Orwell Park 2017



On 18th May 2017, at Orwell Park School, near Ipswich, Suffolk, a group of veterans from the 7th Armoured Division (The Desert Rats) gathered again for a service of remembrance and wreath laying at the memorial situated in the school grounds.

This years event could be sub-titled 'The Return of Mercer's Troop' as will be explained shortly. On 18th May in lovely Spring weather, contrasting greatly to the deluge that had been experienced the day beforehand, members of the association, including a  veteran 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 remember that in 1944 the School was an Operation Overlord Marshalling Camp. This years event benefited from displays from 7 Bn REME, based nearly at Wattisham and also from a detachment of  'G' Parachute Battery (Mercer's Troop) 7 Para Royal Horse Artillery (from the Colchester Garrison), who were stationed at the school for a few weeks in May 1944, when as 'G' Battery (Mercer's Troop) RHA they were part of 5th Royal Horse Artillery, which was an unique and welcome addition to the day. As mentioned it was lovely warm Spring Day and the aim of the event was to commemorate and remember the men on 22nd Armoured Brigade, including  who spent several days at the School waterproofing their vehicles before their journey to Normandy, via nearby  Felixstowe, as part of the follow up troops after D-Day landings on 6th and 7th June 1944

As normal the event considered of parade, led by a Lone Piper, from the school to the memorial in its grounds, followed by a short service. The Last Post sounded by Mr. Bill Wells, followed by a two minute silence, after which wreaths were laid by the Association's Vice-President Mr. Rodney Scott, veterans, the Head Boy and Girl from the School and Mr. Ian Paterson (Treasurer) and Mr. Bryan Burnikell, whose fathers were both in 5th Royal Horse Artillery. General Adrian Bradshaw CB. O.B.E spoke to those assembled, including the whole school, before the parade returned to the school. After the parade Mr. Pryatt (veteran) spoke to many of the pupils as did General Bradshaw. The pupils of the school were given an extended break to spend time at the Army and vintage vehicle displays which were all a great  success with pupils, vintage vehicle restorers and servicemen thoroughly enjoying themselves. Everyone had a great time in the pleasant surrounding of the school that were the last part of the UK many men from 1944 ever saw.

The school kindly provided a lovely lunch, hosted by Mr. Brown and his wife, over which much discussion of the days events and of those 73 years ago took place, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. All who attended enjoyed themselves very much and the association would like to thank Mr. Brown, his wife, pupils and staff for hosting such a fantastic event this year.


Group photograph of the guests before the ceremony

Led by a lone piper the parade marches to the memorial.

General Bradshaw addresses the school.

The Standard of Royal Tank Regiment Association - Medway Branch.

Mr. Pryatt chats to Lt Col Copley-Smith and General Bradshaw.

A pupil and a veteran have a chat


Parade Sergeant-Major and Mr Pryatt 

The G Battery (Mercer's Troop) Display.

The REME Display


The memorial with wreaths.


All the above photographs courtesy of Sarah Kirby-Smith, Orwell Park School, Ipswich.


G Bty (Mercer's Troop) RHA Display

REME Display

Vintage Vehicles from the Norfolk Military Vehicle Group


The above photographs are from the Desert Rats Association
East Anglian Daily Times Article on the event.


Open Days Page
2013 Open Day 2014 Open Day 2015 Open Day 2016 Open Day
2017 Open Day 2018 Open Day 2019 Open Day 2021 Open Day
2022 Open Day 2023 Open Day
Orwell Park 2004 Orwell Park 2010 Orwell Park 2016 Orwell Park 2018
Orwell Park 2019 Orwell Park 2022 Orwell Park 2023

65th Anniversary of Alamein

2011 El Alamein Veterans Visit

Home Page Contents page

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