A Dinner held in the new Drill Hall
Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham Observer, April 22nd, 1905



A supper in connection with G Company (4th V.B.R.W.K. Regt.) took place on Friday night, at the new headquarters of the Battalion. A portion of the large drill hall was partitioned off by means of flags, and the varied colours of these, together with the bright uniforms of the N.C.O.’s and men contrasted pleasantlv with the more sombre dress of the officers. Capt. E. B. Willis presided, and at the cross table there were Capt. Pearson (Oxford L.I.), adjutant, Capt. Haymen, Capt. Homan, Lieuts, Spencer, Earle, Browne, Surg.-Lieut. Jefferiss, Councillor E. W. Willis and Messrs J. H. Gill, J. W. Parks, J. S. McLellan, Jackling and Hornsby. On a raised dais a detachment of the Battalion Band, under Bandmaster J. V. Garvey, played selections during the dinner, which was provided by Mr. C. A. Hopper.

Capt. Homan designated “Success to G Company,” the toast of the evening. In submitting it, he said it gave him additional pleasure because they were the first company to hold an entertainment of any kind in the new building. He had heard rumours that the Gillingham companies were not altogether delighted at the idea of having a drill hall. The numbers in which they had turned up that night showed there was not much truth in the statement, and that the Gillingham companies had the welfare of the Battalion thoroughly at heart. As he was in A Company, he was afraid he did not know much of the inner history of G Company. It had in Capt. Willis as company commander the most energetic officer in the Battalion. (Cheers.) He was always ready to take up duties; he was the band secretary and in addition to that he had recently undertaken the irksome office of financial secretary to the Battalion. (Applause.) He could assure them the duties entailed a lot of work. G Company had in Col.-Sgt. Dunk too a man who thoroughly accomplished anything he undertook. Again they had the best all-round recruit last year, and while on the subject of recruits he should say it was the most important question of all. They had heard about a proposed reduction in the numbers of Volunteers. Well, they had the remedy in their own hands; that it was to get plenty of recruits of the right sort. If they had plenty of recruits who were willing to do what they were obliged to do, no Government would think seriously of reducing the numbers of any Battalion. (Hear, hear.) He had pleasure in coupling the name of Capt. E. B. Willis with the toast.

Capt. Willis, in acknowledgement, said that twelve months ago he had the first opportunity of meeting them socially, and on that occasion he made many promises. He was pleased to say he had kept them (Cheers.) The Company had made great progress in the competitions open to the Battalion; there were but seven points behind the winners of the Coronation cup, with 493 points; in manoeuvre they secured 190 points out of 200; in drill, 90 out of 100; in appearance 49 out of 50; in musketry 275 out of 300; for camp, 50 out of 50; and in the Opinion of Adjutant and Capt. Chichester they had the best tents in the Battalion; in the competition for K Company shield they obtained second place; for scouts' competition at the Battalion prize shoot they took a first and second place in the whole Battalion, while Lance-Sergt. Wickens achieved first place in the examination for N.C.O.’s; they had the best recruit of the year in Pte. Pritchard, and the best all-round recruit in Pte. Head; in the recruits' marching competition Pte Sainsbury came in first. (Loud applause.) Seventeen recruits last year became first class shots and out of 58 trained men twenty five were first class marksmen. They had to thank Cpl. Curtis for bringing in more recruits to the company than any other member. They had another N.C.O. in the person of Sgt. Evans who was the most successful beggar for prize money in the whole Battalion. (Laughter.) This year during Easter the Company were going to Bredgar; they were not going in marching order, however, as was stated, and moreover the distance was no farther than Malling.

Capt. Pearson said he was very pleased to have been appointed adjutant of that very fine corps of Volunteers; there was no doubt it was an excellent corps. (Cheers.) The Assistant Director of Auxiliary Forces told him so only the other day. He had spent a great part of his soldiering in India, and had not therefore had much opportunity of meeting Volunteers. What little he had seen of the corps here he trusted he would learn more concerning them.

Capt. Willis toasted the N.C.O.’s of G Company; they had rendered most excellent service during the last year: He coupled with the sentiment the name of Col.-Sgt. Dunk.

Col.-Sgt. Dunk, in reply, said the success of the company was largely due to Capt. Willis. (Hear, hear.) The sergeants and other N.C.O.'s tried to do their best, but they could not have done what they had had they not the help of Capt. Willis. He was ever willing to do everything that lay in his power for the good of the battalion The speeches were interspersed with vocal contributions from Mrs Dunk, Messrs W. Enton, Parks, Jackling, Q.M.S l. Smith, Col.-Sgt. Anderson, Band-Sgt. Lane; Sgt. Major Elvins and Orderly-room Sgt. West.

Reproduced by permission of Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre.
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