When I retired in March 1990 and became a ‘Gentleman of Leisure’, I found myself with time on my hand and one of the many things I became associated with, was Ex-Service organisations.
In 1946, I, like many thousands of young men was conscripted into the Armed forces of the Realm and not wanting to become a soldier for 24 months I decided to join the Royal Navy and do a short term of seven years.
Reverting to 1990 I found that even in the heart of Wiltshire I was surrounded with branches of the Royal Naval Association, Andover, Amesbury, Devizes and Salisbury. Sue and I signed up at Devizes where we soon found and made many new friendships with ex shipmates like myself. We attended all the monthly social meetings, and became embraced in most of the activities, coach outings, dinners, parades etc., Unfortunately after 4 years the branch had to de-commission and though I did carry on temporarily at Amesbury, I gave up and became a member of the HQ Roll.
In 1999 I did a 6 week visit of Australia to see all my relations in Sydney, Canberra and Perth, and whilst staying with my sister in Canberra, I became encompassed with the RNA Branch there and had one momentous evening with shipmates. On return to UK I was able to conclude some business on behalf of their branch and 12 months later I was surprised to find out that I had been made a ‘Honorary Life Member’ of Canberra Branch
In 1950 I did a spell in Korean waters from June until the ‘Inchon Landings’ and so I am a member of the BKVA. The British Korean Veterans Association, Wessex Branch, Southampton. Another venue for our ex-service socialising, but find it too long a journey, so when we do go for a midday social meeting we combine it with a shopping trip
I belong to other organisations like the Royal British Legion, The Survey Ships Association, The National Ex-Services Association, HMS Triumph Association. To be a member of the SSA I served on HMS Franklin, March 1947 - August 1948, surveying around the coasts of UK.
In the last 10 years I have attended many functions, weekend reunions, dinners and parades (including Whitehall twice). All this does entail lots of traveling and gorging enormous quantities of food and drink which I am now finding to stressful to maintain!!!.