Annual Report published in the Gazette 2012 Issue No. 35

PRESIDENT:  Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO., OBE.

VICE PRESIDENTS: Lt Col The Lord Wigram, MC: Lt Col ET Bolitho MBE; Lt Col P.E. Hills FLCM, psm; Lt Col LCA Ranson, TD; Maj JA Sandison, MBE, QMG; Capt JW Walker; DT Griffiths Esq; J Frost Esq; Lt Col R Dorney, MBE; C Savage Esq.

CHAIRMAN: Mr C Savage

SECRETARY: Mr M Allen, 51 Vowles Close, Wraxall, Bristol, BS48 1PP Tel. (07500) 822519

Email: bristolsecretary@hotmail.co.uk

WEBSITE: www.bristolgrenadiers.org.uk

WEBMASTER: Mr RL Cox

TREASURER: Mr AF Lock

MEETINGS: Committee meeting will be held on the first Monday (Excluding January) of each month at the: {Now changed to the 1st Sunday at 16.00hrs - 11/09/2017}

Officers Mess, The Royal Artillery Grounds, Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2LG

2011 ended on a very positive note for the Bristol Branch with some eighty Branch members seated at the first dinner to be held at our new home at The Royal Artillery Grounds in Clifton, Bristol. We were delighted to welcome Capt Falorin Kuku from Support Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards as our Regimental speaker. Capt Kuku gave us a very amusing and extremely enlightening insight into Battalion life. We were equally delighted to welcome Branch Life Vice President Lord Wigram who re-unveiled the Branch Household Division Plaque board which he had originally unveiled some thirty years before and which has now been fully refurbished by the Branch Chairman Keith Jones. Keith had recently rescued it from the attic at the Royal British Legion building in Kingswood where it had languished in a state of some disrepair since the Branch moved from there some years ago. Lord Wigram said how delighted he was to see the plaque board again and commented on what a magnificent job Keith had done. 

The Branch President, Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO, OBE made his customary address and thanked all present for attending and supporting the Branch. In particular the President thanked Colonel and Mrs Hills and Stan and Dorothy Tucker for travelling from Cornwall, Colonel Lance Ranson TD and Colin Knight from Gloucester and L/Sgt and Emma Thompson for travelling from Aldershot, where they are now stationed with the 1st Battalion. All Branch members attending the dinner agreed that it had been resounding success and called upon CQMSI Alan Chick, our resident Grenadier at the Artillery Grounds to make the necessary arrangements for us to return there next year.

 After the ‘Winter recess’ St George’s Day saw the inaugural competition for the newly commissioned St Georges Cup, this was to be in the form of a skittles match between ourselves and the Bristol Branch of the Coldstream Guards Association. It had been decided that the venue for the competition would be the Port of Bristol sports and social club in Shirehampton, this was in effect home ground for the enemy as this is where they currently hold their monthly meetings. As we assembled in the very hospitable and extremely reasonably priced bar it became obvious to the Grenadiers that we would not be disadvantaged as the ‘away’ team as we clearly outnumbered the Coldstreamers by some five or six to one. At precisely 1400 battle was joined in the skittle alley, the Grenadiers led by team Captain Terry Dray won the toss and decided to ‘bat’ second.

 The Coldstreamers took to the alley and looked worryingly impressive as they started clattering skittles left, right and centre. After the first of four sets the Grenadiers were alarmingly ten points down and fearing the worst. The second set saw the Coldstreamers unleash their ‘big guns’ in the form of a rather large L/Sgt who was still serving with the Regiment. Whilst lining up his opening ball the NCO was heard to mutter that this was ‘going to be as easy as knocking out Grenadier teeth’, the young L/Sgt then went on to bathe himself in glory by missing with all three balls of the first hand, the hoots of derision from the Grenadier contingent could probably have been heard for many miles. The second set saw the Coldstream advantage reduced to three points and in the third set team Captain Terry took full command of the game and we were four points ahead going into the final set.

It was a mere formality for a captain of Terry’s calibre to see off the foe and win the Tournament by ten points. The Coldstreamers were extremely gracious in their defeat, despite what must have been a bitter disappointment for them they mustered three cheers for the victorious Grenadiers and their captain presented Terry with the trophy. A fantastic Day’s entertainment was had by all present. Those Branch members who were unable to attend missed a really good day out. Watch the calendar for next year as I am sure the Coldstreamers will have the bit firmly between their teeth and we will need all the support that we can muster.

 May 15th saw some 40 Branch members boarding the coach for Regimental Remembrance Day, the first excursion of the year for the Branch. Following the timings of last year we arrived in London in good time for Branch members to find suitable lunch venues before the formal proceedings of the day began. This has proved to be a popular change to previous year’s timings as some Branch members were going most of the day without meal breaks. After the march back from Horse Guards the President of the Association, Colonel E H Houstoun OBE gave his customary rousing address to the massed ranks of Association members and called for three cheers for the serving members of the Regiment, these were duly delivered with immense gusto. Bristol Branch members, as has become the custom then repaired eagerly to the extremely hospitable surroundings of the Sergeants’ Mess to catch up with old friends from other Branches. On the return journey to Bristol we availed ourselves of the hospitality of the Windsor Branch and enjoyed a delicious fish and chip supper at their magnificent premises just off the M4 in Windsor.

 The second trip ‘up the M4’ of the year came on Sunday June 12th when a full coach of Branch Members set off for Aldershot for Grenadier Day. The Branch Secretary and his good lady, Gaynor, had formed the advance party and set off from Bristol some hours before the coach with the Branch stall and cider. The coach left the M32 and joined the M4 under leaden skies and as we progressed east the skies became darker and the rain began falling, a phone call to the Secretary, already in Aldershot, confirmed that it was raining quite heavily there as well. Upon arriving in Aldershot we were delighted to find that the rain had stopped and the Secretary and his wife had the stall ready to open for business. We enjoyed a couple of hours of brisk trading on the stall before the rain returned, at first a light soaking, soon to progress to a heavy downpour and then to conditions which can only be described as monsoon like. In conditions that were truly appalling most Association Members present sought sanctuary in the NAAFI which was soon full to capacity of dripping and soggy Branch Members, even the Regimental Band sought refuge in the beer tent but gallantly the Association Corps of Drums took the arena and gave a magnificent display to the few people who had not taken shelter elsewhere. All credit to our own John Morgan who most certainly did look like the proverbial drowned rat.

 Despite the most appalling weather in memory, the Branch still made a profit on the cider which should keep the Branch Treasurer quiet for the next few months. It should be noted that the cider sales were boosted enormously by Steve Greenaway who as we were closing, was despatched to the stall by an obviously very thirsty Mrs Greenaway with clear and precise instructions not to return without a glass of our cider for her. On being told that we were closing and could not open a new barrel just to serve one drink Steve tried to explain his predicament and explained that when Mrs Greenaway asked for a drink, Mrs Greenaway got a drink and he could not possibly return without the glass of Bristol cider. Sales executive and Skittle team Captain, Terry Dray offered him a very reasonable deal on a full barrel and hands were shaken. An abiding memory of Grenadier Day 2011 is Mush Greenaway walking across a soggy field in the pouring rain with a barrel of Thatcher’s cider on his shoulder, priceless!

 It will have been noticed at the beginning of this report that you are reading about the Branch Dinner held in 2010, and you are reading this in 2012, this is due to the timings for the Branch Dinner and also the deadlines for these Branch reports to be submitted to RHQ. With these deadlines and the inclement weather in late November in mind, the Committee of the Bristol Branch decided to bring the date of the 2011 dinner forward to October 1st when, we returned to the Royal Artillery Grounds in Clifton for another highly successful evening overseen by the ever scrupulous CQMSI Alan Chick whose attention to detail left no stone unturned. With some 65 Branch members in attendance a thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all, we were most fortunate that Branch Vice President Major Richard Dorney MBE was able to attend; Major Dorney who was then Quartermaster 1st Battalion gave a very interesting and amusing insight into Battalion affairs. Chris Savage did a remarkable job as Master of Ceremonies and ensured that the evening ran smoothly.

 The Branch President thanked all for attending and supporting the dinner then singled out the Branch Chairman for particular praise. General Webb-Carter reminded all present of the tremendous amount of time and effort that the Chairman, Keith Jones, had put into the Branch over a period of many years. The president recalled the occasions that Keith had served the Branch as Chairman and Secretary and indeed general dogsbody and bottle washer. General Sir Evelyn went on to say that, given Keith had indicated his intentions to step down at the next AGM, in his considered opinion Keith was eminently eligible to be made Vice President of the Branch and duly bestowed this field promotion upon the somewhat speechless Chairman. From all within the Branch, well done Keith, thoroughly deserved.

 As is normal for the Bristol Branch some of our members made a great effort to attend the dinner and travelled great distances to do so, mentioned in this despatch - Colonel and Mrs Hills and Stan and Dorothy Tucker from Cornwall, Dave and Barbara Scolding from Birmingham, Keith and Anita Jones from Yate and of course our Life Vice President Lord Wigram who would not miss a Branch Dinner under any circumstance. The committee of the Bristol Branch would like to thank all Branch members who have helped to support the Branch over the past 12 months, without their help the Branch would not be the success that it is. Their continued help and support is appreciated. We would always like to see Branch members who have not been in touch for some time, by all means come along to our meetings or one of our events, you will always be welcome.

 In closing this year’s report it is our sad duty to report the passing of 2619168 John Morris. John was one of the oldest members of the Bristol Branch and had served as a L/Sgt with the Regiment during the Second World War, He saw action in the major campaigns of the early forties and found himself in Tunis in 1942 where on St George’s Day he received severe machine gun wounds to both legs. John then spent several years in hospitals and convalescent homes recovering from his injuries and was to spend the rest of his life disabled and unable to walk without the aid of his sticks. John believed that his injuries were what made him the man he became John Morris passed away peacefully in hospital two days after his 91st Birthday, an impeccable Grenadier to the last.