REVIEW OF 2019 REUNION 80th ANNIVERSARY BATTLE OF THE RIVER PLATE
Association members gathered for the 2019 Reunion at the Coniston Holiday Inn Hotel at Sittingbourne, Kent over the weekend of 4th, 5th, 6th October organised once again by the Isle of Wight Tours. The Committee met on Friday afternoon prior to an informal gathering for dinner in the evening.
Saturday morning saw us take a coach trip to St George’s Centre in Chatham for our Church Service. It was very nice to meet up again with Canon Paul Kerr and Doug Moutrie the organist. Doug, now aged 99, had received the MBE, for which he was warmly congratulated.
Paul had taken our memorial dedication at the NMA 5 years ago and since our last visit had retired. In addition to our Association Standard carried by Alf Larkin, member Terry Herbert had also brought along the HMS Dainty Standard. Chairman Nigel Masters read out the names of those who had "Crossed the Bar" since our last reunion and Dennis Talbot delivered the Exhortation and after Last Post, Silence and Reveille Mike Fox laid the Association wreath at the Memorial Board, a replica of the one in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Montevideo and where we shall be holding our service on the very day of the River Plate anniversary, the 13th December 2019.
For members visiting for the first time it was an opportunity to see the HMS AJAX memorial and many other Royal Navy memorials within the centre. One lesson for all future services – we need to learn verse 2 of The National Anthem - we were caught napping when Doug played it!
A very full AGM was held in the afternoon. After the traditional Up Spirits, well managed as always by Alf Larkin and Doug Harris, and wine reception, we sat down to the Gala meal which unfortunately was below the standard we had been used to. Yorkshire puddings, looking very much like Aunt Bessies, eventually arrived for those eating beef and when asked if there was chance of another one, was told it would be 99p!
Alan and Malcolm ran a very successful raffle and Dennis Talbot certainly enjoyed the luck of the draw, although in all fairness to him, he did generously buy rather a lot of tickets. It isn’t known if he did the lottery on the Saturday night!
Sunday morning breakfast was a contest competing with the wedding guests also there. We then took the coach to the Chatham Dockyard and it was great to see that Ken Jones’ models of the ships involved in the Battle of the River Plate remained in a prime place for visitors to see. I personally did not stop for Sunday night dinner but I am advised that it was certainly of a particularly good standard.
In summary, it was wonderful meeting new members and enjoying their company, but overall a slight disappointment in the catering at the hotel due mainly to staffing issues. We shall be investigating holding the 2020 reunion in the Portland/Weymouth area.
Peter Danks Association Secretary