Wartime Commandos Re-visit Their Shanklin Training Ground For Final Reunion

Service of Remembrance being held on 1st April at Shanklin Chine for wartime commandos who trained there for the gallant but ill-fated Dieppe Raid.

Thanks to Adrian for sharing news of this forthcoming reunion. We’re sure it’ll be of interest to many of our readers. Ed

MemorialShanklin Chine’s historical wartime link with commandos who trained there for the gallant but ill-fated Dieppe Raid will culminate in April when veterans and their families gather at the Isle of Wight tourist attraction for their 27th and final reunion weekend – 70 years after the Allied attack on the Nazi-occupied French port.

The chine was used by the men of 40 Royal Marine Commando, based at nearby Upper Chine Girls School, as a rugged training ground for the 1942 assault on Dieppe.

Remembrance Service
Members of 40 Royal Marine Commando (1942-46) Association will attend a service of remembrance at the chine on Sunday, 1 April at the memorial adjacent to the plaque dedicated in June 1984 – the 40th anniversary of D-Day – in memory of their fallen comrades. The service, at 11 a.m., will include the laying-up of the Association’s standard.

Flanked by Royal Marine cadets, Mrs Anne Springman, Shanklin Chine’s owner, will slow-march into the attraction’s heritage centre for the formal reception of the standard. It will be placed there for safe keeping in a specially-made cabinet.

Major General guest of honour
Guest of honour at Shanklin will be Major General Julian Thompson, CB, OBE, President of the post-World War Two 40 Commando Association – better known as Brigadier of 3 Commando in the 1982 Falklands War – who will be accompanied by his wife, Jane.

Vice-President, of 40 Royal Marine Commando (1942-46) Association, Major ‘Jeff’ Beadle, MBE, MC, RM, will also attend the poignant reunion and remembrance service with several of his family, as will serving members of the present-day 40 Commando and their wives.

“We are also happy that Adam Houghton and wife Rosemary, son of Major General ‘Titch’ Houghton, beloved late President, will be at the service with General Houghton’s niece Julia Sheard and husband Peter,” said Mrs Springman.

County officials in attendance
Official Isle of Wight presence will include the Lord Lieutenant, the High Sheriff, representatives of the Isle of Wight Council and the MP, together with Mayors or representatives of town and parish councils in Shanklin, Sandown, Ventnor, Brading and Lake – the areas where the commandos were billeted prior to the raid.

In addition, the Chairman of East Sussex County Council will be present with his wife, recalling the assault force’s departure for Dieppe from the port of Newhaven.

Support from local Military Band
Sandown and Shanklin Military Band will be making their 22nd appearance at the event, reinforced by 16-year-old buglers Charlie Cooley, Lance Crowe and Connor Gregory, from Medina Marching Band, and the bagpipes of Peter Newman, of the Chine’s exhibition team.

While the chine will not be open to the public until the afternoon, there will be a good view of the morning’s ceremony from above the Esplanade entrance on Chine Hill.

Commando Memorial rebuilt after hurricane
The chine’s 40 Commando memorial, built as a cairn by Les Mosdell, was badly damaged by the 1987 hurricane and was moved to its present site the following year, where it was rebuilt by Jock Farmer. It remains a key chine feature.

The Dieppe Raid on 10 August 1942 resulted in the death, injury or capture of many of the large Allied force, made up principally of Canadian and British personnel,

Heavy losses
While Canadian losses were especially severe, casualties among the British commandos, and elements of both the Royal Navy and RAF, were also heavy.

It was a costly, unsuccessful military venture, but the gallantry of those who took part, and the huge sacrifices made, did serve a vital purpose. Many lessons were learnt about the principles of amphibious assault on enemy-held territory, lessons that would later be put to good purpose during the D-Day assault.

40 Royal Marine Commando (1942-46) Association have been well represented at commemorative events held since the war to mark the 1942 raid on the Upper Normandy coast. Ten years ago, at the 60th anniversary in Dieppe, half the total number of veterans attending were members of the Association.

Membership inevitably has dwindled, but several of the 40 surviving members are expected to travel to France for the 70th anniversary commemoration in August.

Canadian forces trained on the Island
The Isle of Wight’s link to the Dieppe offensive is further strengthened by the fact that many of the Canadian forces who took part in the raid also did much of their training on the Island.

Fittingly, preparations are under way to ensure particularly strong official Isle of Wight representation for the 70th commemorative event at the Normandy port.

Fore more about the Commandos visit the Website.

Monday, 19th March, 2012 1:37pm

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