New chairman for Sidmouth RBL

A FAMILIAR face during Sidmouth s Remembrance Day parades is of the Royal British Legion standard bearer Dave O Connor.

A FAMILIAR face during Sidmouth's Remembrance Day parades is of the Royal British Legion standard bearer Dave O'Connor.

Now Dave, 67 "and still working", has been elected chairman of the Legion's Sidmouth branch, after deputising for Alan Kershaw; chairman for the past five years, who has been out of action due to ill health.

Eighteen years with the Sidmouth branch; 15 of those as its standard bearer, Dave, a local builder from Sid Park Road, said: "I will continue as standard bearer until we can get a deputy."

Dave was 18 when he joined up, and served with the 4th Battalion Devon Regiment, 1st Battalion Royal Hants Regiment, 1st Battalion Devons and Dorsets, 4th Battalion Devon and Dorsets and 1st Wessex Regiment, rifle volunteers when the 4th disbanded, ending as senior warrant officer.

"I served in Germany, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Denmark and Northern Ireland," said Dave, an infantryman specialising in anti-tank mortars.

Also a long-time member of Sidmouth's Territorial Army, Dave was also a drill instructor and taught soldiers how to handle nuclear, biological and chemical warfare, even putting on a film show in Sidmouth at the outbreak of the Gulf War.

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"When I was in Northern Ireland in the '60s there were no problems then, we were a peace-keeping force," he said.

"I haven't seen any action, apart from chucking people out of the NAFFI late at night!"

As new chairman, Dave wants to involve Sidmouth's youth more in the RBL's activities, particularly this year's Armed Forces Day (Veteran's Day), which takes place on Saturday, June 27.

"I will carry the standard. Then, after the drumhead service, I will put on my badge of office and mingle," he said.