To mark Remembrance as a combined Regiment and Association we have paraded in Birmingham for many years. Our connection to the city remains important and strong, and Birmingham lies at the heart of a significant recruiting area. Since the change of venue from Centenary Square, however, our ability to mark Remembrance has been impeded. The event is well supported by local people but pressure on space has meant that our marching contingent is unable to take part properly in the Act of Remembrance, and our own numbers have been falling.
Having considered how the Association should gather to mark Remembrance, the Colonel and Trustees have decided that we should gather at different important locations in future years. One of these places is the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA), where lies our own Regimental Memorial. We shall gather at it in November 2020, the COVID-19 situation allowing. For the past few years, the Regimental Secretary and some Old Comrades have laid a wreath at our Memorial at the NMA on the Sunday before Remembrance Sunday. This year the wreath laying is scheduled for Sunday 1 November. This event will be the Regimental Association’s formal Act of Remembrance for 2020. The advantage of the timing of this year’s Act of Remembrance is that it will allow Old Comrades to attend their own local Remembrance Sunday activities.
Concentrating our Acts of Remembrance at different important locations each year will allow us to mark Remembrance better and encourage more Old Comrades, alongside the Regiment, to attend. This year we will parade at the NMA and then move annually to a series of new venues:
• At Birmingham, Worcester and Warwick; cities where the Regiment has been either granted the Freedom of the City or near our new Museum. Other sites could be in towns and cities where Association Troops are located.
• In Northern Ireland.
• At the Regiment’s new home in Tidworth to coincide with Old Comrades’ Weekends.
• In addition, London (for the Cavalry Memorial Parade and Act of Remembrance in May).
This will mean that Old Comrades who are not from the Birmingham area will be more likely to travel a shorter distance in some years and, as there will not be a HHQ-organised dinner on the Saturday, possibly not have to fund accommodation. It represents support for Association Troops by the wider Association. It will allow us to get to more parts of the United Kingdom from which we recruit yet maintain close touch with the Midlands and that recruiting area. The venue for each year will be notified in time for Old Comrades to have sufficient advance notice, and by moving venues it is intended that more of our number will be able to gather each year than currently.
Initially, our new Remembrance plan will involve a service (and parade where appropriate) and lunch, which will again reduce the cost to individuals. The Regiment intends to continue to play the West Midlands Police in sports fixtures but will also be represented, in uniform, and in strength at the Association’s Act of Remembrance. We will have one eye on recruiting and supporting the Commanding Officer’s plan for strengthening numbers to crew tanks at Regimental Duty.
We will not break our links with Birmingham, and we will return to it as part of the new series of venues. There are Old Comrades who will, no doubt, continue to travel to Birmingham in November, and this is to be encouraged. Indeed, one of the many advantages of moving venues is that it leaves Old Comrades free to attend Remembrance Day services in their home areas if they wish. These are not ‘orders’, but change is needed if we are to gather in strength as an Association. We will learn lessons as we proceed and adjust the following year’s plans accordingly. Indeed, this change already incorporates advice from all the Association Troops.
Home Headquarters will do the planning with guidance from the Association Chairman. Stand by for Coordinating Instructions!