Nottingham Branch Chairman

Branch Chairman - Kevin Key 2015-16

Kevin Key has been a branch member for approximately the last two years. He was a regular Soldier serving with 7 PARA ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY and reached the rank of Warrant Officer.

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The Branch President was our Acting Vice Chairman 2013-14 & Chairman 2014-15

Branch President John Needham has taken up the extra position as Branch Vice Chairman, due to Michael O'Connor's new main role as Branch Secretary. This was due to the former Secretary, Bill Cumming, having to give up his position as Secretary due to ill health.

 

John Stanley Needham - ex-WO 2 - 1956 to 1978

 

John was born, in Nottingham, on 26th April 1938 and was educated at the Beeston Fields Infant and Junior schools, followed by the Cottesmore Secondary Boys School. On leaving school John went to work as a machine operator in the Raleigh Cycle Works in Nottingham.

 

He enlisted into the Army on 24th January 1956, through the Recruiting Office at 21 Trinity Square, Nottingham, and joined The Parachute Regiment. He reported to the Regimental (Para) Depot in Maida Bks, Aldershot for 10 weeks training as a member of 72 Platoon; this was followed by his parachute course at Abingdon in Oxfordshire.

 

John was not quite 18 when he qualified as an Army Parachutist and therefore he was not eligible to join one of the Regiments Regular Battalions. Instead he was posted to the Depot Sergeants Mess as a waiter / barman. In December 1958 he joined the 2nd Battalion (2 Para) - B Company - at Talevera Bks in Aldershot.

 

In January 1959 the Battalion sailed from Southampton, on the troopship SS Dunera, bound for the sunny shores of Cyprus. On their arrival, the Battalion moved into a tented Plimasol camp in West Nicosia. They moved from that location to Arnhem camp in Keco, West Nicosia and finally to Polymedia camp near Limassol. During this time they also carried out exercises in Malta, North Africa, Kenya and Bahrain.

 

The Battalion returned to the UK in December 1961 where John was posted to Para Depot as a Platoon Corporal in Recruit Company. During this period he was promoted to Sergeant. He returned to 2 Para at the end of 1964, just in time to move with the Battalion to Malaya for Jungle Warfare training and then for Active Service against the Indonesian incursions into Borneo. During this time John was in C Company which was the newly formed Patrol Company of the Battalion.

 

The Battalion returned to the UK where John attended a Recruiting Officers course prior to taking up those duties in Northampton; including Kettering and Corby. John was promoted to Colour Sergeant for this duty. He returned once more to 2 Para in 1968; again in time to move with the Battalion to Malaya for, in his case, refresher training in Jungle Warfare. Following this training the battalion moved to Hong Kong where they took over all Public Duties in the colony. They returned to the UK in December 1968.

 

In 1969 John was posted to the Quartermaster Staff of Junior Para at the Para Depot. He returned to 2 Para in 1972 where he served, until 1977, in places such as N. Ireland and Berlin and carried out exercises in Belgium and Norway. In 1977, with only a years service remaining, he was posted to RMA Sandhurst where he remained until his discharge, from the Army, on 25th April 1978; a total of 22 years and 92 days Colour Service.

 

During his Service John was awarded the General Service Medal (GSM) 1962 with clasps for Borneo and N. Ireland. John had also attended the Small Arms School at Hythe in Kent and gained a very creditable B Grade. He also attended the Army School of Recruiting prior to taking up his duties in the Northampton area.

 

Since his retirement from the Army, John has been a member of the Parachute Regimental Association; a total of some thirty-odd years. He has held every appointment within the Branch and has been the Branch President for quite a number of years.

 

In February 2011 John was awarded the Jingpat Jasa (the Malaysian Service Medal) for his service in that country after their independence between 1957 and 1966.


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Branch Chairman: Michael O'Connor 1990s - 2013


Mick is a former member of 2 PARA, and is now a retired Postman.  Mick is a valuable member of the branch. He is still very active physically, and has over the past few years taken part in several PARA 10 events; consequently raising a fair amount of money for charity.  For a pensioner, he still achieves some remarkable finishing times, which would make anyone proud of. This I am sure, is as a result of his time in service with the Second Battalion of the Parachute Regiment.

 

Military Service


By Michael O'Connor

I joined the Junior Parachute Company of The Parachute Regiment in October 1963. All junior entrants were bandsmen, or junior drummers. I was down as a drummer, however a junior soldiers platoon was formed, and I along with others who didn't know one end of a drum stick from the other, moved to the soldiers platoon. I made some good friends during my time with Junior Para; George Jock Wynd, Dave Lawton a Nottingham lad, Shoulders Smith another Nottingham lad, Chris Stevo Stevenson, and Brian Freeman, plus others, but names don't spring to mind. We all went on to join 2 PARA, apart from Stevo, who went on to 3 PARA. Unfortunately Stevo was killed serving in Northern Ireland. Our time with Junior Para, although enjoyable, was a very hard two years of 0600 starts, training all day, sometimes until 20:00 hrs. A Saturday morning room inspection every week, followed by a Sunday morning church parade in number two dress, none believers report to the cook house for extra duties. During my time with Junior Para, I was a member of a successful football team, and also the winning boxing team, although I was knocked out by one of my own team members.


I joined 2 PARA in 1965, and was placed in the signals platoon, along with Jock Wynd, there I met another Nottingham lad, Chop Hampson. I also became good friends with George Hobson, John Kettle, Alan Morris and others. My service was then as follows;

1966-67 Bahrain, Aden, served in Radfan with B Company, O.C. Major Gray, who went on to command the Regiment.


On return from the Middle East there followed a year of training in the UK and Germany. In 1968 I served with the Battalion at the jungle warfare school in Malaysia, then onto Hong Kong. I left 2 PARA in 1969.


In 1978 I joined the Territorial Army. My unit was The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, an armoured unit, a bit of a change from tabbing everywhere. After four years with the S.R.Y. I transferred to the Royal Engineers Postal Courier, where after initial trade training, I became part of the training team at Mill Hill. I spent a few years training recruits, plus I served with my Squadron in Cyprus, Gibralter, and Hong Kong. The Posties really do get to go places.


When the Royal Logistics Corps was formed, all Postal units moved from the Royal Engineers to become part of the new corps, by this time I held the rank of WO2. I was posted to 863 Sqn. 86 PC Regt. RLC. I had some very happy times with the RLC, and learned a lot about the work that others do in The British Army.




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