Royal Naval Association (RNA)

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General Secretary's Message

Dear Shipmates

Well it’s all happening in Portsmouth with the announcement that President Trump is coming on 5th June to accompany Royalty for a Heads of State national event to commemorate D-Day 75. There is more detail later in the circular about how veterans can take part but judging by the activity on Southsea Common, it promises to be a big show and, politics aside, it’s absolutely right that these Heads of State who are visiting should respect and commemorate the sacrifice made during that monumental and crucial opening of the Western WW2

BBC One will start coverage at 0915, on 5th June, the outline published programme is:

  • 1130    National Commemorative event on Southsea Common with veterans, armed forces and VIP's for a BBC program of live music, performance and flypasts. Tight security will prevent general public viewing so large screens will be provided.
  • 1245   Royal Navy Frigate will fire a Naval gun salute followed by a fly-past of up to 25 historic and modern aircraft.
  • 1600   Red Arrows air display.
  • 1825   Royal British Legion's specially chartered ship MV Boudicca will set sail from Portsmouth for Normandy with 300 veterans on board. She will be escorted by Type 23 Frigate HMS ST ALBANS. Ships docked in port will pay their respects before the ship emerges into the Solent to be met by a flotilla of Royal Navy vessels who will sail past her and Cheer Ship in the traditional manner. The public have been encouraged to line key vantage points to wave off the veterans as they re-trace the journey they made in 1944.
  • 1940   Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will fly over Portsmouth to mark the departure of the Royal British Legion ship.

On 6th June, Portsmouth City Council has published an invitation to veterans to march and parade standards – see the flier at the end of the Circular – so I hope that local Branches will be able to come down and take part. A useful link is here


Meanwhile, our France Nord Branch will be flying the RNA flag in Normandy.  On 5th June they will be laying a wreath in the Rose Garden by the Peace Museum in Caen, on 6th June on the Landing Beaches of "Sword" and "Colleville-Montgomery" plus the Ferry Terminal Memorial to honour the landing craft crews, and finally on 7th June, joining the Royal British Legion at Luc sur Mer for a town parade.  I apologise that your sterling efforts and often unrecognised and I promise to publish a piece in the next edition about your activities.

Of course back in 2014 when it was the 70th Anniversary of D-Day everyone was telling us that this would be the last large scale commemoration of these sort of events. How wrong they were and had we realised that the whole Centenary commemorations of WW1 would peak such interest – even without surviving participants – we probably wouldn’t have arranged our Annual Conference at the same time or, indeed, would have organised it in Portsmouth. Notwithstanding, I’m very glad to report that there has been a late charge with delegates for Conference at Wyboston and, as I write, we are up to 67 delegates, so thank you to the Branches that have responded to our call to come along. There’s a ton of work gone into the organisation by No 6 Area and I’m sure it’s going to be a great Conference.

Don’t forget to discuss the annual report, financial statements and Conference agenda in branch meetings. Remember that if you have any questions at all – I am delighted to answer them before Conference – or have notice of a question so I can get the best answer to you. This is your Association and Central Office staff are here to assist you, so please feel free to ask.

Wyboston will mark the handover of the National Standard from Bob Coburn to David Corrigan. Bob has been our proud National Standard bearer since 2008 barring a couple of years 2012-14 when Steve Susans held the post. Bob takes up the post of National Ceremonial Advisor and is very much looking forward to keeping us all in line at the Cenotaph for our Biennial Parade.

The 2019 Biennial Parade will be held on Sunday 8 September 2019 at the Cenotaph. Can I ask that Branch and Area committees include this in their planning and keep the weekend free for attendance at the RNA very special event.

Field Gun Day. 01 Jun, HMS COLLINGWOOD. Even before all of the above, it’s well worth considering a day out this weekend to HMS COLLINGWOOD for the annual Field Gun Day. The RNA has a well positioned pitch adjacent to the Parade Ground which it will establish alongside the RNRMC and, with the able assistance of Pussers Rum, it will serve as a natural hub for any ex-matelot to take a seat and he or she might even be fortunate enough to find a wee tot waiting for them. Rather than overt recruitment, the tent will serve more as a ‘benefit of membership.’ Of course, it is hoped that this passive seduction might prove a more enticing recruitment model.

Open Days. We have had the first of our open days on Friday 17 May with members from Edinburgh, Manchester, Aylesbury and Horsham. We have a full programme of Open Days over the summer season however there are still places so please assist in spreading the word that these opportunities exist.

LIBOR Minibuses. A reminder to get booking the LIBOR buses for your summer trips. Anyone wanting the bus to shift to their area for a longer period – please give a shout and we’ll take a serious look.

Mentors. I had the privilege of visiting the mentors at HMS RALEIGH a few weeks back and it’s just super to see the work that this programme delivers and the confidence it brings to the youngsters joining up in Phase 1 of their training. BZ to all involved!! Please note the advert later in the Circular for new mentors.

Finally, a big thank you to Rayleigh Branch for inviting me along to their outing at the Bluebell Railway last month – what fun! You just can’t beat the smell of hot oil and steam – do I have a problem?! It’s my claim to fame that I could drive a steam engine before I could drive a car so it’s no surprise that I started in the Andrew as a clanky Tiffy apprentice! Jim Hammond (NCM 5 Area) and I found the recruiting sign in the photograph – I’ve signed Jim up for another 22!

Best wishes from the Central Office Team