This is the transcript of the speech by:
Field Marshal The Lord Brammall of Bushfield;
On Sunday 11th May 2008
The Unveiling and Dedication of The Royal Green Jackets Memorial
at the National Arboretum, Staffordshire
What a beautiful day; even if a bit exacting for those of more advancing years and with weather more like Malaysia, Kenya or Cyprus but well done for turning up in such marvellous numbers and some of you from very long ways away. God knows what time Reveille must have gone for some of you this morning!
As one of the first Commanding Officers of the Royal Green Jackets at its inception – and still I am glad to say around today – after the end of the 41 years of the Regiment’s proud service as an active regiment of the British Army, I am so very delighted, and so I know is Avril my wife, to be here with you today, particularly to remember and to pay tribute to the 133 of our comrades – in – arms who were killed on duty or as a result of terrorist activity since World War II and whose names are inscribed individually on that very impressive Armed Forces Memorial at the foot of which we had that lovely and moving service taken by the Rev. Colin Fox and also of course to unveil a special single regiment granite memorial in proud memory of all Riflemen who served in the Royal Green Jackets between January 1966 to January 2007 – and which I will do right now.
Never can a single Regiment have acquired and sustained such a distinguished reputation in such a short time. It’s true that it started with a very fine pedigree, being itself the union in January 1966 of three very famous Regiments: The Oxfordshire and Buckingham Light Infantry (the 43rd & 52nd), the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (the 60th Rifles) and the Rifle Brigade (the 95th) – perhaps today we might say “Sharps Own” – all of whom had won great renown, in bygone days, as light troops and skirmishers, heroes in the first Battle of Ypres which probably saved the Empire and in more recent times as airborne troops, motorised and mechanised infantry, and as doughty and skilful fighters in both the desert and the jungle. We could not have had a better start.
Since that union, the Regiment has served all over the world, in every continent and theatre of operations. It has won high praise and recognition for its fighting spirit, its initiative, its ability to innovate and improvise, so essential in modern conflict and its propensity for forward thinking, both tactically and in the leadership of men.
Moreover, The Royal Green Jackets, at every level and rank, including very much our Territorial’s, have played a notable, distinctive and highly respected part in all the worldwide activities and operations in which the British Army has been so constantly engaged during the Regiment’s lifespan; and have left their mark on how the British Army has developed and carried out its duty. Throughout, the Regiment itself has been engaged in an immensely varied range of tasks, from fighting in the jungles of Borneo in South-East Asia during Indonesia’s confrontation with Malaysia; – and you will notice that I am carrying a stick called a “Penang Lawyer” – many of you will remember Penang – through West Germany and Berlin at the height of the Cold War, on the streets of Northern Ireland in those lengthy constrained yet sometimes highly dangerous and successful operations, to aid the civil power, to peacekeeping and peace enforcement in Cyprus, the Balkans and Sierra Leone and finally in the on-going hard battling in the Middle East over the last five years; to say nothing of garrison duties in Hong Kong, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. Talk about covering the waterfront!
So our gathering today, brother Riflemen, closes a historic chapter in the history of the British Army, as the proud and highly effective Royal Green Jackets merge still further, in the ever-widening grouping of Infantry to form yet another single, but this time much larger Regiment, with five Regular and two Territorial Battalions and not forgetting our Cadets, thus offering even wider opportunities and experience to all Riflemen, as they face the new challenges of the twenty-first century.
As you all know, the new Regiment, ‘The Rifles’, will, by its uniform and accoutrements, drill and military music and above all, its ethos of ‘Swift and Bold’, with strong self discipline yet a light touch be in every sense a Rifle regiment in which the legacy of the Royal Green Jackets has certainly not been lost. Indeed, at this very moment, in Chepstow, in Ballykinler (Northern Ireland), in Germany, in Bulford, in Edinburgh, Reading, Exeter and in London there is being created a new very modern regiment in which we can all have every confidence and which in future will be fully worthy of both our loyalty and our pride.
But, of course, our own Royal Green Jackets Association and some earlier associations will, most importantly, continue and with the same enthusiasm, giving plenty of opportunity for those of us growing older to keep in touch with their old friends and comrades-in-arms and go on remembering with pride and affection the old Regiments in which we served and in which we had such memorable times and experiences.
So then brother Riflemen as you march past, and I am so proud to be taking the salute. The last time there was a big do like this at Winchester, I was the ‘Right Marker’, but this time I’ve been given a more static role in deference to my age. But as you march past on this very special parade of the Royal Green Jackets Veterans, you can do so with immense pride in the past which can never be extinguished or taken away from you and at the same time with every confidence in the future and in to those to whom you will have now passed on the torch and as you can appreciate from the superb way that the two battalions of The Rifles are taking our legacy forward, when they served recently in Iraq.
So finally before asking Maj Gen Jamie Balfour to read to us those immortal lines from Laurence Binyon’s famous poem to the fallen and then after suitable Bugle Calls and the Anthem and ordering my old comrade – in – arms Maj Roy Stanger to “carry on” may I for old time sake give one final order? – Field Marshals don’t give many orders these days – to you Rifleman – not your wives of course – and say “Look to your Front” – “Royal Green Jackets”.
By Kind Permission of Field Marshal The Lord Bramall of Bushfield
Sourced from Google, Face Book and Other
When the rag was a flag, and the staff was a Pole, As a youth I would think of when they were whole.
But now I’m a man and old I might be. But my BADGE is still here for all to see.
The Stone Mason who built the original Memorial was
West Wiltshire Craft Centre, Storridge Rd, Westbury BA13 4HU
From The RGJRA Journal