3RTR Reunion

Traditionally the reunion was held on the last weekend of October, coinciding with the end of British Summer Time.  Contrary to popular belief this is not so we get an extra hour of drinking time (or an extra hour in bed on the Sunday) – though it would be typical of 3 RTR! 

The annual reunion has now been going for some 23 years.  So, how did it all start? 

The idea of a 3 RTR reunion was born in the early days of an RLO ERE (Regimental Liaison Officer External Regimental Employment) posting in 1980.  Here a poor soul had lost his power and was destined to a life of exile in the West Country.  In November 1983, the then RLO Capt Dave Cowley MBE, in an effort to feel needed decided to hold a get together for those select few who had recently left ‘The Colours’.

After much consumption of alcohol at the RLO’s spacious abode in Exeter, the general consensus was that a regular reunion was needed; so that like minded sorts could talk about the good old days – Soltau, ‘Shaaaaaaarjah’, ‘Woofers’, ‘Falling-Bar-Stool’ and all the characters they had known!

One of the regular meetings between the RLO’s and the Regimental Col took place at the then Regt HQ in Elverton Street, London shortly after the impromptu party.  Amongst the subjects discussed were the falling numbers of the RTR Association and the difficulty in getting younger ex members of the Regiment interested in events where they were outnumbered by the ‘Old and Bold’. 

The get together in Exeter was also discussed at the meeting and the idea of a reunion put forward; aimed at those who had left the Regiment since 1960 and serving members.  The Regimental Col thought it was a great idea and the RLO’s were told to “Give it a try”. 

The first 3 RTR reunion took place on the 2nd November 1985 at the Devon ACF HQ, Barrack Road, Exeter.  It was very much a self help affair - RHQ RTR provided contact addresses of those who had recently left the Regiment, others were found through friends of friends. 

Whilst the RLO sent out the information, the RLO’s wife sought out the local B&Bs, arranged the catering, hired the bar staff and bought the stock – bless her!  Prices were competitive - £4 per head.  There was also limited single accommodation at the HQ, costing an additional £5.  That price included a full English breakfast, cooked and served by the RLO – it came free if you could remember the middle two of his Army number… allegedly!  A total of 175 attended that event.

Dave Cowley retired before the next reunion and Terry Hughes took over from Dave Cowley as the RLO and ran the reunion in 1985 and 1986. Terry was then posted to RARDE at Chertsey as the RSM. Terry Nolan the new RLO took on the organisation.  Terry successfully ran the reunions up until 1990 when the RLO’s were withdrawn; and in Terry’s case, he returned to RD (Regimental Duty). I am led to believe that this came as a surprise and everyone was caught on the hop – the reunion had been organised for that year, but no one was left to run the event.  Enter stage left, Terry Cording! 

I’m certain the debacle for that year was sorted but Terry decided to visit the regiment who at the time were based in Hemer in Germany.  He laid out his plan and ideas to the CO, and went away with a £700 grant.  He got things rolling for the next year by moving the venue to the Newport Towers Hotel (again on the A38, between Bristol and Gloucester).  He turned it into a smooth running and professional event. 

In 2007 the venue was moved to the Holiday Inn just off the M32 in Filton.  This has proved to be a far better venue as we can all be accommodated under one roof.  Although the venue has changed, one thing that remains the same is the itinerary.  Everyone arrives around midday, checking in before making their way to the bar for a few warmers into the bank.  While this is going on, a group of Cross Country Marble players are out spoiling a good walk, trying to lower their handicap at a local Golf Club!

At around 19:30 the main event starts, acquaintances that have been renewed after years of neglect carry on and very soon you start to identify the groups of men and woman that worked and socialised together from the past. 

B Sqn from the Regiment’s days in Paderborn with tales of eating terrapins and attempting to free a comrade from Barker Barracks Guardroom using the squadron dozer tank abound. A and C Sqn participate by shouting abuse at the crowd from HQ – ‘Bring out yer dead’ or words to that effect.  Ex members of D Sqn sit on their own eating chocolate instead of drinking beer, while Mike ‘Flip Flop’ Jolly searches for a window to jump out of!  This is followed by a bite to eat and sometimes an auction, where it has been known for one of Malc Cleverley’s cartoons to sell for £100. 

The next morning sees those that are not too hungover gathering for a leisurely breakfast (not cooked by an ex RLO) and after bidding a fond farewell to those that are up and about the journey home commences. 

Thanks to Andy Fisher for the above and Dave Cowley's middle 2 numbers are.............

In 2013, after a period of declining heath, sadly Terry Cording passed to the Green Fields. Dave Taylor, the then Branch Secretary of the Plymouth Branch of the RTR association stepped up and took on the role of reunion organisor. At the time of writing it is planned to hold a reunion in May 2104 in Bristol. Full details will appear here in due course when known. In the meantime pleae email Dave Taylor with your contact details as he needs to build up a database.

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