17 Members were present for the June 2017 Branch Meeting.
17 people present for the June 2107 branch meeting. A minutes silence was held for Peter McMurray of the "Not Forgotten Association" who passed away recently. Peter was a guest speaker in 2012 and helped us form our relationship with this Military charity. We also stood and remembered the victims of the Manchester and London terrorist atrocities. Minutes of the May 2017 meeting were carried. Feedback on the Not Forgotten Association Garden Party at Buckingham Palace was given.
An update on the Weymouth Armed Forces day was given. It was confirmed that the branch now holds 8 x RTR wreaths, all of which will be used up before this time next year. One was on display for members to see "close up". Details of the Poole Civic Servive & parade on Sunday June 11th was given. Confirmation was given that the Regimental Journal will next be published in October and annually from that point onwards. The Branch Secretary (me) confirmed his absence from the July meeing due to being away on holiday.
With no further business, the Chairman closed the meeting and introduced the guest speaker.
Mr Tony (Sharky) Ward was from the Poole & District Branch, Royal Marines Association. He gave a short talk on the "Corps" and then talked about the Association.
The Royal Marines began life in 1664 as Shipborne Infantry whose job was not only to defend the ship from boarding parties and form offensive landing parties, but also to protect the officers from the possibility of attack from disgruntled and mutinous crew members! The Marines quarters just happened to be strategically placed in between the Officers quarters and those of the crew. At it's peak (1945) the Corps was 70,000 strong, but only 3000 were "Commandos" 96% of the RM were part of ships companies (turret crews and other tasks) or Landing craft crews. Today the Corps numbers around 7000.
The Royal Marines Association was created in 1946, today it has 75 branches in the UK (including a Bikers Branch) and 12 others worldwide. The Poole branch has an impressive 220 members on the books although the average monthly attendance figure is around 60. The branch has "three" standards which means it can "spread it's wings" on days like Remembrance Sunday and be visable at 3 different parades. The branch also looks after the RM memorial near Worth Matravers on the Dorset Coast, this memorial honours those "Bootnecks" killed on operations post 1945.
Although the RMA Poole figures are truly impressive it must be put into context, even today the Corps is 7000 strong, the base at Hamworthy in Poole has been a Royal Marines location for many years, Marines going as part of ships companies were trained there, the Landing Craft Arm although now at Plymouth was based at Hamworthy for a long time, the SBS have their home there. The result was that a "Bovington effect" was felt, with large numbers of Marines settling in the area after they leave the Service. Despite the figures, recruitment remains a problem with most ex Marines not joining the Association until they are into the 60's. Online communication also has a negative effect. (every Military Association knows about this) With everyone able to communicate on numerous social media sites 24/7, the need and desire to "make the effort" and attend a physical branch is reduced. Such a shame as no amount of keyboard tapping comes close to the pleasure of meeting up and having a pint with the boys. In contrast, the Portsmouth Branch of the RMA is struggling, because no Marines are based at Pompey anymore, numbers settling in the area after demob has dramatically reduced which has the obvious knock on effect.
The presentation was very well received, and I have offered (and they have accepted) to return the favour at their August branch meeting. Do they know what they are letting themselves in for? A few years ago I was guest speaker at the Spring Lunch of the Wessex Branch, Parachute Regiment Association, I thought it went well, not quite sure why the branch closed down shortly afterwards though? At least RMA Poole meet at the Hamworthy base, convenient since I live in Hamworthy and can walk to and stagger back from the presentation.