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THE MERCIAN REGIMENT Quarterly Newsletter - Q1 2020

LETTER FROM THE COLONEL IN CHIEF

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM

"As we all face an unprecedented period of difficulty and disruption caused by the current coronavirus crisis, I particularly wanted to write, as your Colonel-in-Chief, to say how much I am thinking of you all at this time.

Whether you are directly involved in supporting the formal response or continuing with specific operational duties, your work will never have been more vital. Your support in maintaining the continued protection of the country and its Overseas Territories will ensure that we can meet this unseen, but pernicious threat with determination and resourcefulness.

I send you my warmest and special thanks for all that you are doing at home and abroad. I have every confidence that in all your actions— whether supporting the vulnerable within the community or on extended operational commitments — you will continue to uphold the finest traditions of the Armed Forces. As you do so, please know that my thoughts are very much with you and your loved ones."

1 MERCIAN UPDATE

Capt TE Prettyjohn

Reconsolidated, and with A (Grenadier) Company firmly back in the fold after their leave following 9 months in Estonia, the battalion has been training at a ferocious pace during the opening months of 2020.

The Training Wing continue to forge ahead in qualifying not only new drivers and gunners for the battalion’s fleet of tracked armour, but also dozens of new cat C drivers for the Foxhound vehicles we will use on Op TORAL in 2021. This has been alongside excellent training among the fighting companies, with the Grenadiers getting back into step with Ex WATCHMAN GRENADIER - a week’s battle-camp in Swynnerton, Staffordshire.

Not to be outdone, Malta Company were at Lydd and Hythe ranges conducting Ex MALTESE MARKSMAN, taking the troops back to basics and building them back up to marksmanship excellence. Meanwhile, the venerable Dragon Company were conducting their cadres: Mortars, Anti-Tanks, Recce, Snipers and Pioneers all conducting annual training in their specialist weapon systems. Surging recruiting previous quarters has seen the battalion go from strength to strength, with new soldiers flowing into the companies and settling in to the busy training schedule.

March saw the battalion assume readiness as the UK Standby Battalion, ready to respond to any MACA (Military Aid to the Civil Authorities) tasks, from flooding to terrorist attacks… just in time for one of the greatest challenges the country has seen in recent years. The battalion remains ready to respond to any situation among the uncertainty of the coming months.

1 MERCIAN NORDIC SKIING / BIATHALON

Lt A S P Keenan

The Nordic Skiing team continued to go from strength to strength this year, putting in a solid performance with novice skiers at the Infantry championships. Not to be confused with downhill skiing, the races are essentially a cross country race on skis, at altitude, over undulating terrain. In biathlon, doing this over a loop, including rifle ranges where you have to hit a target the size of a tin of vaseline, in the Standing position, at 50m, while heavily fatigued. Extremely physically arduous and requiring marksmanship excellence - it is the perfect Infantry sport!

In November the team self-moved to Idre-Fjall, North Sweden, and conducted intensive Nordic Ski and Biathlon training over a 4 week period, delivered by elite-level international coaches. Our athletes were training among the Russian and Japanese Olympic Nordic and Biathlon Teams!

With a two-week Christmas break in the UK, the team moved to Bessans, France to take part in the Infantry Nordic Championships where we finished 7th overall out of 16 teams. An honest and commendable result for a team of 5 complete novice skiers and one advanced skier.

The team then moved to Serre-Chevalier, France to compete in the Divisional Championships, finishing 14th out of 28 teams. Over the course of the season the team covered a staggering 180km in training, and a further 105km in the 16 race events, along with 4,500 rounds of ammunition fired. Special mention to Pte Reed of Assault Pioneers who qualified and competed as an individual at the Army Championships in Rupholding, Germany.

1 MERCIAN SNIPER CADRE

Sgt White

Early this year, the 1st and 2nd Battalion’s snipers decided to team up for a joint cadre; to share knowledge and allow the two small platoons to get the best out of training opportunities. From January to March the ensuing cadre would take them all from Cyprus, to Cumbria, and then to Scotland, before coming to a close on the Salisbury Plain.

The cadre began in Cyprus with the initial skill at arms lessons, giving the foundation knowledge on the L115A3, .338 sniper rifle, and all its associated sights and ancillaries and also beginning a punishing programme of fieldcraft and navigation. From there to Warcop, Cumbria, to build on the fieldcraft and conduct the intro to sniper stands. Then to the ranges on Barry-Budden, Scotland, to conduct the training shoots, engaging targets at ranges up to, and including, 1000m and introducing night optics and thermal sights.

Following this the two platoons were ready to return to Warcop to conduct the Sniper Annual Combat Marksmanship Test, and even more fieldcraft on the field firing area. Then it was finally time to bring the cadre to a close with a final training period on Salisbury Plain - a great end to an arduous two months of training!

Image: Richard Prideaux / Original Outdoor Media

1 MERCIAN Ex WATCHMAN GRENADIER

Lt LB Davies

In early March, A (Grenadier) Company deployed to Swynnerton Training Area, a small yet complex area, on Exercise WATCHMAN GRENADIER; a Platoon level exercise. On arrival it was straight onto the area, practicing key patrol skills and formations as a platoon, before occupying individual platoon harbours to begin Battle Prep for the evening’s operations. That evening, each platoon was assigned an objective, each with its own complexities, with 1 Platoon’s objective being an underground bunker and 2 Platoon’s a fortified compound. Assaults completed swiftly and precisely, both platoons withdrew to their harbours for some well earned rest.

A rude wake up call from the enemy forced a fighting withdrawal that led into that day’s rotation of lessons to refresh the lessons of 9 months training in Estonia. That evening, both platoons were to conduct sequential raids onto the area's specific OBUA training facility; a challenging, maze-like interior. Again, the Grenadiers assaulted with swift precision, clearing the complex objective quickly and efficiently. The cohesion and slick drills of a company fresh from a 9 month deployment was on full display. The final tactical action of the exercise was a Platoon advance to contact over multiple kilometres of complex terrain culminating with a contested obstacle crossing.

The final day kicked off with a fascinating brief on regimental history from the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, as well as the formal retirement of CSgt Watchman V from public duties, and the promotion of Watchman VI to LCpl. This was a perfect set up for the section competition which involved a 2km tab, followed by a 1km stretcher race and finishing with a dash to the finish through the obstacle course. This marked the end of the week's training before falling out for a hard-earned weekend. An excellent week throughout which certainly tested the platoons and set the standard for future exercises and operations in the coming year.

2 MERCIAN B (MALTA) COY – LEAD COMPANY GROUP

2Lt Whimster

Following the successful Ex DESERT WARRIOR in Kuwait, B (Malta) Company enjoyed a well-earned Christmas break at home. While we were looking forward to a gradual return to work after 3 weeks of Christmas leave, 2020 had other plans...

Hearing news of the strike of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in January, our return to work was met with a flurry of activity. In anticipation of taking over Lead Company Group, as part of the Middle East’s Regional Standby Battalion, B (Malta) Company had work to do. Kit was tested, mandatory training was conducted, weapons were zeroed, bergans were packed, checked and re-packed. A series of stringent checks and inspections ensured that, if called upon, we were ready.

However, after retaliatory missile strikes from Iran, the situation began to calm as both parties stepped away from the brink of further conflict. B (Malta) Company were gradually able to relax as the prospect of a rapid deployment to the Middle East was lessening and normal routine began to slowly return.

Alongside operational requirements, we must still foster learning and encourage development among soldiers and ourselves. As such, B (Malta) Company conducted a Professional Development week in March, centred on education, mentoring and team cohesion. This concluded with a punchy section-level fitness competition and individual bayonet lane. All soldiers were then presented with a Maltese Cross by the OC and the trophy for the best section was awarded to Cpl Martin. The company once again dispersed for leave.

2 MERCIAN C (KOHIMA) COY, 7 PL: Op KIPION - BAHRAIN

2Lt Dean Davenport

January 2020 saw 7 Platoon, C (Kohima) Company deploy out to the Bahrain Naval Support Facility (NSF) to work alongside the Royal Navy on Op KIPION: a maritime focused mission, aimed at maintaining the flow of shipping through the Strait of Hormuz. The UK receives approximately 20% of its oil through the Strait; a relatively small percentage in comparison to some of our international allies. Therefore, to protect the global economy it is vital the Strait remains free of interference from those who seek to disrupt international shipping activity.

Our role focused on Force Protection and the maintenance of base security. The NSF itself is an excellent facility with a very high standard of amenities. This is compounded with the proximity to the United States Naval Base which UK troops can freely use and has a wealth of facilities such as a cinema a large gym and fast-food outlets. This created an excellent environment for troops to work and enjoy. With the facilities on offer, the Platoon undertook a lot of physical training and sport including organising a football game against the Navy, which 7 Platoon are happy to report they won.

Working closely with the Navy created some unique opportunities for 7 Platoon. HMS SHOREHAM, a Mine Counter Measures Vessel (MCMV), invited the Platoon aboard to receive a tour and learn more about the capabilities which are vital to the success of Op KIPION. The visit went well and resulted in the decision to plan a joint exercise with HMS SHOREHAM to understand how a we would coordinate a reaction to an incident.

The CO also visited the NSF during 7 Platoon's deployment which provided an opportunity to show the hard work and effort that 7 Platoon had invested into the NSF. This culminated with a presentation on the surrounding operational theatres which C (Kohima) Company may be deployed to as part of the Lead Company Group (LCG) in the future. LCpl Lucic and Kgn Smith investigated Iran and the Middle-East, LCpl Mitchell and Pte Birt investigated Iraq and how the General Soleimani strike at the start of the year may influence future tasks for the LCG and LCpl Lekutu and Pte Fahrenholz investigated Lebanon, ever more pertinent with its proximity to Cyprus. Learning and understanding how we might be employed in the future helped 7 Platoon to build a positive relationship with the Navy and international partners to provide the critical reassurance to those living and working in Bahrain.

2 MERCIAN AKI BRIEF

Lt Kai Baggley

The first few months of 2020 have been a busy yet exciting time for all those in the forces community posted in the UK and overseas. The same can be said for 8 Platoon, of C (Kohima) Company. Having only been at Battalion for a few months, I have witnessed that the professionalism, adaptability and enthusiasm from this Platoon has been second to none. In January 2020, C (Kohima) Company deployed on an Op SHADER tasking to RAF Akrotiri to become the main Force Protection element for the airbase. This included protecting assets ranging from the Eurofighter Typhoon to the Hercules aircraft used for military transportation; some of the RAF’s most valuable assets. The tasks included manning vehicle checkpoints, sentry positions and conducting numerous daily patrols to ensure day to day operations of RAF Akrotiri could run without fault.

RAF Akrotiri is the home of the Cyprus Operations Support Unit which provides joint support to British Forces Cyprus and operations in the region to protect the UK's strategic interests. It is also an extremely busy Permanent Joint Operating Base that supports ongoing operations in the region as well as support for the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus. It is also used as a Forward Mounting Base for overseas operations. During the time on Force Protection, C (Kohima) Company were on high readiness to be able to respond to issues throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Elements of the force protection taskings have been part of the BFC’s main effort during the commitment of 2 MERCIAN in Cyprus. It is a responsibility which all in 8 Platoon have taken in their stride, repaying the trust given to them as the forefront of the key commitments given to the Battalion.

4th Infantry Brigade (The Black Rats) Commander Brigadier Oliver Brown was able to observe 8 Platoon’s effectiveness in Ground Ops during a visit he made to see the Platoon. Cpl Martin impressed with a brief from the soldier’s perspective about life on force protection and Cyprus in general.

Throughout the time spent in RAF Akrotiri, there was also time for some down time in the form of physical training for the widely anticipated 2 MERCIAN boxing competition. Pte Mountford impressed in training with some knockout performances!

STAND FIRM STRIKE HARD

4 MERCIAN EXERCISE ISRAELI EAGLE – BATTLEFIELD STUDY IN ISRAEL

2Lt St Clair-Gray

4 MERCIAN were lucky enough to conduct an eye-opening battlefield study to Israel in February, travelling from north to south across the country to study the 1948 War of Independence, the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and Israel’s modern-day geopolitics. After touching down in Tel Aviv, we made the journey north and stayed in a hotel in the Golan Heights. This was situated in a kibbutz, a Jewish form of commune whereby all wealth is held in common and profits reinvested back into the community. From here we travelled to two observation posts where our helpful guide, Hagi, explained to us the threats that the Israeli nation faces from non-state actors in Lebanon to the north and from Syria to the east.

It was explained that the Golan Heights is a contentious territory, effectively annexed from Syria in the Six-Day War but not recognised by the wider international community. From these observation posts, 4 MERCIAN soldiers and officers discussed how, should the conflict occur today, we could have applied modern British military thought to defend the land from the Syrian perspective. This was then reversed when we visited the sites of ‘The Valley of the Tears’ and El Saki, attacked in 1973 on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, thus providing the name to the conflict. In this example, officers and soldiers considered how to defend the ground from the advancing Syrians and the conduct of the war was explained to us.

These discussions helped further our tactical understanding of defensive operations, allowing us to consider how modern-day tactics, weaponry and equipment could be best utilised. We were also lucky enough to have a meeting with an Israeli Defence Force tank commander, who talked us through their Merkava MK4 tank, as well as taking questions from our cohort.

We then travelled south towards Jerusalem which we explored at our leisure. This provided officers and soldiers with a significant cultural insight into a city with great historical and contemporary importance, visiting the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and seeing the black dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, revered by the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions respectively. From Jerusalem, we conducted a variety of other stands, such as a visit to Jaffa, a city that was a site of conflict in the 1948 War of Independence, where we considered the principles of urban operations as well as learning historical lessons from the actions of a plethora of stakeholders.

Furthermore, we conducted a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Masada, took a leisurely dip in the Dead Sea and made a poignant visit to the Ramleh Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, further enriching the historical, military and cultural lessons that the battlefield tour taught us.

From our experience, MERCIAN soldiers and officers can be said to be greater informed about Middle Eastern geopolitics and the cultural history of Israel, as well as having learned lessons from the three conflicts that can be applied to our military conduct today.

4 MERCIAN D (DRAGON) COY UPDATE

Maj WKC Rose

During this period D Coy have been busy. The Coy mobilised six personnel to deploy on operations. Cpl Holmes, LCpl O’Rourke, Pte Robinson, Pte Williams and Pte Parkhurst (all from Burton) join 4 SCOTS for their 6 month deployment on Op TORAL in the Spring, and spent time conducting pre-deployment training at Chilwell and in Wales. Separately, Cpl Neal mobilised to deploy to Cyprus on Op TOSCA for six months with 7 RIFLES. He conducted his pre-deployment training at Thetford which included riot control training and culminated in the award of his UN Blue Beret.

D Coy sent four personnel on Ex ISRAELI EAGLE (a battlefield study in Israel) which included time with the Israel Defence Force on the border with Syria and their current Merkava mk IV tanks (accompanied by real live shelling in the background) as well as looking at the site of the siege of Masada by the 10th Roman Legion in 73AD and the Israel conflicts since the formation of the state in 1948.

In normal business, D Coy used the post-Christmas weekends to complete their ACMTs and trial the new role fitness test. The role out of VIRTUS continued, the Cambrian Patrol team formed up, Maj Rose took over from Maj Nellins as OC and a L129 Sharpshooter Rifle came into the coy to support the Sharpshooter Cadre. D Coy also welcomed back Cpl Tristram and Pte Greener from Burton, who have completed their deployment on Op CABRIT with 1 MERCIAN Congratulations to them both.

BAND OF THE MERCIAN REGIMENT Q1 2020 UPDATE

The Band of the Mercian Regiment has been training hard this quarter. The Band has spent time preparing for upcoming workshops, working hard on trade testing and developing pieces ready for this year’s concerts. We have been taking full advantage of a seasonal lull in performances to focus on individual and team music skills that will improve our standard of playing in the long term. It has also given our Director of Music time to introduce a new range of skills to the band, which will see us be more adaptable and contemporary in the combination of groups and genres we can perform with.

Our Saxophone group has been out and about entertaining at dinner nights across the region, Including recently at MOD Stafford for 37 Signal Regiment Annual Guest Night. They have been playing out a selection of music to suit all tastes and been very well received.

We have welcomed a new member, Musician Laura Morris, who has joined to play oboe. Congratulations to her as she begins her reserve force journey and good luck with her upcoming training.

The intensive musical training, and our recent SCR (Soldier Conditioning Review), have bought us together as a team, helping and encouraging each other, pushing us out of our comfort zones and challenging us mentally, musically and physically.

Due to the nature of a lot of our work and the ongoing COVID-19 situation, many of this quarter's engagements and upcoming events have been cancelled as a precaution to public health. Unfortunately, this also includes the Stoke on Trent Military Tattoo in May.

COMMENTS FROM THE POTENTIAL MERCIAN REGIMENT OFFICERS - VISITS TO BATTALIONS

Melanie Lane, Regimental Officer Recruiter

As part of the recruitment process Potential Officers are invited to visit our Battalions to give them an idea of how the Mercian Regiment operates, and to help them discover what makes the Mercian Regiment one of the most attractive Regiments in the Infantry.

As always, the number of Potential Officers (POs) interested in a visit to one of our battalions remains high. Trying to accommodate the growing interest for a visit to one of our battalions is no easy task. It’s all within the planning, confirming dates with the battalions, to processing a PO who is interested, and in keeping with other events they may have to attend and to fit in with the actual visit date.

Both battalions have been very busy, yet still made time to give POs a warm welcome and quality visit. Below are just some of the comments and stories compiled from some of the potential officers who have come to visit either of our Battalions, highlighting their time and experience of the Regiment.

Lucie Waddon

I was recently afforded the opportunity to visit the Mercian Regiment, 2nd Battalion, as I continue to grow my knowledge and experience of what it will mean to be an infantry officer. With my residency and training set to begin in May at Sandhurst, this chance to ask questions of an established British Army Battalion provided me with even more motivation for my intake. On reflection, it is easy to say that this was the best regiment visit I have been on; for the simple reason of the people I met. Every single person was welcoming, accommodating and willing to answer any questions I might have, while all the while maintaining the high professionalism and standard one would expect of any infantry regiment in the British Army.

My understanding and knowledge of varying aspects has significantly improved thanks to this trip, with a briefing on the education courses available to soldiers and an informal interview with the Commanding Officer among my personal highlights. Of course, the chance to visit Cyprus is always appreciated too, and an already enjoyable trip was made even better by the chance to enjoy the sun and socialise with some amazing people. I can’t wait to go back, should I get the chance!

I also very much enjoyed my visit to 1 Mercian and the people there were brilliant! Everyone was so welcoming and involved me in every aspect. I did not feel I was treated differently at any point and my experience was all the better for this.

The boxing night was a particular highlight and really showed me what great comradery and passion everyone at 1 Mercian holds and was so great to witness this rare occasion.

Greg Sandiford

We arrived late on the Saturday evening after our flight from RAF Brize Norton. We settled into our rooms quickly, knowing that pizza and drinks awaited us in the Officers’ Mess bar. It was there that we first experienced the Mercian Regiment and the lifestyle of the young officer. It was fantastic meeting all of the junior officers in the mess. Soon, we all decided to head into the local town to experience the local culture and meet those who were going to spend the next few days with. Sunday was a very relaxed day with a late start. We were entertained by two of the young lieutenants who took us down to the beach, where we were able to ask then about their jobs and RMAS. It was very interesting and incredibly useful gaining insight into what a Platoon commander’s day-to-day job was and what Sandhurst would entail.

Monday gave us, as a group, the first opportunity to see the day-to-day life of those in the Mercian Regiment and allowed us to meet further officers and meet the soldiers of the regiment. We started with a morning run before we drove across the island to witness the live firing ranges of Support Company. It was there where we met the soldiers of the Recce and Mortar Platoons. Having the opportunity to speak to and meet the soldiers was one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip. It gave us a different insight to what regimental and battalion life was like. From that we travelled back to Episkopi where a short interview with a Company Commander awaited us. Monday evening was a meal out in Limassol, giving us another opportunity to experience Cyprus and allowed us to chat with many off the officers in a far more relaxed environment. We returned to the Mess where we enjoyed some relaxed drinks.

Tuesday was our final full day in Cyprus. It started with a run down to the beach where many of us went for a quick swim. Once we returned and had been fed in the Mess, we found ourselves watching some of the lessons that were being taught by many of the Corporals. This again gave us the opportunity to meet more soldiers and witness them in their day-to-day barrack life. We returned to the Mess for a sit down lunch with the Commanding Officer and the Adjutant. Soon after we were given a tour of the mess and learnt some of the regimental history. Once the tour was complete, we had a talk on the realities of war, which was an eye opening experience, and then a talk from one of the LE officers who had been an instructor at Sandhurst. Our final evening was thoroughly enjoyable. We had a curry dinner and relaxed drinks in the bar, which gave us the final opportunity for us to talk with the people who had hosted us for the best part of a week.

Our flight home on the final day allowed all of us to reflect on much of we had learnt. It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit and insight into the 2nd Battalion and the Mercian Regiment.

Jed Coughlan

Thank you for getting me out to Cyprus to visit 2 Mercian, especially before my Main Board in May. It was an eye opening experience that I thoroughly enjoyed and was glad to meet some fantastic people. It was odd at times being the only pre-Main Board visitor, especially when everyone started talking about Sandhurst shopping lists! But I managed to make like a sponge and soak up all the advice I could and am feeling much more confident in the build up to the Board. I especially liked the talks we were given, and the early morning “light” jogs which were great warm ups for the Rifle Run I did on Sunday! Following a successful Main Board I would love another opportunity to visit the Regiment if possible.

David Newell

It was a really enjoyable trip and certainly helped me to confirm that an infantry officer is the route I want to go down. It was also very insightful into the life of a Mercian officer and it was great to get chatting to some of the soldiers and NCO's.

The soldiers and officers at 2 Mercian were all very welcoming and informative and I would appreciate if my thanks could be passed onto them if possible.

These are just some of the comments and stories from some potential officers. If you would like to read more, click here to see what some potential officers had to say to Forces News during their trip to 2 Mercian in Cyprus last year.

And if you're interested in finding out more about the Mercian Regiment, you can get in touch with us at any time.

WFR50

On the 28 February 1970, the Worcestershire Regiment and the Sherwood Foresters Regiment amalgamated and The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment was formed. Also known as the WFR and the Woofers, the amalgamation parade took place in Bulford in the presence of the Colonel in Chief, HRH The Princess Royal.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, three WFR50 events were held: one in Worcester on the 28th, and on the 29th, a lunch in Birmingham and an evening event in Mablethorpe.

MUSEUM OF THE MERCIAN REGIMENT (WFR COLLECTION)

Jennifer Brookman-Moore

Here at the Nottingham museum, we have acquired the MC and two bars to Lt Col Victor Robinson of the 6th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters and the Indian General Service Medal for Private William Bees, who later went on to earn the Victoria Cross during the Boer War. The Indian General Service Medal has been reunited with Private Bee’s Victoria Cross and the other campaign medals which the museum holds in its collection. Both acquisitions have come with collections of archival material to further our knowledge of these Sherwood Foresters and their experiences.

Lt Col Robinson was commissioned as a Lieutenant of the 6th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters in June 1910. He served with the Regiment during the First World War and was present at major battles including the Breaking of the Hindenburg Line, where he was 2IC to Lt Col Bernard William Vann VC. During the War, Robinson was awarded the Military Cross and earned two bars to it. The Military Cross was for his action at the Hohenzollern Redoubt October 13th- 15th, 1915, the first bar was for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty and his second Bar was at Regnicourt. The full citation is below:

Second Bar to M.C. (attached 1/8th Battalion) London Gazette 8.3.1919, On 17th October 1918, after the attack on Regnicourt had been launched, finding the right being held up by heavy enemy machine gun fire, he gathered together all available men and pushed forward on the left. This action cleared the enemy from their strongly fortified positions, and enabled his right flank to push forward, enabling his battalion to gain its final objective. Throughout he showed great gallantry and able leadership.

Lt Col Robinson stayed with the Regiment after the end of the war and made it to CO of the 6th Battalion in 1930. He was also responsible for the conversion of the unit into an Anti-Aircraft Royal Engineer Unit in 1936 and held Senior Command of the Royal Observer Corps on the outbreak of the Second World War.

Both new acquisitions will be on display in the museum gallery at Nottingham Castle in 2021.

250th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOSTON MASSACRE - COMMEMORTAIVE DINNER

On 5th March 2020 a special dinner took place in Worcester Guildhall to commemorate an extraordinary event that at the time may have seemed a minor piece of imperial policing, but in fact was to have a truly global impact as it gave the colonists in New England that sought independence from their mother country a rallying cause celebre. The result was the American War of Independence and the creation of the United States of America - and it was the fault of the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment of Foot who gained the nickname of “The Vein openers”.

In the 1760s the London Government imposed taxes and duties upon the colonists in America that were very unpopular since the colonists had no representation in the UK Parliament. These taxes provided ammunition for those who wanted to break away from the UK and establish their own state. In Boston Massachusetts their imposition led to unrest, riots and disobedience with loyal merchants and customs officers being assaulted and tarred and feathered. Two Regiments of Foot, the 14th and 29th, were deployed to Boston in 1768 to establish some law and order. Relations with the Bostonians deteriorated from a bad start.

At 9pm on 5th March 1770 Pte White of the 29th Regiment stood sentry outside the Customs House which held monies collected from those taxes. A mob of approximately 100 approached and started to abuse Pte White with more people gathering. Pte White called out the Guard. The Captain of the Week, Captain John Preston, with Cpl Wemms and six other soldiers, hasten to Pte White’s rescue forcing their way through the crowd. A close quarter melee ensues with stones, lumps of ice and snowballs being thrown at the soldiers. Some try to grab muskets, others armed with cudgels attack and Pte Montgomery is knocked to the ground. On regaining his balance he fires his musket to prevent it being snatched away. Other members of the Guard fire too. The final assessment is 5 Bostonians killed and a further 3 wounded.

Boston was outraged and called for the immediate execution of Captain Preston and his eight men for murder. After many delays a local lawyer, himself a supporter of independence, John Adams agrees to defend the soldiers. He is so successful in proving that Captain Peston never gave an order to “Fire” and the soldiers shot in self-defence that they are all found innocent, but two were ordered to have the letter M for Manslaughter branded on their thumbs. John Adams would later become the second President of the USA.

Paul Revere, a passionate patriot and propagandist for Independence used the engraving above to great effect. The soldiers are shown to be to one side of the Customs House, they were most definitely not in a firing line, and there was no officer behind them giving them an order to fire. Captain Preston was actually in front of some of their muskets when they opened fire. Crispus Attucks, the man dying in the foreground and widely acclaimed as the first hero of Independence, was of mixed race, and there were no ladies in the crowd. That image so widely used is in fact what we would call today “Fake News”. Plus Ca Change?

The dinner, in the presence of a senior US Air Force officer representing the US Ambassador, succeeded in raising close to £5,000 for the Mercian Regiment Museum (Worcestershire)

THE ROYAL HOSPITAL CHELSEA

Regimental Headquarters has had several personnel getting in touch asking “How do I become a Chelsea Pensioner?” To be eligible for admission, a candidate must be a former non-commissioned officer or soldier of the British Army who is:

  • Over 65 years or of State Pension age (whichever is higher)
  • Either in receipt of an Army Service Pension or War Disability Pension which you would be required to surrender upon entry to the Royal Hospital OR if you do not receive an Army Pension you would be required to make a weekly financial contribution (payable by Standing Order) towards your living costs. This contribution will be based on an assessment of affordability completed during the application process. Please note if you are in receipt of an Army Service Pension and/or War Disability Pension you may also be required to make a top-up contribution (also based on an assessment of affordability)
  • Free of any financial obligation to support a spouse or family
  • To be able to live independently in the sheltered accommodation (Long Wards) – the Royal Hospital Chelsea is unable to accept direct entries to the nursing wards

More information can be found here.