A YULETIDE MESSAGE FROM THE MASTER GUNNER ST JAMES’S PARK
LT GEN SIR ANDREW GREGORY KBE CB DL
2020 will go down in history as a most unusual year. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many people, including members of our Regiment, serving and retired, personal sadness, distress and difficulties; the consequences will affect people for a considerable time.
And as a Regiment, a number of planned events and gatherings have been either adjusted or cancelled: commemorating and celebrating the actions of our forebears through the 75th anniversaries of VE-Day and then VJ-Day; marking the centenary of the Royal School of Artillery; celebrating the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Artillery Association in 2020, which was enhanced by the Royal Horse Artillery Association joining the RAA as a national branch on 26 May; as well as annual activities such as the ‘gathering’ at Blackpool, commemorating the Battle of El Alamein, the full ceremony of the Regiment’s Hyde Park Remembrance Parade and St Barbara’s Day.
Despite these challenges, we should all be extremely proud of the manner in which the Royal Regiment has responded. The Royal Artillery Association and the various Royal Artillery Charities have continued to support our extended family, though I am concerned that less people are seeking assistance; if you know of somebody requiring support in any way, please bring them to our attention. Our serving regiments, alongside normal training and meeting readiness requirements, have also risen to the challenge of supporting the NHS and the on-going national campaign to supress this virus, often at personal risk to themselves and to the detriment of their family life. It is, to all intents and purposes, an operational campaign; all ranks have, yet again, done themselves and the Regiment proud.
We are going to have to live with continuing restrictions. While there have been definite benefits – for example we have been forced to adopt technology to enable more remote working, including running the Royal Artillery Conference successfully on line, there are definite downsides, most notably the loss of personal contact that is such a critical element of comradeship and collective welfare. Hence, it is even more important to remember that we are ‘One Regiment’; Regular and Reserve, serving or retired, military personnel and families. We need to be strong together, not least by using the enhanced Gunner media that supplements the day to day activities of our serving regiments and the RAA Branches; I would especially highlight the ‘RAA & RACF Website; www.thegunners.org.uk and the Gunner Facebook pages which I recommend as a means of keeping in touch. Please encourage all Gunners and Gunner families, young or old, to use these conduits to get in touch, to reminisce, or just to contribute some cheerful banter. The timeless adage:
‘Once a Gunner, Always a Gunner’.
holds true today as much as ever. I wish you and your families a very Happy Christmas and New Year, even with the ongoing restrictions, and, with fingers crossed, here’s to 2021.