In this edition of Ranger…
...we have an unashamed bias towards Military Survey/Royal Engineers (Geographic) in that we commemorate not one but two 60th anniversaries; the granting of the title ‘School of Military Survey’ and Hermitage as the home of Military Survey/Royal Engineers (Geographic).
The title was bestowed on the 1st of January 1949 and over the ensuing 60 years the School, now of course graced with the Royal accolade, has developed into a world-renowned geospatial centre of excellence. For decades now the heads of many national and international geographic organisations, as well as others who are or have occupied senior positions in commercial enterprises, leant their craft at the School. Unanimously they have fond memories of their time at Hermitage. Except for a very few elderly gentlemen, everyone who can claim to be a military surveyor or member of RE Geo has served in this small Berkshire village.
Throughout the Armed Forces, and indeed across the world, Hermitage is synonymous with military surveying, mapping and all things geographic. It is doubtful whether those first few soldiers who moved into a run down temporary former American hospital could have imagined what the camp was to become to so many over the next six decades. It is surprising to compare the move into the camp to how a move out would be managed. In 1949 the entire process was carried out on a self-help basis with major elements done by very junior ranks; a sapper did the initial recce, two sappers were responsible for dismantling and reassembling the presses and all the painting was done by ‘volunteer’ soldiers. Even the cricket pitch was cut up turf by turf at nearby Hampstead Norris, moved to Hermitage and re-laid by the students.
However significant the two 60th milestones may be, this issue is not totally immersed in either Hermitage or esteryear as both Infoterra and Tenet describe up-to-the-minute advances that they are involved with.
Finally, I would like to put the spotlight on the DSA’s own unsung hero – David Wallis. David has been actively involved with the Association for 40 years and is very much responsible for the good shape that it is in today. He has filled almost every appointment on the Council and been behind all the significant changes over the last forty years, not least the change of title to Defence Surveyors’ Association. He has organised countless visits, each carefully researched and modestly priced, and he even rescued the accounts from a moment of crisis. We wish David a very happy retirement from the Council but look forward to seeing him and Audrey at future events.