Honouring the men of Monty’s Desert Rats

Standard bearers young and old lower their flags the Desert Rats memorial service ANL-150621-235836009
Standard bearers young and old lower their flags the Desert Rats memorial service ANL-150621-235836009

From World War Two veterans to teenaged cadets, they remembered the men who were the Desert Rats.

The annual Desert Rats Association’s reunion was held on Sunday at the High Ash Memorial Site, where the 7th Armoured Division, whose badge was a desert rat, were based for six months before the 1944 D-Day invasion.

Major Simon Copley-Smith presents Rod Scott with a tank model ANL-150621-235751009

Major Simon Copley-Smith presents Rod Scott with a tank model ANL-150621-235751009

A remembrance service was held beside a Cromwell tank, the type the division took to Normandy, and was conducted by RAF Marham’s padre the Rev Phil Leyton.

The Light Dragoons’ commander Col James Sinclair stood in for association president, Gen Adrian Bradshaw, who was at the Waterloo celebrations. Officers from 7 Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East who wear the ‘Desert Rat’ insignia today were also there.

Seven World War Two veterans included, Ron Groom, 92, who said: “It was an important part of our lives. There was a spirit of comradeship.”

Association chairman Rod Scott, who is stepping down after 15 years, was presented with a Challenger tank model by association trustee Major Simon Copley-Smith of REME. Rod said: “It was a pleasant surprise.”

Drums of Great Yarmouth's Marine Cadets lead the parade ANL-150621-235320009

Drums of Great Yarmouth's Marine Cadets lead the parade ANL-150621-235320009

Some 6,000 poppies were dropped from an Auster spotter plane which had flown missions for the Desert Rats in Normandy.

Bugler Bill Wells and his collie Laddie wear regimental badges ANL-150622-000056009

Bugler Bill Wells and his collie Laddie wear regimental badges ANL-150622-000056009