Corresponding Cordwainers: supporting the Fusiliers

Judith Millidge's Photo

Company Sergeant Major, WO2 Neil Scott VR, C Company, 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers writes about their latest deployment as part of UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus and the value of ‘Corresponding Cordwainers’ sending letters from home helping boost moral.

Way back in 2007 on my first deployment to Afghanistan I remembered how much of a morale boost it was to receive any correspondence from back home, so as I prepared for my second deployment to Afghanistan in 2012 I got talking to Cordwainer Liveryman, Hester Williams about the possibility of the Cordwainers writing to the Fusiliers while we were deployed. After very little persuasion it was agreed and so started a tradition of correspondence between deployed Fusiliers and Cordwainers which has continued to our most recent deployment as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cyprus.

Over 100 Fusiliers from the 5 Fusiliers deployed for operation TOSCA to support the 7 RIFLES Battlegroup, with 25 of those Fusiliers coming from C Company based in London. The Fusiliers formed the bulk of the Sector 2 Operations Company, responsible for maintaining the peace between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. With myself as the Company Sergeant Major and three of our junior officers as Platoon Commanders, C Company were right at the heart of operations.

With the COVID pandemic taking effect as the tour started, things were a little harder than normal. Although not a war-fighting tour, the strain on many of the young Fusiliers, some on their first operational tour, would have been made that much harder without receiving correspondence from home.

The support from the Cordwainers to C Company throughout the 19 years I have been with the regiment has been second to none, from the Fusilier Supper where we are wined and dined, to receiving a big box of Haribo or fresh coffee on a deployment: you will always have our thanks.