Page 36 - Cormorant 2019
P. 36

Commando Dinner
Lt Col Jim Lewis & Maj Oli Denning
THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY officers from a hugely varied number of nations, services and cap badges joined the annual dinner organised by the Commandos of the Defence Academy for an evening of camaraderie and humour. Fittingly for the 75th anniversary, the theme was ‘Commandos at D-Day’ and we were privileged to be joined by veterans from the fighting at Normandy. Supported by three bands, the Commando Display team and with enough ‘Hoofing Ale’ to quench the thirst of the most overworked student, it was a night to remember - or not...
The Commando Dinner has traditionally been delivered by the Royal Marines of ACSC, and so it was in 2019 that the small cohort of Royal Marines had a series of meetings where they bantered and mocked, tasted cheese and wine, and generally prevaricated without actually organising a dinner. Thankfully a group of civic minded non-Commando trained students joined the committee and provided the skills and dedicated support that is always required to make these things a success. Special acknowledgments must go to Caroline Dix, Will Meddings and Philip O’Callaghan who each ‘dug out blind’ to help put on the show.
The 75th Anniversary provided an inspiring backdrop to proceedings and, through fantastic support
from the wider College and the Corps’ network,
a memorable dinner that recognised the most incredible acts of bravery was created. Sincere thanks go to the Guest of Honour, Brigadier Simon Urry MBE, who built upon yet another fantastic display from the Royal Marines Band Service
to deliver a pre-dinner speech that rooted the significance of the dinner against the enduring Commando values and standards.
Appropriately, the dinner was opened by Mr Jim Booth. Jim was a part of the Combined Operations Pilotage and Reconnaissance Party that guided the landing craft on to Sword Beach on the 6th of June. Kindly recording an extensive interview of
his pivotal role in the success of the amphibious landings, Jim provided a gripping insight of the emotions and pressures of guiding the assaulting force to the beaches. George Simms, who had been wounded during Operation HUSKY the previous year and landed at Sword Beach, delighted onlookers
by explaining the characteristics of the weapons provided by the Defence Academy’s Small Arms Museum. Chuck Harris, who was also wounded in the invasion of Sicily, went ashore on Gold Beach before taking part in the assault on Port-en-Bessin with 47 Commando – a much celebrated Commando raid that is studied by every Royal Marine completing training today. Chuck proved he still possesses cheerfulness in the face of adversity by successfully being one of the last people in the bar – a heroic effort.
The hard work and generosity of a wide cast of contributors ensured that the Commando Dinner
maintained its reputation as one of the highlights
of the Defence Academy social calendar. The RN/ RM Charity were both generous and helpful. The Commando Recruitment Team provided a number of Royal Marines who were typically proactive and also hosted stances demonstrating weapons from the era. The bar was transformed into a 1940’s command post that housed enough Hoofing Ale to sink the Queen Elizabeth and was liberatingly free of BOWMAN. The Band of the Royal Marines, fresh from the Mountbatten Festival of Music, maintained their reputation for world class musicianship and precision. Special thanks must also go to the Serco team who tolerated the committee’s ineptitude and ensured that the event was a complete success.
      The 75th
Anniversary provided an
inspiring backdrop to proceedings... ◆◆◆

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