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Major (Retd) Leslie Ingham BEM

(Formally of XX Lancashire Fusiliers (Omnia Audax)


He joined Junior Boy's service in late1962 and enjoyed a full military career of some 30 years. he was selected for a Short Service Commission (SSC) in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 1983. Some years later converted to Late Entry {LE}. The former Company 2IC, Quartermaster and Staff Officer of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Major (Retd) Les Ingham BEM RRF is known for his straight talking and direct, uncompromising style. he was often heard to say that he was a product and supporter of the Large Regiment/ Divisional System meaning Queens Division as his service spanned tours of duty with 2 QUEENS, 3 R ANGLIAN (The Pompadours), 2RRF and 6 RRF (V). His service included two tours with 7th /10th (City of Belfast Battalion) The Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) & 7 R IRISH. While he doubts it is a record for any young Fusilier reading this article you too may be called upon to transfer between cap badge units when the promotional opportunities arise. You may feel despondent on leaving your family regiment but it will soon pass as you settle into new challenges. Remember, your confidential reports are crucial to determining your next career move. However, in today's re-balancing of Infantry numbers and loss of many fine regiments promotional opportunities may be harder to secure in your chosen regiment. Never give up and always follow your dreams!
It would be remiss of Les not to mention the encouragement shown to him by one of 2RRF outstanding Commanding Officers the late Lt-Gen Sir Jeremy Calcott Reilly KCB, DSO (commissioned into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (7th) in 1954) and commanded 2RRF from 1971-1973. Col JC as he was affectionately known by his men selected him (half-way through an NI operational tour at the timer) to attend the 6 week potential instructor's selection course at RMA Sandhurst. Les passed the 6 week arduous and competitive selection with flying colours.
Be yourself. But be good at it! Have a Mission & Vision!
His approach to his military career has hinged on loyalty, dedication, unselfish commitment, honesty, and hard work and he believes he will be judged by what he has achieved rather than what others might think. He is a passionate believer in mission command. He looks forward and downwards but never up. He cares passionately about his subordinates and peers gained through experience and drawn from many operational tours of Northern Ireland. He believes in letting his subordinates make mistakes and learning from them. Gone are the days of screaming and old fashioned bollockings; soldiers are more intelligent today but a well-meaning word of encouragement (every now and then) often oils the wheels of leadership! Above all his attitude has been to enjoy his work, always maintain a sense of humour and accept the challenge no matter how difficult the task. Friends and professional colleagues have played a huge part in his career development, advancement and success, especially in the early years of his service. He will always be grateful for their words of support and wisdom.

Final Period of Regular Army Service
Les retired from the Army in December 1992 having completed an illustrious career spanning 30 years regular service. I always fancied a crack at a staff appointment. The opportunity arose while QM of 7/10 UDR at Malone base, Belfast. He joined HQ 39th Infantry Bde G4 team under DCOS Maj Stephen Tetlow MBE REME. Les assumed the post of SO3 G4 (North) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His area of responsibility was wide-ranging and challenging. His patch took in the whole of West Belfast operational bases (Musgrave Park Hospital, Woodbourne, Fort Whiterock, North Howard Street Mill, New Barnsley and all the Belfast Ops to name a few), One of his successes was the complete removal of Antrim Road, Funeral Parlour OP in an effort to make the local area less military-like. Antrim, Carrickfergus and Holywood, Palace Barracks. Many requests for urgent operational requirements (UOR's) were often received and needed prompt attention. This period in his career was stimulating, challenging but immensely rewarding. On completion of this staff appointment Les re-joined 2RRF at Ballykinler as OC HQ Company. After a short tour Les returned as QM 7/10 UDR.

Challenges in Civvy Street and Civil Service
After a short break in Civvy Street Les returned to Ulster and interviewed for work with the MoD Civil Service in Northern Ireland. I was lucky to secure a C2 Staff appointment as SO2 Organisation & Developments (O & D)/Establishments, HQNI. He undertook periods of work in civilian life as Project Manager "Positively Belfast" (a Government Quango) prior to becoming Housing Manager Aberdeen University.

The Early Years - An Enduring Career

Prior to joining the Army Les played soccer for Bury Boys and was a member of the Lancashire Fusiliers ACF based at Castle Armoury, Bury and went on to join the Junior Army in 1962, enlisting at the Army Recruiting Office in Great Ducie Street, Manchester. Joining the Army at the young age was both challenging and hugely rewarding. He entered Junior Service at the age of 16 years old, thereafter completed his training and education at the Junior Tradesman's Regiment (JTR), Troon, Ayrshire in Scotland. The weather was appalling with an average temperature of ?2.1 °C (28.2 °F) with January 1963 remains the coldest month since January 1814. The country started to freeze solid, with temperatures as low as ?19.4 °C (?2.9 °F). Leaving home and embarking on a new adventure was at the forefront of his mind. Les graduated in 1964 (having completed 4 terms) passing out as a Junior Regimental Sergeant Major (J/RSM) the highest rank achievable for a boy soldier. He also gained Regimental colours in soccer and cross country running. He left Goodbody's Company as a Driver/Radio operator (achieved 22 wpm in Morse code and Telegraphic procedures) and joined his XX 1 LF Bn, Signal Platoon in Worcester. The Battalion was in the process of relocating to UK from BAOR during the early part of 1964 (the Bn having been based there since 1960). This involved a move from Quebec Barracks, Osnabruck, to Norton Barracks, Worcester. The Commanding Officer at the time was the late Lt Gen Sir Alexander James Wilson KBE MC formally of the Rifle Brigade and a WW2 veteran.

British Guayna 11 January 1965 - 19 October 1965
Les's first emergency tour was with XX 1 LF totalling 9 months and based at Lennora as Cpl Signal Detachment Commander. Much experienced gained and lessons learnt.

Weeton Camp- Blackpool October 65 -67
Les attended what he considered to be the best course of his military career in November 1964. He attended a 16mm Projectionist course run by the Army Kinema Corporation (AKC) at Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire. He became an expert overnight on Bell & Howell/Debrie projectors.

Hong Kong 26 September 1967 - 25 July 1969
During the flight to Hong Kong he celebrated his 21st birthday.
He deployed to Gun Club Barracks with A Company as Cpt/Pl Sgt understudying Sgt Kiwi Johnson. Lt Col TD Lloyd-Jones OBE was the Commanding Officer and his RSM was WO1 (RSM) Jack Nash at that time.It was routine for Rifle Companies rotated between Gun Club Barracks and Erskine Camp, Si Kung Peninsular. St Georges Day April 1968 (Vesting Day) XX 1 LF was re-named 4 RRF and on parade that day the distinctive "Primrose" Hackle was assigned to history.. The most visible symbolic element of the parade was to remove the "Primrose" Hackle and replace with a "Red and White "Hackle; which so distinguishes England's Fusiliers. (The "Red and White" Hackle worn by the modern Fusilier is widely recognised as an enduring symbol of outstanding Infantry professionalism with a history dating back to the Battle of Saint Lucia in 1778).Yes, it was a sad day for all Lancashire Fusiliers but amalgamation had been necessary to preserve the Fusilier name.
From an historical perspective it would be remiss of Les not to reflect by highlighting the "order of the day" changing the regiment forever. That said continuous change in the British army has evolved (roles, tactics, equipment, financial etc.) over the centuries. By virtue of the provisions of the Royal Warrant dated 5th April 1968 (published in Army Order 18 of 1968) all officers of the Land Forces belonging to Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (5th), Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers (6th), Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) (7th) and XX LF are transferred to Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (RRF) with effect 23rd April 1968. Therefore all the above regiments amalgamated and became RRF (this publication appeared in the London Gazette on 23rd April 1968). One additional point on 23rd April 2018 England's Fusiliers will celebrate 50 years of continuous service. Many organisational changes have taken place since Vesting Day but reaching this important Regimental milestone of 50-years is highly significant against a backdrop of today's ever changing Army.
Les was absent from the 1968 parade in Hong Kong due to being part of the exercise advance party to Jungle Warfare School Training (JWS) at Kota Tinggi, Johore Bharu, Malaysia with the Bn training team in preparation for Ex Minden Rose. Ex Minden Rose enabled Company sized groups to rotate through a pre-arranged jungle training packages for a short period prior to returning to Hong Kong.
In 1969 whilst serving in Hong Kong the commencement of US President Richard Nixon doctrine of Vietnamization and withdrawal of US Troops commenced. Hong Kong became an R & R Centre for many American personnel. Les recalls the massive Aircraft Carrier USS Enterprise visiting when the price of everything doubled and the China Fleet Club was the only sensible "watering hole" left to visit for XX 1 LF. Many stories abound of the Lancashire friendship offered to visiting GI's to help them spend their hard earned dollars.

The Fusilier Brigade was an administrative formation of the British Army from 1958 to 1968. The Brigade combined the depots of the English infantry regiments designated as fusiliers. The Brigade was created as part of the 1957 Defence White Paper announced in July 1957. It was formed on April 1, 1958.

Weeton Camp 26 July 1969 - 21 April 1970
Preparation commenced for disbandment of 4 RRF. Les joined one Draft commanded by the late WO2 Brian Walsh which travelled by train to Watchet in Somerset.

Doniford Barracks, Watchet - 1969
On arrival at Watchet a Draft of Fusiliers of Company size were welcomed by Lt Col A G Wooldridge, Commanding Officer and WO1 (RSM) P R Bateman of 2RRF. Once Interviewed Les was immediately (the next day) reposted to 2 QUEENS in Palace Barracks, Holywood, Northern Ireland. He assumed the role of Signal Platoon Sgt until Oct 69 when he re-joined 2 RRF.
1969 -The start of troubles in Northern Ireland. Les's introduction to civil disturbances was initially at Brown's Square (Lower Shankill) in Belfast. The beginning of what was to become a long running campaign under the heading Op BANNER which incidentally ended midnight on 31st July 2007.

Palace barracks, Holywood - 26 July 1969 - 21 April 1970.
I remained as Signal Pl Sgt until my departure for Berlin.

Les attended and passed the most important and competitive selection course of his career (RMAS Pre-selection SNCO's Course No 29 from 7th January to 1st March 1974). It was a tough 8 weeks of tactical assessment, teaching practices, weapon training and All Arms drill with a final overseas exercise in Cyprus (flown in overnight and deployed in darkness). This RMAS selection course set you on an accelerated promotional path with the added bonus of gaining many friends throughout the Army.

A Few Notable Events

Unit Location
Notable Events & Remarks
Oct 69 - Jul 71 2RRF
2RRF - Berlin
Platoon Sgt, C Company. Commanded 11 Platoon until February 1972. During this tour of operational duty awarded the BEM.
Jul 71 - Aug 75
2RRF - Catterick
Platoon Sgt, C Company.
Oct 71 -Feb 72
2RRF-West Belfast
Sgt Platoon Commander.
Jul 72 - Nov 72 Sgt
Platoon Commander.
Oct 74 - Feb 75 Sgt
Platoon Commander.
Attended RMAS Selection Course and became an infantry SNCO Instructor after a gruelling 6-week selection course.
Took part in the Presentation of Colours to RMAS by Her Majesty The Queen at Sandhurst on 30th May 1974. Commandant at RMAS at that time was Major-General R. C. Ford C.B.,C.B.E.
Aug 75 - Oct 77
(WO2 CSM) A Company.
The Queen's Silver Jubilee. The Review of the Army Sennelager 7th July 1977.
Jun 76 - Oct 76
WO2 (CSM) A Company.
Nov 77 - Dec 77
Arrived /Departed on posting
Dec 77 - Nov 79
WO2 6RRF(V)-Newcastle
(Senior Permanent Staff Instructor (SPSI)) Y Company.
Participated in the Presentation of New Colours to 6(V) RRF at Alnwick Castle by HRH Duke of Kent GCMG, GCVO, ADC Colonel-in Chief of the Regiment.
Nov 79 - Mar 81
WO2 (CSM) HQ Coy/ Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS).
Apr 81 - Jul 83
WO1 - Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM).
Participated in the Berlin Tattoo.
Salute to Spandau. 750 year anniversary celebrations. One of twelve Boroughs of West Berlin! From 1945 it was the home of the British Garrison in Berlin. LP record produced by kind permission of CO 2RRF: Lt Col Mike Hayley and Senior Bandmaster WO1 John Dodd. Cornet-soloist: C/Sgt John Bainbridge.
Participated part in the Queen's Birthday Parade
of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday 5th
June 1982.
Nov 83 - Apr 84
Falklands Company Commander was Major J K R Porter and Les was Company Second-in-command (2 IC) A Company based at Goose Green (Quick Re-action Force (QRF)) Role.
Apr 84 - Mar 87
Minden Major (Quartermaster) Technical - Armoured Infantry Battalion.
Nov 86 - Mar 87
West Belfast Major (Quartermaster) Technical - Armoured Infantry Battalion.
Mar 87 - Nov 89
7/10 UDR/7 R IRISH
Malone Major (Quartermaster).
9th November 1989 - fall of Berlin Wall.
Nov 89 - Aug 91
HQ 39 Inf Bde
Thiepval Major - Staff Officer Grade 3, G4 (N). Responsible for all military works - West Belfast.
Aug 91- Oct 92
Ballykinler Major Officer Commanding HQ Company.
Nov 92
7/10 UDR/7 R IRISH
Malone Presentation of Colours to 7/10 UDR (City of Belfast) Bn.
Departed Regular Service on Redundancy.

Les is married to Zofia and describes his interests as politics, reading, travel, football and rugby.