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Downham Market and District , Royal British Legion,  have just learnt of the death of Ivan Sneezum  on 3rd October 2018.  Ivan who was almost a life time member of the local  RBL due his father's great enthusiasm and work for the charity from its birth, had been poorly over the past few months and stayed at Ashville house.
The funeral service is on October 18th at 11.30 at Mintlyn crematorium. Kings Lynn

Elizabeth and Lesley Davies at GP90 Ypres

Downham & District’s British Legion at Ypres for GP90 remembrance parade

On Sunday, 4 August 2018, thousands of British Legion members travelled to France and Belgium to take part in GP90 - a re-enactment of the Great Pilgrimage of 1928 when WWI veterans and war widows visited the Somme and Ypres battlefields. Among those who travelled there last Sunday were  Elizabeth Davies, Downham & District’s Standard Bearer and Lesley Davies, the Branch Secretary.
Their first visit was to the Thiepval Memorial, in the Somme region of France, to they place a cross in memory of their great grandfather, Leonard Clare Elvin.  A soldier in the Norfolk Regiment, his name is among the 72,000 names of Allied soldiers who died on the Somme and for whom there is no known grave.
The following day their attended the ceremony in the Belgium town of Ypres; taking part in the Legion’s march through the streets of the town to the Menin Gate for a service of thanksgiving to those who died in the War.  It was, “a deeply emotional experience to stand at the Menin Gate and salute the millions of young men and women who had sacrificed their lives”, said Lesley Davies.

Branch Standard Dedication 2018

Downham’s branch of the Royal British Legion dedicates new Standard

On Sunday afternoon members and friends of Downham and District’s branch of the Royal British Legion attended a Service at St Edmund’s Church to dedicate their new Standard.  It was accompanied by the Standards of the Legion’s branches at Dickleborough, Litcham and West Dereham.  The Dedication was conducted by St Edmund’s rector, Father James Mather and, after blessing the Standard, he spoke of the values of ‘Service not self’ that it represents. One of it first duties will be in August, when it will travel to Ypres for GP90 to take part in the Legion’s re-enactment of the Great Pilgrimage of 1928, when WWI veterans and widows visited the Somme and Ypres battlefields before marching to the Menin Gate.  Downham’s Standard bearer, Elizabeth Davies will travel to Ypres with the Branch Secretary, Lesley Davies. 

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Downham & District’s British Legion represented at GP90

On Sunday 4 August Elizabeth Davies, Standard Bearer for Downham & District’s Branch of the Royal British Legion, will be leaving her home at Hilgay to take part in GP90; the Legion’s re-enactment of the Great Pilgrimage in 1928, when thousands of WWI veterans and widows visited the Somme and Ypres battlefields before marching to the Menin Gate for a service of thanksgiving. 
Elizabeth and her mother, Lesley, Downham & District’s Branch Secretary, will travel initially to northern France. On Monday they will visit the Somme to place a cross at the Thiepval Memorial in memory of Lesley’s great and Elizabeth’s great-great grandfather, Leonard Clare Elvin; a soldier in the Norfolk Regiment and one of the 72,000 British and S African soldiers who died in the Somme sector and have no known graves. 

The next day they move on to Belgium.  In the morning they visit the Passchendaele battlefield, before assembling in the afternoon, at Ypres, to march to the Menin Gate, in the company of a thousand members of the Legion, for a service to honour all those who perished in the Great War.

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Laddie (Ladnar Highland Lad) passed away on Wednesday 26 July 2017 at 12.50 hour He was borne on 19th August 2005. In 2010 he took over the role of mascot Dog to the Royal British Legion Downham Market and The Desert Rats Association from Mascot Dog Shane(Chrisarion Counterpoint) who had been in the role since 1995. Laddie like Shane carried out duties at funerals of veterans of all three services, He also attended home coming parades at Downham Market supporting our troops, he attended Armed forces day, Rededication of RBL Standards and the Laying up of standards, After a memorial parade for the Desert Rats at high Lodge Mundford he was promoted to S/Sgt by the Brigadier, Laddie was invited to RAF Marham by the Station Commander to take the Salute on the arrival of the Falcons parachute team . Laddie attended fates to demonstrate how dogs were used in the two world wars and today . Carting, searching for explosives,& message carrying, Laddie attended Desert Rats Memorials at Orwell Park school and was presented to the Duchess of Cornwall. He attended the Home coming parade of 9 Sqdn at Downham market when 9 Sqdn received the Freedom of the town. He attended the dedication of a memorial at RAF West Raynham. were he was presented with the Rank of Warrant Officer. He attended the South End Air Show where he did demonstrations in front of hundreds He attended over a hundred Funerals, at times leading the cortage, and once he was asked to lead the coffin in to the church as the gentleman had been an RAF police dog handler .He for many years collected monies outside Salisbury's at Poppy Launch. Mr (WO) Laddie was also a Canine Concern Therapy dog visiting Q E Hospital Kings Lynn .He was also an honorary member of the Red Arrows, The BBMF,REME,RHA, HMS Ganges.Mr (WO) Laddie to me any many others was a great ambassador to his breed never ever doing any thing wrong whilst on parade or disgracing his uniform.which he wore with pride. His successor Glenn (Stregatto Highland Glenn) has been in training whilst living with WO Laddie, and has carried out some duties.



Thank you for your service, run free at rainbow bridge, always in our hearts.


West Dereham's New Royal British Legion Standard - Dedicated on Sunday 11 September 2016

On Sunday 11th September, Rev Ken Waters, Vicar of St Andrew’s Church West Dereham, officiated at a Service of Dedication for the Standard of a new British Legion Branch formed from villagers of West Dereham. The Service was attended by 50 people and a lunch followed in the Village Hall. The Chairman of Norfolk County, Mr John Boisson and his wife, Diane, were guests of honour. The Norfolk County Standard was on display, carried by Mr Ken Thomas of Fakenham Branch, who is the County and Regional Standard Bearer Champion. Other Standards present for this event came from Downham Market and District Branch carried by Elizabeth Davies, King’s Lynn Branch carried by Paul Giles, East Dereham Branch carried by Peter Whitwell, Costessey Branch carried by George Symmonds and Middleton Branch carried by Robby ? Bill Wells of Downham Market played the Last Post and Reveille on the bugle. Members of West Dereham Branch walked to Church from the Village Hall with Standard cased, following same route taken by their predecessors 61 years ago.

In 1955, West Dereham had its first Standard dedicated when it became a Sub Branch of Downham Market Branch No. 0635 of the Royal British Legion (RBL). Over the next 12 years, numbers dwindled and, having become too small to operate effectively, members either attended meetings of Downham Market’s Branch or became ‘dormant’ members. Advancing into the 21st Century, villagers had, for many years, met at their War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday, to remember those who had died in both World Wars. In January 2012, the Village’s Memorial Hall reopened after being closed for renovations and refurbishment for 14 months. The ‘new’ Hall was re-dedicated as a ‘Memorial Hall’ on Remembrance Sunday in November 2012 and this event was followed by a lunch. Several villagers attending the lunch enquired whether the Village might set up its own British Legion Branch.

There was no record of any formal closure of the old sub Branch and the Standard appeared never to have been laid-up (decommissioned). In fact, the old Standard had been discovered in excellent condition in a cupboard in the hut used by the local Scout Group.

On 2 November 2013, villagers interested in joining the RBL held a meeting in the Village Hall attended by the then Chairman of Norfolk County, Major Bill Kerr, who also happens to be a member of Downham Market Branch. Major Kerr advised on the procedure for establishing a new Branch. Subsequently,16 applications were received for membership and these were forwarded to County HQ in Norwich. On 13 February 2014, confirmation was received that West Dereham had been awarded a branch number. The new Branch had its first full year in 2014-15 and is now about to complete its second year. Without a Standard to display at Remembrance Sundays in 2013, 2014 and 2015 the Branch was able to put to good use its historical first Standard from the 1950s and 1960s. Lunches in the Village Hall on Remembrance Sundays have continued every year since the first in 2012. Various fund raising activities have taken place and donations received from individuals to meet the cost of funding the purchase of a Standard.

Mr Peter Starling of Pear Tree Farm, whose father was one of the original members of the Sub Branch formed in 1955, was elected as the Branch’s Chairman. Ms Paula Kellingray, who had been the Standard Bearer in her Womens Section Branch initially carried the Branch Standard but is now Deputy to Corporal Tom Foy serving in the RAF Regiment. Paula is also the Village and Branch Poppy Appeal Co-ordinator. Tom has been selected to carry the Branch’s new Standard at the televised Annual Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 12 November.

The Branch meets four times each year, on Sundays always followed by a lunch. Membership has already increased and now stands at 26.

The Branch had its first major event on 4 August 2014 at 10 pm, when a ‘Lights Out’ ceremony was held at the War Memorial with a reception afterwards in the Village Hall, remembering 100 years ago and the outbreak of the 1st World War.

VE Day

On Saturday 9th may to acknowledge VE day anniversary and celebrations over the weekend in Downham Market
The Royal British Legion held a short service to acknowledge the sacrifice others made and this significant ending a war in Europe
 Standards , RBL Downham and District RBL,  RAFAssociation,  AirTraining Corps. carried by  young lady and womens section D&D Dmkt RBL.
Bill Wells was there with Laddie the collie dog mascot and Bill played the last post, 2 minutes silence were observed and 7 wreaths were laid by local organisations.

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60 Years of Poppy Collecting

Mrs Freda Rumbold, a  Royal British Legion Poppy seller and Fund Raiser has been collecting donations in her village,  Barton Bendish , since 1955.
 Her father came home from the RBL meeting one evening and told her and her mother, that he had volunteered them to take the 2 trays of poppies door to door and raise what they could.!
 She recalls her first total was  less than £20.00 (a significant amount when rationing was on and times were still hard.) She has been her village collector ever since. Now in her 80s she has raised £700.00 this past 7 months.

To acknowledge her loyal efforts to this cause and her continuous service she was awarded a bar to her 50 year badge, presented with a certificate and enjoyed  a celebration cake at the recent RBL meeting

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Annual Dinner 2015

In March  we had very successful Annual Dinner at DENTS the local farm and garden shop Restaurant. 98 people came along and the organiser was turning late bookers away at the end.
Local Mayor and deputy Mayor as well as National Chairman John Crisford attended. Local raconteur Mr Barry Hawkins was the after dinner  speaker. Tables were set in 8s and 10s and much wine was consumed. Singing the National Anthem was led by Cara our new treasurer before we departed for home. Everyone said how much they enjoyed it and wished to come again next year .
Well done to organiser Peter Mouncer

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Horace Cross MBE - Voted Branch President

Mr Horace Cross was voted in to become president of the Downham & District RBL following the resignation of Mr John Doyle  Horace gave a short speech expressing the pleasure he had on being appointed to this post.  He has served under 4 past presidents and always valued their guidance and sincerely hopes he can follow their excellent example in the months ahead.

 His first task was to present m  Mr Des Cussells and Mr Charles Humphries with certificates  recognising their service to the local branch over the past 10 years

Good news
A new treasurer / accountant has been found .  With the support of Mapus, Smith and Lemon, a local chartered accountancy firm, a dedicated accountant, Cara, has been identified to manage the local accounts.  The first year she will be supported by the outgoing Treasurer Mr Michael Coles: he and his wife Janet have for 25 years done a sterling job particularly at poppy collection time counting £25.000.00 to take to the bank

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RBL news from the RBL District

The venue of Southery church was used to present volunteer poppy collectors from that village with their certificates.    The church had had a weekend of flower and  displays from various organisations of the Village remembering significant events from the WW1  so it was deemed to be a fitting place. The driving force for both Church displays and 40 years of collecting and organising the collection  was acknowledged . Miss Beryl Stubbins   was presented with a certificate and bar from the RBL .  several other volunteers were also presented with 5- 30 year certificates and pin or brooches. following this happy occasion a lovely tea with scrumptious cakes were enjoyed by all present.

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Mrs Rosemary Durrant - 50 years of collecting

Mrs Rosemary Durrant was presented with a certificate to thank her for 50 years of collecting every Autumn for the Downham & District Royal British Legion Poppy collection.  In The photo she is flanked by Doug Smith chair and Peter Mouncer - Poppy collection organiser
She is one of our many collectors who work hard within her community and successfully contributes to enormous collection  (£25,000.00) this town (and District) achieves every year. A great success story  but always new collectors are needed. Call Peter Mouncer 01366 384726 if you can spare a few hours each October/November

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Downham Market U3A ladies of the Patchwork & Quilting section

This month (May 2014) the Downham Market U3A ladies of the Patchwork & Quilting section presented Downham and District Royal British Legion a quilt they have been sewing  to commemorate the 100th. anniversary of the start of WW1.
 Ruby Clark and Carol Watkins brought the quilt along to Denis Sneezum court in D Mkt, where the RBL regularly meets .

As can be seen the dramatic colours of Red White and Blue dominate the quilt. and they also presented a silk wreath of poppies to be used at functions

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Armed Forces Week 2013

The flag was raised Monday 24th June at 10am on the Town hall Flag Staff by the mayor Cllr David Sharman to mark the beginning of Armed Forces Week. he was   watched by small crowd of respectful RBL and members of the public. A few significant words were said. the following Saturday the Local Royal British Legion held a "hall of Stalls" in the Town hall  morning when coffee and light lunches were served. It was well attended by the local population.

Luke de Laic soldier from Afghanistan has given the 2 flags he carried thgrough Afgahnistan recently to the town Heritage Society and local RBL were proud to display them that day D life and RBL web site

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Horace Cross MBE

It was announced in the 2013 New Years Honours List that Horace Cross was awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of voluntary service to the Royal British Legion in Downham Market, Norfolk.

An extract from one the supporting letters that lead to this recognition

"He had been a supporter and worker for many years for the local branch of the Royal British Legion, before he eventually became chair.  And then in 2004 our poppy organiser became seriously ill and Horace stepped into his footsteps during a difficult and sad time taking on this task as well.  The Town already gave generously in the Autumn months and paid their respects at the parades and church services but Horace was determined more could be done.  As a result we have a program of events – some to fund raise, some to promote the legion and some provide a social life for our members.  The response has been terrific for our small population.  We have regularly raised sums exceeding £25,000, and this, for a population of approximately 9,000 is excellent.  As everyone knows it takes time to organise, deliver the boxes and wreaths, clarify collection routes or sites and enrol and support collectors.  The boxes and wreaths pack out his garage for weeks.  He personally fills any gap in the timetable outside our supermarkets regardless of the weather.  He has never grumbled but always appreciates the time others give.  During this time he became a town councillor and sacrificed many more family hours to fulfil these roles He is an example to us all, and I can only admire his determination to ensure that both townspeople and the Branch members support our cause"

For pictures of the investiture on 21st May 2013

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Horace Cross Retirement 2012

The Citation

Mr Cross is an outstanding member of the Royal British Legion in Norfolk and has been so for many years.  He joined the Downham & District Branch (BR0635) in 1979 as the Sub-Branch representative of  Hilgay; branch records do not show for how long he had been a Legion member before 1979.   From the start he was extremely committed and his extraordinary efforts to involve the remaining active members of the Hilgay Sub-Branch earned him great respect from the membership.  He was an active case worker for both the Branch and the County and he helped many people with welfare problems whilst also ensuring that sick and hospitalised people were visited.  Indeed, he even organised a car service for out-patients who had to attend clinics and other appointments.   He was elected as Vice Chairman of the Service Committee of Downham & District Branch in 1999 and he went on to be elected as Vice-Chairman of the Branch in 2000.  One year later he took over as Chairman of the Branch and he has held that position until the present day, despite being 80 years old and suffering from cancer.   Not content with providing such staunch service to his own large branch,  Horace Cross has also served as a member of the County Conference Committee for several years and he has been an active Chairman of No 13 Group.   In this role he has ensured that branches within the Group have been communicated with effectively and their committees have received the same degree of support from Horace as his own Branch Committee.  He has also been an enthusiastic  and very effective Area Poppy Appeal Organiser , with responsibility for the market town of Downham Market as well as 10 surrounding villages.  In this role he has gone well beyond the normal duties expected of a PAO, negotiating with the Town Council of Downham Market to acquire a Poppy Shop premises for the duration of the appeal at no cost, then organising and manning that establishement throughout the period of the Appeal.  This is now an established process that greatly enhances the Poppy Appeal takings.  That he has been able to balance the needs of all these duties has been remarkable; that he has achieved such a high degree of success has been truly outstanding.  His efforts have not only raised over £200,000 for the Poppy Appeal during his tenure, he has also supported people across the county and in so doing has raised the profile of the Royal British Legion.  Somehow Horace Cross has also found time to be an active member of the Town Council and he remains a member of the Town Joint Remembrance Committee, which organises a number of events throughout the year including, of course, the annual Remembrance Day Parade and Service.   Horace Cross is a quiet, modest man who is dedicated to the Royal British Legion.  For his exceptional commitment, his dedication and his inspiring leadership well above that expected of any officer or member of the Royal British Legion Mr Horace Cross is strongly recommended for the award of a Gold Badge. Click here for pictures

90th Anniversary Parade

A Right royal weekend at Downham

It's likely to be a weekend to remember for members of Downham and District Royal British Legion as they celebrate the Branch's 90th anniversary with two major events.

on Saturday more than 100 members and guests will be at the Town Hall for an anniversary dinner, while on Sunday a large gathering is expected for a parade when Lord General Dannatt, recently retired Chief of the General Staff and Group Captain David Cooper station commanderat RAF Marham  and Branch President John Doyle will be taking the Salute at the Town Memorial.

Among those present will be veterans, civic dignitaries, a contingent from RAF Marham and organisations from across the County,

The parade will follow a route along high street south, passing the Hilgay Silver Band, bearing left at the Memorial, continuing along church road to St Edmunds Church where the anniversary service will be attended by the Bishop of Ely.

Chairman Horace Cross said,  This an event we have been planning  for a very long time and I feel sure it is going to be a very special occasion for us all, it's such an honour for a Branch of our size, tucked away in Norfolk, to have such a prominent figure as Lord Dannatt taking the salute
Jo Garner, Lynn News

Some pictures of our special day
Entering Church for service (1)
General Lord Dannatt, Group Captain David Cooper  and John Doyle taking the salute, Captain Gavin Rushmere Royal Anglian Regiment standing at the side, Group Captains wife standing the other side (2)
Bill Kerr, Lord Dannatt and Rifleman Luke Duniac (3)
RAF from Marham to start parade (4)
RAF from Marham to start parade(5)
Dinner in Town Hall (6)
Dinner in Town Hall (7)

Renovation of Stone Cross War Memorial

On 7th November 2011, the Stone Cross War Memorial to 2 local men lost in first World war was rededicated by Father James Mather, local chaplain to the Downham and District RBL

The war memorial was erected in 1917 using an old "boundary stone" as its base, The lads came from Bexwell and Ryston parishes and the stone marks their junction with Downham Market.

In recent years this privately erected war memorial had become overgrown and neglected and the hidden away- difficult to access lying as it does in an unmarked area
just off the bypass, opposite "Arbuckles the DIner"

Earlier this year th 2 youngsters spotted it on a cycle ride in a very delapitated state and were determined to clean it up. Encouraged by their parents and entering the project for a Duke of Edinburg award , the local RBL gave them the funds to acquire the tools and provide ground cover
of bark and pavings., Today the site and memorial was in a clean and proud condition

Credit was paid to them by the Honary President Mr Ivan Sneezum who had unsuccessfully campaigned for several years to have the cross moved to a more visible site like Bexwell church yard, and by Mr Michael Pratt , nephew of one of the men, the chairman of the RBL Mr Horace
Cross and finally by the Town Mayor Mrs Cllr Valerie Starling who gave them letters of recomendation to add to their portfolios for their award.

A good crowd turned out on a damp misty November afternoon to take part and witness the rededication .

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Poppy Appeal 2011

The Launch of Poppy Appeal in Downham market was  attended by the Mayor Cllr. Mrs Valerie Starling with her Consort Mr Ray Starling Also attending were the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Mr Robin Page, the Town Crier and various members of the RBL

Lovely sunshine and the market stalls as well as the RBL stall did a roaring trade this morning. (28 October)

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The Hon. Mrs Elizabeth Truss visits

MP, The Hon. Mrs Elizabeth Truss visits RBL stall in Dowmham Market on June 10th

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90th Anniversary

The new Town Mayor of Downham Market, Cllr Mrs Val Starling, visited the town's Friday market where the RBL set up a stall to raise awareness of the 90th anniversary of the National Founding of the RBL in 1921
 The mayor was met by the new Branch President Mr. John Doyle; she admired the stall set up by Ms Rose Gidney helped by the chairman Horace Cross; and chatted with volunteer standard bearers, and members of the RBL.

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Branch Dinner April 2011

1. John Crisford, the National Vice Chairman of the RBL at downhams dinner April 16th 2011 picture

2. VIPS. Gentlemen are L to R Major Bill Kerr, Downham's Mayor Cllr John Fox, the Branch Chairman Mr Horace Cross, the new President of the local Branch, Cllr John Doyle, and National Vice Chairman Mr John Crisford. In the centre is Deputy Mayor Cllr. Mrs Val Starling. picture

3. Happy faces at the dinner, young and old picture (1) picture (2)

The local RBL lost a few members this year but their widows enjoyed the ocasion and recalled happy memories.

4. Joyce, widow of JOHN LEACH, and her daughter Trudy. picture
5. Rita the widow of Gordon Stevenson, with friend Betty Woodleigh picture

A worthy gin winner
6. Mrs Freda Rumball , 52 years a poppy appeal collector, wins a bottle of Gin at the RBLdinner. she is presented with her prize by the mayoress of Downham Market: Mrs Margaret Fox. picture

Cllr John Leach

Mayor of Downham Market, 2008-2009, passed away early in January 2011.  A great character with a great sense of fun, who was, never the less, hard working and committed to his family, work and the community.  A supporter of the Royal British Legion he attended many functions in his capacity as councillor and mayor and ensured that the Legion’s events were one of the Town’s priorities.
Cllr John Leach
A devoted family man, husband for over 50 years, father, grandfather and foster father to many. He was well known as an enthusiastic market trader, and the town will mourn his passing.  The Legion’s sympathy goes to Joyce his wife, (they met as children) and family and friends.

Gordon Stevenson

It is WITH REGRET that Downham and District Branch of the Royal British Legion announces the death of our president, Mr Gordon Stevenson on Wednesday 5th January, 2011.
He had been a member for nearly 50 years during which time he served his County, Group, and Branch in many capacities.  He joined the British Legion when he completed his National Service in the Royal Artillery and has been a continuous member since. Our sympathies go to his wife, Rita who supported him in all the Legion events, and to his family.  He will be sorely missed.

Mr Gordon Stevenson.
 The funeral for Gordon was held at a very full St Martin’s, the Parish church for Fincham in Norfolk, on the  14th January (Gordon’s Birthday). The service was attended by past police colleagues as well as  many villagers, friends and family. The Royal British Legion turned out in force due to Gordon’s long and respected work for the Legion. Tributes were paid by Gordon’s granddaughter’s, Atlanta and Donna (just 13 years old) who gave moving tributes to a loving grandfather.  The chairman of the Downham and District  RBL  Branch, Mr Horace Cross, gave a summary of Gordon’s life.
“During his National Service Gordon served with the Royal Artillary, and joined the Police Force when that ended, serving many communities throughout Norfolk for 30 or more years.  When he, and Rita who he met and married at Sprowston in 1956, retired, they were living at Fincham, so he transferred to the Downham Branch of the RBL in about1986. He had served as Secretary, County Committee member, Vice Chairman at Downham and in 2009 became Downham’s president.  The same year he was awarded a Legion Gold Badge. He had completed nearly 50 years of service to the Legion.  He was a great fund raiser at coffee mornings, raffles, dinners and quizzes, and also organised “trips” to the Battlefields in France and to the Arboretum”.  
The coffin escorted into the church by about 15-20 Standards from County, Branch and the Women’s sections, and the last post was played at the interment in the churchyard afterwards.
His son Peter hosted a reception at the Angel Public house afterwards (where Gordon held his quizzes) and Rita was able to receive personal respects.

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Remembrance Day 2010

 It was threatening to rain but by 2pm members of the public were already beginning to gather at the War memorial for the service due to start at approximately 2.40pm. Dignitories from RAF Marham, the Borough Mayors office and the MP for West Norfolk also collected together nearby.
They were  The Town Mayor Cllr Mr John FoxBorough Cllr,and Deputy Boro Mayor Mr Trevor Manley and his wife Coral,  
 The West Norfolk MP, The Hon Elizabeth Truss Wing Cmdr Dharamraj, OC Base Support Wing. representing  The Officer Commanding RAF Marham and Captain Ben Stone, whose regiment is base at RAF marham.
On the Town Hall car park about 25 organisations were being lined up to parade to the war memorial from 230pm prompt.
The Hilgay Brass Band commenced to play a marching tune, and the RAF Parade Commander called for the parade to start on time. 
At the memorial , the organisations were guided into place and it was a joy to see some very young participants in the front row.  There were an impressive display of a about 12  Standards.
 Wreath laying was smoothly organised by the Chair of the RBL, Downham and District Branch, Mr Horace Cross. The buglar was Mr. Stuart Dean who played the last post and the reveille to mark the period of silence.   Fr Mather said a few prayers, the dignitories move to the saluting base in Church Road.   The parade from the memorial was led off by the RAF contingency to give the salute enroute to the Parish church, St Edmunds.
The church was overfull, but most were able to stand inside even if a seat was not available 
Following the service most of those taking part had tea in the church Hall.  The mayor thanked volunteers for the magnficent spread of cakes and sandwiches

Click here for pictures Remembrance Day 2010

Pause & Remember 2010

On a damp and blustery morning in Downham Market's town square, approximately 100 town's people gathered with the Royal British Legion and Civic party to participate in the 2 minutes silence, (Pause and Remember) and the short service that followed.
Shortly before 11am the buglar played the Last Post, the chair of the Royal British Legion said the words of the Kohima, during which a loud bang ( a Maroon) was sounded to alert the Town that the silence was about to begin.  Following the silence , the buglar played the Reveille and Fr. James Mather said a few words and prayers in which the crowd joined in.
3 schools in the town were represented , the 2 junior schools of Hillcrest and Clackclose, and  from the High School
Children spoke poems or prayers that they had chosen themselves.  Many present commented on the high standard and confidence these yougsters displayed.
Finally the Mayor thanked everyone for their presence there today and complimented the children on their participation.
When all was over the standard bearers escorted the schoolchildren up to the war memorial to lay their own wreaths and crosses.
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Victor Cornell

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 Date of Birth : 21-09-1926     
Service Dates:  10 December 1943 to 14 May 1947 ( Joined at age 17)
Ships Served:  Highland Chieftain, Tynemouth ( Sandhoe), Samidway, Diomed and Essex Trader.
Mr Cornell, Victor, joined the Merchant Navy at the early age of 17 and joined his first ship, The Highland Chieftain, at Avonmouth

His first voyage was Liverpool to Port Said via Naples in Convoy KMF 028  - (The KMF series initially carried troops and equipment to North Africa in support of Operation Torch. When the Mediterranean became accessible the destination was extended further to Alexandria and Port Said)- she carried 1334 troops. There were 25 merchant ships and 23 Escorts in this convoy

Almost immediately they sailed from Naples to Oran under convoy NSF 014 and alternated  between the two ports with convoys NSF 015, SNF 015 and NSF 016 and SNF 016 before returning to Liverpool with Convoy MKF 029 arriving 16 March 1944.
At Liverpool he left this ship had some leave and and signed on the Tynemouth on the 2 August 1944  at the Clyde. From where she sailed to Liverpool to join convoy ON 248S and sail for Halifax Nova Scotia wher she visited Sheet harbour before returning to Southend independantly
The sailed from Southend to Loch Ewe via Tyne and Methy before joining convoy ONS34 to Halifax  wher the visted West Bay, Parrsboro Windsor and St Johns before returning to Liverpool mid October 1944 The ship went for repairs to Barry (Extensive damage to bottom about 40 plates!)
The ship signed off Victor in Liverpool and joined the Samidway, on 17 October 1944, a American Liberty ship built in 1943, At this time she had been alocated to The Russian convoy, but was stood down 24/October 1944, She was then sailed to New York returning December 1944. She then sailed  for India via Port Said , Aden, Cochin, Colombo, Vizag, Madras and Calcutta. She returned the same way calling at Gibraltar on the 13 May 1945. From Gibraltar she was dispatched to Lagos and Freetown returning to Gibraltar in July 1945. She sailed to Marseilles Naples and Cassablanca arriving on September 8th 1945. The Samidway was in Marseilles for VJ day so I expect Victor took part in the celebrations there.
Mr Cornell stayed in the Merchant Navy until May 1947 when he returned to civilian life. He was awarded the 1939/45 Star, The Atlantic Star and the War Medal earlier this year

Prepared by Major (Retd) W D Kerr R.E.

Dinner 2010

The dinner, it took place on Saturday April 17th, 135 people attended, Dignitary's were Downham Town Mayor & Mayoress, John and Audrey Doyle, Deputy Major & Mayoress John and Margaret Fox, also attending County Chairman Colin Kemp with his wife Jan, as you know it took place in Downham Town Hall

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Remembrance Day Parade 2009

The Remembrance parade in Downham Market was led by the Band of March Town ATC, The Parade consisted of many organisations, a detachment from RAF Marham, Downham Mayor Cllr John Doyle, Town Councillors, Royal British Legion, Deputy Borough Mayor of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Cllr Collin Sampson, MP for South West Norfolk, Group Capt Rep RAF Marham, Royal Air force Association, Royal Navel Association, Norfolk Constabulary, Chamber Trade, Rotary, Round Table, Lions, Lioness's, Royal Ancient Of Buffaloes, Norfolk Regiment, Korean Veterans Association, Navel Cadets, ATC, Army Cadets, Ancient order of Foresters, Red Cross, St Johns, Boys Brigade, Scouts, Brownies. An estimate of 450 people attended the service in St Edmunds Church

For 11 of 11 on Town Square many people attended including many school children, The Town can be proud.

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Banner Dedication 2009

On Sunday 13th September a ceremony took place to Re Dedication of Standards, very big event where about 30 plus Standard Bearers paraded to St Edmunds church for a service (Click Here for Pictures)

The band was March Town ATC, 22 County Standards.
Taking the salute, OC RAF Marham, Group Captain Basnett ADC/MA
Next to him, Deputy Borough Mayor Colin Sampson
then County RBL President Tim Cole
Town Mayor John Doyle
Branch President Ivan Sneezum,
The Group standing beside saluting base
Inspector Chris Spinks
Town Mayoress Audrey Doyle
Mrs Susan Sampson
Deputy Town Mayor John Fox
Town Councillor Jenny Groom
County Councillor Richard Rockcliffe


Armed Forces Day 2009
Armed Forces day and stalls in the Methodist church hall, the images (Click Here for Pictures) on the web site are of our MP the Rt Hon Christopher Fraser with 2 lionesses Ann and Lesley, RBL president Ivan Sneezum is in another talking to Erica Sayer the regions community Fundraiser (windows behind them) And the lovely white haired old lady is from the Sally Army. She had some super old photos of WW1 sally army medics on her table.

The bowler hatted gentleman is Major Bill Kerr (Retd) who handed the Armed Forces flag to the Mayor of Downham Market, Cllr John Doyle, to raise on the Town Hall's flag staff at the beginning of Armed Forces week. A short service was held on the Town Square.  Major Bill Kerr is co ordinating the event of raising the County Standards on September 13th in Downham.
Our 80th Anniversary

On Sunday 24th March 2002, the Downham and District Branch held their 80th Anniversary celebrations, a parade through Downham town centre followed by a church service - exactly 80 years to the day since the branch was formed.

The day started with a wreath-laying ceremony led by Branch Chairman Horace Cross, along with other members at the Downham War Memorial, in memory of past branch members. During the afternoon standard bearers of the Royal British Legion, Norfolk display team took centre stage and then the parade formed led by Hilgay Band.

Wing Commander Mike Oldham, acting Station Commander at RAF Marham, took the salute before the parade arrived at St. Edmund's church where the Rev. James Mather conducted the special service. This included the blessing of an 80th Anniversary pennant which will be attached to the Branch Standard.

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80th Anniversary 1 80th Anniversary 2

Our 40 year old Standard Replaced


After 40 years of faithful service, our Standard has been replaced in a special dedication service held at Stradsett Church on Sunday 7th September 2003. The service was attended by 200 members and their guests.

The service was conducted by padre the Reverend John Freston and Downham vicar Father James Mather, whose parish also includes Stradsett. The Last Post was played by Bill Wells.

Our thanks to Sir Jeremy Bagge for allowing the service to be held at the church and for the use of the stables for refreshments and celebrations after the service

The event was organised by Vice-president Albert Brown who also laid a poppy wreath on the memorial stone of Sir Paul Hawkins a former branch president

Chairman's note: "I would like to thank all those, who thorugh their help and donations made the acquistion of our new standard possible" Horace

The New Standard Meorial Stone of Sir Paul Hawkins
Pictures courtesy of Lynn News
Visit to Normandy

Earlier this year a coach trip to Normandy which was organised by Branch Vice Chairman Gordon Stevenson. Legion Members many from Downham and District Branch, visits are made to Cemetery's and War Graves, on this particular trip it was a very emotional visit for Jack Ambrose who's photograph is on Web Site, when he visited Omaha Beach where he landed on 'D' Day

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The New Standard  

The picture is of Jack Ambrose and Eric Covell who recently returned from a trip to Normandy, for Jack it was his first visit in 60 years who with other veterans joined the trip organised by Gordon Stevenson and Peggy Seymour of the Downham Branch. Having been invited to lay a wreath Jack placed a wreath at the Bayeux Cemetery, while Eric placed his at the Normandy American Cemetery at Omaha beach


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Jack Ambrose  
Picture courtesy of Downham News
85th Anniversary Dinner

Last Year's 85th anniversary dinner for the Branch was such a success organisors have made it an annual event, more than 140 people attended this years dinner. Everyone who attended was welcomed with a glass of sherry, a gift from President Ivan Sneezum. Chairman Horace Cross welcomed civic guests and guest of honour, Warrant Officer Maurice 'Mo' Howard of RAF Marham and his wife Jacqueline

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Dinner 2008 Dinner 2008
Remembrance Day Parade 2008

Remembrance day parade and wreath laying,the parade was led by Kings Lynn Navel Cadet Drum Band, The RAF contingent was from Marham,After wreath laying the parade proceeded to St Edmunds Church where the service was held, the church was full, I was told that 450 people attended, with many youth organisations taking part, as you can see in the photographs. Town Memorial has recently been landscaped.

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