On the evening of Friday 12th February, Wales University Royal Naval Unit held its annual Martinique Dinner within their home base, HMS Cambria. This traditional Naval Mess Dinner takes place each year, in recognition of the Battle Honour held by the first HMS EXPRESS, which took part in the Battle of Martinique in 1808.
Preparations for the dinner started months in advance, with each member of the Martinique Division (one of the 3 Divisions within Wales URNU and the one nominated with organising the Mess Dinner) allocated a different role. The event was given an attention to detail that could have redefined “military precision”. The day before the dinner, the team descended on HMS Cambria and, within a few hours, the Drill Deck had been transformed from an empty space into a dramatic setting, with a parachute suspended from the ceiling and White Ensigns and Welsh flags adorning the walls.
On the morning of “the big day”, members of the unit arrived early and busied themselves to ensure that the finishing touches were completed in good time; the silverware gleamed and the unit was spotless. After changing into uniform, the traditional photographs were taken and it was then time to receive guests. Pre-dinner drinks gave the students a fantastic opportunity to network with serving members of the Armed Forces, each with their own unique experiences to share.
The food that was served was of an exceptional standard and the external catering company, Cresta Caterers, did a fantastic job ensuring that proceedings ran correctly. After numerous toasts, the guest of honour, Commodore Kyd, the future Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, gave a speech, providing an insight into the future of the UK’s carrier strike capability. It was quite a coup for WURNU to have got such a distinguished Officer to speak at the dinner. After the speeches, the guests were invited to the Wardroom bar, while the drill deck was cleared and once again transformed, this time into a dance hall, with the help of a local DJ.
The dinner was clearly an outstanding success, with praise received from every quarter. Here’s to next year – let’s hope it is as well received as this one.