Royal Marines Association North Devon



January to March


October to December

July to September

April to June

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

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.

April to June

April's branch meeting started with the usual PAYD meal and then  we sat down to a brief from the Chair , which was in the new format of asking for comments on points raised at the previous meeting or in the minutes.  Following Branch business we adjourned to the bar and had a very interesting insight to life at CLR and what CLR does given by Jacko.  However, with the rumour mill in full swing the discussion moved towards the future of Chivenor & the Corps. A lively discussion where there was no shortage of suggestions by would be politicians in the room.  May's meeting was our Annual AGm.  The usual format with all officers being voluntold to stay in post, reports by the Cair, the tTeasurer and the President.  Following the meeting we all ajourned to the bar for a social few drinks.

Other events included:

  • Track day for RM Charities:  A very enjoyable day was had at Castle Coombe Circuit where representatives of Branch and CLR, including the new and former CEO’s of the RMA, attended a Petrol Head Day out.  £1200 +£300.00 (Gift Aid) from the drivers fees was donated to RM Charities.

  • RHS Rosemoor – Wilderness Weekend.  The branch had a good weekend at RHS Rosemoor where we had the branch stand, give-aways, RMA shop, Roli’s road Show and a selection of weapons on show.  Although quieter than previous years and not a fundraiser, we still had around £113 in donations and £118 sales with the shop. Thanks to the team who came out on the Saturday and Sunday to make the RM presence a good one.  Rosemoor expressed their thanks for helping make this a success, saying without the RMA presence the event probably wouldn’t happen.

  • Graspan Parade.  A small cntingent includingthe branch standard attended this parade in London.  Following the parade we all reconviened at the UJC for an excellent receiption.

  • Chivenor Garrison Families Day 19th May.  At short notice the branch stand and shop were wheeled out to Chivenor for this event.  The garrison were extremely grateful for our attendance.  This was about raising awareness and interaction with the Garrison.  Not a fundraiser but on the day we raised £35 for RM Charities and sold £168 of merchandise from the shop.  We received a letter of thanks from the Garrison.

  • Ajax Bay Boxing Evening – 23rd May.  This was a change to usual format for this Mess function, which is normally buy invitation only from the RSM.  This year, branch member, Brain Mulholland put on a boxing evening with the event being opened to all.  Sadly as we only found out at very short notice there wasn’t time to publish information.  However we had a table of 10 at the evening.  It is possible this will happen again next year when hopefully we will get better warning.

  • Beat Retreat - 31st May.  The branch standard and 4 members of the branch attended this event in London.  The Massed Bands were excellent and the standard was one of 10 saluting the Royal representative on arrival.  Following we attended the Corps Reception at Lancaster House.

  • Branch Outing to 11 ATT, Instow – 7th June.  The branch was well represented at this “Away Day” where 15 members enjoyed the hospitality of the OC and Squadron at Instow.  The event included an overview of activities and the function of the base, viewing the equipment, a tour of the workshops, a go in the Dip Tank and ride in the BRV and a trip up the “Trot” on a Landing Craft and ORC.  All in all a great day and good to forge stronger relationships with the base.

  • Branch Regimental Dinner – 9th June.  80 members of the branch and their guests enjoyed another excellent evening at the WO&SNCO’s Mess.  Brigadier Richard Spencer took the salute of the Bideford Youth Pipe Band who performed Mess Beatings.  He said in 30’something years in the Corps he had never heard Mess Beatings by a Piep Band and how great it was.  The dinner went well with a number of Port Fines supplementing the purchase of the port, a very successful raffle raising £660 for branch funds, a well-attended disco and a very informative address by Brigadier Spencer.  Dave Rowlands was rewarded for his often-unseen support for the branch; RSM Tim Jukes received half of a farewell gift and presented the Chairman with the first item for the new display cabinet in the Mess.  Brigadier Spencer also made a presentation to the branch of a Commando Dagger in acknowledgment of the work the branch continues to do.  Mr Vice and his good Lady Mrs Sec were quaiched having just left the Corps after 37 years.  All in all a truly great evening.

  • Armed Forces Week Flag Raising Service 25th June.  There was an excellent branch turnout for this event, held annually in Victoria Park Bideford.  It is probably the only event of it’s kind in North Devon, acknowledging the Armed Forces.