On Thursday the 23rd of June, members of the National Heritage Team made their way to the Lincolnshire town of Cleethorpes. Jenny Morris headed up from Bristol, Simon Craine (with our new Gazebo, and some archives) headed from Sheffield, and I, having loaded my car with some display items, headed north to first of all collect Edwina Holden with her collection and then on to pick up John Shere with his items, where I dropped a clanger (later in narrative).
We arrived at the showground early and having ascertained our pitch location, decided to go on to our hotel to drop our clothing off. When we started to remove our items, I couldn’t find my suit bag containing my clothing for the parade on Saturday including my beret, my medals and my Great Uncle’s WW1 medals (killed at 26 on the Somme). I had removed it whilst loading John’s items and forgot to put it back in. Thankfully John was able to ring a friend and get them collected safely, but no parade for me. We then returned, erected the gazebo in high winds and rain then retired to the hotel.
Friday dawned bright and we set up the display. Displays went up all around us and we were pleased to have the Falklands Veterans opposite us. At 12:30 the gates were opened to the public and we started to get visitors, some who knew about the ROC. Some interested in the display which included a Lee Enfield .303 rifle with its ROC relevance, a Seaborne Uniform with its history and a fine collection of Cold War items. John set people his usual writing backwards with china graph pencil on clear Perspex task.
We were back early on Saturday and prepared for a busy day. John Sharpe, The National Chairman, came down from Scotland to support us and we were pleased to see him. Chas Parker from Lincoln Group arrived with his post instrument and set it up. Then Mike Quincey and his wife arrived, Mike was to bear the National Standard on the parade (Mike’s narrative below). We were also joined by Chris Howard, Chair of ROCBF, with a local film crew who were to make a new video promoting the fund.
The gates opened and the crowds started to arrive. Our members that were to parade got ready to leave for the assembly area. Jenny, John Shere, Chas and Mike were ready. John Sharpe agreed to fill my spot (much joking ensued as the security had asked for our place of birth and, as I came from London, it was suggested to John that he spoke as little as possible).
Once the parade was over, our members returned and we had a steady flow of visitors. John Sharpe entranced two younger boys, telling them about the role of the Seaborne Observers. The VIP’s then passed our display, at the rear of them was an Air Marshal, his eyes met mine and with a cry of “what are you doing here?” he came over. He was Stu Atha, and I had last met him a year ago at a mess dinner, albeit he was an Air Vice Marshal CAS (Ops) at JHQ Northwood. He explained that he had recently been promoted to Air Marshal DC Air Ops at Air Command. Congratulations were in order, and I was pleased to introduce John Sharpe to him. After some conversation a cry went up and Stu said “oops the Bigwigs (Inc. the Duke of Kent) have lost me” and he dashed off. The rest of the day passed pleasurably and at 5pm the gates closed. We all packed up to return to the hotel, prior to returning home the next morning.
Whilst at the hotel that evening we were pleased to celebrate Simon Craine’s birthday, complete with cake and candles.
All in all, a very enjoyable and rewarding weekend. Next year NAFD 2017 is in Liverpool, and we look forward to being there.
Parade report from Mike Quincey
We reported to the signing on building as requested and were met by lots of high ranking officers who did not seem to appreciate me walking up the main entrance steps.
We were told fairly firmly to go up the street a bit and we would find the right entrance. We joined a long queue with a good cross section of local people and heard some very pointed remarks especially about local dignitaries.
Just about to enter the building an officer decided that the RAF should report to a very busy looking lady across the street. Always do as an officer says so we crossed the street and joined a queue. Arriving at the front of the queue the very busy lady said, are you a standard bearer, I said yes, the reply was you need to be across the road in the other queue. Always do as you are told we crossed the street and joined the queue we had left earlier.
Arriving at the reception desk we waited for a long discussion to end with a chap who looked a bit like a tramp and who was not on the register. He eventually left with a comment that you will not be marching dressed like that I hope. Fully checked with my wrist band we left for the parade assembly point. Could not see the point of the wrist band as my wife stood with me for quite a time as the parade assembled without a wrist band.
Parade started nearly on time and the only odd thing that happened was the parade marshal gave the order to start marching as, by the centre quick march. I have not been in the forces so do not know if the is correct but the start was a bit haphazard. A bit difficult marching down the main street in a sort of zigzag way as we went around the traffic calming bits in the middle of the road, turned right at the end of the parade route and came to a halt. Dismissed and then told to shift off the road quickly as the next band was about to arrive. Bit of an undignified scramble at the end.
Final comment would be all the parade and the day was a bit cramped but I suppose we were spoilt at Guilford.
Margaret was the photo provider in chief for the parade.