On Sunday 6th July 2014, shipmates from March Branch held a ‘parade for the dedication and laying up the replacement Standard of the March Branch of the Royal Naval Old Comrades Association destroyed in an arson attack on St Mary’s Church March 4 years ago when the Church was virtually destroyed and just the walls remaining the rest reduced to ashes.’1 Shipmates from March RNA extended an invite for other Branches to parade their Standards at the ceremony; Huntingdon & District Branch were also invited, and so S/Ms Karl Webb and Derrick Morgan arrived at St Mary’s with their Branch Standard.
The Standard Bearers were welcomed by March RNA S/Ms Bill Barry (President), Terence Shad (Chairman), Ted Rasell (Hon. Secretary) and other members. The Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire and the Rev’d Anthony Chandler (March RNA’s chaplain) also spoke with everyone before heading off to the church.
With the VIPs inside the church, it was time to march the Standard Bearers up to St Mary’s to line the route for the remaining shipmates and guests. S/M Les Lane, as Ceremonial Officer, ensured that all went to plan.
Inside the church, the Area and March Branch Standards were laid upon the alter, the RNOC Standard was marched in and also laid across the alter. The service began with the hymn ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ before the RNOC Standard was ‘advanced to the Altar rail’2 for the Bidding and Act of Dedication. After singing ‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save’ (for those in Peril on the Sea) and prayers for the Queen, for Peace, and for the Royal Navy, it was time for the Laying Up of the Standard (a rare occasion as the Standard was being Dedicated and Laid Up in the same ceremony).
On completion of the Act of Remembrance, Last Post and Two Minutes Silence, the RNOC Standard was remounted in the church – back where it belonged.
The day was not over, March Branch were also celebrating their 10th anniversary of their formation within the RNA. All participants of the re-dedication ceremony were invited back to the Rev’d Anthony Chandler’s house for a BBQ to continue with the celebrations.
Of course, one of the first activities was a traditional ‘tot’ for the Standard Bearers – and well deserved by those who represented their Area and Branch.
Shipmates were called to dinner in the traditional way…
Shipmates had plenty of time to spin a few dits and to get to know each other better, March Branch had their formation certificate and Branch records on display, as well as a cake to celebrate the day.
S/Ms Karl Webb and Derrick Morgan felt very welcome at the BBQ, meeting with shipmates, Councillors, and the Mayor of March, a real example of close collaboration with other Branches and associations.
Also invited to the day’s activities was the National Council Member for No 5 Area, he also expressed his thanks for the invitation and for being allowed to participate in the re-dedication ceremony.
As the day drew to a close, it was time for the anniversary cake to be cut and the raffle to be drawn.
The day was very special to members of March Branch, but clearly, it was important to all shipmates from branches far and wide. This is what the RNA is about, Unity, Loyalty, Patriotism, and Comradeship. Thank you for inviting us shipmates, we look forward to the next time.
To see more images of the re-dedication ceremony and Branch BBQ, click on the first thumbnail below and scroll through the images.