Old comrades return to barracks to mark 256th anniversary of Minden

Martin Bell discusses old time with former RSM Jack GIngell ANL-150208-232647009
Martin Bell discusses old time with former RSM Jack GIngell ANL-150208-232647009
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The 256th anniversary Minden Day parade at Gibraltar Barracks brought together old comrades as well as celebrating one of the Suffolk Regiment’s greatest battle honours.

Among the guests at the Bury St Edmunds site, where the old parade ground is now West Suffolk College’s carpark, was former BBC war correspondent Martin Bell, whose new book The End of Empire: Cyprus: A Soldier’s Story is based on his letters home from Cyprus, where he served with the regiment’s First Battalion.

Minden Day celebrations at the Gibraltar Barracks ANL-150208-233042009

Minden Day celebrations at the Gibraltar Barracks ANL-150208-233042009

Martin did his national service with the Suffolks from 1957 to 1959 as an intelligence officer and on Sunday was able to show his book to one of those picture in it, his former Regimental Sergeant Major Jack Gingell.

Once renown as a fearsome RSM, Mr Gingell is now 97.

Parade organiser Tim Davies said: “Jack Gingell is a legend in the regiment. He served from ‘36 to ‘65. He joined the Wiltshires then transferred to the Suffolk Regiment in 1939, in time for the war.”

Minden Day is actually August 1, but is celebrated at the regiment’s former barracks on the nearest Sunday. The Suffolk Regiment’s successors, the Royal Anglians, also mark the day annually, so parades were this year held in Afghanistan, where they train Afghans at their equivalent of Sandhurst, and in Mali.

Minden Day celebrations at the Gibraltar Barracks ANL-150208-232731009

Minden Day celebrations at the Gibraltar Barracks ANL-150208-232731009

Mr Davies said: “In the Suffolks, I’m the youngest and I’m 76, so the East Anglians and Royal Anglians are taking over.”

Mr Davies joined the regiment as a national serviceman in 1958, but stayed in for 26 years, becoming a Sergeant Major.

He estimates that nearly 1,000 people attended the parade, including Army cadets, and the salute was taken by Brig Tony Calder, chairman of the regiment’s old comrades association.

It marks the day in 1759 at Minden in Germany when the British fought the French alongside German allies. The Suffolks not only withstood three French cavalry charges, but then turned the tables by advancing on the cavalry and scattering them, which was exceptional for infantrymen.

Minden Day celebrations at the Gibraltar Barracks ANL-150208-232857009

Minden Day celebrations at the Gibraltar Barracks ANL-150208-232857009

Many on parade wore roses because on their way to the battle, the Suffolks picked roses to put in their caps, possibly to help junior officers to recognise their men.

Minden Day celebrations at the Gibraltar Barracks ANL-150208-232942009

Minden Day celebrations at the Gibraltar Barracks ANL-150208-232942009