Desert Rats Association



March 2021

Notice to all members


Please note that the A.G.M. will be held on via Skype


Tuesday 24th April 2021. Details to follow.




April 2021


Notice to all members


Tuesday 27th April 2021 at 14.00. This will be via Skype call as Government restrictions and regulations related to COVID-19, do not permit a face to face meeting.



June 2021


Ray Bebbington

The Desert Rats Association and Medway branch of The Royal Tank Regiment Association have recently lost a generous, popular and well respected member. After leaving school, Ray took an apprenticeship with Jaguar and became a fully qualified mechanic. Being ‘called up’ in 1951, he joined the Royal Tank Regiment. As a National Serviceman, he completed basic training in Catterick, ‘passing off’ as best recruit! His next move was to Bovington for trade training after which he was posted to 7 RTR in Hong Kong. He was the Troop Leaders driver on an A34 Comet tank. Ray loved his time in the Far East and spoke fondly of his exploits there! He was an all-round sportsman, who excelled at boxing. 


After returning to UK and being demobbed in 1953, Ray had several jobs. He drove HGV for the oil giant ELF and de Havilland aircraft. His attention to detail and high personal standards meant that he was never out of work. He maintained his sporting prowess and attained a Black Belt in Karate. Ray was always well-dressed to a point of being labelled ‘dapper’. He was very popular with the ladies. There is photographic evidence of Ray in deep conversation with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, The Princess Royal and at one Buckingham Palace Tea Party he was photographed with Debbie Magee sat on his knee! He had a magnetic personality


He made no secret of being a Free Mason and was Master of the Peace and Concord Lodge in Sevenoaks in Kent. Ray was extremely generous with his resources, efforts and time. Whenever volunteers were needed, Ray’s was the first hand to be raised. He was also the first to put his hand in his pocket to buy drinks at any occasion. Ray assisted greatly in the RTR Medway branch Christmas Draw ensuring that everyone bought tickets. He would also buy a handful and donate several prizes. Ray seldom made criticism of anyone openly and I never heard of anyone having a bad word to say about him. He bought dozens of books on Tanks and Desert Rats, knowing that he would never have time to read them all.


Ray had been unwell for some time but fought it with quiet dignity, still insisting on attending Royal Tank Regiment and Desert Rats functions. Much of his time was taken up with caring for ‘the old folk’, as he called them. He played down any reference to him being one of ‘the old folk’. He was far too concerned with his colleague’s welfare to be worried about his own condition.

As many of you know, the motto of The Royal Tank Regiment is ‘From mud, through blood to the green fields beyond. I like to think that Ray is now at the bar in Tankie Tavern, in those Green Fields, waiting to buy the rest of us a drink, when we get there. Losing Ray has left a great gap in those Desert Rats and Tankies who knew him. Farewell and Fear Naught, Old friend. RJH


Richard Heather


It is with regret that we announce the sad passing of Richard Heather on 29th May 2021. He was 96 and one of the original members of the Desert Rats Association. He passed away peacefully in Hospital.

Richard devoted much of his time and energy to the DRA and was passionate that the legacy of the Desert Rats should endure, serving as Association Treasurer at one time. He had always striven to ensure that the tale continues to be told, just as it should be.

Richard joined the Royal Tank Regiment in 1944 and was posted to 22nd Armoured Brigade HQ, in Norfolk. He landed on D-Day Plus One as a tank driver, remaining with the Regiment and Brigade HQ until after the conclusion of the war. He met his wife Trudy in north Germany, and finally returning to Britain in 1947. Those who met Richard and knew him speak of the colourful stories he told about his experiences, and he will be sorely missed. 

The picture shows Richard meeting Prime Minister Theresa May in June 2019, as part of the 75th Anniversary Commemoration’s in Normandy that year, which he thoroughly enjoyed.



Summer 2021

THE DESERT RATS ASSOCIATION Bi-Annual news-letter Summer 2021

Please find below newsletter for the association for summer 2021.


Newsletter is shown here.


Simon Copley-Smith







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