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ARBORFIELD - Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd July 2007 inclusive.

 

The following report contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD (52A)

Photographs are by the contributor, unless otherwise attributed.

 

Saturday.

 

Sleeping the sleep of the long past it, at 03.00hrs I was awakened by the passing of a screech owl looking for breakfast.It flew past the window several times, howling like a Banshee, before leaving the area.Back to sleep.04.00 hrs it was breakfast time for the resident rooks, crows and jackdaws who must have been ecstatic at the sight of all the grubs and worms that had surfaced to avoid drowning in the flooded fields.The noise was horrendous.I did drop off again but awoke to a beautiful, warm and very sunny morning.So different to yesterdayís weather.

Showered, shaved and all other duties seen to it was time for breakfast in the mess.The queue had formed but once serving started it moved swiftly along.The most heard phrase was ďI donít have a cooked breakfastĒ so it was a surprise to see that the levels in the bowls of cereals didnít go down very quickly.I donít have a cooked breakfast normally, although I didnít own up to it, but the Arborfield Breakfast is something to cut loose on.After all itís only two mornings a year, canít do any harm, can it?Well Iím convinced anyway.A little bit of most things were put on the plate, with a good helping of the poached Italian skinned plum tomatoes to soften what passed for fried bread, the added healthy concession being a glass of orange juice to wash it down with.

Numbers gathering for the dayís activities were increasing, and stories of the previous dayís traveling nightmares were being swapped.Overnights in the car, abandoning cars and trying to continue by public transport, rooms at the local hostelries, couches in the homes of kindly locals, going home to try again the next day, but overall there was the determination to be at the reunion.

We moved outside towards the shuttle bus to be greeted by a most unfortunate sight.CSM Huxley had had a mishap and was sitting on a chair, leg outstretched, with a worrying pool of blood spreading.He had sustained a nasty gash in his leg and was receiving treatment to staunch the flow.Undaunted, he kept on chatting and reassuring worried friends that he would be OK, get him on his feet and he would march with the best of them.Sadly not to be, this would be one parade he would have to miss whilst his leg was receiving treatment.

Some of us decided to walk to the parade ground and set off towards the bridge across the lake.Surprisingly the water level had dropped dramatically and the lake was back in itís banks.Crossing the footbridge over Biggs Lane into Rowcroft Barracks we found the next swamp, the footpath just about passable.The marchers were gathering behind the building at the top of the old square, this year we were really on home ground.

 

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Bill Cleasby, AOBA Hon Sec. explains the program whilst vocal chords are being demonstrated.

 

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Bill Gibson 52A , Ken Benny Byford 52A, Alan Algy Morton 51B and George Percy Thrower 52A.

 

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Finally the RSM got the Old Boys to look like Old Soldiers, braving their ribald comments whilst he chivvied them into place.The equivalent of two half companies, one being 1939 to 1957, the second 1958 to 2004.Leading on to the square would be the intakes celebrating their 50th Anniversary, and a fine looking body of men they were too.Their efforts to stand out certainly paid off.

 

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As in previous years, the Reading Scottish Pipe Band was to lead the way.There can be no doubt that the pipes add an extra swagger to the marchers steps, and shoulders were back, chests out as the parade got under way.

 

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The RSM, bless him, led the parade, but unfortunately got off on the wrong foot.Steadfast and true, he stayed the only marcher in step all the way down the length of the square until, turning at the bottom, he caught sight of everybody else and made the right move to comply with them.

 

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The second half company was led on to the square behind the AOBA Banner.

 

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One has to admit that seeing such a fine turn out, parading on the real square, albeit a trifle shorter than in my own days due to the building at the top of the square, really was a sight for old sore eyes.It seems appropriate to make the most of it whilst we still can.Who knows what the future may bring?

 

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The banner, the band and the big man, a photo contributed by Terry Reddin 52A

 

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The parade was reported Ready for your inspection Sir by Brian Hutchings 61B, Chairman of the OABA, to Colonel Richard Bennett MVO, the Regimental Colonel for the Corps of REME.His review was to take quite some time, showing a genuine interest in the stories that the Old Boys were to regale him with.As he later owned up, he wasnít born when over half of the parade were at Arborfield.

 

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You have to admit that the lads can still cut it, lines as straight as any guardsman would like to see.Donít look at the mid-riffs, just look at the shoes.

 

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The beginning of the end of the parade as the march past starts.Stirring stuff for those of us watching from the side lines, and no doubt a feeling of pride in the hearts of those marching.

 

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The players leave the stage having made a major contribution to the success of the parade.

 

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Frank Sam Bass 52A with Elizabeth.

 

Terry Jack Reddin 52A, George Fleck 51B and

Keith Tilly 51B

 

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A gentleman alongside gentlemen.

 

This photograph of three fine bodies contributed by Terry Reddin 52A.

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George Fleck 51B, Fred Mills 51B, AOBA Membership Secretary and Keith Tilly 51B

 

Published: 5th August 2007

 


 

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