The South Wales branch of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club is bringing its Duty to Ride fundraising campaign to Pembrokeshire. It is naming its event in honour of the late Gordon Prime, who recently passed away at his Pembrokeshire care home. The Gordon Prime Memorial Ride will take place on Sunday 16 April 2023, starting at the Carew Cheriton Control Tower at 11am. Riders will then travel approximately 50 miles around Pembrokeshire before returning to the Tower.
From Jameston, Pembrokeshire, Gordon Prime was a despatch rider on D-Day, and took part in many other significant battles during WWII. He was the president of the Tenby branch of the Royal British Legion, and chair of the Pembrokeshire branch of the Normandy Veterans’ Association. He returned to the beaches of Normandy at least annually for decades. Gordon was presented with the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest accolade.
Gordon Prime was passionate about honouring despatch riders and emergency services motorcyclists who gave their lives in the line of duty. Working with Age Cymru Dyfed and the South Wales branch of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club, Gordon helped to plan this ride to raise money for a UK-wide memorial before he passed away.
The Gordon Prime story
Gordon chose the date of 16 April because his best friend and fellow despatch rider in the Royal Army Service Care company, Bert Stinchcombe, was killed on that day in 1945. Tragically, that was just three weeks before the end of the war in Europe.
Gordon was initially referred to Age Cymru Dyfed’s Veterans’ Archive Project as a WWII veteran living in West Wales. Hugh Morgan, who co-ordinated the project, said: “Gordon Prime was always open and keen to talk to us about his story as a despatch rider during WWII. So there’s now an extensive collection of Gordon’s audios, filmed interviews, and material on the West Wales Veterans’ Archive website. This is held in the People’s Collection Wales, in the National Library, Aberystwyth. I also know that Gordon greatly appreciated our charity’s engagement with him, and the support of our volunteers.”
Support for older veterans
Age Cymru Dyfed’s chief executive officer, Simon Wright, says: “We know that many older veterans often struggle to engage with support services. Many believe that services outside of the armed forces will not understand their unique backgrounds and challenges.”
“However, many charities, including Age Cymru, are now working closely with the armed forces to provide appropriate support in safe spaces. And the late Gordon Prime was a wonderful example of what can be achieved when older veterans reach out and seek the right help.”
Steve Allen, vice-chair of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club, said: “Duty to Ride was launched in 2022 to raise funds for a memorial to despatch riders and couriers from both military and civilian backgrounds who lost their lives whilst on duty. This ride will help to raise the profile of this appeal, and honour the memory of Gordon Prime and his fellow riders.”
Veteran support in West Wales
Age Cymru Dyfed provides a range of welfare support to several hundred older veterans throughout West Wales. The charity runs the Veterans in View Programme (2023-2025), which is funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust. It provides support to those older veterans who may have been ‘missed’ by traditional services.
The charity employs two Veterans Welfare Officers, Owen Dobson (Carmarthenshire and and South Pembrokeshire) and Neil Davies (Ceredigion and North Pembrokeshire) to engage and organise support as needed. It is an advantage that both Neil and Owen are themselves veterans of the Armed Forces. They can readily empathise with the situations in which veterans can find themselves later in life.
The charity also operates the aforementioned and award-winning digital West Wales Veterans’ Archive. This collects the personal histories of veterans living in West Wales, such as Gordon Prime. It enables them to take great pride in knowing that their unique stories of military service have not been lost. Their stories can inform and be enjoyed by schools and colleges, researchers, historians, and especially by their own families. The ITV Wales film Greatest Generation is based upon WWII veterans who told their stories to the West Wales Veterans Archive.