Coachlines - September 2021

23.09.21 The Clerk

The Coachmakers’ Banquet 2022 – save the date

2022 will be the 40th anniversary year of the Falklands Conflict, or Operation Corporate to use its correct title. The Master Coachmaker intends to pay tribute to those who served in the South Atlantic in 1982 and to those who provided vital support, particularly those with connections to the Coachmakers’ Company.

On 8th of June 2022 therefore, this will be the theme of the Coachmakers’ Banquet to be held in the Guildhall, London. The event will recognise the numerous connections the Coachmakers’ Company had, and still has, to so many of the units and individuals that were directly involved in operations on and around the Falkland Islands, and also to the many organisations and individuals who worked tirelessly to support the front line from home.

To date, the following connections have been identified:

• After the decommissioning of HMS CENTAUR, which until 1970 had been the Coachmakers’ affiliated ship, HMS HERMES assumed that affiliation. HMS HERMES was the flagship of Rear Admiral Sandy Woodward, Task Group Commander during the Falklands Campaign. Prior to the Falklands Conflict HERMES had been commanded by Admiral (then Captain) Sir Derek Roy Reffell, KCB who assumed command of the Task Group on the 1st of July 1982 and who in 1998 became the Master Coachmaker.

• The former Landing Platform Dock (LPD), HMS INTREPID, served in the conflict and was commanded by the late Rear Admiral (then Captain) Peter Dingemans CB DSO, a Liveryman of the Coachmakers’ Company until his passing six years ago. The current LPD, HMS BULWARK is affiliated to the Coachmakers’ Company.

The Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) is affiliated to the Coachmakers’ Company and 846 Naval Air Squadron is part of CHF; 846 saw action throughout the conflict flying Westland Sea King Mk4 Helicopters from HMS HERMES.

• A variety of helicopters made by Westland Helicopters Ltd were involved in the campaign. In 1982 Past Master Graham Cole CBE (2018) was working for Westland in Brazil; he later became Chairman of AgustaWestland. Today, Liveryman Nick Whitney MBE is the Managing Director of the Leonardo Helicopters (UK) in Yeovil, the helicopter factory that was originally Westland Helicopters Ltd.

RAF Brize Norton (the Coachmakers’ affiliated RAF unit) was the UK gateway through which stores and personnel were flown to and from Ascension Island, the mid-Atlantic staging post to the Falklands, providing an essential lifeline to the Task Force operating 8,000 miles from home.

• In 1982 10 Squadron RAF was affiliated to the Coachmakers’ Company flying VC10 aircraft moving people to and from the theatre of operations; Past Master Gerry Bunn CBE (2012) was the Officer Commanding 10 Squadron at that time.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire GCB, DFC, AFC, DL was a Liveryman of the Coachmakers’ Company until his passing in early 2018. In 1982, as a Wing Commander, he was the Officer Commanding the RAF’s No1 (F) Squadron which saw action in the South Atlantic during the conflict embarked in HMS HERMES.

Honorary Court Assistant Lesley Upham worked for The Hydrographic Department of the MoD during the conflict and spent many late nights compiling charts for the Task Force as it made its way down to the South Atlantic. At the same time her husband Rod was producing helicopter charts while she compiled charts for the various ships that were sent. In just a few weeks she produced the first complete metric chart of the whole of the Falklands. This was very difficult to achieve because many of the surveys that she worked from were first made in the 1800s and bringing all the source material together was a significant challenge. Nevertheless, she also produced another official version of the chart on which was drawn the Total Exclusion Zone.

Liveryman Sir Michael Marshall CBE DL led Marshall of Cambridge to design, develop and install in-flight refuelling in the Hercules C-130 in just 21 days in April 1982 to support the air bridge to Ascension Island. The Marshall C-130 tankers also supported the Vulcan bombing mission over the runway at Port Stanley later in the campaign.

The Clerk to the Coachmakers’ Company, Cdr Mark Leaning RN, was the Diving Officer of HMS PLYMOUTH in 1982 which served throughout the entire campaign and was involved in actions too numerous to list.

The Assistant Clerk to the Coachmakers’ Company, Lt Cdr Rachel Firth RN, in 1982 was a young WRNS radar rating working in the Fighter Controller School at RNAS Yeovilton. During the conflict she was involved in training the additional but essential Fighter Controllers who flew south to join the Task Force.

• The Coachmakers’ regular Toastmaster, Mr John Cash MBE, was formally a Warrant Officer Steward in the Royal Navy; in 1982 he was serving in HMS EXETER which also saw action during the campaign.

There may be many more connections that are yet to emerge and we would like to know of them so they can be recognised in the Banquet Souvenir Programme.

If you served with the Task Force in 1982, or were involved in support of Operation Corporate or Operation Paraquat (the action to retake South Georgia), or know of someone who was involved and has a direct link to the Coachmakers, please tell the Clerk by email as soon as possible at

Over the next few editions of Coachlines, more detail will emerge about what is planned for 8th June 2022 and some of the personal stories from those listed above will also be told.

For now, save the date in your diaries – 8th June 2022 – and start to think about who you would like to invite to join you at what will be another splendid Coachmaker Banquet in the Guildhall of London.