Page 251 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
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    Gala Night entertainment from The Waterloo Band
DERR@60. 07 – 10 June 2019
To commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the creation of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) by the amalgamation of the Royal Berkshire Regiment and The Wiltshire Regiment on 9th June 1959, the organising committee of Farren Drury, John Marsh, Toby North, Arthur Christian and Mike Godwin organised what can only be described as an outstanding reunion. The Warner’s Lakeside Holiday Village on Hayling Island was taken over by 450 members and their wives for the weekend centred on 9th June.
Warner’s staff went out of their way to make us feel welcomed and special. Each evening’s entertainment each night was excellent, though it must be said that the addition of the Waterloo Band on the evening of Saturday was brilliant, especially the musical battle of the post horn gallop.
Visits to Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth or the D-Day Operations Room in Southwick House supplemented the fun activities laid on within the village. Sunday saw the March Pass, with Brigadier Patrick Davison-Houston taking the salute, assisted by Major Dougie Mortimer (at 93 years young a veteran of Normandy), followed by a Drumhead Service led by the venerable Alan Jeans, Archdeacon of Sarum and the Association Chaplain.
Thanks go to the Rifles and RGBW Regimental Trustees for their support through a grant.
Half A Century But Not Forgotten
On Friday, 9th November 2018 at 1100 hours, a memorial ceremony was held in Salisbury’s London Road Cemetery at the grave of 24029187 Drummer Denis Robert Safe of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) to mark the 50th anniversary of his death.
He was a Salisbury lad who enlisted in the Army aged 15 as a junior drummer, and after 2 years training at the Wessex Brigade Depot in Exeter had been posted in the autumn of 1966 to the 1st Battalion of his Regiment stationed in Minden in the then West Germany.
The Battalion was in the mechanized infantry role and equipped with FV432 tracked armoured personnel carriers. He arrived in time for Exercise ETERNAL TRIANGLE III, the 1st Armoured Division version of the large Divisional-level exercises which were an autumn feature of the ‘Cold War’ years and was posted as a rifleman in a mechanized platoon in A Company. After the FTX he joined the Corps of Drums which was roled as the Battalion Reserve Platoon, a mechanized platoon directly under the CO’s control. In the following 2 years of the very busy programme of field training interleaved with musical performances which was the lot of a Drums Platoon in the British Army of the Rhine in the 1960s, Bob Safe became an experienced infantryman and 432 driver, in addition to his parade role as a tenor drummer and bugler.
On the morning of Saturday, 9th November 1968 he was crushed when an APC on which he was working lurched rearwards, despite the gear selector being in neutral, subsequent investigation showing that several mechanical defects of which no one had been aware had combined to override the designed safety devices. His whole platoon returned to Salisbury to provide military honours at the funeral of their 19 years old comrade.
Half a century later, 14 former members of the Drums, together with 15 members of Dmr Safe’s family including 4 of his 5 brothers and sisters, gathered at the grave, behind which now lie those of his parents. At the foot of his grave was laid a DERR tenor drum with a bugle on it, and ex-Cpl D E Smith, the bass drummer in 1968 and now the Rifles and RGBW Regimental Association’s DERR Standard
Bearer, stood at the side carrying that Standard. The CO of 5th Bn The Rifles, based at Bulford, sent a Subaltern Officer, together with a bugler in the green uniform of today’s Regiment, to emphasize the unbroken historical link – the ‘Golden Thread’ – between DERR and its 21st Century successor. The sentiment that ‘those you lost are ours too’ was greatly appreciated by all the former DERRs present. Col (retd) T M A Daly, the Drums Platoon Commander in 1968, gave an address in which he described Bob Safe’s time in the Army and the circumstances of his death, as many of his relatives present had never had a chance to know their broth- er-in-law or uncle/great uncle. He then laid a poppy wreath with the DERR badge and an inscription based on the “Ode of Remembrance” taken from Laurence Binyon’s poem, “For the Fallen”, which
The bugler then sounded Last Post and the standard was lowered, and after a one minute silence Rouse was sounded.
Everybody then proceeded for refreshments and to reminisce in the DERR Room at the Regiment’s spiritual home and museum, The Wardrobe in the Salisbury Cathedral Close – over which flies the flag of The Rifles.
             THE RIFLES
“Bob, 50 years after we, your comrades, laid you in this your native Wiltshire soil, you remain forever a young ‘Farmer’s Boy’ with a Drum and a Bugle. You did not grow old as we who are left grew old: age did not weary you or the years condemn. And at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we still remember you. The Corps of Drums 1 DERR from 1968”

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