On Thursday 21 June a small party comprising Lt Col Philip Shepheard-Walwyn, COS RHQ RA, Allan Solly, RAA Secretary and Philip Garbutt, RAA Standard Bearer departed the UK bound for Italy to take part in the 30th reunion of the National Italian Artillery Association.
Our invitation came by way of a follow up to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding last September between the Royal Artillery Association and the artillery associations of Italy and France. Once in Italy we were joined by a contingent from 26 Regt RA led by Capt Tony Talbot and Maj Nick Willman a serving Gunner officer who had just finished Italian Staff College and who helped tremendously with translation.
The aim of the 3-day reunion was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Solstice fought around the Asiago Plateau and the Piave River north of Venice. A fierce battle in which the Royal Artillery played a major role in the defeat of Austro-Hungarian forces and during which Lt Col Charlie Hudson and 2Lt Jack Youll (both Gunners) won the VC.
Our programme included laying wreaths at British war cemeteries, parading before the Chief of the Italian Army, taking part in a full Holy Mass and paying tribute to St Barbara which all culminated in a spectacular march through the town of Montebelluna alongside thousands of Gunner veterans and serving soldiers from Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and San Marino.
It is hoped that our international affiliations will be enhanced further still with formal agreements being signed between the RAA and both German and Swiss artillery associations.