COMMANDO PILLION 2018 (CP18)
The aim: Was To continue in helping veterans in their recovery by getting them together in one place spending time with other veterans in a positive environment promoting " Espirit De Corps" one of our Core values as Royal Marines...
The idea was brought to the RMA-Riders Branch by Russell "Russ" Craig our Vice Chairman, activities started immediately, raising funds, communicating with veterans agencies and the RMA. Riders from the Riders Branch checked their bikes, insurance and booked time off work as the green light was given. This wasn't going to be any ordinary trip.
The location was set, we were going to Normandy in Northern France. No posh hotels either, we were going to do it Riders style under canvas the base of operation Camping Port'land in the town of Port-en-Bassin. The day trips will be places of interest in Northern France the focus being on historical sites and exploring the best roads. Advance Party arrive 20-06-18 first group of Wounded, Injured and Sick (WIS) to arrive on the 24-06-18 and depart 01-07-18 second group to arrive 01-07-18 and depart 07-07-18.
We planned to lay wreaths and pay our respects at memorials specific to the RMC,
47CDORM Port-en-Bassin 25-06-18 Major dr Pierre-Albert Cavey in attendance.
48CDORM Saint Aubin sur Mer 27-06-18 Mayor Mr Ducoulombier Jean-Pau in attendance.
45CDORM Merville and Francville 02-07-18 Deputy Mayor Madame Sylvie Dupont, in attendance.
41CDORM Lion Sur Mer 04-07-18 Mr Dominique Regeara in attendance.
So with Russ at the helm, Anthony "Ginge" Harris our man in country, liaised with the campsite and many French officials to ensure our visits and civic receptions went according to plan and were received correctly . Si "Iron Arse" Capon planned the routes to all the events using some great roads and the occasional dirt track.
Many activities were organised to raise awareness of CP18 and to raise much needed funds we intend to make this a free trip for our wounded Veterans, they have already paid a very high price for their service. The RMA Riders are completely self funding paying for everything out of our own pocket from ferries , accommodation, fuel, food and of course the odd beer or two. All the money raised was to fund the wounded Veterans, We want to give them something back.
Trips to recce the locations and routes came and went everything was looking good... The Complete Admin Instruction was communicated amongst the RMA Riders at last we were read to GO! The TQ "Blinks" Blinco packed the trailer "Slinger" packed the Van with the mobile Galley. The Riders Bikes were fuelled, insured and we were rolling.
The Campsite soon took shape from small 1 man bivvies to multi tunnelled moon exploration complexes... Many of us not having camped since we left the Corps to the experts who came with kettles, fridges, microwaves and double divans, flag poles and flags. Our charges the WIS were made comfortable in large tents and awnings complete with sleeping cots purchased by the Riders-Branch. it soon looked very impressive and ship-shape with WAGs taking care of the shopping and camp admin not to mention our main galley expertly sailed by "Slinger" and almost all of the campsites other guests made a point of wandering past the 5 or 6 plots we had occupied in awe wondering if they should have booked elsewhere... They need not have worried.
Our days were spent riding some good French roads to some sobering locations which had us all, to a person, silent and thoughtful of the courageous deeds performed on these shores along those streets and lanes, up those cliffs and across those bridges on D-Day all those years ago. Not one of us came away without a lump in our throats and a tear in our eye... We paid our respects, as did our pillions who were now fully part of our group. All the local dignitaries, Mayors, holiday makers, locals and school children looked on at the convoy of motorcycles their riders and pillions as we rode through these historic sites where our RM forbearers went first. Mingling when we parked always curious and courteous.
Our evenings were spent sharing many a box of wine, chilled beer, passing the port and spinning dits well into the small hours without incident to cause the remainder of the camp concern, many poked their heads in to wish us well and marvel over the bikes and what we were about.
Our Pillions all very quickly became part of us, they melted into the group. sharing banter, dits funny, sad and bazaar, drank a little and sometimes a lot all in great spirits. Not really sure what they had signed up to but all sad to leave when the day came. A true meeting of Veterans old and veterans new across the decades essentially the same.
We achieved our aim...