The Sandbag Times Issue No: 50


The Veterans Magazine for all the latest National and International Armed Forces & Veterans News plus stories, articles and fun.

The Veterans’ Magazine Issue 50 | December 2018

A Very Merry Christmas

Seasonal Greeting to all our serving

Armed Forces, Veterans and Readers

as the SBT reaches it’s 50th edition

SBT News Update

Plus all The Latest National &

International News from the

Armed Forces & Veterans’ World

Proud Sponsors of

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Supporting #abraveface

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SBT News

4 And so it continues

Suicides reach a critical

level. We ask why

5 Russia Opens Fire on

Crimean Navy

Tensions increase in latest

act of aggression

5 Veterans Shelter

Destroyed by Council

A veteran returns from

Remembrance to find

shelter wrecked

6 Veterans to get

ID Cards By 2019

Application will be available

next year


9 Ask Kerry

Brand new advice on CV

and Careers

16 Saved a Soldier

New release of tribute to


18 Xmas Messages

Messages and Poetry for

Troops and Veterans


10 Historic Tommy Atkins

As seen on TV

It’s Christmas

The UK sends it’s Xmas wishes

to it’s Troops and Veterans

23 Have Faith

Peace to all men...

34 SBT Information

A page dedicated to back

issues, information, book

reviews etc

38 Mrs Fox Goes To War

All the latest gossip and

letters from Little Hope

Editor: Pablo Snow

Magazine Manager: Matt Jarvis

Patron: Matt Neal

Honourary Patron:

Jacqueline Hurley

Additional editors:

Kevin Lloyd-Thomas

Jane Shields

Peter Macey

News Media Manager

Jim Wilde

Recording Engineer and PR


Vince Ballard

Issue 50





December Edition

And Still The Heartache Continues...

2018 has been a very black year in regards

to Veterans and Armed Forces Suicides.

Over the past 11 months the SBT has

recorded 64 deaths with one month of the

year still left with no let up on the horizon.

Veterans charities, organisations and many

celebrities are now backing the call for

more to be done to end this unofficial epidemic.

Many of our veterans and troops simply

find the memories of their past too hard to

bear leading to no hope, severe mental illnesses

and in extreme cases, ending it all.

Recent studies by the Kings College,

London suggested, after conducting a survey

on 9,000 veterans (roughly 0.036% of

the veterans population), that around 7% of

Veterans suffered from mental health

issues, yet a National Sensus study carried

out by the MOD and released in October

2016 actually put that figure to over 35%.

Current trends would suggest this has only

increased but yet, current treatments and

systems are still woefully inadequate. The

recent study also suggested military statistics

were inline with civilian counterparts.

The 2016 report states that this is not the

case showing a 9% difference.

The SBT is yet again calling for our powers

to face up to the reality of the situation and

not to dilute the issue with unrealistic

reports. Only then can we truly deal with

the scale of the issue effectively and finally

put an end to more senseless deaths of

our brave men and women.

GET HELP NOW: Rewind @ Tommy Atkins Centre

| 4



SBT NEWS December Edition

By BBC News

Veteran Returns From Remembrance to

Find his Shelter Destroyed... By Council

A war hero turned into a

real-life Rambo to build a

log cabin hideaway home in

the woods - only for it to be

bulldozed by forestry


Ex-lance corporal Mike

Allen, 37, worked on his

beautiful rustic cabin for two

years as a way of dealing

with his PTSD. But when he

returned to the home on

Remembrance Sunday

weekend, Mike was

'devastated' to find it

flattened. The former soldier

built the isolated

mountainside retreat when

his marriage collapsed and he

was sleeping on friends'

sofas. Mike said: 'The cabin

was my home, my sanctuary.

It was causing no harm to

anyone and curing me. I

wouldn't be alive today

without it.' On his

Afghanistan tour in 2011

Mike spent nearly seven

months clearing bombs. He

said: 'One day an Afghan

policeman next to me stepped

on a device and was blown

up. I saw it all.

Story: Daily Mail

Russia fires on Crimean Navy

Russia has fired on and

seized three Ukrainian

naval vessels off the

Crimean Peninsula in a

major escalation of tensions

between the two


Two gunboats and a tug

were captured by Russian

forces. A number of

Ukrainian crew members

were injured. Each country

blames the other for the

incident. On Monday

Ukrainian MPs are due to

vote on declaring martial

law. The crisis began

when Russia accused the

Ukrainian ships of illegally

entering its waters. The

Russians placed a tanker

under a bridge in the

Kerch Strait - the only

access to the Sea of Azov,

which is shared between

the two countries During a

meeting of Ukraine's

National Security and

Defence Council,

President Petro

Poroshenko described the

Russian actions as "unprovoked

and crazy". More..

Decision on charging soldiers over

Bloody Sunday killings delayed again

Story: Belfast Telegraph

A decision on whether or

not to charge paratroopers

involved in Bloody Sunday

has been delayed until next


The Telegraph has reported

that the decision, due to be

made in the summer, has

been put back due to legal

issues. Eighteen exparatroopers

are waiting to

learn if they will face

prosecution in relation to the

events in Londonderry on

January 30 1972. Thirteen

people died when

paratroopers opened fire on

civil rights marchers, with a

14th victim dying later. More 5 |



December Edition

Washington governor praises soldier killed in Afghanistan over Weekend

A soldier from Washington

state who was killed in

Afghanistan over the

weekend gave his life in

service of the United States,

Gov. Jay Inslee said.

Army Sgt. Leandro A.S. Jasso,

25, died Saturday during

combat operations in Helmand

province, Afghanistan,

Defense Department officials

said Sunday. Jasso was from

Leavenworth, Washington,

and was assigned to 2nd

Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-

McChord. Inslee said in a

statement that "we are

Military veterans are to be given ID card to

recognise that they have served.

The cards will initially be given to all

personnel leaving the military, while

veterans who have already made the

transition to civilian life will be able to

apply for a service leavers ID card from

next year. The initiative is designed to give

profoundly grateful for his

service and sacrifice." Jasso

was wounded by small-arms

fire and was treated and

evacuated to the nearest

medical treatment facility,

where he died, said Lt. Col.

Loren Bymer, an Army

spokesman. He was on his

third deployment to

Afghanistan after enlisting in

the Army in 2012. Cascade

High School will hold a

moment of silence Monday.

City leaders also are

considering other ways to

honor Jasso, Ala'ilima-Daley

said. Read more here...

Veterans To Be Able To Apply For ID Cards From 2019

Story: Forces Online

By Daily Mail

veterans easier access to public and

charitable support including healthcare

and housing. Veterans are also being

asked to identify themselves with their GP

as having served, so that they can receive

appropriate support. When the next stage

of the ID card scheme was announced,

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

"We must never forget the sacrifices they

have made. So I am determined that the

Ministry of Defence does all that we can to

ensure those who struggle after serving

their country are properly supported." The

plans were first mentioned by Tobias

Ellwood, the minister responsible for

defence personnel and veterans, in the

Commons in October 2017. He said the

ID option was part of Government plans to

improve the information it keeps about exmilitary

personnel. Mr Ellwood, who was

in the Royal Green Jackets for five years,

serving in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and

Germany, told 'The Sun' newspaper last

year he was "delighted" about the

introduction of the initiative. He said: "As

a former soldier, I am aware of the

personal attachment with the service ID.

"Carried at all times, it becomes symbolic

of the responsibility and there is a strange

sense of loss when upon departing the

Armed Forces, it is taken from you. "I'm

delighted this initiative, which sits in the

Armed Forces Covenant, will help us all

better recognise our veterans and their

service to our country." Read more here..

GET HELP NOW: Text Combat Stress

07537 404719

| 6

A new multi-million pound

military warship will be named

the HMS Sheffield, more than

three decades after its namesake

was hit by a missile in

the Falklands.


New warship to be named HMS Sheffield

decades after namesake lost in Falklands

The state-of-the-art Type 26

frigate will be built in Scotland

as part of a ship building

scheme that will secure jobs

for more than 4,000 people

over the coming decades.

Defence Minister Stuart

Andrew announced the ship's

name at an event at

Chesterfield Special

Cylinders in Sheffield. The

firm supplies high pressure

gas storage systems for the

ships. It will be the fourth ship

to carry the HMS Sheffield

name. The second, a Type 42

destroyer, was lost during the

Falklands War. Twenty people

died and 26 were injured

when a missile hit the vessel

in 1982. HMS Sheffield will be

at the forefront of our worldleading

Royal Navy for

decades to come, providing

cutting edge protection for

our aircraft carriers and nuclear

deterrent, and offering unrivalled

capability at sea. From

north to south, these ships

are truly a national endeavour,

built on centuries of

British expertise and supporting

thousands of businesses

like Chesterfield Special

Cylinders across the UK.

Defence boosts the economy

of Yorkshire and the Humber

economy by £232million

every year and it’s only right

the region’s significant contribution

to our national security

is recognised by the naming

of HMS Sheffield.– Defence

Minister Stuart Andrew. The

news came as the Defence

Secretary announced he will

retain three of the Royal

Navy’s patrol ships to bolster

Britain’s fishery protection

capability. HMS Tyne, HMS

Mersey and HMS Severn,

which currently support the

Fishery Protection Squadron,

had been in the process of

being decommissioned Read

more stories like this at ITV

Are you:

A Service Veteran?

Aged 65 or over?

A family member or carer

of the above?

If so, you could bene 昀 t from the

support of a DMWS Welfare O cer

We are experts in the provision of Medical Welfare and have supported the

Armed Forces Community during medical treatment since 1943

We are here to help, contact your local Welfare O

cer today:

A Guide to Medical Welfare Services

for Health Care Professionals, Organisations

and Support Workers

Caring For Those Who Serve – Frontline To Recovery

Supported by the Aged Veterans Fund

funded by the Chancellor using LIBOR Funds.

DMWS Registered Charity number:

England: 1087210 | Scotland: SCO45460 7 |



With Jim Wilde


folks, and welcome

to the

festive season.

Is it me,

or has this year

been cut in half. I

can't remember time

passing so quickly. The staff

here at the magazine have managed to cram so much into this

year, it's hard trying to remember all the stuff we had to deal


There have been some highs, and some lows, but we have

managed to keep the ship afloat. Pablo and Jane have had

their hands full with organising the relocation of the "Tommy

Atkins Centre", and all the logistics and infrastructure that

entails. Along with that, the Rewind Trauma Therapy operation

is getting under way, and by the time you read this we hope to

have a steady flow of veterans, keen to meet Dr Muss and be

helped by the fantastic opportunity that his system affords.

On the media front, we have managed to setup and successfully

broadcast interviews and podcasts to support the magazine. A

few teething problems posed issues in the beginning, but after

plenty of practice, and some willing volunteers, we have managed

to iron out the creases, and we have a very strong following,

and plenty of support for the new venture. Now that the

system is tried and tested, the plan is to take the show out on

the road, and meet plenty of our readers, and discuss "up close

and personal" the issues of the day. There is plenty of choice for

topics, from Brexit (if we really need to go there) and how it will

affect the military community. Also, the Veterans Strategy is

being rolled out. Some of you may have already received the

Survey for completion. It is an opportunity to "have your say",

and give feedback on what you think should be involved in the

process. This is definitely a topic that will run and run.

During the month of November, there was (and still is), a presence

at the Combat Stress centre (Audley Court) in Newport,

Shropshire. Gus Hales, a 62 year old Falklands Veteran, has

been trying to find out why he was discharged from their

care....on his doorstep, with no explanation, and no care package

to follow up. The talks still continue, with little progress

being made at this time. The story has made the press, and

also ITV and Sky News. It would appear, that the only resolution

in Mr hales opinion is for a full Public Inquiry into the systemic

failings of the organisation. A camp has been setup behind the

centre, resembling something like a military camp location....

remember those.....(shudder). It has sleeping accommodation,"pan

bash" area, cooks tent, and log burners for those that

are supporting the cause. It has been there three weeks now,

and could be there until Christmas if no solution or compromise

is found. Check out the "Minds At War" page on Facebook to

get the latest from "Stormin'" Norman McGuigan, how has been

instrumental in getting this subject noticed. Normans live broadcasts

keep folks up to date on events at Audley Court at regular


The continuing rise in suicide figures still gives cause for concern.

At the time of writing, we have lost 64 of our fellow brothers

and sisters through Mental Illness, and PTSD related issues.

51 of those are veterans, with 13 serving. On the upside, there

appears to be a lot of activity around social media on ways to

address the issues. Icarus Online, are a small organisation that

run courses to train people up on its "Immediate Care

Practitioner" courses run by David Bellamy and Simon Maryan,

with great success. This coupled with the Rewind Therapy soon

to kick in, should be a welcome resource for those looking for


I would like to say a big thank-you to Jeff Williams from

"Veterans United Against Suicide" for having the forsight and

commitment to setup the site, and give those in despair and

darkness, a small ray of hope to cling on to. Also my thanks to

Sarah Wells, Jules Bowley, Mia and Jen for supporting us

through quite a traumatic time. It means everything to the guys

out there.

Also, a big shout out to Davey Robb and his wife Bex for their

selfless commitment to helping the homeless in their area. Dave

is in the process of organising a system with ASDA at

Donnington Wood, Telford whereby folks that want to donate

items, and cant get into town, or just want to but something for

the homeless, can arrange it so that you can log on to ASDA in

Donnington Wood, and buy some the "Click and

Collect" option and pay.....and Davey and Bex will arrange to

pick the items up, and distribute them to the homeless.

Everything from sleeping bags, tampons, soap, shampoo, knickers,

socks......anything you would like to donate. Go find Davey

Robb on Facebook, and get the lowdown.... what a great idea at

this time of year!

Thats about it for this festive issue from me. As always, you can

catch me online on my daily broadcasts, or on my Facebook


Also, drop me a line at with any

images/topics you would like included in a future issue.

Have a great Christmas and New Year, and remember those that

are not so fortunate. It takes just a minute to check on someone,

and it may be all that is needed to make the recipient feel a

sense of worth and friendship.

Until the next issue, stay safe, and look after each other.


0800 731 4880

| 8


Ask Kerry...

Let her help you to open doors

100 not out.

In 2016, my coaching and mentoring support

for the military began with occasional

requests for help. The requests initially from

people who had served in The Royal Navy or

remembered when I worked as a civilian

instructor at the Army Education Centre in

Bordon Hampshire. However, the work

began in earnest in January 2017. This was

when I started posting this familiar post on a


‘4 not out’. The number referred to the

week in the year.

I cannot remember why I decided to use a

cricket metaphor – just very pleased I did.

Every week from 1stJanuary through to 31st

December 2017, my military and ex-military

clients have been‘opening doors’.

On 1stJanuary 2018, I began again. New

Year – new game. Or so I thought……..

2018 has been illuminating. The number of

job interviews, job offers and job starts has

been astonishing. A significant majority using

their ‘Master CV’ as a guide; for their second,

third, fourth, fifth and now their sixth

job.There is one former client who had 30 job

offers, 10 in one week alone. The job interviews

are for diverse employment sectors.

None are ‘entry level’ positions. All show

skills, knowledge, expertise and quiet visible

professionalism. The jobs and the clients I

support, are global.

premise is simple:

They help me to

open doors into new


In addition, they provide

guidance on

training programmes,

generate constructive

work experience

placements and if

appropriate engage

directly by phone or

face to facewith my

military client. On

LinkedinI refer to

them as my alumni.

Collectively, we quietly applaud when doors

are opened or when new qualifications have

been achieved. The cheers grow louder,

when the recent client becomes an alumni

and in time becomes a mentor. Last week a

member of the Open Door military family

used the phrase ‘the golden thread that binds

us.’ Poetic and apt.

My military and ex-mil CV clients have confirmed

job interviews up to Friday 30th

November. [Post written on 22 November].

100 consecutive weeks - since the Game


The word ‘Game’ has been chosen with care.

They know the rules of this Game. They have

worked hard and it shows. To misquote

[intentionally] the ‘7 P’s of the Royal Artillery’

Proper prepared preparation prevents pitifully

poor performance.

It is wonderful and humbling in equal measure,

to see first-hand how the ‘Open Door

military family’ supports, guides and engages

with each other. The tales are heart-warming.

Their work is conducted in the shadows.

Intentionally so. Only those that need to

know their identity, are aware. The fellowship

of mutual trust and respect is invigorating.

The alliance has strength and has teeth. The

I am incredibly honoured to be their Coach

and Mentor. The crafting of a new CV is just

the beginning of their journey.

The new ‘Game’ begins Sunday 2nd


We are ready.

GET HELP NOW: Combat Stress

0800 138 1619 9 |


As Seen On TV

By Peter Macey

Chiang Kai-shek was born into the

imperialist state of China on 1 October

1887. He became a politician and military

leader and rose to become leader of what

was to become the Replublic of China

between 1928 and 1975.

In December 1949 another, stronger leader

by the name of Mao Zedong appeared on

the scene and Chiang Kai-Shek was ousted

and escaped across the China Sea to the

island of Formosa. A war ensued between

Chiang and Mao, across the South China

Sea. Eventually the island was renamed

Taiwan. Despite Mao’s best efforts to bring

about change in the Country, Chiang Kai-

Shek, despite his absence, is still recognised

and remembered, by much of the world, as

the head of the legitimate government of

China until the early 1970’s.

From 1928 to 1948, Chiang served as

chairman of the national government of the

Republic of China. He was known as

socially conservative promoting traditional

Chinese culture but as such was unable to

maintain party support at the end of World

war II. Uprisings began as the people in

various regions of the Country became

aware of the teachings of Mao. Chiang

purged them in a complete massacre in

Shanghai and in the areas of Canton and

elsewhere. This included the demolition of

towns and the murders of men, women and


At the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese

war which was to become the Chinese

theater of war during WWII the Manchurian

warlord Xueliang, kidnapped Chiang and

forced him into establishing a Second

United front with the Chinese Communist

Party. After the defeat of the Japanese in

1945, the American Government sponsored

a mission in an attempt to negotiate a

coalition government for China but this

failed in 1946. The Chinese Civil War

resumed and Mao came to the forefront

defeating Chiang in and declaring the

People’s Republic of China in December

1949. Chiang's government and army

retreated to Formosa where Chiang

immediately imposed martial law and

persecuted anyone who dared to counter his

authority. This became known as the

‘White Terror’. After evacuating to

Formosa, Chiang's government continued to

declare its intention to retake mainland

China. Chiang ruled Taiwan securely as

President of China by name only until his

death in 1975, one year before Mao died.

Like Mao, Chiang is regarded as a

controversial figure. He was seen by many

as being a key player and playing a major

role in the Allied victory in WWII. He

managed to unify the nation and became

something of a national figure of the

Chinese resistance against Japan. Others

denounce him as tyrant and dictator who

caused more damage to China and the

Chinese people than Mao ever did.

Up until this point no-one had really

witnessed mass slaughters of innocent

people, although in fairness Japan had

carried out as much damage in Korea

practically enslaving all Korean’s to their

way of culture from the early 1930’s up

until the start of WWII.

During WWII the Hollacaust happened but

whilst people heard news about the camps,

very few actually saw what was going on or

the deaths what incurred due to one’s belief

over another.

In 1989 another uprising in China too place

in Tiananmen Square. Led primarily by

students it took place as a protest towards

Government rules. The Chinese

Government rolled out the tanks and guns,

slaughtering what is estimated to be up to

10,000 protestors.

The difference this time was the world saw

this happen on television.

In the early 1990’s the Balkan war started

and again the slaughter of men, women and

children was witnessed by the world. As it

is today with Syria and must of what

Veterans who are reading this article will

have witnessed first-hand in Countries like

Iraq, Afghanistan, Croatia and Bosnia to

name but a few. And some people wonder

why our servicemen experience PTSD and

night terrors after some of the sights they

encounter during service.

But there is assistance out there through

contacting SBT or Forgotten Veterans UK


| 10


Patron to The Tommy Atkins Centre


Paul Smith has become an

ambassador for UK Veterans

Hearing Help since having

successfully had his new

hearing devices fitted. Paul

cannot speak highly enough

about the care he received

and now promotes the service

to other Veteran colleagues

on how UKVHH provides a

first-class service to those with

hearing difficulties.

Paul served in the Royal Navy

for some ten years and during

his time in Service, he was

subjected to training on

Morse Code, often using

machine guns and rifles as part of his training

and later in his Service, worked closely to

Helicopters all of which generated loud and

uncomfortable noise levels. On one of his

tours he was involved with missile testing frequently

using a 15mm machine gun and as

he had to work in the middle of the ship, he

was almost constantly exposed to this high

level of noise.

Like all individuals, he did not notice the hearing

loss and compensated however, his

friends and family did. He felt embarrassed

as he had to keep asking friends and family

to repeat themselves due to not hearing the

conversation clearly. It was his wife that

noticed his hearing was not as it should be

and made him go for a check on his hearing

levels. He tried both unsuccessfully NHS and

a national hearing company’s hearing device,

but they only felt uncomfortable.

Being an avid reader, he read about UKVHH

in the Leicester Mercury and decided to contact

them to see if they could improve his

quality of life. After the journey of being tested,

approved by the Royal British Legion

Veterans Hearing Fund, Paul and especially

his family and friends are more than delighted

with his new aids and he now feels more confident

in the company of others.

We at UK Veterans Hearing Help will guide

and support you throughout the process and

ensure that only the best care and after care

is given to you thereby ensuring that your

quality of life is improved. We are not just

here to administer your application, we are

here to care for you as an individual and that

means a great deal to us

Are you living for now? Or are you always waiting

for something to come along in the future?

| 12



Building Heroes is a charity providing

free skills training to the entire Military

family and support into employmentOur

aim is to tackle unemployment amongst

those who have kept us safe by offering

them a seamless transition to a new

career in construction.

The Building Heroes Foundation in

Property Maintenance Programme delivers

a free certified 5-week diploma

course at a variety of colleges around

the UK.

What will I learn?

Your training will include the

following elements:

Health safety and welfare in construction,

including CSCS training and examination

Brickwork, blockwork, rendering, plastering

Painting and decorating, tiling

Domestic plumbing

Asbestos Awareness (either classroom

or on-line learning and test)


Routine maintenance tasks (e.g.

locks, guttering)

What are the qualifications?

The college will enrol you on a Level 1

qualification in Construction Skills. You

will be assessed on a range of skills

across the subjects studied. In addition,

you will receive a Level 1 Health and

Safety in the Construction Environment

and your Construction Skills Certification

Scheme (CSCS) card, essential for working

in the construction industry.

What happens after the course?

This will depend on your personal situation

and your career ambitions. We aim

to support you into a career in the building

trades, whether that is as an employee

or self-employed, or whether you

wish to continue your training. We will

provide guidance and advice appropriate

to your needs.

Where is the course delivered?

Chichester College, Brinsbury Campus,

West Sussex

Reaseheath College, Nantwich, Cheshire

Colchester Institute, Essex

Wiltshire College and University Centre,


How do I apply?

Please complete an application form. On

receipt of your form one of our team will

be in touch to discuss your application

and the available options 13 |

The Tommy Atkins Centre

Tommy Atkins Centre December

Here's wishing all our veteran community a

wonderful Christmas and New Year festivities.

As the weather grows colder over the winter

months a quick reminder to you all to call on that

elderly neighbour or friend who may be living

alone near to you. A brief visit every day to make

sure they are okay, and taking time to share a few

words with them to brighten up their day goes a

long way to making them feel less alone.

Perhaps you and your family could offer to run a

few errands for them or maybe take a hot meal

around occasionally. Your kindness will be

appreciated by most.

Since moving to our new location we at The

Tommy Atkins Centre have been very busy putting

together some exciting new projects to help make

life a little easier for our veteran community. We

are holding a coffee and mince pies morning on

Friday 14th December, all very welcome between

1000-1230. Might even persuade Pabs to get his

BTCC Champion, Matt Neal to Open

New Tommy Atkins Centre

Sandbag Times Patron and three times British

Touring Car Champion Matt Neal will officially open

the new Tommy Atkins Centre on 18th January

2019 at the KGV, Brickfields, Worcester.

The new facility, supplied by the Worcester

Community Trust, came in to operation earlier this

month with much improved facilities to support the

veterans community in Worcestershire and


guitar out and have a sing along of a few

Christmas carols.

Our Rewind Therapy is going from strength to

strength. Visit our website for the contact

information if you'd like to book a session. We

have a 24hr dedicated phone line for you to

leave your contact details, we will call you back

asap for a brief chat and to offer the necessary

help you need.

We will be holding our official launch for our

centre on January 18th at 1200, and have invited

Matt Neal our British Touring Car Patron to

officially open the centre for us. There will be

media representation present, and anyone

wishing to attend the launch is more than

welcome to attend. Come along and find out

what we're all about.

All that's left is to wish you all a healthy, safe and

happy time over the coming Christmas and New

Year. A very merry Christmas to you all. xx

Jane xx


brought up to speed on current issues and plans

within the centre.

Combat Stress, SSAFA and other veterans organisations

will also be present at the opening providing

an opportunity for the public to learn more

about the services and to meet the British Motor

Racing Legend who is taking time out prior to his

2019 BTCC Campaign to support veterans.

Backed by the Worcester City Council, it is

planned that this new site will be the first of three

facilities under the Tommy Atkins Banner to operate

within the region.

Matt, 52, has been a long supporter of the UK

Armed Forces and Veterans with many of his

friends having served. He became Patron of the

SBT in 2017 and regularly visits the centre to be

GET HELP NOW: Tommy Atkins Centre

01905 27825

| 14


The Tommy Atkins Centre

Supporting Veterans in the Community

c/o KGV Community Centre

10 Ash View



Fridays - 1000hrs-1430hrs

01905 813936

Accommodation Support

For Further Details:

Tel: 01746 833797/ 830191/ 872940

Fax: 01746 835774

Catterick Mil: 94731 2940



Music Producer, Charles Bailey and BRB

Come Together In An Awesome Project To

Support Veterans Charity Save Our Soldier

One of the most wonderful and heart-warming things about writing

this magazine is when we feature projects from the community that

support our veterans. It is the one way that the Armed Forces community

can truly see that the sacrifices they have made were really

worth it and appreciated.

The song, ‘Saved a Soldier’ written by Charles Bailey and the band

BRB, is one such project.

Music Produces, Charles, took inspiration from his friend, ex- Army

Medic, Steve Thompson, who was being

helped by the charity Save our Soldier.

Like many veterans, Steve had encountered

many difficulties and issues such as

deteriorating mental health and homelessness,

to name just a few. But thanks

to the support of the veterans charity, in

particular Lee Hayward (CEO) and

Debbie Banks, Steve is looking forward

to a brighter and more positive future. I

stress that the help and support is still


Charles also has family connections with

the military. His Grandfather served in

WW1 afterbeing sent directly to France

from Jamaica.

So with the inspiration and passion firmly

lodged in his mind, he set about writing

the song with Ashley, Bobby and Joel,

aka BRB.

BRB are also the voices on the song,

sporting smooth styling and wonderfully

choreographed harmonies in what is

actually a love song between a woman

and her soldier.

Over the coming weeks, Charles and

BRB will be featured in many national

newspapers and hopefully a few TV

appearances which may even include

Breakfast TV. There will also be some airtime

on national Radio with dates still to

be confirmed. Watch this space.

Charles has also vowed that all profits be

given to Save our Soldier in order to

assist veterans like Steve.

| 116

Charles is also well known for his campaigns like Met

Police Recruitment, Don't Shoot, anti guns in schools,

Archbishop of Canterbury task force promoting credit

unions, Manchester United and Arsenal team songs

and so much more.

the song will be released on Friday 30th November on

itunes, Amazon and other popular music outlets. A

video will also be released on the same day featuring

top actress Leila Ayad and tells the story of a soldier

coming home and struggling with PTSD. BRB have

performed the song at a Remembrance event in

London this year and also featured in the recent boxing

tournament featuring ex-SAS veteran ‘Big’ Phil


Lee from Save our Soldier said:

“We helped save the life of a soldier, this individual

knew Charles Bailey - producer, Charles had a thought

to support the charity in some way. He contacted us,

spoke to one of our coaches Debbie, who indicated

that the majority of the calls we receive, indeed come

from the wives/partners. Charles chatted this through

with the band" brb", collaborated and co-produced a

song. The song is titled: "Saved a Soldier".

Save Our Soldier, receives many calls, for help and

enquiries of what to do. The majority by far, come from

the partners of the person suffering - for the most part,

wives, fiancées or girlfriends. Because they called, it

eventually opens the door to their partner receiving

much needed help - often saving their life. This charity

does it's part... but the partner is the one who deals with

this on a daily basis, behind closed doors. This is a way

for their partners to be recognised to express the deep

thank you they feel inside, a thank you for being there

through thick and thin and for saving their life.”

To find out more about the song, Charles or the band

the please go to the following links.



You can also find out more on Save our Soldier by visiting

their website 17 |

Christmas Messages to our Armed F

Dear UK soldiers

You don't know me

We're do not stand for the same flag

But just like in the History

The bullet you stopped for your homeland,

Stopped from coming to my home too.

Thank you and Merry Christmas!

Ronald Hutasuhut, Indonesia

Stay safe this Christmas, respect & thanks for

all you do.

Jane Wright

You maybe away from family and friends at a

special time of year. Stay safe and thank you.

Merry Christmas to all our troops with total

respect x

Debbie Kent

Thank you for keeping us safe, yesterday,

today and tomorrow. A merry Christmas and

a Happy New Year to you all

Julie Warrington

Merry Christmas and Thank you One & All

With Respect always xx

Liz Jones

Merry Christmas to all our troops wherever

you are stay safe God bless xx❤?

Ann Lynch

Have the best christmas you can we are all

thinking of you all take care and have a good

new year

John Winterburn

Merry Christmas to ALL serving & ex serving

warriors,have a great leave/holiday & I wish

you all the very best.

Terry Wyeth

Merry christmas and happy new year im so

proud of all of all the serving forces and the

ex Service men to safe christmas where ever

you are xx

Amelia Thornton

Wishing peace, love and goodwill to all our

serving forces, and a special thought to all

our veteran community too. May you all have

a wonderful Christmas wherever you are. x

Jane Shields

From a old veteran, keep smiling, keep up to

the fantastic job you all are doing, have a

good as christmas you can, keep your butt

down and your head lower, but mainly COME



George Young

No matter where you are serving around the

globe, merry xmas and stay safe. Worcester

Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club x

Dave Carney

Christmas Greetings to One & All Thank You

for keeping us Safe

Henry Ready

Stay safe boys and girls, hope you

have a brilliant Christmas wherever

you are this year.

Chris Smart

To all our veterans everywhere,

thank you for your service. May your

Christmas and New Year bring

you joy and new opportunities.

Danny Biggs

Merry Christmas to all personnel

deployed and to all that

have served.

Ernest Fernandez

I would like to wish all

our troops, veterans,

serving or ex serving

a peaceful

and safe

Christmas and

New Year. Thank you

for your service. With

love from (the momma

of all troops.)

Elaine Coombes.


Christmas to all

that are keeping

us safe

Ray Young

Wishing you all a merry Christmas where ever

this finds you, and a special Christmas wish

for those who wont get home on R & R especially

the Guards Jumpers on Operation


Liz Godwin

| 18


orces and Veterans from our Readers

Jack ..David 's and Lily's Christmas

Bursting With Excitement, Come on Kids Time

for Bed,

Whispers Little Jack,'' Did You Hear What

Mummy Said'',

If We Are Good Little Girls and Boys,

Santa's Coming With Lots of Toys,

I Would Rather We Had Daddy Lily Cried,

David Pulled Lily to His Side,

Being the Oldest, Wise Beyond Years,

He Set About Calming Lily's Fear's,

Daddy Is a Soldier, and He Is Fighting a War,

But Don't Worry Both, Only a Few Months More,

And Daddy Will Come Walking Through the


Prayers Said, They Climb Into Bed,

Little Eyes Close,

Some One Creeping on the Landing

,and Creeping on Tippy Toes,

Father Christmas Stops by Each


Gently Touching Each Tiny Head.

Daddy's Home..merry Christmas

Jack ..David ...Lily.

By S.a.English


Lucy's dad was a soldier,

He went to Afghanistan,

Every night Lucy would


Dear Jesus ,

bring my daddy home if you


Christmas day was nearly


Still no sign of dad,

Lucy went of to bed feeling

really sad,

Christmas morning came,

Still no sign of dad,

Although she tried to


deep down she felt

so sad,

Mummy smiled at

her and said

Just look by the


There was the

biggest box ever

,Mummy is that for


Open it quickly ,

tell me What can you


Lucy let out the biggest scream ever


by S.A.English ©

Under the mistletoe

Under the mistletoe

where kisses come and go,

a little girl will grow.

Poaching her rosy lips

while nodding fingertips

under the mistletoe.

A little girl in a fancy dress

spilling porridge, what a mess!

Waiting for her Santa's kiss

if he comes, or if he miss!

He might just come and go

under the mistletoe.

One kiss under a tree

One in a stockings glee

what might it be

in kisses she can't see?

A little girl will grow

under the mistletoe.

The secrets at her lips

touched by fingertips.

Cheerful that she might

find her kisses to night,

as she comes and goes

under those mistletoe's.

Anneli Høiland


The Guns Fell Silent

The guns fell silent and the world stopped to listen.

T’was Christmas Day in the trenches, suddenly

peace was upon us.

Soldiers were brothers again no matter race or


Gifts were exchanged and the game began

This was a victory, not for country, but for


No cries of war and suffering just cheers of joy

and laughter, filling the air.

Thoughts going back to the loved ones at

home, oh to be there for a Christmas kiss.

Tomorrow it’s back to war and new friends today

will no longer be.

But peace prevailed if only briefly just for

Christmas and we believed.

Ricky Boys 19 |

Yuletide cheer

It’s the time of year that brings so many joys

Carols being sung makes such a cheerful


Children finding it hard to fall asleep

Their curtains twitching as they take a peep

Trees decorated with tinsel and lights

Presents found underneath always excites

All these things bring a little yuletide cheer

Stars of the panto putting on a show

A man dressed in red shouting ho ho ho

His reindeer pulled sleigh dashes through the


Hoping snow falls turning everything white

Take a ride down the hillside on our sleigh

Throwing snowballs is a game we all play

All these things bring a little yuletide cheer

Time for all to have some fun and laughter

With a big party to raise the rafters

As we hang up our stocking by the fire

Then hope their filled with the things we


Sending cards to family and friends galore

Making holly wreaths to hang on our door

All these things bring a little yuletide cheer

Let’s all join in to spread some yuletide cheer

Written by

Roger Penkethman

Dead lights and Fairy lights

Though you don't see me I am there.

While you stagger home from the Christmas

party I see you stare.

When you're shopping for the turkey.

I am spending the day feeling hungry.

While you're at home with your families.

I am under a bridge all alone and abandoned.

Betrayed by the self righteous elite.

Snubbed by the people I swore to protect.

This is the land that was fit for heroes.

And what I got in return was a big fat zero.

But in the despair, anger and pain of my


There are the angels who bring me back into

the light.

From the fags and brews.

To the warm clothes and comfy shoes.

From the safety from my mental health.

To giving me confidence and a reclaimed

sense of self.

The ones who reach out to help.

Even when they are free to turn their backs.

The ones who refuse to see me cold.

The ones who refuse to see me hungry.

The good, the kind, the old and the young.

They don't see a homeless man.


Proud Sponsors of

The Sandbag Times

The SBT would like to

welcome Urban Prints,

Worcester as an official sponsor

for our magazine.

Urban Prints

Unit 7 The Gallery,

The Shambles,



GET HELP NOW: NHS England S/West

0300 365 0300

| 20


They see the headdress and they see.

The eyes and number of a serviceman.

Their warmth brings joy.

Their care brings hope.

Their kindness gives me the strength to cope.

This display of the Christmas spirit.

It makes me stop and think.

The goodness and honour of the human spirit.

Will never cease to exist.

On Christmas Eve (Holy Night)

On Christmas Eve (All is calm)

On Christmas Eve (All is bright)

Round yon virgin Mother and Child

Holy infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace

By Jane Shields

As I get my head down.

I know all is well and right.

That people like this exist on this silent night.

Tommy Bourne

Christmas Fear

It’s that time of year I dread and fills my heart

with lead.Heavy feeling of wanting, but not

knowing how, is taunting.Smiling faces at

Xmas, makes me sad and anxious.Being

alone is my heaven, to hide all those unhidden

cravings.Sitting by my Xmas tree, watching

my lights sparkle.Eaten my turkey on my

own, as this where, I feel at home.

By Andria MacMurray

Christmas Eve (Silent Night)

It's all so very still tonight

The night air is crisp and clear

Snow is laying pure and bright

On Christmas Eve life's full of cheer

Snuggled up safely in warm beds

Children dream sugar plum dreams

Fantasies run through their heads

As tomorrows happiness streams

On Christmas Eve (Silent night)

On Christmas Eve (Holy Night)

On Christmas Eve (All is calm)

On Christmas Eve (All is bright)

Outside the magic fills the air

The atmosphere comes alive

Silence strains through winters ears

For Christmas day's yet to arrive

On Christmas Eve (Silent night)

On Christmas Eve (Holy Night)

On Christmas Eve (All is calm)

On Christmas Eve (All is bright)

Every child awaits their treats

Toys and books and games and sweets

Chocolates and candy canes

Barbie dolls, electric trains

On Christmas Eve (Silent night)


Are you wrapped up nice and warm.

In your comfy bed,

DO you dream about the ex soldier

With nowhere to lay his head,

And when on Christmas morning,

You sit around the tree

Do you think of all the veterans,

Suffering PTSD,

Your party made so many promises,

None of which have been kept,

Cant help wondering Mrs May

Just how well you slept .

S.A.English (c)

So this is Christmas.

So this is Christmas.

All is quiet, all is white,

Voices sing silent night

A lonely man wends his way,

looking for somewhere warm to stay

His four legged friend run's on ahead,

He know's just where to find a bed,

The church door is open,

They both creep in

To pinch baby Jesus’s blanket

would that be a sin,

I really don't think that God will mind,

It's Christmas eve .


By s.a.english ©

The Sandbag Times would like to wish all of our Armed

Forces and Veterans a very Merry and Peaceful Christmas 21 |



A cracking new self help guide to beat

PTSD by Kevin Lloyd-Thomas

In May 2011, Australian Infantry combat veteran

Kevin Lloyd-Thomas walked away from


The book, “Beat PTSD - How A Combat

Soldier Conquered Chronic PTSD To Live A

Life That Truly Matters And How You Can

Too,” is the worlds first and only “How to/Self

help book, written by a veteran specifically for

serving men and women, veterans and their

families. It hasa global audience.

Grabbing life back by the throat, Kevin developed

and implemented specific plans and

strategies to turn his life around.

It’s about “Parachute thinking.” “Your mind is

like a parachute - It only works when it’s


It's about surviving and thriving in peace time

after returning from a war zone, says Kevin.

By implementing the five step life plan, setting

your own goals, with the seven pillars of

success, tailoring it to suit your own requirements,

you'll be able to set yourself up on the


to achieving whatever it is in life you want, no

matter what your current circumstances

might be.

Raw, Riveting and Real. Says Tim Thomas,

Special Forces Medic in Afghanistan

“Beat PTSD” is like a beacon in the wilderness.

This unique book is for those still serving,

or for those struggling in the civilian

world, those torn apart by PTSD, fearful of

asking for help because of stigma, knowing

their career is under direct threat.

Beat PTSD addresses the key issues of veterans

families breaking up due to PTSD, related

domestic violence, and the distressing

effects on children.

For Your Tommorrow

Produced by FVUK to mark the Centenary of the Armistice, this is

not just a book of poems. Through a series of history articles and

images alongside the Great War poems and modern day works, all

featuring biographies of the poets, the pages will take you through

the war, with the words of poems written at the time and events

that changed the world.

For more information and to purchase your copy go to:


GET HELP NOW: NHS England South East

020 3317 6818

| 22


Peace and Good Will to All Men...

As we arrive at Christmas once more, our minds are scrambling

around preparing for the annual festivities. Presents, Turkeys,

decorations, shopping, you name it, it’s taking over. The commercial

machine takes over once more, Yet while we fight the

crowds and tolerate Slade, Wizzard and Shaking Stevens yet

again, how many of us actually use Christmas for what it is

intended for?

The commercialisation of Christmas has meant we have taken

on a whole plethera of meaningless traditions and customs,

All of the best gifts come straight from the heart. Maybe check

up on people, in particular for this magazine, our veterans who

maybe having a hard time. Go have a laugh with them for a little


Finally, remember what it is all about. Although dates of the

year maybe in dispute, the birth of Christ, at this time of year

represents nothing but joy and celebration. Take a few

moments to thank him for all the good in your life.

That’s really it. Very simple, but so important. In fact this message,

although we emphasise these things at Christmas Time,

they are the very essence of how we should be all year round.

I do hope what every you are doing over the festive period that

you have a very wonderful and very peaceful time. Although

my way of thinking does not suit everybody, I shall still pray for

peace and happiness for all of our readers, veterans and Armed

Forces over the most wonderful time of the year.

Merry Christmas All

although most are fun and add to the enjoyment of the season,

But there are a few that still hold the original meaning which I

think should be kept. Nothing drastic, just basic thoughts and

feelings. Firstly, Peace to all men. This is a good time to

remind ourselves how rewarding it is to forgive. Not for our own

benefit but as God does, to cast all sins against us to eternal

forgetfulness. Not the easiest thing but it does wipe a lot of

slates clean. Well worth doing. Yes we should do this all year

round but maybe remembering this at Christmas may just help.

Goodwill to all men. All this means is be kind to each other.

There are a myriad of ways we can do this apart from gift giving.

GET HELP NOW: NHS England North

0191 441 5974 23 |



Combat Stress is honoured to have been

selected as the chosen charity of next year’s

Army v Navy rugby match which will take

place at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 14

May 2019.

The annual match is the largest amateur

sporting event in the UK and regularly draws

a capacity crowd of 81,000 to the home of

English rugby. Combat Stress will be collecting

money around the stadium on the day

and the charity will receive £1 from every programme

that is sold and £1 from every

reusable cup that is returned to specific charity

bins around the stadium.

Sue Freeth, Chief Executive of Combat

Stress, said:

“It’s a great honour to be the chosen charity

of the Army v Navy 2019 match. With more

than 80,000 people expected to attend, it will

be a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness

of veterans’ mental health and the importance

of seeking help.

“Next year marks Combat Stress’ centenary.

From our 100 years’ experience of supporting

former servicemen and women with mental

health issues, we know how vital it is they

receive the best possible treatment. Every

penny raised for Combat Stress at the match

will enable us to continue providing lifechanging

treatment to veterans in need of


“We look forward to seeing everyone at

Twickenham Stadium and wish the Army and

Royal Navy teams the very best of luck.”

Gary Bushell Chairman of the Army Navy

Match Committee said:

“We are delighted to welcome Combat Stress

as the chosen charity of the day for the 2019

Army Navy Match. Combat Stress are the

UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental

health. They provide life-changing treatment,

care and support to help veterans tackle the

past and take on the future. The Committee,

along with both Unions, were unanimous in

their support for Combat Stress to be the

charity of the day for the 102nd Army Navy

fixture, we wish them well and we hope they

enjoy being part of the event.”

Andy, an Army veteran who was helped by

Combat Stress said:

“It’s great that the Army v Navy match is

fundraising for Combat Stress. It’s one of the

biggest days of the year for both Forces and I

hope everyone gets behind the charity to

raise lots of money for them.

“Before I contacted Combat Stress, I was

struggling with anxiety, depression, anger

and guilt. It was frightening not knowing what

was happening to me. Combat Stress helped

me to understand I had post-traumatic stress

disorder and gave me the tools to manage

my symptoms. Now thanks to them I’ve got

my life back.”



| 24

Fundraiser climbs mountain

in aid of charity

A logistics firm director has reached new heights after

climbing Africa’s highest mountain for charity.

Mark Elward, who lives in Worcester, scaled Mount

Kilimanjaro in aid of Turn to Starboard, a sailing charity

helping Armed Forces personnel affected by military


The challenge saw Mark and two friends climb almost

6,000m high to reach the top of the mountain at

Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania. He was inspired

to trek to the summit in aid of the charity as part of his

ongoing support to help injured veterans.

Turn to Starboard use sail training to support injured

veterans and has helped many start new careers in

the marine industry. The charity, based at Falmouth in

Cornwall, was set up four years ago and believes sailing

has a therapeutic effect on veterans and has provided

almost 2,000 sailing opportunities.

Mark and his group trained for over a year to prepare

to reach the summit, by trekking at the Brecon

Beacons in Wales, and finally set off for their adventure

on October 21.

And for the 52-year-old, having the opportunity to

climb to one of the world’s most iconic volcanoes, is a

bucket list dream come true.

The idea of Kilimanjaro has been on my bucket list

for a few years now and last year myself and a group

of friends decided to set a date and start training. Turn

| 26


to Starboard was the chosen charity because of the

great work that they do and I totally get the therapeutic

effect that sailing can have, being on the vast

ocean with nothing around you is a great way to clear

your mind and the positive impact that the charity is

having on veterans and their families is inspiring.

“To climb the mountain we chose the Lemosho Route

which takes eight days and gives you the best chance

to acclimatize, with an 88% chance of reaching the

summit. For the first few days, unlike the rest of my

party, I didn’t suffer any real effects of altitude sickness,

that was until the day we climbed to the summit.

“Leaving our tents at midnight and after a seven hour

trek to the top, my symptoms became quite severe

with vomiting, nausea, headache and hallucinations, it

was clear it was time to get down the mountain quite


“After a rapid descent I soon started to feel better and

we got to the hotel the next day for a well-deserved

hot shower and a cold beer. The highlight was without

doubt the views from the top and the most challenging

part was the last day at the hotel where I went

down with chronic food poisoning!”

Mark, who works as Commercial Director at Whistl

Fulfilment at Farnborough in Hampshire, raised

£1,102 for the charity on the expedition.

Find out more at 27 |


Ross Kemp helps to launch

Walking Home For Christmas

Walking With The Wounded is hugely grateful

to TV star, Ross Kemp, who joined us on

Millennium Bridge early on Monday morning

in order to back this year’s Walking Home

For Christmas campaign. Ross joined

WWTW Ambassador, Tom Evans, and a

remarkable team of veterans who had all

received support from Walking With The

Wounded and Help for Heroes after leaving

the Armed Forces. Ross walked alongside

them, battling strong winds and heavy downpours,

all the way to the Cenotaph on

Whitehall in order to raise the profile of

Britain’s wounded veterans who are at risk,

battling unemployment, isolation and struggling

with their mental health.

The aim of the walk was to call on Brits

across the country to put their best foot forward

to raise much-needed cash to help veterans

and their families – simply by going for

a walk.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the

men and women who risk their own lives to

make Britain – and the world - a safer place

for us all,” said Ross. “Yet when they return,

people in the Armed Forces often struggle to

adapt to civilian life – and rarely get the

heroes’ welcome they deserve.They may find

themselves alone, struggling to find work –

or even a home – and many are also struggling

with their mental health after witnessing

scenes in battle that you or I cannot imagine.

But just by going for a walk in the run-up to

Christmas, you can raise money that is

essential to help these brave men and

women who have risked their own lives thousands

of miles from home. Anyone can raise

money for Walking Home For Christmas by

taking part in a sponsored walk between

December 13th – 23rd – whether it’s taking a

present to a loved one or walking to a place

that means something to you."

All funds raised from this year’s campaign

will be split between Walking With The

Wounded and Help for Heroes to pay for

vital support for veterans at risk. For example:

• £150 could pay for a one-day

employment course

• £300 could pay for mentoring support

to start up a business

• £675 is the average cost to receive

12 mental health therapy sessions

Duncan struggled with depression and alcohol

after leaving the Army – and even

became homeless – but is now back in work

and rebuilding his life thanks to support from

Walking With The Wounded.

“In the Army you believe you’re invincible

and that nothing is going to hurt you. But

when you come out you realise you’re not

Superman and that what can hurt you may

well not be physical but might be something

inside,” said Duncan. “It took a long time

getting to the point where I admitted I needed

to speak to somebody but it was a massive

help getting to that point.

“To anyone wondering about taking part in

Walking Home for Christmas, please get off

the bus or train early, put your Santa hat on

and walk home – you could be helping a veteran

on the way to fitting into civilian life.”

What better way to serve those who have

served us? Signing up for Walking Home for

Christmas is easy and free! Simply head to and register

for your fundraising pack today.

| 28

AGE UK Helps Worcester Veteran Obtain Medal After 34 Years

George got in touch with the

Herefordshire and

Worcestershire Age UK

Veterans Service through a

veteran friend we had supported

with advice and guidance.

George did National

Service between 1954 and

1956. The years have

dimmed his memory but

when he met with me he was

very happy to recount some

of his experiences. It soon

became clear that he had not

obtained a Veteran’s badge

and, given that he served in

the Suez Canal zone, that we

needed to investigate

whether he was entitled to a

General Service medal.

George became animated

when he spoke of guarding a

Jerry Can factory. He

recalled that Egyptian’s had

broken in and were stealing

cans. He believes he was in

the Port Said area. George

completely downplayed that

fact that he was in a conflict

zone and was encamped in

an area that came under fire.

George, like many servicemen

we have encountered,

commented ‘I only did

National Service!’ I checked

the award criteria and assisted

George in completing an

application for a GSM as well

as a Veteran’s badge.

George received his badge

first. Then, in view of the fireworks

he faced in the Canal

Zone, it was a great pleasure

to hear from George on 5th

November 2018 that he had

been awarded the GSM.

UK Veterans Hearing Help 29 |



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Armed Forces and

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Veterans Breakfast Clubs

The VBC Website has now been revamped/redesigned and is now live. There are

several new features including a Post Code search facility that brings up the five

nearest Breakfast Clubs to your Post Code, and we now have a News feature and

links to the current issues of the Sandbag Times and much more. To make it easier

for people to get to it, funds have been made available to allow the acquisition of

more domain names.

The new address is and the old address is pointed at the new site.

The main alteration is that the email addresses have changed from:



As many of you, in the AFVBC world may know,

the Sandbag Times is now available as a printed

edition. Unlike the online edition, we cannot

offer the printed copies for free as we have to

pay for expensive printing costs and obviously,

the postage. However, we have done some

number crunching and we are pleased to say we

can send out packs of 5 magazines for £20.00.

Unfortunately, we regret that we cannot send out

single copies at this time, hopefully that will

change in the near future as the SBT grows.

The prints are of excellent and professional

standard with 250gsm covers and 130gsm

pages with stunning colour and graphics. If you

would like to order monthly magazines for your

club or send in entries, then please email us at This printed copy will

be used to support the Tommy Atkins Veterans

Centre in Worcester.

GET HELP NOW: Return To The Tribe

31 |

| 3832

This year, Remembrance Sunday appropriately was

November 11th, 100 years since the Armistice was signed

effectively ending the fighting in Europe and the rest of the

World. The parades around Saltcoats, Ardrossan and

Stevenston belong to the community and all were welcome

to attend, march and participate. Many veterans and

families wore medals of relatives and wore them with

pride. A few little surprises cancelled on us at the last

minute however we did have the company of The Scottish

Military Vehicle Group and WW1 re enactors lining the

route during the parade. Some of whom travelled from as

far away as Dunoon to volunteer there time for all those

we lost during the war. Total respect to you all and thank


Veterans Breakfast Clubs

Saltcoats Parade Marks

Remembrance 100 in Fine Style

change out of my wet uniform but I did manage along to

the Stevenston war memorial just in the nick of time to pay

my respects. Well done everyone involved I know how

hard you've worked this year and it certainly paid off.

Look out for the planting of the time capsule at Saltcoats

War Memorial next week.


Remember if you have anything you'd like put in the capsule

before burial please do let us know.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

At this year’s parade we had a column of veterans proudly

marching with us as there was no need to belong to any

ex services organisation, they just marched with us with

there heads held high. Those of whom were unable to

march were seated in the Melbourne Cafe so they could

keep warm and dry. We had a huge number of groups

marching in the parade, far too many to mention and the

deputy lieutenant from Ayrshire and Arran Matt Smith in

attendance (and whom like the rest of us got a jolly good


Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

This was a once in a lifetime chance and never to be

repeated opportunity to participate and I was really overwhelmed

with the turnout despite the weather. There are

525,600 minutes in this year, on the 11th November at

11am we all spent 2 of those minutes reflecting and

remembering those who paid the price so that we can

enjoy the remaining 525,598 in peace and freedom. I

salute each and everyone who took part, volunteered and

helped set up this momentus day, what an absolutely terrific

team effort by all.

The parade was live streamed by Eddy and his team from

Ayrshire Film company and we had a wonderful flow of

photographers. Thanks to Elaine at the Melbourne for

allowing us to display our WW1 memorabilia on loan from

my dear friend Pete Scally and Poppy Scotland.

Thanks to all our parade marshalls, councillors, local

groups, schools, history groups, flag bearers, isle of cumbrae

pipe band (who also piped at the war memorial at

6am), adelaide college who provided the sound system,

local veterans, breakfast club, legion, melbourne cafe for

opening early providing free food and drink after the

parade, The labour Club for the hot food and drink and

the Stevenston Masonic for the lovely food and drink too.

The Saltcoats Parade has never been so successful and

with such a brilliant team effort all round am really looking

forward to next years parade!

Despite the horrendous weather and boy did the heavens

open, it was a truly remarkable morning and a day I'll

never forget.

I didn't manage to make the Ardrossan parade as I had to 33 |


A word from the Ed

Ways to find us

Those keen followers of the SBT

will notic that we have been

posting the main magazine out

every 5 weeks and been upping

the newsletters. This has just

been to get the monthly issues

just back into the month they are

supposed to be in. We are almost

there so please bear with us.

The Remembrance 100 issue

arrived last week and we are now

in the process of posting out our

last remaining copies. I want to

say thank you to everybody who

bought a copy or donated for the

online issue. After printing and

posting costs, we raised enough

to fund the hardware and

software for the new Veterans

Online Rewind Therapy System

by the Tommy Atkins Centre,

due to be launched very shortly.

We are hoping that this could

make a considerable positive

impact on the current veteran

suicide crisis. More to follow on

that over the coming weeks. On

the subject of the Tommy Atkins

Centre, you may have seen that it

has been relocated and will be

officially opened by our patron

and three times BTCC champion,

Matt Neal on 18th January 2019.

We are very privilleged to be

able to grab Matt at this time as

he will also be preparing for the

new season due to start in April.

You may also notice that the

Caption Competition has

restarted to the right and below,

give it a go for a bit of fun. We

do enjoy getting your replys, if

nothing else they brighten up our


Finally, I would like to take this

opportunity to wish you all a

very merry Christmas and to

thank you for your continued

support with this magazine. We

hope you enjoy this festive

edition and look forward to more

editions of the Sandbag Times

Veterans Magazine in 2019.

The Sandbag Times



Caption Competition

Come up with a funny caption for the picture

above and win an autographed card from

our two Team Dynamics drivers, Matt Neal

and Dan Cammish.

Just email us your funnies on

| 34

Squaddie Humour

Squaddie Humour

A brand new section celebrating the warped

sense of humour of our British Armed Forces

A Military Christmas Tale

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the

skies, Air defenses were up, with electronic eyes.

Combat pilots were nestled in ready-room beds,

As enemy silhouettes danced in their heads.

Every jet on the apron, each SAM in its tube,

Was triply-redundant, linked to the Blue Cube,

And ELINT and AWACS gave coverage so dense

That nothing that flew could slip through our defence.

When out of the klaxon arose such a clatter

I dashed to the screen to see what was the matter;

I increased the gain and then, quick as a flash,

Fine-adjusted the filters to damp out the hash.

They turned toward the target, moved toward it, converged.

Till the tracks on the radar all finally merged,

And the sky was lit up with a demonic light,

As the foe met his fate in the high arctic night.

So we sent out a recce to look for debris,

Yet all that they found, both on land and on sea

Were some toys, a red hat, a charred left leather boot,

Broken sleigh bells, white hair, and a deer's parachute.

Now it isn't quite Christmas, with Saint Nick shot down.

There are unhappy kids in each village and town.

For the Spirit of Christmas can't hope to evade

All the web of defenses we've carefully made.

But a crash program's on: Working hard, night and day,

All the elves are constructing a radar-proof sleigh.

So let's wait for next Christmas, in cheer and in health,

For the future has hope: Santa's coming by stealth!

And there found the source of the warning we'd heeded:

An incoming blip, by eight escorts preceded.

"Alert status red!" went the word down the wire,

As we gave every system the codes that meant "FIRE!"

On Aegis! Up Patriot, Phalanx and Hawk,

And scramble our fighters--let's send the whole flock.

Launch decoys and missiles, use chaff by the yard!

Get the kitchen sink up! Call out the Guard!

Back issues of The Sandbag Times are available to download here 35 |


Mrs Fox Goes

To War...

The Chronicles of Little Hope

1939 - 1945

Villager of the month:

Mrs Lavina Fox

Lavinia Fox. Old school. Born 'behind the Colours'

to military parents somewhere in India at a date

she keeps conveniently forgetting to mention.

Hardy perennial Girl Guide. Diarist. Avid collector

of odd people. Scourge of the Wehrmacht.

Churchill’s greatest admirer (read: stalker).

Letter of the Month

There’s a cautionary tale from Hilda Ffinch this festive season!

The moral: Better a pig in the bath than a night in

The Stoker’s Arms...

Miss Dora Millington

‘Trollop’s End’

Slack Bottom

Greater Hope

7th April 1942

Dear Ms Ffinch,

Dear Ms Ffinch,

I share my home with my great aunt Doris - a wonderfully

stoic lady who is an admirably self sufficient character.

Anyhow, I have just returned home from my weekly WI

meeting, I was greeted by the hanging corpse of a fully

grown pig over our bath tub!

Fortunately for Winston, the Cabinet War Rooms

were jolly secure...

Hilda Ffinch:

The Bird With All The Answers

To say it was a shock to see this big porker hanging in the

bathroom is an understatement and I wonder how on

earth to broach the subject of having a bath this evening.

The thought of wallowing in the bath tub with pig trotters

dangling over my head makes me feel rather queasy.

Please could you advise on how to broach the subject of

how I may perform my necessary ablutions?

Yours sincerely

Dora Millington (miss)

Dear Dora,

If, as I suspect, your great aunt Doris is actually Doris

‘Curmudgeon’ Millington, the former landlady of The

Stoker’s Arms on the moor above Greater Hope, where the

best brawn in Yorkshire was to be had prior to the Meat

Emporium on the High Street here in Little Hope opening,

then you’re skating on very thin ice indeed, my dear.

Let me take you back to the great blizzard of 1913 (long

before my time, obviously) to the night when your great

aunt first appeared at The Stoker’s Arms, having travelled

| 36


alone through the deepening snow from Nottingham

on a mercy mission from her father (Mr Sweeney

Millington of Millington’s Pie Shop, High Pavement,

Nottingham), carrying two barrels of Shipstone’s India

Pale Ale, a small sack of ‘meat seasoning’ and a crate of

candles on her back as Arthur - the usual drayman -

had put his back out trying to get it up the Great North

Road, as it were, and the horses were having none of it

on account of snowballs in their hoofs.

Exhausted and sweating like Jack the Ripper at a surprise

party held by Inspector Abbeline of the Yard,

Doris staggered in to The Stoker’s Arms at sunset on a

Tuesday evening and was immediately swept off her

feet by a grateful Landlord and twelve thirsty steelworkers

(who had left Sheffield on a charabanc outing

three days before and had become prisoners of the

storm). None of them had seen a woman – or daylight

– for quite some time and so Miss Millington was quite

the centre of attention at first until the storm worsened

and food began to run out.

For seven days and seven nights the gods raged

against mankind, pipes froze and village pumps came

off in the hand when agitated with too much vigour.

The lights of the marooned inn on the moor, bright and

gay at first, quite magnificent with their Pickwickian

sparkle and glitter, were seen from the church tower in

Greater Hope to dim gradually, diminish in number and

slowly die.

Finally the day came when the storm blew itself out

and a small party of men from the Greater Hope Ferret

Fanciers Forum wrapped themselves up snugly, and

preventing their thighs from freezing on the journey

across the moor by diligently adhering to the Forum’s

accepted ferret/trouser leg ratio, and set out on a rescue

mission to The Stoker’s Arms, dragging a sledge

loaded up with damson chutney, bread and lard behind

them. For five or more hours they toiled up towards

the moor, digging through the frozen precipitation like

frenzied badgers until at last they reached the door to

the inn. Bracing themselves and fully expecting to be

confronted with a tableau rivalling Madam Tussaud’s

The last moments of Robert Falcon Scott and his

unfortunate friends’ (price: two shillings on admission),

they pushed the door open and peered in only to find

Doris Millington wallowing in a tin bath (full, and with

enough steam to preserve her dignity, thankfully) in

front of a roaring fire, sipping on half a pint of pale ale

and singing ‘When the Midnight choo-choo leaves for

Alabam’, only pausing occasionally to nibble on a slice

of brawn on toast.

There was not another soul to be found at the inn that

day, though the Ferret Fanciers Forum searched the

place from top to bottom, no easy task in itself given

that the landlord had clearly expected the storm to be

bad and had evidently stocked up on enough brawn to

withstand a siege. The inn’s larder was overflowing with

it, there were two large clear jars of it on the counter in

the bar and a recently cut tea plate full on the table in

the kitchen.

Doris explained, when questioned by Constable

Crumble (a leading light in the Ferret Fanciers Forum

and thus a member of the rescue party), that the landlord

and the steelworkers, concerned that they might

succumb to starvation at The Stoker’s Arms on account

of the raging blizzard outside (none of them liked

brawn, apparently, they were all vegetarians) had set off

en masse for the village the morning after her arrival, to

try to bring help or at the very least, some lettuce and a

bit of cucumber for some sandwiches, and she hadn’t

seen hide nor hair of them since.

“But there were no footprints outside the inn, when we

arrived!”frowned Constable Crumb, “Not so much as an

indentation or undulation!”

The snow,” replied Doris, “Was positively horrid. I

shouldn’t think they’ll be seen again. The landlord left

his Last Will and Testament on the bar, just in case, he

insisted on leaving the Inn to me if he failed to return.

Now, would you like a meat pie? I found some pork in

the cellar and whipped eighteen of them up this morning.

They’re delicious...”

Constable Crumble declined the pie, but did have some

brawn, liberally topped with the damson chutney the

rescue party had bought with them. He always maintained

that it was the best brawn he’d ever tasted, an

interesting texture and – even better - he was the lucky

winner of Doris Millington’s ‘Find the gold filling in the

brawn’ competition.

“Do keep it,” said Doris, “I always like to pop one in, you

may not have any fillings now but keep it safe as one

day you may need it, you never know...”

Clearly, ‘Dingley Dell’ had become ‘Dingley Hell’,

although Constable Crumble always refused to believe it

and soon afterwards gave up the police force for a position

behind the flap, as it were, in Doris Millington’s

newly acquired public house with the intriguing doorknobs.

And so, my dear Dora, I'd be inclined to keep mum

about the swinging porker in the bathroom if I were

you. If you feel that you need to have a word with your

Great Aunt Doris regarding the same then please, do

carry on. Personally, I would advise you to err on the

side of caution however and perhaps just hop on in

there, wink at 'Dangling Percy' and use the odd trotter

in lieu of a nail brush.

Good luck living with Mrs Miggins.


Hilda Ffinch

The Bird With All The Answers

Thank you for following the adventures of Mrs Fox and

the Villagers of Little Hope this year, we all wish you a

Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Keep safe,


Sincerely, Miss Virginia Hotfoot 37 |

TO ORDER PLEASE CALL: 01226 734222




Poetry Corner

Poet of the Month

This month’s poetry comes from Colin Baker who has written

for charity 100 things to remember which is military poetry

based on some experience, some real life stories and some

about the forgotten heroes who live in the streets.

Forgotten Veterans

Under the railway bridge at the tower lie a gentleman or two

who we normally just look and pass swiftly as they beg for

money from me and from you

They used to be men of pride and valour but have now been

left on the shelfthere is nobody there to help then really so

they have to look after themselves

On the cold wet winter’s day life is nothing but misery and

fear they are unkempt untidy so nobody really wants to be


Underneath their blankets they hide from the cold and damp

surrounds they lay there on their cardboard bed on a cold

and unfriendly ground

What they hide under their blanket so nobody can admire

what they have doneare medals of honour and valour for the

wars they have fought in and won

Next time you pass one of those strangers please do have

some pride and some care for a penny to them is a godsend

and if we give and smile rather than just stare

Not all of our veterans are forgotten but some cannot truly

adjusts please think before you pass them as we must care

yes we really must


Like all boys in the Blitz we ignored the fires and flames but

just played in the rubble and like boys yep as tradition says,

we always got into some sort of trouble

Hey you said Mr Bobby Policeman what are you doing there

my little son

It’s getting dark now so time you went home to your mum

I go through the door and there on the floor is my sister playing

with her toys

I stick my nose in the air and walk right passed as that is definitely

not for little boys


Before she can get out of the door the siren starts with a wailing

up and down soundSorry kids the Hun are back so we all

have to go underground

We walk quickly to the Anderson and light candles to show us

the way

Until all of the danger has passed it is here we are safe and

must stay

Mum says we should sing while we wait or tell us what we did


I wanted to tell her what I had seen so asked if I could say

Where we were playing there was a great big round thing with

wings poking out of the side

Mr Bobby Policeman saw it and said my son from that thing I

would certainly hide

It was big it was fat and it looked like Grandpa’s cigar but Mr

Bobby the Policeman said it will do us all great harm

So he called for this team of men all dressed up in heavy suits

and white bands wrapped around their right arm

They went to the big round cigar and started to work with

urgency and with care

They called out to me and my mates hey son you should not

stay there

So home I came and here we are in the shelter built by my


He is away at the moment overseas fighting and not being

here is so sad

The all clear sounds and we leave underground and go back

to our house to eat without any fear

Hopefully one day when this is all over we will remember that

danger was so near

The team I was told worked through the night and make it

safe and soundand of course while all this was happening me

and my family were safe underground

Win This Fantastic Title

This unusual and beautiful book collects together twenty

five of the often read, well-loved poets. Each

poet is illustrated with an original watercolor

portrait by the talented young artist,

Charlotte Zeepvat, who reproduces in

pleasing script one of their works, giving a

biographical summary that placed the poet

firmly in the battlefield context in which

their work was conceived.

To have a chance at winning this

fabulous book, simply email your

poetry to:

I play with my cars vroom vroom vroom when mum decides

to come into the room

You two off you go and wash your hands your dinner will be

ready very soon 39 |

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