MINUTES OF THE AGM OF THE OXFORD BRANCH OF THE ROYAL GREEN JACKETS ASSOCIATION HELD AT 20.00HRS ON THURSDAY 28 NOVEMBER 2013 IN THE VOLUNTEERS BAR, EDWARD BROOKS BARRACKS, CHOLSWELL RD, SHIPPON, ABINGDON, OX13 6HW.





Present

Mr Phil Evans – Secretary;
Mr Mike Marr – Treasurer;
Mr Roy Bailey – Editor;
Members – 16

Apologies

Apologies had been received from Neil Bartlett, Robin Draper, Charlie Helmn, Dennis Offord, David Parker, Terry Roper, Mick Salter, John Stanton & George Whitby.

Opening remarks

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for making the effort to attend. He asked them all to invite others as support for events was vitally important.

Minutes of previous AGM

It was proposed by Ivan March and seconded by Phil Spinner that the minutes of the 2012 AGM be agreed without amendment. Carried by majority vote.

Matters arising

There were no matters arising.

Chairman’s report

The Treasurer explained that the Chairman was absent due to a training course commitment but had said that he would not be standing for re-election. During the year members had enjoyed two excellent lunches, the June band concert and a recent trip to the Assault Glider Trust at RAF Shawbury where we were met by several local Ox & Bucks veterans including Godfrey Yardley who had been in the 52nd Airborne in WW2.

He added that members had commented on the excellence of the Waterloo Band & Bugles at the reunion in November but pointed out to them that as the band now reported to the Corps of Army Music at Kneller Hall he could not guarantee their attendance at future events. It had been a close run thing this year and the branch was lucky not to have been asked to pay for the band transport as they were based near Winchester at the time of the reunion.

Attendance at the reunion was down with only 43 old comrades plus soldiers from A Coy 7 Rifles. He thanked members for their support and also for their attendance at the repatriations which thankfully had been few in number this year

Membership Secretary’s report

The Treasurer reported that there were currently 119 members. The losses included the death of John Beerman, Jimmy McCord, David Taylor & John Willoughby and 8 losses through non payment despite follow up letters. On the plus side there were 5 new members. He impressed on them the need for recruitment as there were now only 14 members under 65 although their overall numbers compared well with most other branches.

Once again on Remembrance Day Oxfordshire (The Rifles Battalion) ACF laid an Oxf & Bucks Lt Infantry wreath at the Rose Hill memorial on behalf of the Old Comrades.

Treasurer’s report

The Treasurer explained that his report was in two parts. Firstly he asked them to look at the audited accounts for 2012/13, the year end being 31st March 2013.

Specific points to note were:
• Income for the April 2012 lunch mainly appeared in the previous years account so did not link to the expenditure for that lunch. In similar vein advance payment for the April 2013 lunch appeared with no matching expenditure;
• Most of the revenue for the Royal Albert Hall and Royal Chelsea Hospital trips had been accrued in the previous financial year although the bills were paid early in the 2012/13 year;
• We raised £272.11 for the Rifles C4C appeal.

It was proposed by John Hudson and seconded by Ian Anderson that the audited accounts be accepted as presented, a majority of the members voted in favour.

Secondly he asked them to look at the current position compared with the same period last year. He explained that the branch was still in a fairly secure position in terms of funds (approx £3.9k) currently but was showing a book loss on trading for the year (approx £2.9k) because most of the money for the first lunch had been received in the first quarter of 2013 i.e. the last quarter of the last financial year but the related expenses were actually incurred in the current financial year. Also the subscriptions (approx £0.75k) due at the start of 2014 were not included at this stage.

He explained that if one looked at 2013 as a calendar year, which took into account subscriptions and most of the lunch revenue, this gave a loss of about £1.3k. The major factor in this was the decision to spend up to £1k of branch funds as part of the £3k required for an Ox & Bucks commemorative stone as part of the new NMA Heroes Square. He reported that the appeal to members had been very successful so the actual cost to the branch had only been £845.

He added that the limited take up of seats on the coach to the Assault Glider Trust at RAF Shawbury also required a subsidy of £180 despite the fact that it was advertised to the wider regimental family at a non-members rate as discussed at the previous AGM. Lunches too were modestly subsidised.

Election of Officers

The Treasurer asked if there were any nominations for the officer posts from the floor. In the absence of any he said that he had received one nomination for the post of Chairman Maj (Retd) Terry Roper (ex 5RGJ & 7 Rifles). He added that the Secretary and Mr Offord (representing the Oxf & Bucks Old Comrades) and Roy Bailey as Editor had all stated their willingness to be re-appointed as was he. It was proposed by John Hudson and seconded by Dennis Vokins that the office holders be re-elected en-bloc. The meeting voted them in for a further term.

Newsletter

Roy Bailey told them that three editions of the “Lightbob” newsletter had now been produced, the latest using a printer at Winchester for £110 for 150 copies. To keep costs at a reasonable level he was using a mix of colour and black & white pages although this was not his preference. The next edition would be produced in January and he appealed to members to send items in even if they needed further work before publication.

The Treasurer added that the newsletter was now a useful recruiting tool as it was so visually appealing and copies had been left out in the Volunteers bar.

Programme of events

The Treasurer reported on the 2013 programme:

44 members and their partners enjoyed the first of our lunches at EBB on April 11th with a talk by Brig Robin Draper entitled “We were young once and …” He traced the history of the 43rd & 52nd from their earliest days both their triumphs and disasters and concluded with a brief look at The Rifles, expressing his surprise at how few people seemed to be aware that they were the county regiment, as well as paying tribute to their fallen.

The Band Concert was held on Sunday June 16th at Edward Brooks Barracks, Abingdon courtesy of the Waterloo Band who played outdoors on this occasion as the weather was kinder than usual.

A second branch lunch at EBB on September 12th attended by 39 members and their wives/partners. Lt Col Ian Williamson kept us amused with a wide range of anecdotes from his colourful life with the TA and in the oil industry.

There was a coach trip to the Assault Glider Trust at RAF Shawbury on 24th October to see their aeroplanes including the almost complete replica Horsa glider. Some 20 members and their wives/partners/friends travelled on the coach from Abingdon. A further 4 ex Ox & Bucks men met us there and we were guided round by Cpl Godfrey Yardley ex WW2 52nd Airborne who was one of the AGT volunteers.

A very sociable reunion had taken place on the evening of November 9th when some 43 Oxf & Bucks and RGJ old comrades came together some bringing photographs from the 1950’s, which prompted much discussion amongst their peers. It was nice to see Brig Robin Draper, Brig David Innes and Maj Brian Hill attending for the retired officers plus a number of soldiers from A Coy 7 Rifles who adopted WW2 veteran Sam Langford for the evening.

Turning to 2014 he proposed that 2 lunches be held again, potential dates being Thursday 8 May and Thursday 11 September. In view of his comments on the spend during 2013 he proposed to increase the price of the lunches to £25 per person. Members were unhappy about this and favoured a proposal by the Secretary that as an alternative a raffle be run on the date of the lunch with members being invited to bring the prizes. The Secretary was happy to administer this.

He added that in addition to the above events the Rifles Officers Oxford Club had provisionally invited them as paying guests to their first lunch of 2014 which would be held at EBB on 16 January. This was subject to final ratification at the Oxford Club AGM next week.

He explained that he was a bit wary of running a day trip in 2014 due to the cost implications. Despite the low numbers he felt it was important to have a comfortable vehicle with an on-board toilet. One suggestion he had discussed with Brian Fletcher was a visit to the Tank Museum at Bovingdon, Del Milam who was a member of the Winchester Branch was a volunteer there. He suggested 26 June as a potential date. Another suggestion from the floor was a visit to the D Day Museum at Portsmouth in view of the 70th anniversary next year.

John Hudson said that he had enjoyed battlefield tours with a company called Leger and felt that they should do something during the WW1 centenary. The Treasurer agreed to investigate.

Member John Stanton from Kent had unfortunately had to pull out at the last minute from being their representative at the Oxf & Bucks plot during the Westminster Garden of Remembrance opening ceremony. His place was ably taken by Colin Simpson, a retired Ox & Bucks officer who also lived in Kent.

News from the Rifles

Charlie Helmn as PSAO A Coy provided the following report.

4 Rifleman had now returned from Op Herrick 18 with 4 Rifles, 1 remained on Med Hold due to a back injury. They were due to attend the 4 Rifles Medal Parade.

The numbers required to deploy on Op Herrick 20 were falling with 7 Rifles down to about 12 mobilising.

Recruiting was a high priority for 7 Rifles, and A Coy in particular. They had attested 3 in Nov which is a major improvement on the previous months since the new systems started. There are currently 80 active potential recruits in the Capita system, hopefully they would start to appear in the New Year. The new A Coy Comd, Maj Alexander Roberts was due to start with A Coy in the New Year. Lt Paul Franklin had taken over at High Wycombe/Aylesbury. Lt Alex Keeso (Canadian Forces) was the Pl Comd in EBB whilst attending Oxford University.

From 01 Jan 14 A Coy would take on responsibility for Aylesbury and High Wycombe until at least the end of 2015 under a 3 Platoon Orbat, with 2 Rifle Platoons and a Sharp Shooter/ Anti Tank Platoon. 7 Rifles was paired with 2 Rifles for training and development purposes.

His CVO duties for Lt Chesterman were now completed after he attended the CVO debrief course in York. 3 Rifles came out as one of the best units, as well as the Rifles Regimental Family, in dealing with casualties from all the other CVO’s attending.

The Lightbobs Googlegroup

Roy Bailey reported that the group continued to act as a forum for Ox & Bucks matters with a sizeable membership.

He went on to explain that building on an article in the last branch newsletter there was a proposal that a wreath be laid at Major John Howard’s grave at Clifton Hampden at 12.16pm on Friday 6 June. This being exactly 70 years and 12 hours after the 52nd Airborne “Coup de Main” group landed at Pegasus Bridge in Normandy. Members noted and were in favour of this.

Any other business

National Arboretum Square of Remembrance

The Treasurer recapped that at the 2012 AGM he had told members that as part of their £8m appeal to fund improvements the NMA were asking groups to sponsor paviours for Heroes Square at the heart of the Arboretum at a cost of £3,000 each. So as not to compromise the financial position of the branch too seriously he had launched an appeal to raise the remaining 50% of the total that was not covered by branch or 43rd & 52nd OCA funds. He was pleased to announce that this had been successful and a stone which would bear the Ox & Bucks bugle horn and crown had been ordered. He had confirmed with the Ox & Bucks Residual Affairs Committee that this was the appropriate design. It was noted that if practicable the members would like the opportunity to attend the unveiling ceremony.

Oxford Branch website hosted by RGJRA site

Roy Bailey said that Seamus Lyons had re-activated the Oxford Branch website and he was feeding him with updates, for example the latest branch newsletter had just been added. He had also been working on the addition of Ox & Bucks photographs and had put out an appeal for more.

Winchester Reunion

The Treasurer explained that as part of the effort to beef up the 2014 reunion the Oxford Branch had been asked to provide a display on the history of the Ox & Bucks with particular emphasis on WW1. He had made a provisional approach to SoFO and started gathering some provisional information. Member Colin Blackburn had some appropriate decommissioned weaponry. As he would be manning the main gate all afternoon he needed volunteers to man the display and to assist with putting the display up and in packing it up just before 6pm when the main service/parade took place.

Edward Brooks VC's Grave

The CSM of A Coy 7 Rifles had suggested adding a VC badge to the grave of Edward Brooks VC as the only reference to the award was in the text on the headstone. The Treasurer as Rifles County Secretary had raised it with the Brooks family who were in favour. He would keep them updated as the project progressed.

Date of next meeting

It was agreed that the next AGM would be held at 20.00hrs on one of the last Thursdays in November 2014 in the Volunteers Bar at Edward Brooks Barracks. The exact date would be fixed once the new Chairman’s forward commitments were known.

Copies of the branch accounts for 2013 can be obtained by applying to The Rifles Oxford Office, Edward Brooks Barracks, Cholswell Rd, Shippon, Abingdon OX13 6HW. Tel: 01235 548018. E-mail: oxford@the-rifles.co.uk