Remembrance Day problem

Please read this post, as there is a VERY serious question at the end......

Every Remembrance Day for the last six years, there's been a group of us who meet and parade in Birminghams main Remembrance Sunday Parade.
We're a group of lads who've known each other since being Cadets back in the 80's, who all joined up into various Arms and Corps (Paras, Marines, Guardsmen etc) and served in the 90s, together with our respective G/Fs and Wives.

We meet at the Combined Services Club in Birmingham City Centre at about 9am and have a few swift pints. Then we move on up to the Parade, pass round the hip flasks of 'the good stuff' and then, once the Parade is over, we go back to the Club and continue to drink the place dry.

The day is a spectacular 'once a year' opportunity, where we dress in immaculately pressed ex-servicemans blazers and ties etc, wear our medals and berets and mix with the old and the bold.

We 'pull up a sandbag' and tell each other our stories (the same ones every year probably) and then we always go around, buying as many of the old Veterans as possible a beer or two. Costs us a fortune, but we love it. The conversations that follow are priceless, and all who attend have the best day of the year.

The session is a real 'all day-er', with us finally getting home after midnight, filled with beer and curry.

So, "where's the problem?" you may ask......

The problem, is that every year, the old and bold are fewer in numbers, and we are saddened to see the parade getting smaller and smaller each year.

Every year, we are treated to a VERY warm welcome by the Members of the Club and all who attend the Parade. Yet every year, there is a massive gap between those that served in the 40s and 50s, and us.
Yes, there are a few guys who attend who served in the 70s and 80s, but these are very few in numbers....

So, where are all the guys who served in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s?

This question is not just being put forward by myself... It's a question asked by virtually all who attend this Parade / Club, and probably hundreds of Clubs and Parades up and down this fine land.

Don't sit back and think that Remembrance Day is only for those that served during the 40's etc.... It's for us all, to remember those that went before, during and after our service days.

It's a great day, no matter which Parade and Club you attend. Please support those that fought for this Great Land, by turning up yourself with a pocket full of money and bag full of enthusiasm and respect. You'll love it, and our Veterans will love it more.

Go on.... Support the day, and ask someone to support you on your way home. It's great.....


At my local (Eastbourne) we are creeping out of the woodwork slowly! I may even stop for a beer this year at the RAFA. The RBL is too far and possibly even closed now! I attend with gong up as my lad parades with the ATC (I Know but I couldnt afford the flying lessons privately!)
Its a problem all over the place, when I joined my local PRA branch about 6 years ago I was the youngest member there at the time and I was 36! Perceptions are slowly changing now, due to Iraq and Afghan I reckon and younger blokes are joining up.
Excellent post Thermal warrior and right on time.
Do the same myself in London after pressing, polishing and shining.
[We have been asked to march but always refuse as we like to do our own thing].

0830 - 0900z
Meet others at Victoria Station.

Tea by Westminster Cathedral

By Cenotaph for Remembrance

1230 - 1330z
Meet old mates at Buffet Victoria Station and then onto other various venues.

Time unknown - make way home.

Excellent time always with the same jokes and yarns; all generally modified to ensure the lantern swings harder and further every year.
Even the memories are maintained in similar order.

It really is to be recommended, wherever you are.


Do you have a dress code?
Have seen the same problems for too many years.
Joined in the mid 80's and still in but don't see many from the era before I joined.
I attend a service / parade every year, and not as part of my unit, so only a couple of us are still serving who are involved, but then there is the gap going back to those that served in the 40's and some from the 50's but no one else.
The other year the vicar leading the service asked the congregation how many of those present were ex-forces and at least half a dozen of those in the congregation who were not part of the parade but in the 30's / 40's age bracket put their hands up, so they were there but not taking part?

Where are they all? - Not on parade!

I agree there should be a public campaign to bring out all those who have served, for however long, they should be proud of service to Queen and Country and there to support those who have gone before and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

P.S. The drinks and sandbag stories at these events are the best!!!
This really is the case. Liverpool's St Georges hall parade used to be Massive with thousands parading and thousands watching. Now its a minor event with only a couple of hundered parading and probably less spectators.

What Happened besides the obvious.
Maybe in a few years there will be an Arrse contingent ambling out of step behind all the other squads of uniform organisations at the cenotaph parade on horse guards. After all every man jack and woman seem to be worthy and present ....

No doubt there's plenty of Cadet CSMs that would call the time out so we could all ignore it. :D


Thats right, I suppose suit Coat Regi headress and Mutley medals?
Thermal, superb post.

I agree with everything you say, and your experience of the day is the same as mine.

It is a great opportunity to remember those who made huge and in many cases the ultimate sacrifice, and also to enjoy the comradeship and company of fellow servicemen and women, especially the old boys and girls.

My last half dozen or so parades have been in NI, and thankfully the UDR Association are a well run and proud lot, and so there is generally a good attendance of veterans of the 70's.

I am now in England and I hope the "veterans gap" you describe does not occur in my local parade this year in Leicester.

This day is to remember the dead, and in a wider way celebrate the achievements and efforts of all service personnel, and we can't do it properly without all generations being represented.

Slightly off topic but if anyone is parading in Leicester this year or has done in the past, please pm me. I need to find out where to form up and where we get our stew afterwards!


there is always Nuneaton trains from leicester and a good exservicemens club jammed full of Johnny G Scalies. They take this parade seriously and I suspect a damn fine curry afterwards!


Just in case still serving did it differently or ex regs in different areas?
A lot of this problem is actually down to the RBL themselves and before anyone has a pop about me having a pop at the RBL, go back through some of my earlier posts and you will see that I am the last person you would expect to criticise them due to my ongoing involvement with them.

However, as many of the smaller local branches have closed (including many in my neck of the woods which is about 7 miles from you T_W) the passage of information as to WHEN and WHERE parades are going to start and what route they will take (notice I said start and route, not finish!) is almost none existent.

Up until about 5 years ago, I used to occasionally pop into my local RBL for a pint, always kept my membership up and would always ensure I visited just before Remembrance Sunday so I knew where to be and when. I would then march on the Parade.

Since its closure and subsequent absorption into a bigger RBL some 5 miles away, the passage of info is almost none existent. Now it would be very easy to say "well get off your arrse and go up there and find out", but in reality I'm pretty much like every other civvy now, you want the info now and you want it to be accurate. Days tend to fly by and before you know it it’s the Saturday before the Sunday and you realize that you haven’t got a Scooby which location they have decided to start from this year.

Although I still religiously attend the service and still wear the "normal" uniform of blazer and medals, I haven't actually marched on a Parade for 3 years. There is nowhere on tinternet to gather the required info and ringing the club itself is a bit hit and miss as you have to have the right guy there at the right time to give you accurate information. The last time I asked by phone you'd have thought I was asking for TELIC's battle plans they were that cagey about telling me.

The whole shooting match should be way better advertised and promoted. I know it's sad that it should have to be that way but that's life, I'm sure you would find a lot more civvies turning out as well on the day (which ultimately is good for the Poppy Appeal) if they were informed of routes and times.

We have also addressed the issue before of falling membership due to the old and bold passing away and not being replaced by squaddies of 80’s and 90’s vintage. That one is dead easy; the vast majority of RBL’s are not family friendly and are still stuck in a time warp of days when men went out all of the time minus Frau and Kinder. If I am going to go out with mine, I’d rather go to Charlie Chalks and now that they are safe locked in a ball pit whilst I indulge as opposed to tearing around the open car park dodging traffic that Oldbury RBL seems to think is suitable for them to play on.

The RBL needs to modernize to attract the 20 and 30 somethings that can keep it alive. More members will mean more revenue which will mean more money to those that need it and more ex forces attending Parades.
ugly said:
Do you have a dress code?
From the top down.....

Beret (Well brushed and Badge shined)
Well pressed, clean white shirt
Regimental Tie
Regimental Blazer
Leather belt
Very well pressed grey trousers
Highly polished shoes

'Full to bursting' wallet
1 bag of personality
2 bags of enthusiasm
3 bags of respect
Good post Thermal Warrior,Over here where I now live,the local Newtownards branch of the RBL is being investigated by the PSNI for membership fee issues & the local one in my town is all dut a memory.I'm originally from Birmingham (Hall Green) & was in 492 Sqn Air Cadets in the late 70's/early 80's.
This year,I might catch a flight to 'Ol Brum & join you on the parade if you dont mind.Visit the old haunts....


mukhabarat2003 said:
ugly said:
Just in case still serving did it differently or ex regs in different areas?
There's a mixture of us. All ex - no currently serving members.

You ex - MM with NI accent by any chance?
Me I have the single inch of 3 years of stagging on and no acsm! I can do an NI accent when prompted, more Ballymena than Ballymurphy, but it's saved my bacon before!
There always seems to be a gap in RBL, RAFA etc between those who did their bit in WW2 and National Service and the smaller, professional armed forces post 1960. No criticism intended, but the clubs naturally tend to provide for their old, core membership, now moving into their 70s and 80s, and don't seem to attract the modern serviceman or recent leaver - we chat online not in the local. Hence my 'local branch' has partnered with Help the Aged and probably isn't up to speed on education, heath and spouse employment issues. In the next 15 years, we will see the 'customer base' change from a generation where everyone was 'in' to one where we are an unusual minority. I know this is exercising the national level leadership, particularly as they will not be able to maintain the current 'conops' of operating through a nationwide infrastructure of clubs.

Whats the answer? Moving to some other organisation without a club in every town would not be what the current active members want and they deserve their club until the day they die for the sacrifices they made in the past. Ideally those of us still in, or just out, should get off out backsides and get down the local club, if we could fit it in between careers, deployments, family etc. The 'working mens' club' style might not attact regular attendance, but we need to make the bridge with the past. Now I need to practice what I preach!

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