The Ferozeshah Commemoration Service Devizes 1st December 2019
The Annual Ferozeshah Gathering and Church Service took place in Devizes on the 1st December 2019. There was another record attendance of 109 people made up by Association Members of all ranks and ages, with their wives, partners and families, some of them travelling enormous distances to get there, which is a fantastic effort and long may that last.
Apologies and best wishes were received from Toby North who has recently undergone a full knee replacement; Gary Harris who had to pull out at the last minute; Ian Knight who asked to be remembered to everyone and Denis Waters who because of severe arthritis is finding it difficult to travel but said; “I shall be thinking of you and my first Ferozeshah in the New Territories, Hong Kong, 1952”.
We were again blessed with good weather, albeit a touch chilly but that is how Ferozeshah has always been. The gathering officially got under way at 1230 (although the early birds were there from 1030 onwards) with people arriving at the Wyvern Club in Devizes for a warming beverage – for some that was a glass of Wadworth or some other brewers best ale, prior to moving across the road to St James Church. St James Church is the home of a number of stands of Colours of the Wiltshire Regiment and the former Garrison Church of Devizes.
The Standards attending, which were central to the Church Service, were presented to the altar before the start. They were; the Wiltshire Regiment Association Standard from Warminster, the Royal Berkshire Regiment Association Standard and the DERR Association Standard from Reading, the Rifles Association Standard from Salisbury and the RGBW Association Standard from the Heart of England Branch in the Midlands. Thank you to the Standard bearers and Dave Smith, who marshalled them, for their attendance and dedication.
A stirring Church Service, with the sermon having the theme of Advent as its heart, was led by the ever convincing and very persuasive Alan Jeans, Archdeacon of Sarum & Honorary Chaplain to the Association. Thank you Alan for being the example you are to all of us.
Following the service we made our way back to the Wyvern Club bar where we were able to get further refreshments from the bar and prepare for lunch in the function hall. There followed the reading of the Ferozeshah Charge by Col Mike Cornwell OBE and the positioning of the Wiltshire Standard with The Association Standard which were on display during the feast that came next. Here I want to express my gratitude to the team of ladies, who continue to volunteer to cater for the event and those ladies have subsequently asked me to pass on their thanks to everyone who so generously contributed to the unexpected collection for them. At approximately 1600hrs and in most cases fully sated, there was a really magnificent rendition of the Farmers Boy just prior to people leaving to make their way home before all of the daylight had faded.
On a personal note; I am very grateful for the input from the Wiltshire County Chairman for his assistance in securing funding for the Hire of the facilities and of course to the Regimental Charities, via the Regimental Association, for granting those funds. However, in the end that grant was not used and is now being held in reserve for future Ferozeshah events. I would like to thank everyone who attended the gathering for their generosity. The collection at the Church service and a small amount of profit of £35.12 has enabled me to dispatched £324.87 to the ‘Redcoats’ Friends of the Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum, which was selected as this year’s charity.
Finally I would encourage you all to make a note in your diaries for the 175th Anniversary of Ferozeshah. The Gathering will take place on Sunday 6th December 2020 at the Wyvern Club Devizes from 12.30 in readiness for a church service at 13.30.