Armed Forces Day 2022: Celebrating Military Families

24 June 2022

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is honouring those families who have served for generations.

The Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Forces are steeped tradition and history. This Armed Forces Day, SSAFA is recognising those volunteers, employees and beneficiaries of the charity who have served for many generations.

At least five generations of SSAFA’s CEO, Lt General Sir Andrew Gregory have served in the Armed Forces, including his great-grandfather, Field Marshal Sir Charles Comyn Egerton, whose early career saw him take part in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, the Hazara Expedition and operations in the Khyber Pass. Both of Sir Andrew’s Grandfathers served in the Royal Navy, one a Captain, the other a Vice Admiral. His father, Dick Gregory landed on Sword Beach on D-Day, his mother was a Wren and his sister was in the WRAC, while his son and a cousin are serving officers in the Royal Artillery.

Lt General Sir Andrew Gregory, CEO at SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, said: “The military is in my family’s DNA! It goes back to a photograph of my great-great-grandfather, who served in the 89th Regiment of Foot, outside a bell tent at the siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War in 1855. Through to my grandfather who was lost at sea serving on the North Atlantic convoys on the 1st January 1943, to my father who was badly wounded on D Day, to my mother who served in the WRNS, past my military service and is kept alive by one of our sons and a nephew who are both currently serving in the Royal Artillery.

"I am very proud of my family’s military service, just as I am of all those who chose to defend this Nation’s freedoms and values. Being a part of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity allows me to continue to assist those members of the military community who have given so much and, for whatever reason, now need some support. SSAFA is there for them today, just as it will be there for future generations of service personnel and their families.”

Kirsty Bushell CBE, outgoing SSAFA National Vice-Chairman, served in the RAF for 24 years following two generations of family service to the RAF; her father and both of her grandfathers served. During World War 2 one of her grandfathers was an engineer on Sunderland flying boats on long-range patrols off the Western coast of Scotland searching for, and destroying, German U-boats. One of her great uncles – again RAF – was shot down over Germany, and incarcerated at, but survived, Buchenwald concentration camp.

Terry McCourt, a SSAFA volunteer served in the Parachute Regiment, lives in Glasgow, is another with three generations of Armed Forces in his family.

Terry’s father served in the Cameronians during WWII, his son joined the Paras, and his daughter-in-law is still serving. Terry was instrumental in developing and executing, and fundraising for, the VC Memorial Wall at Glasgow Central Station, which was unveiled last month. His eldest grandson has ambitions to join the Army.

Nick Berryman, Branch Chair of SSAFA Sussex and former Jet Pilot and Staff Officer in the Cold War, has a multitude of military service personnel in his family history.

His paternal grandfather joined the Army in 1915, and maternal grandfather in 1916. The former ended up in the Military Police, and with the army of occupation in Germany at the end of the War and the latter commanded the Sea Cadet unit in Lincoln. His mother was a part of the Womens Auxillary Air Force (WAAF) and married Nick’s father who was a fighter pilot in the RAF. One of his uncles served in India and the Far East and the other was commissioned in the Royal Naval Reserve and was subsequently wounded on board HMS Curacao in Norway in 1949.

Nick’s brother, and years later, niece, served in the Royal Naval Reserve. His daughter was a member of the RAuxAF Regiment for a short time, and her husband served as a seaman in the Royal Navy. Lastly, for now, his son served in the RAF for about 34 years and is currently a Wing Commander in the RAF Regiment. 

Former Rifleman and SSAFA beneficiary, Tom Fox’s father and grandfather served in the Army; Tom said: “Knowing what some of my family members had to endure during their service in the Armed Forces, such as trench fighting at Ypres, manning an anti-aircraft gun during the Blitz, taking part in the commando raid on Dieppe and liberating Belsen, have often helped me to put things into perspective during difficult times.”

Please feel free to call our Forcesline if you need any support.

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