A year to forget

Terry Byrne’s year to forgetWE are very lucky here in Winterton and the local area to have a gang of vintage military vehicle enthusiasts, who between them, own several models.

We all belong to the Norfolk Military Vehicle Group and can boast a collection of seven American Jeeps, a 20 ton American recovery truck, a five ton American GS truck, a Hummer, a German motorcycle and sidecar and two British Army Land Rovers.

Maintaining these vehicles, some veterans of the war, is a labour of love and it is great credit to their owners that they can turn out in such good order when asked.

Under normal circumstances we would have a busy annual schedule of shows and events to attend where we meet up with likeminded people and have the best fun. Boys and their toys! Unfortunately the 2020 lockdown caused most events to be cancelled.

We decided we could have a Covid safe event here in Winterton. I paraded my Royal Army Service Corps/ Royal Corps of Transport Norfolk Branch standard around the village followed by a very noisy Jeep convoy. We marked out the village green in 1m squares for people to gather in their family groups to welcome the convoy at 3pm. That was the time designated for a national toast and we had the added bonus of Simon playing the bag pipes with a tune composed especially for the event. We were proud to mark the event in such a special way.

Our group had the wonderful experience of attending the 75th anniversary of D Day in Normandy with our vehicles, in 2019. It was estimated that there were more Jeeps in Normandy for that event than was there during the war!

We did feel it important to mark D Day 2020 locally so our event Jeeps on the Beach was born. On the morning of Saturday 6th June we paraded at the fishermen’s huts and drove down onto the beach, where at 11am we held a short service, played the Last Post and launched a poppy wreath into the sea. We then drove to the war memorial at village church and planted some crosses.

Our next event was a convoy drive on Saturday 15th August to Great Yarmouth to commemorate VJ Day, (Victory over Japan). We are very proud to have our own Far East Prisoner of War Memorial on Marine Parade in Great Yarmouth. Our Jeeps took up position around the memorial, the Last Post was played, we observed a two-minute silence and laid wreaths.

We decided a big effort was needed for Remembrance Sunday. The convoy gathered again on 8th November with our unofficial mascot, Nellie the dog, playing an important PR role.

Our challenge this time was to visit all our local war memorials, play the Last Post, observe a two-minute silence and lay crosses.

We started with the service at Winterton Parish Church at 9am then moved to Somerton, then Martham Church, followed by Ormsby, then on to Caister before arriving in Great Yarmouth. We visited Hemsby on the way home but there was a service already in progress. So another job well done.

Our final outing for 2020 was on Thursday 17th December to transport Santa – our postmaster – to the village school, making as

much noise as possible, and handing out presents to the children. After a good old sing song we departed to Hales House with presents for the residents and ended our outing with visits to village care homes. A fun day was had by all.

This year will continue to present some challenges for our group, but we will continue to do our best to create and support events. We do like to show off and we like our vehicles to be seen out and about. It’s the reason we keep them looking good - which is more than can be said for the crews!

By Terry Byrne