How the 9th Parachute Battalion Reunion Club was formed.
In 1946, John Britton, formerly of the Signals Platoon, was living in North London. His friend, Ron Banks, also of the Signals Platoon, lived nearby and after demob they began visiting one another on most week-ends. On one of these occasions Ron Banks mentioned that to his surprise, he had bumped into Tony Mead, another signaller in the 9th Parachute Battalion, at a Tottenham match. Shortly after, Ron moved to Brighton, ending the meetings of the trio. John Britton takes up the story:
“Then another surprise. In our local newsagents one morning, a trolley bus driver standing there was Danny Collis, another 9th. We had been living a few streets from each other for some years. We were now back to three and more weekends together at my home. Bearing in mind the nucleus of the 9 th came from the 10 th Essex, we discovered a small branch of Paras in the Romford area, all Essex boys, who were helpful in giving us more names and addresses. By 1960 we were able to contact about 70 in all.
“In 1961 we decided to have a sort of trial dinner at my house. Those present were Doug Smith, Doug Woodcraft, Danny Collis, Tony Mead, Eddie Bailey, Ron Banks, B. Squire, Barney Ross, Reg Clark. We eventually managed 75 for the first dinner in 1962 at the Duke of York Barracks, Chelsea, at the price of 15 shillings per head. Napier made his speech and Tug Wilson arranged the sing-song. For the first time since 1945, the boys met up again.”
Membership cards were issued at 5 shillings each, which was deducted from the dinner price. The Para TA Centre at the White City became the next dinner venue for many years. The catering was taken care of by the Army. It was also used for the Committee Meetings.
“I went into business in 1963, resigning as Secretary in 1965. RSM Miller stepped in for a time. Harry Holter was keen to take over. He sent me later a listing of more than 200 names and addresses. There were many more available at that time.”
1969 saw the first official coach trip back to Normandy and there was another in 1974.