Your Worship the Mayor, other guests and gentlemen of the Royal Sussex Regiment.
It is a great privilege to welcome all of you to this year＊s annual reunion dinner
and to see so many old friends and comrades here tonight, and enjoying
ourselves in the traditional Royal Sussex fashion. I would particularly like to
welcome Graham Rosser and Philip Middleton of the Invicta Military Vehicle
Preservation Society who are refurbishing Von Arnim＊s Staff Car, which I will
say a bit more about later. And especially to welcome those like Mario
Buttergieg and Joe Armeni coming all the way from Australia, with Doug Jones,
as always, coming from Canada. It is also good to see Bruno making a full
recovery from his operation.
But first let us remember we＊ve lost some old friends this year and some of their
obituaries are well set out in the latest Roussillon Gazette. In particular, we
would remember John Buckeridge, Denis Hoad, Jeremy Fleming, David
Beveridge, Tony Lelliott, Ernie Biggs, ＆Bilko＊ Silver and Brian Cane, amongst
Our Great War commemorations this year are slightly later and we will be going
to Arras and Passchendaele at the end of September. This tour will include a
visit to the Tyne Cot Cemetery, which some of you may recall visiting 50 years
ago as part of the guard of honour. We also remember this year that the 1st Royal
Sussex left Korea 60 years ago, the last British Battalion so to serve there.
Next year will see us commemorating the final year of the Great War and we will
be looking at the Great German Spring Offensive of 1918, which forced the
Allies to withdraw before they then counter-attacked with such force and
determination that the Germans were ready to sign the Armistice. We will also
be going to the scene of the Regiment＊s final actions on the Western Front at the
forced crossings of the Sambre-Oise Canal and the Rhonelle River by the 2nd
and 9th Battalions, and where we suffered our final casualties, with the last man,
Corporal Newton, being killed on the 10th of November 1918. We will actually be carrying out the Commemoration on the 5th and 6thof November so that
everyone can be back in time for their own Armistice Day Services and Parades
on the 11th of November, and for our own Service in London on the 8th.
You will be aware that our Museum Collection has now been fully packed and
catalogued and is being stored in a large air-conditioned container in the PWRR Cadet Battalion barracks in Brighton, and all our weapons are in their Armoury.
We are now, at last, clear of the Redoubt but, interestingly, Alan Benham-Parter
an ex-REME WO1, who had worked in the Redoubt but gave it up in disgust, has
since joined our Eastbourne Branch where his expertise has been invaluable in
boxing and moving the Collection to Brighton.
The West Sussex Record Office are now proceeding with the funding for the
extension of the Record Office, which should allow for the storage of the
Collection and for the display of specific items on a rolling programme.
However, we are determined that a suitable site will eventually be found that will
house and display the whole collection.
I mentioned the Invicta Preservation Society earlier and it is absolutely amazing
what they have done to successfully restore the Staff Car. You may have had the
chance to see the video outside but if you haven＊t, then I recommend you look at
it after Dinner. We are very lucky to have become associated with such a
dedicated team whose work is of such high quality. Invicta hopes to complete
the restoration by the end of the year so that it can be displayed in the 2018
season. Not only will it be a unique display but wherever it goes it will be
promoting and circulating the name of The Royal Sussex Regiment in a way it
could never have done sitting in the Redoubt. But don＊t worry, we haven＊t given
the Staff Car away.
We spent some time this afternoon discussing the future of the Regimental
Association 每 not that we have any doubt as to its future. The Royal Sussex
Regimental Association will continue until the last one of us drops off the perch.
Unlike the Associations of the other Home Counties Regiments, our Association
is still a thriving and dynamic organisation. What we were discussing is the need
to recruit more members, particularly in the Branches as they have to meet a
wide range of responsibilities, such as welfare, benevolence, liaison and event
participation with local authorities, Remembrance and Commemoration parades,
as well as providing a decent social programme for their Branch members and
dependants. Therefore, there is a need for Branches to recruit some additional
members to help share the load, and these are not likely to be ex-Royal Sussex.
However, before being accepted for membership any potential member must
demonstrate their commitment to the Royal Sussex Regiment＊s values, standards
and traditions. It is also accepted that recent Government legislation also
requires us to include women in our Association. We have now amended our
Association Regulations to ensure that they assess each potential member and
only grant membership to those that meet our requirements.
A small but important point please - the Royal Sussex Ladies Association are
again having their annual dinner in the White Hart, as they have done for the last
30 years. There have been some unnecessary comments about this on the
website, and while that site provides a good sounding block for discussion, it
needs to be used with care as a number of silly comments about the ladies dinner
have deeply upset the ladies. I will say only two things about this: first, we don＊t
behave like that in the Royal Sussex; and secondly, to remind you, each one of
the ladies in the White Hart has a husband or partner sitting down to dinner in
this hall, maybe sitting right next to you.
I think that＊s probably enough but in closing, it is always of enormous pleasure to
be able to thank the Mayor of Lewes, as it is great privilege for us to be able to
hold our annual dinner in these magnificent surroundings, and we are extremely
grateful for it.
Finally, on your behalf, I would like to thank the musical director, Nick
Newman, and the concert band of the Royal British Legion for their marvellous
and inspiring music this evening, with a promise of much more to come. And
also our thanks to the caterers and their excellent staff, for both producing such a
first-class dinner and for serving us so superbly. Last but not least, I would
particularly like to thank the cadets for all their excellent help and assistance
throughout the evening.
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