17 Members present for the March 2017 Branch Meeting.
17 members were present for the March 2017 branch meeting, plus not one, but "two" mini buses full of guests. One came from Tidworth, filled with soldiers from our affiliated Squadron "Cyclops" the other from Bovington carrying phase two recruits invited to listen to the guest speaker, WOII Harley Upham, the next and their future RSM. Total numbers present including partners was about 45. A more than adequate turnout. A minutes silence was held for two former members of 1 RTR, Jeff Begley, who joined in with members of the branch when they visited A Sqn 1 RTR in 2014, and Jimmy Cornmell who passed away age 55. Jimmy although not a branch member had served in 1 RTR with several branch members.
Minutes of the February branch meeting were passed. Final call was made for those wishing to attend the annual RTRA Church Service and Curry Lunch at Bovington on 19th March. Once again the branch will give great support with a total of 19 (including partners) from this branch attending. On Saturday 18th March, the 8 RTR Association branch are holding their annual dinner in Bournemouth and both Dave Larcombe and Tony Hart will be present to represent the branch. Members were given the chance to bid for the limited number of places available to the RTRA for the annual Garden Party held by the "Not Forgotten Association" at Buckingham Palace on 30th May 2017. Members were made aware of the Op Banner 50th anniversary event to be held in Lisburn in 2019. Members were also able to bid for tickets for the annual founders day Parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on 8th June 2017.
It was confirmed that a deposit has been paid in respect of accommodation in Cambrai in regards to Cambrai 100. The branch secretary informed the members that 25th September will mark the 100th anniversary of the death of 2nd Lt Scowen, Tank Corps, who is buried in the Gloucester Road Cemetary in Bournemouth. It was agreed that the branch should organise a wreath laying ceremony at his grave on Sunday 24th September 2017, this is now officially "ongoing".
March 2017 Meeting
The Chairman then closed the meeting and introduced the guest speaker, WOII Harley Upham, not only SSM "Egypt" but also the current RTRA "link" WO and the newly announced RSM (designate) RTR.
Harley gave a quick update on the happenings in the Regiment, he stated that retention within the RTR was good and that not everyone who wanted to badge to RTR would get their wish. He said that any former members of the Regiment who have relatives planning to join the army and try for the RTR should contact the Regiment, thus letting the Regiment be aware of the situation and allowing the prospective candidates to get a possible advantage with RTR selection in mind. He then turned to the main topic of the day? women serving in the Regiment as Tank Crew! The first female Troop Leader is currently at Sandhurst and would be joining the Regiment later this year, lots of comments about this, the main negative comments coming from the older generation. Harley replied that we now have female RAF fighter pilots and there would have been similar negative comments if their had been female Spitfire pilots in 1940. He made the point that "it is happening" and we need to get used to it, and that the performance of many female personel in combat situations in recent years has shown that many fears seem to be unfounded.
Reading behind the lines, I get the impression that the majority of female "tankies" are likely to be Officers, and that the number of female recruits as crewmen/women/ persons/ may be in fact minuscule. Only time will tell. The social side then carried on with the bar having an unusually busy Tuesday evening.