Memoriam: Aaron McClure, Robert Foster & John Thrumble
Aaron McClure, Private Robert Foster and Private John Thrumble
all from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, were
killed while on a fighting patrol near Kajaki, Afghanistan
on Thursday 23rd August 2007.
Aaron McClure his CO said: "At 19 years old, Private
Aaron McClure was already a veteran of over forty engagements
with the enemy. It is tragic that where the Taliban had
failed, it was an accident that has taken him from us. Loyal,
hard working and highly professional, he constantly surpassed
the standards expected, and his loss is a bitter blow to
the whole Battalion." His friend Pte Barker said: "McClure
known to most of his mates as 'Troy' was a hard working
and very determined member of 7 Platoon who would 'work
his socks off' to achieve the best results he could. 'Troy'
had a lot of ambition and would have gone far in the Army.
He will be missed very much by all of us in 7 Platoon and
the Company. Rest in peace mate and my thoughts are with
Robert Foster's CO said: "As a junior soldier, Private
Robert Foster settled in remarkably quickly and was a highly
respected Viking. Fiercely loyal to his friends, he had
seemingly limitless reserves of courage and strength of
character way beyond his years. He had a rare quality of
always seeing the bright side of any situation and a mischievous
sense of humour which made him hugely popular." His
Section Commander said: "Fozzy as he was known by all
will be remembered for never turning a dare down. He was
up for anything and kept the comedy value of the section
up when it was most needed. He was a model for the British
Army. It was a privilege to serve with him and we will never
Pte John Thrumble the Battalion Commander said: "Private
John Thrumble was one of the mainstays and leading characters
within the Battalion. An inspirational model to others and
a caring and compassionate friend to many, he will be sorely
missed. Proven in combat on countless occasions his
raw courage and ability to raise a smile were invaluable
in these testing times. He joins the ranks of his fellow
fallen Vikings but his reputation will live on and he will
never be forgotten." And Private Barker said: "John
was the joker of the platoon and even the Company, and always
managed to make you laugh whatever the circumstances. Although
he was hard as nails, he had a soft side to him which most
people did not know. He had some ambition and wanted to
stay in the Army and work his way up through the ranks."
people going out fighting giving their lives for us;
They do it
selflessly and they never get thanked enough.
give it all, put their heart and soul into what they do
To make this world a better, safer place for me and you.
Across The Miles [25/03/11]
I haven't been writting much on my blog recently, I don't
want you thinking I haven't been doing stuff to support
the guys out in Afghan. So I think I'll tell you about a
little side line of mine.
with a group of people ("Smiles Across the Miles")
out in Estuaryland who send welfare parcels out to the guys
on the frontline in Afghanistan.
just a small team but we work hard and are very committed.
We've been going for a couple of years and have sent out
about 3,000 parcels so far. When I say a small team, there's
really just three of us - though we do organise packing
sessions with local groups, like the scouts, when we can.
We're always on the look out for volunteers but, whilst
people are very generous with donations (especially when
it comes to "our boys"), they seem to lead such
busy lives these days that they have little spare time to
we three do alright. In fact we do so well that the MoD
asked us to suspend our operations over the Christmas period
so as not to overload "logistics". So we shut
down between October and February.
team is made up of:
The Company Sergeant Major: she's ex-WI, is the inspiration
behind the organisation, set it up in 2008 and has been
the driving force behind it ever since. Always out looking
for ways of raising cash and drumming up support. Knows
an awful lot of people. Formidable, I think you'd say.
Lance-Corporal: that's me. I do the "heavy" work;
solid and reliable. I joined up on St George's Day 2009
when I came across the Stall (more about that later) in
Basildon Shopping Centre. I just said "hello"
and before I knew it I was signed up for 22 years. Anyway,
I love it.
Squaddie: that's our young lad. He's been involved with
the group since it started. Amazingly reliable and always
ready to help if he can. Eats, lives and breathes the Army.
Knows every unit out in Afghan.... indeed, anywhere. From
the minute he arrives to the minute he leaves, he's talking
Army. You'd think it would drive you crazy but it doesn't
somehow, in fact it helps the job along.
have a Quartermaster who looks after the money.
all very patriotic of course. The CSM is very much for "Great
Britain", I'm a Little Englander and the Squaddie is
of course for "Queen and Country". I've had to
fight to ensure that our stall (see below) will be festooned
with England flags on St George's Day, rather than the usual
tell you a bit about how we operate. Take this week as an
example. We first agreed that we would do packing on Thursday;
we are very lucky because we have a local hall where we
are able to do our packing.
we're going to pack on Thursday. First thing Monday morning,
I telephone a couple of local shoeshops who I know will
very kindly save the day's old shoe boxes for us. At 1700
I drive into town with the Squaddie, park in Sainsbury's
carpark and collect the shoeboxes from the shops. We normally
hope to get about 30 (if we're short, I've always got Tuesday
to fall back on - thinking ahead, see). Anyway, this Monday
we pick up 32 boxes which we take back to Sainsbury's. We
go into the shop and spend £5 so we can reclaim our
afternoon we - the CSM, the Squaddie and me that is - go
to the local cash-and-carry to buy the stuff to fill the
32 boxes. We know exactly what to buy though we are always
tempted to pick up the occasional "special" item
- this time it was Cadbury's cream eggs (we don't normally
send chocolate but, it being Easter and all, we thought
we would (we actually sent some out a few weeks ago and
got a letter back saying the eggs had caused a riot - good
1100 we arrive at the hall, put up the tables and lay out
the goodies we bought. We're also donated stuff, usually
toiletries, and bring these out of the stores. We're very
organised, very "Army" with everything in order
of size and weight with empty boxes at one end and the scales
at the other (we can send 2kg for free). It takes about
half-an-hour to set up. We all have different roles. The
CSM is the "packer" and fills the boxes, the L-Cpl
is the wrapper (brown paper and parcel tape) and the Squaddie
mixes the sweets (having thoroughly washed his hands), bundles
up teabags and puts the labels on the boxes. So the packer
picks up an empty box, walks down the line filling it with
goodies, weighs it, adds/subtracts to get the weight right
and passes it to the rapper, sorry, wrapper. I put in a
"bluey" and one of our greetings postcards, wrap
the parcel in our unique SATM way and pass it over to be
labelled(to, from and customs labels). A slick operation,
I can hear you saying. All the time the CSM and the Squaddie
are chattering away (on different subjects). Me? Well Im
just trying to keep up with the conveyor belt and don't
have time to chat.... until the tea break that is.
1430 and we've packed 32 parcels and it's time to start
clearing up - we always aim to leave the hall spick and
span. 1500 load up my car and we're off to the local post
office. Fortunately they know us there and are always very
helpful. People joining the queue after us look very depressed
when they see our bags of parcels - they think we're eBayers
and everything's got to be weighed. Their spirits lift when
they hear that we're simply going to leave the stuff and
they positively smile when we tell them it's all going to
that's it really...... till the next time.
might want to know what we put in the parcels - all quality
stuff..... only the best for our boys and girls! I'll run
along the table: a packet of jammie dodgers, fruit bars,
a pack of playing cards, Colegate toothpaste & toothbrush,
little tin of vaseline, baby wipes, individual packets of
hot chocolate and coffee, cup-a-soups, instant noodles,
Wriggleys chewing gum, crisps, mini-chedders, HP sauce sachets,
Pot Noodles, individual marmalade, jam and honey potlets,
fruit pastilles, Haribo mix, OXO cubes, tea, sherbert dips.....
all good, healthy stuff and all with memories of home.
the parcels to welfare officers who, we hope, will distribute
them to the guys who need them most: those who, perhaps,
haven't got families back home to send them stuff. (We're
always on the look out for more welfare officers, so if
you know one, get 'em to send me their address!)
I'd mention the stall. We have a stall which we put up at
local events to raise money to buy the stuff for the parcels,
We have lucky dips for kids - one for boys (mini-model-cars,
keyrings, etc) and one for girls (mini-dolls, bangles, etc)
- and we also sell things which we have been given but can't
send in the parcels (aerosols, glass, big/heavy things).
We raise quite a bit of cash. We also use the event for
PR - telling people what we do, showing sample parcels and
we have a display board with photos and letters we've received
back from Afghan. We get a lot of interest and people are
very supportive. The occasional squaddie on home leave also
comes over to thank us and we always ask for suggestions
for the parcels.
this year we're booked for St George's Day in Basildon,
the Southend Airshow and Armed Forces Day. We also put the
stall up in local supermarkets and, really, wherever we
great to get letters back from Afghan. We don't want the
thanks, it's just to know that the parcels are getting through
and that we're sending the right stuff. By doing what we
do we hope we're rasing morale; when we get a letter back
it raises our morale too.
there you have it, just a few of us doing our bit to let
the guys know that the work they do for us is appreciated
and that people back home are thinking of them and supporting
and I'll try to write some more on my blog.
at Stalingrad - 12:00 February 2nd 1943 [02/02/11]
sudden silence was overwhelming and some of our soldiers,
habituated to the constant din of fighting, couldn't stand
it. The only time there was silence was just before an enemy
attack. Men were shooting rifles, letting off grenades,
just to relieve the tension." (Lieutenant A. Mereshko,
all our soldiers began to sing. We sang the Russian songs
which helped to sustain us when all seemed hopeless."
(Mark Slavin, 45th Division)
German surrender at Stalingrad in February 1943 was the
strategic turning point of WW2. After Stalingrad, the Germans
had no hope of winning on the eastern front and that meant
inevitable defeat in the wider conflict for
WW2 was primarily a Soviet-German war.
Germany launched Operation Barbarossa on June 22nd 1941
and invaded the Soviet Union, they launched a war of annihilation,
a war to destroy judeobolshevism by the mass
murder of Soviet citizens. Over the next four years more
than 26 million Soviet citizens were killed, almost 11 million
from the Armed Forces - at Stalingrad alone a million Russian
people lost their lives.
the battle of Stalingrad we pay homage to the immense heroism
of the soldiers of the Red Army. Despite Antony Beevor's
attempt to denigrate, contemporary evidence is overwhelming:
it was the sheer valour and guts of the soldiers of the
62nd Army, particularly the 13th Guards, which turned what
was a militarily hopeless position into final victory.
us, it was life and death which met on the Volga. And it
was life which won the fight." (Marshal K. Rokossovsky)
French military: they're there when they need you [02/09/10]
an I'm feeling lucky Google search for 'french military
victories' comes up with no matches and asks: Did you mean
'french military defeats', may be just an American
joke. But when you think about it, it's hard to come up
with a war in which La France has been notably victorious
- no, hang on, there was their victory over Greenpeace in
1985 when their navy sneakily sank Rainbow Warrior when
she was tied up in Auckland harbour.
Britain's Armed Forces should be merged with any foreign
military is bad enough, but that there should currently
be talk of a merger with a country with such a dismal military
track record is as alarming as it is ludicrous. Yes, there
should be strong military alliances with foreign powers,
there always have been. But Britain must never have to seek
permission from such a bunch of losers and 'surrender
monkeys' in order that she can carry out her foreign
policy - because we know what their answer would be: "Non".
other comments on French military prowess:
question for any country silly enough to count on the French
should not be "Can we count on the French?" but
rather "How long until France collapses?"
to war without France is like going deer hunting without
an accordion. All you do is leave behind a lot of noisy
better still, the quote from the Wall Street Journal: "They're
there when they need you."
memorial for L/Cpl Scott Hardy - fallen Viking
Corporal Scott Hardy, from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian
Regiment, was killed in action in Afghanistan on 16th March
last his family and friends dedicated a hornbeam tree to
his memory in the cathedral grounds in Chelmsford, his home
plaque at the foot of the tree, which reads "In memory
of our hero, Lance Corporal Scott Hardy 06/06/83 - 16/03/2010",
will serve as a reminder to all those who pass by of the
sacrifice made by Lance Corporal Hardy for his country.
Weekly News: Living memorial to hero soldier Scott
Lance Corporal Scott Hardy and Private James Grigg killed
figures show Army at full strength [26/08/10]
latest figures published by the Defence Analytical Services
and Advice (DASA) wing of the MoD show that the improvement
in manning levels, which began in the late 2008, has been
maintained and that the Army has actually been operating
at full strength over the last quarter.
MoD reports that the (markedly) reduced intake requirement
reflects the fact that the Army is currently fully manned
and can therefore cut back on new entrants.
continued drop in the number of those leaving is also an
encouraging sign as it implies that the Army is retaining
more of its experienced personnel.
the country is in the midst of the worst recession since
the 1930s may also be influencing the situation.
issue for the immediate future is of course whether the
Army will be permitted to continue to operate at the 102,000
mark. Defence Secretary Liam Fox has already hinted that
the Strategic Defence Review is going to hit military spending
hard; he's quoted as saying that the Goverment will act
"ruthlessly and without sentiment" in finding
savings in the defence budget. Indeed it's already been
rumoured that even Britain's elite 23 SAS Regiment is in
to be culled.
Fox is hoping to play the magician: although he will be
overseeing radical reductions (15% is the current consensus)
in military expenditure, he also insists that eventually
Britain's security would end up "stronger".
UK is not alone in seeking significant cuts in defence expenditure:
across Europe governments have started to slash their military
procurement projects. One way that Dr Fox may seek to square
the circle of delivering more with less is through closer
co-operation within Europe. Integrated procurement programmes,
shared hardware, split operational responsibilities - indeed
European Military Union itself - may start to look like
attractive options to a Coalition desparate to make ends
meet. God help us.
Latest UK Armed Forces manning figures released
Dinner at Havering in honour of the Royal Anglians
history and achievements of the Royal Anglian Regiment will
be honoured and celebrated at a special Civic Dinner hosted
by Councillor Pam Light, Mayor of Havering, and Councillor
Michael White, Leader of the Council on Friday 24th September.
dinner will be held at the Territorial Army Centre, 312
London Road, Romford starting at 7pm. The evening will include
a Guard of Honour from the Royal Anglian Regiment Cadets;
a champagne drinks reception and raffle; live entertainment
from the Royal British Legion Band; and a three course dinner.
The guest speaker will be Lt. Lenthall, Officer Commanding
10 Platoon C (Essex) Company, RAR.
of Havering Council: Royal Anglian Regiment Civic Dinner
30:30 - the ultimate endurance challenge [26/08/10]
on the heels of the PARA'S
10 UER (see below) comes The Royal British Legion's
Exmoor 30:30 Ultimate Endurance Challenge. Now,
Exmoor 30:30 is for the seriously fit: not a mere 10 miles
for them, oh no, this is a 30 mile race across tough terrain
carrying a 30lb rucksack.
team race takes place on Saturday 9th October in Exmoor
National Park, and with competitors each being asked to
raise at least £1,000 for charity, it's a major fundraiser
for The Legion and other service charities as well as a
personal and a team challenge for those taking part.
Legion, which provides financial, practical and emotional
support to service people past and present and their dependants,
is recruiting everyone from office workers to armed forces
personnel to take part.
Exmoor Explorers, who competed on behalf of The Legion,
won the inaugural event last year. Team member Peter Govier
described the nine hours it took them to complete the route
as like going to hell and back". "It was
tough, mentally and physically. We were all fairly fit and
knew the area, but the weather was atrocious. The race may
be called Exmoor 30:30, but due to circumstances you inevitably
end up going further. The Explorers ended up doing 36 miles.
Thompson OBE, Director of National Events and Fundraising
says: Exmoor 30:30 really is the ultimate challenge
and will give civilian participants a taste for the sort
of training armed services personnel go through before being
sent off to Afghanistan and Iraq.
those wanting to take part, details of the event can be
found on their website:
Anglian Neil Thomas: Simply The Best! [25/08/10]
Neil Thomas from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment
won the Best Recruit award after successfully completing
the 26 week Combat
Infantryman's Course at Catterick.
Thomas's platoon commander Colour Sergeant Michael Butcher
said: "Private Thomas simply excelled on the course.
He has been an enthusiastic trainee who is also very mature
and this is shown when he helps others along or gets a grip
of them. This is a really well-deserved award for someone
who already has shown the basics of leadership."
is Lincolnshire: Town soldier proves it's not easy to be
in stiffer penalties for those who desecrate Britain's war
war memorials - of which there are about 60,000 in total
- are increasingly becoming the target of vandals, yobs
and scrap metal thieves.
examples of this have received national press coverage:
these incidents are only the tip of the iceberg since at
least one memorial a week is being defiled in some way.
Sadly also the law as it stands affords little protection
as the penalties for those actually arrested are derisory:
nominal fines, cautions, a few hours community service and,
as you would expect in the Muslim case, conditional discharge.
a group of MPs, lead by Tory MP David Burrowes, is calling
on the Government to bring in stiffer penalties for those
who desecrate the nation's war memorials and insult the
memory of those who died in the service of their country
fighting for our freedom. The MPs are urging the Government
to create a separate crime of "desecrating the memories
of this country" which will help to deter the yobs
and punish the transgressors more appropriately.
proposal has already received the backing of a number of
prominent former military chiefs. The campaign should also
have the backing of the Defence Secretary Liam Fox for it
was he who last November compiled a list of desecrated memorials
and said: "At a time when we are honouring those who
have sacrificed themselves for our security, this sick and
despicable trend is a miserable commentary on contemporary
Britain. War memorials should be sacred places, respected
by each and every person in every corner of the UK."
it is not just the military who should be signing up for
this campaign; protecting and honouring the memory of Britain's
war dead is the duty of all her citizens. The general public
need to be galvanised behind the campaign and public pressure
brought to bear on David Cameron and Kenneth Clarke to bring
in the necessary changes to the law.
Telegraph: Military chiefs back call for law to protect
Mail: Revealed: How one war memorial is desecrated in Britain
Mail: 'Britain's most disgusting woman' who urinated on
war memorial escapes jail
National Inventory of War Memorials
orders more Desert Hawks [24/08/10]
MoD has today placed a $5.1million order with Lockheed Martin
for additional Desert Hawk III UAVs. Having already supplied
around 100 systems to UK forces as part of a UOR for Afghanistan
in 2007, this additional tranche is scheduled for delivery
by the end of the year.
operating Desert Hawk looks similar to playing Call of
Duty, this is a mean piece of kit which, according to
Staff Sergeant Dan Gardner from 47 Regiment Royal Artillery,"has
become indispensable to troops on the ground in Afghanistan".
in a variety of roles, including reconnaissance and surveillance
of troops and patrols, Desert Hawk provides situational
awareness to commanders of troops in contact with the enemy.
One particularly valuable use to which it has been put has
been spotting the Taliban as they lay IEDs. Desert
Hawk is one of several systems which make up ISTAR, the
tri-service intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition
and reconnaissance infrastructure.
as providing improved surveillance capability and all-weather
operation, the latest variant will also include a 'more
refined target position' system olr as the MoD spokesman
said: "Desert Hawk's latest enhancements allow it to
operate more effectively in difficult conditions and provide
our soldiers with greater situational awareness in a very
Upgraded surveillance aircraft arrive in Afghanistan
Martin: Desert Hawk III
10 - Roger Micklethwaite takes up the challenge [23/08/10]
10 event will be taking place this year on Sunday 12th
September at Catterick.
in 2008 after a 15 year hibernation, this 'ultimate endurance
race' will once again be hosted by Pegasus Company, The
Parachute Regiment's training and selection wing, and is
open to anyone who's up for it and can cough up the £25
entrance fee (there is £250 for the fastest entrant).
only is the event a chance for those outside the Regiment
to prove how fit they are and to find out what the Paras
keep harping on about, it is also an ideal fundraising opportunity.
year 2,500 runners took part raising over £100,000
for service charities.
year Roger Micklethwaite and associates will be taking up
the challenge and raising money for The Royal Anglian Regiment
Benevolent Charity Fund. The Fund helps serving and former
members of the Regiment and their families who find themselves
in need, hardship or distress.
would like to support Roger & Co. and help them raise
some money for the Royal Anglians, visit his webpage at
luck, Roger (you'll need it)!
Welfare Fund fails to capture the public's imagination [23/08/10]
back in the autumn of 2008 that the then Labour government
started to clamp down on the public's wish to send parcels
of goodies out to the guys fighting on the frontline.
reason given for discouraging this very personal and direct
show of support for Britain's Armed Forces was that 'unsolicited'
parcels "clog up the supply chain and delay parcels
from service families getting to their loved ones".
there is an inadequate transport infrastructure supporting
UK forces abroad is due to years of neglect and under-funding
by government; it is not the fault of the general public.
MoD should also bear in mind that a very large percentage
(reportedly as high as 20%) of the troops out in Afghanistan
do not have family to send them welfare parcels and these
guys also need and deserve the morale boost that receiving
a parcel from back home can bring. Many small community
groups across the country send parcels (not at Christmas
but throughout the year) to welfare officers who distribute
them to those individuals they know would benefit most.
back in 2008 the government was caught in a bit of a dilemma:
on the one hand it wanted to engage the public in support
for the Armed Forces (cf National
Recognition Study) but on the other hand it needed to
dampen down any support that was proving inconvenient.
The MoD came up with a solution: the Operational Welfare
of sending parcels of goodies, the public would be instructed
to donate money to a central fund. The Fund would be administered
jointly by the MoD and SSAFA and the money raised would
be used by 'commanders' to purchase items for the troops
- solar-powered chargers, boxing kit, wind-up radios, etc.
In this way the MoD would be able to manage and direct the
flow of public goodwill and perhaps also use some of the
money raised to buy equipment it would otherwise have to
the Operational Welfare Fund has failed to capture the public's
imagination is clear: only a small number of online donations
have made (less than 200) and only a relatively small amount
of money has been raised (£37,050) since the Fund's
launch in November 2008.
Government should recognise that giving the people the right
to express their regard, support and thanks to Britain's
Armed Forces by making up a parcel and sending it out to
someone serving their country abroad is perfectly consistent
with the idea of the 'Big Society'.
the MoD should consider laying on a couple of extra helicopters.
Operational Welfare Fund
Operational Welfare Fund
SSAFA Operational Welfare Fund