Birmingham Gathering for Marine “A”

The Blackman family are hugely grateful for the show of support on the 16th in Birmingham.

As in London it was well organised by the remarkable John Davies, professionally conducted and superbly disciplined but also great fun and uplifting: parts were rather moving. I am sure (I know) that Claire and Al’s morale will have been enhanced – now all they have to do is wait: the worst bit but it is a wait full of optimism thanks to Jonathan Goldberg’s tireless efforts aided by his ‘juniors’, Jeffrey Israel and Senghin Kong.  Thanks to to the Daily Mail whose fund raising efforts made it all possible.

The current estimate is that there were 500 people present – most wearing green berets but there were very many other colours too plus a wide range of cap badges on green and blue berets: REME, RE, RA, RMP, ‘Greenfinches’, Royal Anglian…etc. – and I do apologise for not recognising some of the cap badges.  Also the ‘RM Mums’ and a wonderful array of civilian supporters and never forgetting the lovely ladies who wandered round with empty sacks collecting the non-existent rubbish.  There was even a police inspector who had replaced his regulation tie with that of the Corps!

I know that my aim was to tell the officers of the event in advance so it was thrilling to see that roughly 10 per cent of the gathering were officers from  all services (about the normal ratio I would suggest): I am sure there were others but I certainly spoke to three RN officers, one RAF Squadron Leader (thanks so much for turning up Charlie despite  being in a chair) and a Scots Guards officer.  I know there were others.   It was good that the summing up speech was delivered by a major general who captured the tone exactly: well done Malcolm and thank you.

The furthest journey I heard of was made by Warrant Officer Dave Barratt (539’s first Signals Officer) who came from Nova Scotia especially for the event.  Bravo Dave!

It was interesting, too, that two CGs (Sir Henry Beverley and Sir Robin Ross) sent warm messages of support  (all of which were read out in the manner of a best man at a wedding reading the telegrams) as well as a number of major generals, (Julian Thompson, Nick Vaux and Andrew Keeling) brigadiers (Johnny Walker of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, Robert Tailyour and Charlie Hobson lately of the RMA) and colonels (Richard Preston) and Captain Martin Reed RNR (lately of SS Canberra).

Praise would be incomplete without thanking the band for the carols.  Bravo as well.

… and the City of Birmingham police.   Another Bravo.

For those who couldn’t make it you might like to know that at the end there were ‘three cheers’ for the officers….! (No comment!)

The photographs that I have seen  do not all give an indication  of the numbers because those that were taken at the end do not reflect that some stayed to drink in the local pub (those needing to catch trains from New Street station in particular) while  a good many went off to the Walkabout pub.

Who can foretell the future – but with a measure of good fortune and (at last) the exercise of justice there may well be another gathering……?

So, with thanks from the Blackman family to all who came and to all who wanted to come but were simply prevented by ‘events’ all I can now say is…

…”Over to you CCRC and ….Onwards!”


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