last year with a group of serving and former RM’s, wives, girlfriends and families have a free day out experiencing going at speed round a race circuit in high performance cars – all in the name of Corps Charities. This year we repeated the exercise with a group of serving RM’s from Termoli Troop 40 Cdo + personnel from CLR and the branch having a fun day out. Richard Spencer came along early doors to give an overview of what the combined RMA and RMC do and why. It is expected a cheque for around £1000 will go to Royal Marines Charities, money raised from the drivers who pay for the privilege of using the facilities to show off their pride and joys.


On the 4th April Commando Logistic Regiment took advantage of the Freedom of Barnstaple by marching Colours flying, bands playing and bayonets fixed through the street of the town. The branch were invited to attend, although were not able to join the parade and march, did get VIP places near the saluting dais to witness the presenting of the Freedom. Following the parade we were invited back to the Park Hotel for a “Paste and a Pint”. More speeches by the Mayor of Barnstaple and CO which emphasised the importance of the relationship between the Corps family and the Town and in which the branch were mentioned on a number on occasions for the part we play in this relationship. It is heartening to hear that our work here in this little backwater of North Devon doesn’t go unnoticed.


Events for the 75th anniversary of the D Day Landings came thick and fast in May and June. Here on our patch we joined forces with 11 ATT, Instow, part of 1 AGRM who were holding a number of open days for local schools, scout groups and cadets all to do with how the base was involved with Hobart’s Funnies and what they today and into the future. So breaking out our well-used display board, change a few items and get along to Instow for 10 to 12 2-hour sessions talking to the kids about RM and RMA business. A variety of questions challenged our grey matter but we managed to keep everyone happy.


Following the Schools visits a small group of us were fortunate to be selected to travel with the RMA and Corps to Port-en-Bessen to celebrate D Day. This was a great opportunity and well worth the personal cost for the trip. I am sure this will be well documented in other articles so won’t go into detail. However, we had excurions to the battlefields of Normandy, recreated the 12 mile Yomp 47 Cdo took when liberating Port-en-Bessen from the rear after landing on Gold Beach near Arromanches, a number of parades and receptions in the town, a trip to the main Remembrance Parade at the UK cemetery at Bayeux, finishing off with a trip to the American Cemetery above Omaha Beach. A few wets (one or two or three) and scran with our serving colleagues from CTC, RM Poole and 1AGRM and regular evening spinning dits at the 47 Commando Bar in Port-en-Bessen cemented relationships. A great trip and well organised by Richie, Phil, Anita and Richard to mention the main protagonists.


June saw the branch hold it annual Regimental dinner in the WO&SNCO’s Mess at RMB Chivenor. We never take this privelge for granted and our thanks to WO1 RSM Liam Douthwaite RM for allowing us to invade his Mess for this event. I believe we returned it in one piece. Thanks also to the ESS staff who look after us admirably. 72 members and guests enjoyed Mess Beatings by the Bideford Youth Pipe Band, which were excellent as always, a 4-course dinner, wine and port. After listening to the Chair extolled the virtues of the North Devon Branch and Port fining himself for misdemeanours throughout the year, Richie Puttock gave a “from the heart” address about everything good about the RMA, the RMC, the merger and what we as a Corps Family stand for. One presentation was made and that was to Team Shearsby for services to the branch. Col and Sue received a silver Corps crested bottle stopper, a branch plaque and a pledge to have a “Corps” rose dispatched to their new abode when they had settled in. The chair did mention that the bottle stopper might never be used, as it was a rare occurrence when a bottle opened in the Shearsby household was left with partially full. In return, and a complete surprise to the Chair, Col and Sue presented the branch with two drinking receptacles – a Quaich for the men and a goblet for the ladies, both engraved. It was noted that except for the RMA Quiz trophy the branch display cabinet is bereft of silverware. The night ended with a disco, where a few of the guests demonstrated their expertise on the dance floor. Last man standing left the Mess at 0300.

Last event this period was 5 members attending the Dartmoor yomp. The weather was excellent with not a drop of precipitation in sight. An excellent jolly with a few wets and Hog Roast in the SNCO’s Mess at 42 Cdo to finished the day.

January to March

As the last branch meeting was way back in November, in January, 29 of us dusted off our winter blues and enjoyed an evening catching up.  Following a Chicken Kiev dinner we had branch business followed by watching a DVD on the Limbang Raid at the start of the confrontation in Borneo.  Why this raid – one of our newer members – John Grebby - was fresh out of training and found himself drafted to L Company, 42 Cdo and very soon travelling upstream to rescue British and Commonwealth Nationals taken hostage by the rebels.  It should be noted that unlike operations today, there was little detailed planning for this operation.  But typical Royal – they just got on with it.  We also have Bob Fergusson, who was with 40 Cdo, and carried out a number of deployments to Borneo during that time. 

 


Also in January long time branch member and one of the original RM’s  who served in CLR, Finlay McCulloch was invited as a special guest to CLR’s 47th birthday celebrations in the Officers’ Mess at RMB Chivnor.  He was surprised but pleased to be met by the CO, Lt Col Aldeiy Alderson RM and the 2I/C, Major Luke Davies RM before being escorted to dinner by Lt Henry McCready RM.  It was a very enjoyable evening and Finlay was honoured to be wined and dined by the Officers and SNCO’s of the Regiment.



We held our Annual “Seniors” lunch in the Barnstaple Hotel.  30 guests enjoyed a 2 course roast dinner and great company.  This event was established 5 years ago to host and stay in touch with members, including our widows, who could no longer get out for our evening branch meetings.  Deputy Rafflette & Mrs Chair was on form and those gathered were not only generous with buying raffle tickets but also donating prizes.  Everyone is looking forward to next year’s event.


For the last few years we have held a Mini Burns night in February and this year was no exception.  Branch business was brought forward with the “Gathering” piped in to dine at 1900.  The format of the evening was a Welcome and Selkirk Grace by the Chairman and although he had a Jock Mother it is thought that as he was speaking in a mild Manck accent it was his bottom half which was “Jock”.  Following this the “Haggis” was piped in.  For those not familiar with Burns suppers the Haggis then has to be ceremoniously “killed”.  This year we had a “newbe” –  Jimmy McHeadrick, reciting the Address to the Haggis.  A fine Malt was provided as always by JC Bowden and we toasted the Haggis. Talking of fine malt it appears when Mr Headrick was getting instruction from Mr Fergusson at his home; the latter emphasised that for it to sound authentic they should consume vast quantities of the amber nectar.  Needless to say neither remember much of the rehearsals. PAYD scran with a side order of Haggis (for those who wanted it) was followed by the Address to the Lassies complete with Toast by Col Sheasby in a genuine Scottish lilt, dessert and Reply from the Lassies with Toast given by Mrs Treash in her Cornish accent but should be said connected to “North of the Board” by husband and genuine “Sporran Swinger” Finlay McCulloch.  The final toast of the evening was to the Bard himself, Rabbie Burns, which was scribed by another Jock- Bob Fergie – who was AWOL in Gozo.  Now as a branch we don’t profess to be experts at Burns Suppers but we had a very enjoyable evening and did our bit for his Immortal Memory.

 


In March 28 members enjoyed the usual PAYD scran of fish, chips and peas followed by duff. We welcomed Matt Mason of Hunted fame, and Michele and Ed Gibbet (family of Neil Gibbet).  After the chairman’s usual round of branch business we retreated to the Ajax Bay Bar for an informal talk by Matt on his experiences on Hunted followed by an outline of his planned epic for next year – rowing the Atlantic from New York to London – what is known as the Northern Route.  It is planned to support Matt in some fund raising outings this year. 


This year a group of 19 members, friends and family attended the Mountbatten Festival of Music.  Arriving on the Friday afternoon we split up with some going to the “Ceremony of the Keys” at the Tower of London – always an excellent evening, while others explored the nightlife of China Town.  On the Saturday again the group split up to do their own thing.  As Mrs Sec – Sue Shearsby – had a birthday celebration – her family treated her to a day at the London Aquarium along with other exciting surprises. At around 1630 the group expanded to 25 for pre concert dinner at the now favourite French Restaurant – a stones throw from the Royal Albert Hall.  Of we had a few scoops to set the evening off.  Arriving in our 4 boxes prior to the commencement a quick foray to the bar for replenishments and we then all sat to enjoy another outstanding concert by the Massed Bands and then back to the Tara Copthorne to enjoy a nightcap or two or three in the main bar, which was, as usual, taken over by the Corps.

 

Our fund raising season started with a trip to Wilko’s Barnstaple for a days cycling on two static bikes.  This is the third year we have done this, including a cycle challenge between BHS and Wilkos 3 years ago.  A great day where we interacted with customers and staff, had staff support taking turns to pedal and great branch support.  Not a huge event but very worthwhile.  We covered 328 miles in 7 hours across the two bikes and collected £909.52.  Wilko’s were really pleased to be able to have us in store and have asked us back again later in the year and again next year.

 


October to December


The branch held to meetings this period.  In October we decided to hold a Corps Birthday related evening.  However as we are a multi cap badges branch we decided to honour our other cap badge members so had a tri -service evening - in fact we celebrated a 4 services - believing the Corps is a stand alone arm of the military.  Following the usual meal and branch business we moved to the main bar area in the SNCO's Mess and RMB Chivenor for a 4 part concert performed by the Appledore silver Band.  Each segment covered the different services commemorating WW1, RAF 100, Trafalgar Day and the Corps Birthday.  Between each section there was a vinyette significant to that service.  We ended with the Conveining Order which has to recited by heart by the most junior serving NCO in the Mess.  As Jacko was our only serving NCO he had the pleasure of being called the youngest and as he was ambushed at short notice was allowed to read the notice rather than recite it by heart.  JC provide the liquid refreshment in the form of genuine Pussers Rum.The branch had a guess for our November meeting - branch member and USMC League veteran - John Bigwood had travelled over from the US for a visit to his Oppo - Bob Martin (also USMCL and branch member).  John was hosted at CTC, CLR and 11 ATTRM and also attended the various Remembrance Commemoration to held this month due to the significance of the event - the ending of hostilities from WW1.  At the meeting John  was presented with a branch plaque and the manual of the History of the Corps. and we showed a DVD of the US Army Assault Training for WW2 that occurred on Braunton Burrows prior to D Day.

Remembrance Parades came think and fast during this period.  The standard attended a village commemoration at Northam where relatives of those fallen from the village were remembered.  The barnch and standard attended Commando Logistic Regiments parade which was held at Crow Point beach on the edge of the Torridge/Taw Estuary.  Following this the branch laid wreaths on behalf of the RMA and USMCL at the Memorial Garden at RMB Chivenor.  On the Sunday parades were held throughout North Devon wher branch represnetatives laid wreaths on behalf of the RMA.  The main branch attedance was at the Bideford Parade and Church service where the standard was paraded and branch members marched.

Following the church service and receiption the day culimated in the "Beacon Lighting" event which was carried out across the country.  In the afternoon the branch took it's stand, a Tombola and book stall to Pollyfields in the run up to the actual ceremony.  This was held at 1900 when the beacon was lite and Last Post sounded off.

December  is the start ofthe festive season and the branch attended to parties.  The SNCO's at RMB Chivenor held their annual Christmas Ball and the branch had a couple of tables of 10 and enjoyed the hospitality of the Mess and then we held our own Chrsitmas Party in the Officers Mess a week later.  A 3 course carvery was enjoyed by all and "Santa's Little Helpers" in the form of elfettes Mr Shearsby and Mr Jackson were on hand to assist - really.  There was the mandatory Presidents Quiz and Irish Bingo and the evening finsihed off with 2 hours entertainment from "Crooner" steve Valentine and we cleared the Mes by 0200.  A fitting end to another successful year in the life of the North devon Branch.



July - September

We held 3 branch gatherings during this period - 2 away from Chivenor and one back there in September.  In July we took over the Hoof Inn which is the Corporals Club outside the camp gate.  Former RM Chef and branch member Stephen Boden and current RM Chef Sgt Richie Bray produced an excellent BBQ while newish branch Member Paul "Jan" Newland provided the bar service.  The evening was free at the request of the late Pauline Winslow who had bequeathed some money to the branch to enjoy and evening on her our heart felt thanks but sadly Pauline was around to hear it.  However a warm summers evening and great to be out doors.

Our next exursion was to Bideford rugby Club in August.  We do this every year and have a Buffet evening with bingo and a quiz.  This year was no different.

September saw us back in the Mess after the return of the Unit from Summer leave.  The usual scra and branch business was followed by a talk from Bruce White on the lead upto the Deal Bombing and what was known and not know - a harrowing event.

Other activity that dominated the period was our annual "Free Phys" at Sainsbury's for 5 days where with hoofing support from the serving Corps and RMA Cycle Branch we pedalled the JOGLE and back and raised over £6500.00 for the Charity.  In July we also enjoyed the hospitality of the SNCO Mess at their Summer Ball where the theme was "All the Fun of the Fair" - complete with dodgums, carousels etc etc.

At the end of July we supported 11 ATTRM Families day at Instow Base where we had our branch stand, Roli's Roadshow and merchandise from the RMA shop.

Two events stand out in August.  The first was our 3rd year at the Mariners Arms in Brauinton for their Family Fun Day in aid of Royal Marine Charities.  We provided a Tombola, a Raffle, the RMA shop, Splat the Rat, The Stocks as well as ration pack sampling and the branch stand.  Just under £300 was raised in total.  The other event was Chairman - John peel - with 2 Ex RAF veterans took to the water in a lake in Braunton and swam a total of 30 miles in relay continuosly a over 12 hours, gain for the Charity.  Around £1400 was raised.

Branch members attended the Mess Beerfest and for the 4th year (I think) we supported the Barnstaple Marathon by providing a water station manned by our Ladies and marshalling on the airfield. The following week we received a cheque for £200 being a donation to the branch for our services.