HMS Ajax & River Plate Veterans Association

 

NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM

NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM - 2019

Service of Remembrance for 80th Anniversary of Battle of the River Plate and 75th Anniversary Normandy Campaign.

 

On Tuesday 4th June 2019 over 40 members and guests gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum. We were keeping a close eye on the weather that threatened to dampen proceedings as it had in Plymouth last October. Although we had a contingency plan we really wanted to have the services round our Memorial and the Normandy Campaign one.

 

At 10.50 a.m. proceedings started at our very own Battle of the River Plate Memorial with Chairman Nigel Masters welcoming everyone to the NMA. Malcolm Collis gave a brief overview of the Battle 80 years ago. Member Reverend Tim Flowers conducted the service and the Exhortation was delivered by veteran Denis Talbot. Our very smart Bugler Antonio Socci played the Last Post as our Standard was dipped by Alf Larkin for the two minute silence. Reveille marked the laying of the wreath by member Stephen Harwood, son of the River Plate Commodore.

 

At the conclusion of the 80th Anniversary service the congregation made

its way to the Normandy Campaign Memorial some 300 metres away, stopping off at the nearby Land Army Memorial where Membership Secretary Judi Collis laid a wreath in honour of her mother and Malcolm Collis read out a poem by Rose Perritt.

 

At the Normandy Campaign Memorial Malcolm Collis explained the significance of being here for the 75th Anniversary of the start of the D-Day landings that started on 6th June. Ajax had been one of the support vessels and had fired the first salvo of the campaign aimed at a gun emplacement at Longues-sur-Mer, some seven miles away, destroying it within eight minutes.

Also present was an Ajax veteran from D-Day, Jack Richardson and he was welcomed to our gathering.

Secretary Peter Danks read the Exhortation followed by the Bugler’s Last Post. The Standard was dipped until Reveille when the wreath was laid by Dennis Talbot.

The National Anthem, played by the Bugler, was sung.

 

That concluded the first of our three 2019 80th Anniversary events, the next being the Reunion at Chatham in October and our visit to South America in December.

 

Shortly afterwards it started to rain!

Malcolm Collis

 

 

 

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