poppy field


May Newsletter 2019

Dear Member,

 Welcome, to this the first of our new look County newsletters, the aim is to keep you informed and up to date with what is happening in the Legion whether it be National, County or Branch, or just for fun; whilst we will endeavour to provide the legion news, it is hoped that you will want to contribute items that may be of interest to other RBL members throughout the county and we will be pleased to receive any potential contributions at the address at the end of this newsletter.

 In your newsletter this month we feature:

  1. GDPR - Our Privacy Policy and Promise
  2. How much do you know about our Armed Services?
  3. Membership renewal
  4. Training for Members
  5. Operation Banner
  6. D-Day 75
  7. County Event Calendar
  8. Poppy Appeal Calendar and Totals
  9. Para’s 10 - Colchester
  10. Monte Carlo – Everything became unreal


GDPR - Our Privacy Policy and Promise

At the Royal British Legion Group, we believe in being open and up front with people about how we use their personal data.

 The Royal British Legion Group includes:

  • The Royal British Legion, the main charity
  • Royal British Legion Trading Limited, running our Poppy Shop (retail outlets and website)
  • Royal British Legion Poppy Lottery Limited, running our Poppy Lotteries.

 We have developed our privacy promise: a quick and simple summary explaining how we use and look after your information.

Our Promise

The Royal British Legion Group takes your privacy very seriously, and we want to assure you that your personal information is safe with us and we will never sell your details. Our privacy policy covers how we treat your data and put you in control of what happens to it.


Who is The Royal British Legion?

We provide lifelong support for members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, veterans and their families all year round. We also campaign to improve their lives, organise the Poppy Appeal and remember the fallen.


We will protect your data

We will never sell your data to third party organisations.

We will collect and use your personal information only if we have your permission, or we have justified business reasons for doing so, such as collecting enough information to manage memberships.

We will be clear at the point when we collect your information about how we will use it, and who we might share it with.

We will use your personal information within the appropriate lawful basis for which it was collected, and we will make sure we delete it securely once we no longer need it.

You are in charge

We will contact you with your permission via methods of communication you have consented to, or where we have a legitimate interest to do so.

As a supporter, member or volunteer of The Royal British Legion Group, you can contact our Supporter Services, any time you wish, to change the way we contact you, including opting in to, or out of, future communications.


We are respectful

We will not put undue pressure on you to make a gift, and if you do not wish to donate, we will respect your decision.


We are accountable

We do all we can to make sure fundraisers, volunteers and third-party agencies working with us comply with this privacy policy.


We keep in touch

We will always provide easy ways for you to contact us, and our Supporter Services are on hand to help answer any queries you may have about your data.

If you are unhappy with anything we’ve done in relation to your data, please contact Supporter Services and we will look into what’s happened straight away.

We have protocols in place to ensure your data protection, but in the event of a mistake, we will follow strict procedures to keep you informed and put things right.

If you have any questions please contact our Support Services via email at supportercare@britishlegion.org.uk or call 0345 845 1945 and they will be happy to help.


More information on this item is available at the RBL Website






How much do you know about our Armed Services?

A YouGov survey carried out on behalf of The Legion found 69% of people in the UK have little idea what the military actually do.


The finding comes despite 80% agreeing that serving personnel make a valuable contribution to society.


"Whilst it’s fantastic that people think our Armed Forces make a valuable contribution to society, the lack of understanding of what they actually do is concerning," Alexander Owen, Head of Armed Forces Engagement at The Legion said.


"If this figure continues to decline, I worry that support for those who serve will diminish too."


The study carried out by YouGov found that:

  • 69% of people say they know little or very little about what the Armed Forces do on a day-to-day basis.
  • 44% thought serving members of the Armed Forces are involved in military style fitness boot camps for the public in the last 10 years (these are run by private companies)
  • 16% believed they spent time working as film extras in the last 10 years (which they do not)
  • Only one third (33%) know about the support of the British Armed Forces to the NHS in the last 10 years
  • Only one quarter (25%) knew that the military have provided support in wildlife protection in the last 10 years
  • Awareness of what the British armed forces does on a day-to-day basis is lowest among the under 35s (76% know little or very little)
  • 80% of people agreed that serving members of the British Armed Forces make a valuable contribution to society in the UK


A similar poll carried out by Lord Ashcroft in 2012 found that 62% of UK adults had little or very little understanding of what the Armed Forces do on a day-to-day basis, a figure which has increased to 69% of UK adults in the YouGov research today.

In response to these findings we are raising awareness of the contribution that the Armed Forces make to everyday life; Serving personnel are mobilised during natural disasters, terrorist attacks, humanitarian and environmental crises and as a peacekeeping force around the world.

  • More than 2,700 serving regular and reserve medical personnel are currently working in the NHS.
  • 236 civilians have been rescued by the RAF Mountain Rescue Service in the UK in the last three years.
  • A new counter-poaching task force has trained more than 120 rangers to protect endangered wildlife in Malawi.
  • 4,100 defence personnel were deployed to tackle flooding across Southern England in 2014.


"Not only do they protect our values, freedoms and way of life but they work tirelessly supporting the NHS, respond to natural disasters and civilian emergencies at home and abroad, and are currently helping protect endangered species for future generations," Alexander Owen added.

"They support us every day. The least we can do is support them in turn."

This item can be found on the RBL Website at:




Membership Renewal


Membership Renewal now takes place throughout the year with most of our members renewing on 1st October each year, however members who have joined since 2015 may have a renewal date dictated by the date that they physically joined the Legion.

The renewal process is no longer controlled by Branches, but centrally.

Renewal instructions will be sent to you a month or so before your membership is due, this gives you plenty of time to renew before your membership expires;

any communications, information, updates etc. that you receive after your expiry date is totally goodwill and may be stopped at any time and after a period, if your membership is not renewed, it will be lapsed (this may be controlled centrally or by the Branch).

 Please do not destroy any paperwork that you receive regarding your renewal as you may need it to effect this.

If you are unsure of how you can renew, or you have lost your paperwork, please contact the Legion Contact Centre on 0808 802 8080, They will be able to give you all the information you may need and, if required, will renew your membership there and then (by debit or credit card).




Training for Members


Our Branch and County roles help to ensure that our membership network can continue to support the Armed Forces community and their families.  

 If you’re taking your membership to the next level, we’re here to help. Training is available for:

  • Officers and Committee members at every level in preparation for their appointment
  • Officers and Committee Members at every level in sound financial and management procedures
  • Selected members for specific advisory, supervisory and instructor appointments at National and County/District level

For more information please contact:

 Sharon Turton - Membership Support Officer, or email:




 Did you know that you can order Membership Forms for your Branches?

 If you send an email requesting some are sent to you to poppymembership@britishlegion.org.uk

 You must include your Name, Branch name, BR Code, your address, your email address and telephone number in the email.


 Operation Banner


As you will be aware it is the 50th anniversary this year of the deployment of British troops onto the streets of Northern Ireland in 1969.

 Over 300,000 service personnel were deployed to Northern Ireland over the subsequent 38 years.  In total 1441 UK Armed Forces personnel died as a result of operations in Northern Ireland or paramilitary actions in other countries.

 To mark this significant anniversary, we will be hosting a commemorative event at the National Memorial Arboretum on the 14th August 2019.

 The event will be open to recipients of the General Service Medal (Northern Ireland). Representatives from families of British Armed Forces personnel killed as a result of operations in Northern Ireland are also invited to register their interest.  Registration for the event will be open in Spring 2019 however people are being encouraged to register their interest for this event now.

Please see the link below to the page on the website which provides more information as well as the link to register.  The event is also being promoted via the Regimental Associations.


 This is a very significant event for us this year and will be of profound importance for many veterans and their families.  Please can you do all you can to promote this event.




D-Day 75


On 6th June 1944, the Allied invasion of Normandy commenced. Known as D-Day, the Allied landings marked the first stage in the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation, which ultimately led to victory for Allied Forces in 1945.

This June, the Royal British Legion is taking 300 veterans to Normandy from the UK by specially chartered ship, marking the 75th anniversary of that day.

 Departing on 2nd June, they will journey to a series of commemorative events on both sides of the English Channel.

 Embarking at Dover, those aboard the MV Boudicca will visit Portsmouth, from where much of the landing force sailed in 1944, and Poole, before crossing the Channel.

 In Portsmouth, the programme of events will include a military parade along the seafront and a flypast featuring military aircraft.

 In Normandy, Remembrance services will be held Bayeux Cathedral and the CWGC Bayeux Cemetery.

 All the veterans, as well as a relative or carer, will travel with full funding from The Royal British Legion’s LIBOR grant in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence and Remembrance Travel.




County Event Calendar






Whipsnade Tree Cathedral Service


15/06/2019 To 16/06/2019

Bolnhurst Village Country Rally

10:00 Both Days


Rushden Armed Forces Day


22/06/2019 To 23/06/2019

St. Neots Armed Forces Day – Riverside Park St. Neots



Flag Raising Bedford Borough Hall

10:00 For 10:30


Armed Forces Day




Poppy Race Day – Newmarket


Join us on Saturday August 10, 2019 for a day out at the famous Newmarket Racecourse in aid of The Royal British Legion.

It'll be a fabulous day out where you can enjoy your race-going in comfort and style at this stunning course.

You will enjoy welcome drinks followed by a three-course lunch with wine and afternoon tea in our private marquee. You'll be situated away from the throng but right by the finishing post so you can watch the horses and riders from our private terrace.


Tickets cost £125, with the price including course entry, car parking and race card. Contact Rebecca on 020 3207 2272 or rpride@britishlegion.org.uk for further information. You can also purchase tickets online at https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/things-to-do/events/poppy-race-day




Poppy Appeal

You will find here the totals for this years Poppy Appeal compared against the overall totals for the previous year, plus a calendar of known Poppy Appeal Events.

2018/2019 Totals as at 03/05/2019


2017/2018                 £478,248.57

2018/2019                 £483,752.42  ˄ 1.15%



2017/2018                 £47,367,362.45

2018/2019                 £49,756,312.33 ˄ 5.04%


The National total has now exceeded £50,000,000 but no precise figure has been released.






JTG Chicksands Family Day


Poppies in the Park, Russel Park Bedford – contact Bedford PAO – Janie Vallance (Organiser) for more information


Poppies at the Mill, Jordans Mill Biggleswade – contact Sandy PAO – Cheryl Watkins (Organiser) for more information


Bedfordshire Festival of Remembrance, Bedford Corn Exchange – Contact Kempston PAO & Riders Branch, Michael Price (Organiser) for more information



Para’s 10 TAB – Colchester – 2019

Details of event:

 10 mile TAB: TAB stands for Tactical Advance to Battle. The Parachute Regiment challenges you to attempt the 10 Mile 'P' Company Cross Country Route, carrying a bergen (rucksack) weighing 35lb (excluding food water) and wearing long trousers with 'military style' or hiking boots with ankle support. Competitors rucksacks will be weighed before and after the race, by race officials.

The Route: A multi-terrain endurance event, the race will follow the same route as the 10 mile run. There will be water stations located along the route and at the start and finish. The First Aid Station will be located at Race Control with a roving back up facility. NB. The route is not suitable for wheelchairs.




 Para’s 10 was entered by Paul Andrews of our Stotfold & Arlesey Branch, he has sent in this report:

 The Para’s 10 is an event that forms part of P Company Parachute Regiment selection. It is a 10 mile run across the training area at Colchester with a 35lb Bergen plus water, boots and combat trousers.

 I was quite fit to start with but had to train for five months to be able to run this. I started with road runs and then Bergen runs and gradually built up the weight to the 35lb required. At 52 I found the training quite tough on my legs and knees. 

 On the day it was a great atmosphere and quite warm and humid. I had been told it was a flat course but having been training around Stotfold it was quite hilly in comparison and too steep for me to run up the hills. It was a case of run and tab as per the terrain. There are two river crossings to negotiate and a bog as well, and these add to the time as you have to queue to get across. 

  I finished in a time of 2hr: 12mins: 37sec. I had hoped to run under two hours, but my legs wouldn’t allow it. I will be back next year to beat my time but will train on hills next year. 

 I was a member of the Royal Air Force Regiment in the 1980’s and most of the sponsorship was from ex Regiment members through Facebook. I put a ridiculous target of £2500 and actually went over it. Total raised was £2579 and I am overwhelmed by people’s generosity. 

 This is a fantastic effort and has raised a huge amount for the RBL.

 I am sure that you will join me in congratulating Paul and wish him success for next year’s run.



Monte Cassino – Everything became unreal


In April 1944, the Polish II Corps was moved up to Monte Cassino to take part in the fourth offensive and with them came Michael Bondel, a Polish signaller with the, 1st Polish Carpathian Brigade, 3rd Polish Carpathian Division.


The men had to load all their heavy equipment; radio transmitters, acid batteries, accumulators, anything too heavy for one person to carry, on to mules. Each soldier had to carry his own blankets, coat and personal equipment in their backpack. They formed a big column and under the cover of darkness and began to wind their way up the mountainside to relieve the British.

 The men of the Polish Corps did not know much about the situation at Monte Cassino or the three previous battles.

‘[There were] a lot of stories going about what a terrible place it was, so we were already prepared for the worse.’

 Michael did not have to wait long for a dramatic introduction to Monte Cassino. As the column progressed, they were about half-way up the mountainside when German mortar shells began to rain down on them:

 ‘People started shouting and screaming and mules are screaming and hell broke loose. You see the path was not just …narrow it was winding on those tight bends, but [the] Germans had positions over the months and

months that they were there, pinpointing so close, that all the shells were falling either on one bend or the other, they didn’t even have to look. All night there was movement on that path, there was no other way to get up that mountain, so they just opened fire for ten minutes …. it was like hell!’

 More horrors awaited them as they reached their positions:

 ‘The people that [had] done the biggest amount of fighting, …most of them dead, we found them after, not straight away because they were all lying near the bends on those roads. The Gurkhas they just lying there covered with their great coats with the gun …pushed with the bayonet in the ground and they must have been there for a couple of months. There were American soldiers just sprinkled with quick lime.’

 The ground was so shallow and rocky it was impossible to bury the dead.

 ‘The smell was so dreadful, as you went up the hill it was frightful… the higher we went the smell was so obnoxious, so terrible, you could not imagine anything like that, everything smelt no matter what it was…’.

 In the ten days that preceded the fourth and final battle of Monte Cassino, Michael was busy laying phone lines. He described the barrage of fire on the night of May 11th that announced the new offensive:

 ‘This was just unbelievable, …normally our artillery were firing all over German positions as well as Germans replying on to us but that was only sporadic but this time there was something like hundreds and hundreds of great big guns on the British side, on our side and even Americans with their big guns reached the positions …firing on the Germans.

 At 1am on 12th May, Michael advanced forward with the infantry. The signallers had been told to carry arms, but with the all telephone equipment it was too much to carry. They went into battle unarmed and frequently had to stop work and take cover, throwing themselves on the ground under enemy fire.

 The casualty rate was extremely high, and the wounded officer made the decision to retreat. Soon it would be daylight and the Germans would be able to pick of the remaining soldiers one by one. Michael explained that by the time they got back down and regrouped ‘there was hardly any people left’.

For the next five days the men of the Polish II Corps waited for orders to advance again. Michael became extremely demoralised

‘I remember being so hungry and tired and dejected so badly… that I just couldn’t care less if I survived or was dead. That is the first weary part of the war that I experienced… I was completely finished physically’.

On May 18th, the relative ease with which the Polish took the monastery was unexpected. It was a symbolic moment and the men were proud but the experience of the intense fighting at Monte Cassino would always remain with them.


Michael reflected:

‘Everything became quite unreal… that battle changed everybody, it’s not just me that has grown maybe five years older, everybody I noticed they changed, the officer, the people became more sort of relaxed against the officer… from then on the attitude of everyone changed and we had grown …a tighter group because we were a smaller group.’

 This item was taken from the RBL Website and can be found at:





County Committee Contacts

Mr E. E. Robinson MBE         County Chairman

Email: eric.robinson87@yahoo.co.uk

Mr P. Sawford             County Vice Chairman

Email: paul.a.sawford@outlook.com

Mrs S Turton               MSO

Email: sturton@britishlegion.org.uk

Mr T Murphy               County Treasurer

Email: tommurphy52@hotmail.com

Mr M Lewis                  CFR

Email: mlewis@britishlegion.org.uk

Mr G McAllister           County Parade Marshal

Email: georgemcallister50@yahoo.co.uk

Mr A Fievez     Deputy County Parade Marshal

Email: andrew.fievez@ntlworld.com