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Association Newsletters.  2.

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Patron: HRH The Princess Royal
President: Brig P Dennis


 14 January 2022    WFRA NEWSLETTER     Volume 13 Issue 02


It is with great sadness that I report the death of Andrew Clifford Bowker.  Andrew served with B Company 3WFR.

His funeral will take place at 11:00hrs on Friday 21st January 2022 at St Luke’s Church, Church Street, Langold S81 9NW.  The turnout is expected to be high therefore seating in church will be limited to family and close friends.  His burial will follow the service at Langold Cemetery (close friends and family only please). 

There will be a wake at Hilltop Working Men’s Club, Doncaster Road Langold S81 9QL.

The dress code will be traditional black, however the family will warmly welcome Regimental ties and medals.  Family flowers only.  Donations to The Royal British Legion and Cancer Research.


The funeral of Joy Wilkinson will take place at Holy Trinity Church, Ashford in the Water on Monday 24th January at 11:30hrs. 

Family flowers only.  Donations if desired to the Suffolk Punch Trust via their website or Woodbridge IP12 3LA.

Enquiries to JW & J Mettam Funeral Directors, Granby Croft, Bakewell DE45 1ET. 


Films featuring great escapes from prisoner of war camps were once the epitome of the Christmas terrestrial TV schedule before the days of Netflix and Prime, but what were some of the very real, daring escapes of military history?  Having committed no crime other than defending their country, it was the duty of a prisoner of war to try to escape so that they could carry on fighting.  Many British prisoners of war during WWII were captured during the defeats of the early years in France, North Africa, and the Balkans from 1940-42. Most spent the rest of the war in captivity.  The reality was that the conditions of the camps the brutal forced labour, rationing and psychological trauma often left the prisoners too weak, malnourished and emotionally exhausted to attempt an escape.  Out of the almost 200,000 British prisoners of war that were captured by the Germans and Italians during WWII, only around 1,200 managed to escape.  Each of those escapes took immense courage, and here are a selection of the most ingenious and daring.

Anthony Steel In The Wooden Horse

Strolling out of the Gestapo’s 'inescapable' castle camp
One of the most infamous Nazi Prisoner of War (POW) camps was Oflag IV-C.  Situated inside the walls of a Renaissance castle in Saxony, Germany, the camp housed allied POWs who had repeatedly tried to escape from other camps.  The security at Colditz Castle was dialled up to the max. However, it was not enough to keep British officer Airey Neave behind bars. Captured in Poland after escaping the German POW camp Stalag XX-A, Neave was brought to Colditz Castle. The ‘incorrigible’ British officer practically walked out of the highest security level prison in the whole of Nazi-occupied Europe.  Many French and British prisoners considered it their duty to at least try to escape. The first, however, was Eton educated officer Neave who made a successful ‘home run’ to England where he was recruited by M19, a subsidiary of MI6. Perhaps they were impressed by his ability to sneak incognito past the Gestapo guards in broad daylight.
Neave had the daring idea to dress up as a German guard and make his way out of the prison unhindered. After assembling a Polish soldier’s uniform out of various pieces that he acquired over time, he painted the cap and shirt green to resemble a German officer’s uniform.  In full confidence, he strolled out onto the courtyard of the high-security prison sporting his new attire. However, he did not anticipate that the uniform would look completely different in the sunshine than it did in the dark hallways of the castle. He lit up green like a traffic light signalling to guards to his presence. They pounced on him and threw him in solitary confinement. With time to mull it over while in solitary, he decided that his initial theatrical escape plan would succeed, however the strategy needed to be changed. A few months' later he acquired an escape buddy by the name of Anthony Luteyn, and some cardboard, cloth and most importantly, some less reflective paint. The new and improved uniform was good enough the fool the Germans this time.  Luteyn and Neave crawled underneath floorboards, making their way straight for the guard's headquarters. Once the coast was clear, they dropped from the ceiling, akin to a scene from Mission Impossible. Strolling around the headquarters pretending to be citizens of the Third Reich, they managed to fool the guards into thinking that they were visiting fellow German officers. When satisfied that the charade was convincing enough, while making sure not to outdo themselves, the pair casually sauntered towards the exit and calmly walked out.
After arriving in Britain, Neave joined the intelligence service and earned the code name ‘Saturday’. After the war ended, the veteran testified in the Nuremberg Trials. He later became a Conservative MP and Margaret Thatcher's right hand man in Northern Ireland. Tragically, his life was taken by a car bomb planted by the Irish National Liberation Army in 1979.


A modern ‘Trojan Horse’ bolt for freedom

About a hundred miles southeast of Berlin, the Luftwaffe built the Stalag Luft III an ‘inescapable’ camp to imprison Allied aviators. The camp, that was full of audacious Air Force personnel, saw many attempted escapes. Airmen long for the skies and do not tend to stay bound to the ground for too long, especially if it's enemy ground and there is a war to be fought.  The first successful escape involved Eric Williams, Oliver Philpot, Michael Codner and a wooden horse. Codner was a Lieutenant, Williams and Philpot were Flight Lieutenants and the wooden horse was a gymnastics vaulting horse integral to the success of the operation.  It is important to note that many allied soldiers had unsuccessfully attempted to escape from Stalag Luft III. The Germans were prepared to intercept any attempts. The prisoners' huts were hoisted above the ground and microphones were buried nine feet deep, making tunnelling out of the camp almost impossible.
The team of daring British Aviators would carry the vaulting horse every day to the same spot close to the perimeter of the fence. While one of them performed gymnastic exercises on the wooden horse, another would be underneath it digging towards freedom with metal bowls as shovels, while the third would be on lookout duties.  Built out of plywood from Red Cross parcels, the noise made by the exercising men on top of the horse kept the sound of the digging from being picked up by the microphones, while the horse itself concealed the hole in the ground – the start of a 100ft-long tunnel that was dug over the course of three long and arduous months. In October 1943, the trio made their escape. On the other side of the tunnel they parted ways, and Williams and Codner reached the port of Szczecin (now Poland) where they stowed away on a Danish ship and made it to Britain.  Armed with fake documents, a compass and a cover story, Philpot made his way to Danzig (now Gdansk) where he boarded a ship heading towards neutral Sweden while disguised as a Norwegian margarine maker. All three men safely made it back to Britain – and achieved the much-coveted ‘home run’.
Philpot’s compass was made by a fellow prisoner from parts of a gramophone, cardboard, a razor blade and phosphorous collected from watches. He later donated it to the Imperial War Museum along with the forged documents that he made while in the camp, as well as the jacket that he wore on the day of the escape.  In 1949, Eric Williams committed the epic tale to paper in a book entitled ‘The Wooden Horse’. The story of one of the most ingenious and bold prison breaks was a hit not just with readers, but also with listeners who got to tune into a six-part dramatized production of the book on BBC Radio. The following year it was made into a box-office hit of a film, The Wooden Horse, starring Leo Genn, David Tomlinson and Anthony Steel.  The success of ‘Wooden Horse’ led to a string of stories about brave POWs being made into films throughout the 1950s including ‘The Great Escape’, ‘The Colditz Story’, ‘The One That Got Away', and ‘The Camp on Blood Island’. Many of these films became instant classics, often gracing our TV screens at Christmas.

Still from 1950 film The Wooden Horse.

Escaping through ‘Tom’, ‘Dick’ and ‘Harry’
One of the most famous and audacious mass breakout attempts in military history occurred on March 24, 1944, when 200 Allied soldiers attempted to escape Stalag Luft III.
The largest POW escape during WWII inspired the 1963 film 'The Great Escape', starring Steve McQueen. Although the real-life events did not involve leaping over a barbed wire fence on a motorbike as depicted in a classic scene with McQeen in the movie, they are no less daring and awe-inspiring.  The escape plan was the brainchild of RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bushell. After embarking on two unsuccessful escape attempts, Bushell ordered for three tunnels to be dug – ‘Tom’, ‘Dick’ and ‘Harry’ in the hope that at least one of them will lead to freedom.
The three tunnels were dug by roughly 1,200 hands – or in other words 600 POWs. The plan was to dig a tunnel long enough so that it would lead far outside the camp into a forest several kilometres away.  'Harry' was dug day and night underneath a burning stove. The stove was left on 24/7 to make sure that the Germans never became suspicious. The potential of fire spreading to the tunnel was a constant threat. Dug 30 meters below the ground, the tunnel was deep enough to be out of reach of any microphones.
The project was of truly monumental proportions. Ladders were built out of 4,000 wooden bed boards to place against the sandy walls to prevent them from collapsing. The sound was muffled with 1,700 blankets pressed against the wall, while 1,400 Red Cross-issued powdered milk cans were made into makeshift shovels. The tunnel even had a trolley system with two junctions named after London’s Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.  Even though the Allied prisoners kept guard 24/7, alerting each other of incoming Germans with subtle signs such as fiddling with a shoelace or rapidly turning several pages in a book, ‘Tom’ was eventually discovered. Dick was turned into storage, while ‘Harry’ became the tunnel that was supposed to lead to liberty.


Unfortunately, the clever operation that took years of arduous labour and intricate planning was botched when the tunnel surfaced just outside the perimeter of the camp rather than in the woods as was planned. Still, 76 out of the planned 200 prisoners managed to escape. All but three, however, were later caught.  The magnitude of the scheme enraged the Führer. Hitler's wrath led to orders to bypass the Geneva Convention that safeguards the rights and safety of POWs and kill the escapees. The Gestapo drove 50 prisoners, including Bushell to a remote location and shot them.  After the war, the British brought the 18 Nazis that committed the murder to justice through a military tribunal in 1947 and 13 of them were executed.  


Model of Stalag Luft III Great Escape Camp in museum at site in Zagan, Poland.

Determined to be home for Christmas
Temporary Captain Pat Reid was captured during the Battle of France. He arrived in prison camp Oflag VII-C on 5 June 1940. Within days of arriving at the Bavarian camp, he was determined to make it home by Christmas. So, he began digging his way to freedom.  After several months, he completed a tunnel with fellow prisoners that lead to a shed outside the camp. He was captured on his way to Yougoslavia and sent to Colditz Castle the destination for ‘troublesome’ POWs.  Yet again he began devising an escape plan straight away. He bribed a friendly German guard to look the other way. Along with 12 other prisoners, Reid crawled through a sewer pipe leading through the canteen to the outer courtyard. Covered in sewage, Reid and his fellow escapees were met on the other side by German guards. While the bribe-taking guard seemed friendly, the two-faced Nazi reported the daring Brits to his superiors.

 Original 1970's version of the "Escape from Colditz" board game featuring a German swastika on the box. On later editions, the swastika was replaced with an eagle.

After time in solitary confinement surviving on nothing but bread and water, Reid became the ‘Escape Officer’ of the British resistance at Colditz Castle, overseeing all the escape plans. With his vast experience, Reid helped many British POWs escape. After two years at Colditz, he finally took his own chance to escape.  Along with Lieutenant Commander William L. Stephens RNVR, Major Ronald Littledale and Flight Lieutenant Howard Wardle, Reid used his knowledge of the castle to devise a failproof escape. The group hid in a storage cellar under the Commandant's HQ, before crawling through a narrow air shaft. Luckily, the meagre prisoner’s rationing meant that all four of them could easily fit through the shaft which led to a moat. There was no water in the moat and they could easily climb out of it in the darkness of night.  It took the third-time successful escapee five days to reach Switzerland. For the rest of the war, Reid worked with other arriving escapees gathering intelligence for the MI6. As this was top secret at the time, officially he served as Assistant Military Attaché and later was promoted to Temporary Major. He finally made it home for Christmas, but only after the war was won.
Flying to freedom?
While it is true that most mass prison break attempts involved digging tunnels, one escape plan envisioned taking to the skies.  Colditz Castle, infamous for holding Allied officers under the strictest ‘inescapable’ conditions, was mentioned earlier, full of aviators. Two of the most daring were called Bill Goldfinch and Jack Best and their plan involved doing what pilots do best flying.  Every escape attempt was brave, but none were quite as inventive and bold as this one. The pair build a two-man wooden glider out of bed and floorboards. The castle sits high atop a hill overlooking the Saxony countryside. According to the Goldfinch and Best plan, if they got the wind just right, they would be able to soar out of the castle in their glider across the Mulde River and out of reach of the German guards.

The pilots hid their model behind a fake wall that they built from the same material that the rudimentary plane was manufactured from. The plan was to fly the plane out of the attic of the castle and the hope was that the height of the building would give them enough gliding distance to get away.  However, this wooden bird was never destined to spread its wings. The operation came to a halt when the prisoners of war were released as the end of the war was declared before they needed to carry out the plans, and Goldfinch and Best walked out with the other Allied officers.  Although technically this ambitious plan never came to fruition, it perhaps deserves to be on the list because 55 years later, it was proven that it would have worked. In 2000, a replica of the glider was flown at RAF Oldham. It was constructed for a documentary titled ‘Escape from Colditz’. Both Best and Goldfinch were able to watch their escape plan successfully carried out on screen.


The Laying up of the Worcester Regiment, Rugeley Branch Standard.

The service will take place on Sunday 6th February at 12.30hrs at St Augustines Church, Station Road, Rugeley, Staffs WS15 2HG.

Numbers will be limited due to covid restrictions please contact Richard Bates to confirm attendance

Telephone 07973 875 248 or E-Mail Rbates7742@aol.com.


 07 January 2022         WFRA NEWSLETTER     Volume 13 Issue 01


Congratulations to Lieutenant Colonel Keith Spiers OBE, CMgr FCMI, FInstLM on being awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours List.

Lt Col Spiers said “What a way to start the New Year, I am humbled and privileged to be recognised in the New Year’s Honours list with an OBE".

"Without an amazing team working together and being committed, nothing becomes a reality. I wish to thank all my team, particularly Gail Jones Steve Goodwin, Mick Hancock, Julie Downing, John Ahern and Bryon Brotherton who supported me through this four year journey of discovery and development”.


Congratulations to British-born Sikh army officer Captain Preet Chandi has become the first woman from an ethnic background to complete a solo expedition to the South Pole.
Captain Chandi, who has spent the past few months skiing solo and unsupported across Antarctica, it was announced on January 3rd that she'd completed the 700 mile trek in 40 days.

"Feeling so many emotions right now," said Chandi, via her blog.

Before departing on her trip in November 2021, the 32 year old from Derby said “she hoped her adventure would inspire others to push their boundaries and defy cultural norms”.
It's a sentiment she reiterated in her finish line blog post.

"The expedition was always about so much more than me," reads her January 3 update. "I want to encourage people to push their boundaries and to believe in themselves, and I want you to be able to do it without being labeled a rebel."

Amazing feat
Captain Chandi began her expedition on November 7th, 2021, flying to Chile and then embarking from Antarctica's Hercules Inlet. Along the way, she hauled a sled weighing 90 kilograms holding kit, fuel and food to last for roughly 45 days.

Captain Chandi, who adopted the nickname "Polar Preet" for her blog and fundraising efforts, spent two and a half years preparing for the gruelling expedition.

She underwent crevasse training in the French Alps, trekked across Iceland's Langjökull Glacier and endured 27 days on the ice cap in Greenland not to mention the months she spent dragging a heavy tire behind her back home in England, to simulate pulling a sled.

Over the course of her trip, her only contact with the outside world was via a daily check-in with her support team, who posted updates on her blog and Instagram.

These dispatches reiterated the scale of her challenge as she persevered through illness, isolation and extremely cold weather.

Captain Chandi dedicated each dispatch from Antarctica to individuals who've supported her along the way. Her first post was dedicated to her late grandfather, while her penultimate went out to a handful of close friends, with Captain Chandi using the opportunity to ask them to be her bridesmaids.

Role model
Other women have skied to the South Pole, with Norway's Liv Arnesen being the first in the world to make the trip alone and unsupported in 1994, but Captain Chandi believes she is the first woman from an ethnic background to do so solo and unsupported.

"I really hope that this does inspire people, I hope that me doing something that was so far out of my comfort zone... would inspire people to push their comfort zones and push their boundaries," she Said.

While preparing for her expedition, which was undertaken as part of her active military service, she became increasingly aware of how much it matters for young people to see someone like her as a role model.

"I'm not really the image I think people expect to see, even now," referring to her South Asian background. "I'm told that 'you don't really look like a polar explorer.'"

On her return from Antarctica, she plans to set up an "adventure grant" for women using half the money raised through the Go Fund Me appeal for her polar trip. It will be open to women of any age or background, she said.

"It can be for any adventure, any unique adventure they want to do that is pushing some kind of boundary. It doesn't have to be a polar expedition. And I really hope that this is something that will continue, year after year after year."

Retired Major General Lamont Kirkland from the Team Army Sports Foundation, which backed the challenge, said "There are plenty of adjectives that could describe Captain Preet Chandi, tenacious is right up there as one of them, and determination, with a sense of ambition.  This girl is amazing, in every which way. I had that sense when I talked to her for the first time at her launch event in October, I was absolutely sure, in all certainty, that she would make this."


The Laying up of the Worcester Regiment, Rugeley Branch Standard.

The service will take place on Sunday 6th February at 12.30hrs at St Augustines Church, Station Road, Rugeley, Staffs WS15 2HG.

Numbers will be limited due to covid restrictions please contact Richard Bates to confirm attendance

Telephone 07973 875 248 or E-Mail Rbates7742@aol.com.


During times of peace the movie industry had grown rapidly from the turn of the century.  The funeral procession of Queen Victoria’s cortege was recorded on film.  We look at it now as a sepia coloured old, wobbly, film, but for the people viewing it in the movie house, it must have been amazing.  It showed the British people doing what we do better than any other country, our pageantry which had been perfected over hundreds of years, and it also showed the royal families of Europe at a time of relative peace.
The Great War was one of the first to be captured on film, with specialist teams of camera crews travelling all over the world.   Watching the news reels on a weekly basis allowed the British public to see exactly what was happening to their loved ones, on the battle fields and behind the lines.  The changes that took place in Europe during the 1930’s, and led, indirectly, to the beginning of the Second World War, where even more film reels would be watched by the people on the home front.  The contribution made by the silver screen actors is little known, as so many common men, they didn’t talk about their experiences so we shall see what we can find.

David Niven
1st March 1910 – 29th July 1983
James David Graham Niven was born on the 1st March 1910, Grosvenor Gardens, London.  He was named David having been born on St David’s Day. His father died serving as lieutenant with the Berkshire Yeomanry during the Gallipoli campaign on the 21st August 1915.  He was educated at Heatherdown Preparatory School then Stowe School before he gained a place at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst in 1928.  Having graduated from Sandhurst in 1930, he enlisted with the British Army and was commissioned as second lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry.  He became bored with his position in the army during the peace time and discovered a new passion in acting.  He resigned his commission in 1933 having been promoted to lieutenant on New Years’ Day, and he headed to Hollywood via New York.  In 1938 David Niven had starred in a film called Batchelor Mother along with Ginger Rogers and Charles Coburn. 
At the outbreak of the second world war in September 1939 he returned to England to re-enlist with the British Army with the rank of lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade Prince Consort’s Own on the 25th February 1940.  He spent some time with the motor training battalion.  He soon became bored with the lack of action and was transferred to the Commandos. 
The Army Film and Photographic Unit made use of his acting career by filming during the war years in 1942 he co-starred in the First of the Few which was enthusiastically endorsed by Winston Churchill.  David had first met Winston at a dinner party during February 1940.  He took the time to single out David telling him, “Young man you did a fine thing to give up your film career to fight for your country.  Mark you, had you not done so - it would have been despicable.”  David spent some time working alongside Peter Ustinov, who was working as a script writer.  They would share the silver screen together in the future, especially in Agatha Christies Death on the Nile.  
On the 14th March David was promoted to war-substantive major [temporary lieutenant colonel]. He saw action on D-day and had reached the rank of lieutenant colonel by the end of the war. His part in Phantom, which was a secret reconnaissance and signals unit that were tasked to locate and report back positions of the enemy.   At the end of the war David then returned to Hollywood and received the Legion of Merit, which is an American decoration in recognition of his work in setting up the BBC Allied Expeditionary Forces Programme, a radio news and entertainment station for the Allied Forces.


 31 December 2021    WFRA NEWSLETTER      Volume 12 Issue 59
from The President and Executive Committee

Best wishes for the New Year

2021 has been another year of uncertainty for us all as Covid-19 and all of it’s variants look they will be around for some considerable time to come.  However as restrictions were eased earlier in the year we were able to have some Covid safe events, in the form of branch and area meetings, the Alma Dinner, Gheluvelt Day Service, Armistice Day and Remembrance Day Services and the 3WFR 50th Anniversary event.

It has also been a very sad year as we have lost many fine officers, men and women from our Regimental family and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families.

My wife and I would like to thank you all for your continued support and the kind feedback we have received for our newsletter articles during the past year and we are looking forward to keeping you all informed and entertained over the next twelve months and beyond.

Wishing you all a Happy, Prosperous and Healthy New Year.



It is with great sadness that we report the death at the age of 89 on Christmas Day of Joy Wilkinson, the lovely and loving wife of Brigadier Edward Wilkinson.  Joy was a keen supporter of all Brigadier Edward's military activities in the 8th and 5/8th Sherwood Foresters, the Mercian Volunteers and 3WFR, as well as her own charitable work and crucial support to him in his year as Derbyshire High Sheriff.  She will be sorely missed by him and their son Tim and daughter Sarah.

Letters of condolence should be addressed to Brigadier Edward Wilkinson CBE TD DL at 

Greaves Lane
Ashford in the Water
DE45 1QH


Those of you who listen to Hatch & Geere on the BFBS Radio Breakfast Show will know that as well as growing a moustache for Movember, I regularly contribute to their Top Ten feature where they choose a short news article and ask listeners to crowbar the theme of the news article into a popular song title.  Eg When the theme of the day was seaside songs the Elvis Classic, Viva Las Vegas became Viva Skeg Vegas in a nod to the popular Lincolnshire seaside town of Skegness.  Towards the end of the show they compile a Top Ten and read out the names of those chosen. There is no prize for being in the Top Ten just the bragging rights. 

They also run an occasional Winner Wednesday Competition and earlier in the show they had interviewed the author and Ex Navy SEAL Brandon Webb, and spoke about his new thriller called Steel Fear.  Afterwards they were offering a copy of his book as a prize if you could tell them what the acronym SEAL means.  It is SEa, Air & Land.

As I had just added my contribution to the Top Ten. I thought whilst I am on the internet I may as well enter the competition too, which I did and I was pleasantly surprised to find out later in the day that I had won the competition and a copy of the book Steel Fear was on its way to me.
SEAL sniper Finn is being sent home in disgrace, recalled from the field under the dark cloud of a mission gone wrong, he is also a lone wolf, haunted by his past.

Once aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, it's clear something is wrong.  There are leadership issues and the crew’s morale is at an all time low.  One by one crew members begin to disappear in what seems like a string of random suicides.  However, it is soon revealed that there is something far more sinister lurking in the depths of the ship, there is a serial killer on board.  As Finn is the newcomer the finger of suspicion is pointed at him.  For Finn finding the killer offers a chance of redemption, all he has to do is stay alive long enough to prove that he isn't the killer.

During the interview on BFBS Radio Brandon spoke of how he had used his own experiences during his time in the Special Forces and his love of Agatha Christie’s murder stories as inspiration for the book, which provides the reader with the combination of precise military detail intermingled with the intrigue of a murder mystery.

Basing the story aboard an aircraft carrier, with a crew the size of a small town it offers the reader a carefully plotted non stop high octane ride with more twists and turns than a theme park rollercoaster interlaced with intense suspense that is perfect for those who prefer an edge of your seat thriller.  Overall an excellent book which had I not received my copy free of charge I would have had no problem paying the cover price.  I for one am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
About the authors
Brandon Webb is a combat-decorated Navy SEAL sniper turned entrepreneur who has built two brands into an eight-figure business.

Brandon joined the US Navy to become a SEAL. His first assignment was as a helicopter Search & Rescue (SAR) swimmer and Aviation Warfare Systems Operator with HS-6. In 1997 his SEAL training package was approved; he joined over 200 students in BUD/S class 215 and went on to complete the training as one of twenty-three originals.  He served with SEAL Team 3, Naval Special Warfare Group One Training Detachment (sniper cell) and the Naval Special Warfare Center (sniper course) as the Naval Special Warfare West Coast sniper Course Manager.  Over his navy career he completed four deployments to the Middle East and one to Afghanistan, and redeployed to Iraq in 2006-7 as a contractor in support of the US intelligence community.

An accomplished and proven leader, Brandon was meritoriously promoted to First Class Petty Officer, ranked No 1 in the Command, while an instructor at sniper cell. Shortly after he was promoted again to the rank of Chief Petty Officer (E-7).  He has received numerous distinguished service awards, including Top Frog at Team 3 (best combat diver), the Presidential Unit Citation (awarded by President George W. Bush), and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal with "V" device for valor in combat. As a U.S. Navy Chief he was head instructor at the Navy SEAL sniper school, which produced some of America's most legendary snipers.  Brandon ended his Navy career early to spend more time with his children and focus on entrepreneurship.

As an entrepreneur and creator Webb founded two brands, SOFREP.com and CrateClub.com, and bootstrapped Crate Club to eight-figure revenue before successfully exiting the business in 2020. He continues to run SOFREP Media Group, his military-content focused digital media company.

Brandon is a multiple New York Times bestselling author and is now focused on a new thriller series with his writing partner John David Mann. The first in their series, Steel Fear, is a high-seas thriller that follows the Navy's first serial killer and the origin story for their future hero Finn.  He attended undergrad studies Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and Harvard Business School's Owners Presidents program. He is a member of the Young Presidents Organization, and served as an appointed member to the veterans advisory committee at the Small Business Administration (SBA).

He also enjoys spending time with his tight circle of incredible family and friends. When he's not traveling or flying his plane upside-down, you can find him at home surfing the beautiful beaches of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
David Mann
John David Mann is an award-winning author whose writings have earned the Nautilus Award, the Axiom Business Book Award (Gold Medal), Taiwan's Golden Book Award for Innovation, and the 2017 Living Now Book Awards "Evergreen Medal" for "contribution to positive global change." His books are published in 35 languages and have sold more than 3 million copies. He is co-author of the international bestseller The Go Giver with Bob Burg, and the New York Times bestsellers The Latte Factor with David Bach, The Red Circle with Brandon Webb, and Flash Foresight with Daniel Burrus.

At age 17, he and a few friends started their own high school in Orange, New Jersey called Changes, Inc. Before turning to business and journalism, he forged a successful career as a concert cellist and prize-winning composer. At 15 he was recipient of the 1969 BMI Awards to Student Composers and several New Jersey State grants for composition; his musical compositions were performed throughout the U.S. and his musical score for Aeschylus' "Prometheus Bound" (written at age 13) was performed at the Amphitheater in Delphi, Greece, where the play was originally premiered.

In 1986 John founded and wrote for Solstice, a journal on health, nutrition and environmental issues; his series on the climate crisis he was selected for national reprint in Utne Reader. In 1992 John edited and produced the underground bestseller "The Greatest Networker in the World" by John Milton Fogg, which became the defining book in its field. During the 1990s, John built a multimillion-dollar sales and distribution organisation of over 100,000 people. He was co-founder and senior editor of the legendary journal Upline and editor in chief of Networking Times.  He is married to Ana Gabriel Mann and considers himself the luckiest man in the world.


 24 December 2021  WFRA NEWSLETTER     Volume 12 Issue 58

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas

from The President and Executive Committee


Wishing all of the WFRA members and their families a very Happy Christmas and a Healthy 2022 from the Assistant Regimental Secretary, Ms Cindy Clark


During the first eight months of World War I, the German attack through Belgium into France had been stopped outside Paris by French and British troops at the First Battle of the Marne in early September 1914. The Germans fell back to the Aisne valley, where they dug in. In the First Battle of the Aisne, the Franco – British attacks were repulsed and both sides began digging trenches to economise on manpower and use the surplus to outflank, to the north, their opponents. In the Race to the Sea, the two sides made reciprocal outflanking manoeuvres and after several weeks, during which the British forces were withdrawn from the Aisne and sent north to Flanders, both sides ran out of room. By November, armies had built continuous lines of trenches running from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier.

Before Christmas 1914, there were several peace initiatives. The Open Christmas Letter was a public message for peace addressed "To the Women of Germany and Austria", signed by a group of 101 British women suffragettes at the end of 1914. Pope Benedict XV, on 7 December 1914, had begged for an official truce between the warring governments. He asked "that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang", which was refused by both sides.

Fraternisation peaceful and sometimes friendly interactions between opposing forces was a regular feature in quiet sectors of the Western Front. In some areas, both sides would refrain from aggressive behaviour, while in other cases it extended to regular conversation or even visits from one trench to another. On the Eastern Front, Fritz Kreisler reported incidents of spontaneous truces and fraternisation between the Austro-Hungarians and Russians in the first few weeks of the war.

Truces between British and German units can be dated to early November 1914, around the time that the war of manoeuvre ended. Rations were brought up to the front line after dusk and soldiers on both sides noted a period of peace while they collected their food. By 1 December, a British soldier could record a friendly visit from a German sergeant one morning "to see how we were getting on". Relations between French and German units were generally more tense but the same phenomenon began to emerge. In early December, a German surgeon recorded a regular half-hourly truce each evening to recover dead soldiers for burial, during which French and German soldiers exchanged newspapers.

The proximity of trench lines made it easy for soldiers to shout greetings to each other. This may have been the most common method of arranging informal truces in 1914. Men would frequently exchange news or greetings, helped by a common language; many German soldiers had lived in England, particularly London, and were familiar with the language and the society. Several British soldiers recorded instances of Germans asking about news from the football leagues, while other conversations could be as banal as discussions of the weather. One unusual phenomenon that grew in intensity was music; in peaceful sectors, it was not uncommon for units to sing in the evenings, sometimes deliberately with an eye towards entertaining or gently taunting their opposite numbers. In early December, Sir Edward Hulse of the Scots Guards wrote that he was planning to organise a concert party for Christmas Day, which would "give the enemy every conceivable form of song in harmony" in response to frequent choruses of Deutschland Über Alles.

Christmas 1914

British and German troops meeting in no man's land during the unofficial truce (British troops from the Northumberland Hussars, 7th Division, Bridoux–Rouge Banc Sector)

Roughly 100,000 British and German troops were involved in the informal cessations of hostility along the Western Front. The Germans placed candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across No Man's Land, where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco, alcohol and souvenirs, such as buttons and hats. The artillery in the region fell silent. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently killed soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, continuing until New Year's Day in others.

On Christmas Day, Brigadier-General Walter Congreve, commander of the 18th Infantry Brigade, stationed near Neuve Chapelle, wrote a letter recalling the Germans declared a truce for the day. One of his men bravely lifted his head above the parapet and others from both sides walked onto no man's land. Officers and men shook hands and exchanged cigarettes and cigars, one of his captains "smoked a cigar with the best shot in the German army", the latter no more than 18 years old. Congreve admitted he was reluctant to witness the truce for fear of German snipers.

Bruce Bairnsfather, who fought throughout the war, wrote:
I wouldn't have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything.... I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons.... I brought out my wire clippers and, with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange.... The last I saw was one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civil life, cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck.

Henry Williamson a nineteen-year-old private in the London Rifle Brigade, wrote to his mother on Boxing Day:

Dear Mother, I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o'clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a 'dug-out' (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench, but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn't it?

Captain Sir Edward Hulse reported how the first interpreter he met from the German lines was from Suffolk and had left his girlfriend and a 3.5 hp motorcycle. Hulse described a sing-song which "ended up with 'Auld lang syne' which we all, English, Scots, Irish, Prussians, Württenbergers, etc, joined in. It was absolutely astounding, and if I had seen it on a cinematograph film I should have sworn that it was faked!"

Captain Robert Miles, King's Shropshire Light Infantry, who was attached to the Royal Irish Rifles recalled in an edited letter that was published in the Daily Mail and the Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News in January 1915, following his death in action on 30 December 1914:
Friday (Christmas Day). We are having the most extraordinary Christmas Day imaginable. A sort of unarranged and quite unauthorized but perfectly understood and scrupulously observed truce exists between us and our friends in front. The funny thing is it only seems to exist in this part of the battle line on our right and left we can all hear them firing away as cheerfully as ever. The thing started last night – a bitter cold night, with white frost soon after dusk when the Germans started shouting 'Merry Christmas, Englishmen' to us, of course our fellows shouted back and presently large numbers of both sides had left their trenches, unarmed, and met in the debatable, shot-riddled, no man's land between the lines. Here the agreement all on their own came to be made that we should not fire at each other until after midnight tonight. The men were all fraternizing in the middle (we naturally did not allow them too close to our line) and swapped cigarettes and lies in the utmost good fellowship. Not a shot was fired all night.

Of the Germans he wrote: "They are distinctly bored with the war.... In fact, one of them wanted to know what on earth we were doing here fighting them." The truce in that sector continued into Boxing Day; he commented about the Germans, "The beggars simply disregard all our warnings to get down from off their parapet, so things are at a deadlock. We can't shoot them in cold blood.... I cannot see how we can get them to return to business."

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (24 and 25 December) 1914, Alfred Anderson's unit of the 1st/5th Battalion of the Black Watch was billeted in a farmhouse away from the front line. In a later interview (2003), Anderson, the last known surviving Scottish veteran of the war, vividly recalled Christmas Day and said:

I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence. Only the guards were on duty. We all went outside the farm buildings and just stood listening. And, of course, thinking of people back home. All I'd heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machinegun fire and distant German voices. But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted 'Merry Christmas', even though nobody felt merry. The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again. It was a short peace in a terrible war.

A German Lieutenant, Johannes Niemann, wrote "grabbed my binoculars and looking cautiously over the parapet saw the incredible sight of our soldiers exchanging cigarettes, schnapps and chocolate with the enemy".

Richard Schirrmann, who was in a German regiment holding a position on the Bernhardstein, one of the Vosges Mountains, wrote an account of events in December 1915, "When the Christmas bells sounded in the villages of the Vosges behind the lines... something fantastically unmilitary occurred. German and French troops spontaneously made peace and ceased hostilities; they visited each other through disused trench tunnels, and exchanged wine, cognac and cigarettes for Pumpernickel, biscuits and ham. This suited them so well that they remained good friends even after Christmas was over". He was separated from the French troops by a narrow No Man's Land and described the landscape "Strewn with shattered trees, the ground ploughed up by shellfire, a wilderness of earth, tree-roots and tattered uniforms". Military discipline was soon restored but Schirrmann pondered over the incident and whether "thoughtful young people of all countries could be provided with suitable meeting places where they could get to know each other". He founded the German Youth Hostel Association in 1919.

Football matches
Many accounts of the truce involve one or more football matches played in no-man's land. This was mentioned in some of the earliest reports, with a letter written by a doctor attached to the Rifle Brigade, published in The Times on 1 January 1915, reporting "a football match... played between them and us in front of the trench". Similar stories have been told over the years, often naming units or the score. Some accounts of the game bring in elements of fiction by Robert Graves, a British poet and writer (and an officer on the front at the time) who reconstructed the encounter in a story published in 1962; in Graves's version, the score was 3–2 to the Germans.



The truth of the accounts has been disputed by some historians. In 1984, Malcolm Brown and Shirley Seaton concluded that there were probably attempts to play organised matches which failed due to the state of the ground, but that the contemporary reports were either hearsay or refer to "kick-about" matches with "made-up footballs" such as a bully-beef tin. Lieutenant Kurt Zehmisch of the 134th Saxon Infantry Regiment said that the English "brought a soccer ball from their trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvellously wonderful, yet how strange it was".

In 2011 Mike Dash concluded that "there is plenty of evidence that football was played that Christmas Day mostly by men of the same nationality but in at least three or four places between troops from the opposing armies".

Many units were reported in contemporary accounts to have taken part in games: Dash listed the 133rd Royal Saxon Regiment pitched against "Scottish troops"; the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders against unidentified Germans (with the Scots reported to have won 4–1); the Royal Field Artillery against "Prussians and Hanovers" near Ypres and the Lancashire Fusiliers near Le Touquet, with the detail of a bully beef ration tin as the "ball". One recent writer has identified 29 reports of football, though does not give substantive details. Colonel J. E. B. Seely recorded in his diary for Christmas Day that he had been "Invited to football match between Saxons and English on New Year's Day", but this does not appear to have taken place.

Eastern Front
On the Eastern front the first move originated from Austro-Hungarian commanders, at some uncertain level of the military hierarchy. The Russians responded positively and soldiers eventually met in no man's land.

Public awareness
The truces were not reported for a week, an unofficial press embargo broken by The New York Times, published in the neutral United States, on 31 December. The British papers quickly followed, printing numerous first-hand accounts from soldiers in the field, taken from letters home to their families and editorials on "one of the greatest surprises of a surprising war". By 8 January pictures had made their way to the press and the Mirror and Sketch printed front-page photographs of British and German troops mingling and singing between the lines.

Coverage in Germany was more muted, with some newspapers strongly criticising those who had taken part and no pictures were published. In France, press censorship ensured that the only word that spread of the truce came from soldiers at the front or first-hand accounts told by wounded men in hospitals. The press was eventually forced to respond to the growing rumours by reprinting a government notice that fraternising with the enemy constituted treason

Later truces
British and German troops burying the bodies of those killed in the attack of 18 December.
After 1914, sporadic attempts were made at seasonal truces; a German unit attempted to leave their trenches under a flag of truce on Easter Sunday 1915 but were warned off by the British opposite them. In November, a Saxon unit briefly fraternised with a Liverpool battalion. In December 1915, there were orders by the Allied commanders to forestall any repeat of the previous Christmas truce. Units were encouraged to mount raids and harass the opposing line, whilst communicating with the enemy was discouraged by artillery barrages along the front line throughout the day; a small number of brief truces occurred despite the prohibition.

In December 1916 and 1917, German overtures to the British for truces were recorded without any success. In some French sectors, singing and an exchange of thrown gifts was occasionally recorded, though these may simply have reflected a seasonal extension of the live-and-let-live approach common in the trenches.

On 24 May 1915, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and troops of the Ottoman Empire at Gallipoli agreed to a 9 hour truce to retrieve and bury their dead, during which opposing troops "exchanged smiles and cigarettes".

Legacy and historical significance
Although the popular tendency has been to see the December 1914 Christmas Truces as unique and of romantic rather than political significance, they have also been interpreted as part of the widespread spirit of non-co-operation with the war. Complicated local truces and agreements not to fire at each other were negotiated by men along the front throughout the war. These often began with agreement not to attack each other at tea, meal or washing times. In some places tacit agreements became so common that sections of the front would see few casualties for extended periods of time.

The 1967 song "Snoopy's Christmas" by the Royal Guardsmen was based on the Christmas truce. Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron), Germany's ace pilot and war hero, initiates the truce with the fictitious Snoopy.

The 1969 film Oh! What a Lovely War includes a scene of a Christmas truce with British and German soldiers sharing jokes, alcohol and songs.

The video for the 1983 song "Pipes of Peace" by Paul McCartney depicts a fictional version of the Christmas truce.

The "Goodbyeee" the final episode of the BBC television series Blackadder Goes Forth notes the Christmas truce, with the main character Edmund Blackadder having played in a football match. He is still annoyed at having had a goal disallowed for offside.

The song "All Together Now" by Liverpool band The Farm, took inspiration from the Christmas Day Truce of 1914. The song was re-recorded by The Peace Collective for release in December 2014 to mark the centenary of the event.

The 1996 song "It Could Happen Again" by country artist Collin Raye, which tells the story of the Christmas truce, is included on his Christmas album, Christmas: The Gift, with a spoken intro by Johnny Cash giving the history behind the event.

The truce is dramatised in the 2005 French film Joyeux Noël, depicted through the eyes of French, British and German soldiers. The film, written and directed by Christian Carion, was screened out of competition at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, but was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Ahead of the centenary of the truce, English composer Chris Eaton and singer Abby Scott produced the song, "1914 The Carol of Christmas", to benefit British armed forces charities. At 5 December 2014, it had reached top of the iTunes Christmas chart.

Sainsbury's produced a short film for the 2014 Christmas season as an advertisement re-enacting the events of the Christmas truce, primarily following a young English soldier in the trenches.

In the Doctor Who 2017 Christmas Special "Twice Upon a Time", the First and Twelfth Doctors become unwittingly involved in the fate of a British captain, who is seemingly destined to die in No Man's Land before he is taken out of time, only for the Twelfth Doctor to bend the rules and return the captain – revealed to be an ancestor of his friend and ally Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart to a point a couple of hours after he was taken out of time. This slight bending of the rules results in the captain being returned to history at the beginning of the truce, allowing the captain to live and request aid for his would be killer. The Twelfth Doctor muses that such a truce was the only time such a thing happened in history, but it never hurts to ensure that there will be a couple of fewer dead people on a battlefield.

Swedish power metal band Sabaton wrote a song about the Christmas Truce for their album, The War to End All Wars. The song was released on October 29th, 2021.  

A Christmas truce memorial was unveiled in Frelinghien, France, on 11 November 2008. At the spot where their regimental ancestors came out from their trenches to play football on Christmas Day 1914, men from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welch Fusiliers played a football match with the German Battalion 371. The Germans won 2–1.

On 12 December 2014, a memorial was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and the England manager Roy Hodgson. The Football Remembers memorial was designed by a ten-year-old schoolboy, Spencer Turner, after a UK-wide competition.


Fake emails and text messages are a common tactic used by cyber criminals, their goal is often to convince you to click a link. Once clicked, you may be sent to a dodgy website which could download viruses onto your computer, or steal your passwords and personal information.

In order to try and convince you that their messages are legitimate, criminals will pretend to be someone you trust, or from some organisation you trust. This could be your Internet Service Provider (ISP), local council, even a friend in need. And they may contact you by phone call, email or text message.

Reporting suspicious emails:

If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, you can report it by forwarding the email to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service at: report@phishing.gov.uk

As of 31st October 2021, the number of suspicious email reports stands at more than 8,100,000, with the removal of more than 67,000 scams and 124,000 URLs.

In a small number of cases, an email may not reach our service due to it already being widely recognised by spam detection services. The vast majority of reports do reach our system so please keep reporting any suspicious emails you receive.

Reporting suspicious text messages:

You can report suspicious text messages to your mobile network provider, for free, by forwarding the text to 7726.

If you forward a text, your provider can investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious. If 7726 doesn’t work, you can find out how to report a text message by contacting your provider.

(On many Android devices and iPhones, pressing and holding on the message bubble should present the option to forward the message)

For more of the government’s latest advice on how to stay secure online, visit the Cyber Aware website: ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware


 17 December 2021    WFRA NEWSLETTER     Volume 12 Issue 57



Captain Hugh Steadman died on 15 October in Blenheim, New Zealand, aged 79, after a long battle with cancer.

Hugh was commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he won the prize for Russian Studies, into the Sherwood Foresters in December 1960. He joined the 1st Battalion in Holywood, Belfast, Northern Ireland in January 1961 as a Pl Comd. In mid 1963 he moved with the battalion to Colchester where it became part of 19 (Air Portable) Brigade.

As a result of this move he was one of the officers who participated in the Battalion's emergency deployment to Cyprus on Boxing Day 1963. After initial operational moves within the island he was deployed with his platoon (1 Platoon, A Company) onto the Green Line separating Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities in Nicosia. This was during the period pre-UN takeover and was a testing and difficult time for the battalion.

In April 1964 he was posted to the Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion in Oswestry for two years as an Outward Bound Instructor before returning to the 1st Battalion in 1965 as a Company 2i/c in the battalion's role as mechanised infantry within 6 Mechanised Brigade.

In 1967 Hugh transferred to the Trucial Oman Scouts as the Defence Intelligence Officer in Sumail near Nizwa, a strategic post at that time. He was a natural linguist and well suited to the role.

This was followed by a tour as a Company 2i/c in Berlin with 1st Bn The Staffordshire Regiment where he met and married Christine. Motivated by his beliefs after his tour in the Middle East he resigned his commission but joined the Wessex Regiment (TA) in Southampton and took a BSc in Politics and International Relations at Southampton University followed by a two year course for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education.

He and his wife then established a school of language in York that was primarily aimed at teaching language skills to international diplomats and aid workers. In 1985 they emigrated to New Zealand where Hugh established a fruit distillery in Marlborough on South Island until the invasion of Iraq occurred when, by his own admission, he became politicised and began a blog heightening awareness of events and of ideas being advanced for the improvement of the global community's  contribution to a better future.

Hugh was a very thoughtful and erudite friend who will be sadly missed by those who knew him.

For a view of his thoughts and ideas we recommend that you view his website www.khakispecs.com

Letters of condolence may be sent to his wife Christine and his children, Daniel, Richard and Stephanie at 475 Brookby Road, Blenheim 7272, New Zealand or by email to chris@ntrance.co.nz


Stacey Allsopp, is a former British Army Soldier, who was homeless after his discharge in the mid 1990’s, whilst sleeping rough in Church yards, and on beaches in Cornwall, he began to wonder through hunger, what if any of the wild plants growing in those places are edible.

Amazingly, one day in early 1995. An elderly gentleman whom he had seen at a distance on many occasions, appeared before him. He politely, and kindly asked if he was ok, and said “you look like someone who is down on your luck.” Stacey told him of his journey and how he had ended up where he was, and explained he was recently a Soldier.

The elderly man stood before him, smiled warmly, and held out his hand and offered him a small brown paper bag and said, “I would like you to take this, as I think it will help on the next part of your journey.”  Inside was a small pocketbook by Richard Mabey called ‘Food for Free’ which he gladly accepted as it had the answers to the questions he had been asking himself. Following this event, he never did see the mysterious gentleman again, even though he spent more time in that Church yard.

A random act of kindness, and a gift in the form of a book, which in effect changed his life in an instant, and steered him on a path to becoming an NCFE Level 4 Bushcraft, Survival & Wilderness Living Skills Instructor.  Since May 2009 Stacey has had the opportunity and privilege to pass on the gift that he was so graciously given, to train and mentor many HM Forces Veterans, and Serving Personnel to the same professional standard.

In September 2018 he took part in a contemporary Rites of Passage weekend held by the Cornwall Community of the Award-winning National Charity ‘a band of brothers’ www.abandofbrothers.org.uk.

An experience which again challenged his beliefs and had a truly profound and positive effect on him. This enabled massive personal transition, growth, and healing from previously diagnosed psychological trauma and injury sustained through military service.
He has gone onto undertake and complete Facilitation level 1 & 2, and Mentor Training with the Charity and mentored young men.

Stacey is now a Company Director, Instructor and Facilitator at Remembering Our Roots CIC based in Cornwall.  His journey, and that gift, has inspired him to create the ‘NINE S.H.I.P.S (Secrets Hidden In Plain Sight) Veterans Project’ in which Stacey and his team to endeavour to pass on the same gift of knowledge, as freely as it was received by them, at no cost to our Veterans.

We offer support through 1:1 and group Programmes, both in person and online, indoors and outside in therapeutic settings to: acknowledge, open up to, heal and integrate from traumatic events, develop a strong sense of nature connection, learn bushcraft & wilderness skills and be supported in the journey into a successful and fulfilling adulthood.

The groups we primarily work with are military service personnel, veterans and their families, victims of crime, vulnerable children & adults, fathers, children in care and care leavers.

We are humbled and honoured to have received funding for 2021 / 2022 from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust “Force for Change” programme.

If you are a Military Veteran or currently serving personnel, you will have left your younger life to step over the threshold into serving your country. In departing from source into our uniquely individual lives, with all the trials, losses and victories each story holds. NINE S.H.I.P.S exists to help Veterans develop the capacity to return to our “roots” or Community with the “boon” or prize to share what we have learned and pass down knowledge.

The way we do this has three opportunities:

1. NINE S.H.I.P.S ‘All Call Signs’:
A monthly day in the woods, run by Stacey, a former British soldier teaching bushcraft & wilderness living skills professionally since 2009.

December 22nd, Wednesday 09:30 – 14:30

January 5th, Wednesday 09:30 – 14:30
January 29th, Saturday 09:30 – 16:00
February 12th, Saturday 09:30 – 16:00

2. NINE S.H.I.P.S ‘Master of Two Worlds’:
Our 3-month project, with a weekly online group Zoom call and celebratory day in the woods. This is more in-depth, working with core emotions, connection, and trauma healing. Where we develop safely, the capacity to acknowledge, feel and express ourselves, where we are stuck, have resistance & judgements and lacking in true contentment.
Dates: June to September and October 2021 to January 2022.

3. NINE S.H.I.P.S Bushcraft courses (Qualifications):
Level 2 Foundation in Bushcraft Skills and Wilderness Living.
Level 3 Foraging.
An opportunity to formalise your skills and knowledge in a practical, applied way. This is accredited by the NCFE (Northern Council for Further Education) and the IOL (Institute for Outdoor Learning), in association with Wildway Bushcraft.

These are weekends in the woods doing lots of bushcraft and having fun.

For further information 


Stacey Allsopp, Director, Facilitator, Instructor.

Tel: 07892 864 533 Email: staceya@ror.services


History Of Gin And Tonic

A brief history of gin and tonic reveals how the origins of the drink are far more significant than a popular party tipple so much so that Winston Churchill credited the cocktail with not only saving the lives of British soldiers but also contributing to the strength of the Empire.

The history of the drink, widely known as a G&T, is intertwined with the military history of the British Army and the Royal Navy.  There are two halves to the story one is that of tonic and how it came into being, and the other is that of gin itself and how British soldiers had a part in its development and distribution.

Not only did gin and tonic eventually become a lifesaver, due to its creation as a less bitter method of consuming its key ingredient, quinine, which was used to stave off malaria for British troops in tropical climates dating back to the 1800s, but the spread of gin itself can be attributed to British soldiers discovering the juniper-flavoured Dutch gin Genever in the 17th century, while fighting in the Thirty Years War in the Netherlands.

History Of Gin And Tonic Water
Churchill, pontificating over the drink’s role in both protecting British troops from the mosquito-borne infectious disease, malaria, and as a boost to morale, once said:
“The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire.”

And this is why.

In the early days of the British Raj the rule of India by the British Crown’s Empire that spanned from 1858 right up until 1947 malaria had massacred a multitude of British soliders’ and government officials’ lives at an alarming rate.  The parasitic disease threatened to lay waste to the ranks of British troops, and the ambitions of the British Empire along with it but, it was thanks to how a discovery, made about a hundred years’ earlier in the 1700s by Spanish conquistadors, found its way into European hands that gave the Empire a new weapon to fight malaria and eventually led to the creation of a new tonic beverage thus one half of the G&T story.

Cinchona Bark Tonic
The indigenous population of Peru had long used the bark of a tree, cinchona, as a form of homeopathic medicine to treat a variety of fever based illnesses a discovery that Peru’s new Spanish rulers were quick to pick up on in the 17th century.  It was later discovered that the bark also worked as a treatment for malaria, not only treating the symptoms of the disease but also as a prevention.

The active ingredient was quinine, which, crushed down into a powder, could be administered as a medicine. The treatment eventually filtered through Europe and into the hands of the Empire, whose administrators fuelled demand for cinchona bark as they realised this was the medicine they needed to supply masses of soldiers with protective doses of quinine in hot, damp climates such as India, where our Imperial interests not only included a military station, but also included trading operations with the British East India Company. Almost 800 tons of cinchona bark are said to have been imported each year into India by the mid 1800s as the medicinal powder was administered to both British civilians and soldiers as a standard ration.

How Quinine Became A Tonic
The powdered bark was very bitter not something that soldiers readily wanted to consume.
The answer lay in a little experimentation mixing the powder with other ingredients such as sugar, and some soda, to make the treatment more palatable, resulting in a sweeter, bubblier liquid to help the medicine go down creating a tonic for the troops.  Higher ranking officers and officials experimented further, adding their own pick me up ingredient with a measure of gin and thus the Gin and Tonic was born.

How British Soldiers And Sailors Played Their Part
A form of juniper based distilled spirit is documented as far back as the 11th century when it was made by Italian monks, but Dutch genever, thought of as the ‘mother of gin’, is thought to have originated in about the 16th century.  Like many recipes, genever and gin evolved over time, with many variations but a Dutch physician named Franciscus Sylvius is largely credited with the growth of genever as a popular medicinal potion in the 1500s.

By the time English soldiers arrived in Holland in 1618, the Dutch had already been drinking a potent form of genever, or jenever, a malted grain-based spirit flavoured with juniper berries which at times had been marketed as a treatment for a variety of ailments including stomach pains and gout, to aid circulation, or as a morale boosting pick me up.  This is the first part of the gin story, as soldiers fighting in the Thirty Years War and sailors brought genever back to English shores before variants soon began to appear.

Dutch Courage
We also have military banter to thank for the idiom Dutch Courage which relates to the history of genever and gin.  There are various popular folk history stories around the phrase.
One was that English soldiers seized on the notion that foreign soldiers were said to have downed tots of genever before a battle sipping from their hipflasks as they marched to war.
Gossip, banter and hearsay is thought to have fuelled a disparaging slur that cowardly enemy soldiers had to drink copious amounts of the stuff before they were brave enough to fight … hence ‘Dutch Courage’.

Or perhaps the ‘Dutch Courage’ idiom could have simply come from English soldiers themselves picking up on the practice of having a shot of genever before battle, for its calming effects and for warming up the body in cold weather.
Another version suggests that soldiers generally on all sides picked up on the drink’s bravery inducing effects a courage boosting pick me up.

What Is the Difference Between Genever And Gin?
Similarities still exist between genever and gin juniper based with citrus peels and spices, but where genever is made from malted grains, rye, barley or corn, gin can be distilled from any raw material.  Various factors influenced the development of gin in Britain in the 1600s after its original form was brought back by soldiers and sailors.

William of Orange, who was Dutch, took to the throne in Britain in 1689 to rule with his wife Mary II. In a trade war with France, he not only relaxed legislation on the distillation of spirits but also imposed tax duty on French imported spirits like brandy.  The result was an explosion of experimentation, trying new methods of distillation and ingredients, and the relaxed rules also allowed the use of English grain in distillation, including low-quality barley that had been rejected by the beer brewing industry.  Between 1695 and 1735, hundreds of small gin-distillery operations set up as a result sparking a problematic drinking epidemic among the poor, known as the Gin Craze, as cheap, freely available gin variants flooded the market.

However, it wasn’t until the 1800s that technology spurred on the development of gin.
New inventions and methods, especially following the invention of the column still in about 1826, created higher proof spirits, that could not only be made more quickly for less cost, but also introduced repeat distillation methods which eventually led to something along the lines of the gin we know today, including the London dry style gin.

Gin And The Royal Navy
The British Navy helped spread gin worldwide as British influence dominated the globe. 
Not only that but, again, a need for medicinal treatments for military personnel led to officers turning to whatever they could find as a treatment this time for scurvy.

Gin was already thought of as a treatment for some ailments but by adding lemon juice to the citrus ingredients, the drink was considered a tonic to prevent the illness brought on by a lack of vitamin C a high risk factor for sailors at sea for great lengths of time, by the 18th century, every naval vessel was required by law to carry a certain quantity of the spirit.  That included "lime or lemon juice and other antiscorbutics to be provided and kept on board certain ships".

It was believed to be the cure for various illnesses, and a legislation was passed requiring every vessel to take on board a certain quantity of this spirit.  All newly commissioned ships received a 'Gin Commissioning Kit' -  a wooden box containing two bottles of 'Navy Strength' gin and glassware - in a practice that lasted for almost two hundred years.  The tradition has long been abandoned but there is still a special relationship between the Royal Navy and gin.

What Is Navy Strength Gin?
Navy Strength gin is typically stronger (57% ABV) than the original mixture (41.2% ABV). 
Prior to 1816, there was no way to measure the strength of a spirit.  The Royal Navy Supply Offices, known as 'Pussers’, needed to find a way to check that they were receiving what was ordered.  They started to add grains of their gunpowder to their gin to test its alcoholic strength.
By heating the mixture using the sun's rays and a magnifying glass, they would find out whether the mixture was or wasn't 'proof'.  If the gunpowder failed to light, it was diluted gin.  Only if the gin was at least 114 proof (or as we know it today, 57% ABV), the gunpowder would still light.
The gin became famous as 'Navy Strength', and the technique would protect the Navy from being overcharged for watered gin and made sure that all ships were safe.


Anyone concerned about their own drinking, or who wants to support family and friends who are drinking, can call the confidential National Drinkline. 

Drinkaware strategic partnerships with the Ministry of Defence and other organisations work to reduce harm from alcohol misuse and to promote healthier lifestyles within the Armed Forces.

For help or support, anyone can call the confidential National Drinkline phoneline 0300 1231110 Mon to Fri 9am and 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm.



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


 10 December 2021    WFRA NEWSLETTER    Volume 12 Issue 56


Lieutenant Colonel A M Gabb OBE 

The funeral service will be held at Worcester Crematorium, Tintern Ave, Astwood Rd, Worcester WR3 8HA  on Friday 17th December at 12:15hrs. No Flowers please, but donations, if desired, to Royal British Legion together with attendance through Bedwardine Funeral Services. 01905 748811.

Standards, Bugle and members welcome.

Letters of condolence can be sent to Lt Col Gabb`s widow:-
 Mrs Suzanne Gabb
31 Baveney Rd,

Afterwards you are invited to join the family at Claines RBL Cornmeadow Lane, Worcester WR3 7PL. 


Sgt Michael John (Bomber) Brown

The funeral service will take place at 11.30hrs on Thursday 16th December at Robin Hood Crematorium, Streetsbrook Road, Shirley, Solihull, B90 3PH. 


Corporal Frederick Waterson


Frederick was born at Burton on Trent during 1877, his birth details are not known.  After finishing his schooling, he played football as a professional for Burton Swifts F.C. and then United when they changed the name.  He made over one hundred and sixty appearances for them before retiring to Doncaster F.C. playing right half on sixty occasions and then becoming their assistant trainer.  Frederick was described as a ‘capital leader and cleaver footballer, honest and hard working from start to finish.’  He worked at the Doncaster Railway Works before joining the Kings Own [Yorkshire Light Infantry] and then transferring to the Durham Light Infantry.                                                             
After intensive training in the country Frederick, and his comrades, left the English countryside to travel over the Channel, then working their way through the French countryside to the Western Front. 


Frederick was soon promoted to Corporal.  On the front line during action he was wounded during the one hundred days offensive.  The doctors did what they could but unfortunately Frederick died of his wounds whilst at the casualty clearing station at Hazebrouck in France on the 12th October 1918. 
Frederick was forty-one years of age.  He was buried at the La Kreule Military Cemetery near Hazebrouck, Nord, France.


Lance Corporal George Harold Brooks


George was born at Radcliffe, Nottinghamshire during 1887, his birth details are unknown. Having finished his schooling, George started his footballing career at Longfield FC as a half back and centre forward. 
During 1910 he played for Manchester City F.C. making three appearances for them.  He also made two outings for Bury F.C. and South Shields F.C. unfortunately his analysis for his time there is not recorded. 
George settled at Derby County F.C. from 1914 to 1915 where he represented them in thirty-three outings.
George enlisted as a Lance Corporal serving with the York and Lancaster Regiment.  After training in this country, he and his fellow soldiers headed over the Channel and landed in France.  George saw active service on the front line. 
He was seriously injured on the 8th November 1918 at the 5th Casualty Clearing Station at Bihecourt, Picardy, France, he died of his wounds later in the day. 
He was thirty years of age.  He was buried at the Maubeuge (Sous le Bois) Cemetery.



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


 03 December 2021    WFRA NEWSLETTER     Volume 12 Issue 55


Lieutenant Colonel A M Gabb OBE

We regret to report the death on 26 November 2021 of Lieutenant Colonel A M Gabb OBE of Worcester aged 96.
In October 1944 he was commissioned into The Worcestershire Regiment. Shortly after the war he joined the 1st battalion in BAOR, then Trieste, Pola and Berlin during the Airlift before commanding the Training Company at the Depot at Norton Barracks. He returned to the battalion in Iserlohn and went with it to Jamaica before being posted as an instructor at Sandhurst. He was a company commander in 1 Worc R in Minden and  was then appointed Chief Instructor at Mons Officer Cadet School. He was a widely respected CO of 1 Worc R in Gibraltar and Bulford 1966-69 followed by two years as SO1 APRE. When in 1972 the Adjutant General expressed concern about ill-discipline at MCTC and demanded the appointment as Commandant of a good regimental officer he was selected for the post. On arrival he said he intended to visit the inmates’ dinner but the RSM advised him not to in case there was a riot. In typically direct fashion he ordered the RSM to accompany him and warned him that if there was any trouble he would be the first to be sacked. There was no ill-discipline during his tour and he was awarded the OBE (though there was a riot under his successor). He managed Devon and Cornwall Training Areas until retirement in 1978 and was then Commandant of Okehampton Camp as a RO until 1987. He then served at RHQ, the last two years until retiring in 1990 as Regimental Secretary.

His strong sense of duty never left him; three years ago when he was frail he insisted on travelling 100 miles to a brother officer’s funeral “because he was one of my subalterns."

His father joined the regiment before WW1 and commanded the 1st Battalion 1935-39.

Sgt Michael John (Bomber) Brown

We regret to report the death of 23603595 Sgt Michael John (Bomber) Brown on 25 November aged 82.  Michael was born in Leicester on 12 June 1939 and emlisted in the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters on 26 February 1959.  He served Malaya, Singapore and Cyprus and holds GSM clasp Malaya, UN Cyprus medal. He served in the MMG and Recce Platoons of 1/Foresters. 

Michael attended the Machine Gun Course at Netheravon 30 October 1961 "C" Passed Dr Cadre at Palace Barracks. He is shown in Forester Vol VI No 3 October 1966 as being part of  the 1st Bn Party of Ten who went to Albert in France for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, his grandfather Private Ernest Leader took part in the Battle.  He played cricket, rugby and boxed for the Bn.

Funeral details to follow.


Richard Gleed-Owen.

Private Richard Gleed-Owen of 5 (Mansfield) Platoon, F (Notts Home Service Force) Company 3WFR passed away peacefully on 18 Nov 20 surrounded by members of his family. Richard, who used the name “Owen”, was a man who cheered up everybody who met him. A Naval veteran joining the HSF, he readily admitted to finding army culture strange, but tackled everything with maximum effort and earned tremendous respect from his comrades.

His previous Royal Navy service was as a Cartographic Rating, serving on small ships in the “Ton Class”. There was little call for cartography in the HSF so Richard resigned himself to learning quickly from his colleagues, who vigorously protected him from anybody trying to take advantage of his willing nature. A very thoughtful man with an engaging smile and armfuls of patience, he won over the most shirty NCOs and flustered officers. On exercise, he was very often mistaken for a visiting officer, given his age and smooth accent. Some thought he was a journalist embedded with the battalion.

During the last few years and months of the HSF he became noted for carrying an impressive camera around, mounted on the single pole, taking pictures, with or without permission. In the new digital age, no bulky rolls of film were needed.

Richard enthusiastically supported the Nottinghamshire HSF Old Comrades Association and a supporter of The (national) HSF Association, attending reunions at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Before joining the HSF with 3WFR, he had been a secondary school teacher and worked as a Civil Servant interviewing people at the Job Centre in Nottingham and Bulwell. There were one or two nervous soldiers standing with him in the cookhouse queue who found someone who was always interested in their issues.

After the HSF was stood down in 1992, Richard became involved with The Ton-Class Association (RN) and various local community endeavours.

The funeral service will take place on Friday 10th December 2021 at Mansfield Crematorium, Derby Road, Mansfield NG18 5BJ. Family flowers only. Donations to the RNLI. Enquiries via Ken Gregory & Sons (Funeral Directors) Mansfield.

Address for condolences available from Paul Hallett.


In 2018 Captain Louis Rudd MBE walked into the history books when he finished a solo, unsupported crossing of Antarctica, pulling a 130 kg sledge laden with his supplies for more than 900 miles. His skills had been honed in the SAS, on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, but now in the most hostile environment on earth they would be tested like never before.
Alone on the ice, he battled through whiteouts, 50 mph gales and temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius. It would take all of his mental and physical strength to survive. In this gripping account of his expedition’s to Antarctica he reveals how a thirst for adventure as a young boy saw him join the Royal Marines at sixteen and then go on to pass the SAS selection course at only twenty two.

In the book Captain Rudd describes his first gruelling polar expedition with legendary explorer Lieutenant Colonel Henry Worsley in 2011 and the leadership challenges he faced a few years later when he led a team of Army Reservists across Antarctica.  With edge of the seat storytelling, he takes us with him step by painful step as he pushes himself to the limit, travelling alone on his record breaking and lonely trek across the continent's treacherous ice fields and mountains. Endurance is an inspiring account of courage and resilience by a remarkable man.

About the Author
Captain Louis Rudd MBE is a record-breaking polar adventurer, expedition leader, former Royal Marine Commando and SAS soldier, with 34 years of service. He is the first and only person to have traversed Antarctica twice using human power alone, and has reached the South Pole three times from different coastal start points. He is a member of the exclusive Explorers Club, a Published Author and accomplished Public Speaker.  As well as conducting his own expeditions, he now focuses on consulting for others undertaking their own polar journeys, including specialist training and expedition management, as well as offering speaking engagements on leadership and the lessons from his Antarctic and military experiences. He is an Ambassador for ABF The Soldiers' Charity, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Director of Expeditions for Shackleton London.



Lt Col Bernard William Vann V.C. M.C. & Bar Croix de Guerre


Bernard was born in Rushden, Northamptonshire on the 9th July 1887.  Both of his parents were teachers, education was very important to Bernard.  After attending his local school, he continued his education by going up to Jesus College Cambridge and was reading history.  Whilst at university he was involved with the Officers Training Corps as a Sergeant.  Bernard was teaching at the Ashby de la Zouch Grammar school before training to become a Church of England priest. In 1907 Bernard transferred to Leicester Fosse and retired after playing for Mansfield Wesley, details are unknown.  It was in January 1913 that Bernard was made chaplain and assistant master at Wellingborough School.  He played in the forward position Hugglescote United F.C. and Northampton Town F.C. before settling at Burton United F.C., where he made five outings, and finally at Derby County F.C. where he played three games. 
In August 1914 at the outbreak of war Bernard volunteered as a military chaplain but there were delays and loads of red tape so in the end he enlisted in the infantry.  He was moved to the 1/8th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters on the 1st September 1914.  After intensive training Bernard, and his fellow soldiers, left England behind and having crossed the Channel they arrived in the French countryside.
They saw action in the Ypres Salient from February 1915 and in April Bernard was bombed in his trench.  Not one to make a fuss of his own injuries he ignored his own wounds and arranged the defence of the area and helped to rescue the men who had been buried, all this whilst under heavy fire.  Due to his heroic action, he was promoted to Lieutenant on 26th April 1915 a few months later he was made temporary captain. 
Over the next few months Bernard continued to lead from the front refusing to send any man to do a job that he would not do himself.  He led patrols through no mans to the German trenches and would gather intelligence.  He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions over this period.  In October 1915, he heard the terrible news that his brother had been killed at the Battle of Loos.  Shortly after this Bernard was, himself, wounded during the Hoheenzollern Redoubt and he was sent back to Blighty for treatment. 
In June 1916 his captains rank had been confirmed.  He was soon promoted to acting major.  A bar was added to his MC for conspicuous gallantry in action.  Bernard suffered with neuritis in his neck and was sent back to England for treatment.  Before returning to the front, Bernard attended a command training course and within six months he was back on the front line as commander of the 2/6th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters. 
During his time in England, he married Doris who was a Canadian nurse, at St Pauls church in Knightsbridge just after Christmas 1917. 
Bernard took over command of the 1/6th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters and during the Battle of St Quentin Canal [29th Sept] he led his Battalion across the canal under terrible weather conditions and whilst under heavy fire.  For his part in the actions of the 29th September he was awarded the Victoria Cross which King George V presented to his widow, Doris, and their child. 
On the 3rd October 1918 he was leading his men across the Beaurevoie-Bonsomme line near to Ramicourt when he was caught in the cross wires of a sniper and died instantly.  Bernard was thirty-one years old.  Originally his remains were buried where he lay but he was then moved to the Bellicourt British Cemetery Aisne. 

His headstone reads –  
‘a great priest who is in his days pleased God’,
This was especially written by the Bishop of Peterborough.
Bernard’s medals were treasured by his family and were purchased in May 2010 by Lord Ashcroft and are on display at the IWM.  He is remembered at the house in Rusden where he was born, in Coates, St Matthews church and war memorial.  At the church of St Mary Magdalene in Newark on Trent where the 8th Sherwood Foresters are commemorated.  At St Barnabas Church in Leicester.  The Derby County F.C. plaque was unveiled on the 8th November 2014 at Pride Park.  On the 29th September 2018 his grandsons unveiled a memorial stone in Rushden and one of his grandsons, Michael, unveiled a memorial at Wellingborough School chapel.



John Shorthouse

John was born at Wednesbury, Staffordshire during 1889.  He was known as Jack to family and friends.  The exact date and month are not recorded.  After his schooling, he spent five months in the special reserve for the South Staffordshire Regiment and he played in the reserve team for Stoke F.C.  It was during home leave during January 1918 that Jack married Lilian in West Bromwich.


On the 31st August 1914, Jack, joined up as a Private in the newly formed Machine Gun Corps 3rd Battalion.  After specialist training, he and his comrades crossed the Channel and arrived on the continent.  He spent time at the front line during the next couple of years.  He was seriously wounded in action on the 27th August 1918 and died later in the day due to his injuries, during very heavy fighting in Belgium. 
Jack was just twenty-nine years of age. He was buried at the Ruyaulcourt Military Cemetery near the Belgium border with France.



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


26 November 2021   WFRA NEWSLETTER      Volume 12 Issue 54


Military veterans can benefit from a dedicated new mental health app, launched this month by Samaritans, to help them deal with the long-term emotional challenges of adjusting to life after the Forces. 

The free Samaritans Veterans app comes on the back of joint research the leading suicide prevention charity carried out with the Royal British Legion, which found that veterans wanted to understand more about their emotional wellbeing and to hear from people with similar experiences. Those leaving the military and former Armed Forces personnel can access emotional health and wellbeing information, videos, exercises, podcasts, and create wellbeing to do lists in the app to help look after themselves and connect with the veteran community. 

The Samaritans Veterans App is available to download (Samaritans Veterans) on your phone from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) or use the desktop version here: Samaritans Veterans app | How we can help | Samaritans 


At its AGM in September, 3WFR Branch of the WFR Assn voted to hold a Reunion Buffet at The Stepping Stones Centre in Heanor on the evening of Saturday 11th December 2021. This is to celebrate 50 years of the raising of the Battalion, initially as The Notts & Derby Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters.

Anyone who served in, or with, 3WFR(V), in any capacity, is welcome to attend from 5pm until late, with one partner. There will be no charge for attendance or hospitality. Branch subscriptions will be welcome. We will also accept donations for Mercian Regimental Charities. Attached cap badges and permanent staff particularly welcome. You need not stay for the whole session.

The event will run until at least 10 pm, but there will be no sleepover facilities. Please bring photographs, documents or artefacts recalling your memories of your 3WFR service. We hope to have plenty of pictures to stir and record your memories. Any items you bring will be entirely at your own risk. No weapons or ammunition please.

A hot buffet and drinks (beer & wine) will be available at Branch expense – first come first served.

3WFR was operational for 28 years, from 1971 to 1999, raising five Companies (initially including a Squadron and Battery). The Battalion took on two Home Service Force Companies in 1985 which were eventually disbanded in 1992, when Battalion HQ and HQ Company moved from Newark to Foresters House Chilwell. Two years later, the Battalion was forced to reduce to three Rifle Companies with a large HQ at Foresters House, which almost gave birth to an additional Support Company. The Battalion had two Regular Commanding Officers in its lifetime; can you name them? Who was your OC, CSM, CQMS, PSI, Section Comd? We want to know. We will have an Orbat Chart for you to fill in.

COVID: There remains a low risk of cancellation which cannot be totally dismissed, however we expect all attendees to have received two COVID vaccinations and also a Booster, if eligible, and unless formally exempt. Please bring one mask per person in order to minimise the risk of virus transmissions. You have all seen and heard the latest media announcements. Hand sanitizer and wipes will be available. Please respect the needs of others. Keep safe.

If you can attend, and have not already, please send a text to Robin Tilston at 07800-921095 stating “3WFR50”, giving your name, your ETA, whether you will bring a partner and the likelihood of attendance (definite or probable).

If you cannot come, messages giving definite apologies are also welcome. You can also send longer messages to Robin to robin.tilston@gmail.com, which will be posted for comrades to read. You can also send correspondence or cards to Robin Tilston, C/O Stepping Stones, Ilkeston Road, Heanor, Derbyshire DE75 7AG (mark your envelope “3WFR”).

The Centre does have limitations on capacity, so we need to understand approximate numbers. Thank you.

If you do email or write, please include a photo of yourself – we cannot hope to remember everybody’s face, which is one of the reasons for the event.

Donations will also be welcome to “Stepping Stones (Amber Valley)” Charity Number 1086086, which The Branch already supports.

Dress: Smart-Casual only. See also the 3WFR Facebook Page. Please drop in if you can.


Sergeant Thomas Charles Benfield
Thomas was born in Leicester during January 1889.  Having finished his schooling, he trained and worked alongside family members as a boot rivetter.  Thomas started his footballing career by playing for Leicester teams of, Old Boys, Regiment, Nomads and Fosse. Making two hundred and thirty-four appearances between 1910 to 1914.  
He then signed for Derby County F.C. as a professional footballer playing outside right and inside forward, making thirty-eight appearances when he was available. He met and married Elsie during his time at Derby.
Thomas enlisted soon after war was declared, and after intensive training he, and his fellow soldiers, were sent over the Channel to France.  Thomas was a Sergeant with the Leicestershire Regiment and was aged just twenty-nine years when he was killed during action on the front line during the 19th September 1918 by a sniper at Equancort and Heudicort on the Somme during the 100-day offensive.  He was killed immediately.
He was buried at the Varennes Military Cemetery.  Thomas is also commemorated on the Derby County memorial.
The passion and talent for playing football must run through Thomas’s family as in 2012 his great grandnephew, Ben Swift, was signed by Leicester City F.C.

Arthur Clamp

Arthur was born in Sneinton, Nottingham, on the 1st May 1884.  Having finished his education at the local school, Arthur learned his trade in the construction industry being a bricklayer and joiner / carpenter. 
He played footballer as a professional centre half and made two hundred and seventy-five appearances in the black and white stripes for Notts. County F.C. from 1906 to 1915.  Arthur met and married Annie.  They moved to 27 Sedgeley Avenue in Sneinton, Nottingham which was a very nice semi-detached house with a lovely bay window. 
Arthur was conscripted in April 1918 and after training in England he, and his comrades, duly arrived, with the 7th Battalion Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment as a Private.  Arthur arrived at the front during the 2nd Somme offensive.  It was only his third day on the front line on 23rd August 1918, that he was seriously wounded at Trones Wood. 
He was sent back to Blighty and was evacuated to the military hospital at Stoke on Trent.  Unfortunately, the operation did not work and Arthur died on the 19th September 1918, aged thirty-four years old. 
He was buried at the St. Pauls Church Cemetery in Sneinton.  He was remembered on the war memorial at St. Stephens church and there was a detailed article in the Nottingham Evening Post on the 20th September 1918.


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

for Executive Committee



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