Orwell Park 2016



On 26th May 2016, at Orwell Park School, near Ipswich, Suffolk, a group of veterans from the 22nd Armoured Brigade and 7th Armoured Division (The Desert Rats) which it was a part of in World War Two gathered for a service of remembrance and wreath laying at the memorial situated in the school grounds.

On 26th May, members of the association, including two veterans from WW2 and others who served more recently, gathered at the invitation of the Headmaster (Mr. Adrian Brown), Staff and Pupils of Orwell Park School, near Ipswich, to commemorate the fact that in 1944 the School was an Operation Overlord Marshalling Camp. It was lovely warm Spring Day and the aim of the event was to commemorate and remember the men on 22nd Armoured Brigade, including 5th Royal Horse Artillery, who spent several days at the School waterproofing their vehicles before their journey to Normandy as part of the follow up troops after D-Day landings on 6th June 1944. Ironically, the 26th was a date 72 years beforehand that many of the vehicles were moved to the nearby road ready for loading onto the landing ships at nearby Felixstowe in early June.

The event considered of parade from the school to the memorial in its grounds, followed by a short service, with the Last Post sounded by Mr. Bill Wells and a lone piper playing a Lament, during which wreaths were laid by the association, veterans and the Head Boy and Girl from the School. Lieutenant-General Adrian Bradshaw CB. O.B.E spoke to those assembled, including virtually the whole school, before the parade returned to the school. There, Mr. Richard Heather and Mr. Albert Pond, who both had been billeted at the school spent a considerable amount of time talking to the pupils about the events of 1944. It is a sobering thought that of the nearly 2,000 men and 200 vehicles that were at the school in May 1944, about 60 of the men were dead by the end of July 1944, with many more being wounded. The pleasant surrounding of the school were the last part of the UK they saw.

There, then followed a very enjoyable lunch hosted by Mr. Brown and his wife, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. All who attended enjoyed themselves so much that it was very hard to leave and the association would like to thank Mr. Brown, his wife, pupils and staff for hosting such a wonderful event.


Led by a Lone Piper a parade of Veterans, relatives of Veterans, Dignitaries and Association members march to the memorial

The Head Boy and Head Girl of the School lay a wreath on behalf of the School.

Lt-General Bradshaw lays his wreath, watched by pupils and staff from the school.

One young pupil talks to Lt-Gen Bradshaw about her Grandfather who was a 'Desert Rat'

Mr. Richard Heather who was at the school in May 1944 talks to the pupils about the events of 72 years ago.

Other pupils talk to Lt-Gen Bradshaw and the Headmaster Mr. Adrian Brown during the event

All photographs courtesy of Mr. Adrian Brown, Headmaster of Orwell Park School, Ipswich.

The Memorial Plaque at Orwell Park School



Description of the events by Orwell Park School


On the 72nd Anniversary of the 'Desert Rats' leaving their UK base at Orwell Park School, sixty veterans of the 7th Armored brigade returned for a service of remembrance at their memorial in the schools grounds. Led by Lieut-General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, CB. O.B.E. and wearing orders from all of his commands all over Europe. He was joined at the memorial by the schools Head Boy and Head Girl in laying wreaths. The children's wreath from the school was composed of Spring flowers in the schools blue and yellow colours.

After a short and dignified service they all gathered in front of the school building to talk about the old days. This year, two of the original Desert rats returned, one of them  being, Mr. Richard Heather (ex Royal Tank Regiment and 22nd Armoured Brigade HQ), regaled the children with stories of his days at Orwell Park School, where they had over 200 tanks and heavy guns, to be waterproofed, before setting off for the D Day landings. He saw active service all over Europe and the near east and was honored in all of them. He was very impressed that the entire school took the time to attend the moving service, and he stood and thanked them all.

The General sat with Headmaster Adrian Brown and some of the senior pupils, and explained the incredible array of medals, crests and ribbons he is entitled to wear.

One young pupil had brought a picture of her Grandfather, who was a Desert Rat and the General knelt and talked her through her Granddad's contribution


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7th Infantry Brigade and HQ East (Desert Rats) - Foundation Parade.