The Royal Green Jackets Regimental Memorial
Dedication Ceremony, Sunday 11 May 2008
National Memorial Arboretum
A short report
On a very warm early summer's day over 1,600 former Royal Green Jackets (as counted in by the Arboretum staff) and members of our forming and antecedent regiments together with families and friends, gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to witness the official unveiling and dedication, by Field Marshal The Lord Bramall of Bushfield KG GCB OBE MC, of our own memorial dedicated to all Royal Green Jackets who had served in the regiment between 1st January 1966 and the 31st January 2007.
The sun shone brightly as we first of all gathered for a short service of thanksgiving, conducted by Major The Reverend Colin Fox TD, at the steps of the National Memorial, centrepiece of the Arboretum, and which holds the names of 133 fellow RGJ Riflemen and those of our forming and antecedent regiments who were killed on duty or as a result of terrorist action since World War II.
The service was introduced by Major General Jamie Balfour CBE who spent a few minutes talking about the Arboretum and our memorial together with a few parish notices regarding this the website and encouraging participation at the Winchester reunion on 12th July. He concluded with the line "an order by a Green Jacket is merely the basis for further discussion" or words to that effect before handing over to The Reverend Colin Fox for the service proper.
Major Ron Cassidy MBE read the reading for Pentecost Sunday and following the final hymn and blessing we moved to the RGJ memorial itself which at that time was covered in the Regimental flag.
At the RGJ memorial the assembled audience was addressed by the Field Marshal who gave a short humorous and moving speech extolling the virtues of not only the Green Jackets but also our forming regiments which elicited a Rifleman like response from those assembled and who had served in those regiments -
The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (OBLIs)
greeted by a small but respectful cheer
The King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC)
a slightly louder cheer
The Rifle Brigade
a very loud cheer – show-offs !!
The Field Marshals closing words were:
…… as you march past on this very special parade of the Royal Green Jackets Veterans’, you can do so with immense pride in the past which can never be extinguished or taken away from you and at the same time have every confidence in the future and in those to whom you have now passed on the torch and in the competence displayed by the superb way that the two battalions of The Rifles are taking our legacy forward, and who so recently served in Iraq.
A message was read out from HM The Queen our Colonel – in - Chief.
The Colonel – in – Chief’s Message
The reply to the loyal greetings sent to HM The Queen, our Colonel – in – Chief, by Maj Gen Balfour on the occasion of the unveiling and dedication of the RGJ Memorial at the National Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire on Sunday 11 May 2008:
"Please convey my warm thanks to the one thousand one hundred former Officers and Riflemen of The Royal Green Jackets Regimental Association, gathered together with their families on the occasion of the unveiling and dedication of The Royal Green Jackets Memorial, which is being held today at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire.
As your Colonel – in – Chief I much appreciate your kind words and, in return, send my warm good wishes to you all for a memorable and successful occasion."
11th May, 2008
The Field Marshal then handed over to Major Roy Stanger to organise the march past commenting that the last time he had been part of such a large assembly in Winchester he had been the right marker but now probably due to seniority or age he was being given a more static role.
With the band in position the march past was formed up. No one counted those taking part but I would estimate at least 800 and probably more "Swift and Bold", or now more properly known as the "Old and Bald" stepped off at what could only be called a leisurely pace very obviously afraid that The Rifles Band would not be able to keep up with them if they decided to go at a proper regimental pace which as is well known they are still more than capable of as seen at numerous reunions.
Led by the Recce Platoon in their scout cars which looked suspiciously like mobility scooters and wheelchairs (more MOD cutbacks I guess) they marched side by side, General rank officers marching alongside Riflemen enjoying the occasion and the obvious good humour coming from the ranks now that there was no fear of a swift double off to the pokey, all riflemen and brothers in arms together.
Above all else though, they marched proudly.
Following the march past it was into the hospitality tent to do that well known Green Jacket thing - meet and greet old friends and of course partake of the odd beer or 3. Lunch for some was in the restaurant whilst others enjoyed a picnic lunch in the sun outside the tent. It was then time for a walk around the Arboretum to look at the other memorials and check the names inscribed on the National Memorial.
The sun continued to shine throughout the day - who said the sun only shines on the righteous? All too soon it was time to return to our respective areas having met up with old friends some of whom I personally had not seen for 28 years. A fine day out and one not to be forgotten.
Let's do it all again in 10 years!!
Note: When the loyal greetings were sent to our Colonel – in – Chief, 1,100 members had indicated their attendance at the ceremony, on the day there were a lot more than that !
Senior Officers on Parade
Not in photograph