Welcome to the Orihuela Costa and District Branch of The Royal British Legion
The Royal British Legion in Spain has long been trying to engage the Spanish Legion Brigade in a joint service of remembrance, and nowhere more so than in Almeria where the branches have been in communication with the Brigada de la Legión, based in Viator Almeria.
Until recently there have been few opportunities, and with elements of the Legion Brigade busily engaged in peacekeeping operations overseas, the recent celebration of their 95th anniversary and an upcoming United Nations deployment to Lebanon, there seemed little likelihood of the two parties combining in such an activity, but when the Albox Branch of the RBL spoke to Honorary Legionnaire, Andy Mortimer, who works with the Brigade in Viator, it was suggested that the RBL submit a formal request.
A letter was duly sent earlier in the year, following which Nigel Hails, the Chairman of the Royal British Legion in Spain (North), received an invitation from Major Ruíz de la Oña, who is in charge of G9, Protocol of the Brigada de la Legión, to discuss the matter further. He had no hesitation other than to accept. That meeting took place in August at the Base Militar "Alvarez De Sotomayor" where Nigel Hails, along with the Parade Marshal, Mr Neil Pavitt and the District Administrator, Mr Christopher Wyatt, met with Mr Andy Mortimer and Major Ruíz de la Oña who expressed his General’s firm desire for closer co-operation and friendship with those from other countries, who have made their home in Spain.
The purpose of the joint Parade and Remembrance Service was not only to honour the war dead of both countries but also to foster a deeper understanding and a cementing of relationships between an active service Spanish Brigade and The Royal British Legion’s mission, values and objectives as presented by its members in Spain, and so it was agreed that the service and celebration would take place in Viator on 21 October.
An invitation to branches resulted in almost 150 member of The RBL making the trip. The bulk of members travelled to the base on 3 coaches while a good many others, including defence Attaché Captain Paul Lemkes RN made their way by car.
On the parade itself the Legion was represented by the War Band, the Music Unit, a Sappers Squad and an Honour Guard comprising the Colonel of the Third Legion Regiment, the Colonel of the Base Support Unit, all the Lt/Cols commanding Legion units and their subordinate officers and NCO's.
Having taken their places on the parade square they were joined by The RBL Standard Bearers who were marched on carrying their standards by Parade Marshal Neil Pavitt
The RBL Chairman then made a short speech thanking the Brigade for their invitation and warm welcome after which General de Brigada Excmo. Sr. D. Juan Jesús Martín Cabrero, Comandante en Jefe de La Brigada de La Legión "Rey Alfonso XIII" replied, in impeccable English, thanking the members of The RBL for turning out in such high numbers. He welcomed them to the Base and said that he hoped that this could be the first of many such occasions when the two organisations could unite in their common cause, that of both Nations remembering and honouring those who had sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom.
Following the national anthems, the last post, silence and reveille, the General and the RBL Chairman each laid a wreath as they both paid tribute to the fallen.
The parade and service itself lasted a little over an hour after which many of the attendees were indulged by a visit to the Legion Museum where they saw elements of the 95 year history of the Legion including many of the victories achieved and sacrifices made during that time.
Following lunch and a short presentation to General Martín Cabrero in the Officers’ Mess, the General, his Protocol Officer Major Alfonso Pedro Ruiz de Ona Rodriguez, and many of the Officers who had been involved in the Remembrance Parade, mingled with members of The RBL as ‘war stories’ and anecdotes were exchanged before the veterans took to their coaches to return home at the end of a rather long but a most enjoyable and nostalgic day.
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