A reunion of the CMWTC at St Ives

This is an account of a Commando Mountain Warfare Training Centre reunion held at St Ives on the 24-26th September 1993 as outlined in Commando Association Newsletter 98 of March 1994.

"This Reunion, held over the weekend 24th-26th September, was an unqualified success, and, congratulations are due to the hard work put in by Slim Sutherland, Jim Smith, Peter Dietz, Mike Banks, Ken Broom, Jack Hunter and C/Sgt. Tony Boyle (currently serving with RM Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre) were well rewarded. The purpose of the reunion was to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the original Commando Mountain Warfare Training Centre's (CMWTC) move from Llanwryst to St. Ives in 1943 and for all those commando comrades who subsequently served there during the period 1943 to 1950. As such, it was, of course, a unique reunion, including not only wartime members of our own Commando Association, but also those post-war RM Commandos of the Commando Cliff Assault Centre (CCAC) and its Successors. As a result, it was natural that the number of original CMWTC veterans would be outnumbered by latter day RM Commandos. This was inevitable, but only enhanced the occasion and provided evidence of continuity.

Unfortunately, because of ill-health, neither Geoffrey Rees-Jones, a pioneer Commando climber who commanded CMWTC when it moved to St. Ives, nor the legendary Commando climber, Capt. Joe Barry, were able to attend, but two others of that move 50 years ago were,  Major Jim Fraser who also commanded CMWTC and CSM George 'Dickie' Dicks, BEM. One of the features of the weekend was a demonstration by today's direct descendant of CMWTC, the RM Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre, They put on impressive demonstrations of abseiling from a helicopter and a cliff assault.

On Saturday evening, the main event of the re-union, the official Dinner for the ex-Commandos and their families, was held in the St. Ives Rugby Club. Just on I00 comrades and guests sat down to the meal. Piper Bill Millin was in attendance. As guest of honour, Major Jimmy Dunning, who was the last Adjutant of the CMWTC, and subsequently on renaming, the first Adjutant of the post-war CCAC, recalled the unique spirit of the unit that survived the traumas of the 'demob-happy' days of 1945 - 46 and the fight that Major Easton, MC (then CO) had to ensure that the techniques of Commando climbing and rocky landings were preserved by the survival of the unit in peacetime. He also recalled 'Commando Week', June, 1946, when the unit appealed to the locals and holiday makers through a week-long series of events for £1,000 for the Commando Benevolent Fund. He reminded his listeners that they succeeded in raising that sum, which today equates to at least £125,000. Not a bad effort for a Unit of about 50 all ranks.

The weekend reunion ended with a simple but moving open-air service at St. Nicholas Chapel, the Island, St. Ives, and this was conducted by the Revd. Richard Baxter, who in 1945 - 46, served in CMWTC. Among those who attended were Capt. Mickey O'Brien, who flew in from Malta and Glyn Vaughan, who made the long journey from Australia."

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