IN a small corner of Staplegrove, near the junction of Manor Road and Lawn Road, there is a small stone, with an inscription.

It says: ‘In appreciation of 40 Commando Royal Marines - Staplegrove Parish Council - February 2011’.

It was paid for by Staplegrove residents after 40 Commando’s 2010 operational tour of Helmand, Afghanistan, in which 14 Royal Marines lost their lives.

Their loss was felt deeply in Taunton, especially in the communities of Norton Fitzwarren, Staplegrove and Kingston St Mary, where many memorial services were held.

On Monday, 40 Commando was awarded the Firmin Sword of Peace by General Sir Gordon Messenger KCB, DSO, OBE, ADC, the second most senior officer in our Armed Forces and a Somerset man.

READ MORE: PICTURES: 40 Commando presented with fourth Firmin Sword of Peace

The award was for the unit’s humanitarian relief in the British Overseas Territories of the Caribbean in 2017. The Commando is the only unit to have been awarded the Sword four times.

The paradox of a unit trained to win in high intensity combat winning a Sword of Peace has lessons for us. Versatility and adaptability is obvious. Perhaps less obvious are: outstanding preparation and training; skilled anticipation and rapid reaction; and enterprise, determination and skill at all levels.

Presenting the award, General Messenger talked about the importance of achieving effect, and of making an impact immediately. He spoke about the quality of individuals and of skill at the lowest level of the organisation. He applauded the collective spirit of the unit – ‘the Commando spirit’.

Left unsaid but apparent to those lucky enough to watch the parade, was the critical importance of selecting individuals of ability, of leadership at all levels and of their devotion to each other.

This week, the Commanding Officer (CO) of 40 Commando hands over to a new CO. We thank Lieutenant Colonel Paul Maynard for his leadership and we congratulate him on his achievements over the last two years. We extend the warmest welcome to Lieutenant Colonel Simon Rogers.

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Success, and a habit of success, does not happen by accident. The growing connection between 40 Commando and leading organisations in Taunton and Somerset, partly under the aegis of the Armed Forces Covenant, is much welcomed and can be further developed for our mutual benefit.

The Royal Marines will watch our back wherever they operate. In turn, we, the Somerset people, their representatives and public servants, will wish to watch their backs, and those of their families, at home.

We can all add our appreciation to that made by Staplegrove residents in 2011.

With the fourth Sword of Peace and a new CO, all ranks of 40 Commando and their families should know they are indeed appreciated throughout Taunton and Somerset.


Somerset County Councillor for Rowbarton and Staplegrove and chair of the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant Partnership