One Giant Step 50 Years On...
As The World Remembers The Apollo 11
Mission, The UK Takes It’s Own New
Steps In The Space Industry
SBT News Latest
Plus All The Latest Armed
Forces & Veterans News
Proud Sponsors of
The Veterans Awards
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk Issue 58 | August 2019
FORCES RECRUITMENT SOLUTIONS
OUR MISSION IS TO CHANGE
THE LIVES OF OUR HEROES
RECRUIT THE BEST
Forces Recruitment Solutions
Tel: +44 (0)1353 645004
One small step
for man, one
giant leap for
BTCC is back
In The News
British Troops to
be Deployed to
The Armed Forces Covenant
The AFC & You
Signing the Covenant in your
community could make a huge
difference. Read how...
Stepway tells all of
their new venture.
One Giant Leap...
50 years on from
Apollo 11 we
look at the UK in
A Word from the Editor
So where are we this month in SBT land?
Firstly, a huge welcome to Dawn Turner and
Bob Kundi to the team in two very vital roles.
Dawn has been well known to the team for
a fair while and has just finished a degree in
Criminology. (Far too much brains for our
ragbag team I think!!). She is now watching
closely over my shoulder as I write Issue
58 with a highly keen eye ready to jump in
the deep end and write Issue 59 for us as an
induction as Assistant Editor. Talk about a
Baptism of Fire! Pablo can be cruel when
he needs to be (hehe). Bob, on the other
hand, is far too big to be bullied but he is a
cracking Marketing and Sales guru who will
be shouting and screaming at me to tell me
what I should or shouldn’t be showing in the
mag. Advertisers, beware.
In short, these two (who are a couple, by
the way) are just the first step in the new
change coming to the magazine. All seriously
though, I am deeply grateful to have these
two wonderful people on board to take the
weight off my shoulders a little. The success
and popularity of the SBT has become too big
for just one person to handle. Our friends
from FRS will also be jumping in soon to
lessen the burden a
little more in the not too
far distant future. We still
need a chat or two to decide where and when
that will happen but again, it will be a very
positive addition to a great team.
So what else is happening in our world?
Airshow season is over for us for this year.
Thank you to everybody at the Royal Navy
International Air Day at RNAS Yeovilton
and Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF
Fairford, two wonderful days enjoyed by
our crews. Dawn will be telling all in the
September edition so I won’t go on too much
A great bit of news, the funding for the
Tommy Atkins Centre has now been granted
and is sat waiting for the new building to
be finalised and open. We also have TAC2
opening soon in the Black Country thanks
to Paul Lewis at FRS. Unfortunately, due to
new commitments, once the new centre in
Worcester is opened, I will be handing over
all TAC operations to my partner and TAC
Chairperson, Jane. It’s in good hands and I’m
confident it will go from strength to strength
in the future. That’s it for me for this month,
enjoy the sunshine all, take care. Pabsx
Editor: Pablo Snow
Asst Editor: Dawn Turner
Matt Neal &
Team Dynamics Motorsport
Marketing & Sales Manager:
News Media Researcher
SBT Issue 58
06 British Troops to
be deployed to Mali
07 Johnny Mercer
appointed new Veterans
07 MOD Announces
pay rise for the Armed
08 RAF Test Pilot to
join Virgin Orbit Crew
09 South Korea fires
warning shots at Russian
12 The Covenant
You and the Covenant as the
SBT launches new initiative.
A brand new charity to
assist with resettlement.
20 One Giant Leap
We look at the UK in Space
50 years on from the Lunar
24 Off The Grid
We’re back with our Patron
as BTCC heads to
10 SBT Radio
AJ ‘Vossie’ Vorster brings us
the latest from the airwaves.
The very latest news from
our very own Veteran Centre
by Jane Shields.
27 Historical TA
This month, we take a
look at the Shortest War in
The latest from around the
Armed Forces and Veterans
36 Mrs Fox
Mrs Fox brings us the gossip
in war-time Little Hope.
British Troops to Join Force
Countering Mali Militants
Story: The Guardian - Jason Burke Africa correspondent
Image: Benoit Tessier/Reuters
British troops will be deployed in
Mali next year to join in the world’s
deadliest peacekeeping operation,
the Ministry of Defence has announced.
The 250-strong force will provide a longrange
reconnaissance capability for the
United Nations deployment in the troubled
African country which has struggled
to decisively counter Islamic militants,
armed separatists and traffickers.
The deployment is likely to place British
troops in combat situations, facing risks of
ambushes and roadside bombs in remote
and hostile environments.
The UN is operating alongside a Frenchled
force that has been fighting Islamic
militants in Mali for six years. The mission
is known as one of the most dangerous undertaken
by the organisation anywhere in
the world. More than 170 people deployed
by the UN have been killed there between
2013 and February.
Penny Mordaunt, the defence minister,
said it was right that “in one of the world’s
poorest and most fragile regions we
support some of world’s most vulnerable
people … UK service personnel will work
with our partners in the region to help
promote peace by combating the threat of
violent extremism and protecting human
rights in Mali”.
Mali, which occupies a key location in the
centre of the restive Sahel, was plunged
into chaos in 2012 when Tuareg separatists
and Islamic extremists joined forces
to take control of much of the north of
the country. French forces intervened the
following year to halt their advance and
4,000 French troops remain there.
The UN security council later deployed
peacekeepers, which have been targets of
a fierce insurgent campaign. A 2015 peace
deal signed by Mali’s government and
separatist groups failed to end the violence
and instability has since spread across the
More than 200,000 people have been
displaced in Mali since the start of 2019
and about 600 killed in a series of militia
attacks. Islamic extremists have staged assaults
on high-profile targets in the capital,
Bamako, and in neighbouring Burkina
Faso and Ivory Coast. There is also violence
in neighbouring Niger, where four
US servicemen were killed in an ambush
by Islamic militants in 2017.
Read the Full Story here...
| 06 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Johnny Mercer MP appointed Minister of Veterans
Story: Plymouth Live
Plymouth Moor View MP
Johnny Mercer has been appointed
Minister for Veterans
of the Royal Navy, Army and
RAF - and will head-up a new
Government department dedicated
to the issues they face.
The new Office of Veterans’
Affairs will sit inside the Cabinet
Office and will be jointly
run by Mr Mercer - who is
now a Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State in both
Image: Greg Martin
the MOD and the Cabinet
Office - and the Cabinet-attending
Mr Mercer, a former captain
in the British Army, will be
asked to focus on ending the
legal pursuit of former service
personnel, amid anger in the
Conservative party over the
treatment of those who served
during Northern Ireland’s
MOD Announces Pay Rise For The Armed Forces
The Defence Secretary has announced
an above-inflation, 2.9% pay rise for the
It will be implemented in September’s
salaries and backdated to 1 April 2019.
The lowest-paid soldiers, sailors and
airmen and women will receive a 6%
increase to bring them in line with the
This increase means that after basic
training, new and junior personnel will
receive an annual salary of £20,000 a year.
For the ‘average’ salary of personnel (at
Corporal level), the pay rise represents an
annual increase of £995.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:
“No soldier, sailor, airman or woman
should be asked to serve our country and
not be properly rewarded, which is why
I’m pleased we have accepted the pay
review body’s recommendation for an
above-inflation rise this year.
The starting salary for an officer will see
an annual increase of £769.
Army rejects call for mental health checks
Story: BBC News: By Andrew Hosken
The British Army has
rejected calls for mandatory
screening for serving
soldiers, the BBC has
Regular screening was
recommended by a coroner
following an inquest
into the deaths of two infantrymen
in the same Northern
Ireland barracks. But
in a leaked letter, Gen
Sir Nick Carter, head of
the armed forces, said
screening was “potentially
Human rights charity
Liberty, which represents
the mothers of the
soldiers, said it was concerned
by the decision.
An inquest this year
found that Corporal
James Ross, 30, died
an accidental death in
December 2012, while
the coroner recorded
a verdict of suicide on
the death of Rifleman
Darren Mitchell, 20 - less
than three months later -
in February 2013.
Both men were serving
with the 2nd Battalion
The Rifles and had
previously been in active
service in Afghanistan.
Read more here...
RAF test pilot to fly with Virgin Orbit crew
Story: Flight Global
A UK Royal Air Force
(RAF) test pilot will be
seconded to support
Virgin Orbit’s small
satellite launch activities,
with a successful
candidate to fly on board
its modified Boeing
747-400 platform, named
A total of 17 candidates
applied for the
opportunity and a
shortlist of four – two
each from the fast jet and
areas – has been drawn
up. One of these will
join the Virgin Orbit
flight-test team, Air
Davies, commandant of
the RAF’s Air Warfare
By: Craig Hoyle
centre, confirmed at the
Royal International Air
Placing a test pilot
within the Virgin Orbit
organisation forms part
of a broader satellite
by the UK Ministry of
Defence (MoD) on 18
Under this, a Team
will use a £30 million
($37.5 million) funding
allocation to “fast-track
the launch of a small
the MoD says. Parties
involved include Airbus,
Raytheon, Surrey Satellite
Orbit, the RAF’s Rapid
Capabilities Office and
the US government.
will be designed to
understand the military
utility of small satellites
and provide information
to combat aircraft more
quickly,” the MoD
says. Launch by Virgin
Orbit is expected to be
conducted after taking off
from Cornwall Airport
Read more here...
Tim Peake Joins Red Arrows As They
Prepare To Take On North America
Story : Forces,net
British astronaut Tim Peake
joined the Red Arrows for
a rehearsal flight before
their display at the Royal International
Air Tattoo (RIAT) this
It is the RAF’s Aerobatic Teams
last display in the UK this year
before setting off next month for
their biggest-ever tour of North
Mr Peake sat in the rear seat of
Red 1’s aircraft for the 20-minute
He experienced the team’s hallmark
combination of close-formations,
and dynamic loops and rolls
One of the manoeuvres practised
- which features in the Red
Arrows’ 2019 show - is Apollo,
arranged in a shape that marks
Saturday’s 50th anniversary of
the Moon landing.
After the flight, Mr Peake said:
“What a huge honour and
privilege to join the Red Arrows
today – a fantastic flight
Read the full story...
| 08 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
News Around The Globe
South Korea fires warning shots at Russian aircraft
Story: UK Defence Journal
South Korea fired warning
shots at a Russian A-50 after
claiming the aircraft entered
its air defence identification
zone, say the South Korean
Ministry of Defence.
The Russian jet breached the
South Korean air defence
identification zone twice say
the country, prompting its air
force to launch jets and fire
warning shots according to
By George Allison
The incursion came during
what South Koreans officials
claim was a joint Russian-Chinese
military exercise. Two
Chinese H-6 bombers had
passed into Seoul’s air identification
zone just hours before,
joined by another two Russian
Read more here...
Indian Army’s flood rescue operations team saves 150 in Nalabari
Story: The Statesman
Incessant heavy downpour in
the Nalbari district of Assam
resulted in the breach of
embankments of ‘Pagladiya’ river.
Immediately, a highly trained and
well-equipped Flood relief column
of the Indian Army was mobilized
and arrived at the Balitara Village in
Nalbari District to undertake a massive
humanitarian aid and disaster
“Operating under heavy downpour,
dangerous currents and alarming
water levels in addition to the
pitch-dark night, Indian Army
toiled hard and ensured to rescue
150 stranded civilians, including 60
women and children, and brought
them to safe zone. The locals and
civil administration were forthcoming
in expressing their heartfelt
and overwhelming gratitude to
the Army in light of their Service
Before Self Motto as the dedicated
efforts resulted in averting disaster
and resulted in normalization of the
situation,” said, Lt Col Harsh Wardhan
Pande, PRO (Defence), Tezpur
while commenting on the situation.
North Korea launches 2 short range missiles
North Korea fired two
short-range missiles into
the sea Thursday in its
first weapons launches
in more than two
months and an apparent
effort to pressure
Washington as the two
sides struggle to restart
The South’s Joint Chiefs
of Staff said the missiles
were fired from near the
eastern coastal town of
Wonsan and flew about
430 kilometers (270
miles) and 690 kilometers
(430 miles) respectively
before landing off
the country’s east coast.
South Korea’s military
earlier said both missiles
flew 430 kilometers but
the trajectory for one
was revised based on a
joint South Korean-U.S.
analysis. South Korean
officials said the missiles
were both short-range.
A South Korean defense
Image: Jon Chol Jin/AP Photo
anonymity because of
department rules, said
that an initial analysis
showed both missiles
were fired from mobile
launchers and flew at a
maximum altitude of 50
kilometers (30 miles).
He said South Korea’s
military believes a
second missile that flew
690 kilometers is a new
type of missile but more
analysis is necessary.
Read more here...
By AJ ‘Vossie’ Vorster
We Need You!
Internet radio? Why? Why bother?
Well, the way I see it, it serves a number of niche
functions – especially useful when veterans get a hold of the
· Reaching out directly to specific groups or clubs
· Spreading camaraderie among veterans
· Reaching out to lonely folk who just need to hear a
· Promoting upcoming events and gatherings
· Stirring memories… and stimulating interaction
· Playing good music – mostly ad free – with only veterans
and their families in mind
· Discuss the joys of EU membership… NOT!
We cannot do it all alone – we need YOU… yes, visualise
the picture of the Lord Kitchener poster… WE NEED YOU!
(Now… I know he isn’t quite as popular as he would’ve believed
he was… but I’m only after that image…)
And, you may ask… just why we need you? Simple… without
you listening and maybe even interacting on the chat line,
we’re only speaking to the wind. OK… there’s nothing wrong
with that either… but I’m sure you’ll understand that it’s the
camaraderie we’re also after.
So… I’ve put my case for internet radio… now I’m throwing
it over to you. We need participation but we also need DJ’s –
likeminded folk who believe the adage…
For veterans… by veterans!
We understand each other, that’s why we need to talk with
each other! Contact us at email@example.com or tap on
the contact page just below the banner and drop us a line!
We’re looking forward to your interaction, so… get cracking,
WE NEED YOU!
PS – If you’re wondering how I fit in – I served in the South
African Air Force for 16 years – saw active service in Namibia
and Angola but the best for me was the flying – as helicopter
flight engineer – along the stunning South African coast.
| 10 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
All Call Signs
Around 6 months ago, former Paratrooper and Falklands
Veteran, Tony Ferguson, facing an all too familiar scenario of
suffering from PTSD and homelessness, approached us with an
idea to release a charity single promoting awareness of these issues and
the growing rate of suicides within our veteran community. Money
raised would be distributed between smaller charities who provided,
direct, immediate and critical support for veterans facing homelessness,
mental health, PTSD and addiction problems.
Initially the group was to be called Veterans Aid based on the “Band
Aid” concept. “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother” would send a poignant
message. We subsequently discovered that we could not use the
Veterans Aid name as it was already a registered charity in England.
The Charity Veterans Aid have been very supportive throughout with
help and advice.
Recently we approached the charity “All Call Signs” who provide a peer
to peer service for veterans and who successful launched the “Beacon
Alert” system via social media immediately alerting as many people as
possible about missing vulnerable veterans and encouraging people to
help search. The name “All Call Signs” encompassed exactly what we
wanted to achieve - all services, every man woman and child coming
together to prevent further tragedy. All Call Signs were delighted
for us to name our band “All Call Signs” and to become one of the
beneficiary charities. Project Director’s Antony Stephen Malone and
Donna Armstrong asked Nicki Mortimer and her company “All Call
Signs Production LTD” to coordinate PR, Press enquires, finances and
project administration ensuring that funds generated get distributed
equally to the 12 selected charities involved, minus an administration
fee and relevant expenses.
The 12 charities are:
• Homeless Veterans Project SC049441
• Lee Rigby Foundation
• Forgotten Veterans UK
• Woody’s Lodge
• Help for Homeless Veterans
• Outpost Charity
• Phoenix Heroes
• Pilgrim Bandits
• All Call Signs
• 353 Charity
• Pegasus Appreciation Group
• Veterans Aid.
In July 2019, Veterans and their children were joined by international
singer and Forces Sweetheart Kirsten Orsborn in a recording studio.
Kirsten has continuously supported the Forces and Veterans charities
for 11 years. Kirsten was adopted by The Royal Marines Association as
their sweetheart in 2014 and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in
2018. Kirsten is very proud to be the patron to Minds at War and The
Homeless Veterans Project.
Charlotte Bailey, owner of the recording studio, Blue Fire Productions,
said, “I did not have to think twice about helping out such a fantastic
cause. It was great to see so much passion, as well as impressive talent,
all in one room. If this single makes a difference to just one veteran,
then it is all worth it.”Charlotte advised on the project and was instrumental
to the production and promotion.
James Beaumont and Max Russell sound engineers helped structure
the recording. SAS Legend Rusty Firmin, Patron of the Charity record,
Donna, Anthony, Kirsten and other Veterans sang the song with
children and supporters of soldier skilled in action while serving their
country... Veterans Helping Veterans, Actions Not Words...
YOU & THE COVENANT
Article: Pablo Snow
Featured Image: Armed Forces Covenant
The Armed Forces Covenant is not just a pledge by the Government
to support serving servicemen and women, veterans and their
families, indeed it is a commitment that we should all be getting
involved with. The SBT, along with Team Dynamics Motorsport,
Stepway and the Tommy Atkins Veterans Centre are heading up an
initiative to recognise those in the community that go above and
beyond to support our local heroes.
Working in the West Midlands
over the past few years has really
opened my eyes to the Armed
Forces Covenant and the Community
Covenant. But even for me, somebody who
has dedicated his life to serving veterans,
it has taken a lot of time and an awful lot
of understanding to realise just what it is
and how it can serve the Armed Forces and
I’ll say from the very outset, the Covenant
has had a bit of a bashing from me over the
past few years, admittedly from a lack of
understanding at times but I think even the
MoD will admit it’s far from perfect.
Having said all that, it is what we have and
over the past few months I have written my
thoughts on how to get the best out of it to
work with your own community. I have
to say that it is working here in the West
When the Covenant was rolled out, the
whole of the UK was encouraged to sign
up and show support. Happily, thousands
upon thousands did. The result was local
authorities, businesses, charities and members
of the public started to take more interest in
the welfare of our Forces past and present.
More and more initiatives were born locally
and the Government finally had to take
Some 10 years on, so much more can still
be done. There are many who purely wear
the badge and do nothing but flip the coin
and you certainly will see the reverse.
Many organisations have not signed the
covenant but engage hugely with the
Forces Community. Certainly, over here
in Worcester, I can say our BTCC team is a
shining example of that.
You will have seen the immense coverage I
try to give Matt Neal and Team Dynamics
Motorsport. This is because of the
unrelenting support they give to us. No
strings attached, just support.
“Life is short and we need to live that life
to the maximum, the freedom we enjoy
in the UK is in no uncertain part down
to our armed forces, whether active,
retired or recuperating and that is why I
am so proud to be a Patron of the Sandbag
Times. What you do and have done
for this country goes beyond words.”
Halfords Yuasa Racing driver and
Team Dynamics Director
Despite their incredibly busy schedule,
bearing in mind that this is the top team in
the top motorsport event in the UK with two
of the best drivers, they still always have time
to support our Armed Forces Community
and in particular, the veterans in the local
area. Surely, that is the kind of support that
we should be seeing from signatories of the
One thing that has become apparent to us,
is that the companies that do sign and get
involved are very seldom recognised for their
efforts. Yes, I know, recognition is not the top
priority in any charitable matter. But it is nice
to have some one pat you on the back and say
‘Well done’ every now and then.
That is all about to change. The SBT, The
Tommy Atkins Centre, Stepway and Team
Dynamics Motorsport are headlining a new
initiative to recognise those who go above and
beyond to support the AFC community.
Each month, we will feature an organisation
and how they have contributed. At the end of
the year, we will announce our overall annual
Covenant Champion and present an award in
recognition of their efforts at an event still to
We, at the SBT network are determined to
support the Armed Forces Covenant, not only
locally but also nationally and encourage its
members to get involved in supporting those
who have given so much.
Detail on how you can get involved and sign
the Armed Forces Covenant can be found
If you would like to let us know how your
own organisation or an organisation you
know, has contributed to the Armed Forces
Covenant then why not get in touch with us
here at the Sandbag Times by emailing us at:
| 12 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
A brand new charity to guide
and support Veterans to adapt
back into civilian life
How Can We Help You?
STEPWAY is here to help with adaption
problems that you may be struggling with
This may be due to leaving prison and you cannot access the
services/ therapies that can help you adapt back into civvie life.
We are here to bridge that gap, so you can lead a crime free
Have you found yourself in police custody and nobody
understands? We are here to provide help and support with
supplying intervention programs, advice, signposting and
introducing you to a mentor.
Are you leaving the armed forces and have not received a
resettlement package to help you gain employment, education
or housing? Are you concerned about your future? We are here
to guide you to access the services that can help.
Are you an early service leaver (served for 4 years or less) and
you feel that signposting is not enough to enable you to adapt
back into civvie life? We are here to bridge that gap.
Are you a homeless veteran that feels there is no other choice but
to commit a crime to survive on the streets? Have you dropped
out of society because you feel socially excluded from civvie life?
We are here to make that transition less problematic.
The 7 Step Programme
Our 7-Step Program will give you the opportunity to travel down a different
path. This program will empower you to make a voluntary change. We
endevour to improve your mental wellbeing by enabling you to see a brighter
The first step is to contact STEPWAY by calling either Dawn or Bob on the
number provided and we will arrange to meet you within 24hrs. We will
have an informal chat after a brew. This will give you the opportunity to
tell us a bit about yourself and the problems you have encountered. At
the end of the meeting we will offer the level of support you may need.
through similar experiences, so you will not feel alone or excluded. Individual
programs are also available for those who find social situations stressful.
There will be a small introduction to the charity and a brief about the different
interventions and courses that are available.
3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Step
These steps will be spread over a 12 month period. It includes intervention
programs for substance misuse, stress related conditions, adaption and how
to create a positive future for yourself. These programs are all voluntary and
free for veterans.
What do we provide
• We provide programs that will help you with adaption.
• Group and Individual programs are available.
• We can refer you to other charities who can help you financially.
• We are a free service for you, the veteran.
• You can self refer, so there is no waiting list for the initial support.
• We help every veteran that is struggling with adaption.
• We will be here to support and guide you for as long as you need us.
• We will provide you with an alternative path to avoid the pathway
• We provide you with the tools to improve your mental and physical
For more information:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Or call: 07539 754 457
c/o The Trinity
16, Queen Street
The introduction program will be attended by veterans who are going
We are very pleased to announce that FM Conway have achieved our Gold TIER Support Recognition award for their
outstanding effort during the fundraising week for the build up to Armed Forces Day.
We had a great time at their Head Office and was delighted to be presented with a cheque for £3,000. During our time at FM
Conway we discussed other ways of working together. As a veteran friendly organisation with a very strong family ethos we
highly recommend them to all service leavers, veterans and their families.
THANK YOU from all at Phoenix Heroes
| 14 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
THE GRAND REUNION
A rare chance to see this iconic 9-strong folk-rock
collective featuring John Tams, John Kirkpatrick,
Graeme Taylor, Andy Findon and the pick of the UK’s
finest concert and session musicians.
“The brass section play like the Devil’s own pit band,
Graeme Taylor’s guitar can strip paint.”R2 *****
“Blistering… truculent folk-rock”
The Financial Times *****
Book online: lichfieldarts.org.uk or 01543 262223
FRIDAY 18th, OCTOBER 2019 - 7.30pm
THE GARRICK THEATRE, LICHFIELD
RFEA RECEIVES GENEROUS FUNDING
FROM ABF THE SOLDIERS’ CHARITY
TO PROVIDE HELP TO THOUSANDS OF
EX-SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN
RFEA – the Forces Employment Charity - has
received two generous grants from ABF The
Soldiers’ Charity, totalling almost £400,000.
The funding will enable RFEA to continue its
hugely successful work to provide employment
advice, guidance and mentoring to veterans
through its Ex Forces and Bridging the Gap
‘Ma’s Collar Dogs’
By Julie Warrington
The Ex Forces programmeis the only one
of its kind which provides regionally based,
comprehensive career advice and job opportunities
to all ex-military personnel, irrespective
of circumstances, rank, length of service, or
reason for leaving.
Bridging the Gap provides specialist vocational
support to exForces who face problems in their
lives that make it harder to get and keep a job
and who are no longer eligible for CTP resettlement
Commenting on the grants, Alistair Halliday,
RFEA’s chief executive, said: “We are hugely
appreciative of these substantial grants from
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. We couldn’t help
those we do without the wonderful assistance
and support we receive from our key funders.
Thanks to the generosity of The Soldiers’
Charity we will be able to continue delivering
life-changing support to many soldiers and
veterans who need our help.”
Brigadier (Ret’d) Robin Bacon, Chief of Staff,
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity adds: “Offering our
veterans advice and support to get back into
employment after their time in the Army is
crucial to their wellbeing and to securing their
future. RFEA has provided their vital services
for many years and they thoroughly deserve the
grant we have awarded, which will help them
care for our veterans for the long-haul.”
Last year RFEA supported almost 20,000 ex
Forces personnel and created over 90,000 job
was a nurse in the WAAF too, but she was killed during the war.
You see, you look so much like her...”
Ma said that the old man looked desperately sad, but then he
reached into his pocket and took out these collar dogs and
pressed them into her hand. “These were hers,” he said, “But l
want you to have them.”
Ma said that she couldn’t take them but the old man was most
insistent, saying that his daughter would want them to be worn
by another nurse, it would have made her proud, and so Ma–
close to tears - thanked him and promised faithfully that she
would always look after them.
For a little over fifty years Ma kept those ‘collar dogs’ safe and
sound, she retired from the WRAF when she married my Dad
– who was also a medic – and she would let him borrow them
to wear on his ‘best blue and mess kit’ but they’d always go back
into her jewellery box afterwards.
My late Mother(Ma to us kids!) was a WRAF nurse and
these are her ‘collar dogs’ which came to me with the
rest of her ‘treasures’ when she died. Turns out that
they weren’t any ordinary collar dogs but ones with an interesting
– and rather poignant - story behind them.
We never did know the name of the wartime nurse whose Dad
gave his girl’s collar dogs to my Ma on that station platform
many years ago, but we -as a family – have never forgotten her,
and I like to think that we never will. It is in the preservation of
such stories as this that the memory of our unsung heroes and
heroines survive, and I hope that in sharing this with The Sandbag
Times, that others may think of ‘our nurse’ and those who
served with her during our country’s ‘Darkest hour’ too.
Lest We Forget.
One day in the summer of 1951, when travelling home in
uniform, she was standing on a platform and waiting for a
train back to her home city of Nottingham when she noticed
an old man standing close by and staring at her. Madidn’t take
much notice at first but the old fellow kept looking and she was
starting to feel a bit uneasy when he came over to speak to her.
I remember her exact words when she told me what happened
next: “I’m sorry to keep staring at you,” the old man said, “But l
see that you’re a WAAF nurse...”
Ma nodded and smiled at him and he went on “My daughter
| 16 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Evaluation of the
Are you a Military Veteran / Service Leaver?
Are you the partner of a Military Veteran / Service
Please complete our survey which aims to collect information on your
experience of the Veterans’ Gateway and the study is funded by The
Royal British Legion.
The study is being carried out by researchers from the Psychology
Research Institute at Ulster University.
If you would like to help us, you can access the survey using the
Alternatively, you can request a paper copy of the survey by
getting in touch with the Research Team.
Telephone: +44 28 7012 4877
Email: Dr Julie Doherty firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi again from a sunny Worcester.
We are getting very excited here as we know we will be moving
into our new building any time now. A big thank you to
Worcester City Council for their support, which has secured
our centre for the next 12 months. We are now just waiting for
the keys to be handed to us then it will be full steam ahead.
We have had a struggle over the past month or so but we have
still managed to operate using local facilities and with the
creative minds of the team. Big thank you to our wonderful
psychotherapist, Lisa who has battled on regardless and helped
an awful lot of veterans suffering with mental health issues.
Anyhow, we are still operational and available to assist any
local veteran in need of our help, and have been doing just that
for the past few weeks. Happily one of our veterans has been
housed recently, and he seems to be going from strength to
strength, which is lovely to see. I really think we’re all going to
breathe a sigh of relief when we finally get into our new centre.
Another bit of great news, Paul Lewis, TAC Trustee and FRS
Regional Director is just about set up to open TAC 2 in the
Black Country. This is going to be a major leap forward for
the Tommy Atkins Centre extending our reach throughout the
West Midlands with the talk of another two centres on the
horizon. From small acorns...
Finally, it is with a heavy heart that we announce that our
founder, Pablo is hanging up his TAC duties. Pabs is moving
on to a few other projects including the expansion of our
magazine. He has felt that he has been wearing far too many
hats and wanted to give himself a bit of breathing space. His
decision to hand over the TAC to me and the rest of the gang
was not easy but he is happy it is now in very capable hands to
continue the good work. He will, of course still bat our corner
when it comes to the official council and AFC duties but he will
not be part of the shop front team. All of us wish him the very
best for the future.
Not much more really I can say for the moment, except to ask
you all to look out for that veteran friend of yours who’s been
awol for a few days. Give them a call and make sure they are
That’s it from me, take care.
TAC 2? Hmmm...
The Tommy Atkins
12 The Tything
Mental Health Support
| 18 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Tommy Atkins Centre
Armed Forces Covenant
Benefactor of the Year
Have you signed the
Armed Forces Covenant?
Do you get involved with your Armed
Forces and Veterans Community?
Then we want to hear from you!
The Sandbag Times Veterans Magazine, in
association with Team Dynamics Motorsport,
are looking for individuals, charities and
businesses who go above and beyond in
support of the Armed Forces Community.
If this is you then contact us by email on
Could This Be You?
One Giant Leap... 50 Years On
As the world remembers that ‘First Step’ the UK extends it’s reach to the stars with it’s own project as recently
revealed by the former Defence Minister. The Sandbag Times reflects on history and looks to the future.
Article: Pablo Snow, SBT Image Credit: (1) BBC (2) Flight Global (3) Space Flight 101
One Small Step...
In 1969, History was made when Neil Armstrong became the
first man to step foot on the moon. Those immortal words
were uttered which were to echo for the next fifty years.
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. This
was just 66 years after Orvil and Wilbur Wright first got their
Wright Flyer off the ground.
Getting back to 2019 we can look back over an incredible
century of flight. In fact, as we mentioned, it is literally just
over a century since man first found a way to get off the ground
in the very first aircraft. Less than fifty years later, following
the air campaigns of the second world war, the first jet aircraft
were produced adding a whole new dimension to flight. Jets
gave aviators the ability to fly so much higher and faster than
before. In 1959, a rocket powered aircraft was produced known
as the X15 which in 1967 would fly higher that ever imagined
at an altitude of 102,100 feet at a speed of Mach 6.7. The pilot
was officially the first Astronaut. Just two years later, man
stepped on the moon. These days, we have seen regular rocket
and shuttle launches, satellites launched to relay information
in a myriad of ways, a manned space station and man has even
But let’s talk about the UK. The UK has been involved in space
programmes since 1952, eventually launching the Ariel satellite
programme in 1959 using US rockets but it wasn’t until 2011
until the UK was to fund it’s first astronaut to the International
Space Station. The honour falling to Army Air Corps Apache
pilot, Tim Peake when he rocketed off to the ISS in 2015.
But as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing,
the former UK’s Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, outlined
the UK’s future space programme.
(1) The small satellite demonstrator, which will be supported
by a new transatlantic team of UK and US defence personnel,
named Team ARTEMIS, will sit alongside a host of other
programmes that will demonstrate the UK’s leading future role
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff,
said: “I am delighted that the Secretary of State has announced
our plans to take our space ambitions to the next stage through
Project ARTEMIS. When this is combined with our investments
in the training and development of our people, improved
command and control, greater space situational awareness, and
(1) Article exerpt from Air101.co.uk (2) Article exerpt from FlightGlobal.com
| 20 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
One Giant Leap...
our commitment to the Space Coalition with our allies, it all
underlines the importance and constantly growing role of Space
in the Royal Air Force’s capabilities.”
ARTEMIS gives us the opportunity to grow skills, understand
the military relevance of small satellites and responsive launch,
and consider how to get space-based information to the
warfighter in operationally relevant timelines, all of which are
vital to ensure we stay ahead of the evolving threat.
race has now evolved into an almost routine exercise. It makes
one think where we will be in another 50 years. Colonisation?
maybe living in purpose built orbital cities? Maybe even
reaching new worlds? Who knows.
Major Tim Peake
(2) As part of Team Artemis, An RAF pilot will be selected for
Virgin Orbit’s small satellite launch activities, with a successful
candidate to fly on board its modified Boeing 747-400 platform,
named “Cosmic Girl”.
A total of 17 candidates applied for the opportunity and a
shortlist of four – two each from the fast jet and multi-engined
aircraft areas – has been drawn up. One of these will join the
Virgin Orbit flight-test team, Air Commodore Richard Davies,
commandant of the RAF’s Air Warfare centre, confirmed at the
Royal International Air Tattoo.
Placing a test pilot within the Virgin Orbit organisation forms
part of a broader satellite initiative announced by the UK
Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 18 July.
The future of the UK Space Projects have never been more
vibrant and exciting. Astronaut Tim Peake drew the line in the
sand when he embarked on his ISS mission for other would-be
British astronauts. Incidentally, Tim is hopeful for his second
trip in the near fututre. Watch this space (excuse the pun).
But just 50 years on from that first step on the moon, the Space
Inspiring and Empowering Veterans and Partners, to better manage symptoms and their own lives
• Understanding Mind Wellness
Half day workshopintroducing mental health, coping strategies and the 3Self’s model.
• Holistic themed workshop
Includes the benefits of guided meditation, breathing techniques, Yoga and Mindfulness.
• Motorsport themed workshop
Includes the benefits of being focused, having goals to achieve, being part of a team and social
New for 2020, an exciting collaboration between Spar Motorsport and First Step Forward brings you
Racing Minds and the Veterans Trophy, an endurance karting championship that is the first of its kind
in the UK and Europe. It will be made up of seven rounds and is planned be held at eight professional
circuits around the country, chosen for their geographical location to better assist those wishing to
enter, with up to twenty drivers taking part at each location. It is specifically aimed towards those
veterans and partners of service personnel, who have been impacted by poor mental health/illness
and is non gender specific.
There are a few sponsorship opportunities remaining for 2019 and we are now also looking for
headline and location sponsors for Veterans Trophy 2020.
Interested? Email: email@example.com
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A percentage of all monies will be given to First Step Forward, enabling them to continue subsidising
the mental health training they provide. Should you wish to donate directly then please visit :
| 10 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Proud signatories to the
Armed Forces Covenant.
THE ORIGINAL RESETTLEMENT
of the Chennai 6,
Nick Dunn opens
up about his
in times of crisis.
THE ORIGINAL RESETTLEMENT MAGAZINE
Pathfinder International magazine is the
leading military resettlement publication
available to all service personnel in their
resettlement phase and veterans.
Each issue has an array of advice from
careers to forces pensions to general
Check out our website at
Our UK based team of military protection
experts have a wealth of knowledge and
experience. We understand you do not want
to compromise on cover, but you do wan the
Life and Serious I lne s
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Tris-Ty trading as Genesis Protection Services Limited is authorised and
regulated by Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England, Registered
No. 8 0676, Registered A dre s: Thornborough Hall, M or Road, Leyburn,
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INSIDE: THE CLIMB
TO KILIMANJARO FOR
GENESIS PAGE 16
Proud signatories to the
Armed Forces Covenant.
THE ORIGINAL RESETTLEMENT MAGAZINE
WELFARE SUCCESS FOR
VETERANS ON WEARSIDE
THURSDAY 27TH JUNE
ST MARY’S STADIUM, SOUTHAMPTON.
ARMED FORCES & VETERANS
THURSDAY 3RD OCTOBER
ALBERT HALL, NOTTINGHAM
PathfinderInternationalMagazine @pathfindermag pathfinder-international-magazine
Off The Grid
With BTCC Champion & SBT Patron, Matt Neal
Honda looks to add luck to pace
as BTCC resumes in Norfolk...
Article: Andrew Charman, Honda BTCC Image: Jakob Ebrey
Honda drivers Dan Cammish and Matt Neal will be looking for
some luck to go with the pace they have shown in their 2019 British
Touring Car Championship campaign as the series returns from its
summer break at Snetterton in Norfolk on 4th August.
The Halfords Yuasa Racing team is keen to get back to the action,
a month on from the most recent rounds at Oulton Park where the
Honda Civic Type R of Cammish scored two more podium finishes
to take his total to five this season, but team-mate Neal was spun
out of the lead and a potential winning position in the final race.
At the mid-way point of the season, Matt, Dan and Team Dynamics
are taking a well deserved break and taking stock of part 1 of this
years championship. How will the second half of the season pan
out for our Patron? We hear from Honda’s Andrew Charman.
The fast 2.97-mile Snetterton circuit has been a happy hunting
ground for Honda’s BTCC team in the past, yielding six race wins
in the last nine seasons. And the track will hold sweet recent memories
for Neal, as at the Snetterton meeting in 2018 he took victory
in the extended-length ‘Diamond Double’ race celebrating the
BTCC’s 60th anniversary.
Cammish, meanwhile, will head for Norfolk with the confidence
of a strong performance in a two-day tyre test held at the circuit in
July. His Honda Civic Type R was consistently among the quickest
cars over both days and he ended the test with second-fastest time.
Dan Cammish – Halfords Yuasa Racing driver
A double podium at Oulton has put me back into the Championship
hunt and I’ll be looking to keep that form for the second half
of the season. I ran well in testing at Snetterton recently, being near
the top of the time sheets all day, so I go there with my tail held
high and looking to keep adding to my points tally and build on
my current position.
Matt Neal – Halfords Yuasa Racing driver and Team Dynamics
Oulton Park was another weekend where the luck just wasn’t on
our side! The car felt great from the get-go but the day didn’t quite
go to plan. But on to Snetterton, I have had some great battles there
over the years and obviously want to replicate my Double Diamond
win there last year. During the recent test we ran through a number
of changes on the car and feel confident that we should have good
race pace come the weekend.
BTCC Drivers’ Championship, after 15 rounds
1. Colin Turkington 195 points
2. Andrew Jordan 162 points
3. Josh Cook 148 points
5. Dan Cammish 130 points
8. Matt Neal 125 points
BTCC Manufacturers’ Championship, after 15
1. BMW 425 points
2. Honda 379 points
3. Subaru 326 points
BTCC Teams’ Championship, after 15 rounds
1 Team BMW 276 points
2. Halfords Yuasa Racing 252 points
3. Cobra Sport AMD 218 points
* all points provisional pending judicial decisions
Rounds 16-18 of the British Touring Car Championship
will take place at Snetterton, Norfolk on Sunday
| 24 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Off The Grid
Are Proud to be Sponsoring the
English Veterans Awards
Veterans Business of
the Year Award
25th September 2019
A Brand New Start...
I had a dream the other night..., well it was a nightmare actually.
Nothing that really bothered me but certainly enough for me to think
about the meaning of it.
The dream was, I was walking down a street very close to my home
when everything started to turn a brilliant white and then all of a
sudden the ground started to disappear. Weird, I know but there you
have it, our dreams can go all over the place.
As I said, I was none the worse for it but after a little research, I started
finding the same meaning over and over again. Dreaming of an end or
dreaming that you die is meant to signify a new beginning. Of course,
there is no scientific evidence to this and it could very possibly be
complete rubbish but it did kind of make sense a little.
Recently, I have been going through a lot of career changes and
my mind, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that this was such
a sign telling me to look to the new future. I may be wrong but I will
look at it as a good sign, after all, what do I have to lose.
So my thoughts reflect on some of the nightmares I used to suffer
when I was in the midst of PTSD. Totally different and incoparable,
I know but maybe it was a way of being told to get help. Maybe not,
but one thing I am learning is that there is a reason for everything we
experience. The trick is to recognise the message. Much easier to write
about than to do in practice.
But the message here is that we must always look for our new start no
matter how bad things seem. One thing we can say without doubt is
that your new future does lie ahead, you just need the strength to look
for it. As far as my fellow veterans are concerned, I don’t think I could
offer a more worthwhile peice of advice.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with one of the verses that I read when
looking for answers to my dream. I think, this is where it started to
make a little sense.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a
new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a
way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Hope this helps you in your journey through life.
Take care all and God Bless, Pabs
pointing myself into a new and very positive direction. It has all got
very exciting, I must admit. I won’t bore you with the details but it is
quite well documented in this issue.
The thing is, the dream, to me was a sign that my old life was coming
to an end and my new beginning was about to start. So from a bad
dream, a new bright light shines. Perhaps that was the light I saw in
Now, I don’t think I am superstitious but I do think that God has a way
of sending messages and signs that perhaps we do not understand. In
| 26 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Historical Tommy Atkins
The Shortest War in History
The Anglo-Zanzibar War 1896
The little known Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896 is generally considered
to be the shortest war in history, lasting for a grand total of 38 minutes.
The story begins with the signing of the Heligoland-Zanzibar treaty
between Britain and Germany in 1890. This treaty effectively drew
up spheres of influence between the imperial powers in East Africa;
Zanzibar was ceded to British influence, whilst Germany was given
control over mainland Tanzania.
With this new found influence, Britain declared Zanzibar a
protectorate of the British Empire and moved to install their own
‘puppet’ Sultan to look after the region. Hamad bin Thuwaini, who had
been a supporter of the British in the area, was given the position in
Hamad ruled over this relatively peaceful protectorate for just over
3 years until, on August 25, 1896, he died suddenly in his palace.
Although the truth will never be fully known about the causes for
his death, it is widely believed that his cousin, Khalid bin Barghash
(pictured to the right), had him poisoned.
This belief is compounded by the fact that within a few hours of
Hamad’s death, Khalid had already moved into the palace and assumed
the position of Sultan, all without British approval.
Needless to say the local British diplomats were not at all happy with
this turn of events, and the chief diplomat in the area, Basil Cave,
quickly declared that Khalid should stand down. Khalid ignored these
warnings and instead starting gathering his forces around the Palace.
These forces were surprisingly well armed, although it’s worth noting
that quite a few of their guns and cannons were actually diplomatic
gifts that had been presented to the former Sultan over the years! By
the end of 25th August, Khalid had his palace secured with almost
3,000 men, several artillery guns and even a modestly armed Royal
Yacht in the nearby harbour.
At the same time, the British already had two warships anchored in
the harbour, the HMS Philomel and the HMS Rush, and troops were
quickly being sent ashore to protect the British Consulate and to keep
the local population from rioting. Cave (pictured to the right) also
requested backup from another nearby British ship, the HMS Sparrow,
which entered the harbour on the evening of the 25th August.
Even though Cave had a significant armed presence in the harbour,
he knew that he did not have the authority to open hostilities without
express approval of the British government. To prepare for all
eventualities, he sent a telegram to the Foreign Office that evening
stating: “Are we authorised in the event of all attempts at a peaceful
solution proving useless, to fire on the Palace from the men-of-war?”
Whilst waiting for a reply from Whitehall, Cave continued issuing
ultimatums to Khalid but to no avail.
The next day, two more British warships entered the harbour, the HMS
Racoon and the HMS St George, the latter carrying Rear-Admiral
Harry Rawson, commander of the British fleet in the area At the same
time, Cave had received a telegraph from Whitehall stating:
“You are authorised to adopt whatever measures you may consider
necessary, and will be supported in your action by Her Majesty’s
Government. Do not, however, attempt to take any action which you
are not certain of being able to accomplish successfully.”
The final ultimatum to Khalid was issued on the 26th August,
demanding that he leave the palace by 9am the next day. That night,
Cave also demanded that all non-military boats leave the harbour in
preparation for war.
At 8am the next morning, only one hour before the ultimatum expired,
Khalid sent a reply to Cave stating:
“We have no intention of hauling down our flag and we do not believe
you would open fire on us.”
Cave replied in true 19th century British diplomatic style, stating that
he had no desire to fire upon the palace “but unless you do as you are
told, we shall certainly do so.”
That was the last Cave heard from Khalid, and at 9am the order was
given for the British ships in the harbour to begin bombarding the
palace. By 09:02 the majority of Khalid’s artillery had been destroyed,
and the palaces wooden structure had started to collapse with 3,000
defenders inside. It is also around this time, two minutes after the
bombardment started, that Khalid is said to have escaped through a
back exit of the palace, leaving his servants and fighters to defend the
By 09:40 the shelling had ceased, the Sultan’s flag pulled down, and the
shortest war in history had officially ended after only 38 minutes.
For such a short war, the casualty rate was surprisingly high with over
500 of Khalid’s fighters killed or wounded, mainly due to the high
explosive shells exploding on the palace’s flimsy structure. One British
petty officer was also severely injured, but later recovered in hospital.
With Khalid out of the way, the UK was free to place the pro-British
Sultan Hamud on the throne of Zanzibar, and he ruled on behalf of
Her Majesty’s Government for the next six years.
As for Khalid, he managed to escape with a small group of loyal
followers to the local German Consulate. Despite repeated calls from
the British for his extradition, he was smuggled out of the country on
October 2nd by the German navy and taken to modern day Tanzania.
It was not until British forces invaded East Africa in 1916 that Khalid
was finally captured and subsequently taken to Saint Helena for exile.
After ‘serving time’, he was later allowed to return to East Africa where
he died in 1927.
Article from www.historic-uk.com
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| 10 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Introduction from Suzanne Fernando
Hello everyone and welcome
to your AFVBC news.
This section will focus solely
on Veteran Breakfast Clubs
across the UK.
I’m delighted to take the reins
as your AFVBC Correspondent,
I’m looking forward to
my new role and trust these
Monthly updates will keep
everyone informed of club
Send your articles and stories into
The Armed Forces and Veterans
Breakfast Club’s official
You will find information
attached should any of you wish to contact me regarding an
article and I look forward to hearing from you.
AFVBC Correspondent for the SBT
SBT Correspondent has revealed
her shock at being awarded an MBE.
Suzanne Fernando was revealed as the recipient of an MBE
on the June birthday Honours list for her services to Cervical
Cancer, Autism and Military Veterans.
For the past 20 years Suzanne has devoted most of her time to
charity work. Suzanne told us how a tough year has been made
that bit better and how she was “overwhelmed” by the award.
She said: “What started off as the worst year with various
illnesses and bedded down for almost four months has now
transformed into a whirlwind of a week for me. I celebrated my
wedding anniversary, birthday, TACT Volunteer Award, British
Citizen Award and now I’ve been told I’ll be off down to Buckingham
Palace to receive an MBE.
“I am still in shock, I can’t quite believe what is happening
and I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. As a military veteran
and having served my Queen & Country I am overwhelmed,
delighted and humbled to have been awarded this amazing
Suzanne does a lot for her chosen charities and her community
and wants to thank those who help her out.
She added: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has
supported me throughout the years, especially my family whom
I continue to drag here, there and everywhere setting up events
and seminars. They have, are and always will be my rock.”
| 30 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Vale Park Football Club who are usually located in Burslem which is a town
situated within the city of Stoke-on-Trent were up in Largs on a weeks training.
A few of the lads visited the famous Green Shutters Cafe and popped in
for their breakfast before heading back to the pitch.
They were fortunate to meet some of the local veteran breakfast club members
who were also in enjoying some delicious breakfast, scones and banter. They
had a great morning at the Green Shutter Tearoom in Largs with 12 veterans
attending plus a brief photo op with Port Vale FC lads who were up in Scotland
on a weeks training. Members said,
“It was lovely to meet such well mannered and respectful young lads. We
wish them all the very best for the season.” Largs Veteran Breakfast Club
meet every Tuesday morning at the Green Shutters Cafe in Largs between
10am and 12 noon. All are welcome!
March AFVBC enjoyed their first outing to the National Arboretum
at Alrewas recently, and it just so happened that it was their
oldest members birthday, Mr Harold Noor 93 yrs young!
The club arranged a surprise treat for him, a birthday cake and
lot’s of cards. The restaurant granted them permission to have
there own cake and the club members were delighted with the
exceptional service from the staff, who even treated Harold to a
complimentary birthday whiskey, his favoured tipple.
Harold thoroughly enjoyed his special birthday saying: “It’s been
the bestest birthday ever.”
Big congratulations to both Mr
& Mrs Wright from the Ayrshire
Veteran Breakfast club who tied the
knot recently. Pictured with fellow
Treaty of Versailles
It is the 100 year
anniversary of the
Treaty of Versailles
the official end of
Members of the
recently paid their
respects at Saltcoats
Dereck Hardman Thanked by Theresa May
Hull East AFVBC
A good 40 veterans and their families
attended at the Hull East Armed
Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club,
along with the new Lord Mayor of
Kingston-upon-Hull, the Honourable
Steven Williams, who was ‘startled’
to learn of the extent of this organisation.
Dereck Hardman RE from Ganstead, the founder and driving force behind the world-wide
phenomenon which is the Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs, has been recognised by
the Prime Minister this morning for his brilliant work with a Points of Light award.
In a personal letter to Dereck, Theresa May said: “By founding the Armed Forces and Veterans
Breakfast Clubs you are helping those who, like yourself, have given so much in service to our
country. Bringing together our brave veterans creates a sense of community and provides vital
support for veterans’ health and wellbeing. You should feel truly proud of your work”.
I second May’s sentiments well done Dereck!
Charlotte Olford from Par AFVBC, shares
news of there first birthday:
“We organised a festival, this was attended
over two days by some 200 people (not
bad for a first year) 15 local bands gave
their time and sang their hearts out. RBL
,SSAFA, Combat Stress, Veterans In action
6 Rifles and the RAF reserves as well as local
cadet forces were in attendance. The event
was a huge success and plans are already in
place for next year’s event which will be held
on 3rd and 4th July 2020
Our Face book page has some amazing
The event was supported by Local business,
D Day Veteran - St Helens AFVBC
Local Veteran Raymond Rush unfortunately had to miss St Helens AFVBC
D Day trip as he was in hospital at the time, so the breakfast club came to
the rescue by hosting a little party just for Raymond at the hospital.
The local press were invited, along with the NHS area manager and administrator
who all made a real fuss of there local and much respected hero
who had served with the South Lancashire Regiment during WW2.
The icing on the top for our Raymond though had to be a lovely letter from
none other than HM the Queen, sending her good wishes. (Please see
On behalf of The Sandbag Times, we’d like to wish Raymond a speedy
recovery and look forward to hearing all about his next trip with St Helens
Legacy Properties, Speedy hire, Towergate
insurance and Tirio Tech to name but a few.
The event raised £200 for each of the three
charities - (BL, SSAFA, Combat Stress)
Friendships were formed that will last a
lifetime, as well as a specialreunion for two
ladies who were in basic training together
30 years ago! The highlight of the event
is not measured in success but for us it
is measured in the smiling faces and one
member in particular who sadly lost his wife
told us that this event had given him the
confidence to get back out and meet people
again andthathe’d had the best time ever
since his wife died.
It would be great to see more people next
year www.vetsfest.uk - Tickets are already
| 32 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
High Plains (Spain) AFVBC
By Esther Navarro
Hello, my name is Esther Navarro, and I am founding co-admin
for the High Plains (Spain) AFVBC (north Granada province,
I am a civilian, but I have been related to the armed forces my
entire life. My father was a career soldier, US Army. I was born
and raised on a military base overseas. I grew up in a place
where you stopped the car and saluted the flag at sundown. All
my friends were army brats, like myself. My dad volunteered to
go to Vietnam, and when he came back, he was a different daddy
than the one that had gone to war. In those days, children were
seen and not heard, and they were never told “adult problems”.
So I never understood why my dad was always so angry at me.
I grew up first fearing him, then hating him. He passed away
years later, from one of the many illnesses the US government
denies are war related. To this day, I carry the guilt of not
Fast forward to 2015, I met my now husband, a RAFP vet and
BTP police dog handler. He struggles, and I have learned so
much thanks to him. Fate works in strange ways. Living with my
husband, I have learned why my father was and did what he did.
So as you may understand, the Armed Forces, and especially
veterans, are something very dear to me. I love to sit and listen to
the banter, the stories, the memories.
I am very active in several military charities, and when I heard
about the AFVBC, I decided then and there to start one in our
area. That is where I am now. We live in a very remote area
of southern Spain, with not only ex-pats, but local Spaniard
scattered about. I live in a tiny hamlet with about 60 permanent
residents, of which, as of today, about 14 are British, and of
those, 3 are vets. We can travel for miles just for a coffee, and if
the food is good, we may even drive over an hour.
We have our regular meetings once a month at our scheduled
venue, but we will also be having “roaming breakfasts” in the
different towns and hamlets in our area. Hopefully this will help
in bringing more men and women out of their caves, and back
into the family.
ARMED FORCES & VETERANS BREAKFAST
CLUBS AND WHAT THEY DO
The Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs’ main purpose is to
end the isolation of veterans. Some seem to need it more than others,
but all who attend benefit to one degree or another. For some it is a
YouGov research undertaken in September 2017 found that 41% of
British Armed Forces veterans felt lonely or isolated after leaving the
military, 34% said they had felt overwhelmed by negative feelings, and
over a quarter (27 per cent) admitted to having suicidal thoughts after
finishing their military service.
More than three in ten (31 per cent) admitted they have just one or
no close friends and 53% would be unlikely to discuss any feelings of
loneliness with a family member or close friend, which suggests there
is limited support for these veterans.
The most common reasons veterans gave for feeling lonely and
isolated included: 41% said losing touch with friends in the Armed
Forces, 33% said physical or mental health issues and 23% admitted to
struggling to relate to anyone in civilian life
Most veterans feel they are ‘conditioned’ for service during their basic
training, when they are still ‘impressionable’ (most join straight from
school), and this is reinforced throughout their service career, so they
are fundamentally changed for the rest of their lives (I know I have!).
When they leave, most don’t ‘return’ to civilian life, they enter civilian
life for the first time, many in their late twenties, early thirties, or after
a full service career.
Many say that when they walk out of the gate for the last time,
they feel ‘abandoned’. Many have feelings of isolation, even those
surrounded by close family and friends, simply because they feel
‘different’ from those around them. They have a different ideology,
ethics, and even their language sets them apart. I actually went
through a long period I would compare to ‘mourning’ when I left...
I would often dream I was ‘back in’ and then wake up as ‘a civilian’,
which I found very difficult to cope with, and very occasionally it still
happens to me now, although I have dealt very much more easily with
my own feelings since I started the AFVBC’s.
We seek to address these issues, by putting them back into almost a
‘pseudo-military’ social environment... it’s the Mess, the NAAFI, the
Squadron/Company Bar, the Ward Room, the Cookhouse... veterans
speaking the same language as they did, with the same terms of
reference of their service - we call it ‘returning to the tribe’ after the
TED talk by Sebastian Junger https://www.ted.com/talks/sebastian_
This footage was such an epiphany for me, I wrote to Sebastian
Junger, and received his permission to use the phrase - we now have
veterans all over the world ‘returning to the tribe’ with Armed Forces
& Veterans Breakfast Clubs... impossible to say how many, because
there is no formal registration, but I would estimate there are well over
a hundred thousand now, increasing daily, joining over 300 hundred
clubs; we have started MORE than one club a week, every week, since
I think the AFVBC’s offer an opportunity for vets to stay connected
to their military psyche, be part of the family they post, and I hope
we can actually develop connections with the serving military and
units in the future, so that new leavers do not feel as if their military
family have turned their backs on them. Within the clubs themselves,
they often reflect how society ‘should’ be; older veterans are valued
and revered (care homes are bringing veterans in their charge to
clubs), they are respected, and nowhere else will you see a 92 year old
D Day veteran and a twenty-something Afghan Veteran exchanging
quips and banter while eating breakfast together (one club has a
94 year old German U Boat submariner attending regularly!). And
when inevitably an older veteran passes away, their families are often
surprised to see a guard of honour, a bugler playing last post, and the
passing of an old soldier/sailor/airmen/woman, who have served their
country, being marked with the ‘send-off ’ they deserved, instead of an
unremarkable ceremony, with few attending, passing off unnoticed.
Often, an Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club starting within a
community is akin to dropping a pebble into a pond; there are now
‘Veterans Hubs’, funded by local authorities, where there was none
before. Armed Forces Day events and Remembrance Day parades
are being organised where previously there was none, AFVBC’s are
connecting with their local authorities, often through their local
authority Armed Forces Covenant Champion, and the welfare of local
veterans who are struggling is being addressed. There are knock-on
effects to for the families of those who have served with their loved
ones’ outlook, social interaction and opportunities fundamentally
This is why they are now spreading all over the UK, across Europe, and
around the world, from New Zealand & Australia, to Canada and the
USA, by veterans and serving military, for serving military & veterans.
AFVBC’s are closing the gap between communities and the military,
allowing wider society that the military and veterans are ordinary
people, who, quite often, have done extraordinary things.
I think the AFVBC’s now have an essential part to play in the
resettlement of Armed Forces Veterans, and I hope to increase the
support for this with the MOD and Covenant in the future, because
I also think that this will have an effect on recruiting; Social Media,
rightly or wrongly, is full of stories of isolated veterans, struggling with
their mental health. Potential recruits see for themselves the results
of active service on resettled service personnel (not something I saw
when I was considering joining, because there was no social media, or
I may have also thought twice about it) and although the majority cope
well when they return to civilian life, it may leave potential recruits
with the impression that service life could damage their mental health.
In actual fact, in many ways, it was the making of me, it gave me a
yardstick to measure myself by throughout my life, showed me I could
go beyond what I thought I was capable of, and made me realise I
could achieve anything if I fought hard enough for it. That is what
the recruitment should be concentrating on (in my humble opinion),
that once you have served your country, you will be part of a ‘military
family’ for life.
It would have been wonderful, when my service was at an end, if I’d
had an Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club to go to, so I could
have remained, partially at least, part of the tribe when I needed it...
thankfully/hopefully, that is what we will achieve in the future.
Dereck J. Hardman BA(Hons) MCGI MInstRE
Founder of the Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs
Director of Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs CIC
Find your nearest AFVBC http://www.afvbc.net/find-a-club
| 34 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
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www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 47 |
Goes To War
The Chronicles of Little Hope
1939 - 1945
Villager of the month:
George hadn’t realised
that the vicar was quite
George Cross, SOE Agent
extraordinaire, was known
to be a master of disguise
and sleight of hand and was
a damned fine shot to boot.
His signature fragrance was
a unique brand of tobacco
which lingered in the air long
after he’d departed the covert
scene of operations and
it was rumoured that a single
whiff of his peculiar shag was
enough to strike fear into the
very heart of any jerry coming
across it. George was also rather
adept at puffing out Morse
code with his pipe, as it were,
so to speak, hence his SOE
handle ‘Three Nuns Shag’.
George was the beloved beau
of Penny Stamp, the postmistress
of Little Hope, and it was
truly a match made in heaven,
they danced around one another’s
affections like Fred and
Ginger and managed - inadvertently
- to cause havoc both
abroad in occupied Europe and
back home in Blighty.
| 36 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Mrs Fox Goes To War
The bird with all the answers
Hilda Ffinch, Little Hope’s very own Agony Aunt (page 5 of the Little
Hope Herald) was easily bored and terribly rich. She loved nothing
better than taking on the problems of others and either sorting them
out or claiming that she’d never heard of them if it all went tits up
and they had to leave the district under cover of darkness having
followed her sage advice.
Dear Mrs Potter,
The Little Hope Herald
Saturday, 31st August 1940
Have you ever, in all the time you have lived in your little cottage on
Donkey Trot Lane, found yourself being rudely swept out of the
house and into your foxgloves by a tidal-wave of rain thundering
down the chimney during a summer storm, or awoken on a winter’s
morning to find your little sitting room knee deep in a snowdrift?
No, of course you haven’t, nor are you likely to. You see the average
chimney, such as your own, is not simply a vertical gateway to the
skies – it bends a little on the way up in order to slow the passage
of Mother nature’s unexpected bounty, allowing it to burn to a
crisp before it has time to annoy you .
Dear Mrs Ffinch,
Mrs Alice Potter
Donkey Trot Lane
25th August 1940
Whilst lying in bed the other night, I remembered
that I hadn’t put the fireguard up and when I
went downstairs to do so I suddenly had the most
terrifying thought: Supposing a Jerry bomber is
able to see down my chimney during the blackout
and thus knows exactly where to drop his load?
Many a century has passed, Mrs Potter, since we English sat
cross-legged in a circle about a fire in the middle of our wattle and
daub huts, eating roasted squirrel and watching the smoke
disappear though a hole in the roof before idly picking our teeth
with a handy bit of deer antler and popping out to defecate in
We are a civilised race, my dear, and our chimneys are the envy
of the world – I myself have a couple of particularly impressive
specimens, one of which is sufficiently cavernous as to allow a
string quartet to enter without too much ado, light a few
sparklers, bang out a bit of Beethoven and still give the Luftwaffe no
inkling of their presence.
Is this likely to be the case, and if so did I ought
to desist from lighting a fire at night until the war
is over? I’ve no burning desire to make myself
and my little cottage a target! I’ve some excellent
cabbages coming up and would dearly like to live to
see them through to fruition.
Yours, by candlelight,
Alice Potter, Mrs.
So light your fire of an evening, by all means, Mrs Potter, but do be sure to put your fireguard up as a stray coal may
indeed set the whole house ablaze and will definitely enable Herr Goering’s demonic bats to pinpoint not only your little
cottage but indeed the entire village. I’m sure that you don’t need me to tell you how unpopular you are likely to be in the
vicinity on the back of that monumental faux pas!
Good luck with the cabbages, dear, adhere to the above advice and you’ll probably outlive them.
The Bird with All The Answers
You can catch more of Mrs Fox and Friends at www.mrsfoxgoestowar.co.uk
or on Twitter @mrslaviniafox
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| 10 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
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H H H H H “Worth a trip to Belgium”
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BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND
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November 2 – 11 2019
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