In March 2019, I gave a talk to the Bexhill Hanoverian Study Group about the Battles of Oporto and Talavera, which took place in 1809, some 210 years ago. I am a member of that group and some may be unaware of why Bexhill, in East Sussex, has a Hanoverian connection.
For over 120 years the United Kingdom and Hanover had the same King but separate governments. In 1803 the French invaded Hanover. The Hanoverian Government capitulated, but most of its Army fled to England where it reformed as The King’s German Legion, fighting for the next 12 years in British uniform as part of the British Army, until Hanover was liberated once more. They provided some of Wellington’s best and most reliable troops, fighting in every major battle of the Peninsular War and at Waterloo. The KGL Depot was at Bexhill and when they arrived their 15,000 men greatly outnumbered the population of the town, which in those days was only 5,000. The townspeople were apprehensive at first but rapidly discovered that the Hanoverians were far better behaved than the average British soldiers. Several marriages ensued and some people living in Bexhill today are their descendants. After 1807 most of the King’s German Legion were overseas but a Depot remained at Bexhill.
The talk raised funds for Combat Stress, which provides support and treatment to military veterans with mental health problems to help them tackle the past and take on the future.
In April 2019, I gave a talk on Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal to the Hailsham Historical Society. This was a joint venture with Pat Strickson, who was promoting her excellent book “Time Stood Still in a Muddy Hole”, based on the diaries of John Hannaford, a World War II Bomb Disposal Officer, who died in 2015. I am Chairman of the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers Club and had helped Pat with the technical details in the book.
Over the Bank Holiday Weekend 4th to 6th May 2019, I gave three talks (one each day) on Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal at the Royal Engineers Museum at Chatham, who were having a special event on Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search.
We were in Spain in May and June, where I belong to a Probus Club (entirely British ex-pats). A couple of days before one of their meetings we all had an email informing us that the guest speaker had cancelled. I stepped in and gave my Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal talk again. They had heard it previously in 2010, but it had been updated since then.
In July 2019, I gave my talk on Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal to the Ashdown Probus Club.
All of these Bomb Disposal talks went down very well and raised a considerable amount of money for the Felix Fund, which is a military charity supporting Bomb Disposal personnel (Army, Navy, Air Force and Metropolitan Police Bomb Squad) and their families. The Felix Fund is named after the Felix cartoon cat, with 9 lives, which was adopted as the badge of the Bomb Disposal teams in Northern Ireland.