Page 226 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 226

Oxford Branch Royal Green Jackets Association
The past year has been yet another busy one for the Oxford Branch.
A small band of members continue to meet on “1st Tuesday” in the Volunteers Club of Edward Brooks Barracks the home of A Company 7 Rifles and the Branch continues to hold a variety of events throughout the year. Two Lunches (Spring and Autumn), the Oxford Reunion, Band Concert and occasional visits make up the normal activity. Inevitably these tend to attract mainly the retired, but numbers for our lunches normally approach capacity.
We said goodbye to Mike Marr in mid-2018. The support he gave to the Branch and wider Associ- ation cannot be underestimated; we continue to find things that he did and we have forgotten about!
The Annual Band Concert continues to be a success and was well attended. We can always do with more people to attend and the weather has not let us down yet. The Waterloo Band are always excellent and deserve our support.
The Branch also sponsor the Reunion on the Saturday evening before Remembrance Sunday. While this grew out of the Oxfordshire and Bucking- hamshire Light Infantry Reunion it is now a focus for the RGJ Association and because of being held over the Remembrance Weekend now attracts interaction between A Company of 7 Rifles and the Veterans. The increased tasking given to the Waterloo Band and health and safety, have restricted their capacity to support the reunion, but we are grateful to have secured the Corunna Band of the Oxfordshire (Rifles) Battalion Army Cadet Force who provide a musical display. They prove there seems nothing wrong with today’s youth and are a superb advertisement for their battalion.
In November the Branch participated in the Remembrance Parade in St Giles and laid wreaths on behalf of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets.
The Branch also supported a Choral Evensong which was held in Christ Church to mark the centenary of the 1918 Armistice of the Great War. The service included the Turning of the Pages of the Books of Remembrance held in the Regimental Chapel. The service was conducted by the Revd Edmund Newey, Sub Dean of Christ Church and the lessons were read by Brigadier (Retd) Robin Draper, CVO OBE, our President, and John Harwood, Vice Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire. The Book Parties included Members, Veterans and Cadets of the Rifles, the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, the Royal Green Jackets and the Oxfordshire & Bucking- hamshire Light Infantry. Representing the Branch the readers were Reg Charles, a 95 years-old veteran of WWII, Cadet Cpl Sionainne Holiday and Cpl Dave Phillips of A Company 7 Rifles with Cadet Sinead Holiday laying a wreath
It was with great sadness that several of our WW2 and older National Service Veterans passed on. They were great characters and heroes to a man and will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with the widows and families.
The branch was represented at the funerals of Jim Lewendon, Vernon Jones, Sam Langford, Henry Harris and dear Geordie Morris.
There are now additional Books of Remembrance thanks to the efforts of our President, Brigadier Robin Draper and our Chairman Terry Roper that were installed this year. These new books now incorporate the names of the Royal Green Jackets and Rifles from 1966 until the present day.
The former barracks at Cowley has been the subject of much discussion, for following the departure of British Telecom who had occupied most of the site since the 1960s, a redevelopment into student accommodation has taken place. Considerable local efforts and negotiation have ensured that an unveiling of memorials to the 43rd & 52nd at the development of the former Cowley Barracks took place recently.
A good number of veterans together with repre- sentatives of Unite Students and the University attended to watch a plinth unveiled at the new halls of residence for students for Oxford Brookes University where 885-rooms have been created.
It is hoped that the links created between Unite and the University will be of benefit to the current Regiment going forward.
We had our annual pilgrimage to Major John Howard’s Grave on 6th June where Brian Cox laid a wreath on behalf of us all. It was expected that the numbers might be down given that some members were making the pilgrimage to Normandy, but it was not so. We were again joined by members from Milton Keynes, Paddy, Pop and Scotty who then took part at the unveiling of the memorial in Normandy Crescent to D Day by The Lord Mayor of Oxford and even appeared on TV! The word about the event is growing as we also had a reporter from BFBS at Brize Norton and a small American contingent from RAF Croughton (a US signals base near Banbury) .
In August Geoff Day organised a trip to the National Memorial Arboretum and what an enjoyable day it was with over 30 members and friends travelling to visit. A visit to the Arboretum is a very moving experience and when the young trees planted around the memorials become fully mature, the memorials will appear to be hidden in glades within a forest, so that future generations may then appreciate the special landscape even more.
The weather was hot and sunny and the place is magnificent. Thanks Geoff and Andrea.
Our Branch and linked WW2 veterans number nearly 100 and they all continue to receive three copies of the Branch Newsletter “Lightbob” during the year.
We are keen to extend a welcome to any ex Royal Green Jackets and Riflemen seeking to join and are looking forward to yet more activity in the forth- coming year. We are also grateful for the ongoing help and support from A Company 7 RIFLES in whose Reserve Centre we are based.

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