Page 243 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
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This has been an interesting and fulfilling year in Gloucestershire and it will only be possible to select some highlights for this report. We had the Pte Miles VC ‘paving stone’ unveiled at Clearwell in the Forest of Dean in October. Maj Gen Robin Grist gave the address and the event was supported by both 1 and 6 RIFLES as well as local veterans and Standards. Those from the Miles family told of a very quiet and gentle old man surprised, in adulthood, on hearing about his First World War valour.
November saw a tremendous turnout across the county for Remembrance Day 2019 where thousands of people turned up to many events to particularly those marking the centenary of the Armistice. This was soon followed by the Gloucester- shire and Racing Remembers event at Cheltenham Racecourse at which we had over 300 Reservists, Cadets and Veterans marching behind the Waterloo Band with the Princess Royal taking the Salute as the parade marched up the Racecourse in front of a 20,000 crowd and millions on live television. The parade was led by Lt Col Rob Dixon and he, along with 50 other veterans, marched at the head of the parade dressed in Glosters World War 1 uniforms. They were followed by a squad of 7 cadets from Cheltenham College CCF, also in WW1 dress, to represent one cadet for every 100 former pupils that died in WW1. They were followed by a guard from 6 RIFLES commanded by Major Ollie Bevan and some 100 Gloucestershire ACF (Rifles) cadets, with another 60+ Sea and Air Cadets in support. It was a great sight and began to bring home, to everyone, the numbers that marched off to war from Gloucestershire. Meanwhile extensive static displays demonstrated support by the county for the war effort.
March saw a splendid Back Badge Day in Gloucester, organised by Capt Len Keeling. A service in St Mary de Lode church, with an address by Lt Col Tony Ayres (County Colonel Gloucester-
shire), was followed by a march and lunch at the Walls Social Club. It was an excellent turnout and the largest Back Badge Day parade for many years.
This year has also seen significant
changes in the Soldiers of Glouces-
tershire Museum, which is no longer
funded in any respect, by the MOD.
Meanwhile a five-year grant from the
RGBW Charities is doing much to help
operating costs while bridging the
gap to sustainability. This year sees
the end of the first year of a 5 year
business plan that is both meeting and
exceeding its targets. The Museum is
on the road to becoming fully self-sufficient within the next three years. To facilitate this the building has been purchased from the MOD, launched the museum as a hospitality venue and also launched a new membership scheme (all invited to join at The museum has also had an initial Heritage Lottery Fund grant for its next stage of development. A subsequent bid submission is planned for later this year.
We look forward to another busy and exciting year ahead, with the current highlight being the planned Homecoming Freedom March through Gloucester on 23 Nov 2019 for 1 RIFLES on return from Op TORAL.
   County Colonel and Standards at Clearwell
   Pte Miles VC Paving Slab
      John Cornwell – D Day Veteran
In their build up to the D Day Anniversary, The Western Daily Press published an article on 1st June 2019. John Cornwell is now aged 92 and in 1942 enlisted at Gloucester. He was 15 years old. Two years later as 2nd Glosters landed on Sword Beach on 6th June he fought his way forward. “There were no John Waynes on that day, we were all young men, many of us scared and a long way from home. I’m forever grateful I came out alive to tell the story”.
John was born and grew up in Cheltenham, working at the town’s gas works after leaving school. Unhappiness at home led him to enlist under the pretence he was born in 1924 and not 1926. Whenever returning to Normandy he always goes to the ‘headstones of other young lads, the 16-year olds and 17-year olds who did not come out alive.’
sector led to improvisation and significant changes in plan. Having got ashore they moved to Bayeux but too late to take it by midnight. The following morning the town was taken.
Two weeks later John was badly injured in an explosion south of Bayeux. With his left leg shattered and hand broken he returned to England where two years were spent in and out of hospitals including Gloucester City Hospital. Since then his left leg has been two inches shorter than his right leg. Having recovered John became an engineer with the Smiths Group at Cheltenham, he married Betty and had three children. He first returned to Normandy in 1984 for the 40th Anniversary. Much more recently John was awarded the Legion d’Honneur and was told he was the youngest recipient amongst such veterans. On the 75th Anniversary he was one of the 300 to embark on the RBL organised boat that sailed to Normandy. Sixteen of the 34 soldiers in his platoon survived and John once again had the opportunity to pay his respects to the ‘young men
      Within two weeks of enlisting he went to
Colchester for training and joined 2nd Glosters. D
Day itself was preceded by extensive training. The
Battalion formed a part of 56 Infantry Brigade; John
was armed with a Bren gun and their objective was
Bayeux. Heavy casualties in their beach-landing   who died around me’.
John Cornwell
Korean War Commemoration

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