Minutes of the 11th Annual General Meeting of the Rifles and Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regimental Association, held at Ward Barracks (Training Wing, 5 RIFLES), Bulford Garrison, at 1030 hours on Saturday 28 January 2023
Appointment: Name: Initials:
Chairman Col (Retd) M J Cornwell OBE MJC
Secretary Maj (Retd) S E Bowkett SEB
Acting Treasurer Lt Col (Retd) M J R Motum DL MJRM
Plus 28 Members listed in the minutes book
Apologies had been received from:
- Association President – Brig (Retd) P E-O’R-B Davidson-Houston CBE DL
- Association Vice President – Brig (Retd) M S Vine OBE
- Col (Retd) M S Lee-Browne CBE TD DL
- Maj (Retd) N J Walker
- Maj J Walker (Rifles County Colonel Berkshire)
- Capt (Retd) I G Spence; J Tozer and T North
- Messrs P Compton; P Weaving: B Mitchell; M Kerr; R Tadhunter
ITEM – 1: Welcome from the Association Chairman
1.1. The Chairman welcomed everyone and explained how the AGM would proceed. He also explained that this 2022 AGM had been delayed from the usual October date as the new Management Board (MB) had been unable to meet until October 2022. He went on to outline the Agenda:
- Item – 1: Chairman’s Welcome and Introduction
- Item – 2: Minutes of the 10 AGM
- Item – 3: Report on the Accounts and Income & Expenditure for the year 01 April
2021 – 31 March 2022
- Item – 4: Report from County Chairmen and Branches on activities since last AGM
- Item – 5: 2023 Regiment Reunions and AGM
- Item – 6: Brief on the Rifles Association
- Item – 7: Future Association Events and Funding
- Item – 8: Regimental Memorials
- Item – 9: Any Other Business
ITEM – 2: Minutes of the 10th AGM of the Rifles and RGBW Regimental Association and Matters Arising
2.1. National Memorial Arboretum (NMA). The Chairman recounted that a number of members had commented adversely about the deteriorating condition of the Regimental Memorial at the NMA. The Association Secretary had visited the NMA and briefed the MB on his findings. As detailed in the October 2022 Newsletter, the NMA no longer allows Associations to carry out their own maintenance of memorials, due partly to eager volunteers using incorrect cleaning materials and thereby causing damage. Instead, the NMA suggested 3 options:
- A one off cleaning charge – £180 (including VAT)
- A maintenance agreement ‘in perpetuity’, including cleaning and mowing but not retouching lettering – £4,778.48 (including VAT)
- A maintenance agreement ‘in perpetuity’ as above but to include repainting of lettering every 10 years – £6,819.46 (including VAT)
The MB decided that the NMA should be asked for an ‘in perpetuity’ agreement to include cleaning the memorial and paving 4 times per annum and refurbishment of the lettering every 5 years. Action: Secretary.
2.2. Remembrance Parade and Imjin Commemoration 2021. The Chairman noted the excellent turnout of Gloucestershire Regiment Old Comrades at the RBL Parade in Whitehall in November 2021 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Imjin. Ninety nine Old Comrade were on parade (one for every Gloucestershire Regiment officer and soldier killed in the battle). He confirmed that the Association allocation for future Remembrance Parades at the London Cenotaph was anticipated to be in the region of 30 – 35 tickets.
2.3. Branch Arrangements for Funerals. The Chairman outlined the arrangements for the funerals of Old Comrades put in place by the Gloucestershire and Somerset branches and commended them to other branches. Bereaved families often seek the assistance of branches to provide coffin drapes and standard bearers. No charge is made for these services but families are often keen to make a donation to the branch concerned. The MB had agreed that such donations can be paid into branch bank accounts with a record kept of the amount received which should be ‘ring fenced’ for funeral purposes. The MB had further agreed that these funds could be used to pay the travelling expenses of Association members performing the duties of Standard Bearer at funerals. The Chairman reminded ‘Farmers Boys’ branches that a DERR coffin drape can be obtained via Mr. Chris Gale, the Curator and Museum Manager at The Rifles Wardrobe and Museum Trust (RWMT) (thewardrobe.org.uk or Tel: 01722 419419).
2.4 Wreaths for Funerals. The Chairman noted that families should pay separately for wreaths which can be obtained from the Royal British Legion, either directly by the family or with the assistance of branches. The appropriate wreath is a ‘Type C’ which houses the appropriate Regimental Badge. To see what wreaths are available, enter ‘wreaths’ into the ‘Search’ box; wreaths with the Regimental badge are not available online. These have to be ordered from the RBL by telephone (Tel: 0345 845 1945), carefully specifying a Type C wreath with the appropriate Regimental Badge of the regiment the deceased served. RBL staff are not necessarily aware of regimental identities, hence the need to ensure they understand exactly which badge is required on the wreath. Mr Martin Talling mentioned that the price of all types of Poppy wreaths had recently increase and that it may be possible to make savings by bulk buying.
NB. Lt Col Venus recalled that the Rifles Wardrobe Museum Trust (RWMT) had previously held a form for requests for assistance with funerals and asked that advice concerning assistance with funerals be included on the Association website as many Old Comrades no longer belong to a branch. Action: Secretary.
2.5. Constitution Handbook. The Chairman stated that the revised Association Constitution and Handbook had been sent in draft to County Chairmen for their comments and would be reissued to branches in due course.
ITEM – 3: Report on the Association Accounts and Income & Expenditure for the Year 01 April 2019 – 31 March 2020.
3.1. Lt Col Motum, as Treasurer to the Rifles & RGBW Management Board, reminded members that Association funds now sit with the Rifles Regimental Trust (RRT) and are invested alongside their other very substantial funds. When funds were moved to the RRT the approximate values were:
- Association Funds £402K
- Regimental Funds £159K
- Rocke Bequest £139K
- Total £700K
Over the past year or so, the investment climate has been very challenging and and reductions in value of 7 – 8% are commonplace. That said, the RRT investments have fared much better than most and the overall cost of running the portfolio has reduced significantly. Precise figures for funds held will be published by the RRT at the beginning of February and made available to the next MB meeting on 24 March.
3.2. The Chairman of the RGBW MB, Brig Grist, has asked Lt Col Motum to consider financial strategy for the short, medium and long term. This will be discussed alongside the in-year budget at the MB meeting on 24 March. It is anticipated the MB will approve the current practise of each county receiving an annual £2K grant. In the past this has often been claimed retrospectively. In the future each county will be able to claim their sum in advance. Key points are:
- Each county committee and chair will be responsible for the management of their grant. I will be courteous to discuss plans with the respective Rifles County Colonels.
- Grants are there to benefit members along with assisting the purpose of the Association and its place within the serving regiment, The Rifles. Therefore, some counties might wish to encourage attendance at significant events suchs as Ferozeshah, Maiwand or Back Badge, perhaps by paying for a few tickets to benefit Cadets, Riflemen and those connected to the 5 pillars (Regulars, Reserves, Cadets, Veterans and Community). This is a matter for each county to determine, mindful of their £2K grant. In future, organisers will claim costs from their county chair rather than the Taunton office. Meanwhile, as in the past, individual members are expected to pay a reasonable share towards the cost of each function.
- It is important that this county grant be paid into an existing Branch account and one where the county chair can have necessary visibility.
- Before payment of the following year’s grant, it will be appropriate to submit a single sheet of A4 explaining, in very simple terms, how the county chairman decided to spend the grant. Four or five bullet points with approximate amounts is all that is required.
ITEM – 4: Reports From County Chairmen and Branches on Activities Since the Last AGM
4.1. Capt Keeling, the Gloucestershire County Chairman, recorded that the Forest of Dean branch had held a successful Open Day resulting in 6 new members and the possibility of reopening a Gloucester Branch. They had also held the Korean Oak ceremony at Bathurst Park, Lydney. He reminded members of the forthcoming Back Badge Reunion on 18 March 2023 to be held at St. Mary’s de Crypt Church in Gloucester. Contrary to previous years, the march would begin here and end at St. Mary’s de Lode because of road works in the vicinity of the latter church.
4.2. Mr Martin Talling, the Bristol and Somerset County Chairman, stated that the Association assisted in the funerals of over 40 Old Comrades over the past year and the branch had purchased 2 new Regimental coffin drapes. The positive feedback from bereaved families made the effort worthwhile. The Somerset branch had held a successful New Year’s lunch last year with 3 new members joining but he also noted that 10% of members had died or become housebound in the past year, which underlined the importance of work to create an ‘online’ branch. He paid tribute to the work of Mr Phil Miller who died on 22 January 2022. Mr Miller was the webmaster of the Gloucester Regimental Association website from its inception in 1994 as well as forming and serving as Secretary of the Somerset Branch of the Association from 2008. Mr Talling went on to record his gratitude to Mr Jim Waterfall who has taken on the role of webmaster for the Association.
4.3. Mr Roger Smith, Chairman of the Severn Branch, reported that they had held a successful Christmas lunch (45 attended) but sadly 4 members had died over the past year. The branch had commissioned a plaque displaying the regimental badges of all the antecedent regiments of the RGBW as well as The Rifles which is due to be unveiled by the Sheriff of Gloucester on 16 February.
4.4. Mr Scott McBryde, representing the Stroud and Forest of Dean Branches, noted that the Stroud branch meets quarterly. Up to 12 members meet, none of whom are from Stroud itself, and they also support the Forest of Dean branch.
4.5. Mr Dave Smith, Chairman of the Reading Branch, reported that the problems the branch treasurer had experienced setting up the new branch bank account with new signatories, had now been resolved. He briefed the meeting about last year’s Maiwand Day at Brock Barracks, Reading and stated that Mr Peter Richens would speak about Maiwand 2013.
4.6. Capt Crocker, Chairman of West Wiltshire Branch reported that the branch had held a successful Christmas dinner and a trip to the Tank Museum at Bovington. Six members had taken part in the RBL parade at Melksham in November. The branch meets at Bromham and has members of the Farmer’s boys regularly attending Veteran’s Breakfast Club functions held in Bath and Chippenham linking up with veterans from other Arms and Services.
4.7 Capt Sherman, County Chairman Wiltshire, speaking for both Salisbury and Warminster branches, drew members attention to the forthcoming Salisbury AGM and lunch on 30 April; all members from Wiltshire would be welcome. He also mentioned the Wardrobe lunch on 16 July which had been very successful last year and reported that the Salisbury Branch had recruited a new standard bearer. Turning to the Warminster Branch, he noted that very few of the members remained fully mobile and speculated that, consequently, the branch may have to close in 18 months or so.
NB. The Chairman responded to this last news, stating that, as an ageing association, all branches were in the same position. He remarked that we need to encourage those who served in the RGBW to join; it was his impression that many RGBW Old Comrades feel somewhat ‘lost’ with regard to their place in the Association. Lt Col Motum, the Acting Treasurer, reminded members that in granting branches up to £2K for the coming financial year (01 April 2023 – 31 March 2024) it was the intention of the MB to subside annual events that would strengthen membership.
ITEM – 5: Regimental Reunions and Events in 2023 and next AGM
5.1. The list of forthcoming regimental events and reunions is at Annex A. The next AGM of the Association is planned for 7 October 2023.
5.2. Mr Peter Richens, Vice Chairman Reading Branch, briefed the meeting on the plans for Maiwand Day 2023 at Brock Barracks, Reading. The day has been brought forward to 16 July to enable more members to attend and to avoid the Rifles Salamanca Day. Last year’s Maiwand Day was successful, the first since the Covid ‘standdown’ but this year it is hoped it will be better attended. The format will be similar, with a short service in front of the Maiwand Cenotaph, followed by a parade and lunch (cost of lunch is expected to be £12.50). 7 RIFLES have been very supportive and music will be provided by the ACF Band. Finally, he reassured members that Brock Barracks has a new, functioning, front gate.
ITEM – 6: Brief on The Rifles Association
6.1. The Chairman, initially missed this Item in the agenda but recovered to cover it under AOB, reported that he had logged onto the Rifles network site “Swift” and taken a close look at the section headed ‘The Rifleman’s Association’; he was able to report the following:
- The Rifles Association South Branch includes the counties of Berkshire and Wiltshire and seems to be centred on Reading and has 222 members. The Point of Contact is Rob Soutter who is the Regimental Operations Support Officer (ROSO) of 7 RIFLES.
- The Rifles Association South West Branch covers Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset and has 37 Members. The Point of Contact is Elliot Drake who lives in Devon.
- The Rifles Association Midlands/Central England Branch covers Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire and cities of Birmingham and Coventry, plus the other Central England counties of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire. No members appear on Swift but the Point of Contact is Andrew Trelawny, Rifles Office Shrewsbury.
Mr Peter Richens mentioned that he knew Rob Soutter and that the Reading Branch receive excellent support from them.
6.2. The Chairman mentioned that two Rifles and RGBW members had experienced problems registering to use Swift; he suggested anyone being asked to provide further evidence of their military service ask that Swift liaise with this Association.
Afternote from the Chairman: It may be beneficial for each branch to contact the relevant Rifles Point of Contact letting them know where our branches are, when you meet and that you would welcome Rifles veterans to any of our meetings.
ITEM – 7: Regimental Memorials (National Memorial Arboretum and Sandes Home) Update
7.1. Sandes Home, Ballykinler. The Chairman reminded members that in 1986 a memorial stone to the two DERR soldiers killed in the 1974 bombing of the Sandes Home outside Abercorn Barracks at Ballykinler, N. Ireland, was unveiled at the new Sandes Home. With the closure of the barracks and the departure of 2 RIFLES in 2014, the memorial was moved to the new home of 2 RIFLES in Lisburn. The Chairman is consulting with RHQ Rifles as to whether the Regimental Memorial Garden at The Wardrobe would not be a more suitable permanent home for that memorial, in vie of the peripatetic nature of army units.
7.2. Cpl Fenton. The family of Cpl Fenton, killed by a hit and run driver at a joint military/RUC checkpoint near Crossmaglen in 1998, are keen for his memorial also to be moved to The Wardrobe and the Chairman is in touch with RHQ RIFLES for an update. He asked members to let him know of any similar ‘lost’ memorials.
ITEM – 8: Service of Dedication of the Rifles & RGBW Book of Remembrance at Salisbury Cathedral on 17 May 2023
8.1. The Chairman outlined the plan for the Rifles & RGBW Association to host a Service of Dedication in Salisbury Cathedral on 17 May 2023 for the Book of Remembrance created for the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Regiment and for The Rifles. The Service will start at 14:30 hours, is expected to last 45 minutes and will be followed by a short service in The Wardrobe Garden to scatter the ashes of the disintegrated Colours of the 62nd Foot and a tea party for guests and Association members.
8.2. The Book of Remembrance commemorates those officers and soldiers of the RGBW who have died in service and also of their successor regiment, The Rifles. The Book of Remembrance is supported by The Rifles who, it is anticipated, will arrange for a monthly ‘turning of the page’ in line with similar Books of Remembrance in Winchester Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
8.3. The Service. During the Service of Dedication, the names of the 16 officers and soldiers of the RGBW and RGBWLI inscribed in the Book will be read out, along with 10 names of those from The Rifles who hailed from the RGBW counties or who had a close connection to them. Space prevents the inclusion of a military band so the Service will be accompanied by the cathedral organ and 4 buglers from 5 RIFLES. It is also intended that there will be a choral element to the Service. At the end of the Service, the Book of Remembrance will be taken in procession, escorted by the Association Standards, to be placed in St. Michael’s Chapel where it will join the similar Book of Remembrance for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) (DERR).
8.4. Colours of the 62nd Foot. The Chairman explained that the Cathedral authorities have declared the Colours of the 62nd Foot (forbears of The Wiltshire Regiment), which are laid up in the Cathedral, to be ‘disintegrated’. Consequently, they will formally return the Disintegrated Colours to the Association during a Service of Evensong on a date to be agreed in March. The procedure for the disposal of disintegrated colours is that they should either be buried in unmarked consecrated ground or cremated. In this instance, the finials will be removed from the pikes and placed in the Museum archive. The pikes and colours will then be destroyed by burning. Following the Service of Dedication in the Cathedral, as those attending the Service gather for tea in The Wardrobe garden, there will be a short service at the Regimental Memorial Garden to scatter the ashes of the Colours.
8.5. Volunteers. The Chairman informed members that the Association would be looking for 12 volunteer ushers and 7 standard bearers to assist with both aspects of the day’s events.
ITEM – 9: Any Other Business
9.1. Capt Sherman asked if the Rifles were contributing towards the cost of the Book of Remembrance. The Chairman stated that it had been paid for by the Association but that the Rifles would continue to update the Book in future.
9.2. Mr Peter Richens, Reading Branch, asked if ‘Maiwand Bobby’ could be borrowed by the Reading Branch from the Museum for Maiwand Day in July. The Chairman replied that this request should be made to the Major Walker, the Chairman of the RWMT, and would probably depend on finding suitable insurance although Lt Col Venus remarked that this had been done in the past.
9.3. Lt Col Motum thanked Mr Martin Talling for picking up the reins of the GLOSTERS website effectively and handing over to Mr Jim Waterfall as the new webmaster. He also briefed the meeting that the Rifles Association was now getting up and running and asked members to be as supportive and as helpful as possible (see Item 6).
9.4. The Chairman, realising he had missed Item 6 from its place within the agenda, followed up on Lt Col Motum’s’ comments on the Rifles Association which appear under Item 6 of these minutes.
9.5. The Chairman stated that members were welcome to join the Rifles website, SWIFT. Two members had recently had their applications to join online denied but he had been able to facilitate the process. He invited any member who experiences similar difficulties to get in touch with him.
9.6. Capt Keeling, Gloucestershire County Chairman, spoke about the contribution made to the Association by the late Sam Mercer. He explained that, at his family’s request, it is intended to scatter his ashes at Imjin Barracks on 26 April. Further details will follow. Capt Sherman stated that he would liaise.
9.7. A query was raised about the annual administrative grant of £100 that is usually paid to each branch. Treasurer RGBW MB stated that he anticipates the RGBW MB continuing to approve this annual sum at their meeting on 24 Mar 23. Points to remember are:
- Each branch account is in effect run as a sub-set of the RRT. Consequently the actions of the RGBW MB, the Association, Branch Officers and Members are accountable to the trustees of the RRT.
- A £100 Administrative Grant is payable to each Branch provided theysubmit their annual financial statement to Mrs Debbie Hards (The Rifles Office Taunton) for scrutiny by the Treasurer. This is not an onerous task and is often best summarised on a single sheet of typed A4 paper. Should branch officers have concerns they are welcome to telephone the Taunton Office to discuss (Tel: 01823 333434). In the past year the following branches have successfully claimed their Administrative Grant: Forest of Dean, Isle of Wight, Reading, Salisbury, Severn, Somerset, Stroud and West Wiltshire.
The meeting closed at 12:10 hours.
A. Reunions, Lunches and AGM- 2023