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Association Newsletters.  2.

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Patron: HRH The Princess Royal
President: Brig P Dennis


 19 February 2021      WFRA NEWSLETTER      Volume 12 Issue 08


As previously notified Captain WJH Swainson of Chagford, Devon died on 10 February 2021 aged 86. Bill was commissioned in The Worcestershire Regiment in 1955 and served in 1 Worc R in Iserlohn, throughout  the WI tour 1957-60 in Jamaica where he served for a time as ADC to the Governor , and in Worcester until posted in 1962 as an instructor to the IJLB at Oswestry. He rejoined 1 Worc R in Minden in1963 and moved with the bn to Lydd in 1964 and was then seconded to The Parachute Regt and served in 2 Para until retiring from the army  in December 1965.  While in 1 Worc R he represented the bn at athletics and rugby and in Jamaica at polo. In 1961, while riding out at Rimell’s stables at Kinnersley he persuaded the officers to back Nicolaus Silver to win the Grand National and when it won there was an impromptu party in the mess. In retirement he took out a horse training license and enjoyed notable success in national hunt and on the flat from stables in the Cotswolds.


We regret to report the death in London of Captain JA Mathias RAMC on 11 January 2021 aged 85. He was a national serviceman who served as RMO 1 Worc R in Worcester 1960-62 including on the emergency deployment to British Honduras for Hurricane Hattie in 1961 where he did valuable work with the local population in Stann Creek (now Dangriga). He attended several regimental events in the 1990s.


It is with sadness that we inform you that 22798229 Pte David Plant of Malvern died aged 87yrs on the 8th February 2021.  Dave enlisted into the Worcestershire Regiment on the 27 March 1952 serving in Section 'A'  RAR 5th Plt in Malaya during the 'Emergency'. Discharging on 26 March 1955. After National Service Dave served as a Pte in the Army Reserve from 1955-59. Dave was awarded the GSM Malaya Medal.

In civilian life Dave worked as a road haulier travelling all over the UK. He also worked as a general builder, Dave was very passionate about working on his allotment, when a lot of other people would have stopped Dave carried on and was working and gardening up until recently.

Dave was a very valued member of Worcester Branch W.F.R.A. Working tirelessly to the benefit of the branch and Association. On 26th August 2015 Dave was awarded the Association Merit Award for Outstanding Service . It reads:-

David Plant joined the Worcestershire Regimental Association in 1952 when he was enlisted for his National Service. He joined whilst stationed at Norton barracks for the sum of one shilling of which he paid to Sgt Bell.  David is a Malaya Veteran and also a member of the Malayan Veterans Association. Through that Association he keeps in touch with other Malaya Veterans.  When David left the Regiment he became a driver in the road haulage trade. After that he progressed into the building trade.  For many years David has carried a standard for the Worcester branch of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regimental Association, carrying the Worcestershire Regiments Standard.  Throughout David`s time in the Association he has always been willing to help in any project whether they be large or small.

In the year 2000, with the help of some Vernon Veterans (1944) David arranged to take a large piece of Malvern Hills granite to the 'Worcesters Layby' on the Tilly road near Vernonet, France. David transported the stone to France at his own expense because he recognised the importance of keeping alive the memory of those men who fought and fell in that battle. The crossing of the River Seine at Vernon is an important part of the Worcestershire Regiment`s glorious history. He also arranged for work to be done on the bronze inscription plaque by a craftsman near his home. At the dedication ceremony David proudly carried a standard.

Last year 2014 David again offered his skills. He has done the groundwork for the new memorial stone in Gheluvelt Park Worcester. It is in memory to 'All Ranks of the Worcestershire Regiment Who Served Their Country at Home and Overseas' He put in the foundation base, laid the blue brick edging, bedded in the stone and erected the surrounding posts and bars. David organised the work along with the park staff and sourced the materials from all the suppliers, all as donations! He himself donated some of the materials and gave his time freely.

Currently David still works full time and also maintains an allotment. He regularly brings a box of fruit and veg for the raffle at the Worcester Branch bi-monthly meetings.

Over the years David has dedicated much of his time to the Regimental Associations, being involved with the erection of two memorial stones to the men of the Worcestershire Regiment and is thoroughly deserving of a merit award from the Association.

In May 2019 Dave travelled to Chandlers Ford in Hampshire to attend the funeral of Bill Edwardes WW2 Veteran of Vernon Europe 1944 who was also involved in the siting of the Worcesters Layby Memorial Stone, proudly carrying the Worcestershire Regiments standard.

Dave`s funeral will be held at 14:30hrs on Monday 22 February 2021 at All Saints Church, Hollybush, Castlemorton, HR8 1EX.

Bugle and Standards only.

Letters of condolence can be sent to;-

Mrs Margaret Plant. 81 Tanhouse Lane, Malvern, WR14 1LQ

The family have requested this does not go on facebook. Thank you.

Founded in 1920 The Officers Association is an independent charity that is committed to ensuring that former officers of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force and there dependants live with dignity and independence.  

The Officers Association can offer advice on:

Statutory benefits and adult social care.

Debt management information.

Annual Allowance.

One off payments for specific household or disability items.

Grants towards domiciliary care.

Care home top up fees.

There may be times when it is necessary to direct you to an organisation that can offer more specific advice that is based on your circumstances.

Money matters including pensions.

Health and wellbeing.

Housing advice including care homes and support in your own home.

Social life and staying active.

Employment services.    

For further information 



The Officers Association
Third Floor
40 Caversham Road

Tel: 02078 084 175 between 9am & 5pm Monday to Friday.


More words from the trenches of WW1. 

The word buckshee is Arabic in origin and means a small gratuity or free, It came into use with the British soldier as early as 1915 to describe anything that was gained for nothing such as extra kit or rations.

Copping a packet
The horrendous nature of death in industrialised conflict was reflected, possibly in an attempt to cope with it, by numerous creative ways of avoiding saying "killed": for example, becoming a landowner, going home, being buzzed or huffed, drawing your full issue, being topped off, or clicking it.

Camouflage has two possible origins from the French word camoufler meaning to disguise or the more likely camouflet which means a bomb in a hidden space.  Bombs of this type were often used in mine warfare.

The term birdcage was used to describe an area of a trench network that was surrounded by barbed wire, particularly in areas where there was a strongpoint or a defensive structure.

Fanny Durack
Sarah Frances "Fanny" Durack (27 October 1889 – 20 March 1956), also known by her married name Fanny Gately, was an Australian competition swimmer and diver. From 1910 until 1918 she was the world's greatest female swimmer across all distances from freestyle sprints to the mile marathon.  However her name was used as a nick name for a local landmark, when shelling caused the statue of the Virgin on top of the church at Albert to lean below the horizontal it was renamed after the Australian champion diver by the Australian soldiers that were fighting in the area.


12 February 2021         WFRA NEWSLETTER   Volume 12 Issue 07


We regret to report the death of Captain WJH Swainson of the Worcestershire Regiment who passed away on 10 February 2021.  Further details will be published when they are available.


Further to last weeks obituary for Michael Graham, letters of condolence can be sent to
Sarah Graham, 18 Merrymans Hill Road, Worcester. WR3 8LW


The year of 2020 has been one the most challenging year we can remember due to pandemic, we have all seen or know family members, veterans and friends who have fallen ill and in some tragic cases die of COVID. We have also been affected at RHQ Mercian with two members of Staff catching the virus. This is also having effects on the long-term treatment of personnel who have other illnesses who have found it difficult to get the medical treatments they would expected only a year ago.

The Charity Sector
The outbreak of the Corona Virus in early 2020 has had a massive impact on how the charity sector could support our veterans throughout this year. In an effort to minimise running costs most military charities had centralised their help offices and case workers into central hubs. With the first lockdown coming into force most charities were then playing catch up due to the new social distancing regulations and the lack of computer and IT equipment for staff to work from home. Regimental Headquarters Mercian was well prepared and to continue to work normally providing much needed welfare support throughout all the national lockdowns. We will continue to try and provide support as quickly as possible to our veterans, soldiers, and regimental family.

Five Year Review
We have completed a quick review of cases actioned over the last five years to give an overview of the benevolence charity activity. The benevolence team have actioned at total 1194 cases received, with 827 coming from veterans of our Antecedent Regiments and a further 367 from Mercian soldiers/veterans. The oldest veteran we have helped is 91 years old with mobility issues, to the youngest serving soldier of 20 whose daughter was seriously ill. The fund paid out £337,105 in grants and applied to other service charities for a further £212,701 extra funding. This overall distributed £549,806 in assistance to our Regimental family who found themselves in need, hardship, or distress. We continue to promote the signposting of veterans who need help to specialist organisations (mental health, loss of limbs, pension/medal queries).

Cases so far, this financial year have been slow due to the lockdown and the problems case workers have had in maintaining contact with clients. New working practices have been introduced with an increase in requests is now started coming through, especially in the last few months. We have actioned so far 101 cases for our antecedent Regiments giving over £28,000 in financial support. We have also applied for a further £24,000 of support from other charities giving a total of £54,000 distributed to help our antecedent veterans.

Royal Hospital Chelsea
We have remained in regular contact with both of our Chelsea Pensioners who have been in lockdown for most of 2020 and this year. Sgt James Fellows (ex STAFFORDS) requested help in the purchase of an Electric Powered Scooter to get around the hospital grounds, as he is having difficulty walking distances. WO2 John Byrne (ex WFR) has been busy helping to raise the profile of the Hospital by supporting the Royal British Legion Poppy Day appeal (this made it into the Sun Newspaper). He also took part with five other Pensioners at the very reduced Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph on Sunday 8th November 2020 and laid a wreath on behalf of the Royal Hospital.

Charity Fund Raising
Support from all three of the Mercian Battalions has been exceptional in helping to raise funds. The Worshipful Company of Bowyers continued their generosity in donating £6,000 to the fund, this was topped up with a further £1,300 donated from a talk given by RHQ Mercian in London in Jun 20. Lt Col (Retd) Seddon went ahead with the Mercian (socially distanced) golf event in Jul with over 125 players taking part, which raised over £2,000 for the fund. We thank all those veterans and friends of the Regiment that help fund raise to support our Benevolence Charity.

The true effects of the pandemic we believe have not been truly seen yet, with furlough, redundancies and increase in debt. We remain vigilant and are expecting a surge of cases later this year and will continue to provide help where possible. The entire military charity sector is switching over to a new web-based (security secure) Case Management IT system on 02 March 2021, training has been on going for all case workers and staff who action and support the cases, and we are hopeful of a smooth changeover (fingers crossed). Note that the Government are also conducting an integrated Defence review that is due to report in Mar 21, and it is a possibility the Army could have a reduction in manpower again.

P A Temminck

Grants Secretary
Mercian Benevolent Fund

As the Pandemic continues to impact tremendously on all our lives it is more important that our veterans know how to get help if they find themselves struggling. If you know one of your veteran friends struggling please encourage them to get help from one of the sites below.    

The Veterans Gateway is still operating as normal, you can download their App at Google Play or the Apple App store. Also you can call them direct on 0808 802 1212 or visit them on line at www.veteransgateway.org.uk  

SSAFA are still providing a service to support our veterans, you can call the on 0800 731 4880 or visit them on line at www.ssafa.org.uk/about-us/contact-us You can live web chat with them on line via the link on this page.  
The Royal British Legion continue to provide support, you can call 0808 802 8080 from 8am to 8pm seven days a week. Also visit their web site at www.britishlegion.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are/get-in-touch which also provides a chat online link.    

Combat Stress have a 24hr help line on 0800 138 1619 and at their web site www.combatstress.org.uk/gethelp    

Should you wish to discuss mental health issues anonymously then The Big White Wall has changed its name to Togetherall. The web site could provide you support (note you might need to register) at https://togetherall.com/en-gb/big-white-wall/    

Help for Heroes are also providing support for a number of issues at their web site at https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support/    

If you have lost a limb in service or have lost the use of limbs, suffered permanent loss of speech, hearing, or sight whilst serving or as a result of service in any branch of Her Majesty’s Forces or Auxiliary Forces you may be eligible for Membership to BLESMA. If you have lost a limb, or use of a limb through traumatic incident or sight of an eye other than through service-related causes or if you are of civilian status and have lost a limb or sight of an eye as a result of War Service or enemy action you may be eligible for Membership. If you want more information please call 020 8590 1124 Mon to Fri 9am to 5pm, or visit their web site at https://blesma.org/    

If you require information on Pensions, Medals or the new veterans Rail Card then please visit the Veterans UK web site at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/veterans-uk   



More from the trenches of WW1. 

Parapet & Parados
The earth that was removed from a trench during its construction was built up on the enemy side to form a parapet and on the rear trench a slightly higher mound known as a parados.  The word parapet dates back to the sixteenth century and is derived from the Italian parapetto meaning defend the breast whilst parados dates to the nineteenth century and is French in origin meaning defend the back.

Tank Bank 
During 1917 an 1918 tanks toured Britain with the aim of promoting War Savings Certificates and to raise money and support from the sale of War Bonds.  At the end of the war the towns that had raised the most money were awarded a full size tank in gratitude from the War Savings Committee.
Out of the 264 that were presented the last one stands in Ashford, Kent.

A duckboard was a narrow slatted wooden platform used to line the bottom of a trench. They were built in short sections and were designed to fit together end to end.  They were also used to cross damp boggy or shell holed ground.  Due to the nature of the terrain they were very slippery and difficult to walk on if you had to travel any distance. 

Derived from the Persian Urdu word khak meaning dust.  The impracticality of traditional bright colors such as the red coat, especially for skirmishing, was recognised early in the 19th century.  A response to improved technologies such as aerial surveillance and smokeless powder, khaki could camouflage soldiers in the field of battle.  Khaki-colored uniforms were used officially by British troops for the first time during the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia, when Indian troops traveled to Ethiopia.  Subsequently, the British Army adopted khaki for colonial campaign dress and it was used in the Mahdist War (1884–89) and Second Boer War (1899–1902). These uniforms became known as khaki drill, versions of which are still part of the uniforms of the British Army.  During the Second Boer War, the British forces became known as Khakis because of the colour of their uniforms.
When khaki was adopted for the continental British Service Dress in 1902, the shade chosen had a clearly darker and more green hue. 

Tommy Cooker
A Tommy cooker was a compact, portable stove, fuelled by solid fuel which was issued to British troops (Tommies) in World War I.  It was notoriously ineffective, with one soldier complaining that it took an hour to boil half a pint of water. A variety of commercial or improvised alternatives were also in use by the men in the trenches.  A refined version remained in use during World War II, using gelled fuel in a tin can; a steel ring fitted to the can supported a mess tin.  Until recently the British Army still used compact portable solid fuel (hexamine) stoves, until replaced by the BCB Fire Dragon alcohol gel fuel stove.

During WW2 the term also came to be applied by the German tank crews as a derogatory nickname for the Sherman tank whose earlier models acquired a reputation for bursting into flames when hit, due to improper ammunition storage.


 05 February 2021      WFRA NEWSLETTER      Volume 12 Issue 06


It is with sadness that we inform you that 24068896 Pte Michael (Mick) Stanley Graham aged 73 years of Worcester died on Monday 1 February 2021 after a short illness.

Mick was born in Bromsgrove on the 26 June 1947. He enlisted into the Worcestershire Regiment in October 1965. In A Coy Mick saw service in Gibraltar, Libya, Iran and Bulford, UK. During Mick`s service he was in the Regimental shooting team which saw success at Bisley. Mick was discharged from the Worcestershire Regiment in March 1969.

In civilian life Mick was director of his own business which was an automotive components company.  Mick was a dedicated member of Worcester branch and was very proud to represent the branch as bugler.  He made frequent visits to Gibraltar where he met up with old comrades who reside there.  Mick with his easy going and pleasant personality will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Mick`s funeral will be on Wednesday 24 February 13:00hrs at Worcester City Crematorium, Tintern Ave, Astwood Road Worcester WR3 8HA.

Standards and members welcome to line route into Crematorium being socially distanced. Bugle at Officiants discretion.

Letters of condolence can be sent to Micks daughter:-

Sarah Graham
18 Merrymans Hill Road,


This year’s nominations process for the Soldiering On Awards (SOA) has now begun. The Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of those who have served their country, and the diverse people and groups who work together in support of the Armed Forces Community.

Last year we saw Leona Barr-Jones receive the Defence Inclusivity Award, Chris Lewis and Jet took home the Animal Partnership Award and The Not Forgotten Association were our 2020 Lifetime Achievement winners – just to name a few. Who do you know that deserves recognition?

Lt. General Richard Nugee said,  ''If you do extraordinary things for others often enough, you yourself become extraordinary.''

Nominations close on 19 March. To find out more and nominate someone visit the Soldiering On website.  https://www.soldieringon.org/2021-nominations


Former Royal Fusilier Tommy Trotter has been in isolation since March and now he has to celebrate his birthday alone. But you can help to make his day special. 

Tommy lives in Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham. He served in the Second World War, landing on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944 as part of the allied invasion of occupied France. Tommy went on to receive the Legion D'Honour, France's highest military honour.

On February 10, Tommy, who now has dementia, is going to celebrate his 100th birthday. Tommy also enjoys telling others of his stories of times gone by as a regular of his local bar, the Don War Memorial Bar in Stockton. He loves nothing more than settling down with a pint of John Smith's and a Sunday Roast. Bar owner Julia Cooper had organised a fitting occasion for him, including a Regimental guard of honour!

Unfortunately, these plans have been cancelled due to the pandemic Tommy faces spending his big day in total isolation. Julia has been forced to take to social media, asking the public to send Tommy a birthday card, to ensure his momentous occasion wouldn't go uncelebrated.

If you would like to send Tommy a Birthday Card please send it to the address below.
Tommy Trotter
The Last Post
Cranworth Street
TS17 7DR


More words from the trenches of WW1.

Strafe comes from the German word 'to punish' it was derived from a German slogan 'Gott strafe England' (May God punish England).  However it was adapted in the trenches to mean an attack or bombardment.

Fred Karno's Army
Frederick John Westcott (26 March 1866 – 18 September 1941), best known by his stage name Fred Karno, was an English theatre impresario of the British music hall.  As a comedian of slapstick he is credited with popularizing the custard pie in the face gag.  Among the music hall comedians who worked for him were Charlie Chaplin and his understudy, Arthur Jefferson, who later adopted the name of Stan Laurel. These were part of what was known as "Fred Karno's Army", a phrase still occasionally used in the UK to refer to a chaotic group or organisation. The phrase was also adapted by British soldiers into a trench song in the First World War, as a parody of,or rather to the tune of, the hymn "The Church's One Foundation".  In the Second World War it was adapted as the Anthem of the Guinea Pig Club, the first line becoming "We are McIndoe's Army ...".

The name is associated with military engineers.  A Sapper was someone who digs or saps trenches and tunnels.  The term is derived from the Italian word for spade, zappa and was first used in the sixteenth century to describe those who carry out military engineering tasks. 

Loop hole
Dating back to the medieval development of siege warfare the term loop is derived from the Dutch word luipen, meaning 'to watch'.  Loop holing has always been a military necessity in order to watch for an approaching enemy.  Steel loop hole plates were built into the parapets of trenches with the hole covered by a rotating disc which opened to allow observation of the enemy.

The Word puttee is derived from the Hindi word patti meaning 'bandage'. Puttee's were part of the British Army Service Dress and were intended to provide a covering for the lower leg that would give greater support and protection. However if they were tied to tightly they exacerbated the problem of 'trench foot' which was caused by poor circulation and prolonged immersion in muddy water.


The following are available to support veterans and their families who may be experiencing mental health difficulties;

Forcesline Tel: 0800 731 4880 (between 9am and 5pm Monday-Friday)
Combat Stress (24 hours)
Veterans and their families; Tel: 0800 138 1619
Serving personnel and their families; Tel: 0800 323 4444
Samaritans (24 hours); Tel: 116 123

for Executive Committee



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