22 October 2020
Deputy Commandant Lieutenant Colonel Tony Cattermole RA, will retire in November, bringing to an end a remarkable 52 years of army and cadet service.
Lieutenant Colonel Cattermole had early links with the Army from 1968, as part of a thriving Whittlesey Army Cadet Force – he has fond memories of fun, friendship and exciting ACF activities including shooting, drill, and being part of the marching band.
After leaving Sir Harry Smith Community College in 1972 aged 16, Tony went to Bramcote to be a Junior Leader in the Royal Artillery. He said; 'The cadets had taught me discipline and leadership, and along with the other military skills I learned, this made a real difference to my training at Bramcote.’ His training course lasted 2 years, teaching him both basic army training and specialist artillery skills.'
Tony (front row second from left) as Junior Battery Sergeant Major Wingate Troop, on early morning PT at the Junior Leaders Regt Royal Artillery 1973
His time spent in the Junior Leaders Regiment was enjoyable and rewarding. He learnt to ski and represented Bramcote at numerous sports, while progressing through the ranks to the top appointment of Junior Regimental Sergeant Major. He completed his trade training as a Technical Assistant Royal Artillery, with his final task as the Junior RSM being the Parade Commander of 800 Junior Leaders on their pass out parade, which was certainly a highlight of his very early career. He joined 40 Regiment Royal Artillery as a gunner in 1974.
As Junior RSM, 1974
His long Regular Army career with the Royal Artillery saw him progressing through the non-commissioned and Warrant Officer ranks to Warrant Officer Class1 Master Gunner. In 1996, he was accepted for a late entry commission and became a Captain, taking up the position of Unit Training Officer for 29 Commando Regiment RA.
He served in Germany, The Balkans, Canada the USA and the UK. He completed two tours of Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles, reflecting that; ‘it was an interesting time, you had to be constantly alert, but ultimately you just got on with the job’. His Regiment left their big guns behind, and instead had to brush up on their infantry battle skills, patrolling the dangerous streets of Belfast and The Ardoyne, and manning observation posts, before returning to his fortified compound at the end of each day.
Tony (right) as Section Commander in Northern Ireland (Ardoyne) 1977, with a colleague meeting Miss 40 Field Regt RA on her Christmas visit to the troops.
Tony held numerous leadership appointments, mainly specialising in Artillery Training and Leadership Development, as well as Safety and Welfare Management. He left the Regular Army in 2012 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Along with his wife Anita of 43 years, Tony always knew they would return to Whittlesey at the end of his military career, and they finally settled into their own home after moving nineteen times and living in a variety of military quarters around the world.
Tony (back row second from left), as Detachment Commander F Sub with Gun Detachment 105 mm Light Gun, Belize Central America 1983.
Since retiring from the Regular Army, Tony worked for 158 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps as a Full Time Reserves Soldier in Peterborough as their Regimental Career Management Officer at the Reserve Centre on London Road. No.1 Company Cambs ACF has its Headquarters in the same location, and seeing cadets in the drill hall and on parade at Remembrance services brought back good memories of where he started, and he thought that it would be a good time to join the ACF as a CFAV. He took up the appointment as Company Commander of No1 (Hereward) Company in 2015, and spent three enjoyable years in that role. He said; ‘being an OC was a fantastic job, I really got to spend a lot of time with both the cadets and adults and got to know a lot of great people.’
In 2017 Tony retired from the Army Reserve service, which allowed him to commit more time to Cambridgeshire ACF and maximise his belief that clear direction and leadership are key to an effective youth organization. The same year he was appointed Deputy Commandant with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, for his final three years in uniform.
Deputy Commandant Lt Col Cattermole (middle right) with Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire Mr Richard Barnwell, members of The Eastern Region Riders Branch, Royal British Legion, and cadets from Whittlesey Detachment and others remembering Pte George Rose Cox, 1st Bn. The Cambridgeshire Regiment, one of the 'Cambs 876 Remembered’ soldiers from WW1, at his memorial in Coates, Cambridgeshire 2018.
Lt. Col Cattermole’s experience and proven track record of managing individuals and teams of young men and women through change in some challenging times have been a real asset to Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force. He has been able to use his professional military skills to assist adult instructors and cadets in numerous activities. As his three-year tenue is now coming to an end, he is looking forward to hanging up his boots and taking to the golf course, whilst settling in to a well-earned retirement after a long and extraordinary career.
He said; ‘I have had a great time working with Cambs ACF, its been really worthwhile, and a fantastic way to finish my military service.’
Commandant Colonel Fraser-Hitchen said; ‘Tony has had a remarkable career topped off by an impressive level of dedication and service to the ACF. As a regular soldier who was commissioned, he achieved a rank that only the very best Late Entry officers achieve - this is testament to the way Tony has lived his life and, latterly, committed his time to the ACF. We wish him all the very best in retirement with heartfelt thanks for his service.’
Text by PI Stuart with Lt. Col. Cattermole.