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Association Newsletters.  2.

If you are not in receipt of the WFRA ENewsletter and have internet connection,please contact

RHQ Mercian Nottingham (newsletter@stand-firm-strike-hard.org.uk ) and we will send you the ENews update.

THE WORCESTERSHIRE AND SHERWOOD FORESTERS REGIMENTAL ASSOCIATION

Patron: HRH The Princess Royal
President: Brig P Dennis

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16 February 2024       WFRA NEWSLETTER     Volume 15 Issue 07

001  BUDDY BUDDY GROUP  The Buddy Buddy group, based in Chesterfield, is a Tri-Service, multi cap badge group for veterans (although serving personnel are invited to come along), both male and female, of all ages. It is an informal group that meets once a month with a guest speaker and food. Although not a formal support group, it applies the Buddy Buddy system that was used whilst serving; looking out for each other. The group meets on the last Thursday of each month from 1800 – 2000 hours.  Full details are on the flyer and you can also contact  Oli Barnes (ex WFR/Mercian) at olibarnes@spireitestrust.org.uk
 

002  FRIENDS OF THE MERCIAN REGIMENT MUSEUM - WORCESTER

A reminder to you all about the next talk which will take place on Saturday, 17th February: Venue: Lyppard Grange Community Centre, Ankerage Green, Worcester WR4 0DZ. Time 13.30 for 14.00 start. Nursing in the Falklands War on HMHS Uganda by Liz Omerod Liz’s talk is from a personal perspective and includes the practicalities of turning a cruise liner into a hospital ship. It is illustrated with slides including those “before and after” views of the clinical and other areas. Liz joined the QARNNS in May 1972 at the Royal Naval Hospital in Gosport. She worked in several different clinical areas including 3 years in the A & E department. Following a 6 month course in Cardiac nursing in London, Liz returned to the joint Intensive & Coronary Care Unit at the Naval Hospital in Plymouth. Following service on the Uganda where she was Senior Nursing Officer on Intensive Care Liz returned to the Plymouth Naval hospital to complete her commission. Leaving QARNNS in 1985 she became a Palliative Clinical Nurse Specialist with the Macmillan Service in Cornwall and later in West Berkshire. Now retired Liz has done some work as a volunteer at the hospice in Hereford and has delivered many talks on her experiences in the Falklands. Friends £3 Non-Friends - £5 Light refreshments included. Feel free to invite family and friends along.

003  WORCESTERSHIRE ARMED FORCES COVENANT NEWS

HM Armed Forces Veteran Card Thousands of Armed Forces veterans can now apply for their HM Armed Forces Veteran Card following the launch of the service. The Veteran Card service is being delivered by the Ministry of Defence together with the Office for Veterans’ Affairs, as part of the work to improve the support available for veterans. Thousands who left the forces before December 2018 are eligible to apply. The cards confirm veteran status and simplify access to support services.Veterans card rolled out to streamline access to services - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) Veteran Friendly Practice Accreditation Scheme have your say
To help persuade more practices to sign up, the Royal College of General Practitioners, NHS England and the Office for Veterans’ Affairs are working together to increase awareness of veterans’ healthcare needs and any challenges that prevent people who’ve served in the Armed Forces from seeking help from their GP. If you have served in the Armed Forces and live in England, they would be grateful if you could spare 10 minutes to fill in this online survey. LGBT veteran restorative measures from the Government next steps The Ministry of Defence and the Office for Veterans’ Affairs jointly commissioned an independent review to better understand the impacts and implications of the policy that homosexuality was incompatible with life in HM Armed Forces between 1967 and 2000. The government acknowledges that the historic policy prohibiting homosexuality in the armed forces was unacceptable and wrong. The government published the formal response to the review on 13 December 2023. If you, or someone you know, was impacted by the ban on LGBT personnel in the UK’s Armed Forces between 1967 and 2000, you/they may be eligible for restorative measures. Detailed information, eligibility and guidance for all the non-financial restorative measures available can be found in LGBT veterans: Apply for restorative measures.  Alternatively, please contact Fighting with Pride, the LGBT veteran charity who are here to support LGBT+ Veterans, serving personnel and their families, particularly those who were affected by the ‘gay ban’, ultimately lifted on 12th January 2000. Armed Forces Covenant annual report 2023 published Published in December last year, the report sets out major achievements of the Armed Forces Covenant and the Strategy for our Veterans, and highlights remaining challenges and new commitments. Download the report NHS England expands mental health support for veterans The NHS is rolling out an expanded mental health support service for Armed Forces veterans, as a survey found that more than half find it difficult to speak up about mental health issues. They have launched a new campaign to highlight its Op COURAGE service, which now includes enhanced specialist support for addictions. Latest available data shows that from April-November 2023, more than 4,500 referrals were made to the NHS service which provides specialist care, support and treatment to former Armed Forces personnel, reservists, and service leavers with mental health and wellbeing issues. Read the full article Veteran Friendly Framework for care providers Designed for use in residential settings for older people, the Veteran Friendly Framework helps care providers to offer appropriate support for the thousands of veterans living in care homes across England. Find out more

004  ORAL HISTORIES OF AFGHANISTAN

RHQ have received the following message I am a teacher and part-time PhD student. My PhD focuses on the lived experiences of British troops in Afghanistan, and therefore I would like to have the voices of veterans front and centre, so as to best document their experiences during the conflict. To this end, oral history is a core part of my research. I have so far interviewed around half a dozen veterans, but I would love to speak to more!n More information can be found on the information sheet and if anyone would like to participate, please contact Simon Olsen on simon.t.olsen@stu.mmu.ac.uk Participant Information Sheet 

The British Army in Helmand:  Leadership, Culture and Doctrine in Afghanistan, 2006-11  1. Invitation to research  My name is Simon Olsen, and I am a PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University. My project examines the nature of British Army leadership and culture in Afghanistan, 2006-11, and impact of this on the personnel who served there. I would like to invite you to take part. 

2. Why have I been invited?  You have been invited, because of your affiliation with the British Army, or wider armed forces. This may be because you served during the above dates, or because of your affiliation with regimental museums, and/or military charities. There have been no distinctions made between criteria such as gender, ethnicity, age, or health. 

3. Do I have to take part?  It is up to you to decide. We will describe the study and go through the information sheet, which we will give to you. We will then ask you to sign a consent form to show you agreed to take part. You are free to withdraw at any time, without giving a reason. 

4. What will I be asked to do?   If you wish to participate in this project, please ensure that you meet the inclusion criteria below:  Ex-service personnel (not current member of British Armed Forces)  Served in at least one tour of Afghanistan between 2006-11  Ability to speak good English  You can express by email to 08448308@stu.mmu.ac.uk stating your service branch, with dates in years that you were deployed to Afghanistan and in what role, and dates in years that you were part of the British Armed Forces. All data will be kept and handled by the lead researcher (Simon Olsen) and will be anonymised.  Following this, you may then be invited to a virtual interview, that would allow a greater discussion of your experiences in the military and your thoughts on the British Army in Afghanistan. It is expected that most participants would only be asked to conduct one or two interviews, however some participants may wish to discuss issues in further detail and additional sessions can be organised as appropriate, face to face if requested.  Interviews would be conducted virtually (MS Teams/Zoom), but any additional sessions could be conducted in a location that you feel comfortable and safe in, and that is logistically appropriate for all parties. This may include rooms on the university campus, but external sites could be selected based on their suitability, such as regimental museums. If a face-to-face interview is conducted, a member of the project’s supervisory team would also likely be present.   Should you be invited for an interview, you would give consent by signing the consent form which would be sent out to you. Capacity to give consent is assumed. You would also have the opportunity to ask the lead researcher (Simon Olsen) any questions you may have about the project’s purpose, aims, or methodology.  During interviews, recordings will be used to create an electronic record of your experiences. These audio files would be stored in anonymous files in the university’s secure storage system, until transcripts of them are produced, at which point audio recordings would be destroyed. This information would not be shared outside of the research purposes. This means that they would not be uploaded to any archive or shared with external organisations without your explicit consent. Where this information may be used in publications, it could not be included without your explicit consent. All data is stored in the university’s secure storage system. 

5. Are there any risks if I participate?  There is no direct physical risk to participants from this study. You may feel uncomfortable discussing your experience of service with a civilian, or for the purposes of research. This could result in distressing or upsetting recollections depending on the nature of your individual experience. Such instances will be treated with the sensitivity and respect they warrant. 

6. Are there any advantages if I participate?   There are no material rewards on offer for participation in the project. However, the research project would contribute to a growing field of academia that investigates the nature of Britain’s collective combat experience, and analyses how well the British Army prepares its service members for deployment. Participation, therefore, comes with a moral benefit, in helping this research project understand the true nature of combat in Afghanistan, which will in turn engender greater understanding and dialogue between civilian and military spheres. 

7. What will happen to the samples that I give?  If you wish to donate any artefacts of historical value to the research project, they can be photographed or copied and given back to you. Such artefacts may include photographs, or written resources. There is no expectation or need for any biological samples being collected from participants. 

8. What will happen with the data I provide?   When you agree to participate in this research, we will collect from you personally-identifiable information.  The Manchester Metropolitan University (‘the University’) is the Data Controller in respect of this research and any personal data that you provide as a research participant.   The University is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and manages personal data in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the University’s Data Protection Policy.   We collect personal data as part of this research (such as name, telephone numbers or age). As a public authority acting in the public interest, we rely upon the ‘public task’ lawful basis. When we collect special category data (such as medical information or ethnicity) we rely upon the research and archiving purposes in the public interest lawful basis.    Your rights to access, change or move your information are limited, as we need to manage your information in specific ways in order for the research to be reliable and accurate. If you withdraw from the study, we will keep the information about you that we have already obtained, and this may still be used if you have participated in interviews. 

We will not share your personal data collected in this form with any third parties. If your data is shared this will be under the terms of a Research Collaboration Agreement which defines use, and agrees confidentiality and information security provisions. It is the University’s policy to only publish anonymous data unless you have given your explicit written consent to be identified in the research. The University never sells personal data to third parties.  We will only retain your personal data for as long as is necessary to achieve the research purpose. The estimated project completion date is July 2026. Your data will be stored for one year and three months after this date, in case resubmission are necessary. Data will be handled by the principal investigator (Simon Olsen) and will be anonymous and stored safely and securely. No personal or identifiable data would be used in the research. Once interviews are complete, participants will be referred to in anonymous terms such as ‘veteran’, to protect your identity. Findings will be securely stored via the university’s secure storage system. Furthermore, the data will be purged from the university’s secure storage facility within three months of the project’s conclusion.  For further information about use of your personal data and your data protection rights please see the University’s Data Protection Pages (https://www2.mmu.ac.uk/data-protection/).   What will happen to the results of the research study?  The results of the study will be used to inform conclusions about the nature of conflict in Afghanistan and the human cost of the war. This research project seeks to investigate the relationship between the British Army’s culture, leadership and doctrine, and how these the lived experience of those serving in Afghanistan. As such, findings will be used in the formulation of the project’s final monologue, with the ambition of using some of this research to inform future articles for publication.  

Who has reviewed this research project? The supervisory team has reviewed this research project. This team consists of Dr Stuart Aveyard and Dr Jason Crowley. Furthermore, the project has passed the initial review stage, having been scrutinised by other academics. Finally, the project has been approved by the university’s ethics committee. Who do I contact if I have concerns about this study or I wish to complain? For any general questions about the research project, please contact me in the first instance, at 08448308@stu.mmu.ac.uk. I can also be contacted by post at, Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester Campus, Manchester, M15 6EB. The principal supervisor for this project is Dr Stuart Aveyard, who can be reached at s.aveyard@mmu.ac.uk, 0161 247 1721, Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester Campus, Manchester, M15 6EB.  The Faculty Ethics contact is artsandhumanitiesethics@mmu.ac.uk, or at Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester Campus, Manchester, M15 6EB. The Microsoft Teams Privacy Statement can be found here https://privacy.microsoft.com/en-gb/privacystatement . If you have any concerns regarding the personal data collected from you, our Data Protection Officer can be contacted using the legal@mmu.ac.uk e-mail address, by calling 0161 247 3331 or in writing to: Data Protection Officer, Legal Services, All Saints Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, M15 6BH. You also have a right to lodge a complaint in respect of the processing of your personal data with the Information Commissioner’s Office as the supervisory authority. Please see: https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/. 

THANK YOU FOR CONSIDERING PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT 

005  THE FRIENDSHIP HUB

A Veterans coffee morning is being held on the third Wednesday of each month at The Friendship Hub, Grassmere Road, Long Eaton, NG10 4DZ.
Next meeting Wednesday 21 February 10.30hrs.  All veterans are welcome.

006 THE BATTLE OF MONTE CASSINO - PART 2
Operation Avenger Background
Freyberg, with U.S. VI Corps under heavy threat at Anzio, was under equal pressure tolaunch a relieving action at Cassino. Once again, therefore, the battle began without the attackers being fully prepared. As well, Corps HQ did not fully appreciate the difficulty in getting the 4th Indian Infantry Division into place in the mountains and supplying them on the ridges and valleys north of Cassino. This was evidenced in the writings of Maj. Gen. Howard Kippenberger, commander of New Zealand's 2nd Division, after the war.
Maj. Gen. Howard Kippenberger said after the battle “Poor Dimoline, acting commander of 4th Indian Division was having a dreadful time getting his division into position. I never really appreciated the difficulties until I went over the ground after the war”.
Freyberg's plan was a continuation of the first battle, an attack from the north along the mountain ridges and an attack from the southeast along the railway line, and to capture the railway station across the Rapido less than 1 mile south of Cassino town. Success would squeeze out Cassino town and open up the Liri valley. Freyberg had informed his superiors that he estimated that the offensive had a 50 percent chance of success, given the circumstances.
Destruction of the abbey
Allied officers increasingly focused on the abbey of Monte Cassino, which was believed to be used as a German artillery observation point. The abbey was presumed to have prevented the breach of the 'Gustav Line'.
The British press and C. L. Sulzberger of The New York Times wrote about German observation posts and artillery positions inside the abbey, but their claims were not substantiated. The Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, Lieutenant General Ira C. Eaker, accompanied by Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers, personally observed during a fly over "a radio mast ... German uniforms hanging on a clothesline in the abbey courtyard and machine gun emplacements 50 yards from the abbey walls." U.S. II Corps commander Geoffrey Keyes flew over the monastery several times and reported to Fifth Army G2 that he had not seen evidence of German troops in the abbey. When informed of others' claims of having seen enemy troops there, he stated, "They've been looking so long they're seeing things." US Army Artillery Pilot Spotter Hughes Rudd saw German positions at the Abbey. 
Kippenberger of the New Zealand Corps HQ believed that the monastery was probably being used as the Germans' main vantage point for artillery spotting because of its strategic location, but there was no clear evidence. From a military point of view, whether the monastery was being used as an observation point was immaterial.
If not occupied today, it might be tomorrow and it did not appear it would be difficult for the enemy to bring reserves into it during an attack or for troops to take shelter there if driven from positions outside. It was impossible to ask troops to storm a hill surmounted by an intact building such as this, capable of sheltering several hundred infantry in perfect security from shellfire and ready at the critical moment to emerge and counter attack. Undamaged, it was a perfect shelter but with its narrow windows and level profiles an unsatisfactory fighting position. Smashed by bombing it was a jagged heap of broken masonry and debris open to effective fire from guns, mortars and strafing planes as well as being a death trap if bombed again. On the whole I thought it would be more useful to the Germans if we left it unbombed. 
Major General Francis Tuker, whose 4th Indian Division would have the task of attacking Monastery Hill, had made his own appraisal of the situation. In the absence of detailed intelligence at Fifth Army HQ, he found a book dated 1879 in a Naples bookshop that gave details of the construction of the abbey. In his memorandum to Freyberg, he concluded that regardless of whether the monastery was currently occupied by the Germans, it should be demolished to prevent its effective occupation. He also pointed out that with 150 foot high walls made of masonry at least 10 feet thick, there were no practical means for field engineers to deal with the place and that bombing with "blockbuster" bombs would be the only solution since 1,000 pound bombs would be "next to useless". Tuker stated that he could only attack if the garrison was weakened by continuous bombing by air and artillery. 
On 11 February 1944, the acting commander of the 4th Indian Division, Brigadier General Dimoline, requested a bombing raid. Tuker reiterated his case again from a hospital bed in Caserta, where he was suffering a severe attack of a recurrent tropical fever. Freyberg transmitted his request on 12 February. The request, however, was greatly expanded by air force planners and probably supported by Eaker and Devers, who sought to use the opportunity to showcase the abilities of U.S. Army air power to support ground operations. Clark and his chief of staff, Major General Alfred Gruenther, remained unconvinced of the "military necessity". When handing over the U.S. II Corps position to the New Zealand Corps, Brigadier General J.A. Butler, deputy commander of the U.S. 34th Division, said, "I don't know, but I don't believe the enemy is in the convent. All the fire has been from the slopes of the hill below the wall". Finally, Clark, "who did not want the monastery bombed", pinned down the Commander in Chief Allied Armies in Italy, Alexander, to take the responsibility.
The bombing mission in the morning of 15 February 1944 involved 142 Boeing B17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers, followed by 47 North American B25 Mitchell and 40 Martin B26 Marauder medium bombers. In all, they dropped 1,150 tonnes of high explosives and incendiary bombs on the abbey, reducing the entire summit of Monte Cassino to a smoking mass of rubble. Between bomb runs, the II Corps artillery pounded the mountain. Many Allied soldiers and war correspondents cheered as they observed the spectacle. Eaker and Devers watched. Clark and Gruenther refused to be on the scene and stayed at their headquarters. That same afternoon and the next day, an aggressive follow up of artillery and a raid by 59 fighter bombers wreaked further destruction. The German positions on Point 593 above and behind the monastery were untouched.
Damningly, the air raid had not been coordinated with ground commands, and an immediate infantry follow-up failed to materialise. It’s timing had been driven by the Air Force, which viewed it as a separate operation, considering the weather and requirements on other fronts and theatres without reference to ground forces. Many of the troops had only taken over their positions from II Corps two days previously, and besides the difficulties in the mountains, preparations in the valley had also been held up by difficulties in supplying the newly installed troops with sufficient material for a full scale assault because of incessantly foul weather, flooding, and waterlogged ground. As a result, Indian troops on the Snake's Head were taken by surprise, while the New Zealand Corps was two days away from being ready to launch their main assault.
After the bombing Monte Cassino is in ruins. Pope Pius XII was silent after the bombing; however, his Cardinal Secretary of State, Luigi Maglione, bluntly stated to the senior U.S. diplomat to the Vatican, Harold Tittmann, that the bombing was "a colossal blunder a piece of a gross stupidity".
From every investigation that followed since the event, it is certain that the only people killed in the monastery by the bombing were 230 Italian civilians seeking refuge in the abbey. There is no evidence that the bombs dropped on the Monte Cassino monastery that day killed any German troops. However, given the imprecision of bombing in those days it was estimated that only 10 percent of the bombs from the heavy bombers, bombing from a high altitude, hit the monastery, bombs did fall elsewhere and kill German and Allied troops alike, although that would have been unintended. Indeed, sixteen bombs hit the Fifth Army compound at Presenzano, 17 miles from Monte Cassino, and exploded only yards away from the trailer where Clark was doing paperwork at his desk. 
On the day after the bombing, at first light, most of the civilians still alive fled the ruins. Only about 40 people remained, the six monks who survived in the deep vaults of the abbey; their 79 year-old abbot, Gregorio Diamare; three tenant farmer families; orphaned or abandoned children; the badly wounded; and the dying. After artillery barrages, renewed bombing, and attacks on the ridge by the 4th Indian Division, the monks decided to leave their ruined home with the others who could move at 07:30hrs on 17 February. The old abbot was leading the group down the mule path towards the Liri valley, reciting the rosary. After they arrived at a German first aid station, some of the badly wounded who had been carried by the monks were taken away in a military ambulance. After meeting with a German officer, the monks were driven to the monastery of Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino. On 18 February, the abbot met the commander of the XIV Panzer Corps, Lieutenant General Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin. 
Although the Germans had an agreement not to use the abbey for military purposes, following its destruction, paratroopers of the German 1st Parachute Division occupied the ruins of the abbey and turned it into a fortress and observation post, which became a serious problem for the attacking Allied forces.
Battle
On the night following the bombing, a company of the 1st Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, serving in the 7th Indian Infantry Brigade attacked key point 593 from their position 70 yards away on Snakeshead Ridge. The assault failed, with the company sustaining 50 percent casualties.
The following night, the Royal Sussex Regiment was ordered to attack in battalion strength. There was a calamitous start. Artillery could not be used in direct support targeting point 593 because of the proximity and risk of shelling friendly troops. It was therefore planned to shell point 575, which had been providing supporting fire to the defenders of point 593.
The topography of the land meant that shells fired at 575 had to pass very low over Snakeshead Ridge, and in the event that some fell among the gathering assault companies. After reorganising, the attack went in at midnight. The fighting was brutal and often hand to hand, but the determined defence held and the Royal Sussex battalion was beaten off, once again sustaining over 50 percent casualties. Over the two nights, the Royal Sussex Regiment lost 12 out of 15 officers and 162 out of 313 men who took part in the attack. 
On the night of 17 February, the main assault took place. The 4/6th Rajputana Rifles would take on the assault on Point 593 along Snakeshead Ridge with the depleted Royal Sussex Regiment held in reserve. 1/9th Gurkha Rifles were to attack Point 444. In the meantime, the 1/2nd Gurkha Rifles were to sweep across the slopes and ravines in a direct assault on the monastery. This latter was across appalling terrain, but it was hoped that the Gurkhas, so expert in mountain terrain, would succeed. This proved a faint hope. Once again, the fighting was brutal, but no progress was made and casualties were heavy. The Rajputanas lost 196 officers and men, the 1/9th Gurkhas 149 and the 1/2nd Gurkhas 96. It became clear that the attack had failed and on 18 February Dimoline and Freyberg called off the attacks on Monastery Hill.
In the other half of the main assault, the two companies from the 28th Māori Battalion from the New Zealand Division forced a crossing of the Rapido and attempted to gain the railway station in Cassino town. The intention was to create a perimeter that would allow engineers to build a causeway for armoured support. With the aid of a nearly constant smoke screen laid down by Allied artillery that obscured their location from the German batteries on Monastery Hill, the Māori were able to hold their positions for much of the day. Their isolation and lack of both armoured support and anti tank guns made for a hopeless situation, however, when an armoured counterattack by two tanks came in the afternoon on 18 February. They were ordered to pull back to the river when it became clear to headquarters that both attempts to break through would not succeed. It had been very close. The Germans had been very alarmed by the capture of the station, and from a recorded conversation between Kesselring and von Vietinghoff, they had not expected their counterattack to succeed. 
After the war, regarding the second battle, Senger admitted that when he was contemplating the prospects of a renewed frontal assault on Cassino that "what I feared even more was an attack by Juin's corps with its superb Moroccan and Algerian divisions". 

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09 February 2024        WFRA NEWSLETTER        Volume 15 Issue 06

OBITUARY COLONEL P R HASLAM BA psc, ptsc Though there was an obituary notice for Colonel Paul Haslam in last week's Newsletter some additional detail of his career follows. Paul Haslam was granted a National Service Commission in August 1952 and then a Regular Commission in April 1954 with 2nd Bn The Sherwood Foresters. He served with the Bn in Colchester until October 1952, then Wuppertal as part of first 6 Inf Bde, moving to Celle as part of 7 Armd Bde in BAOR. On the amalgamation of the 1st and 2nd Bn The Sherwood Foresters in 1955 he served as both the Bn Intelligence Officer in Malaya from May 1958, during latter stages of the Malayan Confrontation, until the return of the battalion to UK in Jan 1960. He was then posted to the Regimental Depot as the Adjutant of 8th and subsequently 5th/8th Foresters. He then returned to the 1st Bn who were in Holywood, Co Down, N Ireland until moving to the Royal Military College of Science (RMCS) at Shrivenham for the Technical Staff Course in Dec 1963. Shrivenham was to become a familiar posting for Paul for the rest of his career. After completing the Army Staff Course at Camberley the following year, Paul was posted to Moscow as the Assistant Military Attache from 1966 until 1968. In September 1968 Paul returned to 1st Bn The Sherwood Foresters in Minden as part of 7 Armd Bde, commanding A Coy. Following amalgamation in early 1970 Paul moved to Netheravon as Coy Comd of Sp Coy in the Demonstration Battalion role. From Oct 70 to Nov 1971 he served as GSO2 AT2 in the MOD and was promoted to Lt Col in Jun 1971. He was then posted back to RMCS Shrivenham as a member of the Directing Staff. In February 1975 he became Commandant of the Infantry Trials and Development Unit at Warminster. He was promoted to Colonel in June 1977 and became the Colonel (GS) of OR1 in the MOD from Oct 1976 to April 1978, then becoming the Project Manager for Infantry Weapons MOD from May 1978 until his retirement in April 1980. On retirement Paul returned to RMCS Shrivenham as RO2 Training until August 1983. He and his wife Ann moved to Amberley in Gloucestershire but in recent years they had both moved to a Care Home in Nailsworth. The funeral will take place on Friday 23rd February at Amberley Parish Church, Stroud, Glos at 1400 hours. The wake will be at The Black Horse, Amberley. Letters of condolence should be sent to:: Mrs Ann Haslam, The Steppes Residential Care Home, Cossack Square, New Market Rd, Nailsworth, Stroud, Glos GL6 0D.

001  ORAL HISTORIES OF AFGHANISTAN

RHQ have received the following message I am a teacher and part-time PhD student. My PhD focuses on the lived experiences of British troops in Afghanistan, and therefore I would like to have the voices of veterans front and centre, so as to best document their experiences during the conflict. To this end, oral history is a core part of my research. I have so far interviewed around half a dozen veterans, but I would love to speak to more! More information can be found on the information sheet and if anyone would like to participate, please contact Simon Olsen on simon.t.olsen@stu.mmu.ac.uk Participant Information Sheet  The British Army in Helmand:  Leadership, Culture and Doctrine in Afghanistan, 2006-11                       1. Invitation to research   My name is Simon Olsen, and I am a PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University. My project examines the nature of British Army leadership and culture in Afghanistan, 2006-11, and impact of this on the personnel who served there. I would like to invite you to take part.  2. Why have I been invited?  You have been invited, because of your affiliation with the British Army, or wider armed forces. This may be because you served during the above dates, or because of your affiliation with regimental museums, and/or military charities. There have been no distinctions made between criteria such as gender, ethnicity, age, or health.  3. Do I have to take part?  It is up to you to decide. We will describe the study and go through the information sheet, which we will give to you. We will then ask you to sign a consent form to show you agreed to take part. You are free to withdraw at any time, without giving a reason.  4. What will I be asked to do?   If you wish to participate in this project, please ensure that you meet the inclusion criteria below:  Ex-service personnel (not current member of British Armed Forces)  Served in at least one tour of Afghanistan between 2006-11 

Ability to speak good English  You can express by email to 08448308@stu.mmu.ac.uk stating your service branch, with dates in years that you were deployed to Afghanistan and in what role, and dates in years that you were part of the British Armed Forces. All data will be kept and handled by the lead researcher (Simon Olsen) and will be anonymised.  Following this, you may then be invited to a virtual interview, that would allow a greater discussion of your experiences in the military and your thoughts on the British Army in Afghanistan. It is expected that most participants would only be asked to conduct one or two interviews, however some participants may wish to discuss issues in further detail and additional sessions can be organised as appropriate, face to face if requested.  Interviews would be conducted virtually (MS Teams/Zoom), but any additional sessions could be conducted in a location that you feel comfortable and safe in, and that is logistically appropriate for all parties. This may include rooms on the university campus, but external sites could be selected based on their suitability, such as regimental museums. If a face-to-face interview is conducted, a member of the project’s supervisory team would also likely be present.   Should you be invited for an interview, you would give consent by signing the consent form which would be sent out to you. Capacity to give consent is assumed. You would also have the opportunity to ask the lead researcher (Simon Olsen) any questions you may have about the project’s purpose, aims, or methodology.   During interviews, recordings will be used to create an electronic record of your experiences. These audio files would be stored in anonymous files in the university’s secure storage system, until transcripts of them are produced, at which point audio recordings would be destroyed. This information would not be shared outside of the research purposes. This means that they would not be uploaded to any archive or shared with external organisations without your explicit consent. Where this information may be used in publications, it could not be included without your explicit consent. All data is stored in the university’s secure storage system.  5. Are there any risks if I participate?  There is no direct physical risk to participants from this study. You may feel uncomfortable discussing your experience of service with a civilian, or for the purposes of research. This could result in distressing or upsetting recollections depending on the nature of your individual experience. Such instances will be treated with the sensitivity and respect they warrant.  6. Are there any advantages if I participate?   There are no material rewards on offer for participation in the project. However, the research project would contribute to a growing field of academia that investigates the nature of Britain’s collective combat experience, and analyses how well the British Army prepares its service members for deployment. Participation, therefore, comes with a moral benefit, in helping this research project understand the true nature of combat in Afghanistan, which will in turn engender greater understanding and dialogue between civilian and military spheres.   7. What will happen to the samples that I give?  If you wish to donate any artefacts of historical value to the research project, they can be photographed or copied and given back to you. Such artefacts may include photographs, or written resources. There is no expectation or need for any biological samples being collected from participants. 8. What will happen with the data I provide?  When you agree to participate in this research, we will collect from you personally-identifiable information.  The Manchester Metropolitan University (‘the University’) is the Data Controller in respect of this research and any personal data that you provide as a research participant.  The University is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and manages personal data in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the University’s Data Protection Policy.  We collect personal data as part of this research (such as name, telephone numbers or age). As a public authority acting in the public interest, we rely upon the ‘public task’ lawful basis. When we collect special category data (such as medical information or ethnicity) we rely upon the research and archiving purposes in the public interest lawful basis.   

Your rights to access, change or move your information are limited, as we need to manage your information in specific ways in order for the research to be reliable and accurate. If you withdraw from the study, we will keep the information about you that we have already obtained, and this may still be used if you have participated in interviews.  We will not share your personal data collected in this form with any third parties. If your data is shared this will be under the terms of a Research Collaboration Agreement which defines use, and agrees confidentiality and information security provisions. It is the University’s policy to only publish anonymous data unless you have given your explicit written consent to be identified in the research. The University never sells personal data to third parties.  We will only retain your personal data for as long as is necessary to achieve the research purpose. The estimated project completion date is July 2026. Your data will be stored for one year and three months after this date, in case resubmission are necessary. Data will be handled by the principal investigator (Simon Olsen) and will be anonymous and stored safely and securely. No personal or identifiable data would be used in the research. Once interviews are complete, participants will be referred to in anonymous terms such as ‘veteran’, to protect your identity. Findings will be securely stored via the university’s secure storage system. Furthermore, the data will be purged from the university’s secure storage facility within three months of the project’s conclusion.  For further information about use of your personal data and your data protection rights please see the University’s Data Protection Pages (https://www2.mmu.ac.uk/data-protection/).  What will happen to the results of the research study?  The results of the study will be used to inform conclusions about the nature of conflict in Afghanistan and the human cost of the war. This research project seeks to investigate the relationship between the British Army’s culture, leadership and doctrine, and how these the lived experience of those serving in Afghanistan. As such, findings will be used in the formulation of the project’s final monologue, with the ambition of using some of this research to inform future articles for publication.   Who has reviewed this research project?  The supervisory team has reviewed this research project. This team consists of Dr Stuart Aveyard and Dr Jason Crowley. Furthermore, the project has passed the initial review stage, having been scrutinised by other academics. Finally, the project has been approved by the university’s ethics committee.  Who do I contact if I have concerns about this study or I wish to complain?  For any general questions about the research project, please contact me in the first instance, at 08448308@stu.mmu.ac.uk. I can also be contacted by post at, Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester Campus, Manchester, M15 6EB.  The principal supervisor for this project is Dr Stuart Aveyard, who can be reached at s.aveyard@mmu.ac.uk, 0161 247 1721, Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester Campus, Manchester, M15 6EB.  The Faculty Ethics contact is artsandhumanitiesethics@mmu.ac.uk, or at Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester Campus, Manchester, M15 6EB.  The Microsoft Teams Privacy Statement can be found here https://privacy.microsoft.com/en-gb/privacystatement . If you have any concerns regarding the personal data collected from you, our Data Protection Officer can be contacted using the legal@mmu.ac.uk e-mail address, by calling 0161 247 3331 or in writing to: Data Protection Officer, Legal Services, All Saints Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, M15 6BH. You also have a right to lodge a complaint in respect of the processing of your personal data with the Information Commissioner’s Office as the supervisory authority. Please see: https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/. 

THANK YOU FOR CONSIDERING PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT 

002  FOREST FORCES UPDATE

Wellbeing Hubs at the City Ground Are you interested in veterans wellbeing and want to know how you can get more involved in supporting our work? We are hosting a discussion on Monday 12th February for Forest Forces participants and partner organisations to come along and share their ideas. If you would like to attend, please email claire.henson@nottinghamforest.co.uk. Coffee Morning at Long Eaton I have been sent through the following details of a veterans coffee morning - 3rd Wednesday of each month. The Friendship Hub, Grassmere Road, Long Eaton, NG10 4DZ. Next meeting 10.30 am 21st February. All veterans are welcome.

003 THE BATTLE OF MONTE CASSINO - PART 1

Battle of Monte Cassino  The Battle of Monte Cassino, also known as the Battle for Rome, was a series of four military assaults against German forces with the main objective of breaking through the Winter Line and facilitate an advance towards Rome. In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was anchored by German forces holding the Rapido Gari, Liri, and Garigliano valleys and several surrounding peaks and ridges. Together, these features formed the Gustav Line. Monte Cassino, an historic hilltop abbey founded in 529 by Benedict of Nursia, dominated the nearby town of Cassino and the entrances to the Liri and Rapido valleys. Lying in a protected historic zone, it had been left unoccupied by the Germans, although they manned some positions set into the slopes below the abbey's walls.
Repeated artillery attacks on assaulting allied troops caused their leaders to incorrectly conclude that the abbey was being used by the Germans as an observation post, at the very least. Fears escalated, along with casualties, and despite evidence, it was marked for destruction. On 15 February 1944, Allied bombers dropped 1,400 tonnes of high explosives, causing widespread damage. Fallschirmjäger forces occupied the area and established defensive positions amid the ruins.
Between 17 January and 18 May, Monte Cassino and the Gustav Line defences were attacked on four occasions by Allied troops. On 16 May, soldiers from the Polish II Corps launched one of the final assaults on the German defensive position as part of a twenty division assault along a twenty mile front. On 18 May, a Polish flag and the British flag were raised over the ruins. Following this Allied victory, the German Senger Line collapsed on 25 May, and the German defenders were driven from their positions. The capture of Monte Cassino resulted in 55,000 Allied casualties, with German losses estimated at around 20,000 killed and wounded. The battle has been described as a Pyrrhic victory. 
Background
The Allied landings in Italy in September 1943 by two Allied armies, following shortly after the Allied landings in Sicily in July, commanded by General Sir Harold Alexander, the Commander in Chief of the 15th Army Group (later retitled the Allied Armies in Italy), were followed by an advance northward on two fronts, one on each side of the central mountain range forming the "spine" of Italy. On the western front, the American Fifth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, which had suffered many casualties during the main landing at Salerno in September, moved from the main base of Naples up the Italian "boot," and on the eastern front, the British Eighth Army, commanded by General Sir Bernard Montgomery, advanced up the Adriatic coast.
The progress of Clark's Fifth Army was hindered by challenging terrain, adverse weather conditions, and well prepared German defenses. The Germans were fighting from a series of prepared positions in a manner designed to inflict maximum damage, then pulling back while buying time for the construction of the Winter Line defensive positions south of the Italian capital of Rome. The original estimates that Rome would fall by October 1943 proved far too optimistic.
Although in the east the German defensive line had been breached on the Adriatic front and Ortona was captured by the 1st Canadian Division, the advance had ground to a halt with the onset of winter blizzards at the end of December, making close air support and movement in the jagged terrain impossible. The route to Rome from the east using Route 5 was thus excluded as a viable option, leaving the routes from Naples to Rome, Highways 6 and 7, as the only possibilities; Highway 7 followed along the west coast but south of Rome ran into the Pontine Marshes, which the Germans had flooded.
Highway 6 ran through the Liri valley, dominated at its south entrance by the rugged mass of Monte Cassino above the town of Cassino. Excellent observation from the peaks of several hills allowed the German defenders to detect Allied movement and direct highly accurate artillery fire, preventing any northward advance. Running across the Allied line was the fast flowing Rapido River, which rose in the central Apennine Mountains, flowed through Cassino and across the entrance to the Liri valley. There, the Liri River joined the Gari to form the Garigliano River, which continued on to the sea.
With its heavily fortified mountain defences, difficult river crossings, and valley heads flooded by the Germans, Cassino formed a linchpin of the Gustav Line, the most formidable line of the defensive positions making up the Winter Line.
In spite of its potential excellence as an observation post, because of the fourteen-century Benedictine abbey's historical significance, the German commander in Italy,
Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring, ordered German units not to include it in their defensive positions and informed the Vatican and the Allies accordingly in December 1943. 
Nevertheless, some Allied reconnaissance aircraft maintained they observed German troops inside the monastery. While this remains unconfirmed, it is clear that once the monastery was destroyed, it was occupied by the Germans and proved better cover for their emplacements and troops than an intact structure would have offered.
First battle
Plans and preparation First Battle: plan of attack    The plan of the Fifth Army commander, Lieutenant General Clark, was for the British X Corps, under Lieutenant General Richard McCreery, on the left of a 20 mile front, to attack on 17 January 1944, across the Garigliano near the coast. The British 46th Infantry Division was to attack on the night of 19 January across the Garigliano below its junction with the Liri in support of the main attack by U.S. II Corps, under Major General Geoffrey Keyes, on their right. The main central thrust by the U.S. II Corps would commence on 20 January with the U.S. 36th Infantry Division making an assault across the swollen Gari river five miles downstream of Cassino. Simultaneously, the French Expeditionary Corps led by General Alphonse Juin would continue its "right hook" move towards Monte Cairo, the hinge to the Gustav and Hitler defensive lines. In truth, Clark did not believe there was much chance of an early breakthrough,[ but he felt that the attacks would draw German reserves away from the Rome area in time for the attack on Anzio where the U.S. VI Corps, under Major General John P. Lucas, was due to make an amphibious landing on 22 January. It was hoped that the Anzio landing, with the benefit of surprise and a rapid move inland to the Alban Hills, which command both routes 6 and 7, would so threaten the Gustav defenders' rear and supply lines that it might just unsettle the German commanders and cause them to withdraw from the Gustav Line to positions north of Rome. Whilst this would have been consistent with the German tactics of the previous three months, Allied intelligence had not understood that the strategy of fighting retreat had been for the sole purpose of providing time to prepare the Gustav line where the Germans intended to stand firm. The intelligence assessment of Allied prospects was therefore over-optimistic.  The Fifth Army had only reached the Gustav Line on 15 January, having taken six weeks of heavy fighting to advance the last seven miles through the Bernhardt Line positions, during which time they had sustained 16,000 casualties. They hardly had time to prepare the new assault, let alone take the rest and reorganisation they really needed after three months of attritional fighting north from Naples. However, because the Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff would only make landing craft available until early February, as they were required for Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Northern France, Operation Shingle had to take place in late January with the coordinated attack on the Gustav Line some three days earlier. First assault 17 January
The first assault was made on 17 January. Near the coast, the British X Corps forced a crossing of the Garigliano followed some two days later by the British 46th Division on their right causing General Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin, commander of the German XIV Panzer Corps, and responsible for the Gustav defences on the south western half of the line, some serious concern as to the ability of the German 94th Infantry Division to hold the line.
Responding to Senger's concerns, Kesselring ordered the 29th and 90th Panzergrenadier Divisions from the Rome area to provide reinforcement. X Corps did not have the extra men, and the battle plan remained unchanged, but there would certainly have been time to and cancel or modify the central attack by the U.S. II Corps to make men available to force the issue in the south before the German reinforcements were able to get into position. As it happened, Fifth Army HQ failed to appreciate the frailty of the German position and the plan was left unchanged. The two divisions from Rome arrived by 21 January and stabilised the German position in the south. In one respect, however, the plan was working in that Kesselring's reserves had been drawn south. The three divisions of Lieutenant General McCreery's X Corps sustained some 4,000 casualties during the period of the first battle. 
Main attack 20 January
The central thrust by the U.S. 36th Division, under Major General Fred L. Walker, commenced three hours after sunset on 20 January. The lack of time to prepare meant that the approach to the river was still hazardous due to uncleared mines and booby traps, and the highly technical business of an opposed river crossing lacked the necessary planning and rehearsal. Although a battalion of the 143rd Infantry Regiment was able to get across the Gari on the south side of San Angelo and two companies of the 141st Infantry Regiment on the north side, they were isolated for most of the time and at no time was Allied armour able to get across the river, leaving them highly vulnerable to counter attacking tanks and self propelled guns of Generalleutnant Eberhard Rodt's 15th Panzergrenadier Division. The southern group was forced back across the river by mid morning of 21 January. Keyes pressed Walker to renew the attack immediately. Once again, the two regiments attacked but with no more success against the well dug in 15th Panzergrenadier Division, the 143rd Infantry Regiment got the equivalent of two battalions across, but, once again, there was no armoured support, and they were devastated when daylight came the next day. The 141st Infantry Regiment also crossed in two battalion strength and, despite the lack of armoured support, managed to advance half a mile. However, with the coming of daylight, they too were cut down and by the evening of 22 January, the 141st Infantry Regiment had virtually ceased to exist; only 40 men made it back to the Allied lines.
The assault had been a costly failure, with the 36th Division losing 2,100 men killed, wounded and missing in 48 hours. As a result, the army's conduct of this battle became the subject of a Congressional inquiry after the war.
North of Cassino 24 January
The next attack was launched on 24 January. The U.S. II Corps, with 34th Infantry Division under Major General Charles W. Ryder spearheading the attack and French colonial troops on its right flank, launched an assault across the flooded Rapido valley north of Cassino and into the mountains behind with the intention of then wheeling to the left and attacking Monte Cassino from high ground. Whilst the task of crossing the river would be easier in that the Rapido upstream of Cassino was fordable, the flooding made movement on the approaches each side very difficult. In particular, armour could only move on paths laid with steel matting and it took eight days of bloody fighting across the waterlogged ground for 34th Division to push back General Franek's German 44th Infantry Division to establish a foothold in the mountains.
On the right, the Moroccan French troops made strategical initial progress against the German 5th Mountain Division, commanded by General Julius Ringel, gaining positions on the slopes of their key objective, Monte Cifalco. Forward units of the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division had also by passed Monte Cifalco to capture Monte Belvedere and Colle Abate. General Juin was convinced that Cassino could be bypassed and the German defences unhinged by this northerly route but his request for reserves to maintain the momentum of his advance was refused and the one available reserve regiment from 36th Division was sent to reinforce 34th Division. By 31 January the French had ground to a halt with Monte Cifalco, which had a clear view of the French and U.S. flanks and supply lines, still in German hands. The two Moroccan French divisions sustained 2,500 casualties in their struggles around Colle Belvedere. 
Mountains north of Cassino  First Battle: Northern Sector 24 January – 11 February 1944  It became the task of the U.S. 34th Division, which had been held in reserve and unused to fight southward along the linked hilltops towards the intersecting ridge on the south end of which was Monastery Hill. They could then break through down into the Liri valley behind the Gustav Line defences. It was very tough going the mountains were rocky, strewn with boulders and cut by ravines and gullies. Digging foxholes on the rocky ground was out of the question and each feature was exposed to fire from surrounding high points. The ravines were no better since the gorse growing there, far from giving cover, had been sown with mines, booby-traps and hidden barbed wire by the defenders. The Germans had had three months to prepare their defensive positions using dynamite and to stockpile ammunition and stores. There was no natural shelter, and the weather was wet and freezing cold.
By early February, American infantry had captured a strategic point near the hamlet of San Onofrio, less than 1 mile from the abbey and by 7 February a battalion had reached Point 445, a round topped hill immediately below the monastery and no more than 400 yards away. An American squad managed a reconnaissance right up against the cliff like abbey walls, with the monks observing German and American patrols exchanging fire. However, attempts to take Monte Cassino were broken by overwhelming machine gun fire from the slopes below the monastery. Despite their fierce fighting, the 34th Division never managed to take the final redoubts on Hill 593 held by the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Parachute Regiment, part of the 1st Parachute Division, the dominating point of the ridge to the monastery.
Aftermath
On 11 February, after a final unsuccessful three day assault on Monastery Hill and Cassino town, the Americans were withdrawn. U.S. II Corps, after two and a half weeks of battle, was worn out. The performance of the 34th Division in the mountains is considered to rank as one of the finest feats of arms carried out by any soldiers during the war. In return they sustained losses of about 80 per cent in the Infantry battalions, some 2,200 casualties. 
At the height of the battle in the first days of February von Senger und Etterlin had moved the 90th Division from the Garigliano front to the north of Cassino and had been so alarmed at the rate of attrition, he had "mustered all the weight of my authority to request that the Battle of Cassino should be broken off and that we should occupy a quite new line, a position, in fact, north of the Anzio bridgehead". Kesselring refused the request. At the crucial moment von Senger was able to throw in the 71st Infantry Division whilst leaving the 15th Panzergrenadier Division whom they had been due to relieve in place.
During the battle, there had been occasions when with more astute use of reserves, promising positions might have been turned into decisive moves. Some historians suggest this failure to capitalise on initial success could be put down to Clark's lack of experience. However, it is more likely that he just had too much to do, being responsible for both the Cassino and Anzio offensives. This view is supported by the inability of Major General Lucian Truscott, commanding the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, as related below, to get hold of him for discussions at a vital juncture of the Anzio breakout at the time of the fourth Cassino battle. Whilst General Alexander, Commander in Chief of the AAI, chose to have Cassino and Anzio under a single army commander and splitting the Gustav Line front between the U.S. Fifth Army and the British Eighth Army, now commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Oliver Leese, Kesselring chose to create a separate 14th Army under General Eberhard von Mackensen to fight at Anzio whilst leaving the Gustav Line in the sole hands of General Heinrich von Vietinghoff's 10th Army.
The withdrawn American units were replaced by the New Zealand Corps, 2nd New Zealand and 4th Indian Divisions, commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Freyberg, from the Eighth Army on the Adriatic front.

............................................................................................

02 February 2024    WFRA NEWSLETTER      Volume 15 Issue 05

OBITUARY It is with great sadness that we report the death of Colonel Paul Haslam 424040, Late WFR, born April 16th 1930 in Mapperley, Nottingham died peacefully on January 22nd 2024. He first reported for duty at Catterick Garrison on October 22, 1951. In1952, he became a second lieutenant in the Sherwood Foresters and was posted to join the second battalion reforming at Colchester. From there, his military journey took him to Wuppertal in the Ruhr, where he served as an assistant adjutant. After a stint at the School of Infantry Small Arms wing at Hythe, he was posted to the Regimental depot at Derby. His next posting was to the 1st Battalion in Sennelager, where he took on the role of battalion Intelligence Officer, overseeing liaison with Special Branch and higher formations. His military service included postings in Malaya, Northern Ireland, and Germany. He completed a course at the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham, commanded the Infantry Trials and Development Unit in Warminster and also served as assistant military attaché to the British Embassy in the USSR from 1966 to 1968. He later worked at the MOD as part of the Procurement Executive. Having left the army in 1980 he was appointed as Retired Officer Grade two (RO2) at the Royal Military College, at Shrivenham, administering training courses. His funeral will take place on Friday 23rd February at Amberley Parish Church, Stroud, Glos at 1400 hours. The wake will be at The Black Horse, Amberley.

001  MERCIAN REGIMENT NEWSLETTER
THE MERCIAN REGIMENT  QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER Q4 2023  VIEW OUR NEWSLETTER ONLINE  PRINT-FRIENDLY NEWSLETTER

The next edition of the Mercian Regimental Quarterly Newsletter is now available for viewing. Our newsletter covers recent events over a three month period, with a look ahead on what is coming up within the regiment; including the battalions, the museums & associations. The newsletter is hosted online, which means that you can view it on your smartphone or tablet while on-the-go. A print-friendly version is also available above. We would like to extend a thank you to all who are involved with the MERCIAN regiment for your continued support.
Stand Firm, Strike Hard.
Kind regards, RHQ Mercian


 002  FOREST FORCES UPDATE Breakfast Clubs at the City Ground

Upcoming dates for the Forest Forces Breakfast Club at the City Ground will be shared in the coming weeks when the venues are confirmed. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for guest speakers or activities you might want to see at future events, please let us know. Wellbeing Hubs at the City Ground Are you interested in veterans wellbeing and want to know how you can get more involved in supporting our work? We are hosting a discussion on Monday 12th February for Forest Forces participants and partner organisations to come along and share their ideas. If you would like to attend, please email claire.henson@nottinghamforest.co.uk. Bench at Ver Sur Mer The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Association (Arnold Branch) Committee has been tasked by its members to secure a bench and dedicate it to the fallen of the Regiment in the Normandy campaign. To support, please see the link to their Go Fund Me page below.Go Fund Me

003  BRANCH MEETING
The next meeting of Long Eaton and West Notts Branch will be the monthly social on Wednesday 7 February at The Last Post Public House 6A Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1AA 19.30hrs start. All are welcome to attend.

 

004  JOB OPPORTUNITY
The East Midlands RFCA are recruiting for an Administrative Officer (AO) at Derbyshire ACF, the vacancy notice and job description are attached.  Interested candidates should email a full CV and supporting statement detailing their suitability for the role, to em-offman@rfca.mod.uk .
Closing date for applications is 12 noon on Friday 9 February 2024.  Short listed candidates will be notified as soon as possible after the 9 February and called for an interview at Derbyshire ACF during week commencing the 19 February 2024
The job description can be found by following the link below.
https://eastmidlandsrfca.co.uk/about-us/vacancy-at-east-midlands-rfca/

 005 ROMEO AND JULIET – 9 FEBRUARY 2024

The Town Mayor of Newark will be hosting a charity performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Town Hall, Newark on 9 February 2024.  All are invited to attend.  Details are on the flyer below.                                                                 ................................................................ 
26 January 2024   WFRA NEWSLETTER      Volume 15 Issue 04

OBITUARY It is with great sadness that we let you know that 14410044 Pte Denis SIMPSON, of Milton Keynes, died on 23 January 2024 (he would have been 100 on the 28th).  Denis, originally from Ripley, Derbyshire, enlisted into the Army on 31 October 1942 and joined The Sherwood Foresters on 22 May 1943 and stayed with them until 1944.  He then joined the Commandos and the RMP.  It is believed that he served in Egypt, Yemen, Palestine and Italy and left the Army as a Sgt in 1947.
Denis returned to Ripley and had various jobs but ended up as a builder.  He was married to Joyce until 1970 when she died. They had 2 sons.  He then remarried to (another) Joyce and later moved to Milton Keynes.
Messages of condolence can be sent to his son, Robert, bobsimmo@yahoo.co.uk .  It is not known at this stage if there will be a funeral service and details will be promulgated, if there is one to attend.

FUNERAL DETAILS The funeral of Geoff Foster will take place on Monday 5 February at 15.30hrs,  At Kidderminster Crematorium, Minster Rd, Stourport-on-Severn DY13 8DE There will be a wake afterwards at The Old Beams Public House Dunley Rd, Stourport-on-Severn DY13 0AA

001  JOB OPPORTUNITY The East Midlands RFCA are recruiting for an Administrative Officer (AO) at Derbyshire ACF, the vacancy notice and job description are attached.  Interested candidates should email a full CV and supporting statement detailing their suitability for the role, to em-offman@rfca.mod.uk .
Closing date for applications is 12 noon on Friday 9 February 2024.  Short listed candidates will be notified as soon as possible after the 9 February and called for an interview at Derbyshire ACF during week commencing the 19 February 2024
The job description can be found by following the link below.
https://eastmidlandsrfca.co.uk/about-us/vacancy-at-east-midlands-rfca/

                  

002 ROMEO AND JULIET – 9 FEBRUARY 2024 The Town Mayor of Newark will be hosting a charity performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Town Hall, Newark on 9 February 2024.  All are invited to attend.  Details are on the flyer below.

003 BRANCH MEETING  The next meeting of the Derby Branch WFRA is on Friday 2 February. Venue is the Allestree Social Club, 39 Cornhill, Allestree, Derby DE22 2FS. Meeting starts at 1945hrs and dress is casual.

004 CYBER SECURITY Two weeks today is “Safer Internet Day”. Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, the day sees thousands of organisations get involved to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. To that end, we will be offering free, non-technical online sessions, hosted by our own Cyber Protect Team, covering how to protect yourself and your family online. This session will benefit anyone who uses the internet, email, smartphones and apps. The topics covered will be: Device safety/protection. Password guidance and account security. Protecting your personal information. Social engineering and phishing emails/texts. Online shopping & online banking safely. Current threats and trends/scams. Protecting your WhatsApp and social media accounts. Keeping youngsters safe online. Safer Internet Day – This year’s theme is ‘Inspiring change?  Making a difference, managing influence and navigating change     online’. We’ll touch upon the things that can influence and change the way young people think, feel and act online and offline.Signposting to further sources of support and resources Signposting to further sources of support and resources. Where to report incidents of cybercrime and fraud.
The session is available on two dates – Friday will be a repeat of Tuesday.  Please register your interest by emailing samantha.hancock@derbyshire.police.uk and stating which webinar you are interested in joining.

A link to the online meeting will be sent out the day prior to session selected. Tuesday 6th Feb at 18.30hrs
Friday 9th February at 13.30hrs These events are free of charge, but you are required to book a place to receive the link to the online meeting. For regular online safety tips, and information about the latest scams and advice, follow the Derbyshire Police Online Safety Facebook and Twitter (X) pages. If you’re unable to attend these sessions, we will be offering further webinars throughout the year. You might also be interested in checking your cyber resilience by trying out Derbyshire County Council ‘s recently refreshed free “Digital MOT” tool which takes just 3 or 4 minutes to complete a set of questions about your use of technology and the internet. You’ll receive simple, tailored advice to keep yourself safe online. So, would you pass the Digital MOT? Try it by following the link to the Digital MOT here – or if you prefer not to click on the link, search “Derbyshire Digital MOT” which you’ll find on the SaferDerbyshire website.

005  FREE CHARITY CONCERT
The Royal British Legion present a FREE charity concert featuring the Long Eaton Silver Prize Band and Training Band on Saturday 3rd February 2024 starting at 7:30pm at the Soldiers and Sailors Club, Sawley NG10 3JS Admission is free but there will be a collection and a raffle as Melissa Ramplin is to run the London Marathon to raise funds for the Royal British Legion.  Melissa is a cornet player in the Welsh Guards Band and was taught to play at as a member of the Silver Prize Band.

006 THE MERCIAN REGIMENT CHARITY GOLF DAY 2024 THE MERCIAN REGIMENT 
CHARITY GOLF DAY 2024
                                                                 
Friday August 16th 2024.  RUFFORD PARK GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB 

ENTRY FORM  General Information. Many Thanks for your continuous support to this annual Event. All money which is raised goes to supporting the Benevolent Fund of the Mercian Regiment. The intent is to run this year's event as I did in 2023 with slight amendments. The golf competition will take place during the day followed by an evening event which includes any guest you may wish to invite.   Entry Cost:  I enclose a cheque for £160.00. Cheques made payable to ‘RHQ MERCIAN’ The entry fee for a team of members from Rufford Park golf Club will be £110:00. Please send all entries and Cheques to the address at the bottom of this entry form.  Format:  The format of the day will be: 18 Hole stableford individual and team prizes, plus 4 nearest the pin prizes and 2s sweep. Maximum Handicap is 28 for Gentlemen and 36 for Ladies  Entry price also includes bacon roll and coffee on arrival, plus an evening hot and cold buffet meal during the evening function. Players can purchase extra tickets to the evening celebration party for family and friends  £15:00 per Ticket. Evening Entertainment is to be confirmed. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Team Name:     

Team Captain Contact Details:  Name  

Phone Number:                                                  Email                                   

Player 1                                   HCP                    Player 2                                   HCP  

Player 3                                   HCP                    Player 4                                   HCP    

Extra Tickets for the evening event are £15 Per Ticket  

Indicate Preferred Tee Time. Tee Timings will be notified the week before the event 

0800-0900    0900-1000   1000-1100   1100-1200  1200-1300 

Signed:                                                            Date        

Entries Submitted to: Lt Col (Retd) K Seddon  8 Forest Road   Warsop  Mansfield
Notts   NG20 0ER Tel 07739 210 584. 

007 SHARDLOW AFVBC SUNDAY LUNCH
Shardlow Armed Forces Veterans Breakfast Club are holding a Sunday lunch event on Sunday 4 February at 13.00hrs at The Boathouse, Shardlow Marina, London Road, Shardlow, Derbyshire DE72 2GL.  Please register with Lynda Rotherham,  lynda.rotherham@hotmail.co.uk or Shardlow AFVBC Facebook page, early booking essential due to limited places.

008 AUTHORS AND ARTISANS

 Do you write or make something (does not have to be military related) and would like to sell your wares at the next Pilgrimage? 
If so, please contact the Assistant Regimental Secretary for further details: cindy.clark247@mod.gov.uk

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  19 January 2024            WFRA NEWSLETTER         Volume 15 Issue 03

001 WANTED - VETERAN IN THE MILTON KEYNES AREA
Are there any WFRA veterans in the Milton Keynes area that are available to attend a 100th birthday celebration for a Sherwood Foresters veteran?  This will be on Sunday 28 January 2024 at 1400 hours.  If you are able to join the soldiers attending, please contact the Assistant Regimental Secretary cindy.clark247@mod.gov.uk

002 MUSEUM OF THE MERCIAN REGIMENT - WFR COLLECTION
Medal change over announcement.
For the New Year we have changed the soldier’s medals on display in our gallery at Nottingham Castle.  Visit our gallery to see the medals now on display.

003 MUSEUM OF THE MERCIAN REGIMENT - WFR COLLECTION
Looking to find out more about The Sherwood Foresters? Then head over to our website where we have recently added new pages such as The Sherwood Foresters from 1881-1914.
https://www.stand-firm-strike-hard.org.uk/sherwood-foresters-1881-1914

004 SOLDIERING ON AWARDS 2024
Nominations are now open for the 2024 Soldiering On Awards, and this year there is an intriguing addition to the line-up - the Employee Champion Award.  The new category aims to shine a spotlight on those individuals who actively support members of the Armed Forces community in civilian careers, championing the employability of service leavers, reservists, veterans, spouses and family members.  Dubbed by Jeremy Vine as the "best awards ever", the Soldiering On Awards is much more than a single ceremony. Now in its 14th year, the Soldiering On Awards remains steadfast in its commitment to recognising exceptional achievements within the Armed Forces community. The year-long celebration fosters positive storytelling, brings together esteemed judges from the community, honours the shortlisted finalists across the UK and culminates in a spectacular grand finale - a glamorous awards night in October.  Nominees can be celebrated in 12 diverse categories, ranging from Family Values and Animal Partnership to Defence Inclusivity, Inspiration and Business. As the nomination process is open to everyone, the Soldiering On Awards team encourages members of the public, peers and colleagues to nominate deserving candidates. Nominations will remain open until 23:59 on 2 April.  Visit the Soldiering On Awards website to submit your nominations and be part of this celebration of excellence within the Armed Forces community.  Earl Howe, the patron of the Soldiering On Awards, said: "In our 14th year, Soldiering On Awards remains committed to shining a spotlight on remarkable individuals, projects and organisations that exemplify passion and unwavering commitment to progress and excellence, embodying the core values that our Armed Forces are known for. "Many in the community remain unrecognised for their efforts, so I invite everyone to ask themselves 'who do you know that deserves recognition?'.  "If shortlisted, nominees will gain national exposure and what's unique about the Soldiering On Awards is that the nominator is also invited to join in the celebrations at the House of Lords." 

Mark Neill, managing director at Landmarc and co-creator of the new Employee Champion Award said: "Landmarc has been a proud supporter of the Soldiering On Awards for seven years. "For 2024 we are thrilled that a new category we have worked to co-create over an extended period has now been introduced. "The Employee Champion Award will highlight individuals who excel in advocating for the Armed Forces community in the civilian workforce.  "We know there are individuals working in organisations, large and small, around the UK who support others to apply their skills, maximise their careers and find new connections and opportunities.  "We invite employers to nominate these champions and share their stories as shining examples to others." Lieutenant Colonel Ren Kapur, the CEO of Soldiering On Awards, added: "Soldiering On Awards brings together the whole of the Armed Forces community and draws engagement from the MOD, military charities and a wide range of corporate partners that share the programme's mission to shine a light on those that make a difference.  "Soldiering On Awards is more than an event. It's a collective effort to honour those who make a lasting impact in the lives of our Armed Forces community and society as a whole.  "We can't wait to hear the 2024 stories that will serve as inspiration to us all."                                           

005 THE FORCER PROTOCOL  A joined-up database of individuals, helping police pinpoint where a missing veteran could be, has been in action with 35 veterans already being found using the service. Forcer Protocol, a pilot scheme that was soft launched on Remembrance Day last year, allows police call handlers to access and share key information quickly in the crucial first hours. It red flags reports of missing people involving potentially vulnerable veterans and aims to improve response times and provide the authorities with a fuller picture of the person's background and possible state of mind. Since November's soft launch of the Forcer Protocol initiative, tens of veterans have been flagged, fast-tracked, and found.

"We've asked over 5,000 people whether the missing person they're reporting is a veteran, and we've identified 35 of those that are veterans," Chief Inspector Mark Mangnall, Forcer Protocol Lead GMP. He added: "And we've been able to put processes in place, and an investigation in place that's been able to find all 35. "Last year, we didn't know we had that data. We didn't know that many people went missing. Once this is rolled out nationally, I think we will be surprised with the amount of missing veterans we have every day." Individuals, as well as family members or support workers with consent, can have key information about a person stored in a safe place online, and police can access it securely if they are reported missing. A sixth month pilot is helping to iron out any challenges. The Forcer Protocol is named after ex-soldier Alan Forcer, who took his own life after disappearing following struggles with PTSD. Alan's ex-wife Claire Lilly has been the driving force behind the scheme. Although many around Army veteran Alan Forcer were aware of his mental health struggles, when he went missing, it took three days to find him. Now the detailed database of individuals is helping police work out where a missing veteran could be. Claire told Forces News: "I think it's highlighting a massive issue. I don't think Greater Manchester Police is particularly densely populated with veteran barracks, or veteran settlements. "The dent in that kind of mental health-specific landscape that we could potentially create could be immense." Once found, veterans are put on a new pathway. "We are able to then refer them to Operation Nova, to be able to put that support in place to make sure they get the help they need," said Chief Insp Mangnall. "We will never know if we have saved someone's life by finding them, but if we are saying that person is at risk of life, and they're high risk, then by us finding them, then yes, we have potentially saved their life."

006 NOTTINGHAM V ARMY RUGBY Nottingham v The Army Friday 26th January Kick off 19.45hrs Lady Bay Sports Ground 1 Holme Road, Lady Bay, Nottingham
For more information and tickets follow the link below.
https://nottinghamrugby.ticketco.events/uk/en/e/nottingham_rugby_vs_the_british_army

007 BOOK SALE – WFR AUTHOR

Matt Trott, ex WFR, uses the pen name Jack Dawe and his debut memoir is now available on Amazon.  The book includes some of his experiences in 1WFR as well as his career in the police.  Hard Stop: A Life of Violence, Crime and Deception 
Available at Amazon via the link below.
https://amzn.eu/d/4BaL1N1 

008 AUTHORS AND ARTISANS  Do you write or make something (does not have to be military related) and would like to sell your wares at the next Pilgrimage? 
If so, please contact the Assistant Regimental Secretary for further details: cindy.clark247@mod.gov.uk

009 FOR SALE  Mobile Bar Unit.  This is the one used at the Crich Pilgrimage. Offers circa 13k Generator.  For use with the above bar or for separate use. Offers circa 2K The bar has been booked for several events in 2024 and the current owner has offered his assistance at these events, to the new owner. Further details can be obtained form Shaun Wilmot on 07790 024 787.

.....................................................

12 January 2024                      WFRA NEWSLETTER                  Volume 15 Issue 02

OBITUARY It is with great sadness that we report the death of Geoff 'Fozzie' Foster who died on December 29 2023. Geoff joined 1WFR in 1976 and served with B and C Coy's.  He was discharged in October 1993. Geoff was a true character and a real Regimental Legend who will bw greatly missed by all of those who knew him.
Funeral details will be published when known.

OBITUARY It is with great sadness that we report the death of Justine Bryant the wife of Jackie Bryant who died on January 2 2024. Justines funeral will be held at St Oswald’s Church Backford on Friday 26th January 2024 at 1030am, followed by a private committal. The wake will be held at Chester fields Sandfield Farm Chester Road Chester CH2 4JR from 1145am.  For those who would like to, they would like to ask people to send in one or two pictures they have of or with mum, which will be displayed at the wake. Please email any pictures by Friday 12 January 2024 to emilybryant221@gmail.com If people would like to make a donation in Justine’s memory (and in lieu of flowers) we would lie to raise money for the Hospice of the Good Shepherd who were instrumental in caring for Justine. The just giving links are https://www.justgiving.com/page/justine-bryant Justine's family would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kind messages over the past week. Mum would be truly overwhelmed by all the love shown by everyone. 

001 THE MERCIAN REGIMENT CHARITY GOLF DAY 2024

THE MERCIAN REGIMENT 
CHARITY GOLF DAY 2024 Friday August 16th 2024. RUFFORD PARK GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB   ENTRY FORM 

General Information. Many Thanks for your continuous support to this annual Event. All money which is raised goes to supporting the Benevolent Fund of the Mercian Regiment. The intent is to run this year's event as I did in 2023 with slight amendments. The golf competition will take place during the day followed by an evening event which includes any guest you may wish to invite.  

Entry Cost:  I enclose a cheque for £160.00. Cheques made payable to ‘RHQ MERCIAN’ The entry fee for a team of members from Rufford Park golf Club will be £110:00. Please send all entries and Cheques to the address at the bottom of this entry form.  Format:  The format of the day will be: 18 Hole stableford individual and team prizes, plus 4 nearest the pin prizes and 2s sweep. Maximum Handicap is 28 for Gentlemen and 36 for Ladies 

Entry price also includes bacon roll and coffee on arrival, plus an evening hot and cold buffet meal during the evening function. Players can purchase extra tickets to the evening celebration party for family and friends  £15:00 per Ticket. Evening Entertainment is to be confirmed. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Team Name:     

Team Captain Contact Details:  Name  

Phone Number:                                                  Email                                   

Player 1                                   HCP                    Player 2                                   HCP  

Player 3                                   HCP                    Player 4                                   HCP    

Extra Tickets for the evening event are £15 Per Ticket  

Indicate Preferred Tee Time. Tee Timings will be notified the week before the event 

0800-0900      0900-1000     1000-1100     1100-1200     1200-1300 

Signed:                                                            Date        

Entries Submitted to: Lt Col (Retd) K Seddon 
8 Forest Road   Warsop  Mansfield Notts   NG20 0ER  Tel 07739 210 584. 

002 WESTERN FRONT ASSOCIATION - TALK

A Concept Vindicated: The Battle of the Falkland Islands, 1914 - Dr Scott Lindgren.
In early 2023, Scott visited Ruddington to talk about the Battle of Coronel, and perhaps unwisely, offered to return to the branch and give his follow up talk on the Battle of the Falkland Islands 1914.
Following Coronel, the Royal Navy dispatched three battlecruisers to hunt down the German East Asia Squadron. This lecture examines the engagement, the background and role of the battlecruisers involved.
Friday 12 January at 19.30hrs.
St Peters Rooms, Church Street, Ruddington, Nottingham NG11 6HD.
Admission £3.50.

003 BOOK SALE – WFR AUTHOR

Matt Trott, ex WFR, uses the pen name Jack Dawe and his debut memoir is now available on Amazon.  The book includes some of his experiences in 1WFR as well as his career in the police. 
Hard Stop: A Life of Violence, Crime and Deception 
Available at Amazon via the link below.
https://amzn.eu/d/4BaL1N1 

004 AUTHORS AND ARTISANS   Do you write or make something (does not have to be military related) and would like to sell your wares at the next Pilgrimage? 
If so, please contact the Assistant Regimental Secretary for further details: cindy.clark247@mod.gov.uk

005 BUDDY BUDDY GROUP

The Buddy Buddy group, based in Chesterfield, has been running for around 18 months now and is a Tri-Service, multi cap badge group for veterans (although serving personnel are invited to come along), both male and female, of all ages. It is an informal group that meets once a month with a guest speaker and food. Although not a formal support group, it applies the Buddy Buddy system that was used whilst serving; looking out for each other. The next meeting will be held on Thursday 25 January from 1800 – 2000 hours.  Full details are on the flyer and you can also contact  Oli Barnes (ex WFR/Mercian) at olibarnes@spireitestrust.org.uk

006 FOR SALE

Mobile Bar Unit.  This is the one used at the Crich Pilgrimage. Offers circa 13k Generator.  For use with the above bar or for separate use. Offers circa 2K The bar has been booked for several events in 2024 and the current owner has offered his assistance at these events, to the new owner. Further details can be obtained form Shaun Wilmot on 07790 024 787.

.............................................................
 VETERANS SUPPORT
The following are available to support veterans and their families who may be experiencing mental health difficulties;

Forcesline Tel: 0800 731 4880 (between 9am and 5pm Monday-Friday)
Combat Stress (24 hours)
Veterans and their families; Tel: 0800 138 1619
Serving personnel and their families; Tel: 0800 323 4444
Samaritans (24 hours); Tel: 116 123


M A DACK
for Executive Committee



 

 

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