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Memorial Garden Park Hall
We , as the Association , have had a number of queries from newer forum members and the general public regarding the Memorial Garden at Park Hall . How did it come to be , who created it , does it belong to the Association etc .
The concept was the brainchild of Neil Wilson RWF , a former IJLB graduate who lived in Oswestry . He had managed to obtain the rental of a small , unused section of land from the Oswestry Rugby Club roughly located where the Armoury had once stood . Neil’s dream was to create a small garden where ex IJLB members could sit and remember their time at Park Hall .
He made contact with the Association in early 2009 but we were fully occupied with the Memorial Weekend ,however , members of the Committee subsequently met Neil at the site in late 2009 . He wanted financial help to complete his project and we , as an Association , promised to donate a wooden bench for the site .
Sadly Neil had been diagnosed with cancer and passed away in the February of 2010 , before he could complete his project , we resolved to assist Neil’s son Scott to complete Neil’s dream . The money for the works was donated by individuals and did not come from Association funds . A group of mainly Oswestry based ex JLs worked on the site to create the garden in the Spring of 2010 and the garden was dedicated and handed over to the family in May 2010 . The garden belongs to the family and Neil’s son keeps the grass trim throughout the year and Neil’s sister is a frequent visitor often leaving floral tributes . She has recently added a new plaque to one of the beds in memory of her brother and her mother .
Whilst we have no responsibility for the garden we appreciate that it is perhaps too much for one person to maintain and to that end we intend , as an Association , to assist Scott this year to re stain the bench , paint the extensive fencing around the site and help with a general tidy up . If any of you would care to be involved in these works which will take place in the Spring of 2013 , weather permitting , or to donate to the cost of such works then please contact any of our Committee members .
As previously explained , the garden is the property and responsibility of the Wilson family , however , we , as an Association , have agreed to assist from time to time , where possible , in the larger maintenance projects from the current membership who live locally . We have to accept , however , that when the baton passes to the Shorncliffe lads , which it must in time due to age , that the garden is unlikely to be given any high priority .
Remembrance Sunday 2012
Sunday 11 November , 2012 dawned bright , clear and cold in Oswestry as we met up on the Bailey Head in front of the Town Hall . In Oswestry , as elsewhere , attendance seems to grow year on year with more and more taking part in the parade and many making the effort to come along simply to support and take part in the service . It’s very heartening to see how many children take part , it is so important for them to understand the sacrifices that previous generations made to give them the freedom they now enjoy .
As usual we marched to the memorial at the gates of Cae Glas Park for the service , the last post and the wreathlaying and , as ever , gave the church service a miss to lay our own wreath at our own IJLB memorial in the park .
Bi – Annual Oswestry Reunion 2013
The Association will hold itâ€™s next bi-annual Reunion on 1 June , 2013 .
The format will be the same as ever with an informal lunchtime meet up for a pint and sandwiches in the former Officers Mess ( now Oswestry Rugby Club ) starting at 1200 . Sandwiches . filled rolls etc will be available for sale .
We meet again at 1930 in the function room of the Wynnstay Hotel in Oswestry for the formal dinner . Dress is evening dress or mess dress with medals , minimum lounge suit . The menu is as follows :
Chiken Liver Parfait , mixed salad . Mango and Ginger chutney
Wild Mushroom and Tarragon Soup
Roast Turkey with traditional trimmings
Roast and Parsley Potatoes
Panache of Fresh Seasonal Vegetables
Chocolate and Raspberry Torte
with Chantilly Cream
Coffee and Mints
Anyone requiring a vegetarian option should make this clear on booking .
The cost of the dinner will be Â£25 per head . Cheques should be made payable to IBB&IJLB Association and send to our Treasurer , Graham Fowler at the address below :
38 Queen Victoria Avenue
For those wishing to pay by electronic means the Association bank details are as follows :
Sort Code : 83 28 03
Account No : 00197116
BIC : RBOS GB2LXXX
IBAN ; GB RBOS 83280300197116
Bank Address is :
West Calder Branch
17 East End
We hope to see as many of you there as possible .
Tree Dedication ArlewasDusty Smithâ€™s oft repeated observation that â€œThe sun shines on the righteousâ€ proved to be prophetic on Sunday , 6th of May , 2012 , the day dawned clear and sunny after what seemed to be weeks of rain . We met at the Visitor Centre of the National Armed Forces Memorial before making our way together to our tree for the Dedication Service . Most of us were Junior Leaders from the 1960s so it seemed entirely appropriate that three of the assembled company were men who had trained us in those halcyon days . Ian Cartwright who was a Platoon Commander in Z Coy in the early 1960s , Ray Ironmonger CSM A Coy who provided not only discipline but a superb role model for young lads and Ray Woodfine , one of the excellent civilian lecturers , who not only gave all of us an excellent educational foundation but who also gave us the self belief that we could achieve academically .
The service was taken by our own Association Padre , Rev Norman Setchall , himself an ex JL who passed out in 1961 . The service was short but very moving and included the Battalion Prayer which we all recalled from IJLB . Graham Fowler , the Association Treasurer , laid the wreath on our behalf and did so in the memory of his great friend Bob Ball , Grenadiers , who sadly passed away in the last few months . The idea to dedicate a tree came originally from Bob .
We sincerely hope that if any of you visit the NAFM that you spare a few moments to locate our tree and give a minute of your time to recall those of our number who laid down their lives for their country .
Locating our Tree
Enter the site via the Visitor Centre and exit by the side cafÃ© door , walk down towards the main Memorial with itâ€™s distinctive high walls . Take the stone flagged path round to the right until it ends then turn quarter left and proceed across the grass towards white stone path known as the Mall , there is a small , grassed footbridge . On reaching the Mall turn left , proceed towards the Household Division Memorial and just before you reach it turn right up a short , unmade track to the Army Apprentices Memorial , our tree is located on the left side of that structure .
Remembrance Sunday Oswestry
The Remembrance Sunday parade in Oswestry grows bigger every year ,we have been attending as an Association since 2009 and the parade has swelled to more than double over the last 3 years . This year we had the usual Oswestry area lads in attendance and we were joined by Derick Hearn who travelled all the way up from his home in Brixham to be with us . Also in attendance was our Association President , Ray Ironmonger , who is still in the process of recovering from a second hip replacement but nothing will stop this old warrior ! Below are some photos of our Association group at the IJLB Memorial in Cae Glas Park .
Hong Kong RevisitedIn late November 2010 Pat and I visited Hong Kong for our 40th wedding Anniversary having been stationed at Stanley Fort for 6 months in late 1981 to 1982 with 1SG prior to being posted to BAAT Nigeria leaving Hong Kong, just prior to 2SG capturing the other Stanley!!.
Just a few thoughts and observations on Hong Kong for those who served there or may be thinking of going there.
The Journey now only takes 13 hours on Emirates including a one hour stopover in Dubai instead of the 26 hours with the RAF!! Which included stopovers in Bahrain and Colombo in Sri Lanka .Emirates airlines was paradise compared to the RAF trooping flight which had no videos uncomfortable seats and those dreadful white box haversack rations.
The main Hilton hotel is still in Central and still has its wonderful cocktail bar as is the Mandarin Oriental hotel, the captain bar in the Mandarin is still there even though it has been fully refurbished still retains a colonial feel about it and beer is served in silver tankards exactly as it was back when we lived there.
What was HMS Tamar is a municipal headquarter building and is 300 metres back from the harbour as they have just completed a huge reclamation project on the waterfront and a major four lane runs between Tamar and the harbour.
Stanley is much bigger no shanty town on the hills now replaced by new high rise municipal flats provided for the illegal immigrants that got into Hong Kong under the then government policy of touch base in Hong Kong without being stopped and you will not be returned to mainland China which never made any sense to the Guardsmen who when on border duty spent night after night in mosquito infested swamps near the border trying to apprehend illegal immigrants.
There are also some municipal housing for the Vietnamese boat people who made it to Hong Kong and were held in detention camps whilst we were there, Stanley Fort is occupied by the Chinese PLA and we were not allowed access although they do have an open day each year in August when locals and ex patriates can visit and see what equipment the Chinese army uses. We could still view our married quarter from Stanley waterfront which is now full of chic bistro style restaurants and bars.
The jewellers Ellis Lai who used to visit the Sergeants mess still has a shop in Stanley and Willie Wong who was the Regimental tailoring contractor has retired but his son now runs the business in the Wan ChaiThe Smugglers Inn in Stanley is still there, as is what was the Resident Battalion boat club on St Stephens’s beach run so efficiently by Willie Whitten who had a constant supply of ice cold tiger beer for its members .It is now run by a civilian club.
Stanley market was disappointing now selling just tourist tat as the antique stalls, vegetables , live fish and meat stalls are no more, as there is a huge superstore in what is called Stanley Plaza a shopping Mall on the outskirts of Stanley situated between the temple and the road to Central. Cost only 70p to get from Central to Stanley on the number 6 bus which is still a hairy journey around the steep bends and where the cliff edge drop away from the road, the seating is definitely not built for six foot three Guardsmen.
Stanley military Cemetery is well maintained and looked after by the war graves commission some graves had poppies on them as is the War Memorial in Central again well maintained and respected.
The officers married quarters in Repulse bay are long gone and luxury high rise flats have taken their place and there is now a large marina at the east end of the bay.
The Wan Chai is pretty tame to what we knew the red light district is centred on Lockhart Rd however the Pussy Cat Club is still there. This was the Battalions favourite night club defended on many occasions from American sailors on shore leave from the American 7th Fleet. The tattoo parlours are also still on Lockhart road maybe not as many as in our day, but i am sure there are many bitter sweet memories of a tattoo or two done after a night out in the Wan Chai the cost which would include the military fine for having a tattoo without permission and is now the only lasting memory of Hong Kong!!. The famous Bottoms up club made famous by the James Bond film a man with a golden gun has moved from Kowloon side and is now a sports bar in Lockhart road with a mock-up of the original bar in the back bar. The Hopewell centre with its revolving restaurant at the top of its 65th floor and outside lifts is still in the Wan Chai but is due to close for refurbishment we managed to get a booking and the views at night are still breath-taking but i would not recommend the food . Nowadays the Wan Chai is mainly a business district with five star hotels a huge conference centre and tower blocks with international companies located there. Interestingly the American 7th fleet still pull into Hong Kong for visits and of course still visit the Wan chai.
The building of a thousand portholes!! Situated just down from HMS Tamar which was one of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong in our time is dwarfed by its new neighbour which is 185 floors highHong Kong’s new airport is on Lantau island. Not an island loved by the Battalion as the Ghurkha Brigade which we came under seemed to insist all test exercises took place there. The island is bigger than Hong Kong Island but with steeper mountains and very little coastal plain for settlement and is now linked to Kowloon side by a series of suspension bridges one of which is the longest suspension bridge in the world. A long road tunnel from the north (airport side) of Lantau island links into these suspension bridges which then go via stonecutters Island (which was the biggest ammunition depot in the Far East in our time for all three services) to Kowloon side Stonecutters island is now the 3rd biggest container port in the world. The commandant House at the highest point of stonecutter’s island is still in use and still has the look and feel of an old colonial house a bit like the Commanding Officers house was in Stanley Fort.
Kai Tak the old airport is being converted into a cruise liner terminal and the old H blocks that we flew between when landing have all gone and replaced by more modern high rise buildings.
The whole island is criss crossed with Tunnels flyovers and new roads you can now get to the New Territories in 45 minutes from Kowloon these days.
The night markets on Kowloon and Central are again just full of tourist tat even the fake designer watches are sold under the counter as the police have been cracking down on counterfeit goods. Due to avian flu they are not allowed to sell poultry or live animals anymore in the markets.
The Jumbo restaurant in Aberdeen is still operating but there are no Sampans in Aberdeen harbour as it is now a Marina housing luxury yachts and i mean luxury yachts owned by wealthy Chinese.
The place is so sterile and spotless no spitting or smoking allowed on the buses or star ferry, smoking is banned from all restaurants bars and public buildings very strictly enforced with fines of Â£1000 for not complying.
The tram up to the peak now has several stops and the Peak has at least twenty restaurants and numerous shops and a large art gallery all in a high rise complex.
The world’s biggest laser show held every evening at 8 pm is very impressive best viewed from Kowloon side. We went across on star ferry (first class of course on the upper deck which cost 28 pence) but the pier head on Hong Kong island now has 9 piers and ferries all going to different locations on Kowloon side and the islands and not a single rickshaw anywhere.
We saw no visible poverty unlike our day only a thriving bustling 24/7 community with shopping malls in virtually every major building where the rich Chinese from the mainland and tourists worldwide come to shop. To visit these malls you soon become an expert in guiding your way through the Ariel walkways which link all the buildings and road crossings above street level.
Overall a nostalgic trip down memory lane the place still has a British feel about it as street names have stayed the same British double Decker buses still operate the police and customs still wear British style uniforms and people still feel a strong bond with Britain.
Words and photos by Graham Fowler
Welcome to the New IBB/IJLB Website
A warm welcome to the official website of the Infantry Boys Battalion & Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion Association . If you served in any of the following units then this Association is for you :
Infantry Boys Battalion – Tuxford/Harrogate/Plymouth.
Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion – Plymouth/Oswestry/Shorncliffe.
Junior Infantry Wing – Oswestry.
Junior Infantry Battalion – Shorncliffe.
The video is , as far as we are aware , the only film of a Passing Out Parade from the Oswestry era which exists and was shot by the late Tam Melvin of the Black Watch who was not only a Junior Leader in the early 1960s but returned as a PS Instructor in the early 1970s . The POP is the Summer of 1973 , you may well recognise some of the faces.
We trust that you will find our new website easy to use and to navigate around and look forward to hearing from you.
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The Long Walk
As most of you will be aware from the forum , Hugh Norton intended to walk to entire length of Hadrian’s Wall in aid of Help for Heroes . Fuelled with the good wishes of all who attended the Reunion ( and copious amounts of port ) , he set off on 5 June on his long trek . We also held a raffle at the Dinner which raised Â£650 for Hugh . He finished in good style and his magnificent effort raised over Â£3,000 for an extremely worthwhile charity . Well done Hugh !!
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Our reunions are held bi-annually , in 2007, our first one , we had 70 people sitting down to dinner , in 2009 the MDW we had 300 but that was a one off event . In 2011 we attracted 106 for the formal dinner which means an increase of over 50% .
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